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[personal profile] helloladies
Transistor cover


From the creators of Bastion, Transistor is a sci-fi themed action RPG that invites you to wield an extraordinary weapon of unknown origin as you fight through a stunning futuristic city. Transistor seamlessly integrates thoughtful strategic planning into a fast-paced action experience, melding responsive gameplay and rich atmospheric storytelling. During the course of the adventure, you will piece together the Transistor's mysteries as you pursue its former owners.


Susan
"Buy a bundle with the soundtrack?" I asked myself at checkout. "Why on earth would I do that?!" LITTLE DID I KNOW.

Ira
LITTLE DID YOU KNOW. As the game's developer, Supergiant, is apparently wont to do, the soundtrack for this game is absolutely gorgeous and woven into its storytelling and characterization. The music is a great way to start this review because it's so much a part of the game's atmosphere and worldbuilding. The game is set in a city, Cloudbank, that is ever-changing based on the votes of its populace, from what's on restaurant menus to the colour of the sky to the weather. We start the game with Red, the female protagonist, and a man's voice coming from the titular sword, the Transistor, and we face the Camerata as our antagonists. The cast also includes a variety of diverse characters, including people of colour and queer folks, though the way the narrative treats them is... complicated. Red is a silent protagonist, but the sword talks plenty, providing narration, commentary, and interaction. This is accomplished by absolutely superb voice acting on the part of Logan Cunningham, the voice of the Transistor. It's especially effective when he has emotional moments with Red or when he's being affected by the Spines.

Transistor screenshot: stopping to hum


Susan
Logan Cunningham carried so much of the game for me, entirely on the strength of his voice acting. The man in the transistor is our narrator, our primary source of explanations and world-building, and the voice acting adds so much colour and emotion – which is really what you need in a game where the protagonist can't speak for herself. The way he says Red's name breaks my heart, there's a world of backstory in the way he says "Hello again, Sybil," his pitch-perfect reactions – Ira, I don't think I can tell you how much I liked that voice acting, and the bits you picked out are the bits that got me too.

(The other voices are good too – Royce sounds like Matthew McConnahey's character in True Detective, played back at a slower speed, Asher is the right level of awkward stiltedness for someone trying to reveal and conceal the truth at the same time, and the distortions of Sibyl are appropriately unnerving – but the man in the transistor is the stand-out part for me.)

The voice acting is also what sold me on Red and the transistor's relationship in the early stages of the game. Who and what they are to each other isn't really clear for at least half of the game – I admit, I spent the first few levels going "Please tell me he's not a charming creeper taking advantage, that is a trope I recognise" until I caught up. But through the voice acting, it's crystal clear that he adores her, even though he's essentially talking to himself the entire game.

This structure – the transistor speaking mostly in monologue rather than dialogue – means much of the story and characterisation is told in gaps. Because Red doesn't speak at all during the game, you have to actually look for her characterisation. A lot of it is done through what the other characters say about her, or through her gestures and comments on the OVC terminals – public-access computer terminals set up all over town to enable the mass voting that Cloudbank relies on – but interacting with most of the terminals is completely optional, which means that you can actually skip half of the characterisation of the game's main character. But the way it's done is excellent - she can leave comments on news items and surveys, so you can watch her type, delete, type -

("Is it following me?" she writes, but she posts something different entirely.)

Transistor screenshot: stopping to hum


And there are only two chances that I've found to have Red and the Transistor actually interact, both of which come through the OVC terminals (one I actually MISSED the first time around - when I say that it's possible to actually skip some of the characterisation, I'm not kidding!).

Ira
At this point I want to pause and consider the problem of silent women. Read more... )

SPOILERS BELOW

Spoilers )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Cover at for PS Be Eleven by Rita-Williams Garcia, showing three black girls skipping rope on a city street, wearing 1960s style bell-bottom jeans


After spending the summer in Oakland with their mother and the Black Panthers, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern arrive home with a newfound streak of independence, and the sisters aren't the only ones who have changed. Now Pa has a girlfriend. Uncle Darnell returns from Vietnam a different man. But Big Ma still expects Delphine to keep her sisters in line. That's much harder now that Vonetta and Fern refuse to be bossed around. Besides her sisters, Delphine's got plenty of other things to worry about-like starting sixth grade, being the tallest girl in her class, and dreading the upcoming school dance (her first). The one person she confides in is her mother, Cecile. Through letters, Delphine pours her heart out and receives some constant advice: to be eleven while she can.

