Graydon Saunders, The March North: rachelmanija recommended this a while back, I bought it from the author (whom I vaguely remember from rasfw on Usenet), and... I really liked it. It took me a couple tries to get into, but once I started reading it I got into it and read the whole thing straight through. It's military fantasy where no gendered pronouns are used, there is a lot of geekery about artillery, the author has clearly thought very hard about systems of government and why people fight, the magic system is great... and also there are giant war-sheep. Definitely worth a couple bucks.
Edge of Spider-Verse: I read this because I was reading Spider-Woman #1 today (I like Jessica Drew, you be quiet) and then it was full of Noir Spidey and other Spider-People I didn't even know and I kind of guessed I was missing something, because apparently making #1 issues part of multiverse crossover events is a thing we do. What. Anyway, I'm still confused and would probably have had to read all of Spider-Verse to understand what's going on here, but this is just to say that Spider-Gwen is awesome.
What I'm Reading Now
This week's comics: New Avengers, Mighty Avengers, Iron Man, Spider-Woman. Iron Man was... actually more entertaining than I expected (you know, for a story about someone who really isn't Tony); New was the usual Hickman plottiness (I like Hickman, okay?); Mighty Avengers was well-written but will be a lot more fun without Axis because I do not want to read any more about evil Sam and evil Luke Cage. And Spider-Woman had way more Spider-People than I was expecting, but, hey, they went to Earth-90214! That's Noir! I should read the rest of Noir.
What I'm Reading Next
Who knows. Books.
I kicked off a small new section on my YouTube channel consisting of simple gameplay videos of the titles I’ve been covering for Game Boy World. Basically, I’ll be posting the footage I’m capturing for the retrospective videos. I don’t expect people to watch these videos for entertainment; they’re really meant to supplement the features I’ve been writing.
They’re also meant as a resource. Because people have been kind enough to support my Game Boy World endeavor — funding purchases on Patreon, donating equipment, spreading the word — I’d like to make a small contribution in return. The idea behind these videos is to provide a glimpse of actual, “ideal” game footage; ideal in the sense that this is real software running on real hardware, upscaled cleanly to HD resolution. No emulation, just clean digital/RGB video.
It’s not ideal in the sense of great gameplay, because I’m not an expert at any of these games and frankly the Super NES gamepad I own is a piece of garbage that sticks and fails to respond far too often. But still, I’m hoping to build a library of reference-quality video of “real world” play. There are already channels dedicated to complete playthroughs and flawless let’s plays and tool-assisted perfection, and that’s great. This is something else.
I’ve posted the first two videos and will upload more constantly and without fanfare. The resource is here if you need it for something. It’s Creative Commons, so do as you will.
(And yeah, I’ll be using this new Alleyway and Super Mario Land footage for remastered versions of those early Game Boy World videos.)
Some kind comments about World Clock and NaNoGenMo in the article “The Strange World of Computer-Generated Novels” by Josh Dzieza.
Nick Montfort’s World Clock was the breakout hit of last year. A poet and professor of digital media at MIT, Montfort used 165 lines of Python code to arrange a new sequence of characters, locations, and actions for each minute in a day. He gave readings, and the book was later printed by the Harvard Book Store’s press. Still, Kazemi says reading an entire generated novel is more a feat of endurance than a testament to the quality of the story, which tends to be choppy, flat, or incoherent by the standards of human writing.
“Even Nick expects you to maybe read a chapter of it or flip to a random page,” Kazemi says.
There were many great generated novels last year, and are already many great ones this year. I don’t think among this abundance that World Clock is a very good poster boy for NaNoGenMo. Still, my experience with the book does make a strong case for having your generated novel translated in (or originally written in) Polish.
Hazel is a little girl who's peculiar and alienated in the way that a lot of people who grow up to be writers were: engrossed in unpopular books and interests, pre-emptively disdaining most people her age so she won't be as hurt when they reject her. She was adopted from India by a white family, and is not only the only Indian girl in her school, but knows nearly nothing about India; this isn't a huge part of the story, but certainly adds to her feeling of being different.
Her one friend is Jack, a boy whose father is gone and mother is depressed. Everyone tells them they shouldn't be friends, because boys and girls aren't at that age (eleven) and because Hazel is weird. Then one day, Jack suddenly dumps Hazel and starts hanging out with the popular boys. Everyone tells Hazel that this is natural and she needs to find girl friends. Her mother warns her that you can't make someone love you again when they've stopped; she knows because Hazel's father left her. And then Jack disappears - moved away, supposedly.
