September 23, 2016
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:08 PM * 15 comments

Summer, child,
Come on with me to Orcus
Leave your mother
And her worries behind.
Your dearest wish
Will lead to adventure
So come, little Summer,
It’s leaving time.

When you’re in Orcus
Birds going to speak like people
Women will shape-change
And frogs grow on trees.
But what’s that behind you?
It’s the Queen-in-Chains’ servant.
The Houndbreaker’s hunting;
Time to fly.

This is a thread to discuss, speculate about, and squee over Ursula Vernon’s new web serial Summer in Orcus, without worrying about spoiling it for people who aren’t caught up.

Note that the introductory lyrics are entirely drawn from the blurb and the first episode; I don’t know any more about what’s going to happen than anyone else. Except Ursula, I suspect.

(Also, it’s free on the web, but your attention is of course drawn to the Patreon and Paypal links on the front page.)

September 21, 2016
Dysfunctional Families: Think of the Children
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 06:00 AM * 56 comments

Normally when we use the phrase think of the children, it’s dismissive. And rightly so. The abstract possibility of children’s presence, a low-resolution notion of children’s safety, has been used as a club or a gag far too often. And the worst of it is, the people who say it are not thinking of the children, or they’d stop crying wolf and save that argument for when it really mattered. (When this is can be determined by listening to the children: a related skill, and indeed a basic prerequisite.)

I’ve read many stories about family breakdown in the news, heard them in conversation, seen them in my wider circle of friendship and acquaintance. These stories usually center on the adults whose relationships are in trouble, but I often find myself thinking of the children, wondering how they’re faring, wondering what hurt they’re suffering. Wishing someone could teach them how to navigate the situations they find themselves in far too young. So many of them will cope, but at a cost—one they’ll be paying interest on for years.

One thing that’s gone past my Twitter stream this last week is a British family court judgment written to be accessible to the people it affects: a mother who “often finds things hard to understand”, plus two children aged 10 and 12. Content warning for gaslighting. (But not, mercifully, for any neglect or physical or sexual abuse.)

I like this judge. He seems to be trying to give his intended audience the tools to deal with their situation, both explicitly and by example. So he says things like:

  • People can tell lies about some things and still tell the truth about other things.
  • I know that the children are loved and have been well looked after in many ways. Everyone says that the mother deserves praise for that, and praise also goes to Mr B and to Mr A when they deserve it.
  • There is a good side to Mr A - everyone has a good side - and this makes it hard for H and A and their mother to see what he is really like.
  • He has got inside her head and it will take time for her to recover.

He also talks about everyone in the story as people, with comprehensible motivations and reasons for their actions. The policewoman who was upset when Mr A put a video of her visit up on YouTube. Mr B, who has served time for violence and drugs offenses, but still tries to be a good father. The headteachers who have dealt with the family. The officials who exaggerated and skipped steps while reacting to the family’s trip to Turkey. Even Mr A, for good and ill.

And he talks about the children in the same way, with the same language. He writes with an awareness of what makes up their lives: school, home, parents and stepparents, grandparents, vacations; he treats these things as seriously as he does terrorism, religious extremism, crime, imprisonment. In doing this, he shows the children that they matter as much as adults do. That they have, as Jo Walton would say, equal significance.

This is what thinking of the children looks like. Thinking of them as people in need of concepts and tools for dealing with the situation they’re in and the people around them. Thinking about how to minimize the damage they’ll suffer from these chaotic circumstances. Thinking about how to support the good relationships in their lives and reduce the impact of this bad one.

Yes, please, let’s think of the children.

This is part of the sequence of Dysfunctional Families discussions. We have a few special rules, specific to the needs and nature of the conversations we have here.

  1. If you want to participate but don’t want your posts linked to your contributions to the rest of Making Light, feel free to choose a pseudonym. But please keep it consistent within these threads, because people do care. You can create a separate (view all by) history for your pseudonym by changing your email address. And if you blow it and cross identities, give me a shout and I’ll come along and tidy it up.
  2. On a related note, please respect the people’s choice to use a pseudonym, unless they make it clear that they are willing to let the identities bleed over in people’s minds.
  3. If you’re not from a dysfunctional background, be aware that your realities and base expectations are not the default in this conversation. In particular, please don’t do the “they’re the only family you have” thing. Black is white, up is down, and your addressee’s mother may very well be their nemesis.
  4. Be even more careful, charitable, and gentle than you would elsewhere on Making Light. Try to avoid “helpiness”/”hlepiness” (those comments which look helpful, but don’t take account of the addressee’s situation and agency). Apologize readily and sincerely if you tread on toes, even unintentionally. This kind of conversation only works because people have their defenses down.
  5. Never underestimate the value of a good witness. If you want to be supportive but don’t have anything specific to say, people do value knowing that they are heard.

