Archive: May 2019

tweets for 2019-05-26

Monday, May 27th, 2019

tweets for 2019-05-25

Sunday, May 26th, 2019

tweets for 2019-05-24

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

tweets for 2019-05-23

Friday, May 24th, 2019

tweets for 2019-05-22

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019
  • Alejandra, a trans woman and activist, faced ongoing violence in El Salvador. Act now to stop the USA deporting her… ->
  • Sign now: Stop 12-year-old Tamir Rice’s killer from rejoining the police force! #StandWithSamaria ->
  • RT @BreeNewsome: The white supremacists running this country are not about to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill to have y'all contemplatin… ->
  • RT @dog_rates: This is Norton. On his fourteenth birthday his hydrotherapy session received a pupgrade. 14/10 arthritis doesn’t stand a cha… ->
  • RT @dog_rates: This is Sysco. He‘s 13 years young and floofier than ever. Likes to point when he finds a new best friend. 13/10 looks like… ->
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tweets for 2019-05-21

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

Book Review: This Place: 150 Years Retold by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, et al. (2019)

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

A powerful look at Canadian history from an Indigenous perspective.

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for racist violence against Indigenous peoples, including colonialism, kidnapping, forced assimilation, and land theft.)

Though the body of post-apocalyptic Indigenous literature is much smaller than I’d like (Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice and the 2016 scifi anthology Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time are the only two that spring immediately to mind), in my own experience, one observation seems to cut across them all: that, for Native Americans and Indigenous peoples, the apocalypse has already happened – is happening – in the form of colonialism. For them, “post-apocalyptic” is not sub-genre of science fiction, or an escape from the banality of everyday life, or even a warning of what could happen, if we continue down our current path. Rather, “post-apocalyptic” describes their current reality, their lives, their struggles, their continued resistance. No matter how many times I encounter it, it’s a statement that always bowls me over.

While This Place: 150 Years Retold is not really a science fiction anthology (“kitaskînaw 2350” by Chelsea Vowel notwithstanding), it’s hard not to view the comics in this collection from an apocalyptic lens.

The ten comics featured in This Place explore various historical figures and events in Canadian history from an Indigenous perspective: from Sniper Francis “Peggy” Pegahmagabow, who served in WWI, killed 378 enemy soldiers and captured 300 more, and went on to become the most decorated Indigenous soldier in Canadian history…only to be repeatedly denied loans after the war (“Peggy” by David A. Robertson and Natasha Donovan), to a fictionalized account of a mother’s stand against CA’s kidnapping of Indigenous children, spurred in part by the young boy she failed to save when she was in foster care herself (“Nimkii” by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Ryan Howe, Jen Storm, and Donovan Yaciuk).

While both the artwork and storytelling is a little uneven (par for the course in anthologies), for the most part I found this a pretty solid collection of historical graphic stories. The result is fierce, cutting, and sorely needed. I hope this lands in high school syllabuses on both sides of the border.

(tbh, a grounding in Canadian history is a plus, but by no means necessary.)

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

tweets for 2019-05-20

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

tweets for 2019-05-19

Monday, May 20th, 2019

tweets for 2019-05-18

Sunday, May 19th, 2019
  • RT @Roku: 🚨#StreamingWeek giveaway alert🚨
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  • RT @queensflame: mystery sci – fi fantasy ARC giveaway! these are arcs of books released within the last year. RT + FOLLOW by 6/5 for your… ->
  • RT @justinamash: Our system of checks and balances relies on each branch’s jealously guarding its powers and upholding its duties under our… ->
  • Ultra-war hawk @AmbJohnBolton wants to create the perception of a dramatic new threat that makes war with Iran inev… ->
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tweets for 2019-05-17

Saturday, May 18th, 2019

tweets for 2019-05-16

Friday, May 17th, 2019
  • RT @DohaMadani: Ummmmmmmmmmmm wot? 🧐 ->
  • RT @TBlackford3: Please help our family out. Our toddler's brain cancer treatment has put us in financial peril, in addition to being traum… ->
  • RT @alissacaliente: hey guys today is the OFFICIAL 4-YEAR ANNIVERSARY of THE RELEASE of masterwork slash cinematic marvel slash greatest lo… ->
  • RT @andraydomise: Enslaved women would often abort their children rather than doom their children to a life in bondage. They were often sev… ->
  • RT @sttepodcast: To celebrate the release of The Secret Life of Pets 2 we are giving away this awesome prize bundle.
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tweets for 2019-05-15

Thursday, May 16th, 2019
  • RT @collectsideshow: In honor of John Wick's puppy, we want to help as many furry friends as possible with this week's Let Your Kid Sidesho… ->
  • RT @RafiDAngelo: You will never be rich enough to be affected by the taxes we want to levy on the rich. Please shut your poor ass up while… ->
  • RT @justicedems: If this is what they think about @AOC — that she should just stay in her place — imagine what they think about the million… ->
  • @VanshikaPrusty I'm following via email & my favorite book by a marginalized author is Octavia Butler's Earthseed d… in reply to VanshikaPrusty ->
  • RT @VanshikaPrusty: ✨B I R T H D A Y G I V E A W A Y✨
    —I’m giving away 3 books; 2 to the 1st winner & 1 to the 2nd winner, both picked by… ->
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tweets for 2019-05-14