But Hazel is certain that Jack didn't just naturally stop loving her. She thinks he was enchanted and kidnapped by the Snow Queen. So Hazel follows the rules of fairy-tales... and finds herself in a creepy fairyland, questing to bring back her best friend.
This a well-written, melancholy book with striking images and a strange subtext. Though the fairyland is real, and Jack's enchantment is real, everyone in the real world but Hazel believes that the enchantment is a metaphor. They tell her that childhood friendships often break up naturally, that people often fall out of love, and that no amount of wanting and persistence can make someone love you when they don't. This creates an odd tension to Hazel's quest: is it real? Even if fairyland is real, is the enchantment really imposed from outside, or just the externalization of the truth that Jack no longer loves her. If he really doesn't love her, is it heroic or self-destructive and stalkery for her to keep trying to get him back?
Then again, he really did disappear. And the Snow Queen really does have him. There is no metaphor supplied for that scenario: that is reality. But it's a reality that sits oddly with the "he really doesn't love you" metaphor.
This is a book where I really did wonder what the author's intent was. Were readers meant to take the "You can't make anyone love you" admonitions as the truth, and believe that while she saves Jack's life, he will never love her again? Or were those statements merely obstacles Hazel faces, and she really did see through them to the truth that he did love her, that his enchantment was metaphoric for depression and peer pressure, and that if she kept standing by him, eventually he'd remember that he cared for her all along? I may be taking all sorts of unintended subtext from this book, but it's very metafictional to begin with.
Hazel's quest is like an illusion-picture that flashes back and forth between being a young woman and an old woman every time you blink. Heroic affirmation of persistence and friendship. Blink. Unsettling story of an emotionally immature girl desperately pursuing a boy who naturally grew apart from her.
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Author/Opus: This is the 13th puzzle from guest contributor Murat Can Tonta.
Rules: Standard Masyu rules.
Answer String: Enter the length in cells of the horizontal loop segments from left to right in the marked rows, starting at the top. If the loop only has vertical segments in the marked row, enter 0. Separate each row’s entry with a comma.
Time Standards (highlight to view): Grandmaster = 2:45, Master = 3:45, Expert = 7:30
Warning: this post details sexual violence.
Editor’s note: “larp” is live-action role play.
We’re talking about sexual harassment in the world of larp. Molestation, groping, assault and rape of participants who are asleep or intoxicated, aggravated rape with violent abuse, and even attempted murder.
On June 17, 2014, a new Facebook group was created for Swedish-speaking larpers who identify wholly or partially as women. The group quickly drew many members, and now comprises 580 larpers of varying ages and backgrounds. The idea was to create a sanctuary for discussions about different aspects of being a female larper. There are discussion threads about portraying female antagonists, about dealing with menstruation during larps, about sewing tricks, creating characters, organising larps. Small questions, big questions, and questions of vital importance.
It’s so important that we talk about our experiences. About how common this is, and that it’s not OK. About our right to say no, and that it’s never, ever, acceptable for someone not to listen. Everybody knows a victim, but nobody knows a perpetrator, and it’s time to take a stand now. — anonymous
A lot of times, I am personally skeptical of gender separated forums and arenas. I think spaces that are open for all tend to support a broader sharing of experiences. But I have realised that there are exceptions.
Lately, a darker subject has crept into the discussion threads, and during the past few weeks, a tsunami of voices has swept over us. Post after post, comment after comment, telling stories of painful experiences. We’re talking about sexual assault. At larps, or in larping circles. Over a thousand posts detailing experiences, sharing thoughts, discussing preventive measures, and not least, holding out hands in support.
There are a lot of perpetrators, and a lot of victims. The threads almost exclusively tell of assaults perpetrated by men towards women. There have been instances of sexual harassment, molestation, groping, assault and rape of sleeping or intoxicated larpers, aggravated rape with violent abuse, and even attempted murder. Some of these incidents have been reported, but a large amount of them have not reached the police, or even the larp organisers. Until now.
I was almost completely out of it, and I couldn’t do much of anything to stop it, because I hardly understood what was happening. He raped me, and in the morning I was ashamed and just left the camp, because it felt like it was my own fault. — anonymous
A lot of cases involve young people, 15-16-year-olds who are offered alcohol and harassed by older boys or men, and then things get out of hand during the night. In other cases, the acts are meticulously planned and perpetrated over a long period of time.
