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Cool Stuff Friday

Friday missed his deadline, but is on the very last chapter of this rewrite!

 

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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Cool Stuff Friday

My friend Edric is launching a treasure hunt with a $100 cash prize. It begins tonight, April 6, at 8 p.m. Eastern Time at http://happinessboard.com/TreasureHunt.html

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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Cool Stuff Friday

Friday needs to review the orbital mechanics discussion notes from Launch Pad.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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18 Days to Deadline

Haven’t been blogging much lately. TERMINAL UPRISING is due to my editor on tax day. I therefore need to finish writing it.

I also need to finish doing our taxes, for that matter.

Anyway, blogging will likely continue to be minimal for the next few weeks. All of my words need to go into my manuscript. (I’m doing this blog post with leftover words that didn’t make the cut. Like “moist” and “very” and “that” and “elocution.”)

I’m happy with how this revision is coming together. Added two bits today I really liked — one a moment of awe and wonder, and the other an alien snot joke. So, you know, typical Jim book.

Hope you’re all having a good week!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Cool Stuff Friday

Friday has about three weeks to finish and turn in this novel, so blogging may be sparse…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Tags:

“I’m not invisible in science fiction, just insulted by being a symbol of inadequacy. I have no wish to glorify my physical or mental problems. They cause me constant pain and if I could get rid of them I would do so in a heartbeat. But that doesn’t mean I can only exist as a symbol of a society’s failure to fix me.”

Invisible 3 CoverCarrie Sessarego is one of the contributors to Invisible 3, which includes 18 essays and poems about representation in science fiction and fantasy. You can order the collection at:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Smashwords | Google Play

Three other essays from Invisible 3 are available to read online:

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind folks that the collection is eligible for the Hugo Award in the Best Related Work category…

#

Lost in Space: A Messy Voyage Through Fictional Universes

In Which We Prepare for Launch

In the past year I’ve struggled with managing increasingly serious symptoms of arthritis and fibromyalgia, as well as other symptoms of Noonan Syndrome. These issues affect my daily life and make me question my identity. Does having the kinds of problems I have mean I’m disabled? Lately I’ve settled on my own word to describe myself: ‘messy’. I do not intend it as pejorative term. Many wonderful things are messy – babies, Jackson Pollock paintings, glitter, and my house, for example.  I chose the term because I tend not to fit neatly into a category, I look unusual, and my problems defy simple solutions.

With my new favorite word in mind, I decided to take a tour through a few of the fictional universes I love to see where my messiness might fit in. In science fiction, we explore the notion that technology will cure all or most conditions which are perceived as detrimental. This sets up a treatment of ‘messy’ conditions as one in which the presence of mess is a sign that a planet or society is poor and otherwise backward.

This is why I am most likely to be represented in franchises such as Star Wars and Firefly, which show a clear line between the planets that are part of the establishment and planets that remain outside the establishment. It also means my appearance in those franchises would be derogatory. My uncorrected droopy eye and my limp signal, “This planet is poor.” My existence signals that a society is failing to care for its own. However, it might also be a sign that a society is willing to tolerate difference – a positive trait that is undercut by keeping messy people in the background instead of allowing them to shine as main characters.

In Which We Visit the Star Wars Universe

The Star Wars Universe can be split into two types of settings: tidy and messy. I’d never be found in the more prosperous cities of the Empire, or the Empire’s ships and stations. The Empire’s look is polished and perfect, unlike the more rough, dirty, used look of the Rebel Alliance. Even Darth Vader, who is profoundly disabled, has an exterior façade of physical strength and health, thanks in part to Vader’s glossy suit. By presenting a perfect, clean, shiny world, The Empire positions itself as an institution of order versus chaos. In the Empire, everything is under control – in many senses of the term.

The iconography of the Empire conveys power but also conformity. It echoes Nazi propaganda, with high-necked uniforms for officers and faceless, elite soldiers called “stormtroopers.” Troops stand in formation to hear speeches set against the backdrop of red flags. It seems highly unlikely that anyone messy would be tolerated in the Empire’s most militaristic strongholds. Someone with my odd gait and appearance would be an embarrassment – a blot on an otherwise perfect presentation of physical power.

The less developed a planet is, the more likely it is to be friendly towards the Rebel Alliance. Like most frontier lands, the inhabitants of these planets dislike rules and like most frontier lands they seem to be much more hardscrabble than the Empire – these are places where perfectly polished steel is replaced by rusty spare parts. For example, in A New Hope, Tatooine is clearly under the Empire’s dominion, and yet people speak quite openly of joining the Rebellion.

