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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'm happy to finally reveal I'll be writing for the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog. My review of Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey went up this week. :D Hopefully I will be doing lots of cool articles over there in the future.DON'T WORRY, though, I already have another essay about Nemesis Games that will go up here, just in case you thought the series wouldn't feature at LB anymore. :D [in the distance, [personal profile] spindizzy lets out a prolonged low moan]

Fangirl Happy Hour #12 dropped this week. Ana and I watched Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (trust your nostalgia, friends, and stay away), read Through the Ice by Piers Anthony and Robert Kornwise (we've now both sworn off Piers Anthony forever), and read Young Avengers Vol 1: Sidekicks by Heinberg and Cheung (KATE BISHOP).

Jenny read and liked The Lynburn Legacy, and discusses why some trilogies (especially YA) work best as whole experiences rather than subject to prolonged anticipation. I like the idea of this and have often considered treating certain series this way, but I always feel weird about buying books with no intention of reading them for years and years, although I've been trying to get over that so the books have good numbers. That way they'll be a whole series.

➝ Via [twitter.com profile] meelie_is, I really enjoyed this analysis: The Editing of MAD MAX: Fury Road. Do other films do this type of thing?

They're potentially making The Incredibles 2 with Brad Bird, and I am both excited and torn. I loved the first movie so much that I'm not quite sure how they can improve on it.

➝ Via [twitter.com profile] nkjemisin, Shut Up and Take My Money! A Tale of a Poor Gamer, which is really, really good.

➝ Via [personal profile] samjohnsson, I did not need to know that Chris Evans could play the piano and sing off key. I really didn't need to know it but now I do, and I'll just have to continue on somehow. ;___;

Fanlore is hosting June Bloom this month, to create new pages and get things started. :D I keep wanting to start a Hugo Award Club. #lazy

Book Acquisitions

There's so many great books in the world. At least...I'll never lose track?

Purchased: Uprooted by Naomi Novik, Stories of the Raksura, Volume 1: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud by Martha Wells
Added TBR: The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham, The Stranger Vine by M.J. Carter, Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing by Melissa Mohr, The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan, Thor, Vol. 1: Goddess of Thunder by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman, Lightless, by C.A. Higgins, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Black Widow: The Name of the Rose by Marjorie M. Liu and Daniel Acuña, Acacia: The War with the Mein by David Anthony Durham, Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany, Dawn by Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler, Kindred by Octavia E. Butler, Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson, The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi, Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin D. Mitnick


➝ Fonda Lee talks about her novel Zeroboxer and Envisioning a Diverse Future.

➝ The Mary Sue explains why it will no longer be covering Game of Thrones.

➝ OMG, The Wicked + The Divine TV announcement! Universal has optioned the rights and we all know it's a long road from there to production but here's hoping it works out! The most important question—who will they cast as Lucy?

➝ Here are some lovely miniature watercolours of space by Lorraine Loots. Artists are magicians.

➝ More great art: [profile] iguanamouth has drawn some mashup griffins.

➝ You may also enjoy these illustrations of cats in space.

➝ And these gifs of someone making Avengers pancakes are weirdly fascinating.

➝ Finally, I really enjoyed Eurovision gothic which turns Eurovision into a Nightvale type nightmare and also reveals its true hollow-eyed soul :P

Date: 2015-06-04 11:27 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
KATE BISHOP ALWAYS. And also always The Wicked + the Divine. Its first arc just wrapped up in the eleventh issue -- did you read it? Did you? SOME SHIT WENT DOWN.

I may be considering instituting a policy wherein I only read YA trilogies if all the books are already out. Maybe? I think that would overall improve my YA trilogy reading experience. Although I read a thing recently that said that YA is trending downward in the publishing world, so perhaps this problem will be solved for me. :p

Date: 2015-06-04 11:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] readingtheend.pip.verisignlabs.com
Argh, sorry! That was me, Jenny!

Date: 2015-06-04 11:33 pm (UTC)
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
After reading this comment I am so put out that the FIRST PERSON to check the first trade of this comic out of the library STOLE it or lost it so I'm super behind now. Thankfully they either ordered it again or got it back so I'm going to catch up immediately, as this series looks Awesome.

Date: 2015-06-05 07:55 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
The second collection isn't out here yet so I haven't read that far but I have it on pre-order for when it does (July I think). Super excited to put more of that art in my eyes.

