Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Bathroom Monologue: Every Argument About Racism in the Last Week, Abridged

Me: That shit he said was racist.
Rando: No it wasn't.

Me: Three of the four of them were born in the U.S. This is their country. This is their government.

Rando: It's about them being unamerican.

Me: They're criticizing the government, which the First Amendment allows them to.

Rando: They're just doing it for attention.

Me: They're doing it as part of trying to correct the vile policies of a government they were elected to serve in. This is their job. And that shit he said would still racist no matter the job of the person he said it about.

Rando: They're socialists and they hate America.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Readercon Schedule


Reading: John Wiswell
Time: Thursday, 8:30 PM
Room: Sylvanus Thayer
Author John Wiswell reads a brand new story! This work hasn't yet been published and probably won't be available anywhere this year except at this reading.

Panel: Narratives of Men Coming to Terms with Trauma
Time: Friday, 2:00 PM
Room: Salon A
In the 2018 essay "Getting Men off Ledges," Brandon O'Brien wrote, "We need to show men with trauma... working through it." He provided examples of men whose abusive behavior is excused by their traumatic histories, saying, "We need to teach and remind men... that recovery means responsibility." How can writers take on this burden of teaching and reminding? What do story arcs around traumatized men—including those who harm others—need to contain to be believable, non-exculpatory, and emotionally accessible for survivors?

Panel: Heist Stories as Meta-Genre
Time: Saturday, 12:00 Noon
Room: Salon 4
On a panel at Readercon 29 about collaboration and community, John Wiswell observed that heist novels have "a synthesis of premise and plot," while Scott Lynch added that heist stories reinforce that people need one another. This panel will dig more into heist stories, which (like humor and horror) can be layered on top of any genre or setting. What makes them satisfying? How can they make use of speculative elements while retaining their core of human ingenuity and interdependence?

Party: Meet the Pros(e)
Time: Saturday, 10:30 PM
Room: Salon 3
Each writer at this party has selected a short, pithy quotation from their own work and is armed with a sheet of 30 printed labels, the quote replicated on each. As attendees mingle, the request "May I have a sticker?" provides a convenient icebreaker for tongue-tied fans approaching the pros whose work they love. Rearrange stickers to make a poem or statement, wear them as decoration, or simply enjoy the opportunity to meet and chat with your favorite writers.

Panel: What Does Authenticity Look Like?
Time: Sunday, 1:00 PM
Room: Salon 3
As the #ownvoices movement gathers steam, marginalized authors encounter demands for authenticity in their work from agents, editors, and readers who often have no idea what authenticity looks like. These authors often already pressure themselves, asking, "Am I #ownvoices enough?" But how else can they signal that their writing is for or about an underrepresented demographic? This panel of marginalized authors, led by Lisa M. Bradley, will discuss the concept of authenticity, the #ownvoices label, and how authors present and think about their work.

Monday, June 10, 2019

4th Street Fantasy - Schedule

One of my favorite conventions is this coming weekend! 4th Street Fantasy takes place in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, where everyone knows how to drive and everyone comes for deep dives into literature. There is only one track, so everyone gets to hear every word. Panels often build on discussions that came up earlier, and the final panel of the weekend is a result of the most interesting discussions elsewhere.

If you're in Minnesota, please drop in!

I have the privilege of being on two panels this weekend. You can find me talking on these.

Sunday
2:00 PM – Monster Mash and Smash
Claire Eddy, Catherine Lundoff, Vivian Shaw, John Wiswell (M), Fred Yost
Writers and readers are endlessly fascinated with monsters. Other-izing faceless hordes has clear racist underpinnings, and we have a multitude of examples of gritty, difficult monster stories that challenge how well we think of ourselves—and we also have countless stories of monsters we would die for, monsters who make us die laughing, and monsters who challenge us to think better of ourselves. What is it about monsters that makes us so hungry and excited for their stories? What makes them fun? Why are we driven not just to tell stories that contain monsters but that are about monsters? Why do we love to come up with and endlessly learn about (proven clearly by Pok√©mon evolutions and D&D Monster Manuals) bizarre creatures that don’t exist? Why do we cheer for Godzilla, adopt the Babadook as an icon, and crave the perspective of Grendel’s mother? This panel will discuss how we use stories to own our own monstrosity and claim outsiders, and how writers make it so the incorporation of monsters into their stories can be validating, awesome, and full of wonder and delight.