Jodie: Even though we didn't co-review One Crazy Summer I think we're united in our feelings about Rita Williams-Garcia's first Gaither Sisters book. Loved, loved, loved it! You recently said 'it's a story that makes room for several simultaneous truths', and the way the book validated both Delphine and Cecile's feelings absolutely swept me away.

Did you have any particular hopes, dreams and expectations going into the sequel, P.S. Be Eleven because of the way One Crazy Summer developed? Moar words )
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[personal profile] bookgazing
book cover for The Lie shows a young soldier holding staring at his hat in his hands and a scene of another soldier standing by barbed wire in No Man's Land


Cornwall, 1920, early spring.

A young man stands on a headland, looking out to sea. He is back from the war, homeless and without family.

Behind him lie the mud, barbed-wire entanglements and terror of the trenches. Behind him is also the most intense relationship of his life.1

Daniel has survived, but the horror and passion of the past seem more real than the quiet fields around him.

He is about to step into the unknown. But will he ever be able to escape the terrible, unforeseen consequences of a lie?


God, I am so sick of publishers using book blurb code for LGBTQ books. There are gay soldiers in "The Lie", OK? This happens:

'We were laughing. He was hauling me up. We staggered together and I could smell the drink on him as well as on me. I felt drunker than I'd been all night. I don't know what happened then except our faces must have got close. I tasted my own blood and then his mouth, his spit and the taste I seemed to know already because I knew the smell of him so well. Him, himself, as if we'd come out of the same womb. How good he tasted. We were no use on our own, either of us. If I was ever going to be myself I needed him.'




Gay soldiers.2

Read more... )

Other Reviews

The Telegraph
The Guardian
Kirkus
The Historical Novel Society
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[personal profile] bookgazing
book cover showing a partial body shot of a chromatic girl with a lit up leaf design trailing all down her right arm


'I think for a long time, I thought that art could save us, could save all of us. That our capacity to create beauty was enough to buoy us above the tide of bullshit.

I thought being visible for others who had to experience the god-help-us-all or worse that we had to experience – I thought this could give comfort, company, solace in desperate hours.

I saw it all in relation to the book-of-all-books, the book of everything that’s ever been written, that has the weight of history in it, which is always written by those in power, which is likely not the side anyone reading this is usually, overtly on. It felt really important to testify, to enter into the record that we were here, that we resisted, that there was dissent. I believed that art could save lives...

Part of me still knows that art can save lives, change minds, bear witness. But it’s not enough to talk about ending homelessness, ending rape, ending war. We need to be out there – however we can do it. Making things happen on more than just a linguistic level. Because words just aren’t enough. No one has died for lack of a poem. But people die every day for lack of food and shelter...

But what I wish it could do — any poetry could do — is save the world, whether by recuperating American letters and horror movies into a feminist construct, for example (Final Girl), or by re-membering female historical figures (Kissing Dead Girls), or documenting the prostitutes killed by a serial killer (Why Things Burn), or striking out at injustice in Gotham. But it won’t work. I only have a very small cape. And there is so much to write.'- (Daphne Gottlieb interviewed at The Rumpus)


"The Summer Prince" takes questions of art and political engagement, and examines them by winding its characters up in age old artistic struggles. Can art change the world? Are artists activists? How can artists use fame to change the political establishment? And perhaps most importantly of all, what good is art if it can’t save a life?

'There’s a song.'