Date: 2015-06-05 06:54 pm (UTC)
owlmoose: (book - key)
From: [personal profile] owlmoose
The Wicked and the Divine is on my reading stack, along with lots of other things. Guess I should prioritize it!

I laughed and cringed (with recognition) all the way through that Piers Anthony segment. I never read that particular book, thank god, but I read enough of the others to know exactly how you feel. I just wish it hadn't taken me more than one book to figure it out! (We will not talk about how long I stuck with Xanth and Incarnations -- although I maintain that the first book in that particular series was reasonably good.)

Date: 2015-06-05 08:55 pm (UTC)
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
And and all Piers Anthony I read (because of this book!) I have now blocked out. THANKS for looking out for me, brain.

In 30 years, what will we be embarrassed we kept reading? XD

Date: 2015-06-07 06:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theliteraryomnivore.wordpress.com
Renay, congratulations on writing for the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog! That's great!

Date: 2015-06-07 09:40 pm (UTC)
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
Hooray! Thank you. :D

Date: 2015-06-08 10:02 pm (UTC)
hebethen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hebethen
I kind of disagree with the gaming comic. The sentiment, I agree with, but one of the specific arguments used to convey it, not so much.

This is what I understand the sentiment/underlying thesis to be: "Fans should not be excluded from a community or looked down upon for being unable to afford buying items associated with that community's hobby."

This is what I understand one of the lemmata of the argument to be: "You can be a fan of games without (being able to be) playing them. 'Gamer' means 'fan of games'. Therefore, you can be a gamer without (being able to be) playing them."

The above is where I disagree. When speaking of hobbies, "gamer" means "person who games", just as "reader" means "person who reads", "baker" means "person who bakes", and "moviegoer" means "person who goes to the movies". A fan of something is not the same as someone who does something.

You can certainly have arguments about hobby-verbs -- for instance, does "reading" technically include audiobooks? Is "moviegoer" the best term for someone who watches DVDs and streamed movies at home? -- and also argue about how often you have to do this or how intensely or whatever (god, the endless arguments), but the verbs themselves have significance. Someone who watches movie adaptations of books while never reading any books in their entire life ever might be a fan of those books, but they're not a reader; someone who watches LPs without ever playing any game in their entire life ever may be a fan of those games, but not a gamer.

Heck, you could probably have arguments about what really is a game or a book or a baked good or a movie, too; in other words, arguments about the object as well as the verb. But still the verb remains relevant.

Furthermore, digital gaming is not restricted to $60 AAA titles. It is restricted to people who have certain digital devices (computers, smartphones, game consoles), but beyond that, there is a vast plethora of completely free games out there -- not F2P games with microtransactions, but actual free games, many of them quite lo-fi. Browser games ranging from flash puzzle games to RPGs to turn-based HTML games. Classic command-line text adventures. Newfangled Twine pieces. Game jam entries of every stripe and color.

Many of these free-to-access games are not considered Real Games by the community that has appointed itself the arbiter of Real Gamerdom. However, several of them also have hella seniority on these so-called arbiters, so eh... fuck 'em.

Date: 2015-06-08 10:52 pm (UTC)
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
I do see where you're coming from on the whole "gamer" verb, but I'll have to disagree because under that definition I'm not a gamer. XD

Right now, my partner plays games and I watch. I don't really interact with the game or controls itself, so it's just another version of what the girl in the comic is doing. But I still went through the whole process. I saw the story and the mechanics and maybe sometimes figured out a puzzle before he did while I watched, and so, I claim the identity. Maybe this makes me someone trying to appropriate an identity, and if so, oh well. I'll accept my fake geek girl badge any time.

I don't find superfine distinctions within media identities useful in all cases, and this is one of them, because gaming has changed so much in the last twenty years. "Engaging" with a game can take many forms, either active or passive. It's not going to help someone become an active participant to treat their passive engagement as inferior or lacking and say, "well, no, you don't get to be a VERB because you don't meet X and Y requirements of proper Z engagement." This is a tactic I'm familiar with from my days being left out of tabletop games. This makes me more sympathetic to people who engage passively.

I would rather be inclusive and offer passive gamers entry into the community/identity, because that can be the difference between someone who comes into the rabbit hole and someone who remains non-gamer norm. It can be really offputting for people who use passive engagement to try on certain media identities and communities to see if they'll be a good fit, to see if they're really into it, to be told by active participants "nice try." Because then they might never become active, because their curiosity and interest was smothered and not fostered. Worst case scenario: they call themselves gamers and never really play anything and...what's the worst case scenario?