Previous posts (note that comments are closed on them to keep the conversation in one place):

August 17, 2016
It’s a book
Posted by Patrick at 08:20 PM * 22 comments

Available at the NESFA Press table at MidAmeriCon; also at a reading and signing by the author tomorrow, Thursday, 18 August, 2 PM in 2203 in the convention center.


To reiterate, yes, it’ll be available online from NESFA Press (and via other online ordering options) after MidAmeriCon. And yes, an e-book will be available by and by.

August 03, 2016
A spoiler thread for Star Trek Beyond
Posted by Teresa at 08:02 PM * 42 comments

Is Star Trek Beyond a movie with a good feel for the original show, or a super-sized ST:TOS episode? Is Zachary Quinto’s Spock a grown-up Wonder Twin? And are Jaylah’s facial markings evidence that Star Wars fandom persists in the Star Trek universe?

All this and more.

Our Worldcon schedule
Posted by Patrick at 07:06 AM * 28 comments

MidAmeriCon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, Kansas City, Missouri, August 17-21. Appearances subject to change, check your pocket programs and newsletter updates, contents may settle in shipping, you know the drill. Thanks to the concom and especially Ian Stockdale for their help and patience in arranging all this.

The explanatory notes appended to some items in this list are my own, not MidAmeriCon’s.

Wednesday 1 PM, KCCC 2209
I Remember Big MAC
Joe Haldeman, Mike Resnick, Janice Bogstad (m), PNH
“Big MAC” was the slang term for the first MidAmericon, 40 years ago in 1976. Based on the Worldcon’s growth from 1972 to 1974, it was expected to be unprecedentedly huge. In fact it wasn’t. But it was a lot of people’s first Worldcon—mine, and Tom Doherty’s, to name just two. And in innumerable ways it set important patterns and precedents for decades of Worldcons to come.

Wednesday 2 PM, KCCC 2207
Does SF Still Affect How We Think About the Future?
Michael Swanwick, Cynthia Ward, Adam-Troy Castro, PNH

Wednesday 5 PM, KCCC “Heinlein Stadium”
Opening Ceremony: Meet the Guests of Honor
Ruth Lichtwardt (chair), Pat Cadigan (toastmaster), Michael Swanwick, Tamora Pierce, Kinuko Y. Craft, PNH & TNH

Wednesday 6 PM, KCCC “Olympus Mons”
Fandom Rocks! Introduction and Docent Tour
Geri Sullivan, TNH
Teresa, Geri, and a lot of extremely interesting rocks, large and small. Geology nerds rule.

Wednesday 7 PM, KCCC 2204
The Interstices of Historical Fiction and Fan Fiction
Lyda Morehouse (m), Heather Urbanski, Sumana Harihareswara, TNH

Thursday 11 AM, KCCC 2209
The Future of Work
Eric James Stone, Renée Sieber (m), TNH

Thursday noon, KCCC 3501H
Is Cyberpunk Still a Thing?
Pat Cadigan, Matt Jacobson, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, James Patrick Kelly, Cory Doctorow (m), PNH

Thursday noon, KCCC 2206
What Is a Fan Writer?
Rich Lynch, Guy Lillian, Foz Meadows, Goldeen Ogawa, Lyda Morehouse (m), TNH

Thursday 1 PM, KCCC 2209
As You Know, Bob…: The Fine Art of Exposition
Stanley Schmidt, Eric James Stone, Tamora Pierce, Kevin J. Anderson, Matthew S. Rotundo (m), TNH
One of Teresa’s signature subjects.

Thursday 1 PM, KCCC 3501B
An Introduction to Conventions for Professionals
Gay Haldeman, Janice Gelb, Bill Sutton, Matt Wallace, PNH
Professionals new to old-line SF fandom? Here’s what you need to know. Starting with, It’s Not About You.

Thursday 2 PM, KCCC 2203
Making Conversation: Reading and Autographing
Teresa reads from the new collection, then signs. Copies will be on hand for sale.

