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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

I Challenge You To Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors For One Year. Guess how long it takes for people to show up in the comments going, "HOW DARE YOU ASK ME TO CUT WHITE MEN OUT OF MY READING FOREVER! THEY'RE THE MOST READILY AVAILABLE WRITERS! I LOVE MEN!" Spoiler: not long! Because when you ask people to de-center the dominant group even for a short period of time as a personal challenge suddenly it becomes being forcefully barred from precious cisgender white dudes until the end of time like it's a particularly painful form of literary torture. There was a similar response to my Coverage of Women on SFF Blogs research, when I asked people to review more women by pointing out men were being reviewed more often. I didn't even ask them to stop reviewing men, I just said: "try to review more women." I still remember the utter meltdown some people in the community had. Constantly amazed at lack of nuance.

Here is the best review of Jupiter Ascending on the Internet.

[personal profile] dolorosa_12 is looking for Reviewer Recommendations. Here's the LJ mirror!

Writing Is Never A Waste of Time by Kate Elliott is great advice I have been thinking about actively since I read it, examining my perception of myself as a writer.

➝ Cool beehive alert! Their indiegogo funded almost immediately.

I talked about the Nebula Award nominations over at Tumblr, otherwise known as "crying over Station Eleven".

➝ I wrote a quick list review of Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear. SPOILERS: IT IS GREAT, everyone read it!

The Labyrinth of Flame kickstarter has both launched AND funded, before I could even get my act together to contribute. It will happen THIS WEEK FOR SURE because the first stretch goal is a poll for backers to vote on the main character of a short story. I WANT THIS.

This was an interesting post about The Hugo Awards and the cost of participation. Maybe surprisingly, I disagree about making the Hugo free, because the Hugo Award is run by a group of fans — it's the organization's award where the organization is run by fans for fans. It's made itself culturally relevant by being a fan-run organization that has been largely consistent for several decades in a particular niche (well, I'm sure there was an element of white dude influence here, too, but that's another topic). You pay the dues for the club, and you get to participate in club events. I do think the price could be lowered a little, because $40 - $60 is a lot for younger fans, but running the Hugo is not free. We all contribute to make the award a success and to give people shiny cock-shaped trophies (do not fondle the statue on stage is apparently something that actually gets said??? FANTASTIC).

I don't think of having to "pay" to participate in the Hugo, myself. Instead, I've always framed it as me supporting the fans running it and the convention so I could have an award to take part in, period. Whether or not the convention or the award is worthwhile to support is another question entirely. It really depends on the direction you approach them, I suppose! And there are sometimes cool bonuses, like the Hugo Packet, and I thought there was a move to shift ratification for some of the club rules to an up or down vote by all members, including Supporting, but I'm too lazy to go look it up and see if it's still a thing (it sounds really cool, though). If it were, and Supporting memberships were given some light influence over the WSFS rules and direction, it stands to reason removing the dues portion would not only be unfair, but potentially detrimental to the award/rules that govern the award.

Book Acquisitions


Gifts: A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge, Gifts by Ursula K. Le Guin (thank you, [personal profile] nymeth!!! ♥)
Added TBR: Forgotten Suns by Judith Tarr, The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman




text that says Jodie's Section

➝ The internet has been circulating so many lovely photos of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha, the victims of the Chapel Hill shooting. This image was shared by Imraan Siddiqi on Twitter who calls on the world to remember everyone harmed by this tragedy.

➝ Kameron Hurley posted 2014: Some (Honest) Publishing Numbers, and (Almost) Throwing in the Towel. She explains how her career has progressed since 2013, when Gods War appeared in the UK, and details the amount of promotional work she put into getting things to change. Hurley's transparency about her career is always illuminating and remains part of why I've come back to writing criticism more regularly even when I'm demoralised about my writing and its lack of wider impact.

➝ Tor.com is moving into the world of publishing for profit with an initial list of five novellas (although I assume other short fiction will still appear at their site).

