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Category Archive for ‘Non-Fiction’ rss

Non-Fiction

Around the Blogosphere: Worldcon Reports, Death of Print SF, Author Religions and Racism

And More

Non-Fiction

The Jeremiads: Twenty Things I Learned From Bad 80s Genre Films

When I was a kid growing up in the 1980s, my father had an obsession with taping bad movies off of HBO and Showtime. Let me explain for the young among us–we used to have these things called VCRs. Think of them as a primitive form of TIVO. When you wanted to record something, you had to put in a tape, which might hold a pathetic six hours on the lowest quality. You had to program the time by hand and pray that it would come on and record what you wanted to watch. And then when you went to watch whatever you recorded, you spent the first thirty minutes adjusting something called “tracking,” which you never got quite right no matter how hard you tried. Also, we had to walk to school, uphill, in six feet of snow. Get off my lawn.

Non-Fiction

A Critique of Muslim Women in Comics — The 99

While I believe there is very little known about the images and roles of women in comic books, the subject of how Muslim female characters are portrayed is even smaller. There is at least one comic company interested in realistic, nuanced portrayals of Muslim women: Teshkeel Comics. Naif Al-Mutawa’s The 99 shows us arguably the best depictions of Muslim female characters to have ever appeared in comic books.

Non-Fiction

Literature News: Hugo Awards, Metaphorical Racism, World Fantasy Nominees Announced

And More

Non-Fiction

Geek Flashback: Beauty and the Beast

In the 80s and 90s there were many shows that combined different and seemingly unrelated genres into one cracktasticly fantastic concept. It became pretty popular, for instance, to combine science fiction or fantasy with cop shows and crime dramas. My favorite was Alien Nation–a show that transcended the movie in a big way, similar to the way Buffy did several years later–followed closely by Forever Knight, the original emo vampire with a soul. Though those shows were more about action and cop stuff than they were about the tender love between a girl and her hairy, hairy boyfriend. That is to say, 1987’s own Beauty and the Beast.

Non-Fiction

Crossing Lines: Stargate Atlantis’ Fifth Season Premiere

The fifth season premiere of Stargate Atlantis was — like all their premieres and finales, both mid-season and bookend — action-packed. The set-up was excellent: a collapsed building with our heroes stuck inside, the daring rescue of team member on the verge of giving birth from the clutches of an enemy that the Atlantis crew actually created through highly unethical experiments. It was all very summer blockbuster-like with just enough plot and continuity to make all the high stress situations seem necessary.

With certain shows we have to take the good with the bad, and for me Atlantis is one of those shows where the bad was beginning to outweigh the good. I got tired of the flat writing for women characters and characters of color, the pandering to stereotypes at every turn and the subtle alterations in the show that seemed to change it from an ensemble piece to the John and Rodney show.

Non-Fiction

Movie News: Flash Gordon; Dorian Gray; The Mummy

Non-Fiction

Puppet Strings: J M McDermott

J M McDermott, author of “Gods of the Spiderhole,” has very strong opinions about politics (and really, who doesn’t?). But how do authors who want to convey that nugget of political philosophy in their writing do so without turning their audience off? As the author says, “it would be about as effective as influencing change as a fart on a crowded bus.” In this week’s Puppet Strings: Behind the Story, J M McDermott meditates on how he accomplished it with his tale.

Non-Fiction

Television News: Brilliant But Canceled Shows, Two-Hour BSG Prequel, and New Fantasy Series

Non-Fiction

Aryan Elves and Damsels Distressed: a Librarian-Writer’s View of Bias in American SF

One of the most important principles that librarians follow in expanding collections is that of propriety. I’m not talking bustles or corsets, but about whether a given work is appropriate for the library’s community. We use many tools to measure this, from patron request forms, to historical circulation patterns, to the mission statement of the library (e.g., is it to “educate” or “serve” patrons?). In essence, we must divine whether our patrons want it, need it, and are going to use it. And here we approach the general question of bias in American SF, particularly as expressed by author Ashok K. Banker on his blog, Confessions of an Epic Indian.

Mr. Banker accuses the American SF community of racism, sexism, bigotry, cultural insensitivity, and all manner of biases, both in its practices and its literature. That his general argument is true is, at least in part, beyond question. The pages of SF are replete with sexist, white, male, imperialists who go forth and conquer, whether nations, worlds, or galaxies.

The rub, however, is that many SF readers crave Tolkien’s offspring, along with those of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Heinlein, H. P. Lovecraft, and other authors guilty of the evils Mr. Banker names. For all their flaws, and however many biases may be encoded in their works, these authors have resonated deeply with American readers since the Golden Age of pulp SF. While it would be untrue to say that all SF readers want is the next Dune or Harry Potter, and while readers shouldn’t be denied the chance to expand their repertoire, typically they step from leaf to leaf or twig to twig, not jump from tree to tree.