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There can be only ten.
It makes me angry that the City and the City is even on the list. It's a happy, pat ending, an oversimple and not very well thought out attempt at world building, and mildly insulting to Eastern European cities in much the same way mystery authors writing about smalltown New England without actually having ever been to a small town in New England. On the back of the mindblowing genius of Perdido Street Station and Embassytown, it simply needs to be forgotten as a failed attempt to reign... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:11 AM on August 4, 2011
I didn't actually finish Dhalgren, but it's still one of my favorite books of all time.

Me too! Every couple of years I read parts of it, skipping around. I'm not sure I ever want to finish it - there's part of my brain that says "no matter how boring things get, you still have the mysterious unexplored parts of Dhalgren waiting for you". Also, to me it contains some of the best and sharpest writing about a certain kind of life in a big... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:21 AM on August 4, 2011
More about Bridge of Birds - all the women are prostitutes, peasants or dragon ladies (with some peasant prostitutes and some dragon lady prostitutes for variety!), which is precisely what writers like Maxine Hong Kingston complain about in depictions of asian women. Also, it's kind of a sexist book, not so much in the women-prostitutes bit but in the Henpecked Ho part and the glee with which the evil fiancee gets murdered. And the neverending "let's rescue the... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:33 AM on August 4, 2011
And since this is obviously The Thread Where We List Our Favorite Science Fiction, I will list mine, in no particular order:

Always Coming Home, Ursula Le Guin
Marq'ssan series, L Timmel Du Champ
Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, Delany
Extraordinary People, Joanna Russ
Lilith's Brood series, Octavia Butler
Inversions, Iain Banks... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:42 AM on August 4, 2011
Oh, wait, Lovecraft in Brooklyn suggests the Viriconium books. Those are the tenth (since they finish before Harrison slides off into icky gender essentialism and "the secret of the plot is that the sexy young woman was sexually abused!!"-ism)
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:46 AM on August 4, 2011
What on here should I check out given that I don't want to have to deal with sexism?

Inversions - Banks isn't a perfect writer, gender-wise, but he tries and he's smart and imaginative enough to write female people as real people with complex motives. In Inversions, he even writes some sad love story stuff that both....wait for it...involves female people and is written as if those female people were normal humans... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:47 AM on August 4, 2011
You and me both. I acknowledge that because it is unreadable for me does not make it a bad book - but I would like to see an explanation that justifies the high regard that this one generates.

I love the way it's written, the prose is super new-wave ("to wound the autumnal city") but to me it's very beautiful and very distinctive.

I love the way Delany describes things. He sees physical objects and physical... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:59 AM on August 4, 2011
I mean seriously, what precisely do people dislike so much about Dhalgren? If you get can through the intense sentimentality and masochism of a Card novel - and there's quite a lot to recommend, say, Wyrms (his best except for the incredibly fucked-up and misogynist Hart's Hope or Ender's Game - what's wrong with Dhalgren except that it's difficult and has an unusual structure? It... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:04 AM on August 4, 2011
Seriously, that's a pretty freakin' comprehensive list of female SF authors.

No, no it's not. Seriously, I did a poor-quality count (difficult to do because multiple works by one author aren't grouped together and got somewhere in the upper thirties for women authors, then counted up from the bottom and got to 45 men before I was 1/3 of the way up the list.

Suzette Hayden Elgin, Nalo Hopkinson, Rebecca Ore, Eleanor Arnason,... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:18 PM on August 4, 2011
A bunch of those women don't belong on the list. They may be important but one can't make an argument for "greatest".

Seriously? Seriously? We can't put Eleanor Arnason's work on the list but we can have a role-playing game tie in series like those Drizz't books? (Not to be snarky about those - I read the first ever Drizz't book when I was about 12 and loved it to death; for several years my dream was to write for Tor.)... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:32 PM on August 4, 2011
(I actually think it's great that people are arguing about Thomas Covenant. Metafilter is a better place to have these nerderie arguments than almost anywhere else.)
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:37 PM on August 4, 2011
I could add to your list Frowner (Maureen McHugh! Lisa Goldstein! R.A. MacAvoy! Kate Wilhelm! Pat Cardigan!) but you're arguing for the mid-list: good writers that appeal to a fairly small audience

I think my point is precisely that "good writers that appeal to a fairly small audience" is not a natural category - not a category like "biped carbon-based life forms". It's constructed by a specific network of publishers, reviewers and... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:58 PM on August 4, 2011
Oh, and as I was looking to see if Ammonite is still in print, I realized that it is - except the original swashbuckling interstellar SF cover (which actually conveyed something about the book) has been replaced by a pretty but wishy-washy watercolor cover which as good as says "this book is a deeply meaningful book about feelings for women". Now, I have many deeply meaningful books about feelings which are... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:03 PM on August 4, 2011
Eleanor Arnason? Ring of Swords. Hugely important and influential. I think it's ungodly boring, myself, but I have had tons of conversations with, um, Big Name Fans in which they cite it. Secondary case for A Woman of the Iron People, also a bit boring.

