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.
➝ Angelica Jade Bastién explains the difference between media that is inherently camp and media that explores the performative nature of the feminine spectrum of gender.
➝ Look at these beautiful Viking Age burials recreated by the historical reenactment group Andrimners Hemtagare!
➝ This tumblr thread on fanfiction and emotional continuity is so true:
"fanfiction has nothing to do with using other people’s characters, it’s just a character-driven *genre* that is so character-driven that it can be more effective to use other people’s characters"
➝ I didn’t realize how much I missed the bonkers visual stylings of Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal until I saw the amazing opening credits to his upcoming adaptation of American Gods.
➝ American Yuri on Ice!!! fans will be able to purchase merch in Kinokuniya stores this May at pop-up shops in-store. I should say lucky American fans, since there are only three Kinokuniya stores in the States, in New York, San Francisco, and Carrollton, Texas.
➝ The only reason to ever remake The Lion King, which is a near-perfect film, would be to add Beyoncé to it, so carry on, Jon Favreau, carry on.
➝ I’ve long since stopped watching Doctor Who, but I’m quite pleased that the next companion, Bill, will be gay. Hooray!
➝ Gavia Baker-Whitelaw breaks down Marvel’s sales slump in terms of how broken tracking comic book sales is (preorders count, but trader paperbacks don’t), proving the idea that diversity is unsaleable to be a total and utter lie.
➝ I quite enjoyed Alicia Vikander and Armie Hammer’s chemistry in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., so I’m happy to see them back at the action and romance game again in Freakshift.
➝ So the UK is Brexiting and if you would like to see exactly how ridiculous the coverage of 'We don't have a clue what is happening' is please see this screenshot of an actual news story. The bananas were never straight in the first place—fuck my life!
➝ First, let's all take a John Boyega break for a minute.
➝ Gavia Baker-Whitelaw takes Marvel's recent comments about diversity and sales to task by reminding us that the way comic sales are measured is antiquated and ridiculous.
➝ Essence has a short video to help you catch you up on the news about the dozen black and Latinx teenage girls who have disappeared in DC recently.
➝ Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad is getting adapted for TV and Barry Jenkins will be working on it for Amazon.
➝ Pearl Mackie the actress who plays Bill Potts, the new Dr Who companion, says her character is going to be a lesbian. Dr Who has previously featured recurring bisexual characters (Jack Harkness) and lesbians (Madam Vastra, Jenny) before, but Bill will be the first companion (recurring, lead character who stars in every episode) who identifies as a lesbian.
➝ Look at this cool image of cosplay from the recent Wonder Con.
➝ Also, Wonder Woman related (I guess I will shut up about this at some point)—Can't Wait For 'Wonder Woman' made me smile (also the women were on their way to see Fences which made me smile even more).
➝ How dogs get older puts photos of the same dog as a puppy and as an old dog next to each other to show how dogs age.
➝ I am pretty much a sucker for this video of cats ringing bells to get food that has been doing the rounds lately. Is it terrible that I picked a favourite cat?
➝ The AP Stylebook announced a number of progressive changes, including dropping "he" as a gender-neutral pronoun and allowing use of singular "they" under limited circumstances. A small step forward, but it's progress nonetheless.
➝ From The Book Smugglers, Becky Chambers makes the case for optimistic science fiction:
If all we have are stories of bleakness, if that’s all we’re feeding ourselves, that’s going to rot us from the inside out. And yes, sugar rots, too, if you consume nothing else. Hope without fear is naive. But fear without hope is nihilism. It’s paralysis. We know the world is in a bad way right now, and we respond to stories that speak that truth back to us. But if the readers I talk with regularly are any indication, we need to balance that out in equal measure. We need to nourish and inspire as much as we need to gird and be cautious.
As an optimist by nature, I really feel this, and appreciate the threads of optimism that run through Chambers's own stories. One of the best ways to get me to read a story (always, but especially right now) is to tell me that it has a hopeful outlook grounded in the real world.
➝ The Seven Strategies for Defending Your Problematic TV Show or Movie, and Why They Don't Work: this Slate article presents many excellent examples of what not to do when people criticize your work for racism, sexism, and other issues of representation.
➝ Aaron Sorkin is shocked, shocked! to learn that there is discrimination going on in this establishment. *rolls eyes*
➝ Here's a pretty awesome video of special effects used to enliven everyday life situations.
➝ Women in SFF Month has begun! It's the sixth year Kristen has organized it (because she's a superhero), and once again I was the first guest with my essay about How to Suppress Women's Writing. As of writing this, T. Frohock and Rin Chupeco have essays out, too.