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019
  • RT @CharoShane: Please, please donate to an abortion fund if you can, any abortion fund. There is no abortion fund at which your money won'… ->
  • RT @ParkerMolloy: So… an embryo is a human life except when it’s not? That the determining factor for these forced-birth advocates is whe… ->
  • RT @VeganAri: As a gay man it’s absolutely heartbreaking and extremely frustrating to watch #vegan outlets promote Chick-Fil-A — a company… ->
  • RT @prisonculture: Questions I regularly ask myself when I'm outraged about injustice:
    1. What resources exist so I can better educate myse… ->
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Book Review: This Land is My Land: A Graphic History of Big Dreams, Micronations, and Other Self-Made States by Andy Warner & Sofie Louise Dam (2019)

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

I want to go where the vegan lesbians are.

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for sexual violence against women and children.)

A community founded in upstate New York in 1848 and based on a radical reimagining of society, marriage and child rearing…

…ended up being one of the world’s largest purveyors of cutlery and tableware.

Written by Andy Warner and illustrated by Sofie Louise Dam, This Land is My Land highlights thirty self-made or experimental communities, loosely falling into one of the following categories:
1 – Intentional communities: “Groups of people who chose to radically remake their social structures.”
2 – Micronations: “Brief histories of the tiny, unrecognized nations of the world.”
3 – Failed utopias: “The bigger the experiment, the harder it falls.”
4 – Visionary environments: “Stories of wonderful and bizarre places where individuals make their visions reality.”
5 – Strange dreams: “Proposals, plans, and schemes, never brought to pass.”

Before visions of radical utopias start swimming through your head (they sure did mine), know that the places featured here range from large-scale art projects created by a single individual (Nek Chand’s Rock Garden in India; Ra Paulette’s Caves in New Mexico; Nevada’s Thunder Mountain Monument); to large, sprawling – if unusual – homes, again built for a single person or family (Freedom Cove, off the coast of Vancouver; Arizona Mystery Castle); to honest-to-goodness intentional communities and communes – one of them even traveling (The Van Dykes).

Among my favorites are the communities and nations created by people seeking to escape oppression and persecution. Chief among these is Libertatia, a city-state established in a bay in Madagascar by a French pirate and a Dominican priest in the 1600s. The crew of the Victoire made a habit of attacking slaving ships, freeing the kidnapped human cargo, and then splitting the bounty equally between all. Newly freed slaves were welcome to join the crew if they desired. Libertatia became their permanent, democratic, anti-authoritarian settlement. At least, if you believe the 1724 book A General History of the Pyrates; there is no physical evidence of the colony’s existence today. (I want to believe.)

Sadly, many of these larger communities were either established as tax havens (libertarians seem to be especially egregious offenders here) or as a means for the founders (men, always) to rape and traffic women and children. (You’ll never look at Oneida flatware the same way again. And I was rooting for you up until the child rape, Noyes.) I really would have loved to have seen more positive examples, but there you go. People suck more than they don’t.

One cool thing: of those sites still in existence, many are open to tourists. The Arizona Mystery Castle seems like a pretty rad vacation destination (but not in the summer, obvs).

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

tweets for 2019-05-13

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

tweets for 2019-05-12

Monday, May 13th, 2019

tweets for 2019-05-11

Sunday, May 12th, 2019
  • RT @ASmallFiction: The earth spun through space.
    For a while things lived on it. That was nice.
    But after awhile they all died away.
    And… ->
  • I just signed a petition to close the Homestead Child Detention Center and reunite children with their families and… ->
  • RT @swin24: State Department Continues Fight to Strip Gay Couple’s Two-Year-Old Son of Birthright Citizenship: ->
  • RT @urdadssidepiece: As YouTube makeup influencers feuded with each other, I couldn’t help but wonder: Had their relationship been built us… ->
  • Punish Officials Accused of Euthanizing Over 300 Shelter Animals Prematurely ->
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tweets for 2019-05-10

Saturday, May 11th, 2019

Book Review: Light from Other Stars by Erika Swyler (2019)

Friday, May 10th, 2019

“Behind every brilliant woman is her doubly brilliant mother.”

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for child abuse.)

She knew them by their light, the gentle differences—Amit’s warm, yellowish brown, Evgeni who glowed like a pearl, Louisa who was brighter than all of them. Nedda would know them anywhere; if she lost their shapes, she’d recognize their light.

They would likely die. It was why they were childless, unwed. Freedom of sacrifice. It was a shame that only three people would ever again be in the same room as Evgeni when he sang. Only three people would know that Singh ate with his pinkie out. That Marcanta pulled hairs from her eyebrows when frustrated. Children would know their names, and drive on roads named Sokolov or Papas. Children would know their ship, Chawla, and who she’d hauled. A little girl somewhere would rattle off everything she’d read about them, and with it everything she knew about space and time, about light.

“I got a boat too. It’s not real big, just enough to take a few people out, that’s all.”

