Friday Read! “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” by Ted Chiang

Ted Chiang, as they say, needs no introduction — if you follow the contemporary science fiction and fantasy short story scene. In case you don’t, Chiang is a powerhouse, not only one of the masters of the short form, but also someone whose work can always be relied on to be strong. Is some better than others? Sure. But it all shows his characteristic attention to detail and deep consideration and analysis.

My favorite of his is actually “The Short Story of Your Life and Others,” but alas, it’s not online. Instead I give you this one, to which it was my honor to lose the Hugo.

The Lifecycle of Software Objects” by Ted Chiang:

The Life Cycle of Software Objects

Ana’s half expecting to see a fantastical landscape when the window refreshes, but instead her avatar shows up in what looks at first glance to be a daycare center. On second glance, it looks like a scene from a children’s book: there’s a little anthropomorphic tiger cub sliding colored beads along a frame of wires; a panda bear examining a toy car; a cartoon version of a chimpanzee rolling a foam rubber ball.

The onscreen annotations identify them as digients, digital organisms that live in environments like Data Earth, but they don’t look like any that Ana’s seen before. These aren’t the idealized pets marketed to people who can’t commit to a real animal; they lack the picture-perfect cuteness, and their movements are too awkward.

Read here.

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Help Send Voting Systems Nerd Jameson Quinn to Worldcon

Pug puppies look out from a kennel at the Animal Foundation Campus, 655 N. Mojave Road, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. The puppies, which were rescued during a fire at the Prince and Princess Pet Shop on Jan. 27, will be raffled off under a plan disclosed at the Clark County Commission meeting Tuesday.

Pug puppies look out from a kennel at the Animal Foundation Campus, 655 N. Mojave Road, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. The puppies, which were rescued during a fire at the Prince and Princess Pet Shop on Jan. 27, will be raffled off under a plan disclosed at the Clark County Commission meeting Tuesday.

I’ve been remiss in not pointing to this post on File 770, in which Jameson Quinn thoroughly outlines the various options people are mulling over for saving the Hugo Awards from voting slates and harassment.

If this is an issue you care about, please consider throwing a few bucks at Jameson’s YouCaring campaign, to enable him to attend Worldcon this year:.

I believe that there will be at least two new proposals on the table this year, and I think that, as with last year, my voting systems expertise could be valuable in helping the Business Meeting understand the implications of these options and decide what to do.

He’s about halfway to his goal, so every bit can help.