These planets are impoverished, yet they are also havens of non-conformity. Look at the residents of the rougher neighborhoods of Tatooine or Jakku, and you could easily find me limping down the street. My very “messiness” would serve as a sign that this planet is Not Up To Par. It would be a sign that The Empire does not serve all planets equally as well as a sign that the Rebellion is not doing well. We know from Anakin Skywalker’s transformation into Darth Vader that incredible medical technology exists. It seems likely, however, that the Rebellion-friendly planets don’t have access to it.

On the plus side, while the outer planets may not have the ability to fix problems, they do seem to be willing to tolerate every possible level of appearance and behavior. It’s even possible that my odd appearance would not block me from becoming one of the central actors in a Star Wars franchise film. After all, Yoda is even shorter than I am, and unlike me, he’s green. However, The Star Wars main cast spends a lot of time running and fighting hand-to-hand. Unless I develop an affinity for The Force, there will be no trips in the Millennium Falcon for me. I’ve been trying to use The Force on things since I was six and nothing has happened yet, but maybe I’m a late bloomer! Till then, I would be relegated strictly to the alleys of some dusty town, evidence that no one has the resources to fix me but also that no one has an interest in eliminating me.

In Which We Survey The ’Verse (Firefly and Serenity)

Here’s another example of the link between disability and class. Someone like me could easily be located in the ports of the relatively impoverished Rim planets. The Rim Planets and their inhabitants are allowed to be ‘messy,’ but the prosperous cities (the Core worlds) are not. The Core worlds, dominated more closely by the Alliance, rely on a very similar aesthetic as the cities dominated by the Empire in Star Wars, for the same reasons. An optimistic soul might say that the medical technology on Core worlds is so advanced that physical impairments are easily cured. A more cynical soul might say that those who can’t be cured are ‘encouraged’ to seek life out of sight of others.

It’s theoretically possible that I could be part of the main Firefly cast if I had a special skill to offer that did not rely on physical strength. For instance, Wash, Simon and Kaylee are all physically fit, but their use to the crew is due to their skill sets (pilot, surgeon and mechanic, respectively), not their physical fitness (I realize many people with disabilities are extremely physically fit, but I am not). Additionally, there’s the fact that anyone can be a passenger if they have enough funds – presumably even short arthritic women.

Unfortunately, given my slow walking speed and non-existent running speed, it’s doubtful I would survive the events of the movie (Serenity). The other barrier to my being part of the Firefly crew is that the crew is, as Mal might put it, “So very pretty.” Indeed, an abundance of good looks is possibly the only common denominator of the ship’s passengers and crew. I have many lovely qualities, but a Hollywood standard of “pretty” is not one of them.

In Which We Transport Ourselves to Star Trek

Star Trek has been quite ambitious in trying to portray people with disabilities in a positive light. In the Original Series, Miranda Jones is blind (“Is There in Truth No Beauty”). In the Next Generation, Picard has an artificial heart, Geordi is blind, and several individual episodes deal with disabilities.

However, there is still no place for messy in Star Trek. Disabled characters have a single issue (blindness, for instance). This issue is dealt with in a way that does not impair the attractiveness of the actor (although Geordi’s visor does conceal actor LeVar Burton’s eyes) and it gives the characters an advantage – both Geordie and Miranda Jones are able to sense things that others cannot, although in very different ways and through different means. On other occasions, a disability can be cured or treated by a single, though risky, operation or drug, one which patients undergo rather than stay disabled (“Ethics” and “Too Short a Season”).

The one character who might be truly viewed as ‘messy’ is Commander Pike of The Original Series. Pike was injured in an accident and became scarred, paralyzed, and unable to speak (the idea that The Federation can’t come up with a better way to help him communicate is the most implausible part of the episode). In “The Menagerie,” he is returned to the remote planet Talos IV, where he can live with an illusion of being his younger, pre-accident self.

Over and over again, Star Trek says one thing but shows another. When Worf demands that Riker kill him after Worf is paralyzed, everyone tries to talk him out of it. Geordie is a vital member of the crew with or without his visor. No one supports Admiral Johnson in “Too Short a Season” in his attempts to de-age by popping alien space pills.

Star Trek SAYS people with disabilities have value. But Star Trek SHOWS a society in which only tidy forms of disability are allowed. There are no captains in wheelchairs. Characters who are not cured or fixed or blessed with extra useful technology disappear.  While Star Trek SAYS that people with disabilities can still contribute to society, in practice characters choose to risk their lives lest they become disabled and therefore “useless.” The exception is Troi, who realizes that she can still be useful after she loses her empathic powers, but she gets them back, tidily, at the end of 45 minutes.

If I could be found anywhere in Star Trek, it would be on Deep Space Nine, that frontier outpost no one wants to be assigned to. Here. class distinction strikes again. The characters in this show are experienced with dealing with mess in terms of assisting travelers and the survivors of war. Deep Space Nine also has a wheelchair user named Melora who refuses to be ‘fixed’ and who insists, correctly, that she can be a useful, adventurous, active person despite her inability to walk in “normal” gravity (“Melora”).

