Jim C. Hines's Blog
October 29, 2014
Tomorrow, I’m off to the wilds of Iowa to play Toastmaster at ICON 39. ICON is always fun, and this year I get to pick on guests of honor Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, Lar deSouza, and Megan Lara. I’m told that I should get Scott up on stage at opening ceremonies to read erotica in his gnome voice…
I’ll probably be reading my story from the next Chicks in Chainmail anthology on Saturday, for anyone who might want to swing by for that. My full schedule is below.
Looking forward to seeing folks! And for the rest of you, I’ll catch up next week when I get back.
Thursday, October 30
6:30 pm, B&N Booksigning
Friday, October 31
1:00 pm, Dreamcon
7:00 pm, Opening Ceremonies
9:00 pm, How SF/F Challenges Your Mind
Saturday, November 1
9:00 am, Getting Through Your First Draft (Preregistered Paradise ICON participants only)
10:00 am, Author Meet & Greet
1:00 pm, Blogging Do’s and Don’ts
3:00 pm, Reading by Jim C. Hines
4:00 pm, GoH Interview
6:30 pm, Art and Charity Auction
8:00 pm, Getting Published
9:00 pm, Things I wish I’d known before I started writing
Sunday, November 2
12:00 pm, Beyond SF 101
October 28, 2014
A week or two back, some GamerGate folks put together the following graphic to try to prove … something. I think this was meant to go along with #NotYourShield, and to show that GamerGate is inclusive and diverse and so on, whereas four of the people who have spoken out against GamerGate are white men. So there!
There are a few problems here, one of which is that whoever put this thing together doesn’t seem to know what “Check your privilege” means. More significantly, if you’re trying to demonstrate that your movement is so diverse and inclusive and welcoming, you’ve got to pay attention to who you put on that pedestal. Otherwise, someone like me might decide to post a modified version of your graphic…
That ended up getting retweeted more than 500 times, and drew a bit of heat from folks associated with GamerGate.
One critique was that Brennan’s quote about coming up with the idea for 8chan while tripping on mushrooms didn’t really fit in with the rest. That’s a fair point, and I agree. Brennan didn’t seem to have the same habit of saying nasty and/or hateful stuff as the others. I included the mushrooms quote because it made me laugh, but I probably shouldn’t have. My bad.
A number of folks claimed that I had taken quotes out of context. Which makes me wonder what context would make things like calling Zoe Quinn a whore acceptable. Of course, while GamerGate folks were busy saying these quotes were out of context, Mr. Villena jumped in to reply to me, saying, “For the record, I STAND BY EVERY WORD.” But I’m sure I’m taking that out of context as well, eh?
One GG supporter wanted to know, “What the f*** does
#GamerGate have to do with diversity?” A question which might better be directed at the people who created and are promoting that original graphic.
I was amused to note that these tireless defenders of ethics in journalism also tried (and failed) to get places to cancel author events with me on the basis of my “hate speech” and harassment of minorities, the disabled, immigrants, etc. I’m not sure when pointing out hateful things someone has said became character assassination and hate speech. But I guess the assumption is that being disabled or transgender or gay should somehow shield you from criticism, or from being called on things you’ve said.
The thing is, as certain folks have demonstrated, it’s possible to be both a minority and a bigoted asshat. Weird, huh?
October 27, 2014
Legend of Korra
4×1: After All These Years
Episode Summary (from the Avatar Wiki): In the three years after the Insurrection of the Red Lotus, Republic City has come to terms with the spirits living in the metropolis, Kuvira and Baatar Jr., along with their supporters, have traveled the Earth Kingdom in an attempt to reunite it under her militaristic rule, and the Air Nation assists there where needed. By 174 AG, Asami Sato helped modernize Central City Station and Prince Wu is groomed to ascend the vacant Earth Kingdom throne with Mako momentarily serving as his bodyguard. Meanwhile, Kai and Opal stop a robbery in the State of Yi, though are unable to restore the town’s supply lines, leaving the reluctant governor no other choice than to agree to Kuvira’s terms for help and hand over the town to her command. Korra was set to reunite with Team Avatar in Republic City, but has been traveling alone for the past six months, making a rough living with earthbender cage fighting while hiding her identity as the Avatar.Initial Thoughts: I lost my love for this show some time during season two. It just wasn’t everything I wanted it to be. Season three got a bit better in some ways, but I still wasn’t sure what to expect when I sat down to watch season four.
