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[personal profile] bookgazing
White, yellow and red book cover of Kameron Hurley's The Geek Feminist Revolution featuring an illustration of a llama


It's the start of July. I am trying to review Kameron Hurley's essay collection, The Geek Feminist Revolution. In my wisdom, I have decided an analysis of her essay, "I'll Make The Pancakes: On Opting In And Out of the Writing Game", would make a great entry point for my review. I reread it to remind myself of the piece's fundamental points:

The more women writers I read, from Margaret Atwood and Octavia Butler to Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Toni Morrison, the less alone I felt, and the more I began to see myself as part of something more.

It wasn't about one woman toiling against the universe. It was about all of us moving together, crying out into some black, inhospitable place that we would not be quiet, we would not go silently, we would not stop speaking, we would not give in.


It's hard to see the keyboard when you're trying not to cry.

Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
'But what of female villains? Perhaps I’m just not reading the right meta, but it’s always seemed a bit glaring to me that, whereas (for instance) there are endless paeans to the moral complexity and intricate personal histories of the Buffyverse’s Spike and Angel, their female counterparts, Drusilla and Darla, never seem to merit the same degree of compulsive protection.' (Gender, Orphan Black & The Meta of Meta by Foz Meadows)

Jodie has emotions about Morgana Pendragon approximately five times a day. So, when Foz Meadows mentioned the need for more meta examining the moral complexity of female villains Jodie got to scheming.

Months later, our Female Villains theme week is finally here! Get ready to go Metaphysical, party with ladies who start fires and share all your love for female villains. We begin with a guest essay from Foz Meadows herself; the author of Solace and Grief and The Key to Starveldt, and editor of Speculative Fiction 2015.


I have gone out, a possessed witch
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.1


Bad women disobey.

This is the crux, the core truth, of our historically gendered ideas about villainy. Bad men are complicated: they have tragic pasts and hidden agendas, fascinating pathologies and extenuating circumstances; they are political animals, mavericks, monsters, kings and brigands and renegades. They differ from each other in innumerable ways, but while some of them might be misogynists or hypermasculine zealots, the thing that makes them bad is never their gender itself, but only their particular means of expressing it. Bad men are not representative of all men – not culturally, anyway; not at the level of shared narratives – but for centuries of storytelling, bad women have been representative of all women. Our villainy is a stain we brought upon ourselves and which, like Lady Macbeth's damned spot, refuses to wash clean.

And bad women disobey.

Read more... )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
cover of Bone Gap by Laura Ruby


The quote on the cover of Bone Gap should have been an immediate "YOU SHALL NOT PASS", because although it's a quote from E. Lockhart (a writer I love) it also invokes magical realism which almost always makes me nervous.

"Bone Gap marks Laura Ruby as one of fiction's most original voices. She is capable of moving you to tears, terrifying you on deep and dreamlike levels, and making your heart shout with happiness. This book is magic realism at its most magical."

Okay, but...magical realism. What is magical realism, anyway? Every time I think I know I realize I don't actually know. It's like another language. Unless you use it every day you lose it. How did I earn an English degree without properly learning all these different terms? Is it writing that's suggestive of magic? A book that uses magic in otherwise normal realities? A type of story that feels magical but isn't (I hear people call The Girls at the Kingfisher Club magical realism sometimes). The label people give something, as Ana suggests, when they don't want to stick a fantasy label on it and appeal to mainstream readers?

I've read Wikipedia now so I know my vote, but this is a personal decision everyone needs to make for themselves. GOOD LUCK.

It's such a tremendously well-done novel that I really wish it owned its anchor genre more. Making up my own literary terms to serve my needs and apply to books without permission: FIVE BONUS POINTS. People who loved Chime by Franny Billingsley will find similar ideas in this book (but with more bees, corn, and male perspectives). They'd also be a fascinating co-read together. There are no spoilers for the plot, but I do discuss the themes the book tackles. There are also puns, which I assume many people will want to avoid. I'm sorry. I love a good pun. )
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[personal profile] nymeth
Cover for The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore, showing a vintage comic picture of Wonder Woman

A riveting work of historical detection revealing that the origin of one of the world’s most iconic superheroes hides within it a fascinating family story—and a crucial history of twentieth-century feminism

Wonder Woman, created in 1941, is the most popular female superhero of all time. Aside from Superman and Batman, no superhero has lasted as long or commanded so vast and wildly passionate a following. Like every other superhero, Wonder Woman has a secret identity. Unlike every other superhero, she has also had a secret history. Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore has uncovered an astonishing trove of documents, including the never-before-seen private papers of William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman’s creator.
(...)
The Secret History of Wonder Woman is a tour de force of intellectual and cultural history. Wonder Woman, Lepore argues, is the missing link in the history of the struggle for women’s rights—a chain of events that begins with the women’s suffrage campaigns of the early 1900s and ends with the troubled place of feminism a century later.

