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Sidetracks is a collaborative project featuring various essays, videos, reviews, or other Internet content that we want to share with each other. All past and current links for the Sidetracks project can be found in our Sidetracks tag.


I really wish I was excited for a Gotham City Sirens movie, I really do.

➝ The Black Geeks and Black Girl Nerds are teaming up to put together Universal Fan Con, an inclusive fan convention in Baltimore. They’re currently fundraising for their initial run in 2018, so kick them some dollars if you can.

➝ I really enjoyed Liana Aghajanian’s “The Complicated History of Headscarves”, which looks at the history of head coverings in the major faith traditions and draws parallels between them all.

RollerCoaster Tycoon is now available on iOS and Android for $6. There is probably no better time to have a game where you are the cruel and unjust god of a theme park in your pocket.

➝ The National Museum of American-Jewish History is prepping for an exhibit on queer American Jews. If you’re queer, American, and Jewish, submit your story to this tumblr to contribute to the exhibit!

➝ Just a reminder: being in slash fandom does not an ally inherently create.

I find the idea of an episode of Legends of Tomorrow, a superhero show I do not pretend to understand, being centered around what would happen if George Lucas never made Star Wars and inspired a generation delightful.

Yuri on ICE!!! has, naturally, consumed my life. Here’s a breakdown of Viktor’s "Stay With Me" routine (the one Yuuri copies) by an actual figure skating fan to show you just how insane these routines are compared to real life figure skating. And this is a handy primer on figure skating jumps.

➝ From the before times of 2016; Jess Plummer’s touching tribute to Debbie Reynolds.

Aja Romano on how the straightforward politics of Star Wars—teamwork good, Nazis bad—have become embattled in our current political climate. (P.S. speculative fiction is the most political please and thank you)

This epic Metafilter thread in response to Sarah Jeong’s piece about inadequate reproductive health care in the Star Wars universe is fantastic. Scroll past the dudebros trying to dismiss the entire concept and stay for people breaking down Goldilocks and the Three Bears.


➝ First, here is a video of a happy, happy fox. I think we can all use videos like this going into 2017. One of my goals — include a great animal video in every edition of Sidetracks this year.

➝ Laurie Penny's Meltdown of the Phantom Snowflakes is a wonderful piece about how insisting that people be 'strong' is sneaky way of silencing the oppressed. Her last two paragraphs are on fire:
The new right might feel strong, and be in power this season, but theirs is a fragile, ugly strength. They have exoskeletons, but no backbone. They allow their hearts to rot inside a carapace of denial. Their strength is the strength of invertebrates, of impermeable things that can bite and sting but cannot stand upright when it counts.

I’ve got no time for that sort of strength. Not now, not ever. Give me courage instead, the courage to remain permeable, to remain open, the potential for empathy and learning. Make me brave—I don’t care about strong.

➝ I saw the trailer for Logan, the latest X-Men spin-off film. It is peak sad-times Logan and it is everything to me right now.

➝ Speaking of films, the BAFTAs have introduced new diversity guidelines for two of their main awards. This is very welcome.

The Jhalak Prize has released its longlist (this is the first year the prize has run) and it's really interesting. A mix of non-fiction and fiction (including YA) by well-known and less-well known chromatic writers. Again very welcome (especially as the first big UK book prize of the year was so white).

➝ Finally, for anyone looking for more short fiction to try, Cassandra Khaw is doing weekly short story round-ups this year.


➝ Like many folks, I was deeply saddened by the recent death of Carrie Fisher. One of my favorite tributes to her life and work comes from her co-star and fictional twin, Mark Hamill.

➝ While we're on the subject of Star Wars (Rogue One spoilers in the first two links): Becky Chambers on the power and presense of Darth Vader; Sarah Jeong on problems with data storage in the Star Wars universe (my librarian heart was particularly tickled by that one); and a charming gallery of Star Wars characters with cats.

➝ When I first heard about the sci-fi romance Passengers, I was cautiously optimistic. Original live-action SF film with charming A-list actors and an intriguing premise? Sign me up… until I heard about the twist left out of all the previews: that the true premise of the "romance" is a creep-fest riddled with consent problems. Fortunately, the truth made the rounds before the movie's release, so it tanked at the box office — but most attempts to explain the flop don't credit the women who stayed away from the film because of the terrible premise. Ceilidhann at Bibliodaze takes a deeper look at that phenomenon here.

➝ Here's a fascinating story about a movie that doesn't exist, even though thousands of people are convinced they've seen it.

➝ Ever since Mark Oshiro of Mark Watches started his journey through Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, I have been eager for him to get to the classic episode "Far Beyond the Stars". His reaction is everything I could have hoped for.

A few months ago, I wrote about the lawsuit Paramount filed against the fan film Star Trek: Axanar. Contrary to claims made at the time, the suit was not dropped, and a judge recently ruled against the filmmakers' fair use claim. The case will now go to a jury trial, and it bears VERY close watching. The results could have huge, and chilling, implications for fanworks as fair use.

➝ I've recently been catching up on PBS Idea Channel, one of my favorite video series. Two that I particularly liked: Is the Internet a Public Place? and Do You Pronounce It GIF or GIF? (spoilers: Mike concludes that it's fine to say it either way and that all your arguments for a "correct" pronunciation are wrong, I agree one thousand percent, and yes I will fight you on this).

