(Not for everyone, naturally. I know people who adore spoilers, and find them an exciting roadmap to what's ahead. I am just as likely to go "welp, that was the greatest hits version of the story, let's go enjoy something new.")
But saying "spoilers are bad" and "spoilers are wrong" seems very...I don't know, privileged? At least to me. I have friends who cannot watch rape. Cannot watch any threat of sexual violence. Cannot handle the use of date rape drugs or other such devices in fiction. I know people who are so severely afraid of spiders that even spiders in movies are not safe for them, or who can't deal with certain forms of bodily harm (eyeballs, sure, but no fingers, no teeth...). Most, if not all, of these people have really good reasons for their fears, and if they don't go around wearing shirts that list them off for your comprehension and enlightenment, that's because it's nobody else's business.
So they seek out spoilers. They look for them everywhere, because a little loss of surprise is worth it for the comfort of knowing a piece of media is safe. I was lucky enough to see Thor 2 early (I love you, Disneyland Annual Pass), and while I refused, for the most part, to be a source of spoilers, one person asked me a very basic "this thing will be triggery for me, does this thing happen" question, and got an answer. Because my desire not to put spoilers out into the world is not stronger than someone else's need for mental peace. I knew why she was asking. Refusing to answer at that point would have been policing someone else's choices, and saying I knew what she needed better than she did.
I will absolutely roll with "involuntary spoilers are bad": I don't want to get spoiled for everything in the universe the second I turn on my computer in the morning. I will roll with "there is a statute of limitations," and while we haven't all agreed on what it is, I stop getting grumpy after a week or so for minor things (it takes longer for big, shocking, "this changes everything" revelations). But we have to remember that for some people, spoilers are safety and self-defense. Spoilers are what makes it possible for them to enjoy media, just like everybody else.
Sometimes, providing spoilers is the only kind thing to do.
- Current Mood:thoughtful
- Current Music:Sara Bareilles, "Brave."
I think the last time I went somewhere in December was 1996, and then it was Cambridge from Lancaster. It's a time of year when everything gets darker and colder as winter closes in and I put on heat and lights and people come to me. Of course, that is happening too, a tree-decorating gathering on the 24th, Christmas, a New Year houseparty. But first, I'm going to Italy!
I'm going to Rome, Venice and Florence, and I'm just going for fun, because I want to, because Ada and weirdquark are going and asked me and it seemed like such a lovely idea. Indeed, it seemed as if the only reason not to go was that it wasn't sensible, and who wants to be sensible when they could go to Italy instead? I am leaving the cold (-17, -20 with windchill right now) and the northern dark for ten days of light and art and civilization and friendship and food. It's the kind of thing a character in a novel might do, and not really the kind of thing I do. It's just so great. The thought of it has been making me happy for weeks. I got out my winter boots, but I didn't put my sandals away -- I'm going to Italy! And yes, this is my third time crossing the Atlantic this year.
So, as I may have mentioned already, I'm going to Italy! And I'm not taking the netbook -- I'll get over the paranoid fear that it'll just be stolen if I take it anywhere, but for now it can stay safely here. I'm not going to do any work in Italy anyway, and it's the week before Christmas, nobody's going to need me for anything. After tomorrow and until I get home on the 23rd, don't count on me seeing anything online. I expect to check my email on Ada's laptop for five minutes a day in case of emergencies, and that's all.
(Special thanks to everyone who bought Among Others and helped it earn out and pay me royalties twice this year -- I couldn't have afforded this trip without that.)
Strength rests in honesty and compassion
So much food for thought! For example, I find myself thinking, strength doesn't only rest in honesty and compassion. And certainly I can think of terrible sorts of strength that trample on honesty and compassion. But I like the bold reminder that honesty and compassion *can* be sources of strength. ARE sources of strength. And the quality of that strength, and the durability of that strength? High, very high, I'd say.
Delia Sherman & I are doing a holiday "house concert/lecture" - just think of it as coming and hanging out with us in a living room on the Upper West side, while we shoot the breeze about the way that fantasy literature and traditional folk music play nicely together and make beautiful children. Come with your own examples of books and stories that do the trick, or get ready to hear us talk - and sing! - about Ellen's World Fantasy Award-winning novel THOMAS THE RHYMER (based on a Scots Border Ballad), and Delia's multiple short stories, like "The Maid on the Shore," plus, of course, her novel THROUGH A BRAZEN MIRROR (from Martin Carthy's rendition of the ballad "The Famous Flower of Serving-Men) . . . and how Ellen stole - er, recycled one of its plotlines.