Wonder Woman has been fighting for women’s rights for a very long time, battles hard fought but never won. This is the story of her origins—the stuff of wonders, and of lies.
Before I start telling you about Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman, I need to tell you a little bit about myself: my history as a reader has undoubtedly influenced my experience with this book, and so it seems reasonable to talk about it.Read more... )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay


There's a moment with particular books when you pick them up and read them and put them down and feel like you can take on the world. That happens to me with films, too, exiting a dark theater into the glaring sunlight, feeling massive with possibility. Maybe your possibility is different than mine. No, your possibility is definitely different than mine because the fullness I feel generally translates itself to 8,000 words of fanfic that I'll write but never have the guts to publish.

Great stories do that, though. They make you want to tell your own stories that reach out and grab someone like the story you just experienced did to you. Or better yet, they make you want to tell your own stories even better. In that post-story moment you know for a fact you have a story in you somewhere that will make someone feel like you're feeling, make them feel even more powerful than you feel. We're all storytellers, after a fashion, even if the stories take their sweet time leaving our heads. Eventually we find the story that sends us careening past uncertainty and fear to tell our own, whatever form they may take. Read more... )
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[personal profile] nymeth
White cover with the same text in the quote that follows in red and black font
She didn’t write it.
She wrote it, but she shouldn’t have.
She wrote it, but look what she wrote about.
She wrote it, but “she” isn’t really an artist and “it” isn’t really serious, or the right genre—i.e., really art.
She wrote it, but she wrote only one of it.
She wrote it, but it’s only interesting/included in the cannon for one limited reason.
She wrote it, but there are very few of her.

I should start by warning you that this post will be quotes heavy: How to Suppress Women’s Writing is so great that I just want to cite the whole thing at anyone who’ll listen.Read more... )
Reviewed at: Novel Readings

(You?)
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[personal profile] bookgazing
Purple book cover for The Shadowed Sun shows a flaming sun eclipsed by a purple disc over a mountain top scene


N. K. Jemisin has cruised her way into my list of favourite authors over the last few years with her Inheritance Trilogy – three books that mix fantasy, romance and politics into an epically seductive potion. In 2012, she published the Dreamblood Duology and launched a new science fiction world that was just as fascinating as that found in "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms".

I enjoyed "The Killing Moon", the first book in the duology, and got knocked down by its ending. Still, it didn’t quite take over my life and emotions with the same force as the Inheritance trilogy. After reading about the order in which Jemisin finished her novels I think that the writing just wasn’t polished enough to effortlessly suck me under. Techniques are tried out in "The Killing Moon" which felt more assured in "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms", and the novel sometimes handed important information to the reader in a clumsy way. While "The Killing Moon" told an absorbing story its technical side was perhaps not as accomplished as the three later books built with more experience.

Enter the duology’s second book, "The Shadowed Sun". Maybe my heart beats so strong for this book because it benefits from Jemisin’s experience of having finished "The Killing Moon" and submitted it for publication? Perhaps being familiar with the world helped me to dive into the story more easily? Or it might just be that the character’s in "The Shadowed Sun" were more my kind of people. I just know I’m now this novel’s newest ambassador.

Let me count the ways I love it – the five wonderful elements that mean you should shove this novel into the limited space on your shelves right now.

Some spoilers )

Other Reviews

The Book Smugglers
Tor
Kirkus
SFF World
Shut Up Heathcliff
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[personal profile] helloladies
cover for Cold Steel


Trouble, treachery, and magic just won't stop plaguing Cat Barahal. The Master of the Wild Hunt has stolen her husband Andevai. The ruler of the Taino kingdom blames her for his mother's murder. The infamous General Camjiata insists she join his army to help defeat the cold mages who rule Europa. An enraged fire mage wants to kill her. And Cat, her cousin Bee, and her half-brother Rory, aren't even back in Europa yet, where revolution is burning up the streets.