Posted in Hugo Awards | 2 Comments  

Edition Day Backwards, Farm Link and Thread Open

susanbanthony-ivoted

  1. On Taste
    “Having taste tends to make you dislike popular things and to dislike more things. This is, I think, because taste does not so much change the things you care about as give you more things to care about.”
  2. Six Women Say a Seattle Man Posed as a Female Porn Recruiter in Order to Lure Them to His Apartment for Sex. What Can the Law Do About It?
  3. Angry Trump fans call for ‘Muslim social justice warrior’ Paul Ryan to resign
    This makes it official: “SJW” literally means “anyone to the speaker’s left who criticizes bigotry.”
  4. Why you should be legally required to vote
    I also think that a government that is voted on by more of the population has more moral legitimacy (all else held equal).
  5. Feminism Proving Popular With Men After Being Re-Released In Tactical Matte Black – Point & Clickbait
    Thanks to Grace for the link.
  6. Vote Prohibition Party
    “The Prohibition Party, a part of our nation’s history, is endangered! With your vote, you can help strengthen America’s oldest third party.”
  7. Taming the Global Supply Chain: A Statement of Principles – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
    And further comment here by Brian O’Neil.
  8. Thiel and Speech
    “If a billionaire can come up with enough cases that are plausible enough to not get thrown out, any media company can be bankrupted defending themselves. Unlike with 1st Amendment cases, there is no legal or constitutional recourse.”
  9. The Scientist Who Talks to ISIS – The Chronicle of Higher Education
  10. At Profiles Theatre the drama—and abuse—is real | Feature | Chicago Reader
  11. Don’t Overthink It: Donald Trump Will Probably Lose | New Republic
  12. Story time. So back in my youth I was this little nerd…
  13. United States of Paranoia: They See Gangs of Stalkers – The New York Times
    “The group was organized around the conviction that its members are victims of a sprawling conspiracy to harass thousands of everyday Americans with mind-control weapons and armies of so-called gang stalkers.” (Indirect link.)
  14. Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City – The New York Times Magazine
    Interesting longform article about the ongoing problem of segregated schools in Brooklyn. (Indirect link.)
  15. Confession Booth | Amber A’Lee Frost
    A critical look at We Believe You, a book collecting survivors’ stories of campus rape. I don’t agree with all of it, but it makes good points.
  16. Trump vs. Clinton on Orlando attack – Business Insider
    “The speeches Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump gave on Monday in response to the Orlando, Florida, terrorist attack laid out the key distinction in visions between the two candidates.”
  17. Our Worst Presidents Came In With A Lot Of Experience | FiveThirtyEight
    There doesn’t seem to be any significant correlation between a President having past governmental experience, and how highly historians rank their administration.
  18. Harvard Study Confirms Media’s Role In Trump’s Political Rise
  19. Stop. Using. Periods. Period. – The Washington Post
    Apparently in text messages, among some people, using a period at the end of a sentence is considered rude. Live and learn
  20. Deadliest Mass Shootings – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
    It takes nothing away from the tragedy in Florida to realize that there have been even deadlier shootings, usually perpetrated against Native Americans.
  21. Apartment Building Attempts To Coerce Tenants Into Crazy Social Media Policy Post-Lease | Techdirt
    And I’m sure some of the attempts were successful. This isn’t the government, but it is an example of how private actors threaten free speech.
  22. The zombie wildfires have awakened in Alaska | Grist
  23. The IMF says neoliberalism was oversold.
  24. How Venezuela’s socialist dream collapsed into a nightmare – Vox
  25. The Trucker, His Downfall, and the US Economy – Sociological Images
  26. Extreme Close-Ups of the Human Eye | Bored Panda
    I just find it so cool that eyes in close-up look lacey.

altered-book

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Journalists Can’t Be Bothered To Fact-Check Their Stories About College

In The Atlantic, Columbia professor Jon Cole writes:

Today, nearly half of a random sample of roughly 3,000 college students surveyed by Gallup earlier this year are supportive of restrictions on certain forms of free speech on campus, and 69 percent support disciplinary action against either students or faculty members who use intentionally offensive language or commit “microagressions”—speech they deem racist, sexist, or homophobic.

Noah Smith, a professor and Bloomberg View writer, tweeted:

69% of U.S. college kids think colleges should punish students and faculty for “microaggressions”

I saw this, in turn, because Cathy Young retweeted Noah’s tweet. I was suspicious of the claim – it’s difficult to believe that 69% of college students even know the word “microaggressions” – so I went and checked the survey (pdf link). In fact, students were never asked about “microaggressions.” Here’s what the relevant part of the survey says:

gallup-college-survey

What the students were asked about – deliberately offensive slurs – is the opposite of microaggressions. (As Cathy said when I pointed this out to her.) And conflating “establish policies that restrict” with “punish” or even “disciplinary action” seems dubious.

(For a much more detailed response to Cole’s article, read Don’t Blame the Students on Academe Blog.)

This misleading reporting reminded me of last week, when Miles Goslett, editor of Heatstreet, tweeted:

.@clreid9 on the latest ‘safe spaces’ farce: straight white men are banned from an equality conference.

The link was to an article with the unambiguous headline Straight White Men Banned From Equality Conference; the story was just what you’d expect from its headline.1

And, again, the reporting is extremely misleading. The conference itself included four breakout sessions for (respectively) female, black. disabled, and lgbt members – but also included workshops, training sessions, and meals that were open to all members.2 The first sentence of the article3 gave the impression that conference had used the term “safe spaces” to explain the policy; I was unable to find any official conference statement or materials using that phrase.

The story was misreported in the same way in The Evening Standard and Drudge.

Which in turn reminded me of March, when lots of conservative publications – including major outlets like The National Review, The Daily Caller, Foxnews, and Campus Reform – reported that Southwestern University in Texas was cancelling its annual production of The Vagina Monologues because TVM is too white.