This episode made me happy. I think the three-year jump from season three helped a lot. Airbenders with glider suits! Asami being the badass businesswoman she was meant to be! Meelo being Meelo! Kuvira being cold and calculating, but also metalbending like a boss. And the suspense around Korra.
There was new stuff here, and it was great to see. It also felt like part of a larger story, between the rebuilding of the Earth Kingdom and the growth of the Air Nation and Korra being … well, broken. I am officially hooked.
Grumbling: Why is Varrick in my show? For a long time, I kept waiting for there to be a point to his character. Or for Zhu Li to be something more than an obedient servant. He’s annoying, brings nothing to the show that I’m aware of, and is basically like nails-on-a-chalkboard every time he’s in a scene. And if there’s some sort of slimy man quota we have to fill, well, now there’s Prince Wu for that!
Specific Things that Made Me Smile: Naga racing off the boat and rolling over for belly scratching!
The colors and animation felt better.
Kai and Opal’s teamwork, especially when Kai fell from the air bison with a torn glide suit.
The pies. That was a lovely bit of misdirection and fun.
Thoughts from the Nine-Year-Old: Jackson pegged Kuvira as a bad guy pretty quickly, and is convinced that she’s the one behind the bandit attacks, creating a danger she can use to continue to conquer the Earth Nation. Which seems like a pretty plausible theory to me.
Overall, he didn’t like the episode as much as I did. Partly because he doesn’t like seeing Bolin working for a bad guy, or a bad guy taking over a town. He also didn’t like seeing Korra reduced to arena fighting, especially since she lost the fight.
Conclusions: This feels like a really good start to the season. A lot of the things that annoyed me about the previous seasons were gone — things like overreliance on forced relationship drama or lack of character change and development. How many times did Korra make the same mistakes from show to show and season to season? But they’ve allowed the characters to change and grow, and I think that’s a very good thing, and bodes well for this season.
October 24, 2014
For anyone who doesn’t know, the seeds of the GamerGate movement began when game developer Zoe Quinn’s former boyfriend wrote a blog post accusing her of cheating on him, and of generally being “an unbelievable jerk,” which led to a campaign of harassment against Quinn. Quinn’s ex- alleged that one of the people Quinn had slept with was journalist Nathan Grayson, and that this led to a brief mention of one of Quinn’s games in an article that was published before the alleged relationship ever started.
Because GamerGate is all is about ethics in journalism. And also time travel, apparently.
The movement began its crusade for stronger ethics in journalism with such rallying cries as, “Next time she shows up at a conference we … give her a crippling injury that’s never going to fully heal … a good solid injury to the knees. I’d say a brain damage, but we don’t want to make it so she ends up too retarded to fear us.” People who spoke out in support of Quinn were attacked as well, and their personal information published online.
All right, fine. So this all started with a whiny man-child’s temper tantrum about his failed relationship. But then it evolved into a Very Serious Conversation about ethics in journal–
Actually, what happened next were death threats and other harassment against Anita Sarkeesian.
But that was all before Adam Baldwin coined the term “GamerGate”! Just because the not-yet-officially-named movement was born in the muck and slime doesn’t mean Baldwin couldn’t turn things around and lead the newly-baptized group into a more Productive and Important Discussion of ethics in–
Wait, no. Baldwin coined the term in order to spread the attack on Zoe Quinn. Sorry, my bad.
But soon women and minorities joined the #GamerGate boat, coining the new hash tag #NotYourShield to protest those who were focusing on harassment instead of ethics in journalism. Apparently a small minority of Angry Feminists™ and Social Justice Warriors were using GamerGate as an excuse to push their own agenda. But ethics affect everyone, and #NotYourShield clearly showed that most women and minorities weren’t upset about–
Well, I’m sure GamerGate soon turned their attentions fully to the issues of ethics–
I mean, after they got done sending death threats to game developer Brianna Wu, driving her and her husband from their home, presumably as ethical punishment for the crimes of Mocking GamerGate and Gaming While Female.
All that aside though, the core of the movement is to reduce the nepotism in gaming journalism, which game designer David Hill notes “was essentially coopted as a marketing arm for certain AAA publishers.” Aha! And now we see GamerGate finally focusing on its core mission to fix ethics in–
Oh … Hill goes on to note that GamerGate looks like “some strange bizarro world” where the people being targeted and attacked have nothing to do with the larger problem of ethics in journalism.
But the people making threats aren’t really with GamerGate. They’re all sockpuppets, and also, Wu and Quinn and everyone else have been posting threats against themselves to discredit the movement. Because we all know women lie, right? And the best way to criticize a group you don’t like is … um … by posting your own home address on the internet? I guess? So where were we. Ah yes, ethics in–
And now Felicia Day gets harassed and doxxed for expressing her concerns about GamerGate.