I was always supposed to play a submissive role at the larps, a servant to the group, to his friends. I was thrown around like a handbag. But I felt so worthless, so I reckoned I should be happy to get any attention. Then it got worse, the mental stuff turned into physical abuse… — anonymous
Many people ask themselves how this can happen. Shouldn’t larping be a safe arena, with a lot of eyes and ears that can react if something seems to be going wrong?
Most probably, it can happen because the people around let it happen. Partly because larpers are not really any different from other people in society, partly because the setting of a lot of larps actually makes sexual harassment more acceptable. Sociology calls this “habitus”, a series of codes that underlie a person’s behaviour. A lot of larps, especially in the fantasy genre, are stereotypical. Gender roles are clear and coded with different behaviours.
Male players will often choose a warrior character with a macho attitude, an acceptance for sexualising women and literally taking what he wants. This is a behaviour that would not be at all OK in normal society, but one that is seen a lot at different larps.
In the same way, female characters are often coded to be submissive, service-minded, soft, madonna-whores, or defenceless. Given that context, it can seem perfectly reasonable if a male player is upset about new rules suddenly being enforced that forbid playing on rape, since he had planned that his character should be an active rapist during the larp. When female characters are coded as submissive, the more dominant aspects of the male characters are intensified.
I was 13 years old, going to my very first larp together with a friend. None of us had any experience, and we didn’t know anyone except each other. The larp begins, and everything goes pretty well until the second day, when we are handed a note. The note says that the two older men in the tent across from ours want to meet us, because they want to find wives. This made me extremely uncomfortable, and I ended up hiding in the woods for the remaining days. — anonymous
Another contributing factor in several stories is that the victim has been separated from her group and placed in a new situation where she hardly knows the other players. Her safety net is gone.
Note that I didn’t know ONE SINGLE person in Sverok (The Swedish Gaming Federation) then. I had gone there all alone, representing my organisation, and had never met anyone else, so I didn’t have a single person there to talk to or seek support from. — anonymous
Some of the stories shared tell of incidents where larpers have lost their way in the middle of the night and been offered a place to sleep in exchange for sexual favours, or woken up with an unknown person’s hands all over their body. Because the victim has few contacts in the new group, she automatically becomes dependent on the perpetrator, and her scope for action is restricted.
Suddenly, I notice someone lying down next to me and starting to touch me, moving their hands under my clothes. I was really gone, but I realise that it’s the guy from before, and that makes me feel I can’t say no, because he might have thought I wanted to. So I let him keep on, and I just wanted to go to sleep so I didn’t have to experience this. We never talked again, and I never told anyone. — anonymous
In many of the cases, shame or fear of retribution has kept the people involved from telling anyone about the incidents. Moreover, the perpetrator usually has a larger amount of social capital than the victim does. They may be much older and more experienced, perhaps an organiser or someone with a lot of contacts in the larping world – as one person wrote, “someone you could trust”. If the person who was assaulted would report it to the police, or involve an organiser, there is almost always a legitimate fear that she would tarnish more people than the perpetrator – their friends, their network, the larp event – by diminishing the perpetrator’s power and social standing. This very strong group mechanism can often cause many people to initially take the perpetrator’s side and turn against the victim. There may be accusations saying that she put herself in the situation, that she behaved like a slut, that she was drunk and provocative and “corrupted” the perpetrator. There are numerous examples of this. The Bjästa case in Sweden and the Steubenville rape in the US are just two well-known examples outside the larping world.
I walked homewards, ice cold and freezing. It was dark, I couldn’t even see the path. Almost knocked myself out. I just wanted to get home so I could sleep. This guy was friends with the organisers, with my friends, everybody. Nobody would believe me, and that’s why I just kept quiet. — anonymous
This ongoing conversation has already resulted in some practical measures: Several organisers have taken action against alleged perpetrators, and suggestions for preventive efforts have been put forth, such as larps providing safety hosts and safe sleeping quarters. And people are talking, and processing. Some who have not dared go to a larp for several years because of fear have now felt safe enough to sign up again, and many larp organisers are working hard to ensure that larp is not a lawless haven for perpetrators to hide in.
All this may lead to people being named and shamed, and suffering reprisals such as being banned from larps and other social contexts. Whether this is justified or not is, of course, a matter of judgement. There is also a significant risk that those who have now dared to speak out might be accused and called into question.