All these articles about the canceled show used the same source, an article in the Southwestern student newspaper4 – but that article didn’t say anything about a scheduled production being cancelled, nor did it mention an annual production. I contacted the author of the original article, who confirmed that there had never been an annual production of The Vagina Monologues at Southwestern, nor was there a production that had been cancelled.

It’s as if all these journalists uncritically repeat anything they hear which fits in with their pre-existing biases.

That’s hardly a problem that’s unique to this issue, unfortunately – just think of Rolling Stone and the Jackie story. Journalists would be well advised to start fact-checking campus horror stories rather than just repeating them.

  1. A followup article published days later did a slightly better job getting the facts straight, without admitting that they’d screwed it up previously. []
  2. That’s last year’s schedule, but the reporting at Indy100 indicates that this year’s conference is much the same. []
  3. The first sentence reads: “News that a university lecturers’ union has banned straight, white men from attending their equality conferences in a bid to create ‘safe spaces’ is deeply depressing.” []
  4. Their website is currently offline, otherwise I’d link the article. []
Posted in Conservative zaniness, right-wingers, etc., Media criticism | 13 Comments  

Friday read! “This Is a Ghost Story” by Keffy Kehrli

Keffy Kehrli is a too-often-overlooked writer. This is my favorite of his short stories.

My parents raised me on a diet of jazz, big bands, musicals, and classical music. I’ve never spent much time listening to more recent popular music. “This Is a Ghost Story” is about Kurt Cobain — but even for me, who has no connection to the source material, it was still intense and affecting.

(By the by, if you like listening to short stories, you might be interested in Keffy Kehrli’s LGBTQ podcast, Glittership.)

This Is a Ghost Story” by Keffy Kerhli

Bench in Viretta Park, tribute to Cobain, wikipedia

On a muted television:

He smirks like he’s found the way out of an impossible maze, like he hasn’t a care in the world. Except that if you look in his eyes, you’ll see the breadcrumbs leading right back to the labyrinth. You’ll feel a memory of unrelenting stone walls and know that it wasn’t necessarily a bad feeling, being held. Suffocating.

Turn up the sound too late for the question.

He runs cigarette–stained fingers over the stubble on his chin and leans on the arm of the leather couch. He crosses his legs, skinny jeans worn and ragged. He’s still wearing old Chucks with the tread half–gone, even though he could buy a thousand new pairs. He doesn’t wear the Mister Rogers sweaters anymore. Sometimes he still wears dresses for the fuck of it, but today he’s wearing a white t–shirt that looks like his kid doodled on it with four colors of Sharpie. A bloodied stick man holds a shotgun.

He licks his lips, and he doesn’t look at the camera, or at the floor, or at the interviewer’s face. He’s focused on the space between, like it’s a gulf or a fence or a wall. He says, “Yeah, it was pretty rough for a while, you know. I kept saying things were getting better, but really they weren’t. Eventually it was clean up or die, so…

“I started thinking about doing music for other shit, not because I needed the money, but to fuck with people. Then I thought maybe I’d do a Disney soundtrack, but it’d probably end up like in Fight Club where the guy’s splicing porn into kid movies.”

Then the interviewer asks about his kid, and he grins. “She’s great,” he says. “I know that’s not very ‘punk rock’ of me, but whatever.”

What are you looking at? This interview never fucking happened.

Read here.

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A Gay Iranian Mullah Who is a Refugee in Turkey

This is a pretty remarkable story.

Posted in Iran, Islam, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Queer issues | Leave a comment  

My Mom Is So Cool

Just sayin’.

toby-deutsch-is-cool

Posted in About the Bloggers | Leave a comment  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Friendly Face Edition