Alas, Melora leaves the station after only one episode, and once again we are left with a cast that is either non-human or human/human-like and very pretty and athletic. If I were on Deep Space Nine, I would be a mess for the crew to deal with, a “Very Special Episode.” There’s still no allotment for messy among the crew.

A Quick Read in the Spaceport: The Vorkosigan Saga

FINALLY! Miles Vorkosigan, of the beloved book series by Lois McMaster Bujold is the essence of messy! He’s short (we are the same height!) and oddly proportioned! He has brittle bones, which means his physical abilities and pain levels change constantly as various parts of him break and heal. He has scars. He struggles with mood disorders. None of this stops him from living a life of adventure and daring, and he has a happy romance.

This book series has a huge and loyal fan base, many stories and sub-plots, an abundance of world-building and fascinating characters, and yet it has never been adapted to screen. Could it be that it’s simply too messy for Hollywood to contemplate? For the sake of brevity (I know, too late) I’ve confined our trip to stories that made it to the screen. This book series is a hint of how much diverse representation is possible if Hollywood were more daring.

Reflections from Home

After such an exhausting trip, I need a nap. But first, my conclusion: the world of television and film, especially large franchises and series, likes things to be tidy. The problem is not that there are no disabled people in science fiction. The problem is that disabled people are so often relegated to a Very Special Episode and/or a guest character role, and they are made so tidy that they do not resemble the messy reality that many of us experience.

Frankly, I’d be thrilled if my conditions could be cured. But that doesn’t mean that our fictional worlds should be without mess. Mess is part of life. People who have complicated physical and mental issues are part of life, and they are vibrant and capable. Why couldn’t I be an interplanetary historian for the Enterprise, or a Rebel Alliance pilot in Star Wars, or a traveling storyteller in Firefly? Why should I hide in some smoky corner of a Cantina when I could be at the Council table plotting the rebellion?

When storytellers banish people like me to the Cantinas and the alleys of backwater planets, they are telling us, “You are undesirable. You are a sign that things have gone wrong. You are not nice to look at and you can’t get shit done.” Yet I know any number of messy people who get shit done all the time. If they worked on the crew of The Firefly, they’d make the protein packs taste good and the jobs run smoothly and in their spare time they’d knit everyone blankets. That’s the kind of universe I really want to visit.

I’m not invisible in science fiction, just insulted by being a symbol of inadequacy. I have no wish to glorify my physical or mental problems. They cause me constant pain and if I could get rid of them I would do so in a heartbeat. But that doesn’t mean I can only exist as a symbol of a society’s failure to fix me. I can also be a symbol of determination and resilience and resolve and the kind of beauty that is only noticeable when one is paying close attention. Perhaps on my next tour, I’ll find someone like me standing for better things than failure.

#

Carrie Sessarego is the resident “geek reviewer” for Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, where she wrangles science fiction, fantasy romance, comics, movies, and non-fiction. Her first book, PRIDE, PREJUDICE, AND POPCORN: TV AND FILM ADAPTATIONS OF PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, WUTHERING HEIGHTS, AND JANE EYRE, was released in 2014. Her work has been published in SEARCH Magazine, Interfictions Online, After the Avengers, The WisCon Chronicles Vol. 9, Google Play Editorial, and Speculative Fiction 2013: The Year’s Best Online Reviews, Essays And Commentary. When not reading and writing, you can find Carrie speaking at conventions, volunteering for the Sacramento Public Library, and getting into trouble with her mad scientist husband, Potterhead daughter, mysterious cats, and neurotic dog.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

“I’m not invisible in science fiction, just insulted by being a symbol of inadequacy. I have no wish to glorify my physical or mental problems. They cause me constant pain and if I could get rid of them I would do so in a heartbeat. But that doesn’t mean I can only exist as a symbol of a society’s failure to fix me.”

Invisible 3 CoverCarrie Sessarego is one of the contributors to Invisible 3, which includes 18 essays and poems about representation in science fiction and fantasy. You can order the collection at:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Smashwords | Google Play

Sessarego is the resident “geek reviewer” for Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, where she wrangles science fiction, fantasy romance, comics, movies, and non-fiction. Her first book, PRIDE, PREJUDICE, AND POPCORN: TV AND FILM ADAPTATIONS OF PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, WUTHERING HEIGHTS, AND JANE EYRE, was released in 2014. Her work has been published in SEARCH Magazine, Interfictions Online, After the Avengers, The WisCon Chronicles Vol. 9, Google Play Editorial, and Speculative Fiction 2013: The Year’s Best Online Reviews, Essays And Commentary. When not reading and writing, you can find Carrie speaking at conventions, volunteering for the Sacramento Public Library, and getting into trouble with her mad scientist husband, Potterhead daughter, mysterious cats, and neurotic dog.