➝ As part of Women in SFF Month we're also doing our book recommendation project again. The current list is here and you can submit ten books you loved by women writers in SFF in the last year to this list via the submission form, which uses Goodreads for ease of finding the exact book you want. We keep all recs and display how many times they've been sent in. I love this resource; I'm always using it to find new women writers.
➝ I spent so many hours with The Nostalgia Machine, that gives you the top U.S. pop songs based on a year you choose. Thing I realizing about the music I listened to as a preteen: so much of it was by black artists. I still marvel that this happened to me??? Because I definitely grew up in super racist rural Arkansas. I guess I have my teenage babysitters and lack of parental supervision (my dad especially) to thank.
➝ Bridget released her 2017 spring reading list. There's a lot of greats books listed here!
➝ Dina also shared a some lists of her recent and upcoming reading, with several excellent books I also want to read.
➝ I re-read The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi in March after going to one of his book events. The book was great and I highly recommend it if you like punchy political drama in space. I was chatting with kaytaylorrea about the book on Twitter and she started fancasting it, which resulted in this rad post, which seems pretty timely since it was optioned for TV. I'm sure it will instead be filled with a bunch of white people and the names changed to reflect that, but hey, we can dream.
➝ If you're watching The Expanse on SyFy, you'll have run into the Belter language they use. Some fans have an entire tumblr about the language, which is neat.
➝ Recently there was a big to-do over Marvel executives whining about how diversity doesn't sell and that's why they were pulling back. There were tons of articles critiquing Marvel's position that went around showing, actually, that's not the whole story, and to pin it solely on diversity of race/gender is disingenuous. The most cogent article on my comics newbie level was How Marvel can bring in new female readers by Swapna Krishna. She hit on every single reason I couldn't keep up in the direct market.
The problem with this is women and newer readers read overwhelmingly in trades and digitally. Think about it: If you wanted to read a comic, and you'd never read one before, you'd either order online or walk into a bookstore. Sure, comics shops are a possibility, but most people aren't lucky enough to live near one, and many of them have reputations as hostile towards women. Trades are entry points into comics. Yet Marvel has cancelled many series aimed at women and newer readers before they even get to trade. A great example of this is Mockingbird by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemcyk—a feminist comic that was perfect for new readers, it was cancelled before the first trade released. Don't try to force readers to read how you want them to; instead, cater to how they read.
➝ Ana reviewedThe Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley and although I didn't like the book as much as she did, I thought her review was great. Most importantly, she makes it clear that although one of the upsell lines for this book is "lesbians in space!" that's not quite accurate. Because this is Hurley, who is a brutal, visceral writer in general, this is not where you go to see easy peasy lesbian relationships, but you can't really provide nuance in a tag line like that. Also, most of the time you spend in this book is hoofing (or...oozing...?) around organic worldships...which I guess are technically in space? But that's like calling my daily adventures "Rando Lady on Habitable Planet is Boring...IN SPACE!". I would sell this book as "read some great science fiction with ZERO DUDES!" but I recognize that's not a logical marketing strategy for a publisher. LUCKILY I'M NOT ONE and can do what I want: this book has zero dudes which makes the the power dynamics and motivations of the characters way more interesting because we can immediately shed the distracting and cracked husk of gender essentialism. Mmmm, yeah. That's the stuff. I can hear all publicists screaming in horror from here.
Book AcquisitionsGlass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All-American Town by Brian Alexander, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi, The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America by Frances FitzGerald, Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony: The Story of a Gamble, Two Black Holes, and a New Age of Astronomy by Marcia Bartusiak, Cryopolitics: Frozen Life in a Melting World edited by Joanna Radin & Emma Kowal, The Smear: How the Secret Art of Character Assassination Controls What You Think, What You Read, and How You Vote by Sharyl Attkisson, Goldilocks and the Water Bears: The Search for Life in the Universe by Louisa Preston, Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor, Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi, Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber, Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism by Jennifer Baumgardner & Amy Richards, Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice by Paul Kivel, Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson, So You Want to be a Robot and Other Stories by A. Merc Rustad
➝ Foz Meadows has some thoughts on morality mechanics, with a focus on Dragon Age. ('Ware unmarked spoilers for Dragon Age Inquisition!) I am generally on the side of what Foz Meadows calls immersive empathy, but the point they raise about the moment where a game makes you choose between empathy and pragmatism is really interesting!
➝ Reading Bored White Girls looks at novels about women in suburbia through the lens of race, and the way the same communities that are presented as passively stifling in novels about white white girls are an active hazard to women of colour.
➝ The video for Lionhearted by Porter Robinson and Urban Cone is the neon-pastel cyberpunk future of my dreams and I wish I had a movie.