Presented by the Folk Music Society of NY
A quick note that I’ll be hanging out and signing books at Barnes & Noble in the Kalamazoo area this Saturday from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. The address is 6134 South Westnedge, Portage, Michigan. Hopefully I’ll see a few of you there! (Autographed books make awesome Christmas presents, you know )
On a related note, if you live in the U.S. and feel like giving away one (or more!) of my books for Christmas this year, I’d be happy to send you a signed bookplate to go with it. Email me at jchines -at- sff.net. I’ll mail up to three bookplates per person, but you have to let me know today or tomorrow so I can get them in the mail by Saturday. Limited time offer, while supplies last, etc. and so on.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
Yesterday I became aware of Patreon, being hailed by many as “the new Kickstarter,” which is interesting in and of itself, since Kickstarter was founded all of four years ago, and we’re still discovering the ways in which the platform can be used and abused, to say nothing of the many ways in which we’re still absorbing its impact on people’s interactions with creative endeavour.
“Interesting” covers most of my feeling towards Patreon, and I mean this genuinely: it’s an interesting and laudable idea that brings a different structural framework to supporting the arts; it recognizes the fact that careers in the arts can’t always be tied to a single successful project; and it shifts the focus from Kickstarter’s “incentive” rewards for pledges to the creative work itself.
I’m excited to see where it goes and who flourishes from it. I think it will be of tremendous benefit to webcomics and podcasts, who already have audiences for their serialized content, and for whom the internet has already bent into a certain supportive shape. I expect that high profile bloggers will also benefit from it, though I think the muddling of social and material capital there — the support of a personality rather than a project — will make for interesting fall-out.
But I am most interested by my own response to it as a writer. Looking at filling out a Patreon profile, I’m struck with a sense of shyness and unease. There’s an enormous emphasis on visual style: the site’s video tutorials encourage vlogging and images, a focus on brand and specificity of content, with all the examples being music, videos, and music videos. What is it that I want people to support me for? What version of myself am I to present? What serialised endeavour do I want to associate with my name?
The upshot is that I find myself thinking of projects to tailor to Patreon.
Ages ago on the internet there was an era of handles, pseudonyms, names that one chose for their significance to oneself as well as for their capacity to represent an identity to strangers. Choosing such a name always felt ponderous to me: who would I be on this site, with these as-yet-unknown people? What facet of myself would I show them? How would the choice of that facet affect my communications?
Patreon makes me feel that ponderousness a dozen times over, because this is also about marketing, about sharing one’s work, about commodity.
I don’t know yet what I’ll do with it, if anything. But I’m fascinated by it.
- Current Location:Glasgow
- Current Mood:curious
- Current Music:Poe, "Angry Johnny"
I finished As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto, which has to rank as one of the best abandoned book finds I ever made. Interestingly enough, I found myself skimming the cooking details, and focusing on the lives of the two women and how they interacted with one another. The letters run from 1952 to 1958, and both women were deeply political. In the United States, DeVoto and her husband were actively fighting McCarthy and HUAC, and also were early champions of what we would now call environmentalism. (Mostly) in Europe, Child's husband was in the diplomatic service, and was at one point called back to the U.S. for investigations into his political affiliations. That material was fascinating to me, and so was the publishing saga of the complicated, almost unmanageable project that became Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a book which might never have been published without DeVoto's championship and wise advice. But best of all was just watching the friendship develop, finding out what they talked about, and what mattered to them. There are race, class, and sexual orientation comments that will bother the 2013 reader, and yet they are both open-minded and at least aware the issues exist. (There is one delightful moment, talking about May Sarton, when DeVoto is being rather, if not homophobic, homo-pitying, and Child very neatly and politely turns it around to sympathy for having to live with homophobia.) This is either your sort of book or it's not, but if it is, don't hesitate.