Revolutions to plot. Enemies to crush. Handsome men to rescue.

Cat and Bee have their work cut out for them. (source)


Spoilers.

KJ: So I have start by thanking Renay for recommending this series to me so strongly, because otherwise I would not have picked it up. And that would have been a shame. Kate Elliott has long been on my list of "authors to check out someday, perhaps", but I'd never received a rec for any particular title. Since that list is very, very long, I doubt she would have moved to the top otherwise. Now I feel a burning need to at least take a look at everything else she has ever written.

Renay: By "strongly" you mean climbing the walls and going "READ IT OMG READ IT OR ELSE" and freaking you out so much that it became self-preservation, right? ;) I'm the best handseller, clearly. Count yourself lucky we live half a country apart, otherwise I would've taped the book to my face and done a backward crab crawl at you down a dark hall. WOULDN'T YOU HAVE BEEN CONVINCED? Read more... )

"The ideal is a story in which women are present all the way from the protagonist to multiple secondary and minor characters, and that their interactions with each other are as important as their interactions with men." — Kate Elliott, Author Interview, The Book Wars





Other reviews )
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[personal profile] bookgazing


Set in the 14th century, "The White Queen" follows the many fascinating royal and noble women caught up in the dynastic struggles between the houses of Lancaster and York. If you enjoy settling down to a period drama, but are tired of watching various actors parade around as the murderous and lecherous Henry VIII, then this fun drama that celebrates the mixed up, disrupted lives of ladies could be just what you’re looking for.

Your text book is full of spoilers too. )

Supplementary Material

"Freedom at 21" (fan-vid)

Other Reviews

Asking the Wrong Questions
Yours?
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (Default)
[personal profile] helloladies
Look, look - the wonderful chaila of underline everything has agreed to return to Lady Business!

chaila's fan-vids, commentary and just down right, over flowing love were the driving influence behind Jodie's rapid consumption of the first series of "The Sarah Connor Chronicles", so we're excited to host a new post by her about this very cool, ruthlessly cancelled program. Come with us if you want to live...or at least have an interest in seeing ladies and robots and lady-robots shape the future.


On a purely descriptive level, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles sounds a lot like a standard part of a sci-fi action movie franchise: Sarah Connor, her son John, and their allies attempt to prevent Skynet, a computer network that destroys the world in the future, from being created. Time travel exists, fighters come back from the future to help them, robots come from the future to hunt them, and sometimes things blow up. But TSCC spins off from its action movie franchise roots to tell a deeply human story that interrogates the basis of all "hero myth" type stories. What I want to focus on in this post are these deconstructive elements, the way TSCC explicitly and implicitly challenges the themes and tropes common in similar stories about "one chosen hero destined to save the world."

One way TSCC does this is by focusing on the surrounding characters, particularly on Sarah, which changes the entire shape of the story. Once the narrative is established as Sarah’s, the show introduces, or increases focus on, several regular characters in season two who in some way question or challenge the dominant myth: Jesse Flores, Riley Dawson, James Ellison, and Catherine Weaver. All of these characters have different viewpoints and beliefs about John and Sarah and about the future. This group of characters, who are not on Team Connor, add so many layers of depth and complexity to the show, and elevate it from a pretty good show about soldiers and family preparing for a future robot apocalypse, to a truly compelling, complex, graceful piece of television that deals with war, loss, robots, the preservation of what makes us human, and how who and what gets written in the book of myth is only a fraction of the story.

To keep this to a manageable word count (haha), I’m going to break it down by the characters I think engage with these ideas the most: the five (FIVE) major female characters in season 2--Sarah, Cameron, Jesse, Riley, and Weaver--and James Ellison. These characters question the recorded history of the future (which is a phrase that makes sense only in a show about time travel), and provide different perspectives on the present and the different options for preventing or fighting the coming war.

Note that this post covers the series as a whole, with spoilers!

Did I mention the FIVE major female characters and James Ellison? )

I will now end this unforgivably long post with two general observations about why TSCC is among my favorite shows ever. First, as I hope is now apparent, TSCC is one of the most female-driven shows I’ve seen, with multiple amazing complex women driving and determining the course of the story. Second, I’d argue that TSCC on a meta level can be read as one giant deconstruction of myth, a meditation on the way that myths or cultural stories function in our lives, particularly in war or times of conflict, how they get built and used and how they differ from historical truth, particularly how they ignore the messy and inconvenient parts that make the story richer and more complicated and more beautiful. TSCC puts all these parts back in, and it elevates the story to something else entirely. The show doesn’t have to be read this way; it can also be watched and enjoyed more straightforwardly as a show about humans fighting against and cooperating with machines, with multiple amazing, complex women. Either way, it’s pretty awesome.

