Finished reading: Make Room! Make Room!

I blame the stinking politicians and so-called public leaders who have avoided the issue and covered it up because it was controversial and what the hell, it will be years before it matters and I’m going to get mine now. So mankind gobbled in a century all the world’s resources that had taken millions of years to store up, and no one on the top gave a damn or listened to all the voices that were trying to warn them, they just let us overproduce and overconsume, until now the oil is gone, the topsoil depleted and washed away, the trees chopped down, the animals extinct, the earth poisoned, and all we have to show for it is seven billion people fighting over the scraps that are left, living a miserable existence.

Harry Harrison, Make Room! Make Room! (1966)

What a weirdly prescient, yet entirely frustrating book. Written in the 1960s and set in the Distant Future of 1999, Make Room! Make Room! is set in a squalid, over-populated New York city, and deals with everything from peak oil to climate crisis to water rationing to ACAB-style police shootings of minority groups. On the other hand, it is very very definitely written by a middle-class liberal in the style of Malthus, and is grotesquely classist, particular towards the end where Harrison starts wallbanging about birth control and, in particular, poor people “over-breeding” to get government welfare. (And noting this book pre-dates, for example, China’s infamous One Child Policy.)

And, of course, the elephant in this book’s room is capitalism which — for something about over-consumption and resource hoarding by the ultra-wealthy — somehow never warrants even the slightest whiff of a mention . . .

2022-04-13T08:48:32+10:0013th April, 2022|Tags: , , |

Finished reading: Metro 2033

This is a very dense book and not much actually happens in it, which I have to admit is both on of my least favorite styles of writing and also the one that intuitively feels the “most Russian.”

I’ve already watched an LP of the videogame so the ending was already spoiled for me, and I think I would’ve reacted much more negatively to the book if it hadn’t been. Some interesting ideas, but mostly this has reminded me I need to read Roadside Picnic . . .

2022-04-04T06:07:02+10:004th April, 2022|Tags: , , |

Finished reading: Guardian (镇魂)

Finally finished!

I devoured the first three quarters of this back when the TV show was big in the West but got “stuck” on the parts post-reveal. The book definitely makes more sense than the show, but nonetheless the show fleshes out a few character things in ways I found more engaging than the book. Neither are my fav per se but it’s Baby’s First Danmei, so will always hold a special place in my heart.

2022-04-01T06:48:24+11:001st April, 2022|Tags: , , , , |

Cancelled culture.

The delineation between paranoid and reparative readings originated in 1995, with influential critic Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. A paranoid reading focuses on what’s wrong or problematic about a work of art. A reparative reading seeks out what might be nourishing or healing in a work of art, even if the work is flawed. Importantly, a reparative reading also tends to consider what might be nourishing or healing in a work of art for someone who isn’t the reader.

On readings.

This is almost an aside in a much longer article about Isabel Fall’s short story, “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter,” which is worth reading in full (though content warning for gender dysphoria, transphobia, harassment, and mentions of suicide and mental illness).

After ditching Twitter (and most social media) a few years back, one of my self-imposed rules has been to limit my exposure with people who are known, primarily or in large part, for their Pithy Internet Hot Takes. This mostly means just . . . not being on Twitter, though I also do liberal name muting on platforms like Tumblr and Mastodon. It is an unbelievably freeing feeling.

2021-08-25T07:11:02+10:0030th August, 2021|Tags: , |

Honestly I’m just tired…

So anyway if nothing else last night’s Hugo Award ceremony is pretty much the last nail in the coffin for the relevance of so-called “old guard” science fiction and fantasy. CoNZealand can issue all the mealy mouthed apologies they want but when it comes down to it they were still the ones who booked Martin full-well knowing the guy has a long, long, long history of chauvinist community exclusionism.1 Everything that happened last night—and I do mean everything—was blindingly obvious from a thousand paces.

Oh but, yanno. Marin is Famous™. And if nothing else Worldcon can always be counted on to kiss the asses of anyone it feels may bring it even the teensiest, tiniest bit of cultural relevance to its table.

Incidentally, the rough estimate is that there are about one thousand people that regularly attend Worldcons. One. Thousand. When it’s held in larger cities, i.e. with populations in the millions, it scrapes up into the higher four digits.

I live in a city of about 300,000 people. Our local annual media convention got around 5,000 attendees the last time it was run. It’s considered tiny for its type.

When Worldcons are held in similarly sized cities they struggle to get numbers in the hundreds.

And to be super clear about this: this is by design. It’s an open secret that there are people associated with Worldcon that want to keep it small and cliquish and closed to outsiders—by which yes you may absolutely read “anyone not a white American man”, give or take a degree or two—and they want to do that while simultaneously wanting it to be seen as the “premiere” driving force in science fiction and fantasy. It’s all the kids who were2 laughed at and spat on at school stomping off to make their own Cool Kids’ Club so that for once they can be the biggest fish in the smallest pond and shove all the even nerdier losers into lockers.

Is it any wonder, then, this long, slow, wheezing stumble into irrelevance?

And, to be clear, I do think think there’s something salvageable there. The Hugo Awards themselves are evidence of that; evidence of a growing diversity and a youthful energy. So is the anger things like last night provoke. But nothing is going to change, not really, when the next two years’ of Worldcons have snapped back, rubber-band-like, to the comfortable mediocrity of being hosted in the United States, and nothing is going to happen when guests of honor continue to be all white and awards hosts can’t even be bothered to learn to pronounce people’s names in prerecorded video.

Nothing here is new. And it is systemic, it’s connected.

And I’m just so fucking tired.

  1. However he isn’t, at least to my knowledge, a “missing stair“, as they say, which makes him the “non contentious” choice to represent the Famous Old White Men of SFF. Yes, we really, really are at the point where “doesn’t sexually harass, assault, and/or creep on attendees” is the fucking bar that people are trying to clear.
  2. Or at least felt like they were…
2020-10-21T11:08:07+11:002nd August, 2020|Tags: , , , , |


John W. “Slavery Was Good Actually” Campbell won the WorldCon Retro Hugo for best shortform editor because of course he did and honestly I’m just tired.1

And of course I still have no access to anything because the concom can’t handle people having Discord emails separate to their Worldcon registration emails, which… c’mon, guys. Surely someone there has a thirteen-year-old with a Fortcraft: Minenite server who can teach you how to do this. I even raised a support ticket about it and they… changed my Worldcon registration email to my Discord email and still didn’t give me access to the freakin’ Discord.

And of course panels are solely being broadcast via Zoom, which… can we just not? I mean literally do not use this platform. Not to get too topical but it’s like the computer science equivalent of going to a packed movie theater with no mask because it’s “just more convenient.”2

So yeah no Worldcon for me, I guess. I paid how many hundreds of dollars for this?

  1. And of course Lovecraft won Best Series for the Cthulhu Mythos, although the 2020 Retro Hugos are for 1945, which was after Lovecraft’s death, and most of the work being doing to actually make the mythos The Mythos—as opposed to just “Some Shit One Guy Wrote”—at that time was being done by August Derleth.
  2. Like… is it, though? Is it?
2020-10-21T11:07:58+11:0031st July, 2020|Tags: , , , , |
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