Sunday
11:30 AM – A Consideration of Death in Fantasy
Elizabeth Bear, Robyn Bennis, K.A. Doore, Monica Valentinelli, Django Wexler (M), John Wiswell
What exactly has good old death given to fantasy literature over the years? Let’s look not so much at the meta question of reader reaction to “death” and endings, but on how writers use death within a text, and the power of what it can do, from fictional death coinciding with the ending or transformation of an entire narrative (e.g., Morpheus’ death leading to the actual end of the 75-issue original run of SANDMAN) or to, conversely, how it functions simply as another marker in the long walk up the mountain of story. In particular, this panel will consider death’s role in fantasy: rituals and ceremonies surrounding death, building consequences and lasting effects for surviving characters and grappling with mortality when magic is real, the disparities in approach between death as plot device and death as symbolic and magical concept threaded through fantasy narratives, and cultural concepts of revenge fantasy.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Bathroom Monologue: He Totally Watched X

me: I love this thing!

anon: I hated that thing, it never stopped doing X.

me: Did you watch to when it stopped doing X and subverted X?

anon: I watched the whole thing.

me: Weren’t Y and Z awesome?

anon: I hate that all it does is X.

me: :\

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Godzilla: King of the Monsters Review - Finally, a good American Godzilla

As part of the promotion for King of the Monsters, composer Bear McCreary did a cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla.” I heard it a few days ago and immediately wrote it off as a wretched, overproduced attempt to dodge paying royalties.

By the time King of the Monsters ended and that song played over the end credits, I stomped my feet to the beat and danced in my chair.

So that’s how I felt about the movie.

Hereafter I’ll be calling the movie Godzilla 2, because NUMBER YOUR MOVIES, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. But Godzilla 2 is by far the most fun any American Godzilla movie has been. It is largely a faithful adaptation of the classic Godzilla movie format: a mysterious monster conflict emerges, humans scurry about trying to explain it and avoid being squished, and Godzilla faces increasingly dire battles to save our hides. He is a tornado that's fight on our side.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Sekiro essay live at Able Gamers!

I'm happy to publish a new essay this month at Able Gamers! This one focuses on the rarity of disabled characters supporting each other in Fantasy fiction, with a focus on From Software's recent title Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

Sekiro presents a disabled hero whose life is saved and supported by another disabled character who's given up the life of violence. With very little explicit dialogue, From Software creates a beautiful dynamic between the two of them that I've never seen presented in art before.

Spoiler warning: in order to discuss the relationship, I go into multiple endings of Sekiro.

You can read my entire essay for free right here.

Monday, May 6, 2019

A Guide to Asexual Reproduction

1. Announce that you're ace.

2. Somebody says, "That's a thing?"

3. Say, "Yup! There are lots of people like me."

4. Time passes.

5. They realize they're ace.

6. Repeat.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Essay on Bloodborne is live at AbleGamers

AbleGamers is a wonderful charity with a mission to make videogames accessible to everyone. They work both through technological advancement and advocacy. I've been an admirer of them for quite a while, and this week I'm proud to have published an essay with them.

The essay, Bloodborne: At Home in an Ugly World, is about the peculiarly robust disability rep in FromSoftware's Bloodborne. The game is deliberate gruesome and grotesque, and so you'd expect it to have a few particularly ugly disabled villains. Instead it has a fleshed out world where disabled people appear in every corner. That means many of them are your enemies, but they are every bit as normalized as abled enemies. I'd never experienced this feeling before. I felt like I belonged in the fictional world because it said I could be as monstrous as anyone else, rather than that I was specifically monstrous.

