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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.

text that says Renay's Section

Speculative Fiction 2013 is looking for submissions! I am, of course, really interested in the idea of getting more content outside of "mainstream" SF review blogs. Submit them if you've got'em!

➝ Maciej Ceglowski, the owner of Pinboard (which is lovely and highly recommended if you like social bookmarking; I'm over here) gave a talk about his experience with fandom. This talk just so affectionate and lovely; I remember when Delicious crumbled due to a complete dick move by AVOS and we all felt betrayed. That's when the fandom newsletter I ran closed (probably for good), and generally that was a pretty bad time. But listening to him tell a crowd how we rallied together to save our personal and collective histories and hierarchies was just what I needed given I've been having some rough times in fandom lately.

It’s not a real heart, it’s a real artificial heart. — Dudes, don't be That Guy. Per criticism I've seen of this article: also don't tell us how to conceptualize and illustrate our oppression in our media, either. Our experiences are not yours to police if you're not part of the groups we're in or drawing intersectional lines to in order to help us make our positions more clear to us, and those around us who cannot see what we do or experience the world in the ways we navigate everyday.

Sleeps With Monsters: Reading, Writing, Radicalisation by Liz Bourke:

I say writing this column has been radicalising for me because it has brought home in many ways how women’s influence on literary developments in genre is often written out of the general narrative of who influenced what, and when. It has brought home just how many women are writing and have written a broad and varied array of SFF novels, and how seldom their names are brought up, in contrast to men’s names. And it has brought home just how in so many ways Joanna Russ's How To Suppress Women’s Writing is still immensely applicable. [...] I want to suggest an experiment, if you think I’m exaggerating. If you think my perceptions are off. For six months, try to read as many new books by women published out of a mainstream SFF publisher (on either side of the Atlantic) as you can.

This article really hit home with me.

When just write is not enough: really great advice.

When we hear authors say "Just write!" it sounds so easy. The weird thing is, it is. But only when you’ve got enough understanding of your own fears that you can get out of your own way. Be gentle with yourself when you ask what you are scared of, but be firm and truthful too.

I loved this picture of a distant storm taken from an airplane. Our planet is cool.

➝ I've been watching Supernatural, which I ping back and forth on, between "RAPTURE" and "lksjfasjdlaksdjlaksjdalksjd!". Recently, I wrote about my feelings regarding the characterization of Dean and Castiel and my sullen realization that I've become 1000% jaded and haved decamped to the "writers are queer baiting the hell out of us" side of the fandom, despite the way the writers have been writing/filming their Dean and Cas over the past two seasons. I will sit in my "discovered my bisexuality as an adult" bunker and fume over this for years after this show ends, because it's not like I want to see characters I identify with going through the same things I went through in my media, or anything. Anyway, Aja wrote a great entry, then a rebuttal to a response to her entry, that I really liked.

Then, of course, this happened, which...leaves me with no words. Sigh. It would be really nice to have to come back next May and eat my words.


➝ Some fanwork I enjoyed (or re-enjoyed) recently:

  • By Any Other Name (33090 words) by entanglednow (Teen Wolf, Derek/Stiles) — Amnesia adventuring fic, complete with terrible but sexy assumptions, witches, and post-amnesia confessions.

  • What Has Eight Tentacles and Isn't Allowed to Eat Pie? (16174 words) by Annie D (Supernatural, Dean/Castiel) — Delightful story about Dean turning into an octopus that quickly spirals into how adorable Dean would be as an octopus, as well as commentary on personhood and humanity and the importance of affection. Melt-in-your-mouth sweetness.

  • The Alchemists' Revenge (10341 words) by afrai (Larklight, Myrtle/Jack) — so I recently recced Larklight to Courtney and was caught up in all my nostalgia about the first two books and this really excellent story. It's still as great as I remember. ♥

  • Bloom in Adversity (Mulan) — one of my favorite vids ever.

text that says Ana's Section

➝ I really enjoyed this essay by Brit Mandelo on the differences between Coraline the book and Coraline the film and their implications in terms of gender. I did enjoy the film overall (unlike Stardust. Do not get me started on how much I dislike the film version of Stardust, Internet), but I think Mandelo's points are spot on.

➝ Renay will most likely already have seen this essay on growing up with Sailor Moon, but it made me think of her, so I thought I'd share it here just in case.

➝ Lynn Messina on the misogyny in Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants series:

There's a moment in the story when the dull-witted lackey seems to call the mad scientist on his crappy ideas about women. "Ah, you know, that's not very politically correct," he says when the scientist explains why they need a lady's DNA. The scientist shrugs off his concern: "So what? We're the bad guys."

The tone is sly, the exchange is knowing, and the faux-naifery is at full throttle. Pilkey, rather than imply that his characters are wrong in their beliefs, doubles down on their being right. In invoking political correctness, he's saying that it's not their thoughts that are wrong; it's society's censorship of their thoughts. Harold and George are fearless rebels speaking truth to power.