At the same time, because of certain problematic elements in the world-building of "The Summer Prince" (pointed out to me by various smart commentators with knowledge of and ties to current Brazil) "The Summer Prince" ends up posing critical meta-questions about how art functions in the world. How do we react to a book that adds to the diversity of science fiction, but makes clumsy futuristic changes to real world settings which end up reinforcing stereotypical outsider views? How do we react when a narrative that contains bisexual characters only goes so far in re-imagining a narrative and ends up re-creating what is a painfully familiar ending in LGBTQ literature? How do we write about this kind of book in a way that encompasses the love we may have initially felt and the knowledge you gained later? The answer – complexly, extremely differently depending on who we are and with if you’re me, with a lot help for my more well-informed friends.

Spoilers )

The Summer Prince doesn’t propose a workable way for us to save the world with art. Nor, though it tries, does it totally, successfully work at expanding the SF worlds represented in Western media. It’s not going to be a book that many can feel comfortable while reading and that is a great shame for those readers who I’m sure would like great SF set in a country they love/ see a story where men who love each other aren’t torn apart by death. It presents a world where a two boys and a girl can love each other, where they can try to save the world, and there something great in that. I just wish this were a book that could be recommended all around, instead of another work to come with caveats.

I wrote this post for Aarti's A More Diverse Universe event

Other Reviews

The Book Smugglers
Foz Meadows
The Intergalactic Academy
Black Girl Nerds
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[personal profile] helloladies
Lady Business is excited to present a guest post about Pacific Rim - one of the best films to come out of that whole sticky, summer blockbuster season- from chaila of underline everything. We're fairly confident that this post will leave you groaning about the DVD release date. Whhhy isn't it here yet?


I did not expect to love Pacific Rim, and I certainly did not expect to be bribing Jodie to ask me to do a guest post about feminist themes in Pacific Rim (this is my recollection and I’m sticking to it). I don’t usually like summer blockbusters. I do always like Idris Elba (maybe this is the time to declare my biases; if Idris Elba is in a thing, I will be interested in that thing), but I wasn’t even convinced I would see it. Then I happened to hear the director, Guillermo del Toro, talking about the movie on the radio and he made me want to like it. It seemed like more thought had been put into this movie than is usually put into summer blockbusters and I really liked the idea of original genre film trying to do a little bit better.

Spoilers: robots punch sea monsters! But this post is not very much about that )

Other reviews I liked

Pacific Rim: And why this may be the most important film you see this summer (at Gray-Eyed Filmdom on Tumblr)

Mako Mori and the Hero’s Journey (at Hello, tailor.)

The Visual Intelligence of Pacific Rim (at Storming the Ivory Tower)
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[personal profile] renay
If you would like a fiery discussion about the Hugos, please see my tag on pinboard, containing all the passionate Hugo discourse you've ever wanted! Here, instead, I want to talk about my perspective as a new fan to this process. I'm almost tempted to not count my participation last year, because I missed all the verbal fireworks due to other professional obligations. This year has been a different matter. Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Like last year’s study, Coverage of Women in SF/F blogs (2012) has generated a range of reactions. Much has been reasoned, and we’re grateful to everyone who took the time to look closely at the data. However, some responses have been, well…interesting. Oh internet, you all know what 'interesting' means in the context of discussions about gender, right?

Luckily, because we’re bloggers, we have our own space where we can deconstruct that kind of response. And that’s what we propose to do below: each of us will be taking apart particular reactions and trying to explain just why we found them suspect by examining the language used or the critical ideas expressed about our data. Since the 101 derailing nature of these reactions made us angry, we’re just going to let that anger roar in places, while simultaneously producing a clear outline of just why we are angry and how several respondents to our study hope to misrepresent our findings.
Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
A lady after our own data-loving hearts, KJ, awesome librarian and feminist mentor extraordinaire agreed to share with us some data related to gender and categorization within the NPR's Young Adult list from 2012. You can read more of KJ's writing at [personal profile] owlmoose or [tumblr.com profile] lifeofkj.