“What’d you name it?”

Flux Capacitor.”

Doc Brown’s a better name.”

“Yeah, but boats are women.”

“Everything’s a woman. Cars, boats, houses. Anywhere that’s safe or takes you somewhere better is a woman,” she said.

“So, Chawla is a woman?”

“Obviously.” She opened her eye to find him staring.

Her father’s machine was as much hope and wish as it was metal and glass.

In the present day – her present, our future – Nedda Papas has achieved everything she’s dreamed of. As one quarter of the crew of Chawla, Nedda is humanity’s last best chance. Climate change has wrought havoc on earth: rising sea levels have disappeared entire islands and shrunk continents, hunger fueled by drought is the new normal, and wildfires plague what little land is left. The planet is beyond saving; now flight is the only long-term option.

Sent to colonize another planet in a galaxy far, far away, Nedda will never again set foot on earth. And she’s okay with that – it’s for the greater good, after all, and doesn’t she owe her species at least that much, anyway? But when cost-cutting and politicking threatens Chawla’s success, Nedda must revisit her past in order to salvage our future.

It was 1986 when Nedda’s world imploded: first, with the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster; and again with Theo Pappas’s magnum opus, the Crucible.

Light from Other Stars unfolds in two parallel narratives: aboard the Chawla, and in January/February 1986, when Nedda is eleven years old.

Middle-schooler Nedda lives Easter, Florida, in the shadow of Kennedy Space Center. She and her professor father Theo – newly laid off from NASA after the latest round of budget cuts – are inseparable, whether devising and executing experiments or trying to spot Halley’s Comet shoot across the night sky. Her relationship with mother Betheen is a little frostier, but not necessarily for lack of mutual interests: Beth is a chemist. But her (women’s) work is undervalued, because of course it is. It also doesn’t help that Betheen has been drowning in grief for most of young Nedda’s life. But spoilers!

Theo has suffered from psoriatic arthritis since childhood, and the joint pain and inflammation makes his work difficult (as does the markedly inferior resources at Haverstone College). Ostensibly, this is the impetus behind his crowning achievement, the Crucible, a machine that can slow down, stop, or even reverse time (and thus heal all manner of physical injuries) by manipulating entropy. (Swyler includes a fair amount of background on the science, only a fraction of which I can claim to understand, and I have no idea how sound it is. But I didn’t find these bits boring or excessive, fwiw.)

Theo’s machine is a success, in a manner of speaking, but things go sideways, because of course they do. When Crucible threatens to devour all of Easter (including Nedda’s best friend Denny), it’s up to Nedda and Betheen to save the day.

Judy Resnik, Sally Ride, Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffee, Ed White – Nedda’s heroes have always been astronauts. WWJD – What would Judy do?

As much as I loved Swyler’s previous novel, The Book of Speculation, I think she managed to outdo herself with Light from Other Stars. It is beautiful and magical and excruciating in the best way. I am writing this review weeks after turning the last page, tears coursing down my face anew. (Okay, that makes my ugly crying sound a lot prettier than it is. A spectacle, I am making one.)

A big part of this are the passages on death and dying and the afterlife. I’m an atheist, and don’t generally envy people their religious beliefs … that is, unless it’s the comfort that the grieving can find in stories about heaven (or reincarnation, or what have you). Some days I’d give anything to believe that I’ll be reunited with my deceased love ones, eventually. But I can’t make myself believe in something I don’t, even when it’s convenient, and so I go scavenging for secular comfort wherever I can find it, like a sad, lonely little heathen magpie.

I find it in all sorts of places (but mostly books, to no one’s surprise): Aaron Freeman’s essay, “You want a physicist to speak at your funeral.” The passages in The Subtle Knife where Lyra and Will lead the ghosts out of the world of the dead. The entire science-based religion created by Lauren Olamina in Octavia Butler’s Parables duology. Add to that Theo Pappas’s ideas about thoughts, memories, and electrical impulses; heat and light; gas and carbon and star parts. (Carl Sagan’s quote about starstuff! I knew I was forgetting something!) There’s some truly breathtaking stuff in here. This is a wonderfully godless book; a wonderful book for the godless. I’ll hold it close to my heart and cherish it, always.

(I want desperately to include some excerpts here, but spoilers!)

Light from Other Stars is also fiercely feminist, even if the ferocity sometimes comes in a whisper instead of a shout. It’s a story about fathers and daughters and fathers and sons … but also, especially, about mothers and daughters and mothers and sons. Nedda’s relationship with Theo is as magnificent as it is tenuous, but her bond with Betheen is all the more wonderful for its complexity, for the way it grows and strengthens and changes – and holds fast even across the vast chasm of space. Nedda’s evolving perception of her mother as she discovers what Betheen is capable of is a revelation. I wonder if they ever perfected that champagne cake together?

Last but not least, it’s a joy to watch as these two narratives come together, often in unexpected ways (Amadeus, I’m looking at you).

Swyler’s writing is exquisite and will pummel you right in the feels. I really hope Netflix picks this one up for a screenplay or miniseries. I need to see what time made liquid looks like, stat.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)