In Which I Have An Article on The Mary Sue

I wrote a thing over on The Mary Sue about inclusive SF/F, the Uncanny Magazine Kickstarter and accidentally sparking a culture war.

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Book Review: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Cover of The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

{cross posted and slightly expanded from my goodreads review}

This book.

This was amazing.

This is a feat of science fantasy and storytelling. To explain exactly :why: it is a feat would, fundamentally spoil major elements of this work. Plot, characterization, and worldbuilding work together here to just… make magic.

:speechless:

But this is completely, utterly in the “holy shit, this was good” category.

DAMN.

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New Verity! Ep 114–Aztec Savvy

verityepisode114

It’s a sangria-fueled classic-Who-episode of Verity! Join Deb, Erika, and Katrina as we cover a pure historical, “The Aztecs”. As usual, we don’t all fall in line with received fan wisdom, but for a change, the majority of us do.

Are you a fan of “The Aztecs”? Or are you bored by the lack of sci-fi elements? Let us know in the comments!

^E

Also covered:

Bonus links:
Lazy Doctor Who covers “The Aztecs”
Doctor Who: The Writers’ Room

Download or listen now (runtime 1:12:29) Audio Player

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Book review: Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente

Crossposted from my goodreads review.

Cover of Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente

Cover of Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente

This novel is set in an alternate universe where space travel and colonization happened faster, and the early (silent) days of cinema were shot on the moon. Filmpunk, if you will.

The plot focuses on the mysterious disappearance of Severin Unck, a second-generation filmmaker. Valente has structured the novel like a shooting script, with other documents interspersed, including snippets of other films and correspondence.
The characters are compelling, deeply flawed, interesting people, all doing interesting things for their own motivations.

Radiance is about parents and children, and point of view before and behind the lens, and storytelling, and how the people who tell stories on film would like another take in life quite often, please. What is true? What is not? How does that change based upon your quantum position in the universe? What happens when the center of your universe goes missing?

This is, of course, a vastly oversimplified description. The setting and the structure matter utterly to this novel. The worldbuilding is epic, whimsical, and utterly alien while still being quite relatable to human foibles and perspectives. Valente’s authorial narrative voice keeps coming up with a sentence I’d like to frame and hang on the wall to stare at for a bit about every three paragraphs, on average. It’s not overwritten–the prose style is quite penetrable, but there’s a whole lot of depth in those short sentences.

This novel was not a breathless, quick read– you’ll want to chew on it a bit. But it is absolutely a meal worth savoring.

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Verity! Extra! (Not) Fake Fanbooking

New Verity! About the very first New Adventures novel…

VerityPodcast.com

VerityExtra1stNAIt’s a book Extra! Join Deb, Erika, Liz, and Tansy as they discuss the very first Virgin New Adventures novel, Timewyrm: Genesys. It was the first time through for half of us, the other half of the Verities were revisiting it. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and may have a seriously high “ick factor”, we’re all pleased with the existence of the whole novel range. And we spend a good amount of time chatting about that as well.

Are you a fan of the NAs? Have you revisited them and discovered issues you didn’t see the first time through? Or did you never get into them in the first place? Let us know in the comments! We’re intensely curious about this!

^E

Related links:

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In Response: (more) anthologies worth setting aside a novel for…

Hey look, it’s me! I have been kindly included (as part of the Glitter & Mayhem team) in a list of anthologies with diverse editors.😀

A conversational life

*sigh* It’s really not that hard to read outside the box you live in and try to look beyond the big name male editors that pop up all the time attached to anthologies. I won’t deny some of them are good, but when you make a list (like this one), why do six out of seven of the editors named have to be men (and two of them twice!!)? In response, I offer you some alternatives…

  1. After edited by Ellen Datlow (because Ellen IS a great editor and SHOULD be on a list like this – she just shouldn’t have to be the only woman!) – seriously, I could have picked any number of Datlow anthologies, or any one of the many she’s edited with Terri Windling (oh look, another female editor…)
  2. The AGOG! anthologies edited by Cat Sparks – for many years, the AGOG! books were a staple in the…

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How do we show the value of our library work?

