Some day I'll figure out how to predict how much programming any given con is likely to allot. I guess Westercon balances out the one lone panel I've been assigned for Worldcon. Here's what I'll be doing on the official schedule. Beyond that, I'll be wandering around trying to balance out introvert-overload and the desire to make connections with people.
Friday, Jul 3, 2015 12:00PM - How Does YOUR Writing Vary in Different Lengths? (Pacific Salon Three)
How does your writing change between, i.e., short story v. novel length? John DeChancie, Buzz Dixon, Heather Rose Jones, Lisa Kessler, David D. Levine, Fred Wiehe
Friday, Jul 3, 2015 4:00PM - Endangered Languages (Sunset in Meeting House)
We worry about endangered species—but 80% of the world's languages will be dead by the century’s end, often with no fossil remains. Should we be concerned? What can be done? H. Paul Honsinger, Heather Rose Jones, Katharine B. Kerr, Will Morton, Jason Vanhee
Saturday, Jul 4, 2015 4:30PM - Heroines as Catalysts (Pacific Salon Seven)
Most genre fiction features male heroes leading doughty groups against the Big Bad, whether it's a futuristic amoral megacorporation or an evil wizard-king. There are a few two-fisted female gun-toters leading the action, but there are far more heroines who act as catalysts for change. Why is that, and how do they do it? Compare catalyst heroines in all genres. Tera Lynn Childs, Dana Fredsti, Jude-Marie Green, Heather Rose Jones, Jenna M. Pitman
Sunday, Jul 5, 2015 1:00PM - Autograph Session: T. Childs, H. Jones, T. McCaffrey (Autographing in the Dealers' Room)
Meet and ask for autographs from Tera Lynn Childs, Heather Rose Jones, and Todd McCaffrey. Tera Lynn Childs, Heather Rose Jones, Todd McCaffrey [Note: well, at least I won't be contributing to any traffic jams. Shall I start a betting pool for whether anyone shows up for me?]
Sunday, Jul 5, 2015 2:00PM - No Time to create? (Sunrise in Meeting House)
You really, really want to write or film or build, but how do you find the time? Heather Rose Jones, Kirsten Imani Kasai, Deirdre Saoirse Moen, Eric Shanower
As part of my new blogging schedule, I've designated Friday as "review day". I don't necessarily have enough new material (books, movies, etc.) to post something new every week, but I thought I'd reprise and continue a series I started quite some time ago on lesbian-themed movies (and mini-series). I've collected enough of these in video format that if I were a more socially ept person it would be fun to hold regular movie nights, supplemented by popcorn and thematic analysis. It's definitely interesting to examine the stories through the lesbian motifs discussed in Emma Donoghue's Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature.
Back when I first posted these reviews, it was inspired by a request for recommendations of "good movies involving lesbian romances that don't end up with the protagonists deeply unhappy, dead, or both." As I noted in the first go-round, the standard lesbian pulp fiction plot contractually required either death, unhappiness, or "redemption" of at least one of the characters. And when Hollywood first began moving out of that slough of despond, it was primarily in the form of Standard Coming-Out Plot A.
So the tl;dr version of each review will be the answers to: "Died? Recanted? Unhappy? Came out?" This will necessarily involve some spoilers, but since I'm not reviewing any current releases, I think the statute of limitations has expired. The treatment of lesbian characters and relationships in film is still dire enough in general that I know I want to know what I'm getting into before engaging with a movie.
Many of these items are not currently in print. I'll link each to their imdb.com entry for reference. But for those currently available, Wolfe Video is the go-to distributor for lgbt movies.
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Died? No. Recanted? No. Unhappy? At various points during the story, but eventually happy. Came out? Yes, incidentally, but this is far more expansive than a simple coming-out plot.
A period piece (from the novel by Sarah Waters) about the oyster-seller's daughter who falls in love at the music hall with a male impersonator and runs away to live with her in late Victorian London. Alas, the object of her affection isn't as steadfast and true as she is, and our ingenue goes through many adventures and relationships before making the key choice that leaves her in a happy and stable couple at the end. (Note: lots of sex of all sorts of types. Not a movie for the timid.) The story arc is too expansive to pigeonhole it as a "coming out" story, although that's certainly a theme, especially at the start. No main characters die. The protagonist is happy (although not all the hearts she passes through are). But given the historic setting, the resolution can't be of the sort that a modern viewer would envision for herself.
A very lush treatment with high production values and very faithful to the original material. Definitely a must for Sarah Waters fans, if you can track down a copy.
I picked this novel to read for a somewhat atypical reason: I'm pre-supporting the bid to bring WorldCon to Helsinki in 2017 and thought it might be a good idea to read some Finnish SFF. Memory of Water was getting some positive buzz so I decided to check it out. The story was written by the author simultaneously in Finnish and English (rather than being an after-the-fact translation) and has a lyrical, dream-like, poetic style. The action takes place in a post-climate-apocalypse Finland where today's geography has been greatly altered by both rising sea levels and shifting political hegemonies that have brought a dictatorial Chinese-origin government to power. Safe, pure drinking water is a scarce and rationed resource and "water crimes" are addressed with ruthless punishment. In a context where sweet water is at a premium, the protagonist Noria's family profession of ceremonial Tea Master (from the Japanese tradition) might seem not merely anachronistic but oddly luxurious. The fact that their clientele include ranking members of the military occupation creates an intersection of privilege and peril. Water is the pervasive theme of the story. In the most obvious terms: the daily struggle of Noria and her neighbors to secure enough water for their needs without overtly overstepping the law. The secret that Noria's family protects that brings her into conflict with both those neighbors and the law. And then there's the mystery of what happened to the water of the past and whether the official story of scarcity should be taken at face value. But more than that, water becomes the metaphor for Noria's path through life. Not, as it turns out, the relentless force of water to wear away mountains and scour valleys, but the flow of water to fill itself into whatever container is presented. For Noria is oddly and unsatisfyingly passive as a protagonist. The ventures she makes with her close friend Sanja to explore the mysteries of the past feel accidental and directionless (and, ultimately, vain). Even that friendship doesn't feel like a driving force in her life (or in Sanja's) but rather something they have flowed into and can flow out of just as easily. Noria rarely seems to act from principle, but rather from habit and tradition and--when pushed to it--from guilt. I fear that in some ways my take on this book is poisoned by the relentless message of U.S. dystopian fiction that lone protagonists should take up direct action against the oppressive regime and make their mark on the world. (And I am concerned that this is such a US-centric take on the genre that I'm not letting the story stand on its own merits.) Noria's story is, perhaps, far more realistic than that one, but realistic stories of ordinary people who bring only ordinary resistance and come to ordinary fates don't make for gripping reading. The language is beautiful. The world-building is vivid and intriguing. But the characters and story...just didn't do it for me. I feel pity for Noria, but not sympathy.