Browsing Tag


The Internet

Facebook, this is NOT COOL

I’ve been seeing a great deal of brouahaha going around about the news that Facebook conducted a psychological experiment on users in 2012, manipulating their news feeds to see if showing them more negative content made them post more negative things, and likewise with more positive content.

I fall well and thoroughly on the side of THIS IS NOT COOL, FACEBOOK. Because while yes, we may have technically agreed to this with the Terms of Service we all clicked on to use the site to begin with, this is a step above that, and I feel it should have required serious informed consent for people who were selected to participate in this study.

If nothing else, I know way too many people who are dealing with a lot of hugely stressful situations in their lives, and in some cases, who are actively fighting depression. It is seriously, seriously not cool to put those people at risk by manipulating what news updates you show them, when they don’t need that kind of crap in their lives. None of us do, really.

Some of you may be saying “well yeah, duh, Facebook. What do you expect, they’re evil, we knew that already!” I grant you, this is the latest in a long line of NOT COOL things that the site has done, and I grant that continued use of the site puts you at risk for that kind of shit. I also freely admit that I get too much use out of Facebook to just bail on it on general principle. What then, can users do about this kind of thing?

For myself, I usually bypass any dickery Facebook wants to pull with my news feed (like the whole NO DAMMIT WHEN I SAY I WANT STUFF IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER I REALLY MEAN THAT thing that they seem to be willfully ignoring over and over and over) by putting all my top critical people into personal Lists, and checking those lists instead of the main feed. If you don’t know how to do that already, I recommend that as a workaround.

Also, I directly subscribe to pages I want to follow (for various bands and individual musicians) in an RSS reader. Which does still work, for the time being, and which is an argument for keeping an RSS reader around.

I don’t hit Facebook in any browser in which I haven’t installed an ad-blocking plugin. Because I have no interest in seeing any of the ads they’re likely to show me. And I also made a point of turning off auto-play on videos on my news feed, because SUPREMELY ANNOYING.

If a third-party site wants me to log in with my Facebook account, I will make a point of avoiding doing that, with a few specific exceptions. I don’t mind having Goodreads and Tumblr linked over to Facebook. Anything else I’m doing–especially anything I’m buying–again, Facebook doesn’t need to know.

Last but not least, I continue to be wary about what I put up on Facebook. Over and over, the site keeps asking me for things like “have you seen this movie?” or “have you read this book?” It wants to know where I live, what my phone number is, and all sorts of other things that, frankly, are none of Facebook’s business. I know that the site really just wants to know all this to data-mine me and figure out what ads to show me, but again, screw that. People who want to know what books I’ve read can follow me on Goodreads, which is the only place I need to be keeping track of that. Anything else about me, if I don’t post about it publicly, you probably don’t need to know. If you DO need to know, I will tell you.

So yeah. I’m not going to stop using the site–it’s too useful to me, and I talk to too many awesome people on it, particularly in Quebec music fandom. But I will use it with my eyes open, and I’ll continue to ask myself whether any given thing I post really needs to go up.

I encourage you all to do the same.

News, Publishing

Thoughts on current events, racism and sexism in SF/F, and #YesAllWomen

I’m not a well-known writer by any stretch of the imagination. In any given month I’m lucky if my sales numbers crack two digits. This means, Internets, that every time a reader reaches out to me, it’s a rare and special occurrence.

I mention this because I was contacted on Goodreads by a reader who thanked me profusely for Faerie Blood, specifically because she’s a reader of color, and it meant a lot to her to see Kendis, a heroine of color. She told me that she talked the book up to her friends as well, because she was so excited to find a book with a heroine like her.

Now, y’all, I’m a white woman. And I’ll say straight up that I was a bit nervous about making Kendis a heroine of color–because since I am a white woman, by definition, I’m not going to be able to write about a PoC with the same perspective and experience that writers of color can. It’s very likely that as I continue to write Kendis (because Bone Walker IS on the way, I swear!), I’ll probably screw something up in that regard.