#

Lost in Space: A Messy Voyage Through Fictional Universes

In Which We Prepare for Launch

In the past year I’ve struggled with managing increasingly serious symptoms of arthritis and fibromyalgia, as well as other symptoms of Noonan Syndrome. These issues affect my daily life and make me question my identity. Does having the kinds of problems I have mean I’m disabled? Lately I’ve settled on my own word to describe myself: ‘messy’. I do not intend it as pejorative term. Many wonderful things are messy – babies, Jackson Pollock paintings, glitter, and my house, for example.  I chose the term because I tend not to fit neatly into a category, I look unusual, and my problems defy simple solutions.

With my new favorite word in mind, I decided to take a tour through a few of the fictional universes I love to see where my messiness might fit in. In science fiction, we explore the notion that technology will cure all or most conditions which are perceived as detrimental. This sets up a treatment of ‘messy’ conditions as one in which the presence of mess is a sign that a planet or society is poor and otherwise backward.

This is why I am most likely to be represented in franchises such as Star Wars and Firefly, which show a clear line between the planets that are part of the establishment and planets that remain outside the establishment. It also means my appearance in those franchises would be derogatory. My uncorrected droopy eye and my limp signal, “This planet is poor.” My existence signals that a society is failing to care for its own. However, it might also be a sign that a society is willing to tolerate difference – a positive trait that is undercut by keeping messy people in the background instead of allowing them to shine as main characters.

In Which We Visit the Star Wars Universe

The Star Wars Universe can be split into two types of settings: tidy and messy. I’d never be found in the more prosperous cities of the Empire, or the Empire’s ships and stations. The Empire’s look is polished and perfect, unlike the more rough, dirty, used look of the Rebel Alliance. Even Darth Vader, who is profoundly disabled, has an exterior façade of physical strength and health, thanks in part to Vader’s glossy suit. By presenting a perfect, clean, shiny world, The Empire positions itself as an institution of order versus chaos. In the Empire, everything is under control – in many senses of the term.

The iconography of the Empire conveys power but also conformity. It echoes Nazi propaganda, with high-necked uniforms for officers and faceless, elite soldiers called “stormtroopers.” Troops stand in formation to hear speeches set against the backdrop of red flags. It seems highly unlikely that anyone messy would be tolerated in the Empire’s most militaristic strongholds. Someone with my odd gait and appearance would be an embarrassment – a blot on an otherwise perfect presentation of physical power.

The less developed a planet is, the more likely it is to be friendly towards the Rebel Alliance. Like most frontier lands, the inhabitants of these planets dislike rules and like most frontier lands they seem to be much more hardscrabble than the Empire – these are places where perfectly polished steel is replaced by rusty spare parts. For example, in A New Hope, Tatooine is clearly under the Empire’s dominion, and yet people speak quite openly of joining the Rebellion.

These planets are impoverished, yet they are also havens of non-conformity. Look at the residents of the rougher neighborhoods of Tatooine or Jakku, and you could easily find me limping down the street. My very “messiness” would serve as a sign that this planet is Not Up To Par. It would be a sign that The Empire does not serve all planets equally as well as a sign that the Rebellion is not doing well. We know from Anakin Skywalker’s transformation into Darth Vader that incredible medical technology exists. It seems likely, however, that the Rebellion-friendly planets don’t have access to it.

On the plus side, while the outer planets may not have the ability to fix problems, they do seem to be willing to tolerate every possible level of appearance and behavior. It’s even possible that my odd appearance would not block me from becoming one of the central actors in a Star Wars franchise film. After all, Yoda is even shorter than I am, and unlike me, he’s green. However, The Star Wars main cast spends a lot of time running and fighting hand-to-hand. Unless I develop an affinity for The Force, there will be no trips in the Millennium Falcon for me. I’ve been trying to use The Force on things since I was six and nothing has happened yet, but maybe I’m a late bloomer! Till then, I would be relegated strictly to the alleys of some dusty town, evidence that no one has the resources to fix me but also that no one has an interest in eliminating me.

In Which We Survey The ’Verse (Firefly and Serenity)

Here’s another example of the link between disability and class. Someone like me could easily be located in the ports of the relatively impoverished Rim planets. The Rim Planets and their inhabitants are allowed to be ‘messy,’ but the prosperous cities (the Core worlds) are not. The Core worlds, dominated more closely by the Alliance, rely on a very similar aesthetic as the cities dominated by the Empire in Star Wars, for the same reasons. An optimistic soul might say that the medical technology on Core worlds is so advanced that physical impairments are easily cured. A more cynical soul might say that those who can’t be cured are ‘encouraged’ to seek life out of sight of others.