And why not Midnight Robber? Or failing that, why not the more-award-winning Brown Girl In The Ring?... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:20 PM on August 4, 2011
That is the point though: we're arguing fine point of writers who, while producing good work, loved by many, never rise to true commercial sucess.

I don't think the poll says anything about "commercial success indicates that these are the best novels". Lud-In-The-Mist would still be a great, great novel even if Neil Gaiman didn't have a thing about it, causing it to be republished and more famous now. I mean, if we want to vote on what we... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:32 PM on August 4, 2011
In short - all "best of" lists are always political and need to be discussed as such; there is no such thing as a neutral, objective "best" list of writing. (There may be a plausible and non-controversial "best" list of netbooks or hiking socks, etc.)
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:33 PM on August 4, 2011
By the way, bonehead, you know that Ender actually murdered a kid, right? I mean... he beat him to death with his bare hands.

There's another question which clarifies this - does the structure of the book suggest that we are supposed to sympathize with Ender in his child-murder? Not "is it a plausible action" but "are we supposed to believe it is not a culpable action"? I think we are; I think we're supposed to believe that Ender... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:41 PM on August 4, 2011
Eh, not so much. Now if you had said Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint, I might grant your point.

Swordspoint? It's so schlocky!!! It's jumped-up fanfic! I lent it to a friend who'd read about it on some GLBTQ list and was expecting a cerebral experience...I warned her, but she was still distinctly non-plussed when she returned it.

Sort of makes you wonder what "great" means...... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:44 PM on August 4, 2011
You know, I just had a thought on this whole violence-in-SF versus rape-in-SF thing: average men and women are far more likely to suffer sexual assault than murder, to perpetrate sexual assault than to commit murder and to know someone who has committed or suffered sexual assault than to know someone who has committed murder or to have a friend murdered. Additionally, there's a strain of discourse which tries to normalize actually-existing rape (she was wearing a short skirt/guys just can't... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:08 AM on August 5, 2011
For one thing he's a rapist, which is where this line of discussion started.

I think there are several factors:

1. The Book of the New Sun is so much better written and constructed than the Thomas Covenant books that it gets an ideological pass from a lot of people, basically including me. I'm creeped out by quite a lot in the books but unable to resist the world.

2. The rape (rapes?)... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:45 AM on August 5, 2011
"Kind of" impossible?


I'm not sure how possible consent is in the rescue situation; and the horsewoman was basically awarded as a prize to Severian, IIRC. Not sure what we're arguing - if you're implying that by saying "kind of " I am engaging in rape apologetics then you're misreading my argument, which is anti-Wolfe. I'm interested in why the rapes in BotNS don't attract the condemnation that some... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:00 AM on August 5, 2011

"what real women look like"
The thing about Health At Every Size? Is that we know for an absolute fact that permanent weight loss is so difficult for most people as to be almost impossible, but that exercise and good nutrition are possible for many people. Plus they boost health a lot, to the point where an active fat person who eats well is going to have lifespan and basic health that are better than a skinny person who doesn't exercise and eats poorly.

It's... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:42 AM on August 5, 2011

"What a choice: Acknowledged but harassed, or ignored and denied recognition of one's womanhood."
During riot grrrl, I always felt like a fat, ugly failure because the whole punk feminist narrative seemed to be about these pretty, femmey girls in mini-skirts talking together about how men harassed them while wearing clothes I could never hope to fit into (and this was when I was thin - I'm muscley and wide-shouldered). Honestly, when I moved to the city and a couple of times guys propositioned me thinking I was a prostitute, I was secretly proud and happy because it meant that I wasn't a... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:41 PM on July 31, 2011
I don't think the article is discussing a straight-up envy - "I wish I got harassed!!" It's describing something much more complicated and queasy, about our programming and sometimes our complicity in sexism.


And then there's the fact that many of us who don't get catcalling-harassed (like, I get harassed all the time but it's homophobic harassment, "what the fuck are you?",... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:26 PM on July 31, 2011
I mean, seriously, we get that sexual harassment isn't awesome. It's that so many [feminist] conversations among women rely on a set of common women's experiences with sexual harassment and treat those experiences as normal, so that if you're already feeling weird and inadequate, it just seems like one more way that you're an outsider.