But the sidebar in the Reddit GamerGate group clearly says “No doxxing,” so it couldn’t have been anyone from GamerGate. Lots of GamerGate people are speaking out about how the harassment and doxxing has to stop because it’s awful, unacceptable, hateful behavior it makes GG look bad.
And maybe it wasn’t an official GamerGater. Because at this point, the top Reddit post in the GamerGate discussion also says, “Stop identifying as ‘#GamerGaters.’ You’re Gamers first, Consumers second.”
Problem solved! If nobody is identifying as GamerGaters, then obviously GamerGate isn’t harassing anyone.
Look, from reading through some of the boards, it’s clear there are people involved with GamerGate because they genuinely care about the problems in gaming journalism. And it sounds like there are legitimate concerns there, and things that need to be challenged and addressed. But there are an awful lot of people who jumped on the GamerGate bandwagon because it was an opportunity to troll and harass and attack women in gaming. Who view “Ethics in Journalism” as synonymous with “The Evil Social Justice Warriors are coming to Ruin All the Things!!!”
Sexism and harassment in gaming? That’s a legitimate and real concern too. And the GamerGate movement was born from it. Maybe it’s grown into a hydra with one head that truly just cares about ethics while another head is all about harassing women, and a third head is just mad at social justice warriors, but no matter how many heads GamerGate has sprouted, it only has one ass, and it’s been dropping an awful lot of particularly noxious crap for months now.
Friday is all about the bass. And the treble. Friday also has a weakness for the staccato…
Tombstones as Art. (Link from Steve Buchheit)
Kittens Dressed as Iconic Fantasy Characters.
Air New Zealand has a Hobbit-themed Safety Video, and it is epic.
October 23, 2014
Share something positive in the comments. This is an open thread for any and all good news, because it feels like the world could use more of it these days.
For myself, I got a promotion at the day job a few weeks back, which was pretty cool. Also, our new cat Sophie is about to have her kittens. That should be a lot of fun, both because Kittens! and because my kids are really excited, and I get to enjoy their reactions as well. Finally, I’ve seen the final sketches for the Rise of the Spider Goddess cover art, and it is Nifty.
October 21, 2014
I first “met” Lesley Smith a year and a half ago, while looking for beta readers for a short story. Lesley is also an author herself. Her book The Changing of the Sun came out this month, and she’s currently working on a Kickstarter for the second book in the series, The Parting of the Waters.
Her guest post is about disability in fiction, and about her own choices along those lines as a writer.
One of the great maxims told to newbie writers is ‘write what you know’. I’m never sure if that’s true, but it’s a good a place to start as any. To understand my writing, you need to know that I was born with a visual impairment caused from wanting to get into the world at twenty four weeks, rather than the usual forty. Too much oxygen left me with brain damage, Asperger’s and, most obviously, a visual disability. I’m blind in one eye and so short sighted in my left that I’m functionally useless outside without a long cane or my beloved guide dog, Unis.
When I started writing The Changing of the Sun, I’d just finished Camp NaNoWriMo and was itching to write anything but the project I’d put aside at fifty thousand words: an urban scifi about an alien priestess trying to solve a murder while an engineered plague began decimating London’s alien community.
I realised I couldn’t write this story before I’d set up the one which forged my protagonist, or at least her past selves and her civilisation. I knew the basics: an alien world devastated by a solar storm, an order of blind seers who ruled in wisdom and passed the mantle down through centuries, and great adversity tempered by common sense and the desire to survive the impossible. I started writing and the short story became a novella, then a proper novel. Just over a year and a Kickstarter later, I’ve just unleashed that novel on the world.
Key to the universe in which the Changing trilogy is set is disabled characters being more than just set pieces. There might be miracles, but curing disabilities isn’t one of them. Yes, the oracles have lost their vision, but like Odin and Tiresias, they’ve gained something in exchange. However, this doesn’t mean an easy ride. Far from it. Having a disability doesn’t give you an instant pass and the people aren’t there to be inspirational … they’re just trying to get through the day.
For example, the stereotype of a blind person is that they are a) totally blind and b) have heightened senses. This is rubbish. All is means is that most blind people have some useful vision and that we pay more attention; I have better hearing than you simply because I don’t have as much visual noise that prevents me focusing.