It’s theoretically possible that I could be part of the main Firefly cast if I had a special skill to offer that did not rely on physical strength. For instance, Wash, Simon and Kaylee are all physically fit, but their use to the crew is due to their skill sets (pilot, surgeon and mechanic, respectively), not their physical fitness (I realize many people with disabilities are extremely physically fit, but I am not). Additionally, there’s the fact that anyone can be a passenger if they have enough funds – presumably even short arthritic women.

Unfortunately, given my slow walking speed and non-existent running speed, it’s doubtful I would survive the events of the movie (Serenity). The other barrier to my being part of the Firefly crew is that the crew is, as Mal might put it, “So very pretty.” Indeed, an abundance of good looks is possibly the only common denominator of the ship’s passengers and crew. I have many lovely qualities, but a Hollywood standard of “pretty” is not one of them.

In Which We Transport Ourselves to Star Trek

Star Trek has been quite ambitious in trying to portray people with disabilities in a positive light. In the Original Series, Miranda Jones is blind (“Is There in Truth No Beauty”). In the Next Generation, Picard has an artificial heart, Geordi is blind, and several individual episodes deal with disabilities.

However, there is still no place for messy in Star Trek. Disabled characters have a single issue (blindness, for instance). This issue is dealt with in a way that does not impair the attractiveness of the actor (although Geordi’s visor does conceal actor LeVar Burton’s eyes) and it gives the characters an advantage – both Geordie and Miranda Jones are able to sense things that others cannot, although in very different ways and through different means. On other occasions, a disability can be cured or treated by a single, though risky, operation or drug, one which patients undergo rather than stay disabled (“Ethics” and “Too Short a Season”).

The one character who might be truly viewed as ‘messy’ is Commander Pike of The Original Series. Pike was injured in an accident and became scarred, paralyzed, and unable to speak (the idea that The Federation can’t come up with a better way to help him communicate is the most implausible part of the episode). In “The Menagerie,” he is returned to the remote planet Talos IV, where he can live with an illusion of being his younger, pre-accident self.

Over and over again, Star Trek says one thing but shows another. When Worf demands that Riker kill him after Worf is paralyzed, everyone tries to talk him out of it. Geordie is a vital member of the crew with or without his visor. No one supports Admiral Johnson in “Too Short a Season” in his attempts to de-age by popping alien space pills.

Star Trek SAYS people with disabilities have value. But Star Trek SHOWS a society in which only tidy forms of disability are allowed. There are no captains in wheelchairs. Characters who are not cured or fixed or blessed with extra useful technology disappear.  While Star Trek SAYS that people with disabilities can still contribute to society, in practice characters choose to risk their lives lest they become disabled and therefore “useless.” The exception is Troi, who realizes that she can still be useful after she loses her empathic powers, but she gets them back, tidily, at the end of 45 minutes.

If I could be found anywhere in Star Trek, it would be on Deep Space Nine, that frontier outpost no one wants to be assigned to. Here. class distinction strikes again. The characters in this show are experienced with dealing with mess in terms of assisting travelers and the survivors of war. Deep Space Nine also has a wheelchair user named Melora who refuses to be ‘fixed’ and who insists, correctly, that she can be a useful, adventurous, active person despite her inability to walk in “normal” gravity (“Melora”).

Alas, Melora leaves the station after only one episode, and once again we are left with a cast that is either non-human or human/human-like and very pretty and athletic. If I were on Deep Space Nine, I would be a mess for the crew to deal with, a “Very Special Episode.” There’s still no allotment for messy among the crew.

A Quick Read in the Spaceport: The Vorkosigan Saga

FINALLY! Miles Vorkosigan, of the beloved book series by Lois McMaster Bujold is the essence of messy! He’s short (we are the same height!) and oddly proportioned! He has brittle bones, which means his physical abilities and pain levels change constantly as various parts of him break and heal. He has scars. He struggles with mood disorders. None of this stops him from living a life of adventure and daring, and he has a happy romance.

This book series has a huge and loyal fan base, many stories and sub-plots, an abundance of world-building and fascinating characters, and yet it has never been adapted to screen. Could it be that it’s simply too messy for Hollywood to contemplate? For the sake of brevity (I know, too late) I’ve confined our trip to stories that made it to the screen. This book series is a hint of how much diverse representation is possible if Hollywood were more daring.

Reflections from Home

After such an exhausting trip, I need a nap. But first, my conclusion: the world of television and film, especially large franchises and series, likes things to be tidy. The problem is not that there are no disabled people in science fiction. The problem is that disabled people are so often relegated to a Very Special Episode and/or a guest character role, and they are made so tidy that they do not resemble the messy reality that many of us experience.