NB: This blog post is based in part on a conversation on Twitter that I had last week with Mattie Taormina, Amy Hildreth Chen, LucretiaB, and Melanie J. Meyers that ranged from reference librarianship in special collections to UX (user experience) as a way of revamping how we provide services to my fears that our skills and services are easily erased if UX is not handled well and transparently.

While writing, I kind of went elsewhere with it. :shrug: So this is a bit of a rumination, really, as I work towards more specifics in my own area like annual reporting and next year’s goals.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about through our university’s recently completed program prioritization process and the consistent flow of budget cuts we’ve had in recent years is how the Libraries (and, of course, my department) demonstrates our value(s), particularly in terms of Student Career Success.

We are a tuition-driven university. Pragmatism is very much a thing here. Most of our students are here to meet a specific qualification to get particular jobs (accountancy, nursing, teaching, etc.) at a price point that they can just barely afford. The humanities can very easily feel like a luxury. Rare books more so.

How do I tie seeing the Ellesmere Chaucer Facsimile or touching a cuneiform tablet or handling historical children’s books or pulp magazines directly to Student Career Success?

The libraries are beginning to assess ourselves for the first time in earnest.

These are the things I am used to counting:

  • How many visitors to the department each year?
  • How many books are requested for use?
  • How many items were scanned for patrons?
  • How many class visits (# visits, total number of students and instruction hours)
  • How many books/manuscripts did I add to the collection?
  • How many reference questions did I answer?

Lots of numbers. Tracked through local spreadsheets and hashmarks on sheets of paper and physical call slips.

I don’t think these numbers communicate all of our value. None of these metrics tell me how well we provide these services, just how often.

I can point to having acquired a book or a collection, but how does it impact our students, in particular? Especially given that the impact may not appear until 5 years from now when the right student or group comes along? When it does, it has a huge impact. But not before then.

I’m thinking about how to assess things like the impact of class visits to RBSC. I can point to numbers of classes going up or down, but that fluctuates based on things that are out of my control, such as which typical repeat visitor professors are on sabbatical, or being named to work-intensive committees, which cuts back on my availability.

I contribute to the students’ experience here at NIU. I contribute to faculty research and teaching agendas. I contribute, in some small way, to the prestige and depth of NIU’s research capabilities.  I have class visits across multiple departments, at every level from freshman comp to graduate courses, mostly in the humanities.

How do I demonstrate that providing these services has value?

This is a particularly salient question at a pragmatically driven institution. It’s difficult to point directly to my work in the context of graduating x number of accountancy or nursing students.

Is there a way to demonstrate value for a class visit to special collections that may suspiciously resemble fun or frivolity or unnecessary luxury at first glance? 

How do I encourage students (many of whom are first-generation college students, as I was)  working full-time, and in school nearly full-time, and often parenting to boot to understand that these relatively expensive things, this space, this time has value and relevance to their education, too?

How do I tell the story of our value?

More importantly, how do I construct a survey that might convey this understanding of value when it occurs to higher-level administration? 

How do I demonstrate the value in particular of the folks who make our materials accessible day in and day out? I at least have the major advantage of being in a relatively public position. I work directly with teaching faculty and other units on campus. Many of my colleagues, both faculty and staff, do not have this luxury.

This… bothers me.

Raise your hand if your library’s Technical Services functions exist in nonpublic spaces, invisibly. :raises hand:

Every library has a finite amount of stuff that can be gathered, based upon the magical combination of budget and space and staffing (or lack thereof). Once you hit a finite wall of stuff and space in which to store it, the only things that can be improved are services that provide access to the stuff already in hand.

Services are typically provided by staff. Of which there are fewer and fewer (retirements + budget cuts = no replacement of positions), with much of their work invisible.

Most of our faculty and staff have no idea how the materials get from gift/purchase to on the shelf/accessible. It may as well be magic.

