As a follow up to the Doubleclick’s powerful “Nothing to Prove”, I wanted to talk a bit about the sign I submitted (1:40).
Firstly, I like both this song and video not because they are “anti-“ or “against” this fake geek girl nonsense, but because the whole song and vibe of the video are more of a Oh, c’mon. Give your head a shake. You’re being so silly. It’s not a push back, or an attack, or a scream so much as it’s a palm to the forehead and raised eyebrow and a “Did that really just come out of your mouth? Really? ‘Fake Geek Girls’? Do you maybe wanna… think about what you just said?”
Secondly, my sign:
“I have to use a gender-neutral pen name to be respected.”
So here’s the story: I’m a science fiction and fantasy author. Most people automatically assume that as a Caucasian female (cis-female, identifying/presenting female, bisexual) writer, that means I write Middle Grade or Young Adult fiction. When they learn that I generally write for the Adult market they assume Romance or Erotica. When I write genre books, then the next assumption is Urban Fantasy, Dystopian, or Magical Fantasy – fairies, princesses, dragons, like that.
When I explain that no, I write Science Fiction mostly, the next reaction is usually “Oh, but that fluff stuff, right, no real science?”
What, I can’t science because I’m a girl?
Leaving aside the fact that no, actually, I don’t write a lot of hard science fiction because I find the science-telling often gets in the way of the story-telling. (That’s not to say that what science I do include in my books isn’t rigorously researched. I have a military advisor, a historical architecture advisor, two historians, an ex-military dude, a NASA physicist, a biologist, and a poisons expert in my roster.) But the implication is there:
I’m a girl and therefore I can’t science.
The implication of these conversations is that I’m a girl and therefore I have to write books for kids about princesses getting rescued, and unicorns, and fairies with rainbow wings that vomit bubbles. Or ‘trashy’ romance books. (Which… I hate that stereotype. Romance books are never trashy or worthless.)
Now, there are lots of lovely MG, YA, NA, Romance, Erotica, Urban Fantasy, Dystopian, Magical Fantasy writers out there of all genders and sexual inclinations –I’m not harping on those writers. They write what they enjoy, I write what I enjoy, and it’s okay! I prefer to write Social Science Fiction. What I’m harping on is the assumption that I can’t write “real” science fiction because I have ladyparts. (Instead of getting into the false assumption that “Accurate” = “hard” = “good” science fiction writing, I’ll just link you to my article on such.)
And that assumption also ends up playing out in such a way that female science fiction writers just don’t get the respect from the readers that male ones do. I haven’t been neglected by the critical press (thanks PW, Lambda, and CBC!), but it’s incredible to be at a convention and what male shopper’s eyes gloss entirely over my books simply because I, a girl, am sitting behind the table. When I take a break from my merch table and ask a male friend to watch my stuff, my sales inevitably go up.
Shortly after Triptych was published, I got an email inviting “Jim Frey” to do an interview with a media outlet I won’t name. I often get called “Jim” in emails, because it looks a lot like “J.M.” with a quick glance. I replied, saying I would be delighted, and sent along my media-kit PDF, where the interviewer could find a bio, my bibliography and filmography, etc. Including my photo. Generally I find interviewers like to have a foundation of research, so I put that page together to make it easy for them. I signed it “J.M.”
When I arrived at said outlet to do the interview, I was shown in, my hand shaken by the interviewer, and he said: “So, you’re Jim’s assistant then? Is he on his way?”
I stopped, stunned, and said. “Jim? Who’s Jim?” (Having forgotten that I’d been addressed as such in the email)
“Jim Frey?” the interviewer said.
“J.M. Frey,” I corrected. “Jessica Marie. That’s me.”
The interviewer was stunned. “You’re a girl?”
I couldn’t help the scowl. “I’m a woman, and yes. I did send you my media package.”
He made some noises when I assumed meant he couldn’t be bothered to read it. As you can guess, it wasn’t a very good interview. He had no idea what to ask me, and in fact had no clue about my work or my history as an academic. I didn’t enjoy myself, he was clearly unhappy I wasn’t who he thought I was, and I have never actually seen anything come of it.
And would he have asked me to the interview if he had realized I was female? Probably not. As bummed as I am that it was a missed marketing opportunity, I’m more peeved because I realized that this interviewer was glossing over what was probably hundreds of fantastic writers just because they’re female.
Needless to say I mentioned James Tiptree Jr and George Sand as often as I could.
Rewinding a bit:
A few days before I had to turn in my decision on what name was going to be on the cover of Triptych, I was browsing the aisles of a big-chain book store, trying to get a sense of what sorts of ways people were titling themselves. I had done a few things (publications and film credits) as J.M. Frey because I felt “Jessica” was just a little too Sweet Valley High to really fit the brand I was trying to build with my work. But for my debut novel, did I want my full name on the cover?
