May 4th, 2010


Book rec: Stories Of Your Life And Others + some current events

I'm KIND OF SORRY I'M GOING TO DO THIS, but I'm about to rec an awesome book that is currently out of print (in the US, at least). But not for long! Amazon tells me there will be a reprint coming out in October, and, um, I'm tempted to buy copies for anyone who wants one, because it is THAT AWESOME.

So, the book is Stories Of Your Life And Others by Ted Chiang, and it's a sci-fi anthology of short stories. I basically scoured everywhere for a decently priced copy, and I ended up getting it shipped from England. Yeah, you heard me.

Anyway, Chiang writes science fiction about Science and Math, capital letters included, but he never loses sight of the human beings at the center of it all, and even when he's rambling about mathematical proofs, he still makes you care about people first and foremost. They're not the most distinct characters ever, but they still live and breathe and ache, and they still feel like people you'd know, people you'd meet. He even writes smart female scientists without a trace of smugness or condescension, which is what frequently aggravates me when cis male writers try to write competent female characters.

I'm a little disappointed in the ways he doesn't really touch on identity issues, especially racial identity issues. Nearly all his characters read as white with the exception of those that take place in a particular non-white historical context.

But on the other hand, I dig the way he investigates religion and philosophical systems and his worldbuilding is epically awesome. Some of my favorites out of this collection are "Seventy-two Letters," "Tower of Babylon," and "Story of Your Life."

Seriously, go find a copy somewhere and read it.


I should start busting my ass off on remix. I have a story and an idea, now I just need to sit down and write it. Unfortunately, final projects and such are kicking my ass. Alas.


Speaking of remixing things, there's yet another pro-author telling us we're disgusting thieves. It's all boring and routine and blah, blah, blah. I don't really feel the need to refute her points, because plenty of people have done that before and better. No need to ride that train again.

However, I would like to humbly request that people stop defending fanfic by saying that it's a good training ground for becoming an original writer. This argument just reinforces that really annoying hierarchy, where fanfic isn't writing. Only original fic is, and the only reason to write fanfic is a pitstop on your way to doing things that are actually legitimate. Or whatever. This argument basically makes their argument so much easier, because this argument allows them to make the basic assumption that fanfic is inherently inferior to original fic. Yeah, I'm not okay with that. On any level, really.

Look, I love writing fanfic because it's fanfic, not in spite of it. I love fanfic because it's a way for me to talk back to, to explore, to argue against the media I love and maybe sometimes hate and occasionally have "It's complicated" relationships with. I love fanfic because it's always in conversation with other fanfic, because it's a reclamation of stories that are written for other people, other audiences other than us. I have no desire to channel whatever writing skills fanfic has given me into a pro career, and if you do, that's great! Good for you!

But please don't shit all over what we do in your attempts to defend it.

We should be arguing that fanfic is worthwhile in and of itself, not just what it enables us to do later. We should be arguing that fanfic is creative work, maybe not creative work defined by what is commercially important and commercially viable, but creative all the same. We should be arguing that fanfic is legally transformative, that fanfic is parody is criticism is reader response, and it is important. Because it is.

And not just because it sometimes gets us somewhere that's considered more respectable.

P.S. I would like to propose the following (somewhat flawed) analogy for future fanfic debates: Publishing your stories anywhere public ever is sort of like owning a farm and selling someone a cucumber. Yeah, you can hand it over to them with the intention that they eat it with some delicious salad, but it's kind of stupid for you to tell them after the fact that they can't place said cucumber in whatever bodily orifices they damn well please.

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