Tor is one of my favourite places to find SFF short fiction. They blurb each work so you can decide if it sounds like your thing. So helpful! And I was excited when they recently announced the first list for their new venture. Sadly the gender stats of their list are a little disappointing — while the article only talks about five novellas in detail, it names fifteen authors that Tor plans to publish. That fuller list of authors contains five women, nine men and one author of unconfirmed gender (K.J. Parker) :/ The article does say Tor are planning to publish 'many more…' authors, so perhaps the gender stats will improve as this publishing venture develops?

➝ As an 80s kid, feminist and fan of silly SFF films I'm very excited about the casting for the all female Ghostbusters. This project works on every level for me so far.

➝ Check out this brilliant Storm cosplay, featuring nine different costumes.

➝ Speaking of chromatic characters in comics, The A.V. Club has a piece up about the significance of Ms Marvel, one year on.

➝ In other Kamala news, Panels has a roundup of fanwork from the first ever online Kamala Con.

➝ Jezebel says The Fall is the Feminist Crime Show We've Been Wanting. Yep. The Fall is still a really white show (the only chromatic character is played by Archie Panjabi) and it portrays extreme violence against women, but its heart is made of feminist commentary.

➝ Over at Diversity in YA, Cindy Rodgriguez talks about receiving editorial support for adding more diversity into her novel and how she handled that in her revision process:

And when the revision notes specifically asked for more diversity, I didn’t want to just swap last names and declare, "Voila, diversity!" The changes needed to have purpose—to make sense for the characters and the plot—and I needed to approach them with thoughtful intention. Otherwise, the changes would have felt hollow to me—diversity for diversity’s sake—and I would never want to do that.

All of this made me wonder about all of the novels I’ve read without a single character representing a racial, ethnic, cultural, or religious minority, a disabled person, or a member of the LGBTQIA community. Was that intentional as well? Or was it a case of "default" writing? Or perhaps the writer didn’t want these "issues" to alter the story? My advice to writers is to reconsider this. You can diversify your cast of characters, with purposeful intention, and not drastically alter your story. I did, and I’m glad for it.

Her novel, When Reason Breaks just became an instant TBR add for me.

➝ I'm not really clear on the source of this gifset about a dad supporting his goth daughter (some kind of American advert?) but it's very cute and I would like a novel about a similar relationship, please.

➝ Finishing this week's Sidetracks by styling out with a dragon wedding cake.

Date: 2015-02-23 07:59 am (UTC)
owlmoose: (Default)
From: [personal profile] owlmoose
The advertisement with the goth girl and her dad is German, maybe for a telecom company? That's my guess, anyway, based on my limited knowledge of German. Still awesome, and I agree it would make a great story.

Date: 2015-02-23 09:16 am (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
It's an ad for a hardware store. ^_^ I also agree that it'd make a great story.

Date: 2015-02-23 10:27 am (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
Thanks for the info :)

Date: 2015-02-23 10:46 am (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
You're welcome!

From what I've seen of Hornbach, they tend to lean to these kinds of commercials. The previous ones were about doing up dilapidated buildings and places as a community, if I remember them rightly.

Date: 2015-02-23 05:23 pm (UTC)
owlmoose: (Default)
From: [personal profile] owlmoose
Aha! Well, that actually makes a lot more sense with the tagline. :) Thanks for the info!

Date: 2015-02-23 10:28 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
You're welcome. ^_^ Commercials are odd things. Sometimes they make sense no matter what, sometimes additional bits of information help and... then there are the times when they just make no sense whatsoever no matter which way you turn them.

Date: 2015-02-23 08:42 am (UTC)
copracat: Scully aiming a gun with the text 'Go ahead, make my day' (scully makes my day)
From: [personal profile] copracat
Jezebel says The Fall is the Feminist Crime Show We've Been Wanting.

Perhaps a writer who hasn't seen a lot of British crime TV? Or much US crime TV? Or, in fact, any crime TV from the last thirty years?