How do we make our staff-based services as valuable as the stuff we wrangle? 

 

 

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Uncanny is a World Fantasy Award Finalist!

Last night, the World Fantasy Award ballot was publicly released, and we learned that Uncanny Magazine is a finalist for a World Fantasy Award in the Special Award, Nonprofessional category.

We also learned that “Pockets” by Amal El-Mohtar and “The Heat of Us: Notes Toward an Oral History” by Sam J. Miller are finalists in the short story category. (Both of these stories are free to read on our website *and* are featured on our podcast.

Congratulations to all of the nominees!

This has been an astonishing year so far for Uncanny. Stories, illustrations, and the magazine have been named as finalists for the Hugo, the Locus, the World Fantasy, the Chesley, and the Theodore Sturgeon awards.

If it is possible to be both proud and completely floored, you’re looking at it.

This wouldn’t be possible without our amazing staff, our Space Unicorn Ranger Corps supporters, and the excellent writers, artists, and other contributors that we publish.

Thank you.

Shine on, Space Unicorns!

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Be careful what you ask for…

As you may know, I was at CONvergence last week, which is one of my favorite conventions, enjoying the vast array of nerdery, geekery, enthusiasm, and awesome made available there.

I was attending as a former CONvergence Guest of Honor.

Current Guests of Honor at CONvergence tend to be heavily scheduled, so one of their practices is to assign each GoH a liaison/minion/handler– someone to make sure that you eat, sleep, hydrate, get where you’re going when you need to be there, and generally don’t implode during your GoH gig.

One of my panels (about mentoring the next generation of creative geeks) was with one of this year’s GoHs, Daren Dochterman, and another former GoH, Kelly McCullough. Daren’s assigned handler, Anton Pedersen, was checking in on him, and, because this is how things happen at CVG, Anton kindly also asked both Kelly and I if we needed anything (water, a snack?).

Now, keep in mind that Anton and I are acquainted, and Kelly and Anton have known each other for years, and Kelly and I are very good friends who troll each other A LOT. Kelly demurred, and I quipped “I’d like a pony.” An approximation of the conversation that followed is appended; these may not be the fully correct words, but the sense is there.

Kelly: I don’t think they’ll let a live pony in here

Lynne: I didn’t say it had to be a LIVE pony

Kelly: that could be messy; I think the hotel would frown more on a dead pony

Lynne: It never needed to be alive! Health code violations are bad!

…I’m easy! a My Little Pony would totally do!

At which point, we all laughed, Anton went off to his duties, and the panel began in earnest.

… halfway through the panel, Anton returned, and quietly placed a pony savings bank on the panelist podium while I gawped.

He got me a pony.

Not only did he get me a pony, he found TWILIGHT SPARKLE, the closest thing to a librarian pony you get in the My Little Pony universe. In the dealer room! Which means an attending dealer/artist at CVG also made a sale!

Behold, dear reader, the evidence. I offered to return it to him, acknowledging that I was joking and that I didn’t really need a pony, but he insisted that I keep it. My understanding is that this is considered part of their guest services suite, and that he will be reimbursed by the convention if he submits a receipt.:-)

CONvergence bought me a pony, y’all. 

:ded of awesome:

cmtnghjucaaht0x

Picture of Lynne, holding a Twilight Sparkle Bank. Photo credit: Kelly McCullough

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New Verity! Ep 113 – Law & Order: Marinus

VerityPodcast.com

VerityEpisode113

Our trip through classic season one is back to moving pictures! Join Deb, Erika, Lynne, and Tansy as we cover Terry Nation’s eclectic 6-parter, “The Keys of Marinus”. There’s a lot to love and some to not-love. Listen and see who thinks which parts are which!

How do you feel about this story? Do you love its fairy-tale nature and the multiple adventures? Or do you think it drags? If the latter, which parts drag? We’re super-curious to know, so please tell us in the comments!

^E

Also covered:

Bonus…

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