Saiara, the POV character, is blinded as part of a ritual gone wrong. She finds herself banished to a shabby tower where the blind oracles are kept locked away, too close to the divine to be allowed near the populace except on the high holy days. The powers don’t want them to be self-reliant or capable of surviving without servants, guards and being beholden to the High Chamberlain’s ‘compassion’. There’s the elderly Eirian, the former ruler of the planet, who is coming to the end of her life, and is just trying to keep their collapsing ordering intact so someone is left to lead even as she goes to her grave. She tries to teach every woman in her care how to go beyond their blindness, to find their way, to use their other senses, to regain power in a place which would rather they be powerless.
Back when I was writing Changing, I read an excellent post on this very blog and it made me decide that if there was one rule I was going to stick to, it was that if you lost a limb, nothing could restore it to you. You might lose your vision and gain the grace of knowledge, but you’d still be blind, still be lost in a world not designed to help you or make allowances for your disability. This makes the idea of an exodus north, though the desert with limited supplies and the thinning ranks of a sacred order of blind women, much more complicated.
One of the biggest scenes involves Jeiana, one of these alien beings incarnated as a Kashinai woman, having her writing hand amputated after a tiny scratch turns septic. She’s borrowed the body of a woman who drowned at the beginning of the book and has been slowly losing her sense of self, almost like a kind of dementia. When she collapses, her lover, the healer Senara, has to make the decision between Jeiana’s life and the infected limb.
The problem is, because Jeiana is slowly forgetting who she is, a side-effect of her corporeal state, she has been trying to write down all the secrets she has brought with her from beyond their little world. Losing her hand means she can’t record the words for posterity, and there comes a point where the fate of an entire planet relies on Senna’s decision. While Jeiana eventually gains an amanuensis, she is never able to write, and the loss of her hand forces her to have to relearn how to walk, how to move and live with a limb which stops just above her elbow, suffering phantom pain from the amputated limb that she doesn’t really remember losing.
I wanted to have empowered characters who accurately reflected my own view of the world. Jeiana, Saiara, Eirian, Lyse and the others are not there to be pitied. They might not always know the answers or have an easy ride but they’re stronger for every trial. They are not there to be tokens or to make up the numbers but to reflect that just as the world is full of people with disabilities, so alien worlds should have their share of differently abled individuals.
October 19, 2014
The Guardian recently published a piece called “Am I Being Catfished?” An Author Confronts Her Number One Online Critic. In the article, author Kathleen Hale describes her anxiety after her first book came out, how she obsessed over Amazon and Goodreads and other review sites. I can definitely relate to this part. Book #10 comes out in January for me, and I expect I’ll still be auto-refreshing the Amazon page every 15 minutes…
Hale asked Twitter for ideas about her next book, as a way to “connect with readers.” A woman named Blythe offered suggestions, which led to Hale checking to see if Blythe had read the book, and discovering not only that she had, but that she’d apparently given it a harsh one-star review and was warning other readers away from the book.
Yeah, that sucks. Especially if a reviewer is complaining about stuff that you don’t think was even in the book. (My favorite bad review of The Stepsister Scheme compares it to an S&M porno. WTF???) Hale’s mother pointed her to the Stop the Goodreads Bullies site, where Blythe was listed along with more than 150 other reviewers, for crimes ranging from participating in organizing attacks on authors to “derogatory shelving” to reviews considered to be “bullying.” One of the StGB founders talked to Hale about her reviewer, no doubt reinforcing Hale’s belief that she was the victim of a bully.
Foz Meadows has a blog post about why the StGB site is…problematic.
Blythe apparently began tweeting about Hale online. And Hale began to engage in what she describes as “light stalking.” She eventually pulled herself away, but then a few months later, when a book club wanted Hale to do an interview with a book blogger, Hale suggested Blythe. Because she “longed to engage with Blythe directly.” This also involved doing a book giveaway, which allowed Hale to get Blythe’s home address.
I’ve done giveaways myself, which involves readers trusting me with their home addresses. I’ve also sent books to reviewers’ home addresses. I consider this a matter of trust and privacy, which is one of many reasons I get very angry about what happened next.
Hale dug into Blythe’s identity, questioning whether “Blythe” was a pseudonym. She rented a car and, in what she describes as “a personal rock bottom,” drove to Blythe’s home. She called Blythe at home work, pretending to be a fact-checker. She called again, this time identifying herself as Kathleen Hale and confronting her.
Blythe unfollowed her on Twitter, made her Instagram private, and blocked her on Facebook, essentially cutting off Hale’s options for online communication.
Dear authors: don’t do this. Just don’t.