Date: 2015-02-23 10:26 am (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
Oh sure, it's not the only female focused/feminist crime drama - Brit TV had a great year for shows about female police officers in 2014. I can forgive the article its linkbait title & its final line because it's such a solid analysis of The Fall.

Do you have US crime recs fans of The Fall might like? I don't watch a lot of US crime drama (I think my only current series is The 'why won't it die, but I can't look away' Mentalist) but I'd love to try some great series.

Date: 2015-02-23 12:30 pm (UTC)
copracat: Roxy from Eastwick (roxy)
From: [personal profile] copracat
Well, I was kind of thinking as far back as Prime Suspect with Helen Mirren and everything Lynda La Plante did, along with Murder She Wrote, Phryne Fisher, all the Miss Marple ever, Cagney and Lacey, Rizzoli and Isles (which, it is important to remember, canonically gave us 'undercover in a gay bar'). I loved Dana Delaney's Body of Proof which was sadly cancelled after only three seasons, but not before we luxuriated in female relationships that included Sonja Sohn, Jeri Ryan, Lorraine Toussaint and Joanna Cassidy.

But there's really not a lot of US crime procedurals of the serial killer kind that do well by their women characters. I can't think of a one off the top of my head that doesn't imperil at least one main or recurring woman from the cast as a spectacle. Failing that, something awful happens to a woman belonging (and I use that word deliberately) to a main male cast member.

I would recommend the Canadian show, Motive. It has the unusual for TV format that you know immediately who the perpetrator is, the mystery is in discovering their motive. It gives the writers so much scope to develop interesting relationships between the guest characters, and interesting situations. The main characters are played by Kristin Lehman (Det.Flynn) and Louis Ferreira (Det. Vega). They have a great partnership. Flynn is also buddies with Lauren Holly, who does quirky ME with panache. It reminds me a tiny bit of the magnificent friendships in Scott and Bailey. The show doesn't base it's feminism on the feminist serial killer style of "we're torturing and murdering women but by gosh we're doing it with respect, look *hand wave* Gillian Anderson is awesome cakes!!" (That last is true, of course, GA is awesome cakes.) Motive's writers treat all the characters with respect regardless of their motivations, the situations they are in, or how they choose to respond.

I was particularly impressed last season where Flynn got a little bit US cop show style unethical with a suspect and Vega called her on it immediately and uncompromisingly, but not with much fanfare. He was judgemental but not patronising. It was such a balm. Anyway, season 3 is back in two weeks!

Date: 2015-02-23 09:21 am (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
Ooooooooooh, Gifts. Have you read it before, Renay? I notice it's not on the TBR additions.

I had no idea that ad had gone so viral! Though I can't say I'm very surprised. It's one of the most heart-warming things I've seen in a while. ^_^

Date: 2015-02-23 11:18 am (UTC)
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
I haven't! I've only just started using my TBR list on Goodreads. Before I kept everything in a spreadsheet and haven't ported most of it over. Gifts is listed there and Ana has access to the sheet. I assume this is her way of hinting at me that it's time. ;)

Date: 2015-02-23 11:28 am (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
Eeeeeeeeeee! I shall look forward to hearing your thoughts on it then! (It is a good hint? I loved Gifts. And should really get around to reading Voices. *hangs head* Maybe I should reread Gifts first...)

Date: 2015-02-23 12:17 pm (UTC)
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
Yeah, it is a good hint! :D My library spent years without the book available (it went missing and they just wouldn't replace it) and so it languished on my TBR, and then by the time they got it back I was busy and and and...BUT NOW. Now I can move forward! :D

Date: 2015-02-23 10:25 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
:O That makes me so sad to hear your library wouldn't replace it! T_T But yay moving forward! I remember it as such a quiet, beautiful story. <3 I hope you'll enjoy it when you get to reading it! ^_^

Date: 2015-02-23 10:54 pm (UTC)
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
Yeah, it was before we got a new YA librarian who really gave the YA collection the proper attention. Living in a rural area is hard; I know their budget can't be super huge. :(

I will definitely share my thoughts when I'm done! :D

Date: 2015-02-23 11:13 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
Oooooooh, that makes the library's actions more understandable. If very sad.

