It’s time for that most reluctant of all reviews: the year in review.
2015 has been fantastically awful, not just for me but for the world at large. I can hardly go two, three days on twitter without hearing of a new mass shooting or some western country deciding that the solution to everything is to bomb the shit out of it. 2015 in geopolitics has been appalling and, if you’re not part of the western hegemony, absolutely frightening. I’ve been reading a lot of accounts from Syrian perspectives, most memorably this one of women in Raqqa joining the ISIS morality police and later escaping. I’ve read a lot about refugees and immigration, the latter notably ‘How to Get Your Green Card in America’, and about the exploitation of foreign workers in (again) America. It’s not that reading these things helps, necessarily: being aware and acknowledging privileges are all good but not exactly concrete actions. Still, it’s necessary reading. Much of my social media feed is currently black women and trans women, and their courage and strength are breathtaking.
I witnessed the rise of Camryn Garrett, a black teen girl who’s been fantastically brave in speaking up about issues in YA and challenging white, famous adults. This is astoundingly courageous, though I worry that what happened to me will happen to her a few years down (especially as I recall she wants to get into publishing), but hopefully not. Strong kudos to Justina Ireland. We don’t interact much, but she’s a writer and a WOC who’s absolutely fearless about speaking up. Same with Mikki Kendall.
I attempted to give romance novels a fair shake. That produced my piece on reading heterosexual fantasies while queer. I’ll sub-review one of those novels here: it’s distractingly bad. The prose is not functional so much as dead on arrival. I’m confused by its distracting badness, where it seems to have been written by someone who hates prose and everything is conveyed by stale cliches. The female protagonist is made ‘relatable’ by her incompetence (defined by what she doesn’t know and can’t do) and the male romantic interest is mean and competent (multi-talented to a ridiculous degree) and oh so brooding/composed, and so on, she can’t help wanting him despite his arrogance and hostility and blah. This describes a lot of things. I think I’m about done trying, honestly.
What Now/What Next
I got to publish stories I’d written somewhat recently, and which were quite important for me to see published. One was ‘The Occidental Bride’, where I tore down the western gaze and gave it what it deserves. The other was ‘The Insurrectionist and the Empress Who Reigns Over Time’, an epic fantasy in 6,000 words, and one that—entirely unintentionally—contrasts Life is Strange‘s ending, which… I haven’t played it, but this covers the issue about tragic lesbians and how crushingly shitty those narratives can be to a lot of us. See also How To Tell You’re in a Mainstream LGBTQ Movie:
It all ends tragically. Your lover dies. Or you do. Sometimes you die embracing one another as the sun rises.
If you survive, the rest of your life will be spent clutching the belongings of your lover, staring out windows, and running day and night to escape the tragic limitations of media-bound sexual identity.
The more dead gay people in the movie, the more awards it will win.
Next year I already have stories lined up. Quite happy with this, of course. I’ve got things upcoming that involved pushing outside my comfort zone, writing in different styles, and I’m returning to nonfiction. I’m creating and what I create challenges. This is more than can be said of, well, certain sorts.
Things are much worse than they should be, but not as bad as they could have been. So it goes. I’m luckier than some, and speaking of than some, I’ve connected with a lot of other survivors of mass online abuse and it’s been a real blessing. I’m deeply grateful to Sam, Becks, Kiva, Sarah, Zoe, Deirdre, and so many, many others who gave me a chance and have been unbelievably kind and who have stayed around, not shutting up despite the incredible abuse they’ve been through (and are still going through). It’s rough. It’s shit. It’s difficult to stop and for some of us it will never stop, but there’s something to be said for helping each other survive. As I keep saying, if we don’t stand up for each other, who will? It helps that a lot of us come from different circles and fields, meaning there’s no power imbalance that would’ve been rife for manipulation the way the ‘community leaders’ of a field tend to abuse. There’s an equality, I suppose, and I also feel that I’m connecting with peers in every sense of the word. We all have varied experiences, varied interests and fields, but we share fundamental concerns about injustice. It’s pretty cool.
(I’ve put aside some money this year to help people who need it. It’s the least I can do.)
I’m tired of talking about Laura J. Mixon’s incomprehensible fixation on destroying my life, but I’m very grateful to Édouard for having put together this comprehensive rebuttal, ‘A Critical Review’ of Mixon’s… er… foray into ‘ethics’. My thanks as well to Asymbina, who also put together a summary and rebuttal.
I want to put this behind me.
This is difficult and it requires more time, I think, and by putting this behind me I mean I don’t want to talk about it any longer. I’m unhappy that Mixon (or Athena Andreadis or the rest of them) has taken up as much of my time as they have, but unfortunately you can’t choose to not be abused. I have said before, and will say again, that prior to this I had never done anything to Mixon and had no earthly idea what she existed. That’s the case for a lot of these people, really. They’ve violated me way too much already and while they seem happy to do some more if they can (there’s something to be said about humans who double down on monstrosity and beyond a certain point drop all efforts to be human altogether), well, what can you do? I’m going to do my best to ignore them and go on doing what I want to do. I don’t know, I tend to want my life to be about my achievements, not about… whatever that is.
(I’ll say though that none of these people has been subjected to, well, literally anything while my friends have been harassed endlessly, got violent phone calls, got doxed or near doxed, all as a byproduct of supporting me. How odd, isn’t it; wasn’t Mixon the one who’s the not-harasser, or whatever she’s supposed to be? That’s not to get started on the people who encourage others to abuse in their names, but enough about them.)
Here’s a bunch of stories I read and liked that were published in 2015. Every author is of color, trans, non-binary, queer or all of the above and no, it took literally no effort, my reading just happens to be like that naturally. Vajra Chandrasekera, Pear Nuallak, and A. Merc Rustad for particular attention. Pear Nuallak is eligible for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, as is Cassandra Khaw.
Of some interest to gamer and game-developing friends, the Hugo for Best Related is a category where you can nominate games. Kanane Jones’ Final Girls, Kiva Bay’s 12 Hours, and (incongruously, yes) The Witcher 3 are all worthy candidates.
The Hugo for Best Fan Writer has literally no eligibility requirements beyond the fact that you have to be unpaid for your ‘fan writing’, and there’s no limit on subject/topic/material, as we have seen. So in theory you could nominate anyone, including heinous tabloid gossip-mongers and the like, or you could nominate Camryn Garrett, Katherine Cross, Ethan Robinson (for being a fantastic reader who also puts up with reading tons of short fiction), Charles Paysour (for the same as Ethan), Deirdre Moen (who was robbed last year despite covering Marion Zimmer Bradley sexually abusing her children and who continues to do important coverage on legal issues in romance this year), Nina Allan, Maureen Kincaid Speller, or Aishwarya Subramanian. Ronan Wills has done hilarious, witty work with his let’s reads and Zina gets at fundamental issues plaguing fandom in a big way, and does wonderful James Bond analyses.
I also would say that Édouard Brière-Allard’s actual journalism is also worthy of nomination, but I’m biased.
My novella suggestions are Kai Ashante Wilson’s Sorcerer of the Wildeeps which I suspect will be a shoe-in, and Cassandra Khaw’s Rupert Wong: Cannibal Chef. For novel, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Signal to Noise.
Best fancast: Cabbages and Kings does very interesting work.
Lastly, and I shouldn’t have to say this, I want to point out that not everyone I’ve named here is a person I’m friends with or even talk to. Kindly don’t harass them or put them on your sick hit lists, please.