But on the other hand, I felt like it was important to make Kendis non-white. As with a lot of aspects of my writing, this grew out of my love for Elfquest and the simple fact that I saw the Sun Folk–elves of color!–so vividly portrayed on the pages of that series. I’m also very aware, after a lifetime of reading SF/F, that protagonists of color are still pretty damned thin on the ground. The ones that do get written about run the risk of being whitewashed on their covers if they’re written by white authors–or of being exiled to non-SF/F sections of the bookstore if they’re written by authors of color.

And I’m aware that as a white author, I have a certain level of privilege that may get my book looked at twice when an author of color’s book might not be. The same applies to Valor of the Healer, where I also have a distinctly non-white heroine (and I’m grateful to Carina for making sure that’s clear!). At the same time, I acknowledge that yeah, I might screw something up, and that I need to listen if a reader of color comes and tells me “hey, you wrote this wrong”.

I hope I have the grace and sense to listen when that happens, to learn, and to do better next time.

But for now, I want to send a public shout-out to Colette on Goodreads. Thank you, Colette!

* * *

Along the same lines as above, some links y’all should be aware of if you haven’t seen them already.

N.K. Jemisin gave an excellent GoH speech at Wiscon this past weekend, and posted the transcript of it on her site here. Jemisin is calling it like she sees it in re: racism in SF/F, and she’s not wrong. It’s ongoing, it’s horrible, and it needs to stop.

Likewise, I’d like to call out Hiromi Goto’s GoH speech from the same convention. Pretty much her entire speech resonates with me, especially the closing where she talks about the Japanese word kotodama. We are, in SF/F, writers and readers. Words are powerful to all of us. They can effect change, and as both Jemisin and Goto so passionately proclaim, there’s much our words can do if we let their spirit move us.

Just before Wiscon, too, Mary Robinette Kowal put up an excellent post on the need for diversity in SF/F over here. I’d particularly like to point out the discussion in the comments, wherein the question is raised by a straight white male writer about what he can do to promote diversity. It is very, very important to note that in the replies he got, one of the big points made was that diversity does not mean that straight white men have to shut up or stop writing. Or that they even have to stop writing about characters like them, i.e., straight white men. Diversity includes SWMs too.

Diversity isn’t a zero-sum game. It doesn’t mean that just because minority writers are getting more of a voice, majority writers have to stand down. It does mean that those of us who enjoy majority privilege–whether because of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or whatever–need to have the grace to let others have their say too.

* * *

And this also applies to sexism. Like many of you, I’ve seen the horrible news going around about the shooting in California, and the virulently misogynist motives of the shooter. I’ve seen the response of #YesAllWomen springing up on Twitter, and roundup posts like this one on The Mary Sue, featuring some of the most powerful tweets with that hashtag.

I have seen men I know posting their bemusement about what “rape culture” means, and what on earth they can do in the face of such vicious hatred. I’ve seen other men I know, however, posting their sentiments that they need to stand up and say enough and this is not okay. They’re right. Because women keep screaming this–and mind you, we’re not going to stop–but the simple bitter truth is that there are a lot of men out there who aren’t going to hear us simply because we’re women. Men need to say it too–and turn their gender privilege into a force for good.

I’ll close this post with a pointer over to this post of Vixy’s, in which she lays down a lot of words of wisdom on this very topic. Go listen to her.

Then go speak, too–because we’re all stronger when we’re speaking together.

ETA: Adding this link because thank you, Arthur Chu. Who uses his aforementioned gender privilege as a force for good.


PSA: Check your dehumidifiers, people

We have one at the Murkworks–or we did, because Paul just discovered this recall announcement talking about several different brands of dehumidifiers being recalled. DUE TO CAUSING FIRE DAMAGE.

Yeah, that’s just a LITTLE bit too much water removal there.

Couple other articles on the story:

In short, YIKES and check your dehumidifiers. ‘Cause I’m generally a pro-not-letting-our-houses-burn-down voter, people.


Holding book promo activity for the rest of the day

Out of respect for the ongoing situation in Boston I am holding all book release promo activity on the various social networks for the rest of the day. ‘Cause, um, yeah, seriously? I’ll keep. Y’all will hear back from me tomorrow.

