The Summer Prince

Sun, Aug. 13th, 2017 11:38 am
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[personal profile] yatima has been carrying all the water around here, and shouldn't have to.

Earlier this week, I finished Alaya Dawn Johnson's The Summer Prince. I have had this book by my bed for months and months and months. I would pick it up, read some, like it, and then get distracted. Finally, I decided it was too good for that kind of treatment and got serious about moving through it.

It is an excellent and fascinating book, even though it never really grabbed me. The worldbuilding is awesome and the depiction of the inner lives of teenagers, affected by the different world they live in and nonetheless completely recognizable as the teenagers of our times, is especially well done. The The prose is beautiful and the evocation of the city is outstanding. The setting is a post-apocalyptic Brazil and effectively everyone is (from our perspective) PoC; Johnson explores class divisions and to some extent national divisions, but the key cultural rift she explores is age.

I can't quite figure out why it didn't have momentum for me, and I expect that will be different for other people. I found it well worth the comparatively slow going, and will probably re-read it at some point. 



1 link from Nicola Griffith

Sun, Aug. 13th, 2017 02:20 am
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Nicola Griffith:

An Open Letter to All Writing Programmes, Workshops, and Retreats (July 27, 2017)

https://nicolagriffith.com/2017/07/27/an-open-letter-to-all-writing-programmes-workshops-and-retreats

So here’s a public promise: after I have fulfilled my immediate contractual obligations, I will no longer support in any way any writing-related programme or organisation that does not have a public commitment to and specific timetable for becoming accessible. I will call on other writers to do the same.

F. C. Yee, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, 2017

Sat, Aug. 12th, 2017 04:07 pm
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Australians of my generation have a particular reason to be fond of Journey to the West and it is the gloriously daft Japanese adaptation that was replayed endlessly on after-school TV. (For many queer Australians of my generation, myself included, Masako Natsume, the woman who played Tripitaka, is a pivotal figure in our secret lives.) The Monkey King resurfaces in Gene Luen Yang's graphic novel American Born Chinese, one of the books that taught my younger kid to read. (I was especially touched when in Yang's book, the three wise men who attended the birth of Jesus turned out to be Monkey and his friends Sandy and Pigsy. I'm a sucker for good crossover fanfic.)

All this to say that The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is yet another delightful take on Journey to the West, this time set in the hyper-competitive high schools of the Bay Area. Monkey is now Quentin, a handsome, short, brilliant and very annoying teenager who kept reminding me of Miles Vorkosigan, in a good way. Genie herself has a surprising connection with him, but is a three-dimensional character in her own right, with a sense of honor and complicated relationships with her parents and friends. Her efforts to balance college applications with supernatural obligations had a Buffy-ish resonance, and the various Gods and demons showing up in modern America will please Neil Gaiman fans. I found this a quick and enjoyable read.
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"Welcome to the Middle-Aged Orphans Club," writes Sherman Alexie, and as a middle-aged orphan myself, I did feel welcome, and seen, and understood. In July, Alexie cancelled part of his book tour because of complicated grief and being haunted by his late mother: "I don’t believe in ghosts," he writes. "But I see them all the time." Me too, brother.

Like Bad Indians, this is an intricate quilt of a book, part memoir, part poem, part dream. It's hard to imagine how it could be otherwise. The loss of a parent is a loss of meaning. For indigenous people, this is doubly true. Lillian Alexie was one of the last fluent speakers of Salish. Her death robs her son, and the world, of an entire universe.

This book, like Hawking radiation, is an almost-undetectable glow of meaning escaping from a black hole. If you haven't lost a parent yet it might be too much to bear, but if you have, it might feel like joining a group of survivors around a campfire after a catastrophe.

IN AUGUST 2015, as a huge forest fire burned on my reservation, as it burned within feet of the abandoned uranium mine, the United States government sent a representative to conduct a town hall to address the growing concerns and fears. My sister texted me the play-by-play of the meeting. “OMG!” she texted. “The government guy just said the USA doesn’t believe the forest fire presents a serious danger to the Spokane Indian community, even if the fire burns right through the uranium mine.”

...“Is the air okay?” I texted. “It hurts a little to breathe,” my sister texted back. “But we’re okay.” Jesus, I thought, is there a better and more succinct definition of grief than It hurts a little to breathe, but we’re okay?

1 Link: Netflix's "Atypical"

Thu, Aug. 10th, 2017 10:58 pm
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Mickey Rowe at Teen Vogue:
"Netflix's "Atypical" Was a Major Disappointment for Autism Representation"

http://www.teenvogue.com/story/netflix-atypical-autism-representation

In watching the show, I noticed that it seems to play into stereotypes that I’ve experienced firsthand that could have easily been avoided and that may present damaging information about autistic people. There is so much misinformation about autism in part because we nearly always learn about autism from non-autistic people, instead of learning about autism from autistic adults.

Nonverbal Communication in SF

Thu, Aug. 10th, 2017 04:55 pm
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Seems like the "Universal Translators" are always auditory, eh?

Lynne Thomas of Uncanny Magazine writes about her daughter Caitlin, who doesn't speak and communicates a lot. Lynne reviews the overwhelming privilege of the spoken word in SF:

https://www.themarysue.com/caitlin-is-not-groot/

One of the commenters points out that Marvel has a new, nonverbal, hero coming:

http://comicbook.com/marvel/2017/08/04/inhumans-black-bolt-communicates-through-medusa/

Access fail at a young adult lit convention

Wed, Aug. 2nd, 2017 10:44 pm
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Danuta Kean at the Guardian:

Young Adult Literature Convention Under Fire Over Disabled Facilities

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/aug/01/young-adult-literature-convention-under-fire-over-disabled-facilities

Authors who appeared at the YALC young adult literature convention over the weekend, including Alex Wheatle and Joanne Harris, have spoken out about what they feel was a lack of disabled facilities at the event. Their complaints centre on the sequestering of one of two disabled toilets for the use of celebrities attending the associated Comicon festival on a lower floor.

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