I have long been interested in the issue of representation of female authors on best-of lists and in different genres of writing, particularly sci-fi/fantasy. There were two such SF/F lists that caught my attention during the summer of 2011, both based on reader polls, one run by Tor Books and the other by NPR. There were some notable differences between how these polls were run, which lead to some interesting contrasts between their final lists, but both suffered a lack of female representation. Tor's list (2 of the top 10, 24% of the top 50) was a bit better than NPRs (none in the top 10, 15% of the top 100). There are a number of possible reasons for this, but I would look to two in particular: Tor's poll was limited specifically to books published in the most recent decade, 2000 through 2010, while the NPR list was all-time; and the Tor list was a reader free-for-all, while the NPR list was curated, 200-some nominees culled from reader submissions with some strict rules about what genres were to be included. And though I hesitate to ascribe any intent to the NPR editors' choices, their genre exclusions — horror, paranormal romance, and YA — are areas in which female authors tend to be better represented than in other areas of SF/F, particularly the latter two. Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris, J.K. Rowling, and Stephenie Meyer come immediately to mind, but the list hardly stops there. I was not the only person to side-eye this decision in terms of how many popular female authors this choice would leave out — NPR's own Monkey See blog even mentioned it as a reason that fewer women were represented — but at the time, the NPR poll editors promised that they would do a YA poll in the summer of 2012. So I was curious to see what would happen with that poll. Read more... )

Supplemental Material )
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[personal profile] renay
I haven't read Jay Kristoff's Stormdancer, although I marked it as to-read after I saw a blurbs a few months ago. Since the release, however, I've heard enough problematic details that I'm sure I won't bother. This review by You're Killing Me and an essay by The Book Smugglers about their experience with the book and author gave me serious pause. The first link provides additional information at the bottom of the post about why this book is problematic and had me slamming on the brakes and canceling my library hold. Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
The Backstory )

The Inevitable Disclaimer )

Methodology )

The Results )

Credit and Further Reading )

eta - 3/9/12 3:15P.M.: Going forward, to leave anonymous comments on this post you must sign your comment with the name you use online or a name created specifically for commenting across this post. Any non-signed comments will be screened upon discovery. We will not engage with unsigned anonymous comments.
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[personal profile] helloladies
Have you ever had one of those weeks where you open your RSS reader expecting a cute cat macro or Dinosaur Comic and instead been faced with The Establishment Partaking in Embarrassing and Disappointing Behavior...Again? It was one of those weeks! Luckily for me and my blood pressure, I scooped up KJ, Resident Awesome Librarian and my feminist mentor, to discuss the latest drama in a calm and rational manner that is inherently more readable than capslock and my muffled weeping.

KJ: And so once again we have evidence that the mainstream publishing industry is nervous about publishing books with gay characters. I have a feeling that we've been here before, and not that long ago, either. (The "Wicked Pretty Things" incident comes to mind.) But it's no surprise that this particular incident has taken the Internet by storm, because there's nothing the Internet likes better than people who go public, not to mention lists of books to read.

Renay: "Nervous" is a really kind term, which is why out of the two of us, I am Bad Feminist Cop With Rocket Launcher of Rage. It seems like we're having one of these disturbances every week now! It's starting to become a regular occurrence. This week, it is the shocking revelation that YA literature is alarmingly heterosexist! Surprise!

This is such a STARTLING REVELATION to everyone but those of us who are queer and quite aware that while we're supposed to suck it up and read about heterosexual hijinks, the same is not true in reverse. Congratulations!

But yeah, no kidding, The Internet loves drama and this is certainly dramatic for those of us who aren't convinced we're post-ism-of-your-choice.

KJ: Being not-queer myself, but (at least trying to be) relatively clued in to issues around marginalized groups and their representation in literature, I can't say that I was surprised, exactly. But I was, hmm, let's say taken aback by how blatant the agent's statements were. So maybe that's why I can play Good Feminist Cop and leave the rocket launcher at home. But I agree, some of the shock and dismay seems a little disingenuous, or at the very least naive. This should not have been a surprise to someone who is paying attention.

I want to pull something else out here, too; it was an aside in the article, but I think it's important, and symptomatic of larger problems in YA and in publishing in general.

