Personal Space: Carole & Tuesday and the Charm of Quiet, Character-Driven Sci-Fi

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Often the most fun and fascinating worldbuilding details are the ones that come from very everyday situations. What do people do for fun, in this speculative setting? What do they eat? Where do they get that food from? What are folks buying and selling, and how are they going about this? What about all the background characters in those stories about saving the galaxy—what are those people doing day-to-day, what are they dreaming about, aspiring to, distracting themselves with to get by on their daily grind? While these are often incidental, extra details that pop up in (and enhance) the background of more epic adventures through space, they’re at the heart of Carole & Tuesday. Continue reading

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Singular Spooktacular: October ’19 Roundup

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I’m back, baby. (As you can see, I’ve been Very Busy and taking the hiatus was 101% a good idea)

On the blog:

Queer Allegory and Queer Actuality in Every Heart a Doorway – a recording of the conference presentation I gave in September, featuring queer reading strategies, genre studies, and a gay cat.

Man of Medan: All we Have to Fear is Fear Itself (and the Ocean) – a review (split into spoiler-free and spoilery parts) of a new interactive ghost story by the makers of Until Dawn.

Queer YA Mini-Reviews: Portraits, Premonitions, and Pink Hair – reviews and recs, starring I Wish You All the BestIn the Way of All Flesh, and The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burgers in Los Angeles)

BONUS: my presentation on playing with tropes in Life is Strange and Until Dawn is now published as a journal paper! It’s free to read (woo! Accessible academia!) here!

Web content aplenty:

Olly “Philosophy Tube” Thorn’s latest video is a musical about queer theory and the strange politics of language that doubles as a coming out announcement, and yes, it’s exactly as fascinating, enlightening, and emotional as that sounds. It spoke to me quite personally and made me both laugh and tear up a little, as well as very nicely summing up some complex concepts like “queer time” and the evolution of terms and theories.

It’s always a good time to remember Ghost Stories – but how exactly did this legendary, meme-tastic dub come to be? This video goes through it in detail, including an interview with the scriptwriter who so famously Went Off.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with Dominic Noble’s ‘Lost in Adaptation’ series – there are a lot of neat individual episodes, but I’m going to shine a particular light on the multi-part deep dive he does into the Scott Pilgrim comics. It did a great job of reminding me what I loved about the two different works, and articulating how the comics and the movie diverge to be two quite thematically different stories.

And, at the risk of linking to every single new Lindsay Ellis video, this one is a really eloquent look at the performative progressive thread running through – and sometimes informing the creation of – a lot of the live-action Disney remakes.

Writing Romance for Asexual and Aromantic Readers – author Rosiee Thor lays out some guidelines for romance writers who want to untie their stories from some of the traditional assumptions about love and sex, making them more hospitable to readers who Just Aren’t As Into That but still enjoy the genre.

Queer Identity, Mental Health and Finding Connections with In the Way of All Flesh – hey, you know this book! I just reviewed it! In this post, the author talks The Sapphic Book Club through her process and how she set out to write a mentally ill lesbian protagonist whose mental illness and lesbian identity weren’t tied up in one another.

Indigenous Teens are Using TikTok to Call Out Racism in Australia – TikTok is a platform that fosters a consistently baffling meme culture, but it’s good to see it’s also potentially a force for good… as well as an outlet for frustration through good old dark humour.

Siren Seeking Sailor – a great, poetic piece on The Asexual that’s both neat metaphor and neat writing from the perspective of a famous “monster”.

And it’s new anime time again! As always, give AniFem’s thoughts a look. 

Bonus fun: this little animation Jess made of one of my protagonists! No one will be meeting her for a while (least of all because she’s not from the book I’m supposed to be writing, you know, for work. Oops) but I want to show her off!

And that wraps us up for the month! I plan to be to back to my regular schedule now, so I will be seeing you soon with more Hashtag Content. Take care, everyone!

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Queer YA Mini-Reviews: Portraits, Premonitions, and Pink Hair

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Guess who did some reading during the blog break? This guy. Click through for yet more recommendations, from cute summer rom-coms to heartfelt non-binary coming-of-age stories to lesbians on a quest to defy fate!

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Man of Medan: All We Have to Fear is Fear Itself (and the Ocean)

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It’s October, gang: spooky season cometh. May I interest you in a fun, surprisingly intricate, delightfully creepy interactive ghost story?

Man of Medanthe first instalment in The Dark Pictures Anthology—tells the tale of a group of American tourists (and their intrepid, impatient captain-for-hire) whose diving holiday to French Polynesia gets unfortunately interrupted when they’re kidnapped by pirates. The pirates’ attempt at ransoming the rich twenty-somethings are also interrupted, however, when their boat crashes into the side of a World War II freighter that seems to be anchored, abandoned, in the middle of the ocean. With the boat damaged and the legend of “Manchurian Gold” in the vicinity, the motley crew climb aboard the ship and descend into a shadowy, haunting space lost to time, and… well, it’s safe to say everything begins to go pear-shaped from there. But how, exactly, is up to you.

Note: the first section of this is a spoiler-free review. When we dive (no pun intended) into the deeper stuff, it will be marked. For now, enter if you dare… Continue reading

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Queer Allegory and Queer Actuality in Every Heart a Doorway

The novella Every Heart a Doorway asks “what happens to the kids who come back from those portal fantasy adventures we all know and love, but can’t quite adjust to life back in the so-called real world?” On a deeper, even more metatextual level, the story also asks “what if we took all that queerness bubbling away in the portal fantasy genre and brought it to the surface?”