6.-Most-body-pierced-woman-in-the-world

  1. This is historic: Hillary Clinton is the first woman presumptive nominee of a major party – Vox
    Whatever I think about Clinton as a nominee, to have a female nominee – and soon, I believe, a female president – is pretty amazing (and, also, long overdue).
  2. Trangender Actress MJ Rodriguez Talks About Her Hamilton Audition | Playbill
    The link includes a video of her singing “Satisfied,” which led to Hamilton’s producers asking her to come in and audition for Peggy. She realized she’s a trans women while playing Angel in “Rent.”
  3. Another Benefit of Voter ID Laws (for Republicans): They Prevent Trans People From Voting
  4. How Clarence Thomas Broke My Heart – Bloomberg View
    Interesting account of how easily being “race blind” turns into making any possible excuse for racism – as if the person who should be assumed innocent until all reasonable doubt is removed is the prosecutor, rather than the man on death row.
  5. Bruenighazi: how a feisty Bernie blogger’s firing explains Democratic politics in 2016 – Vox
    I was surprised at how interesting I found this article.
  6. Comics&Cola: Snapshot thoughts: Holding together the Kingpin’s humanity in patterned waistcoats
    Interesting post about the Kingpin’s costume design in Frank Miller’s and Bill Sienkiewicz’s 1986 graphic novel Daredevil: Love and War.
  7. “Like a Damn White Knight”: Feminism and Chivalry, Love and War and Sin City « The Hooded Utilitarian
    And Kristian Williams argues that there are interesting (and possibly unintentional) feminist themes in Love and War and Frank Miller’s Sin City.
  8. Green Party’s Jill Stein on the Feminist Case Against Hillary Clinton | Rolling Stone
  9. Donald Trump and the Backlash Against Political Correctness – The Atlantic
    Basically, he’s afraid that if people knew his political opinions, they might not like him (because PC thought police), so he’s voting for Trump.
  10. The Economic Lessons of Star Trek’s Money-Free Society | WIRED
  11. Dr. Heimlich Uses His Maneuver At Retirement Home, Saves 87-Year-Old Woman
    Dr Heimlich is 96 years old, and has apparently never performed his maneuver to save someone’s life before (although there is some question on that point).
  12. Should you edit your children’s genes? : Nature News & Comment
    This article, about “the emergence of a powerful gene-editing technology, known as CRISPR–Cas9,” interviews several disabled people about the technology.
  13. 5 Times Student Art Was Censored For Being Offensive | Heat Street
    Includes a mix of suppression from the right and from the left.
  14. Why Sci-Hub Will Win — Medium
    It’s not just cheaper; it’s a much better service.
  15. Impact of Social Sciences – Student evaluations of teaching are not only unreliable, they are significantly biased against female instructors.
  16. For First Time in Modern Era, Living With Parents Edges Out Other Living Arrangements for 18- to 34-Year-Olds | Pew Research Center
    That headline could give the impression that >50% of young adults live with their parents, but that’s not true; it’s about 32%. Still, that’s a big rise from 1960 (when it was 20%), but a return to the norm for 1880 or 1940. The biggest change in recent years is the much lower chance that 18034 yr olds will be “married or cohabiting in own household,” from 62% in 1960 to 31.6% today.
  17. The 4 Most Damning Revelations In Wisconsin’s Voter ID Trial | ThinkProgress
  18. The word “Nazi” was an insult to the Nazis.
  19. Child Labor in Tobacco Supply Chains – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
    ” We have more levers over these processes than we think, it’s just that policymakers choose not to use them.”
  20. Heated Argument Ends After Man Helpfully Points Out That Both Sides Are Bad – Point & Clickbait
    I suspect I’ve been this guy all too often, albeit without the wonderful results.
  21. A universal basic income only makes sense if Americans change how they think about work – Vox
  22. Legal groups slam NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo for creating “unconstitutional” blacklist of BDS supporters – Salon.com
    To me it seems instinctive that states electing not to do business with or in another state is substantively different than creating a blacklist of businesses not to be dealt with. But is that true? I’m having difficulty parsing out what the important differences are, so it might be that my instinct is mistaken.
  23. A Hillary Clinton presidency will greatly boost women’s representation in politics, with big policy consequences – Vox
    The very brief overview of polity differences coming from having female politicians in office especially interests me. Also, interesting side note about class differences and policy.
  24. Sit-in at Seattle U raises allegation on dean’s use of slur that may have been reference to book
    It’s no secret that I think many criticisms of student protestors for being oversensitive and anti-free speech are themselves hyperbolic overreactions. But this case – specifically, a petition to (among other things) fire a Dean for recommending Black civil rights activist Dick Gregory’s autobiography Nigger – is legitimately ridiculous and censorious.
  25. Google bans plug-in that picks out Jews – BBC News
    Antisemites being simultaneously frightening and ridiculous.
  26. On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs – STRIKE!
    Thanks to Grace for this link! I don’t agree 100% with the article – it sometimes veers close to claiming the ruling class has more deliberate intent than I think it does – but I’ve certainly held some jobs the world could have happily done without (like night secretary at JP Morgan).
  27. How Frankie Manning’s incredible dancing skills made him famous twice, 50 years apart – Vox

Posted in Link farms | 32 Comments  

Making Lemons into Stuff: Appreciating A Decade of Hand-made, Artisinal Lemonades.