With what I've seen of the way people treat libraries nowadays, perhaps much of their budget goes into staying open for people and little is left for books? :(

Yay!

Freeing the Hugos

Date: 2015-02-23 10:02 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] bookpunks
Renay: It is a good point in relation to freeing the Hugos. At the same time I think that whenever we start talking about representation on awards ballots, we can't forget to look at representation among voters/access to voting. And of course, it all depends on what the Hugos want to be and do. I always get the sense that they want to reprsent all of fandom, in which case, no. But of course, one award can probably never do that. It would be interesting to know how much running the Hugos costs exactly, and whether the money they take in to do so covers it or goes over or way under or whatever, to know exactly how the covering the costs element plays into the argument.

My favorite pet idea so far would be to have a set number of free voting spots for each year, voting "scholarships" whatever you want to call them, say 100, to open up access for a pool of those who couldn't vote otherwise. Though it would certainly be troublesome to ensure those were actually give to people who needed them and not just snatched up by anyone. Anyway, thanks for sharing that discussion here.

Re: Freeing the Hugos

Date: 2015-02-23 11:15 am (UTC)
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
Yeah, it's an interesting problem. They define the Hugo as "science fiction’s most prestigious award", not "science fiction fandom's most prestigious award", so this idea of the awards representing "fandom" doesn't seem like it's coming from the members WSFS, but rather from our changing ideas of what "fandom" means as communities start to overlap. As far as I can tell, the people who steer and direct the Hugos consider it the award of the WSFS rather than "fandom's" award and they want the Hugo to continue to be an award given by members of the WSFS and represent the views of the WSFS while making the WSFS itself as inclusive as possible while retaining the demarcations of that specific community.

The Hugo is going through a little bit of a tussle, too — there are certain communities attempting to "claim" it, which isn't really possible. So I think it's a matter of where you're looking from, because my read on the Hugo is the exact opposite: I see a lot of different communities who want to Hugo to represent either all of fandom or specific parts, but the WSFS constitution and those who manage and work with it don't care about those fandom communities at all. The award belongs to fans who consider themselves part of the WSFS because the Hugo is an award of the literary society's perspective, and that's who it represents regardless of what community they belong to. Ah, popular awards! NEVER CHANGE.

I wonder if the cost of the Hugos is in reporting somewhere? It might be. But I would imagine that the bigger cost is fan time, which is why I have the view I do about it (resisting a "time is our most precious resource" Jupiter Ascending joke here because I'm not funny enough to pull it off). This is a neat article about the production of the rockets. It looks pretty intense! Then they generally ship them to winners because of the weight, so more dollars...

I would love a way to get lower income fans involved in the process some way without risking people taking advantage of it (like, really young folks like teenagers!). I could've really used this a few times when the Supporting membership was $60 — I still find that price utterly out of touch with the current economic realities of younger fans. I've purchased a few memberships for folks before (there were no shenanigans and they voted for whatever they wanted, truly!). I do wonder if there's an uncomplicated way to handle it. This is a pipe dream, I suspect, once you get into handing out scholarships, you have to think about the guidelines you use to give them, and that can get messy fast. Mostly I wish they would drop and the Supporting membership price to $25 for a start, see how that goes, and continue looking at other potential inclusive measures based on how Supporting memberships do over the next few years.

It's an interesting topic! One day I will be able to talk less about it and attend business meetings and learn how to suggest changes, I hope. :D

Date: 2015-02-23 10:35 am (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
Nebula short fic - I've read "The Breath of War" (probably make my Hugo ballot) and "The Fisher Queen" (the ending was not my thing, but it was a good story with a new take on mermaids).

So much yay for seeing Love is the Drug on a shortlist. See, this is why having a YA Hugo would be so great because you get more books to check out and books that are really strong but that get missed by voters focus don adult fic get a chance to shine.