Frankly, I’d be thrilled if my conditions could be cured. But that doesn’t mean that our fictional worlds should be without mess. Mess is part of life. People who have complicated physical and mental issues are part of life, and they are vibrant and capable. Why couldn’t I be an interplanetary historian for the Enterprise, or a Rebel Alliance pilot in Star Wars, or a traveling storyteller in Firefly? Why should I hide in some smoky corner of a Cantina when I could be at the Council table plotting the rebellion?

When storytellers banish people like me to the Cantinas and the alleys of backwater planets, they are telling us, “You are undesirable. You are a sign that things have gone wrong. You are not nice to look at and you can’t get shit done.” Yet I know any number of messy people who get shit done all the time. If they worked on the crew of The Firefly, they’d make the protein packs taste good and the jobs run smoothly and in their spare time they’d knit everyone blankets. That’s the kind of universe I really want to visit.

I’m not invisible in science fiction, just insulted by being a symbol of inadequacy. I have no wish to glorify my physical or mental problems. They cause me constant pain and if I could get rid of them I would do so in a heartbeat. But that doesn’t mean I can only exist as a symbol of a society’s failure to fix me. I can also be a symbol of determination and resilience and resolve and the kind of beauty that is only noticeable when one is paying close attention. Perhaps on my next tour, I’ll find someone like me standing for better things than failure.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Signal Boosting Some Friends

Lots of folks doing cool/interesting/nifty stuff lately. I figured I’d put some of them together into a convenient blog post.

1. Stephanie Burgis and Tiffany Trent have been coediting an anthology called THE UNDERWATER BALLROOM SOCIETY. If you sign up for the newsletter, you can be entered to win one of fifty advance review e-copies. Authors include Laura Anne Gilman, Jenny Moss, Cassandra Khaw, Patrick Samphire, Y. S. Lee, and more.

2. Kristen Britain is doing a Kickstarter for the Green Rider Book Soundtrack. This is part of the 20th anniversary celebration for the book, and it looks like she’s close to hitting her goal. The music is composed by Kristina A. Bishoff.

3. Robert V. S. Redick wrote a blog post about the creation of his new epic fantasy, Master Assassins, which just came out. He talks in part about how feminism influenced the writing, including this line: “Being a feminist means always asking myself what those demons are up to. We all like to be ‘woke,’ but a white man can get away with nodding off any time.”

4. Juliet McKenna does a cover reveal and talks about the inspiration for her forthcoming book The Green Man’s Heir.

Feel free to boost your own friends and their awesome projects in the comments! No self-boosting, though. At the very least, make a friend come over and do that for you 😉

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Cool Stuff Friday

Friday is closing in on the end of this rewrite!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Tags:

Mass Shootings and Mental Health

This is a repost and slight expansion of a Twitter thread from a few days ago.

::Taps microphone::

For the record, I have a mental illness, and have never committed a mass shooting.

Research shows that “the overall contribution of people with serious mental illness to violent crimes is only about 3%. When these crimes are examined in detail, an even smaller percentage of them are found to involve firearms.

If you’re looking for a more telling correlation, consider this finding from an FBI study of 160 active shooter events between 2000 and 2013: “Only 6 (3.8%) of the 160 cases involved a female perpetrator.” (p. 85)

I mean, please, PLEASE, do improve mental health care in this country! But don’t expect it to have any impact on mass shootings.

One argument points to a Mother Jones article claiming mental illness is frequently a factor in these shootings. So I downloaded their data set.

Factors they listed in the mental illness column include:

  • History of domestic conflict
  • Violent criminal history
  • Family said he was mentally ill (no illness/diagnosis specified)
  • Cousin said he was depressed and “going through a lot of things”
  • Experimented with pot and hallucinogens

They also listed some actual mental illness diagnoses. But counting those diagnoses right alongside things like “stalked and harassed a colleague” completely undermines their research and conclusions.

One individual was upset I argued against blaming mass shootings on the mentally ill, then turned around and pointed out that almost all mass shooters are male. I mean, I guess I’m sorry he felt upset or attacked or whatever, but the facts are pretty straightforward:

  • Most mass shooters are not mentally ill.
  • Mass shooters are almost always male.

Yeah, we know most men aren’t mass murderers. But since mass shootings are committed almost exclusively by men, don’t you think maybe it’s worth asking why? (Don’t #NotAllMen me, bro!)

We could also look into the significant correlation between mass shootings and domestic violence.

I’m not the first to point any of this out. There’s plenty of research out there, and people have been challenging the “mass shootings are a mental health problem” refrain for years.

At this point, if you’re still beating the “mental illness” drum as a response to mass shootings in the USA, I have to assume it’s because you’re uninterested in addressing the real problems.