"We were also told that it is absolutely unacceptable in YA for a boy to consensually date two girls, but that it would be okay if he was cheating and lying. And we wonder if some agents were put off because none of our POV characters are white."


That first sentence, especially, just blows my mind. So consensual non-monogamy is out of bounds, but cheating and lying are A-OK? What kind of messages are we sending and internalizing here? And this seems to go along with the sexuality issue, to me, and every other way in which mainstream publishing reinforces heteronormativity and traditional gender roles in relationships.

Renay: I believe that in large part the industry is reflecting what it assumes is going to sell. When I look at YA in bookstores now, I see rows and rows and rows of paranormal romance, largely with a love triangle or a pairing where the male partner is an asshole/bad boy. These relationships are all heterosexual in nature (meaning, if there is a love triangle, the boys or girls aren't going to run off together) and very, very focused on the realization of Perfect Heterosexual Monogamy.

The idea that the dude has to be an asshole is in the grip of this trend, too. I can't prove that's why adultery is cooler than polyamory in this scenario, but I am pretty suspicious that there's a game being played with stock characters and Asshole DudeBro is the new black. What's worse than a love triangle with no drama? (Besides queer people! Queer people are way uncool, no one wants to buy that, ew.) So of course the guy couldn't be openly with two girls and the girls not fighting over him. I imagine the same is true of a girl and two guys. That situation is so alien to most people that it's impossible to get it past the gate. It's not reinforcing the dominant cultural narrative about relationships and therefore it's not marketable. As we see with this whole thing, queer characters are still being erased, polyamorous young adults see no reflections of themselves in their media (some may not even understand because they don't have a clue it exists and they just feel broken), and some agents apparently think it's safer to flat out demand a sexuality makeover than to take a risk in a market that isn't primed for it.

KJ: Which is exactly what's going on with the request for erasing queer characters, as well. The agents and editors ask for what they think is going to sell, and so that's, in the main, what gets published. (For a really fun time, check out these discouraging numbers on how many YA titles have queer characters from Malinda Lo.) Which of course helps perpetuate the idea that heterosexuality, and monogamy, and asshole boyfriends who cheat on their women, are normal, the default, and anything else is bad and wrong and to be questioned, avoided. So it's good that people like Manija Brown and Smith call attention to the role publishers play in keeping queer narratives out of the bookstore, even if we shouldn't be shocked to hear it.

Renay: These imbroglios about queer representation continually flabbergast me. It's a firework into a crowd, sending that crowd swirling and with tons of opinions about who is right (writers/readers) and who is wrong (publishers/agents/editors), the solutions to the problem, claims of "hey, I would totally read that book!" But after the smoke has cleared and we're left with the mess from the fantastic, uplifting, supportive party of like-minded book lovers who just want to see some diversity, what happens?

Heteronormativity sets in.

I am guilty, too, although I have reached my limit on triangles full of love and jerks in hero clothing. I fall back on fandom and fanfiction for queer texts because searching for them in original work is difficult. Making a choice to go out and find a specific, niche topic in a larger genre flooded with material is so daunting and discouraging. When I was actively blogging about books, I struggled. Do I take the easy path and just take what's being spit out at me by personalized recommendation engines and book blogs which would result in great reading, but ensured my lists of authors would be full of white dudes writing about white people having extremely heterosexual, monogamous sexy times? Or did I buck the system and go dig deeper, with no certainty I'd even find what I'm looking for which was everything outside the above category? I'm an adult with the ability to really look and buy what I find. Other people aren't lucky like that. That's why we need mainstream publishers to embrace us.

I like that word you used: avoided. Because once the show is over it becomes really easy, if you're not one of the authors writing these works that can't find homes, or a reader who really wants to read them, to return to the status quo and avoid thinking about the issue and making choices that impact personal book buying. No buying queer books, no reading queer books, no reviewing queer books. It's all well and good to stand up and use a cute hashtag and tweet a link around on various social networks, but if that's not followed with tangible action, these gatekeepers will just keep hanging around, going "sorry, too queer!" or "yeah, we don't want any Nice Guys In Secure, Stable Relationships, thanks" with the undercurrent of "poly people are icky".

