Who Survives the Apocalypse? On the Edge of Gone Has Some Ideas

I read a lot of YA books, and since not all of them are great, I keep track of the authors of the ones that I really liked. So ever since I read Corinne Duyvis’s Otherbound two years ago, I’ve been waiting and hoping that she would soon publish something else. Duyvis, an autistic writer who co-founded the Disability in Kidlit website and writing resource, is a writer with a particularly unique point of view. And when I found out about Duyvis’s newest book, On the Edge of Gone, a story about disability and classism told as an asteroid hits the Earth, I jumped to get it.

on the edge of goneMinor spoilers after the jump.

Continue reading

Magical Mondays: Shadowshaper and Cultural Conflict

My to-read pile of YA gets higher and higher every day, but I recently realized I was a little annoyed with it: not because the books themselves are poorly written or uninteresting, but because (perhaps with the success of the Hunger Games and Twilight) they all seem to be about a strong-willed girl who gets into a love triangle (with two guys, of course) and somewhere along the way they save the world and there’s kissing. “Isn’t there anything else being published these days?” I complained to Saika.

“Have you tried Shadowshaper?” she said.

I had not.

I was missing out.

I was missing out.

To my very great joy, although Shadowshaper still had the saving the world and the kissing, there was no love triangle in sight. Instead, the multiracial cast of Shadowshaper has to deal with things like gentrification, racism, and appropriation on top of a really suspenseful mystery about whoever or whatever is behind the murders of several prominent members of their community.

Spoilers after the jump.

Continue reading

Magical Mondays: Sorcerer to the Crown and Magical Gatekeeping

The 2015 Hugo Awards were a huge mess. For those of you who weren’t following along, a group of disgruntled sci-fi authors decided that sci-fi and fantasy nowadays had way too many messages for their liking and were no longer “fun”. Disgusted by people they called “social justice warriors”, they set out to ensure that Hugo voting ballots were filled with stories written by people who were not women or people of color, and the ensuing chaos was widely reported by the media. Wired, in particular, has a great summary of all the events. As they say:

Like the sound of starship engines, the Hugos don’t exist in a vacuum. Consider: A woman named Adria Richards Twitter-shames two white dudes for cracking off-color jokes at PyCon, a tech developer conference (and then is fired and fields murder threats). GamerGate makes a political movement out of threatening with rape any woman who has the temerity to offer an opinion about a videogame. A certain strain of comic book fan goes apoplectic whenever Captain America gets replaced with a black man or Thor gets replaced with a woman. This is more than just hatred of change: When Thor once got replaced by a frog (yes, that really happened) no one uttered a peep (or a ribbit). The Culture Wars are raging at the highest levels (and all corners) of American society.

This conflict, this gatekeeping, is inescapable. And all of the Hugo hubbub makes for a spectacular segue into Zen Cho’s book, Sorcerer to the Crown, which will be eligible for the 2016 Hugo Awards. Though Cho, a Malaysian woman living in England, insists that she didn’t set out to write a message novel, the idea behind of her book cannot be clearer. Who acts as the gatekeepers to a canon, and who decides who gets to contribute to that canon? Sorcerer to the Crown asks us: who gets to contribute to Britain’s magical canon? In short, who can be considered a sorcerer, and who cannot?

hugo awardsMinor spoilers for the book to follow.

Continue reading

Dear Nerd Culture: My Blackness Isn’t a Joke

2015 so far has been an interesting year in nerdy media. We’ve had amazing entries that were expected such as Avengers 2 and Metal Gear Solid V, as well as surprises such as Splatoon and Mad Max: Fury Road. These second two proved that diversity can push a franchise. Inclusion and proper treatment of women and girls can really boost a work into the public eye and enrich its quality. Unfortunately, we’ve seen that nerd culture has a ways to go in terms of racial diversity. There have been controversies about the lack of color in Mad Max, Splatoon, and the Witcher 3, among other titles. Lack of inclusion, while getting better, is nothing new; it’s a relatively simple concept that needs to be fixed, but it isn’t the one I want to discuss today. No, I want to highlight a more nebulous problem. I want to discuss the cavalier treatment of Black identity and culture.