TL;DR – I’m mentally ill. Please stop blaming this epidemic on us. Thanks.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Tags:

Audio Goblins!

Goblin Tales: CoverGraphic Audio has just released the audio book of my short collection Goblin Tales, which includes five goblin-related short stories as well as “Mightier than the Sword,” the short story (with Smudge!) that eventually became the Magic ex Libris series.

If you order today (2/26), you’ll be automatically entered to win a Prize Pack featuring a GraphicAudio beanie, keychain and a Smudge plush!

To celebrate, they’re also offering 30% off the Goblin Trilogy set if you use code GOBLIN30

Happy goblin day, everybody!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Black Panther Discussion Links

We saw Black Panther on Monday. The final panther fight was a little too CGI for me, but that’s a minor flaw in an overall amazing movie.

Rather than talk about it myself, I wanted to link to some reaction pieces.

There’s so much more great discussion out there. Feel free to share links in the comments.

And then, of course, there’s this…

If I fits…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Price Drop: Imprinted

Imprinted Cover ArtJust a quick note that the price for the e-book of “Imprinted” has dropped to $1.99.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled internetting.

 

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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#MeToo, Denial, and Backlash

Last month, Drew Himmelstein published an article called Children’s Publishing Reckons with Sexual Harassment in Its Ranks. The conversation and discussion will be familiar to many. When I checked, there were 475 comments, many of which named and talked about known harassers in children’s publishing and elsewhere.

Last week, author Anne Ursu published the results of a survey she’d done, along with a great deal of discussion and analysis, in Sexual Harassment in the Children’s Book Industry.

We’ve had similar conversations in the SF/F genre, and we’re seeing it in society in general. Sexual harassment isn’t limited to any one region or profession. If you think your field is immune, you should probably brace yourself for an unpleasant reality check coming your way soon.

As always, there’s been backlash. People — mostly men, from what I’ve observed — protest that #MeToo is turning into a witch hunt. “We all want to support real victims and punish real harassers, but what about all the innocent people whose lives and reputations are being ruined?”

Others worry about due process and false accusations. (Pathetically, the most recent false accusations I’ve seen came from trolls who complained about how easy it is to make a false accusation, and tried to prove it by making false accusations. Which…WTF, dude?)

Then there’s that sense of overwhelming disbelief. “I know harassment happens, but it can’t possibly be this big a problem, can it?”

Yeah, it can.

Statistics

Study after study shows that sexual harassment, particularly (but not exclusively) of women, is common. Millions of victims in the U.S. alone. And for so damned long, companies have swept these incidents under the rug and created ridiculous hoops to discourage victims from reporting.

These two factors — the frequency of harassment and the backlog of unreported or silenced incidences going back longer than we’ve been alive — explain why we’re now seeing so many people coming forward. We’re dealing with one hell of a backlog. It’s why we’re going to see a hell of a lot more of these stories, now that the dam is beginning to crack.

It is overwhelming, especially if you’ve had the luxury of not seeing it. As a guy, I’ve rarely been directly affected by sexual harassment. I had the ability to close my eyes and get on with my life. Not anymore. And that’s a good thing. It means everyone has to face the facts — facts we’ve known about from study after study after study.

This flood is what the data has been telling us all along.

What About False Accusations and Due Process?

Employers, conventions, and other organizations need to have good harassment policies in place, and they need to follow those policies.

An individual who chooses to speak out about being harassed is not a company. They aren’t the judicial system. They’re an individual who has every right to disclose what a predator did to them.

We know false accusations of sexual assault or domestic violence are rare — just like false accusations of other crimes. I’ve not found reliable research on false accusations of sexual harassment, specifically. But in general, hysteria over the idea of women destroying men’s lives with false accusations has drastically overshadowed the reality.

There’s a proven epidemic of sexual harassment. There is absolutely no evidence for an epidemic of false accusations.

Yes, it happens. We had the false accuser of Roy Moore last year who inadvertently proved how good the Washington Post was at investigating and substantiating such accusations. There’s a notorious SF/F troll who likes to accuse a bestselling author of being a rapist, based on the troll’s inability to understand satire. There’s the case of Jemma Beale, who was jailed for 10 years for making false accusations of rape. And one individual in the comments of the Himmelstein article has said they made up an accusation about two men. (As of 2/14 at 5 p.m., the admins have not verified this is the same commenter who made the accusation.)

It’s not that false accusations never happen. It’s that they’re rare. But time and again, the overblown hysteria over false accusations is used to derail and drown out discussion of the demonstrably real flood of sexual assault and harassment.

Does “Believe women” mean women never ever lie and there’s no such thing as a false accusation? Of course not. What it means is that if someone says they were sexually harassed, the odds are extremely good that they’re telling the truth. (And those odds increase exponentially when multiple victims come forward.)