Seriously, my experiences as a gender-non-conforming woman have revolved around being told I am ugly, ugly, ugly.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:35 PM on July 31, 2011

The Chessboard Killer
Yeah, this was much worse than it needed to be because of poverty and police corruption/incompetence. I've heard from quite a few people since about the mid-nineties that they miss the Soviet Union, because while it was awful and repressive and people disappeared, at least you got medical care and decent schooling, and the repressive forces of the state were actually at least capable of a little bit of regular policing. This way, it's like subtracting the benefits while also keeping the... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:35 AM on July 29, 2011

It is 50/50: Either they do or they dont
I'm fond of Gaia theory, the notion that the planet can be considered as a single organism. That theory's flaw is that we have not seen the earth reproduce. I like to think that we are the planet's gonads, intended to terraform other planets into earth-like copies, in a process similar to bacterial conjugation.

There is a particularly sad James Tiptree story A Momentary Taste of Being, which is sort of on this theme. Admittedly, I'm not sure there's... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:13 AM on July 29, 2011

Angry Jane Doe
When someone who's had a set of awful experiences writes about them, I am always surprised by how much hostility this provokes, how much denial. Here's something I have learned:

You do not have to identify with the oppressor. All you need to do is say "hey, person of color! hey, trans person! hey, queer person! hey, woman who's been treated badly! I hear what you're saying and it shouldn't have happened to you. If I acted that way in the past, I'll try to act... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:06 AM on July 28, 2011

Sex Columnist Dan Savage asks Rick Santorum to tone it down (NSFW)
Okay, queer woman here. I want to like this - and god knows I hate the fundies - but isn't this blackmail? I had a local right-winger attempt something less sexual but similar on me because of my support for a Palestinian state and it creeped me the hell out. Rick Santorum is a public figure with a lot more resources than I have, but I'd rather not get into the whole "do what I say or I'll mess up your internet presence" thing as a tactic. It's true that it's something the left can... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:53 PM on July 27, 2011
It's a joke. Jesus.

So you think Dan Savage won't actually make any attempt to redefine "Rick"? I think he will; I think it won't be super-successful; and I think it's unwise to introduce this whole "say what I want you to say or I'll humiliate you personally on the internet to the extent of my powers" line. The more I think about it, the more I think that this is something where the left will lose down the road - the right is... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:57 PM on July 27, 2011

His feet are faster
I like Tom Bombadil because he represents an outside - the same outside that is represented by the Ents, sort of - an outside to the moral logic of the story, an outside to human/elvish history, something that does not, that cannot, respond to the moral logic of the story. I think that's crucial to the way the story depicts human history and social change. A world that's wonderful has to have something that is in excess of people/people-ish creatures.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:27 PM on July 27, 2011
Why couldn't you just fly to the volcano on the fucking giant eagles to begin with?

Air battles with the Nazgul! That would be a totally different movie!
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:28 PM on July 27, 2011
Funnily enough, I've never been at all interested in the Silmarillion or the other secondary books. I know that technically they "explain" a lot of theology and so on in LOTR but those "explanations" seem very dry and formal and fussy - interesting to Tolkien and to people who enjoy systems for their own sake, sure, but they don't really seem to carry any of the ethical or social punch of the books. Sort of an authorial intent question - we can establish who Tolkien... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:35 PM on July 27, 2011

The Teen Suicide Epidemic in Michele Bachmann's District
I want to be a gay barbarian. Can I wear a fur bikini and talk like Conan?

Yes, yes you can.

Horde of Barbarians Demand To Be Disciplined At Bachmann's Pray Away The Gay Clinic

There has been some talk of a "barbarian bloc" at various protests.

And it does suck. I hate what this state has become.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:18 AM on July 27, 2011

Working for your safety or something.
This doesn't astonish me at all, because I've been hearing stories like it from activists since 9/11. There are two things going on - the US is substantially closing its borders for ideological reasons and there's an increase in US opposition to left movements in South and Latin America (because those movements show some signs of life. Which should not be read as an apology for Shining Path; this stuff isn't really aimed at Shining Path, it's aimed at Lula, Chavez and their like.) I imagine... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:33 AM on July 27, 2011

Voting in Wisconsin Just Became A Lot More Difficult
Gay Liberalsocialiststan

If any of your FB friends can supply me with a reliable map to Gay Liberalsocialistan, I am so out of here.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:11 PM on July 26, 2011
(Upthread, there have been various comments about how "cheap" $20 is, or $135 (for a passport) is, and how most "poor" people can afford this. For comparison, here in Minnesota when medical assistance programs add a one dollar co-pay to people's medications they see a huge drop in medication use. If you are truly poor - and there are plenty of truly poor people, but they're not visible because they work nights, stay home, are homeless,... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:20 AM on July 27, 2011

"getting attention is easy, being a feminist is hard"
I've got to say, this thread surprises me. It's the first metafilter thread I've read that's a general "organizing against sexual assault" thread (I'm sorta-kinda new here) and yet we're discussing whether women should "take responsibility" for being raped if they were wearing the "wrong" clothes. Huh. That's not as sophisticated an approach as I'd grown accustomed to on other threads.