Other Links

The Sarah Connor Chronicles - Series One by Jodie

Episode recaps and discussions at [livejournal.com profile] sccchronicles_tv

Observations about performance and camouflage, femininity and domesticity, among other things, in season one by [personal profile] sanguinity

Vid: there’s a war going on for your mind, sarah by [personal profile] beccatoria
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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] bookgazing
The first series of 'Once Upon a Time' finished in the UK while I was away in Canada. After catching up I'm here as vaguely promised on Twitter to talk about all things Time related, but mostly about Regina the new female sociopath of my heart:

Regina


Spoilers for the first series of 'Once Upon a Time'.  )

Further Reading

'Once Upon a Time' team: We show women who aren't afraid of power
The Evolution of Snow White
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[personal profile] helloladies
Renay and Jodie discuss a book so overtly feminist and female focused that its author surely must have dastardly plans for mankind. If you never go past the spoiler cut, how will you ever save the world from the clutches of the womenz?


cover of The Carhullan Army which shows a green background and images of winding creeper plants with yellow flowers   cover of Daughters of the North which shows a out of focus photograph of a woman's downturned face and shoulder


The state of the nation has changed. With much of the country now underwater, assets and weapons seized by the government - itself run by the sinister Authority - and war raging in South America and China, life in Britain is unrecognisable. Most appallingly, in this world of scant resources and hard industrial labour, the Authority insist all women should be fitted with contraceptive devices.

In The Carhullan Army, Sister, as she is known, delivers her story from the confines of a prison cell. She tells of her attempts to escape this repressive world and her journey to join the commune of women at Carhullan, a group living as 'unofficials' in a fortified farm beyond the most remote Cumbrian fells. The journey is a challenge, but arrival is only the beginning of her struggle. (source)
Warning: all the spoilers.

Read more... )
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[personal profile] nymeth
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor


The protagonist of Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death, Onyesonwu, is an Ewu – a child of rape whose sand-coloured skin and eyes unmistakably mark her as an outsider. The Ewu are the sons and daughters of mixed Okeke and Nuru couples; because the two tribes are involved in a brutal civil war, sexual contact between different tribe members is mostly (though not always, as we later find out) the result of rape. Additionally, these rapes are politically motivated – the Nuru soldiers deliberately impregnate Okeke women in an effort to wipe out the tribe and sow discontent.

Legend has it that the Ewu are an embodiment of anger – they’re supposedly violent individuals whose mere existence is a threat. Onye is indeed angry, and I loved that this was validated; however, we come to realise that the main threat she poses to the Okeke town where she grows up is that she’s a constant reminder of the Nuru’s planned genocide, of their use of rape as a weapon, and of the horrific things happening in the West. Set in a post-apocalyptic version of modern Sudan, Who Fears Death follows Onyesonwu as she finds out the truth about her conception, as she develops her magical powers, and as she eventually goes on a quest to confront her biological father, who is not only a violent Nuru general but also a powerful wizard determined to kill her.
Read More )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
cover of Reading Women with a black and white photo of a woman on the ground reading a book, with pink text and a blue bottom with the author's name in white.


Reading Women by Stephanie Staal: I picked up this book by Staal largely because of Ana's review of the title that I found when going through her archives. However, I caused lots of problems for myself by reading it; great job, self! The beginning was rocky, as I found the opening pages of the novel almost too grandiose in its language and sweeping phrases. It felt very much like Staal was trying to paint a dramatic picture of an ordinary life to draw readers into a situation that otherwise was similar to many other situations except in the solutions Staal found to deal with it. To be blunt, she was overwriting and doing it pretty badly. It turned me off initially — it took me four weeks to get over those qualms and my initial reaction to actually read the book. However, once the beginning passes passed and we reach the true premise, I'm glad to say it levels out. I'm not the only one who felt this way; Ana did, too, which comforted me. I am glad we shared that in common, because unfortunately, we shared little else in common in our reactions. Read more... )

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Queer lady geek Clare was raised by French wolves in the American South. more? » twitter icon webpage icon

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