I eavesdropped on a pair of guys, completely in my target demographic, as they browsed the aisle a few feet away from me. My choice to remain “J.M. Frey” was made when I overheard one of the guys say, “Oh, this looks interesting. Read this back cover. Nice blurb from… oh. It was written by a chick. Never mind.”
My photo is also not on the novel for the same reason.
I have it on my website, because I figure by the time a reader is invested enough to search me on the internet, they won’t care about my gender, just about my writing. But for the people just browsing the book shelves, it matters.
And the thing is?
It shouldn’t. What’s between the covers should matter to a reader, not what’s between my legs.
All you need is Darkchylde.
Edmonton mother Brigid Burton came up with a brilliant way to keep her daughter and boyfriend busy during a winter visit from New Zealand. With her daughters boyfriend being an engineer, she thought perhaps they’d be interested in building a one-of-a-kind igloo.
First Brigid filled cardboard milk cartons with colored water and set them outside to freeze, forming translucent bricks of ice. Nearly 150 hours of work later, and help from additional family and neighbors, all 500 ice bricks were fit into place forming this gorgeous rainbow igloo.
Austrian Felix Baumgartner has broken the record for the highest ever skydive by jumping out of a balloon 128,000ft (24 miles, 39km) above New Mexico.
One bird can set a rapid speed train back on track
The shinkansen bullet trains of Japan are airplanes on rails, traveling at over 300 km per hour in comfort and style.
Traveling at this speed, tunnels present a problem. When the train enters the tunnel it compresses a cushion of air ahead of it. The compressed air waves become a small shock wave when they exit the tunnel, moving through the air faster than the speed of sound. The tunnel boom sounds like a clap of thunder, and residents complained.
Engineers looked for examples in nature to solve the problem, and they fixed on the kingfisher. When the bird dives into the water for fish it makes hardly any splash. By firing bullets of various shapes into a pipe, his engineers found that one shaped like the birds’ beak parted the air instead of compressing it. They generated computer models and found that modifying the nose of the train to mimic the kingfisher bill would reduce tunnel boom. The new generations of bullet trains now sport the kingfisher look and are quieter, faster and use 15% less electricity.
One of the world’s most striking examples of biomimicry design.
More about Biomimicry design: vimeo
Redesign and illustrations for Judith Schalansky’s Atlas of Remote Islands
by Trent Edwards.
I have begun the tedious and time consuming process of going through stacks of old papers and notebooks, to take stock of what I have. In part, this is in anticipation of NaNoWriMo in a few weeks, though not all of what I have is story-related.
A lot of it is person poems, prose and other nonsensical attempts at getting my thoughts out of my head, and onto paper. I still prefer ink and paper over a computer screen.
It’s emotional, going through it all. Everything I’ve written, fiction or fact, has a special place in my heart, even if I don’t feel the same way as I did when I wrote it down.
A lot of it is making me quite emotional, and I’ve begun to revisit feelings I’d thought were long buried.
Perhaps I’ll end up posting some of it here. Perhaps not.
Everpurse, a purse that wirelessly charges your Smartphone.
Everpurse, recently launched a Kickstarter project, to manufacture these brilliant purses that wirelessly charges your phone. While you’re out and about for the day, simply toss your phone into the charging pocket inside the purse and it magically recharges it using no wires.
The Everpurse has enough battery power to fully charge your phone twice. To charge the bag, you simply place it on a matt when you’re home. According to 27 year old cofounder Liz Salcedo ”The mat uses two coils, so conductive charging, to charge the bag. We’ve added other magnetic systems to increase the power. Inside the bag, there’s a receiver that takes in the power from the mat and there’s a battery system built inside so you don’t have to see it. It all connects to the pocket where you drop the phone in.”
The trick is to wait until they’re asleep. Then quietly slip out of bed, pick up your clothes, being careful not to let any loose change or belt buckles hit the floor, and get dressed in the bathroom. Put your affairs in order, smoke half a cigarette on the balcony, then hastily fold a paper lily in the dark, with a short but sweet note, and leave it on the pillow. Carry your boots until you’re at the elevators, and tiptoe past the sleeping doorman. Make sure the doors don’t slam, dart around the corner, and you’re golden. It’s only a twenty minute walk home in the rain.
In anticipation of this year’s Nuit Blanche, I’ve been revisiting photos I took last year.
The team at Impossible decided to replicate the feeling of the legendary SX 70, but with your iPhone by converting digital images into the analog instant photos. Seeing that Impossible owns the last Polaroid film factory, they have promised to develop this product if they meet their goal on Kickstarter.