Reading this piece by Jon Del Arroz about alleged anti-male bias in SF&F made me think about two events of my life which bear on this issue. Jon’s point –and the numbers he presents seem to support his claim– is that there is an anti-male bias in some parts of the short story market (and probably also in others.) I think that’s plausible, and there are some obvious examples like Tor.com or Uncanny. However, the problem goes deeper than that, and the alleged anti-maleness may be just an unfortunate consequence of an even more indelible bias than merely avoiding stories by testosterone-poisoned individuals. Let me tell you about two things that happened when I was young, so you get an idea of what I’m talking about.
This is the editorial of the last issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction Adventure Magazine, a short-lived magazine from late 1978 to late 1979. I guess he had no idea the magazine was going to be canceled since the subject of this editorial —even if interesting— is probably not about what one would write for a final issue.
Anyway, I liked his comment on how destroying a spaceship in words is as easy as doing anything else in words. That’s something many people who write as if they were filming a movie (or a video game) usually forget.
This is the third editorial [first and second] of Asimov’s Science Fiction Adventure Magazine, a short-lived magazine with only four issues (from late 1978 to late 1979,) where the famous writer explained his understanding of adventure, science fiction, fantasy, and their place in the current scientific era.
His thesis is that there is an important abyss between the pre and post scientific understanding of the world, especially concerning the problem of how to manipulate the universe or to make it work for us. He isn’t wrong, though, but I’d really like to know what was his opinion about writers like Jack Vance, who were aware of that pre and post scientific chasm but consciously played around it to undermine it and mix the different worldviews. Unfortunately, I have never come across any suggestion that Asimov knew or cared about Vance.
You might think that just because the Hugo awards have only six finalists, that means I should only review those six short stories. Bah! I’m a rebel, and I bow to no Law, no matter how clearly logical and sensical it may be. If I see a “No spitting here” sign, I spit on it, and if I see a list of six nominees, I metaphorically spit on it as well and then review the seventh story that wasn’t even nominated. That’s especially apt if that story is a kind of a review of some of the other stories. How more meta can you get? And isn’t that what Hugos are all about?
Seasons of Glass and Iron, first published on Uncanny Magazine (coincidentally, in the same issue that published Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies) by Amal El–Mohtar, is a Hugo finalist for the Best Short Story category (2017)
This short story shares similar themes and features with the other Hugo finalists already reviewed. The plot is an amalgam of two fairy tales, The Enchanted Pig and The Princess on the Glass Hill, adapted and reinterpreted through a feminist lens. And by feminist, I mean that there isn’t a single worthy man in the whole story and every evil thing mentioned there has been brought about by manly males doing man-things. Sure, there may exist good men —somewhere— perhaps in a distant and even more magical land, and the story explicitly mentions “bad men” so one can infer there may be good ones somewhere, but they are nowhere to be seen.
This will the first post in a series where I will address a gaming topic that has intrigued me for a long time, the suspicion that one of the games many people love (Dungeons & Dragons) has been seriously misinterpreted even by some of its most ardent followers. In other words, that you have been playing or -at the very least- interpreting it wrong. If nothing else, that at least there is another, and better, way to play it. As the title says, it’s a probability, not a necessity.
Some of you reading this may be grognards with a lot of practical experience with this stuff, and because I know some of you are also very interested in the literary side of D&D (and, as you will see, this is as much about books as about games,) your opinion and criticism would be greatly appreciated. You may consider many of this stuff “obvious,” but from what I have seen and read, I suspect it’s not for the majority of people.
“The better to order his faculties, Cugel took a long draught of beer.”
I was going to write a long review of Jack Vance’s Cugel’s Saga, the book about the adventures and misfortunes of the outrageously selfish and coward Cugel the Clever (or so he thinks,) but I have decided to let the book and its florid style speak for themselves.
Don’t panic, it will be a short expatiation, just a few things from the first chapter, but they will be enough to convince you of its merits.
After some magical mischief, Cugel finds himself lost. He comes upon “an elaborate manse of archaic design” and tries to convince the peculiar doorman to let him in.