My blood runs cold when I realise that I probably know several of the guys described here. People I have larped with, had fun with, and maybe been lucky enough not to end up alone with — anonymous
But this can also lead to a much safer larping experience with increased freedom of action for many players. The tolerance for this kind of behaviour may decrease as the spotlight is placed upon it. What might have been silently accepted earlier can now be pulled out into the open and questioned. Together, organisers and players develop new methods to ensure safer play for everyone, and that more women dare take up more space and choose among a broader array of characters.
The issues are now being discussed in other open larp forums too, and several players have called for more male voices in the conversation. Partly because this is not just about women’s experiences. There are not only male perpetrators. There are male victims too, and they may risk invisibility and stigmatisation. But there are also a lot of men who want to do something about this and show support. However, the question is if this massive sharing of experiences would ever have happened at all if the forum had been open to everyone. Most of the members of the Facebook group would probably say a resounding “no” to that question. Those who have been subjected to violations need a sanctuary in order to find the courage to start talking.
Our newsfeeds keep filling up. We keep talking. We discover connections. Someone who has felt desperately alone in her experience discovers, with hope and with horror, that there are many others out there who have been through similar things. This gives strength and breeds courage. The voices are powerful, and they will surely not quieten for a long, long time yet.
The Facebook group referred to in the text is named LWU, Larp Women Unite. The group was started by Karin Edman after Linnea Risinger came up with the idea during the Summer of 2014.
The ”Prata om det” campaign (”Talk about it”, hashtag #prataomdet) was and is a movement consisting of writers, bloggers and tweeters, emanating from a Twitter discussion started by geek feminist Johanna Koljonen in 2010. This concerned sharing stories about grey areas in sexual situations, about when sex becomes violation. This campaign opened doors to conversations that had not previously been had on a larger scale in “geek culture”.
The Deal of the Day gets you a ton of Fisher Price and Mattel toys for 50% off. There are 50+ choices here, including Barbie, Hot Wheels, Monster High, Thomas the Train, BOOMco, and more.
The new Kindle (regular e-ink version) is $99 (28% off), and Amazon's throwing in six months of Kindle Unlimited.
Speaking of the Kindle, cheap Kindle books include Andy Weir's The Martian for $3, Ernie Cline's Ready Player One for $3.99, and Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes for $3.75.
X-Men: First Class is down to $3.99 on Blu-Ray! Note that the Amazon price is backordered, so listed under "Other Sellers on Amazon" on the right. It'll probably go away soon, but it's an awesome deal.
The Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital editions of A Million Ways to Die in the West and Neighbors are $11.99 (60% off) each. If you want something with slightly better word-of-mouth, Monster High Double Feature - Friday Night Frights / Why Do Ghouls Fall in Love is $3.99 (73% off) on DVD.
You can get The Spy Who Loved Me on Blu-Ray for $3.99, and Casino Royale on DVD for $3.99. Both are over 73% off.
Oblivion is $7.99 (77% off) on Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital.
In video games, Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition for the Xbox 360 is $9.99 (67% off).
And finally, in toys, the K'nex Hyperspeed Hangtime Roller Coaster Building Set is $29.99 (57% off).
- Twine, the Video Game Technology For All | New York Times Magazine: “Although plenty of independent games venture where mainstream games fear to tread, Twine represents something even more radical: the transformation of video games into something that is not only consumed by the masses but also created by them. A result has been one of the most fascinating and diverse scenes in gaming. The very nature of Twine poses a simple but deeply controversial question: Why shouldn’t more people get to be a part of games? Why shouldn’t everybody?”
- 25 Tips for Diverse Hiring | Model View Culture: “In order to be successful with diverse recruiting, tech companies must invest in analysis and improvement at every stage of the hiring process. In this post, we offer a 101-style guide to top areas of focus, with specific suggestions to improve your hiring process and build more diverse teams.”
- Ambling Along the Aqueduct: Sexual Harssment and Public Space: “I think that the difference for the second decade of the twenty-first century lies in the stunning, important fact that women are increasingly claiming a place in public space and are consequently transforming public discourse in ways that challenge male entitlement to a serious degree… The implication is that women are in public space on sufferance, as special cases, being given privileges that can be revoked for any one of a number of arbitrary reasons, usually amounting to not in some ways being above rubies.”