KJ: I suppose it's no surprise that creating lists of YA books with queer characters and characters of color was one of the first actions taken in this particular case. Everyone loves a good list! And in a way it's hard to argue with list making as a first step, because it's a lot easier to encourage people to read books about marginalized groups if we also help them learn what books are out there. But I seem to be incapable of looking at a list of books without wondering how many of them are written by women. ¹ So I did a quick count, and this is what I came up with:

Of the 37 books/book series listed on Science Fiction and Fantasy YA novels with Major LGBTQ characters, 28 are by women and 9 are by men. Of the 33 unique authors listed, 24 are women (no man is listed more than once.) That's 76% and 73%, respectively. I do get the impression that YA has a higher percentage of women authors overall, but surely the difference isn't this large, especially not in speculative fiction.

Running the same exercise on the books featuring characters of color (Science Fiction and Fantasy YA novels with Protagonists of Color, A - L, Science Fiction and Fantasy YA novels with Protagonists of Color, M - Z), I count 58 books/series by women out of 85 total (68%) and 46 out of 68 unique authors (also 68%). Which is closer in percentage to the LGBTQ list than I thought it was going to be from my quick scan of the list.

Better representation of women in genre fiction is a drum I like to bang on a lot, and this gets me thinking: is greater mainstream acceptance of queer narratives and characters of color a path toward that end, as well as something that would be good in and of itself?

Renay: If this is the group of writers willing to step up, write the stories they want to tell over and over even in the face of being rejected, or baldly asked to make a change that goes against the their vision for a character, I think they should be encouraged and supported. The fact that women are all over the lists goes back to Jodie's point about Girls as Omni-Readers. We're (as women) often equipped and in a position to write with diverse aims toward a literary world where there's more equality. We're not just interested in reflecting ourselves (although we can do that, and should) but we're interested in reflecting the entire world. That's not to say that other writers (men) don't want to, but it's that pesky Sexism again, hurting and limiting everyone, not just women. I find the parallels interesting. Why should men read or write about women? I like how easily it translates. Why should a straight person read or write about someone queer? Which only seeks to land us in literary theory waters of "what's the point of literature, anyway?"

KJ: I suppose there's some pleasure in reading a story that validates ourselves and our experiences — and I am as guilty as anyone of mostly buying and reading books featuring heteronormative relationships, because I am a lazy, whim-based reader who picks up books based on what looks good and what gets recommended to me, and so the cycle is perpetuated — but how boring would life be if that was all we ever read? One of the things I enjoy about losing myself in a book (or movie, or game, or television show...) is the opportunity to see the world through someone else's eyes, be someone different for awhile, spend some time immersed in an experience that is not my own.

Renay: Of course, when we take that view of the problem we run into the representation issue again. When I see people talk about YA and push for certain kinds of books it's about reflecting teen readers. X group doesn't read, we need more books aimed at X group. That's what went down with the argument (which I still think is ridiculous) for more "boy books" because it feels like the industry doesn't agree with you about experiencing different types of people.

KJ: Ugh, I hated that reaction to the debate: The automatic assumption that the way to get boys to read was to write more books about boys, rather than by encouraging boys to read more widely. It's emblematic of a thousand ways that our society caters to the privileged.

Renay: Don't these events, though, and others like it, do the opposite of catering? We're asking the privileged to reach out and step up. That's really hard. It's hard for me and I'm aware of it, so I know it's hard for other people. Listing every book you've read in a year and realizing that the main characters are all men or white or straight or that the authors themselves are all men or white or straight (sometimes all three) is pretty alarming and jarring for people who get legitimately angry when they read of authors being told to fold to industry standards of marketability just to get published. The anger is there but not the follow-through, because the industry may be right in thinking it has to be Reflection of Straight White People With Money to turn a profit.