Deadpool_Bearskin Continue reading

Noodle’s Killjoys Season 1 Review: Bounty Hunters in Space!

killjoys-teamThese days I try to limit the number of shows I watch, but it’s summer, most of the shows I watch are on hiatus, and a friend was gushing over this new show about bounty hunters in space called Killjoys. So, I decided to give it a shot. The pilot got me hooked. The first season just concluded and it was a fun and feels-inducing romp, introducing characters with mysterious pasts and setting up conspiracies.

Spoilers for the first season of Killjoys below.

Continue reading

Cruelty and Class in Yu Yu Hakusho

Another trip back home, and another trip back to my old manga collection. When it comes to situations like this, I know I’ll get some analysis out of it, but I’m never quite sure what it will be. This time I was especially surprised, and I guess I can blame our very own Stinekey for that. A while ago, she wrote a very well thought out post on perceived poverty in geek media using Harry Potter as a jumping off point. The post has been in my head ever since, looming in the back of my mind as I go about my media consumption, but only now have I reached the point where I think I can bring up another point of discussion.

Sometimes life makes you pick a bad lot.

Sometimes life makes you pick a bad lot.

Poverty and lower socioeconomic situations in general just aren’t really portrayed in media unless it’s used as a prop—most commonly used in cop shows to show just how bad off someone was, or to show the struggle of one person while not at all going over the repercussions and struggles that they’ve faced (just that they’re less well-off than the other characters). Especially in terms of shonen manga, when your characters are going through the motions of gaining greater and greater amounts of power and, in some cases, doing thousands upon millions of dollars in property damage in efforts to save the Earth, bringing up the real-life repercussions of money can be a bit of an unwanted reality check. However, reading through the volumes of one of my all-time favorite series, Yu Yu Hakusho, I discovered that the series does a lot more to bring up the struggle of those in relative poverty than I would have expected it would have; though its approach is much more ‘in your face’ than Rowling’s was—which is refreshingly reflective of the series’s protagonist.

Continue reading

Perceptions of Poverty in Geek Culture: A Weasley Case Study

weasley family egyptPop culture has a weird relationship with poverty. You’d think that geek culture would be pretty good at portraying poverty; we’re seeing more and more strides towards inclusivity and greater representation of all people from all backgrounds. Yet socio-economic issues are heavily charged with politics, and our political beliefs shape the way we perceive reality. They shape the kinds of pop culture media we create, and as David Wong’s recent Cracked article explains, popular culture doesn’t seem to believe that actual, real-world poverty really exists, just a sort of nebulous feeling of being poor while occupying the middle class, and actual financial consequences of a character’s actions aren’t ever really addressed. Most of the time, shows don’t even acknowledge any of the consequences of property damage, let alone address the financial ones. We’re happy when the superhero defeats the monster, but who’s going to pick up the tab now that the city looks like it’s been bombed?

This real lack of proper representation of what it means to live in poverty in our media is at least partially responsible for many political biases against the poor, especially among young people. To put it generally, the influence of pop culture makes younger people more likely to embrace the idea that the poor just need to work harder in order to be not poor, because being not poor is the ultimate goal.

Now, there are a lot of tangled, complex issues when it comes to poverty and its portrayal in geek culture. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot recently, all because of a specific example I came across and previously wrote about. So to show you what I’m talking about, I’m going to show you how that example both supports and fights negative perceptions of poverty in geek culture. Who am I talking about? The Weasley family from the Harry Potter series.

Continue reading

Throwback Thursdays: Addams Family Values

Growing up, my favorite Thanksgiving movie was Addams Family Values, the 1993 sequel to the movie The Addams Family. You might think that’s because there are only a few Thanksgiving movies and the rare Thanksgiving episodes in various TV shows, but you would be wrong. Addams Family Values is my favorite Thanksgiving movie because the movie is very clear in its message that Thanksgiving is a bullshit imperialist holiday.

Wednesday Addams ThanksgivingNow, Addams Family Values is not strictly speaking a Thanksgiving movie, though it does incorporate and critique Thanksgiving more than any other holiday. Like the first Addams Family movie, the events of the movie take place over several months. I’m actually not even sure if the Thanksgiving play that is shown in the movie is performed on Thanksgiving—I’m pretty sure it’s not—but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk about the movie overall first.

Continue reading