- Casual sexism in scientific journal leads to editor’s note | Retraction Watch: “The Elsevier journal Biological Conservation has put out an apology, but not a retraction, after outcry over a bizarre, misogynistic non sequitur in a book review by Duke conservation biologist Stuart Pimm.”
- Funding – linux.conf.au 2015 | 12 – 16 Jan | BeAwesome: “Apps close December 9. LCA 2015 and InternetNZ are proud to support diversity. The InternetNZ Diversity Programme is one way we ensure that LCA 2015 continues to be an open and welcoming conference for everyone. Together with InternetNZ this program has been created to assist under-represented delegates who contribute to the Open Source community but, without financial assistance, would not be able to attend LCA 2015.”
- How Blacks and Latin@s Are Left Out of Tech Hiring by Stephanie Morillo | Model View Culture: “In other words, the qualified CS graduates of color tech claims it cannot find not only exist, but are actually being turned down for jobs in the very industry that says it cannot find them. For Blacks and Latin@s with dreams of going into tech and the social mobility it brings, this means that possessing credentials — and the increased networking opportunities that stem from respected CS programs — are not enough to erase the hidden (and not hidden) biases in tech’s hiring practices. The message that this then sends to younger generations of Blacks and Latin@s is clear: you need not apply.”
- Barbie Remixed: I Really Can Be a Computer Engineer: “I happen to study remix, so one of my first thoughts upon seeing this was: someone is obviously going to remix this. I figured, why wait? I also have at my disposal my roommate Miranda Parker, a student of Mark Guzdial, who studies computing education and broadening participation in STEM. So with her input, I rewrote the book with a slightly different spin. (I also kept her as a “computer engineer” even though she’s really more of a computer scientist, software developer, etc.) I hope you like this new narrative better, too!”
- Engaging With Hateful People in Your Community Lends Legitimacy to Their Presence: “So why do you men get to care about the bigoted arguments and even engage & rebut? Because you’re unlikely to be targeted. They read as ‘abhorrent’ to you, but not as ‘threat to your safety’. Good for you! But for me, the presence of this person is a problem. When I see a male supremacist show up in an online space, the likelihood that I will participate drops to zero.”
- No Solution | Medium: “If your coworker has chosen to share their story and truth, please respond with empathy and understanding. If empathy isn’t something hard wired into you, here are some tips: Listen as though it’s your only job. Avoid the urge to tune out. Avoid the urge to form counter arguments or move into defensive thinking. Avoid the urge to be “right”. Avoid the urge to critique.”
We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs. If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.
You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).
Thanks to everyone who suggested links.
It is probably best to for us to embrace subjectivity, to withhold judgement. Let us say that the entity believing himself to be Matthew Corley feels that he regained consciousness while reading an article in the newspaper about the computer replication of personalities of the dead. He believes that it is 1994, the year of his death, that he regained consciousness after a brief nap, and that the article he was reading is nonsense. All of these beliefs are wrong.
“It’s 2064,” Essie says. “You’re a simulation of yourself. I am your biographer.”
Ana: "Sleeper" by Jo Walton is a story that presents us not only with a technologicaly advanced world where it's possible to create a AI consciousness based on your understanding of a historical figure, but also a world where the stark economic inequalities we're familiar with today have been greatly magnified. The dystopian nature of this world becomes increasingly obvious as the story progresses, thanks to passages such as this:
She finds it hard to imagine the space Matthew had, the luxury. Only the rich live like that now. Essie is thirty-five, and has student debt that she may never pay off. She cannot imagine being able to buy a house, marry, have a child. She knows Matthew wasn’t considered rich, but it was a different world.
Later on, Essie tells the simulation of Matthew that,
“The class system needs to come down again. You didn’t bring it down far enough, and it went back up. The corporations and the rich own everything. We need all the things you had—unions, and free education, and paid holidays, and a health service. And very few people know about them and fewer care.”
This is not new territory for Jo Walton. Although at first glance this story is very different from the Small Change trilogy, they also have quite a few things in common. One looks towards the future and another towards an alternate past; one is science fiction and the other alternative history interlaced with crime — but all the same, the themes and political concerns at the heart of the two works are closely linked. I wanted to start by asking you what you thought of the world depicted in "Sleeper". Do you think that despite its brevity the story manages to set up a vivid picture of the threats of uncontrolled capitalism?
( Read more... )
You can read "Sleeper" for free at Tor.com.