Do the majority of young adult fiction readers want themselves reflected? Or do they want the chance to roleplay in different types of personality? The truth is probably something in the middle which makes it even more complicated. I disagree with Malinda Lo on whether on not it matters if this is "active homophobia", but I do agree with her other point: "Straight people, on the whole, are probably less likely to read books that are advertised as “gay books” because they might assume that the book is not for them."

This is true of any group that's marginalized and particularly in this case when it comes to queer or polyamorous people. This is a huge problem that lists and heartfelt requests to read and review more of X fiction won't ever address (and it makes it all the more clear to me why I couldn't find polyamorous YA when I looked for it). The majority has to embrace the minority. It's why we encourage men to be feminists, or heterosexual people to be queer allies, or white people to focus on their racism. We can't do it without the majority.The majority is who the industry is going to serve. They have more influence, it's not rocket science.

KJ: So maybe efforts like "YesGayYA" are looking at the problem from the wrong direction. Rather than pressuring publishers to be more open minded about what books they accept, maybe we need to pressure readers to be more open minded about which books they pick up. If (for example) more straight people bought queer-themed books, checked them out from the library, recommended them to their friends, blogged enthusiastically about them, and clamored for more, then we might not need to pressure publishers to do anything — the market would be there for them to embrace. And to give Manija Brown and Smith credit, they do call on readers to do this. But that's not the part of the message that came to the forefront — the signal boost seemed to focus on the sins of the agent. Probably because it's a lot easier to point at the big evil corporation that wants to sort us all into neat little marketing boxes than it is to look at our own behavior.

Renay: Oh, there's no doubt the effort is lost in the woods of its own self-congratulation. Reviewer Y telling themselves, "I tweeted a link by a gay author about this horrible thing, ugh, those mean publishers!" and feeling proud will be followed directly by them reviewing ten paranormal romances featuring a lady and a sexy vampire. There's nothing wrong with ladies and sexy vampires, but it feels so disingenuous to me to flail around about an issue, get up in arms, and then do exactly nothing to alter the landscape. It means doing more than contributing to a list, or paying lip service to a cause because it's the hip thing to get on the bandwagon of discontent and ire over Issue X. It's easy to make Mystery Agent a scapegoat than face the truth that some of us are culpable in the literary environment we now see spread before us. Don't get me wrong, I love a good list and love that people make them and introduce the world to titles that couldn't get lofted up enough to be seen, but I am past the point where I think list making is really doing us any good. If people are angry about this, I want all of them to look at how much YA they've read and see how much of it features straight white characters. Because they — and myself, too, I'm not immune just because I don't read original work that much, spend more time with fanfiction queering white dudes — are both part of the problem and the solution, as well.

KJ: Right. We can complain about the marketing boxes all we want, but really? Most of the time, we're perfectly happy to hop into those safe comfy boxes on our own and hang out. Because reading what we know is easy. Challenging the majority view? That's hard. But worth it, in the long run, I think. Changing our buying and reading habits wouldn't necessarily get us to representation utopia overnight — large corporations can be slow to respond to calls for change, and I don't doubt that there actually are agents, editors, and publishers using the economic argument as an excuse for their own personal biases. But creating a permanent market for books representing marginalized groups would make it a lot harder for those folks to hide behind the "not enough people will buy it" fig leaf. Our job is proving that claim wrong, and like you say, no marginalized group can do it on their own. It takes allies who are willing to make a sustained effort. I was really glad to see Rachel Manija Brown's call for follow through in her latest post on the subject; now let's just hope we can manage it.

Renay: See you in six months for a grueling review of our purchase history!

KJ: I can hardly wait.

¹ Because this blog focuses on gender issues, I only ran the counts for female versus male authors. I suspect that if we did similar analyses on the list in terms of the race/ethnicity and sexual orientation of the authors, we'd come up with higher percentages than average for YA authors overall there, too.

* Generous hat tip to Brent Hartinger.




Further Reading:

➝ Mirrors of the post that started it all, Authors Say Agents Try to "Straighten" Gay Characters in YA on Livejournal and Dreamwidth.

#YesGayYA on Twitter

YA authors asked to 'straighten' gay characters.

eta: It's a conspiracy!

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