Presented at the South Australian Gender, Sex, and Sexuality conference 2019, and now recorded and YouTube-ified for ease of access!

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The Butterfly Effect – Scholarly Edition

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My presentation on how Life is Strange and Until Dawn let us mess around with tropes (and interrupt them in motion) is now published as a journal paper! It’s free to read here.

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Fight, O Maidens: August ’19 Roundup (and Hiatus Notice)

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Well, it had to happen eventually–I’ve been running this blog for more than five years and I’ve never taken an official break except when I was travelling. The closest I came was dropping from one post a week to one post every two weeks, a change I decided on when I was getting into the thick of my undergrad degree. Though it’s also a change I promptly ignored, since I still committed to doing episodic reviews every week for a good portion of that year, which… actually meant I was doing even more writing than usual. Honest to goodness, how did I pump out a post per week? Obviously not all of them were very good, but still, the sheer output impresses me. Oh, the unstoppable vigour of youth… or something…

The long and short of it is, my blogging practices have changed over time. It used to be that I could stack up a bunch of posts in a queue, often a couple of month’s worth, and be sitting pretty waiting for them to go live. Recently, I’ve been… I think the official term is “flying by the seat of my pants”, at least more than before; looking at WordPress’ little calendar and seeing it empty and wondering where another two weeks went, catching myself thinking “crap, I need to come up with something to fill up the blog queue”. I’ve also become way pickier and more self-conscious of what I post, which means more drafts than ever before are being discarded since I’m not happy with them, and I either send them back for reworking or just never let them see the light of Internet day. It means I’m quite proud of what I do post, and these posts are often longer, more in-depth, and more polished. This skew towards quality over quantity–the reverse of my early blogging days–is a positive one, but it does mean that a lot more work and time is going into this thing, and I’m forcing myself to admit that it’s not always time that I have.

So I’m taking a break. Oof, it hurts to do it, but I think it will be for the best. Let’s say there will be no posts over September, which will give me time to come up with ideas at my leisure and stack them in the queue rather than frantically hammering articles out because I feel I ought to. I’d like to get back to the post-per-fortnight schedule after this holiday, since I enjoy the consistency of it, but we shall see. A month can be a long time, but it can also vanish out from underneath you the moment you look away. What do you mean semester has started again? What do you mean I have to give a presentation in three weeks? What do you mean we’re already at episode eight of the anime season??

everything is on fire

…you see where I’m at.

In any case, dear reader, I will see you on the flipside. And of course I’ll still be dicking around on Twitter if you want to hear from me.

On the ol’ blog

Community Season 3: A Study in Weirdness and Parody, Made With Love – what exactly made the sitcom’s third and most buck-wild season so impactful, fun, and interesting?

O Maidens in Your Savage Season and “Not Like Other Girls” Syndrome – how Sonezaki’s plotline seems to be unpacking the toxic, isolating trope of “the bookish heroine versus the bitchy girls” that crops up in YA and other teen media.

Queer YA Mini-Reviews: Broadswords, Birdwatching, and Band Geeks – a look at Once & FutureSilhouette of a Sparrow, and This Song is (Not) For You.

Bonus! I recommended a novel for every day of the month over on Tweeter. I swear I have read and enjoyed more than 30 books throughout my long love of reading, but this was sometimes very difficult. It also helped me realise how many books I haven’t read that I still want to, so if you have any recs of your own based on this palette of my tastes, feel free to shoot them my way!

Around the web

Let’s dive into some video content…

In the wake of the movie trailer, this has been doing the rounds–it makes for a very neat introduction to the musical Cats, beloved and baffling to many including me (this actually serves to clarify some plot/character beats that I hadn’t even picked up on with the many times I watched the filmed version as a kid!).

So… how ’bout that Game of Thrones thing that wrapped up a little while ago? In an hour-long deep dive, Lindsay Ellis lays out and picks apart what exactly went so pear-shaped about the end up the series. Her first video looked at this more broadly, but this one looks at individual character arcs (which is fair enough, considering the show was supposedly character-driven…).

This is much more poignant than the clickbaity thumbnail might suggest. A retrospective on AnoHana nearly ten years after it aired, part analysis and part personal story of the show’s emotional and cathartic impact. What does it tell us about grief? About play and childhood and the mirage of maturity? About art and the different conversations that it can have with each viewer? Am I crying about AnoHana again? Yes, yes I am.

Again, goofy title card aside, this is an intriguing look at the genre of “world making” games that, in fact, have you laying down infrastructure on a world that already exists. Do these games unintentionally come from, and encourage, a colonial mindset? Even if it’s just in a fantasy space? There is no easy answer, but it’s certainly an interesting thing to think about.

Kase-san and Queer Thirst: Depicting Sexuality in a “Pure” Yuri Manga – how good ol’ Kase-san tells a story about teen sexuality without sexualising its teenaged cast.

Golden Age Superheroes Were Shaped by the Rise of Fascism – an important, and artful, reminder of the origins of many of our favourite superheroes, and that statements like “we’re trying to keep politics out of comics” are inherently false and harmful.

The Post-War Kids: Anime After Annihilation – Dominic looks at a few iconic series and films (from Kids on the Slope to AKIRA to Astro Boy) that respond to the massive cultural shift that occurred in Japan after it was bombed and occupied by the US military, exploring post-nuclear tension and the building of a new national identity through sci-fi, music, and many other art expressions.

And there goes August. As always, take care, and I’ll see you on the other side of the hiatus!

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