Date: 2015-02-23 11:20 am (UTC)
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
I need to make time to read all the stories. Remember that short fiction idea I had? To do it I need to actually READ SOME STORIES? XD

The endless campaign for a YA Hugo. WE'LL NEVER GIVE UP.

Date: 2015-02-23 10:36 am (UTC)
dolorosa_12: (le guin)
From: [personal profile] dolorosa_12
Thanks for the link to my reviewer recommendations post. I just want to mention that commenting on the Dreamwidth post requires either that you be registered with Dreamwidth or OpenID, but that the Livejournal mirror allows anonymous commenting, so that may suit some people better.

Date: 2015-02-23 11:15 am (UTC)
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
Oh, good point! I'll add it. :)

Date: 2015-02-23 05:26 pm (UTC)
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
From: [personal profile] forestofglory
Renay I agree with you about the cost of the Hugos, it is ok that they cost money but it would be better if they costs less money.

An yes some people are trying to give supporting members vote to ratify WSFS constitution changes, which would be awesome. However current plans involve making it take 3 years to change anything, which a bit frustrating. I'm under the impression the the business meeting regulars are split on whether accessibility is good thing. (I watched the videos of the meeting last year and some of the things people said about internet/supporting fans... *shakes head*)

Date: 2015-02-23 08:27 pm (UTC)
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
I've often wondered if the Supporting membership was a little lower, if they'd see more of those memberships overall, evening out the drop in price. But there's no way to know without data! I also think that the Hugo has bit of a marketing problem in communicating that anyone can join each Worldcon as they like and nominate and vote. Advertising this is a little complicated, because right now you get to vote on the Hugo and that's largely it which would probably make people scratch their heads.

Small steps toward giving more influence to those memberships would be a step in the right direction. I do see the time limit as more of a feature than a bug -- things shouldn't be easy to change when there are unknowns in play. Starting off with a long term change to give the Supporting memberships more influence would eventually yield the data that shows it's a positive change, and lead to another group pressing for less time, perhaps. But from my (extremely limited!) perspective, the Business Meeting doesn't like to step off the ledge into the abyss! They like known quantities, and data, and risk management, which is good for a guiding body. Which is a little frustrating, but I'm pleased by the fact there are long time participants in the Business Meetings who are willing to go to bat for to argue that Supporting fans are important, period.

(I tried to watch those videos and it just hit my embarrassment squick too hard. I wonder if some of these people know how awful/cruel they sound sometimes.)

Date: 2015-02-23 08:54 pm (UTC)
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
From: [personal profile] forestofglory
I wonder the change from $50-$60 to $40 the last two years saw any increase in supporting membership? Of course last year had sad puppies and WoT so the data is going to be noisy.

Yeah, overall I really want some form of Popular Ratification to pass, but I liked the original proposal which only took 2 years for a change better than the amendment in process. I do hope that after trying it for a bit they'll want make the change permanent.

I wish there were a good summary of the arguments in the business meeting, but generally the most I can find is the results of the meeting, so I watched the videos to find out what was said.

Date: 2015-02-23 11:00 pm (UTC)
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
I thought about looking at this, but ran into the same problem with the issues you cited. Plus, in the last three years there's been a lot of push online to participate in different fandom communities, which would make it harder to really get a read on it. The Internet is changing a lot about how the award is advertised/perceived. Regardless of how the other stuff plays out, I really hope future Worldcons leave Supporting memberships $40 for awhile instead of letting it drift back up. *waves Millennial flag*

Oh wow, yeah, an text summary of the Business Meeting arguments would be great. I feel like there is probably a group of fans out there doing it in a small pocket, we'd just need to find them. XD

Date: 2015-02-24 02:30 am (UTC)
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
From: [personal profile] forestofglory
Well, I'll keep looking. At LonStarCon someone live blogged the Business Meeting, but that didn't happen last year. I know some WSFS constitutional stuff gets talked about on the SMOF list, but that's not accessible non-conrunners. Other that that there is WSFS Business Meeting facebook group, which doesn't seem very active, and occasional blog post form insiders.

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