It’s the last day of my Making Lemons into Jokes campaign! Thanks to absolutely everyone who has contributed, supported, signal boosted, chuckled, and etc. And there’s still a little time to chip in! There are three stretch goals left —

$850 – A satirical essay by Greg Machlin on the topic of how I, personally, destroyed science fiction.

$900 – I’ll write a silly story based on a prompt that John Hodgman gave SFWAns at this year’s Nebula banquet.

$950 – I’ll write a silly story based on all three of his prompts.

$1000 – I’ll hire a professional to make the whole bundle into something pretty.

It would be nice to hit the last one; I could probably use the help. 😉

 

I’ve written a bunch about the harassment and the campaign this month. On Ann Leckie’s blog, I talked about why the common advice to ignore trolls isn’t enough. On Mary Robinette Kowal’s, I wrote about some of the threads of oppression that make solidarity personally important to me. On Jim Hines’, I wrote about coping with harassment as a vulnerable person.

Today, I wanted to write a little about the places where the light is increasing.

When I started selling my writing in 2005, if I wrote a story with queer characters, I had to think about where I could send it. Not all markets would publish things that pushed those boundaries. Even editors who had no problem with queer content might have to deal with things like school library distribution, where some librarians (more than do today) believed that “gay” = “sex” = “inappropriate for children.”

These days? I don’t even think about it.

These days, when a young trans writer asks me whether there are people with non-normative genders in the industry, I have instant access to an array of publicly known names like my former student, An Owomoyela, one of the fiction editors of the Hugo-winning Strange Horizons, Keffy Kehrli, a brilliant writer who is also running his own queer-themed podcast, and Charlie Jane Anders, whose beautiful writing has been acknowledged with well-earned awards.

In 2005, a venerated old, male writer grabbed a woman’s breast without her permission, on stage, in front of thousands. The science fiction community was befuddled, tripped over its own feet in confusion, and nothing decisive proceeded.

Now large numbers of pro writers have signed pledges not to attend conventions without harassment policies. Activists like Elise Mathesen, Genevieve Valentine, and Rose Fox, among so, so many others, have stood up to make those policies mean something.

And yet more activists, like Mary Robinette Kowal, Michael and Lynne Thomas, and Mari Ness, have come up with a similar pledge about accessibility policies, to try to extend that energy and protection to disabled congoers.

In 2008, fans of color stood up to be counted, because people didn’t even really believe they were there.

I think most white people know better now. It’s been a long time since I saw someone suggest everyone who said they were brown was a sock puppet.

Con or Bust did that. Tempest Bradford did that. The Carl Brandon Society did that. Smart, dedicated, writers activists and fans, did that, by raising their hands.

When I came into the field, I knew a little about post-colonial and Indian diasporic science fiction because of my anthropology classes, and I’d been reading some Japanese fiction in translation. But it’s only been in the past several years — thanks to the efforts of American translators like Ken Liu, and international critics and writers like Charles Tan and Lavie Tidhar — that non-anglophone speculative fiction is being widely read and heard in the United States, leading to the recognition of powerful, non-Western writers like Liu Cixin and Hao Jingfang.

Every single moment of progress has had its backlash, of course. When Nora Jemisin came to deserved prominence as one of this century’s most important, emerging voices, jealous graspers harassed her, to try to put her back in her “place.” Elise Mathesen and Genevieve Valentine are still subjected to victim blaming.

But they made a difference. They’re still making a difference.

If my post on Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog was about why people still need to stand together, then this post is the light side of that. When we push hard, and when we bear the costs of pushing, we can make progress. We have.