Thursday 3 PM, KCCC 2206
The Past, It Ain’t What it Used to Be
Elizabeth Bear, David Gerrold, Ctein (m), TNH

Thursday 3 PM, KCCC 2503B
All Our Yesterdays: How the Worldcon has Covered Fandom’s History Over the Years
Joe Siclari (m), Clare McDonald-Sims, Rich Lynch, PNH

Thursday 4 PM, KCCC 2503A
What’s New from Tor
Tom Doherty, Beth Meacham, Liz Gorinsky, Miriam Weinberg, Jen Gunnels, Irene Gallo, Patty Garcia, PNH
In which we announce that everyone at the Worldcon and the entire populations of Yorkshire, Barcelona, and Gary, Indiana have now been hired as editors at Tor Books. You will find your intake forms beneath your seats. Prepare to ascend.

Friday 11 AM, KCCC Art Show
Art Docent Tour (advance signup required)
Ctein, TNH
Teresa and Ctein give their opinionated tour of the art show, as they have every year since mumble-mumble.

Friday noon, KCCC 2208
The Future Is a Different Country
Andrea Philips, Edward Lerner, Kathleen M. Goonan (m), PNH

Friday 1 PM, KCCC 2210
Making Print: How Technological Changes Affect What We Read
Beth Meacham, John D. Berry, Jim Murray, TNH
I actually wrote the official precis for this item: “The history of publishing is a history of changing technologies. Web presses made the pulp magazines and cheap paperbacks possible. Cheap offset printing created a forest of tiny magazines. We all know, or think we know, about the first-order effects of DTP and the Web. And then there’s the intersection of technological change and distribution methods. What’s the history we don’t fully understand? And what’s next?”

Friday 1 PM, KCCC 2208
An Idiot’s Guide Revisited
Karl Schroeder, Cory Doctorow, PNH
In the long-ago futuristic year of 2000 AD, Alpha Books’ “Complete Idiot’s Guide” series published Cory Doctorow and Karl Schroeder’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Science Fiction, complete with cover quote and preface by me. Now, in the post-singularity world of 2016, we scrabble down from our hanging egg sacs to re-examine this period piece.

Friday 2 PM, KCCC 2209
Feminism in Science Fiction: When It Changed
Jeanne Gomoll, Eileen Gunn (m), PNH
Katy drives like a maniac.

Friday 3 PM, KCCC 3501D
Moderation and Community Management
John Scalzi and Teresa Nielsen Hayden
A dialogue.

Friday 5 PM, KCCC 3501H
Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden: Fractal, Interstitial, Fannish
Tom Whitmore (m), PNH & TNH
Tom Whitmore interviews us, without a net.

Friday 6 PM, KCCC 3501H
Hamilton as Alternative History and Fan Fiction
Rachael Acks, John Chu, Sunil Patel, Mark Oshiro (m), PNH
Work, work!

Saturday 1 PM, KCCC 2210
Editors: Not Just a Single Job
Anne Sowards, Jim Minz, Liz Gorinsky (m), PNH & TNH

Saturday 3 PM, KCCC 3501D
The Secret History of Science Fiction
Michael Swanwick, Gordon Van Gelder, Eileen Gunn, TNH
All the gossip, some of it true.

Saturday 4 PM, KCCC 3501F
In Memoriam: David G. Hartwell
Kathryn Cramer, Tom Doherty, Michael Swanwick, PNH

Sunday 1 PM, KCCC 2209
Transcending the Genre
Tom Easton, Rich Horton, Jennie Goloboy (m), TNH

Sunday 2 PM, KCCC 2211
Kaffeeklatsch (advance signup required)

Sunday 4 PM, KCCC “Tucker Stage”
Closing Ceremony
Ruth Lichtwardt (chair), Pat Cadigan (toastmaster), Michael Swanwick, Tamora Pierce, Kinuko Y. Craft, PNH & TNH

August 02, 2016
Whisperado, this Thursday
Posted by Patrick at 11:03 AM * 2 comments

In our first Manhattan gig in a very long time, Whisperado will play Arlene’s Grocery at 95 Stanton Street (one block south of Houston, one block east of Allen) this coming Thursday, August 4, at 8 PM. In the words of fearless leader Jon Sobel, “New songs, new energy, and of course a shot of the same old crankiness.”

July 31, 2016
Open thread 213
Posted by Patrick at 01:13 PM * 983 comments

Because the previous one is at well over a thousand comments. Oops!

Also, Worldcon members, today is your last day to vote in this year’s Hugo Awards.

Copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.