A Looker Wins The Booker: The F Word on the sexist reactions to Eleanor Catton's winning the Booker

.➝ And lastly, I'm really hoping Clare's review of Let's Talk About Love will convince more people to pick it up.

text that says Jodie's Section

"...I found myself reading The Silent Wife and Jesus Christ that is a bad book.

It's not that it is badly written. It knows what it is doing. It has a sound structure, it builds tension, it knows what to reveal and what to keep in shadows. Fine. But thrillers seem mostly based around stereotypes about gender. Men are predators, they cheat and lie and think of their women as jailers and nags. Women are the victims of their men, and also they are lazy and materialistic and enjoy being supported financially and if that financial support is threatened they become homicidal.

And whatever. It's entertainment, right? It does not at all affect us in any real way, it's not like having this information fed to you in every form of media does anything to reinforce nagging dark thoughts you have about women. (Or men. I read too much lazy bullshit about what men are "like.") And sure, because it is well written, it gets reviewed well, because we apparently can not ask our critics to look at larger issues, like what pollution do these ideas do to our culture? And that's why I liked Gone Girl, because Flynn used your gender expectations against you, the reader. I have always liked an aggressive writer."

From Jessa Crispin at the "Bookslut blog".

➝ Malinda Lo does "2013 LGBT YA by the Numbers". This is her second year running the stats for LGBT YA publishing so there's a chance for comparative analysis, and Lo also includes a link to statistics from 1969 - 2011.

➝ In "Why I'm Still Here" My Friend Amy looks at how blogging, and connecting on social media has changed and why she's stayed with the medium. I always find Amy's thoughts about blogging so interesting - her experience of having been a blogger when the 'sphere looked so different help me to understand my own changing feelings about blogging.

Amy also linked to posts by Jeanne ("Why I Blog") and Aarti ("I'm Blogging Like It's My Job and I'm not Sure if I'm Good at My Job"). All of these posts said things that chimed with my own reasons for blogging, even when sometimes circumstances conspire to try to make me stop (I'm not stopping - nobody freak out, ok!).

➝ Fandomspotting ran a Women in TV podcast this month, and they answered my question on it :) So many interesting show discussed and it definitely made me want to get into "Sleepy Hollow", and "Elementary".

➝ Speaking of Aarti, her blogging event "A More Diverse Universe" returns from Nov 15th - 17th 2013. All you have to do to participate is sign up, then post a review of an SFF novel by a chromatic author during those three days. This year I'm planning to write about "Orleans" by Sherri L. Smith, a book I've been meaning to get to all year.

➝ I haven't had time to read "Unhappy Campers (Or Why You Can't Perform CPR On Someone Who's Still Breathing)", but I'm leaving this Herman/Newt "Pacific Rim" fic here for Renay and other fans of that ship.

Disney villains makeup sets! I can put on basic makeup, but I'm not particularly adventurous with what I do so I'm excited to see that these sets come with instructions for creating looks.

➝ And, here we have some corgi puppies being adorable:

The narrative on this is super annoying in places (military language gets everywhere, even in stories about puppies - so weird) but the pictures are gorgeous.

➝ You know what else is adorable? Tiny dragons that hold your gaming dice. Now, I don't have gaming dice but I surely do want a dragon.

➝ And finally, Pacific Rim Secret Santa 2013!

Date: 2013-10-31 11:01 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
OMG the football.

Also the reaction to Catton - I just keep seeing headlines come up and reactions to headlines and going NOPE because I know exactly how it's all gonna go. I am kind of split on whether I want to read the book (it's the prostitute line in the description that keeps putting me off - dead ladies alert) but that's not important - back off with the sexist coverage people.

Date: 2013-10-31 11:50 pm (UTC)
nymeth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nymeth
Eep, I'd completely missed that line. I just keep seeing people comparing it to Wilkie Collins and going GIVE ME GIVE ME GIVE ME. I think I'll end up reading it anyway, though, because all those Victorian sensation novels I love are not exactly great re the ladies and yet I'm still powerless to resist them :P But I need to wait until there's less of a reservation queue at the library because it's a monster of a book that I know I couldn't finish it without renewing.

But yeah, seriously, stop it press people :|

Loved Amy's post as well (and Aarti's and Jeanne's). I'm so so glad everyone is still here blogging. NOW NOBODY EVER QUIT :P

Date: 2013-11-02 03:34 pm (UTC)
nymeth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nymeth
RE, writing advice: Renay, I'm not sure if you posted that link in response to a tweet by Patrick Ness that was going around last week (lots of people retweeted it, including me), but I wanted to clarify that for me "just write" resonates in the sense of "just write in whichever way works for you; whatever gets the words out is a good method". A lot of the time writing advice gets really specifically, and even thought I trust that most people give it out in a "this is what I find effective" sort of way, if you don't make that very, very clear it can cross the line into "this is the One True Way to do it" territory. Same as with blogging advice, I guess. So when I get behind the words "just do it", it's in the sense of "do it YOUR way, because that's always the right way". Having said that, I totally know that fear is a real thing and that it's not easy to just brush it aside (she says, with an empty document lurking in another window).


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