As long as they're not actively using the identity to do harm to the moniker or the hobby, using it disingenuously (which I don't think the comic did), and using it to explore and learn and maybe discover some cool new media they come to love, I don't see the issue with letting them borrow the identity for a little while.

Not that the comic itself is above reproach, or anything. You have a good point about the availability of digital games, which is might be a side effect of being a passive gamer (less working knowledge/knowledge that's biased). But it spoke to me on the level of considering a community and the stories within it, liking them and wanting more, and how and why that community might be attractive to try on but both accessible/inaccessible for whatever reason.

Date: 2015-06-08 11:36 pm (UTC)
hebethen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hebethen
It does no harm, sure, it just makes no sense. You don't need to be a football player in order to be a huge football fan and have World Cup parties and know all the statistics and consider yourself a part of some kind of football community. It's simply inaccurate and unnecessary to call yourself a football player on top of that if you never ever play football ever in your entire life.

Like I say, I agree with what I believe to be the underlying thesis of the comic, about having an inclusive community and not claiming that a particular mode of fannish engagement is superior to another. It's merely that I find it unreasonable to argue this via a declaration that you don't need to [verb] in order to be a [verb]er. [Verb]ing is irrelevant to being part of a [noun]-centered community.

Consider for instance the parallel of another thing that has been on my mind lately -- writing. I'm sure you know about the mess around calling yourself a "writer", and all the horribleness that might surround such an argument. There are people who say things like "you're not a writer unless you're published" or "you're not a writer if you don't write every day" or so on and so forth, which I am sure we can agree is silly and a variety of other adjectives besides.

What defines a writer? That they write. You can argue all day long over how often, how much, how well, where and when and why -- but the core of being a writer is to write. Somehow. Some time somewhere in your history in some amount of some kind... but to write (and probably, as with any identity label, to have that mean something to you).

Nobody is going to be saying that in order to be a fan of writing (of fiction, of poetry, of SFF), you have to claim to be a writer (of etc.) Foodies don't call themselves chefs if they don't cook. Cinephiles don't call themselves filmmakers if they don't make films. Hell, gamers don't call themselves game designers if they don't design games.

So why is there this insistence on being called "gamer" if you don't game? Why do people care so much? Are they buying into gatekeepers' propaganda about "gamer" being the bestest most special thing ever? Because that's... silly... and a host of other adjectives.

Date: 2015-06-09 12:55 am (UTC)
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
The comic in question answers your question as far as I can tell: "so why is there this insistence on being called "gamer" if you don't game?" In this specific case, there's an element of stability at play due to the reality they were living in. There's a whole panel about it. Media identities can be solaces, comforts, islands in huge deserts of loneliness and isolation, and sometimes the difference between dissociation and the ability to hold on to who you are. That's what I took away from that comic: she loved games, and they had value to her and for her, even if she couldn't engage with them in traditional ways, and the identity gave her an anchor. She loved them and they were important.

What makes sense to you or what makes sense to me really doesn't matter. If people who engage passively want to call themselves gamers and love games even if they never pick up a controller, it's not silly at all. We can't know their reasons, and to attempt to place reasons on them in order to discredit them is pretty much the definition of gatekeeping, and all for what? To protect a verb from some imagined harm or dilution? What matters is how media and the community around that media makes people feel. Our charge as gamers shouldn't be "well, you're not doing thing X way, so you're not a gamer." it should be to delight with people over the medium, to welcome their perspectives in so they enrich it, and hopefully one day find themselves in situations where they have their own devices and can do the same thing for someone else.

There's not really a good term yet for people who engage passively, who watch playing through videos, who read walkthroughs, who watch speed runs, who read articles about games, etc. "Fan" might work but it's so generalized that it divorces the person from the community and history of the medium. So for my purposes, I'm fine with people adopting the gamer identity until there's something better. Maybe that's inaccurate, but it's what we've got now. Alas, language isn't perfect.

Date: 2015-06-09 01:28 am (UTC)
hebethen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hebethen
I regret that there's so much fuss over the label that this is counted as an attempt to discredit fans. Some people have optimistically said that this is a sign of the growing pains of a new medium; I can only hope that's true!


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Ira is an illustrator and gamer who decided that disagreeing with everyone would be a good way to spend their time on the internet. more? » twitter icon tumblr icon AO3 icon

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