Posted in Making Lemons into Jokes, Patreon | 1 Comment  

Silly Interview with Anncillary Leckie, Yes I said That, I’ll Be Here All Night

Ann Leckie
This is Ann Leckie. If you’re a fan of contemporary science fiction and fantasy, and you don’t know who she is, you may have spent the last few years in cryogenic storage. In which case — awesome, and welcome back.
Ann likes dinosaurs, lives in Missouri, and really, really likes researching things.

RS: I’ve been reading your Raadchai stories for eleven years now (Yeah, eleven years. Let that sink in.) and I know the gloves and tea were in them by the time I started reading. Were they part of the initial germ of the Raadch, or if not, how did they evolve?

They weren’t part of the initial germ, but they got into the mix pretty soon after that. And I’m not sure where they came from or why they stuck–it just kind of worked for me somehow.

Which is how a lot of things are when I’m writing. Sometimes I’ll see someone say, like, “Oh, and this detail here, this is obviously Leckie doing this profound intentional thematic thing” and I’m like, no, actually, it was shiny, or else it made the story work the way I wanted it to, but I am  not going to speak up and spoil the impression that I was actually doing this very sophisticated thing!

RS: Tell everyone the story of the tea Vonda.

So, Clarion West has a party every Friday night of the workshop. And I turned up to the first one and I walk in (actually into the front yard of the house where it was) not knowing anybody, and this woman comes up with a plastic bag full of yarn and says, “Here, I make these for the students every year. Take one.” So what they are is these crocheted…objects. Our class mostly called them “scrunchies” or “scrunchy things.” If you were to crochet a couple chains and then join them to make a small loop, and then do a dozen or so double crochets in the loop and join the first and last ones to make a flat circle, and then every round after that make two double crochets in every double crochet, after a few rounds you’d have a scrunchy thing.  Mine was mostly a sportweight yarn that was white with a strand of what looked like silver tinsel in it, and then it was edged with a round of single crochets in red.

Anyway, so I picked my red and silver and white scrunchy thing and I thanked the nice lady and she went off to give one to another student and someone leaned over and said to me, very quietly, “That was Vonda McIntyre,” and I nearly fell over. Vonda McIntyre! Gave me a scrunchy thing she had crocheted herself! I put it on my desk in my room where the workshop was.

And so then, while I was working on the story that eventually became “Night’s Slow Poison” I needed a creature. Building creatures can take quite a while if you take your worldbuilding seriously, which I generally do. But I needed something fast, and I looked up and there was my scrunchy thing. “Right,” I said, “you’re my creature. What to call you?” And thus the tea Vonda was born.

RS: Do you have a picture of your tea Vonda?

I don’t!  I know it’s in my office somewhere, I ran across it the last time I cleaned the whole office, but Mithras only knows where it is now. Probably under a huge pile of beads and yarn.

RS: I do not have a picture of my tea Vonda. Maybe I’ll find it when we clean our office.

Hahaha clean the office. The very idea. I don’t know about yours, but that would be a big project here in my office.

RS: I love your fantasy world in which gods must always speak the truth, and suffer penalties when they lie. Can you describe it more fully and talk about how you came up with it?

I actually designed that world for “The God of Au” and then found that I could use it for other things.

I did a lot of reading on various topics, and ended up fascinated with the very…I guess I’ll say “contractual” nature of some pagan Roman religious practices. Like, you’d make an offering and you would be careful to describe the terms of your offering very specifically so there was no misunderstanding. “I give you the wine I pour out on the ground” rather than “I give you this wine” which could, if you squinted, mean all the wine in the amphora, or from the harvest, right? Or when praying to a god or asking them for something, they’re sometimes very careful about names and identities. If you clearly needed to propitiate *some* god (there’s a plague, or a string of misfortunes, or some ill-omened event but there’s no information about which god might be the one to go to) you’d make an offering to something like “the god who’s concerned in this, whether they’re male or female or neither, by whatever name they answer to” (that’s a very loose paraphrase, not an actual quote of any inscription). In fact, such a dedication occurs in “The God of Au.” Or, like, there were certain ceremonies that had to go off as specified, and if there was one detail wrong they had to start over from the beginning, because the deal was it had to happen a particular way. So if, say, it was a procession during which the officiating priest couldn’t be contaminated by seeing something–let’s say a dog–during the procession, well, instead of having to start over every time a stray dog turned up, they’d put blinders on the priest in the procession so even if the dog was there, he wouldn’t, you know, see it.