I want to thank editor Brian Conklin, who worked with me on the essay. He's one of the friendliest editors I've ever met.

You can read the full essay for free on the AbleGamers site at this link.



Friday, March 1, 2019

"The Tentacle and You" is up at Nature Futures!


I'm happy to unveil my first published story of 2019: "The Tentacle and You!"

This is the story of the hottest new consumer gadget: tentacle appendages! If you enjoy my weirdo comedies, then this is exactly for you.

It's also my first time ever being published at Nature Futures, the select program to put Science Fiction into the back of every issue of Nature.

Nature's editor was also kind enough to invite me to their blog. I wrote about the inspirations behind the story for them here. They were fantastic to work with.

Tentacle and You" is free to read right here at this link.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Bathroom Monologues Movie Awards for 2018

It's almost March 2019, so of course we're all talking about the best movies of 2018. Naturally I'll disagree with some of the Oscar winners. More naturally, I don't understand what some of the categories mean. But nothing shall dissuade me from telling a democratic body of people who devote swaths of their lives to film that their mass conclusions were wrong. So here we go!



The Robbed Award
Going to the movie that got no play last year
and is just as good as whatever won Best Picture
THE FLORIDA PROJECT


Thursday, January 10, 2019

My Schedule for ConFusion in Detroit, January 18-20th!

ConFusion is an annual SciFi convention held at the Dearborn Doubletree Hotel in Detroit, Michigan. This year's falls on January 18-20th and will cover all sorts of beloved nerd media. This will be my first time attending, after years of hearing for so long about how great the programming and atmosphere is. I haven't been to Detroit in over a decade and can't wait to see all my friends there! If you're in the area, I'd love for you to join us.

As always I'll try to be as available in public as I can. It looks like the Doubletree has a nice bar and common area. I'll also be doing a few panels on topics dear to my heart, and doing a joint reading with a couple other authors. Here's my schedule.

Puns!
 Friday, 6:00 PM, Ontario Room
Some people love puns. Other people are wrong and hate fun. Our panel of experts discusses one of the greatest tools in the comedic toolbox.
Richard Shealy (M), John Wiswell, Clif Flynt, Jon Skovron, Nibedita Sen

How To Design A Monster
 Friday, 8:00 PM, Ontario Room
Authors have a vast and deep mythology to draw from when writing vampires, werewolves, and other mythological creatures. How do we choose which parts of their myths to incorporate into our own worlds? How do we incorporate new traits while still making them recognizable, and how do we avoid making our monsters derivative and stale? We'll talk about how to work out their appearance, limitations, social structures, and how they fit into the larger society of a fantasy world.    
Jennifer Blackstream (M), John Wiswell, A. Merc Rustad, Tracy Townsend, Petra Kuppers

Reading: John Wiswell, Michael J. DeLuca, Clif Flynt
 Saturday, 1:00 PM, Rotunda Room
Three authors share an hour and narrate some of their stories! I'll be bringing a brand new, unpublished tale about the upside of tentacles.

Mostly Dead: The Problem of Death and Not-Quite-Death in SFF
 Saturday, 5:00 PM, Southfield Room
The frequency of resurrections or "they died, but they didn't" moments in SFF is (if one wishes to be kind) statistically unlikely. In this panel, we'll discuss various stories where death, death and resurrection, or false deaths play a key role in the narrative. How does the bloody ruthlessness of a series like Martin's Song of Ice and Fire change which characters "get" to die, and who stays dead? What are our favorite "return to life" moments? Which ones don't really work and why? And what must a writer do to make these moments serve the story and their audience?
John Wiswell (M), Angus Watson, Tracy Townsend, Dan Wells

Hope to see you there!
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