I also finished The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. My 21-year-old niece Emma told me in October how much this book affected her. It's a novel of teenage cancer, and Emma had Hodgkins' lymphoma when she was 17; she is fine now. What Emma said about the book was that most books like this feel like they were written by someone who knew someone with cancer, but this one felt real to her, and triggered a lot of difficult memories of when she was sick. I can't speak to any of that, but I can say that I found the book affecting, and the characters feel very real to me. The things that were supposed to surprise me succeeded (which isn't all that common), and the ending wasn't what I expected. Nothing is prettified or whitewashed, but even better, nothing is skewed to the inspirational. One of the book's repeating phrases is "The universe is not a wish-granting factory," which is ironic since the protagonists take a Make-a-Wish foundation trip. Again, not for everyone, but if it is your kind of book, you won't regret it.
In progress, Eclipse 4, edited by Jonathan Strahan, whom I consider one of the best SF anthologists ever. The Eclipse books (now defunct, and replaced by the occasional short story published on line) scratch my Terry Carr itch, which is a compliment indeed. I'm also (finally) almost done with Philip Pullman's translation of Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm.
Next up: quien sabe? Watch this space.
- Current Mood:productive
whipartist posed a challenging question for today:
After spending a lot of time in London, I note a couple of interesting things:
#1: I have never seen anyone on a mobility scooter here. I feel like I see them daily in the US.
#2: By my estimation, there are far fewer morbidly obese people in London than in the US.
Do you think those differences are real? If so, why do you think they might exist?
The first thing I notice is the (apparent) conflation of people on mobility scooters and obesity. Having just last month spent a weekend traveling with badgerbag , and lifting her scooter in and out of the trunk of her car a lot, let's point out that those two are not necessarily the same thing. And I have no idea if mobility scooters are readily available in London (or England), whether or not they cost more, etc., etc. I do know from my times in London that it is not an especially accessible city, and it's possible that a mobility scooter doesn't buy you as much ability to get places as it does in the U.S., where we have had at least some degree of Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for a few decades now.
I am inclined to believe, however, that there are fewer (perhaps not far fewer) "morbidly obese" people in London than in the U.S. And I have a lot to say about that. I don't like "morbidly obese," so I'm just going to say "fat." First of all, there are fewer fat people in Los Angeles than there are in San Francisco (just to pick one example), so comparing a city to a country is rather odd.
Secondly (did you think I was going to duck this one?), people eat differently in different places, and it may well be that the standard diet in London (to the extent there is such a thing) is different enough from the (various and assorted) "standard diets" around the U.S. in ways that have an effect on the prevalence of fat people. Let's assume for the purposes of argument that there's at least some truth in this reason.
Here are a bunch of other possible reasons:
1) Genetics. Many (though not all) fat people come from particular genetic groupings, often when the group has experienced famine in the past and natural selection has helped save people who are more efficient at storing food. London is a vastly diverse city, and people of all genetic groupings can be found there, but the dominant Anglo-Saxon group is not one (in my anecdotal experience) as inclined to fat as some others, nor has there been a famine in or near London for many, many centuries.
2) Social expectations. In many cultures, disabled and fat people stay home more than they do in whipartist 's and my home city of Oakland, and our sister great city of San Francisco. If you aren't looking in neighborhood markets and at schoolyards where parents pick up kids, but instead are in the tourist sections, that might affect who you see.
3) As mentioned above, accessibility. People don't go where they don't fit (i.e., theater seats).
4) All of the fascinating possibilities presented by David Berreby in this landmark article.
In fact, lab animals’ lives are so precisely watched and measured that the researchers can rule out accidental human influence: records show those creatures gained weight over decades without any significant change in their diet or activities. Obviously, if animals are getting heavier along with us, it can’t just be that they’re eating more Snickers bars and driving to work most days. On the contrary, the trend suggests some widely shared cause, beyond the control of individuals, which is contributing to obesity across many species.
I would love to know if British marmosets, monkeys, and mice are also getting fatter, as American ones are. Berreby mentions credible research into a wide variety of potential causes, including sleeplessness, stress, industrial chemicals, electrification and light, and viruses. He spends some time on my personal best guess as to the "culprit," bisphenol-A, which may be used less (or somewhat less) in England.
What no one even begins to know at this point is how these factors interact. And I bet no one has done comparative geographical studies--at least, I've never seen any.
- Current Mood:tired