Meanwhile, to friends in Boston, check in when you can and let us know you’re okay! I’ve already heard from userinformd but I’m waiting to hear from userinfolyonesse as well. Anybody else in Boston, if you were anywhere near the activity at the marathon, or had friends or family who were, my thoughts are with you and I hope things settle down there soon.

Other People's Books

RIP Anne McCaffrey

Like most of the rest of the net, I’m seeing the news today that Anne McCaffrey has passed away. The initial link I was given is here, and another early report link is here. They’re saying she had a massive stroke.

This one hurts, people.

I remember the Pern books being among the very first SF/F books I read as an adolescent. In turn, they influenced other books I went in search of–notably, Sharon Shinn’s Samaria series, which always struck me as Pern-like in flavor. And as I’ve mentioned in the past, I get huge echoes back to Pern through the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, as well.

PernMUSH is one of the three MUSHes that formed the bulk of my online roleplaying history, and almost at the same time I joined PernMUSH, I also joined the offline group Telgar Weyr. Like many in Pern fandom, I had my share of issues with many details of Anne’s world, and eventually I actually enjoyed Pern fandom in many ways more than I did the original canon material. But I cannot deny that she created a world that had a massive, massive influence on me. To this day I have friendships that were forged because of Pern fandom.

PernMUSH established my ability to roleplay–and by extension, to write–from a male point of view, since F’hlan was the first significant male character I ever played. F’hlan taught me a great deal about the kinds of male characters I liked to play, and how to keep a long-running romantic relationship lively. (Melora, I am looking at you.)

I must also give mad props to the Crystal Singer books, since a significant bit of my roleplay history was on CrystalMUSH as well. Killashandra Ree, I loved you. You led me to roleplaying Kevlan Sharr, Tance Vokrim, Jerrik Rawn Deegan, and Tamber al-Acorrin (who had the distinction of being the first gay character I ever played on a MUSH).

Because of all the writing I’ve done for Pern fandom, McCaffrey’s influence on me as a writer has certainly also been profound. I have characters that still vividly live in my head, and make sad faces at me that I haven’t ever properly finished their stories, or otherwise adapted them into characters I can put into my own work. McCaffrey’s been a template for me on how to do strong female characters–and, since I always took issue with her penchant for setting up strong female characters only to have them eventually play second fiddle to their men, she contributed to my resolve to never do that with my own heroines. Similarly, as I was always unhappy that she gave queer males a presence on Pern but never queer women, that has set a goal for me to achieve in my own work.

I even met Ms. McCaffrey once, way back in the day when userinfosolarbird and I still lived in Kentucky and I had a brief interview with her for Dara’s magazine LOW ORBIT. I remember thinking at the time that she was a very concise interviewer, answering pretty much what questions I asked her, no more, no less. Man, that made me nervous. But it was very gracious of her to do that, too, regardless of any issues I developed with her work later!

John Scalzi has a post up for her here. The Fandom Lounge on JournalFen speaks for her here. And has an announcement post here.

The sound you hear, O Internets, is every single dragon I have ever written or roleplayed for keening. Gold Timbrith. Bronze Tzornth. Bronze Valreth. Brown Trollith. Blue With. Green Yfandeth. Likewise, all of my characters at Far Cry Hold must mourn.

RIP, DragonLady, and thank you so much for your works and how you have molded my life. You will be missed.

ETA: userinfolyonesse reminds me that Pern also influenced my gaming in gaming groups as well! She ran an excellent RPG game in a world very loosely based on Pern, which ranked among the most enjoyable RPG adventures I’ve ever played. My character there, Rillawy, was in turn based on my original secondary character from PernMUSH. And the aforementioned Tamber al-Acorrin was partially named after Ric al-Acorrin, Rillawy’s second love interest in that very game.

Also, io9 now has a post up.

ETA #2: chimes in here. Suvudu has a post up here.

ETA #3: userinfomizkit has a beautiful tribute post for her here.