January 8th, 2009


[links] Link salad for a Thursday

A limited time electronic release of my Alembical [ Paper Golem | Amazon ]novella, "America, Such as She Is" [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ]

Post-Weird Thoughts likes a couple of my stories — Hmm. Maybe I should have put "The God-Clown Is Near" on my awards rec list.

The Art of the Short Storytruepenny is wise.

The Recently Deflowered Girl — Um, wow. More or less work-safe. (Thanks to willyumtx.)

Freakonomics on the public library renaissance — Specifically as a response to the decline of media sales in books, movies, etc.

45 Vintage 'Space Age' Illustrations — Mmm. Tasty. (Snurched from Drawn!.)

Watching the Growth of Walmart Across America — An animated map of Walmart's expansion. Interesting presentation. (Thanks to ericreynolds and several others.)

Climate and the Spotless Sun — More on climate change, this time in connection to the sunspot cycle. (Thanks to safewrite.)

Black holes 'preceded galaxies' — Some interesting astronomy here. (Thanks to my brother.)

One World, Many Minds: Intelligence in the Animal Kingdom — The brains of, well, everything. (Thanks to lt260.)

?otD: Is vermiculite really made of worms?

Body movement: 40 minute ride on the stationary bike
This morning's weigh-in: 222.6
Currently reading: The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville

Originally published at jlake.com.


[conventions] RustyCon Schedule

Tomorrow I'm off to RustyCon in Seattle (well, Seatac, actually), where I am writer GoH. As it happens I am flying, due to the continued flooding and road closures on I-5 in Washington State.

My schedule is as follows:

Fri Jan 9

5:00 - 6:00 pm Opening Ceremonies

Sat Jan 10

3:00 - 4:00 pm World Creation in Science Fiction and Fantasy

4:00 - 5:00 pm Jay Lake reading selections from his works

5:00 - 6:00 pm GOH Talk

6:00 - 6:30 pm Jay Lake Signing

7:00 - 8:00 pm The Economics of Immortality

Sun Jan 11

11:00 - noon A Grimy Slimy Future

Originally published at jlake.com.


[process] Another shot at thinking about the Other

The Edge of the American West has a post up today about speaking from cultural authority and presumed expertise. As is sometimes the case, a lot of the interesting action is in the comments section there.

The blog is talking about current fighting in Gaza, but this is a question which runs rife through our field. I've spoke before here on the blog about being on a panel about cultural authority and appropriation a few years ago with an Australian writer, a Canadian writer, and a Scottish writer. Both the Australian and the Canadian were horrified at the thought that a white writer might use Aboriginal or First Nations material in their fiction, that we as white writers didn't have standing to do that. This baffled both me and the Scottish fellow.

By this logic, the only culture I have 'standing' to comment on is middle aged, middle class, WASP male American culture. If I stuck to writing about that, I'd either be John Updike or unpublished. (Which of those possibilities is the more likely I leave as an exercise for the reader.) This line of thinking says I cannot write about female characters because I am not a woman, or Jewish characters because I am a Gentile.

That way lies madness. Our field, at its best, is about Writing the Other. Likewise, to the point of the cited blog post, the arts of politics and diplomacy are about the Other.

I am not ignorant of the nuances of exploitation, oppression, colonial heritage and the whole panoply of errors, wrongs and outright crimes committed by one group of people against another. Bluntly, in many cases by my ancestors against quite possibly yours. I am the transparent case of the oppressor class, in stereotyped leftist dialectic.

Yet I've spent years living in Africa, for example. That is something about me which you can't read in my skin color or my surname or my accent. Does that experience empower me differently? My family is multiracial. Again, something you can't read in my skin color or my surname or my accent. Does that give me a different cultural authority?

Whose voice counts? Why or why not? I find these questions distressing and uneasy, which means they're important questions. The churn they raise drives the boundaries of good fiction, good thought and good citizenship.

Originally published at jlake.com.