➝ Book Riot reminds us that "All Books are Political". A manifesto, a mission statement, words to live by.


BRING IT IN 2017//LEAVE IT IN 2016 by Nathan Zed is great. He's a recent discovery I made and I like the videos he makes a lot. A+ comedy.

Fighting Straw-Man Approximations of Your Critics Makes You Look Like an Asshole is so good, I wish I had written it. But it's good Jenny wrote it because she had a lot of facts about Creeper Aaron Sorkin that made it better. We can only hope that Nick Spencer showing how fragile a creator he is follows him the rest of his life.

➝ It's Hugo season already. A lot of people are putting up rec lists on their blogs and mentioning them on Twitter, but I am notoriously disorganized and will never remember to go back even if I bookmark all 94626293 of them, so here's a handy spreadsheet that will hopefully capture a bunch, or at least the ones who have consensus (which you need for the Hugo Awards). This year's version has a new series sheet because that's apparently a category that's happening this year. I admit to some...fatigue? I still love the Hugos but I'm just waiting for the inevitable disappointment that has followed the whole process the last two years as my efforts to get more of my pals involved tracked with a bunch of bigots trying to ruin it for everyone. I don't see how it's escapable at this point. But maybe I'll be proven wrong!

Sisterhood of the Traveling Paperbacks is a new podcast book club! Go forth, and subscribe.

➝ I have no idea how great any of these books are, but I've picked up some recs from 12 must-reads on climate change. I suspect climate change science is going to be under attack the next few years, and altho I have some basics I'd like a lot more knowledge so I can debunk casual inaccuracies i.e. correct my mother.

➝ I've discovered a lot of new journalists in 2016, but my most favorite is Lauren Duca, who you may have heard of because she backed Tucker Carlson into a rhetorical corner and threatened his sense of superiority so much that he devolved into an incoherent, sexist mess who resorted to attacking her personally. She wrote a piece about online harassment that's followed since that I really liked. I can't wait to read more of her work.

Book Acquisitions

Added TBR: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz, American Street by Ibi Zoboi, The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6' 4," African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama's Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian by W. Kamau Bell, The Comet Sweeper: Caroline Herschel's Astronomical Ambition by Claire Brock, The Rediscovered Woman: What Science Has Gotten Wrong about Women, and the Struggle to Get It Right by Angela Saini, The Vaccine Race: Science, Politics, and the Human Costs of Defeating Disease by Meredith Wadman, All Systems Red by Martha Wells, American War by Omar El Akkad, The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear, Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns, Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey, The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty, Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music by Nadine Hubbs, The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson & Nicole Galland, Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw


MIT made a tiny folding robot that is really cute!

And then they made a similar thing out of meat.

➝ The Fast & Furious 8 trailer dropped (The Fate of the Furious!) and I AM YELLING for reasons that I can't explain without spoilers and maybe a twenty-slide powerpoint presentation.

Date: 2017-01-13 01:19 am (UTC)
transcendancing: Darren Hayes quote "Life is for leading, for not people pleasing" (Default)
From: [personal profile] transcendancing

Date: 2017-01-16 04:09 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
ALWAYS SO MANY GOOD LINKS. I super appreciated the gif breakdown of all the different jumps in ice skating. Maybe now I will be able to identify them myself in real life. (Narrator: She would not.) Also, the link that analyzes "Stay with Me" doesn't lead anywhere -- maybe the person took it down? :(

Lauren Duca is one of my fave new journalist discoveries of 2017 too, although I wish I had discovered her in less shitty circumstances. If dudes could just take a year off from super-intense harassment of people they disagree with, that'd be swell.

Date: 2017-01-16 04:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] readingtheend.com
Gah, how do I keep doing this. That was me, Jenny! And also, thank you Renay for saying super nice things about my persnickety comics piece. :D

Date: 2017-01-18 02:33 am (UTC)
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
Did you misspell "insightful" there, Jenny? It looks like you may have!

Date: 2017-01-17 11:39 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
Yeah I have a lot of 'Heh' feelings about the possible outcome of Hugos this year again but I really like the nomination stage (it's just fun to hear about tons of eligible stuff). I admit I am not very optimistic.

Also, I saw a thread about whether people can avoid block voting to combat Puppies & I don't want to harsh on people who just want to vote for things they love but perhaps there are lessons to be learned from the current political situation around the world on this. Like, if these are the people getting voted into office does anyone think that an SFF contest that's already been subject to conservative block voting is gonna be just fine?

Date: 2017-01-18 02:39 am (UTC)
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
I know. I share your pessimism. I'm still going to take part because I know part of the goal was to gouge a huge wound in participation rates so things would ~go back to normal~ but some of the shine has been worn off the whole endeavor for me because it sucks to get so excited about a thing and then have the finalists announced be a bunch of bigots who wish you didn't exist.

I know the membership has done some work to prevent the conservative block voting, but nothing really prevents it in any scenario besides more people coming in to vote, but you need a MASSIVE amount to make any difference and they've depressed turnout and engagement so it doesn't feel possible.

At least we'll always have a month of amazing recs.


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