I found that really interesting, in part because of the way it implied the assumption of the very real presence of gods, and the potential for a very direct relationship between people and gods, and for gods’ very direct actions on the world, in a way that makes perfect logical sense if in fact gods exist and they consider themselves bound by contracts in that way. It was a small step from there to “gods are bound by their own words.”

Which is essentially the premise of the universe–not much different from the world we live in at all, but for this one thing–multiple gods exist, and their power comes from the fact that whatever they say is true–even if it wasn’t before they said it. Of course, a world that has such beings in it is going to be very different from ours, even if everything else is basically the same.

RS: Have you considered writing a fantasy novel? Do you have an idea for it?

I have! I have some faint scratchings of an idea. It would take work to develop those into an actual novel, but I would really like to do it some time.

RS: What is the best kind of tea?

The kind that tastes good to you! Right now I’m enjoying different oolongs, but there aren’t many kinds of tea that I just don’t like. Well, I’m not a rooibos fan. (Well, let me amend that, I’ve got a green rooibos blend that I was given as a gift and I like that one a lot. But generally, not a rooibos fan.)

RS: For the past several years, you’ve been making spectacularly gorgeous woven bead jewelry. Can you describe a couple of your favorite projects? Pictures please!

Oh, wow. I’m not sure I’d say “spectacularly gorgeous,” but. I’ve got a few necklaces I’m very proud of, and I got into doing pins for a while (for maybe obvious reasons), which are nice because they’re small and finish quickly. Beadweaving can take such a long time! I’ve got a freeform peyote necklace that’s been in progress for a couple of years, sheesh, I really do need to finish it.

I’ve posted pics of some of the pins on my tumblr:

imageI’m kind of proud of that one, though it’s mostly bead embroidery and polymer clay. The cuneiform allegedly says “the goddess Innana.” I know “the goddess” part is right, that’s that star-looking thing on the left, it’s the determinative for gods. (alone it can also mean “star” or “sky” and you now have almost the entire extent of my knowledge of Sumerian.)

image (1)These are just kind of playing around. In colors I hardly ever use, actually, but I walked into the bead store last winter and was so tired of gray, and they’d put a bunch of beads those colors up front and I was like ‘I need the bright colors!”

image (2)This is a freeform square stitch project. Freeform kind of takes some getting used to, I think, but it’s fun.

image (3)More bead embroidery. The “jewels” are of course plastic things from a huge bag I got at the craft store. I can’t help it, I like sparkles.

image (4)There are more, and I did bunches and bunches of little triangles. I did the necklace in my author photo! And also the necklace and purse I wore for the 2014 Nebulas and Hugos! I’m not sure I have pictures of all of them, though.

RS: New fans may or may not know you as someone who was the assistant/associate editor at PodCastle for several years, and the founder and editor of Giganotosaurus Magazine. What do you get out of editing? Do you see yourself taking up another editing project?

Maybe! I enjoy editing, but it does take up a very similar part of my energy as writing does, which is why I handed off the editing of GigaNotoSaurus to Rashida Smith (who is doing a fabulous job).

Part of what I’ve learned from editing is how to look at something that isn’t working for me and think of effective ways to fix it. I wasn’t doing the fixing myself, but I think I got better as time went on at identifying things and coming up with workable suggestions for the writer. And of course, sometimes the writer’s reply would be “No, actually, I think this other thing will work better” and it would! That was something I felt I could bring back to my own work, that would make it better.

Also, honestly, it is genuinely fun to buy stories, to say “Yes, give me the story I want to publish it!” And then even more fun to have it go out into the world and maybe see people read it or talk about it. Most of the credit goes to the writer, and rightly so, but there’s just something…I don’t know, parental? about publishing stories.

RS: Should dinosaurs have guns?

Yes. Yes they should. Especially if their technology has gotten to the point that they’re mounting expeditions to Mars.

RS: What is your least favorite way to end an interview?

I..don’t know? I don’t think I’ve had an interview end badly. 😀

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