Wishlist: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

On my wishlist for a while, now a next-payday purchase.

Twenty years ago, Aral and Oliver fell in love. We’ve known that Aral was bisexual throughout the series, but it was always something from his fairly distant past. Turns out that Aral, Oliver, and Cordelia formed an unconventional kind of marriage for two decades, an open secret among their closest colleagues, but still forbidden by the social norms of Barrayar. So yeah, that happened.

Time to try the Vorkosigan Saga—you’ve never read science fiction like this

Aral Vorkosigan has always been on my list of disappointments, largely because of Cordelia’s response “was bisexual, now he’s monogamous” in the second book of the series. Bujold moved on with other LGBT characters, including Bel Thorne as one of my favorites. But that was an unfortunate clunker of a line in an otherwise great series. Bujold had the same relationship style in the background o Chalion. It’s nice to revisit those themes again to see what she plans to do with them.

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Short Fiction Reads: “The Shape of My Name”: by Nino Cipri

> illustration Richie Pope

A nice little piece about identity and time travel.

The year 2076 smells like antiseptic gauze and the lavender diffuser that Dara set up in my room. It has the bitter aftertaste of pills: probiotics and microphages and PPMOs. It feels like the itch of healing, the ache that’s settled on my pubic bone. It has the sound of a new name that’s fresh and yet familiar on my lips.

The future feels lighter than the past. I think I know why you chose it over me, Mama.

My bedroom has changed in the hundred-plus years that have passed since I slept there as a child. The floorboards have been carpeted over, torn up, replaced. The walls are thick with new layers of paint. The windows have been upgraded, the closet expanded. The oak tree that stood outside my window is gone, felled by a storm twenty years ago, I’m told. But the house still stands, and our family still lives here, with all our attendant ghosts. You and I are haunting each other, I think.

The Shape of My Name @ Tor.com

Nnedi Okorafor Interview

From the very beginning I was writing what was considered literary fiction. But because of my own world view, I see the world as a magical, mythical place. My professors called it magical realism. At some point, I turned that up more and the fantastical elements became more pronounced. And when I was published, people started classifying my work as fantasy. In 2000, the science fiction stuff kicked in, too. When I traveled to Nigeria, I would see Nigerians interacting with technology in a way that I was not seeing reflected in literature. I was not seeing Africa as a whole reflected in writing about the future.

Nnedi Okorafor Is Putting Africans at the Center of Science Fiction and Fantasy – The Root

Cool Stuff

5 mètres 80

Animated giraffes high-dive.

The Fallen of World War II

Infographic of civilian and military deaths in WWII compared to post-WWII wartime casualties.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Didn’t It Rain

Under-acknowledged blues and rock pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a later performance in the 1960s.

Jessica Jones

I just finished it, and I think this article on tor.com sums up a fair bit of how I feel about it. The show goes out of its way to deconstruct Killgrave’s self-serving rationalizations. My chief complaint is that the show possibly spends a bit too much work foreshadowing the next season.

Michael Moorcock

Turned 75 last week.

“I think of myself as a bad writer with big ideas, but I’d rather be that than a big writer with bad ideas”

Jessica Jones: Episodes 1 – 3

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Marvel’s Jessica Jones

So this dropped on Friday. I’m going to put my thoughts behind a cut, because it’s still new and spoilers, but also because Jessica Jones deals with some pretty heavy issues around abuse and violence.

The premise that the superhero can be more than just men in tights fighting each other has been frequently promised but rarely delivered on. The Marvel movie franchise in particular has largely been stuck in the Big Dumb Comic Book Movie which waves a hand at ideas like the Singularity and the Surveillance State in order to give its fight scenes a little more gravitas. Rise of Ultron and Winter Soldier were movies that read the cliff notes for Neuromancer and 1984 respectively. But that’s just a setup for the various characters to have Bad Ass Moments®.

Jessica Jones is a story about abuse and PTSD. This is different from Tony Stark telling us in Iron Man 3, “oh heck, I have PTSD.” In Iron Man 3, it’s nothing more than a minor complication that gets talked about in route to the Bad Ass Moments®. How can we make this hostage situation more fraught? Give Tony PTSD.

In Jessica Jones, the PTSD is the plot, and series villain Killgrave doesn’t make an appearance until the third episode. Killgrave’s super power is mind control, and Jones is a survivor of his manipulation. Each episode introduces us to more victims of his power. Killgrave’s actions by proxy embody multiple aspects of emotional abuse: gaslighting, guilt, and complicity with the abuser. Rather than handwave them away, the series tackles them head-on. And unlike many post-modern superhero movies, the series has yet to introduce any ambiguity regarding Killgrave’s villainy.

If there is any ambiguity, it’s in the way in which survivors and the culture around them attempts to make sense of what happened. In Marvel Movie continuity, the world has barely started to accept the existence of The Hulk. Killgrave’s victims suffer from doubt regarding his power. The rest of the world demonstrates a range of attitudes from skepticism to active victim-blaming.

What impresses me about this is that Jessica Jones is quite possibly the first Marvel tv/movie product to actually take its premise seriously. Part of that includes keeping the tights and capes off-stage.

There are other bright spots and weak spots for me. On the plus side, we have the lesbian Hogarths who are presented multiple times as a married couple. For me, this is science fiction becoming the new reality. (Although I admit, it’s been the reality in New York for a while now.) I’m a bit ambivalent about the sex scenes between Jessica and hero-but-not-a-hero Luke Cage, which feel more titillating than developmental.