A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘popular literature

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • Centauri Dreams reports on a theory suggesting the distant dwarf planet Sedna and its kin were captured from another star in the sun’s birth cluster.
  • Crooked Timber reports on a Dutch court ruling arguing that the Netherlands is legally obliged to reduce carbon dioxide output.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that hot Neptune Gliese 436b has a comet-like tail.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that DARPA is working on Martian terraforming bugs.
  • Far Outliers looks at Comanche inroads on bison herds in the 19th century.
  • Geocurrents maps the recent Turkish elections, looking for patterns.
  • Marginal Revolution argues that the campaign against the Confederate flag couldn’t work if the two American political parties were competing for rural white votes.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog shares an Economist ranking of the top tne economies in 2050, Indonesia ranking notably higher.
  • Torontoist notes a local publication of nerd fangirls.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that the Russian Orthodox Church’s ongoing losses in Ukraine will marginalize it internationally.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • Gerry Canavan shares his collection of links.
  • Centauri Dreams reacts to the discovery of a polar cap at Charon.
  • Language Log considers rhoticity and class in New York City.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell from a productive intellectual property perspective.
  • Marginal Revolution wonders if Wikipedia will survive the displacement of the personal computers used by contributors by mobiles.
  • Steve Munro looks at the latest on the Yonge relief line.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer compares Greece to the Baltic States and Slovakia, and notes the depth of the Greek collapse.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla shares the latest from New Horizons
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  • The Russian Demographics Blog reports on censuses in British India.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the intense anti-Americanism of Russia.

[LINK] “‘Je Suis Favela’ – Bringing Brazilian Books to the French”

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At the Inter Press Service, A.D. Mackenzie has a fascinating article describing the workings of Éditions Anacaona, a French publishing house specializing in the publication of Brazilian works of literature from the favelas.

Educated as a translator of technical texts, Paris-born [Paula] Anacaona, 37, became a literary translator and publisher by chance. On holiday in Rio de Janeiro in 2003, she happened to start chatting with a woman who revealed she was a writer and who promised to send her a book.

Back in Paris, Anacaona received the book two months later and “loved it”, as she told IPS in an interview. She translated the work, written by Heloneida Studart and later called Le Cantique de Meméia, and managed to get a Canadian company to publish it.

Studart, who died in 2007, was also an essayist, journalist and women’s rights activist, and the book caught the attention of French-speaking readers in several countries.

Other writers got in touch, and Anacaona found herself becoming a literary translator. But by sending out the works to publishing companies, she was also taking on the role of agent, a time-consuming task.

“With all that was involved, I thought why not publish the books myself?” she recalls. She set up Éditions Anacaona in 2009 and decided to focus initially on literature from and about the ghetto or favela in Brazil, because “no one else was doing it.”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 18, 2015 at 11:00 pm

[LINK] “Write back (not) in anger (#SFWApro)”, or, a badly-informed Sad Puppy writer at work

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I’ve been particularly fond of David Mack, a novelist most known for his works in the Star Trek extended universe, since his excellent Destiny trilogy from 2008. (Making the Borg not only compelling antagonists, but dealing with them in a manner suiting the Trek ethos, can be a challenge.) Last August, when a reader of his complained about a lesbian relationship he introduced in the Vanguard novel series, between the Vulcan T’Prynn and the Klingon spy Lurqal, his wholehearted defense of diversity made it to io9.

We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that Mack was criticized in this–in introducing the relationship, in defensing the relationship–by one Amanda S. Green, a fan writer on the Puppies slate at the Hugos. Mack looks at her attempted critique over at his blog, and reveals much that is lacking. She literally did not know what she was talking about, even choosing not to actually read the books wherein the backstory Green claimed that did not exist was developed at length. This, Mack concludes at the end, has obvious implications.

My novel provides exactly that great backstory she claims is necessary to sell such a story arc. But she doesn’t know that, because she didn’t read the book she was in such a hurry to write off as a violation of canon — all so she could score some cheap rhetorical points against an “SJW” author.

I wish to reiterate that a perusal of her rather limited bibliography suggests she has never written or edited professional media tie-in fiction. Consequently, she might be unaware that not only must tie-in story outlines and manuscripts be vetted and approved by their editors, they must also pass muster with the licensor who controls the copyright on the intellectual property. If my work for Star Trek had been deemed by its licensor to be in conflict with canon, it would not have been approved for publication.