My takeaway would be that people... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:13 AM on July 27, 2011
Oh, you know - I remember one night years ago where I walked home at about 4am through a "bad" (my) neighborhood wearing a skirt and these really absurd extremely high mid-nineties fetish heels with a platform under the toe, and probably also fishnets. I was walking home because the buses had stopped running, and I was out really late because I'd fallen asleep at a friend's but had to get up for work the next morning. I couldn't have run twenty feet in those heels. They weren't... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:22 AM on July 27, 2011
You know, I once got in a car with a strange man. Didn't know him from adam. I was 26, he might have been 40 - older, anyway. Of course, my car had run off the highway in the snow, and I didn't have a cell phone and I really needed to get to a place where I could call a tow truck. Didn't have a lot of choices due to the highway, the foot of snow and the ice storm that was sending cars off the road all over and slamming police response.

As I biked to work today, I... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:43 AM on July 27, 2011

Explosion in downtown Oslo
(About that terrorist cell - weren't the guys of "mixed origins" all non-ethnically-Norwegian? An Iraqi guy and a Uighur guy and someone else? So that doesn't mean anything in terms of a white Scandinavian suspect.

I assume that you can be "Norwegian" without being white, though - I notice that "Norwegian" is being used as a stand-in for "white" a lot.)
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:51 PM on July 22, 2011

Got PMS? Get Milk.
Treating essentially benign topics as sacrosanct

I don't know about you, but as a woman-type-person I get really, really tired of the endless lulz to be found in suggesting that I am an abusive, hormone-driven shrew who is always out to ruin her partner's boyish good times. I am equally tired of being cast as the boring-yet-prudent bearer of good manners who corrects "her" man when he gets childish and makes sure that he bathes/takes... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:07 AM on July 22, 2011

Could Murdoch really not have known about phone-hacking? One journalist says yes
It's hardly as though Murdoch has some kind of unblemished record. He's personally been involved in union-busting, for example. And his organization is highly ideological; it's not just WidgetCo which happens to have labor violations because there's a culture of cheap-vendor-seeking.

Really, it's important not to identify with the powerful here; there's an intellectual tendency to project the self into these situations, as "If I were running a... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:19 PM on July 21, 2011

Remembering Hermione
I would gladly read Hermione Granger: Witch Detective.

So would I. Especially if Rowling could have some characters of color who were actually not just tokens with walk-ons.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:32 PM on July 20, 2011

GQ Magazine Goes Down
Ooooh, I regret the brain cells lost to that article.

I feel like a lot of internet content is "random list as an excuse to insult things". In this case, there's no notion given about what "worst dressed" means or what "best dressed" people are tacky, hipsters are tacky, bohemians are tacky, trads are tacky...what remains?

Given that, the random anti-PC thuggery slur is about what you'd expect.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:59 PM on July 20, 2011

What's an 'ethical source' for gelatin?
"People are vegan!" is what we always say at my house. There are all kinds of logistical reasons why a trade in human flesh (for example) would be a bad idea, but I don't think human genes in yeast would be specifically not vegan. A bad idea, probably.

I'm not vegan and not remotely conversant with the philosophy, but wouldn't that imply that it's okay to eat dairy or unfertilized eggs

Different... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:11 AM on July 18, 2011
*And, also it isn't like animals aren't harmed during other industrial/agricultural process that do not necessarily include animal products as an output. I've heard several convincing arguments (as a non-vegetarian/vegan) that flour is not, and can never be considered a vegan product, simply because there is no way to effectively harvest wheat without killing large numbers of rodents, even though it does not inherently (ahem. intentionally) contain any meat products.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:17 AM on July 18, 2011

The Brain on Trial.
I'll make a prediction - if anyone in the criminal justice system takes the article/line of reasoning seriously, what we'll see is forced medication, pre-emptive medication and possibly forced brain implants or surgeries, most of which will mysteriously turn out to be needed by low-income people, people of color, women with inconvenient/hysterical symptoms and sexual "deviants", probably including low-income queer folks and sex workers. We've been here before, as that non-neurologist... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:40 PM on July 15, 2011
Variation gives rise to lushly diverse societies—but it serves as a source of trouble for the legal system, which is largely built on the premise that humans are all equal before the law. This myth of human equality suggests that people are equally capable of controlling impulses, making decisions, and comprehending consequences. While admirable in spirit, the notion of neural equality is simply not true.

As brain science improves, we will better understand that
... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:47 PM on July 15, 2011
And the moral of this story - don't take your classes on Freud in the Comp Lit/Cultural Studies department!

By which I mean that I've read a lot of Freud but obviously don't know enough about his research background.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:47 PM on July 15, 2011

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