When I tweeted about this, one woman told that Hale is the real victim here, and accused me of victim-blaming. She compared Blythe’s tactics to those of GamerGate (though I’m having a hard time finding where Blythe threatened to rape or murder Hale, or drove Hale out of her own home).
Online bullying is a thing. Trolling is a thing.
Bad reviews are also a thing. Hating someone’s book is not bullying. Sharing your opinion, suggesting others stay away from a book or an author, is not bullying. It might cost you some sales, and that sucks, but it’s not bullying, nor is it an organized campaign to destroy someone’s career.
Hale’s account does not convince me that she was a victim of online bullying. But even if she was, there comes a point where she crossed a line from victim to perpetrator. She admits to stalking Blythe online. She then began stalking her in real life. She showed up at Blythe’s home, called her on the phone.
Blythe criticized Hale’s book and probably cost her some sales. Hale stalked Blythe, presenting herself as a very real threat. She went to Blythe’s home. She called her to say, “I know who you are.”
Not okay. Even if someone said mean things about your book. Even if you’re anxious and depressed.
Which leads me to wonder why the Guardian published this piece in the first place. My friend Barbarienne sees it as a cautionary tale. She also sees it as a warning from the author: “Don’t do what I did.”
I disagree. While I see some recognition that maybe Hale made mistakes, and that she was personally in a bad emotional space, I don’t see any understanding or awareness of the lines and boundaries she crossed, or how serious those violations were. Nor does the Guardian provide any sort of context or acknowledgement of the same. Hale ends her post with the nostalgic admission that she still wishes from time to time for confirmation that Blythe has seen those old messages. There are people reading this article as if Hale is a hero standing up to the bullies of the internet.
She’s not. She’s someone who stalked and harassed a book blogger and reviewer. Someone who, to my reading, still doesn’t seem to recognize the lines she crossed. Someone who leveraged her harassment into an article for the Guardian.
October 18, 2014
N. K. Jemisin recently posted a pic of her brand new tattoo on Facebook. Naturally, I immediately asked if she’d be willing to talk about it for Writer’s Ink
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jemisin … where exactly have you been? I’ve reviewed her books here and here. She’s a good writer, both in her fantasy novels and with her blog. Her next work is a novella called “The Awakened Kingdom,” coming out in December.
Here’s Jemisin talking about the inspiration behind her tattoo:
I’ve never really wanted a tattoo just to have a tattoo, even though I’ve liked and admired them on other people all my life. I’m a big believer in acknowledging life-milestones, however, whatever those might be — and on the day I sold my first novel (in 2007) and thus began my career as a professional writer, I decided that I wanted this tattoo. For those who’ve ready my Dreamblood duology, the inspiration for the tattoo is probably obvious. In the novel, Gatherers are symbols rather than people, and thus they’re known more by the unique tattoos they wear on their shoulders than by their faces. Nijiri, a young apprentice Gatherer, is “the blue lotus”. I chose his tattoo rather than that of Nijiri’s master Ehiru — “the black rose” — because even though I’ve achieved a lifelong dream, getting published was only the beginning of the next stage of my life; I have a lot to learn, still. It’s possible that at some point in the future, when I feel like I’ve achieved some major goal as a writer, I might add Ehiru’s tattoo to the other shoulder. For now, I haven’t earned that yet.
This was to be my first tattoo, and I’m picky, so I chose to wait several years to find the perfect design rather than go ahead and get something I might be less than happy with. After awhile I started to despair of ever finding a design I might like — and then, out of the blue, in preparation for Arisia (where we’ll both be Guests of Honor), I saw a blue lotus that artist Lee Moyer had created based on my descriptions of Nijiri’s tattoo. That was it! And hey, I had a birthday coming up on September 19th, which meant it was time to treat myself to a very special present. So with Lee’s gracious permission, I took the design to Willie, the tattoo artist I’d researched, and he modified it slightly to suit my skin tone, etc. (He’s awesome, BTW.) It took 3.5 hours in the chair, and it’s only now stopped peeling, etc. I’m super-happy with it. Been wearing sleeveless stuff more than usual, lately, to show it off all the damn time.
October 17, 2014
Friday has spent the past few years building up an immunity to iocaine powder.
The Mary Sue presents a gallery of cute kid cosplay from NYCC.
Animal family portraits. (I feel like I may have posted this one before. But they’re cute and I’m tired, so I don’t care.)
LEGO Mash-up with Han Solo, Malcolm Reynolds, and Peter Quill.
Garfi, the World’s Angriest Cat.