Now, all this might seem to some folks like a lot of noise for very little signal. But I think it’s important to remember that as a nominee in the Best Fan Writer category, Ms. Green was offered the opportunity to submit self-selected examples of her work for the Hugo Voter Packet, to demonstrate which of her writings from 2014 show her to be worthy of taking home a Hugo award. That she chose to include the post I dissected above — an unresearched, factually deficient essay in which she lacks the basic courtesy even to name me as the author of the piece she tries (and fails) to deconstruct, never mind link to it so that readers can review the original materials and arrive at informed conclusions with regard to her arguments — speaks volumes.

Should anyone be surprised at this stage by the Puppies’ unwitting foolishness?

Written by Randy McDonald

June 3, 2015 at 3:55 am

[LINK] Liu Cixin at Tor on science fiction in China

Chinese science fiction author Liu Cixin, known in the West for his trilogy The Three-Body Problem, published at Tor.com the essay The Worst of All Possible Universes and the Best of All Possible Earths: Three Body and Chinese Science Fiction at the beginning of May. There, after describing the impact of his book in China, he describes the history of the genre of science fiction in China, and its close relationship with Chinese modernization in its various forms.

Chinese science fiction was born at the turn of the 20th century, when the Qing Dynasty was teetering on the edge of ruin. At the time, Chinese intellectuals were entranced by and curious about Western science and technology, and thought of such knowledge as the only hope for saving the nation from poverty, weakness, and general backwardness. Many works popularizing and speculating about science were published, including works of science fiction. One of the leaders of the failed Hundred Days’ Reform (June 11-September 21, 1898), the renowned scholar Liang Qichao, wrote a science fiction story called “A Chronicle of the Future of New China.” In it, he imagined a Shanghai World’s Fair—a vision that would not become true until 2010.

Like most genres of literary expression, science fiction in China was subject to instrumentalist impulses and had to serve practical goals. At its birth, it became a tool of propaganda for the Chinese who dreamed of a strong China free of colonial depredations. Thus, science fiction works from the end of the Qing Dynasty and the early Republican years almost always presented a future in which China was strong, prosperous, and advanced, a nation that the world respected rather than subjugated.

After the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, science fiction became a tool for popularizing scientific knowledge, and its main intended readers were children. Most of these stories put technology at the core and contained little humanism, featuring simplistic characters and basic, even naïve literary techniques. Few of the novels ventured outside the orbit of Mars, and most stuck to the near future. In these works, science and technology were always presented as positive forces, and the technological future was always bright.

An interesting observation can be made when one surveys the science fiction published during this period. In the early years after the Communist Revolution, politics and revolutionary fervor infused every aspect of daily life, and the very air one breathed seemed filled with propaganda for Communist ideals. Given this context, one might have expected that science fiction would also be filled with descriptions of Communist utopias of the future. But, as a matter of fact, not a single work of this type can be found. There were practically no science fiction stories that featured Communism as the subject, not even simplistic sketches to promote the concept.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 1, 2015 at 10:25 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • 3 Quarks Daily notes, after the Economist, that badly-educated men have not adapted well to global trade, high technology, and feminism.
  • blogTO notes that the High Park peacock roaming around Roncesvalles may have returned to its home in the zoo.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly provides tips for people moving to freelance writing from staff employment.
  • The Cranky Sociologists shares a parody of the new movie Aloha, set in Hawaii yet dominated by whites.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the unique astronomical biosignature of photosynthesis.
  • The Dragon’s Tales compares the clays of Earth and Mars.
  • jsburbidge examines the concept of the literary canon.
  • Language Log considers the complexities of Chinese character usage in an unacknowledged multilingual China/Taiwan space.
  • Marginal Revolution considers China’s heavy investments in the new Silk Road project.
  • Progressive Download’s John Farrell looks to a historian who suggests the world needs a new origins story based on science.
  • Towleroad notes how a gay couple dissolved the adoptive relationship that once united them to become married.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the illicit sexuality involved among the Republicans opposed to Clinton in the 1990s.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that Crimea is set to be Russified and notes the importance of Russian rural agriculture in the time of sanctions.

[FORUM] What have you been reading lately?

Are you reading fiction or non-fiction? Print books or e-books? Anything at all.

Indulge my curiosity, if you would, and discuss.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 1, 2015 at 3:59 am


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