If a sexual harassment case goes to human resources or the judicial system, there should be a process to be followed. (Preferably a process that doesn’t actively punish victims for reporting.) I haven’t seen anyone suggest otherwise.

I’m neither a business nor a court. And I believe the victims.

But That Person Has Always Been Cool Around Me!

It’s hard to see someone you know named as a harasser. I’ve been there. I felt the instinctive shock and denial. I automatically thought back to my own interactions with the person, and I couldn’t remember anything inappropriate.

I had a similar reaction when I learned a friend at the crisis center where I volunteered had embezzled roughly $13,000 from the organization. I couldn’t believe it. He’d always been a kind, friendly, generally awesome guy. I’d never seen anything to suggest he was a thief.

But maybe that was because he didn’t march around stealing money in front of me!

It’s the same damn thing with harassers. They’re not running around harassing everyone who crosses their path. Predators choose and isolate their targets. They test boundaries. They use guilt and manipulation, and they make you question yourself. They get their victims into a situation where they can harass them without witnesses.

They also build relationships with people who’ll vouch for them. They don’t just groom potential victims; they also groom potential character witnesses. Harassers and abusers can be incredibly charming. They can do genuinely good things in other areas. You might like and trust them.

But saying, “All of my interactions with Bob have been great!” does nothing to address the accusation that Bob sexually harassed people. All you’re doing is saying he didn’t sexually harass you. Which is great, but not really relevant.

Let’s see how that conversation would look in a different context.

  • Jill: “Fred murdered my grandfather.”
  • Jack: “Well, Fred never murdered either of my grandfathers!”
  • Jill: “WTF is wrong with you, Jack?”

It’s a little exaggerated, I know, but hopefully you get the point?

This Is Only the Beginning

Sexual harassment is built on generations of inequity. It’s been going on for centuries. It’s not going to go away overnight. This is a long-term, systemic problem, and it’s going to need long-term work to try to fix it.

I get how disheartening it is. I’ve hated seeing people I respected and admired outed as serial harassers or worse. (I’m still pissed and grieving over Bill Cosby.)

You know what I hate even more? That their behavior was allowed to continue for so long. That so many women and men suffered because the rest of us looked away or refused to listen. That the careers and lives of so many victims were derailed.

However painful it might be to me to read these stories, it’s nothing compared to the pain of everyone who lived them. However tired I might feel, it’s nothing compared to the exhaustion of those on the front lines, fighting — demanding to be heard. Demanding change.

It takes tremendous courage to speak out about being sexually harassed. The least the rest of us can do is find the courage to listen, and to accept the reality of a problem we might not want to face.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Cool Stuff Friday

Friday wants a career in transmission electron microscopy. Not a permanent career, though — just pro-TEM.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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Imprinted: One Month Update

Imprinted Cover Art“Imprinted,” my Magic ex Libris novelette, has been out for about a month. This was something of an experiment — my first original self-published tie-in title. Thus far, I think the experiment has been going well. Reviews are pretty positive, and the first month’s sales have been good enough to make me think I should to this again.

I figured people would primarily buy the ebook, and the numbers bear that out with a total of 775 sales so far. But to my surprise and delight, 101 people opted for the print version. That’s much more than I expected, and tells me it’s worth taking the time to create a print edition to go with the ebook.

My only frustration on the print side was that CreateSpace couldn’t get me copies in time for me to take them to ConFusion.

Almost all of the sales have come from Amazon, which was pretty much what I expected. Here’s the breakdown on sales channels. (iBooks is bundled into the Smashwords sales.)

Imprinted Sales Pie Chart

  • Kindle: 714
  • Nook: 26
  • Kobo: 17
  • Smashwords: 5
  • Google Play: 4
  • Direct Sales: 9

Total income, before taxes, is just over $1,800.

Back when I started this project, I was torn between pricing the ebook at $2.99 or $1.99. The big difference is in how royalties are calculated. Years ago, Amazon began offering 70% royalties if your ebook was priced between $2.99 and $9.99. Everyone else more or less followed suit.

What this means is that the current price of $2.99 earns me roughly two bucks per sale. Pricing the same ebook at $1.99 means the royalties drop to 35%, or roughly seventy cents per sale. In other words, cutting the price by 1/3 would cut my royalties by 2/3. A lot of people said they’d happily pay the higher price to support me. (THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!)

I decided I’d start with $2.99, and after a month or so, I’d drop the price to $1.99. I’ll be making that price cut early next week. So if you’re feeling generous and want to give me that larger royalty bump, you’ve got a few more days. If you prefer to save a buck — which I totally understand and respect — check back next week.

Here are the sales links:

This has been Five Minutes of Self-Publishing Business Navel-Gazing. (Not to be confused with Naval-Glazing.)

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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