Category Archives: Worlds Beyond

Comics, books, games, conventions and more!

SFF and Diversity

This post is brought to you after I read this on facebook https://www.facebook.com/joch.mcarthur/posts/10103074134267273

The diversity in SFF (Science Fiction & Fantasy), what ever the medium comics, film, Tv, books and video games is why I am a fan. I have had people wonder how my feminism, parses with my interest in SSF, what I have read, watched, played and loved as frankly fed my feminism.

Helped me dream of the world being a better place and of people dealing with each other with compassion. Helped me figure out what I would do in horrid situations, let me explore possibilities.

SFF has never been prefect, it won’t ever be, it is created by flawed humans, but it has never been the preserve of cis white hetro men not from the very beginning.

Yes as it has become mainstream and those looking to target the biggest section of the market for profit have started to present it as being of and for cis white hetro men, but that is spin.

SSF has always been diverse, women and girls have always created, organised, wrote, drawn, been the back bone of fandoms.
Yes Fandom and conventions are not perfect either, but they are a hell of a lot better then they were 20 years ago in my experience.

Which is why I am proud of the conventions I have been involved with, Shamrokon and Octocon and the work done to try and reflect that diversity and the joy SSF brings.

Hope to see many of you this weekend in the Camden Court Hotel for Octocon.

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Octocon2015

I will be in the wonderful geeky bubble which is www.octocon.com all weekend.
Mind yourselves while I am off event running and getting to be on so many panels which are so inter sectional it has made me squee.

Panels on bodily autonomy in young adult fiction, on bisexual representation in fiction, on sex workers in fiction, on genderqueerness in fiction, on mental health & neuro diversity in fiction and fandom community and magic & pagan ism in fiction.

This is my schedule for the weekend, you can have a look at the rest of line up here

http://app.octocon.com/#

 

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Scifi/fantasy fandom has this rep of being all older cis white hetro men. It’s not. Both guests of honor this weekend are amazing and also women. Many of out guest authors joining us are women I admire, and I know I will also be surrounded by lovely feminist men.

I will be tweeting from @Octocon over the weekend if you want to see what I am up to.

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Worlds Beyond Podcast Ep 01 interview with Paul Anthony Shortt

Yes once again I am bitten by the podcasting bug. Worlds Beyond will be an irish podcast about all things Geek, Gamer and Genre Fiction related.

 

The 1st episode is with Paul Anthony Shortt who’s book Red Skies the second in the Lady Raven series was published this week. His is an Author, Gamer, Father and self confessed feminist. We talked about his books, ghost busters, why stories matter and how he will be at Octocon 2015.

 

redskies

Red Skies is available to down load now from amazon as a kindle release.

You can find Paul Anthony Shortt online in the following places

Website: http://paulanthonyshortt.blogspot.ie/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PAShortt

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6476977.Paul_Anthony_Shortt

 

 

 

 

 

Arcadecon 2015

Arcadecon is on this weekend 3rd to the 5th of August in the Crown Plaza Hotel, beside the Blanchardstown shopping center.

 

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It’s one of the few conventions I’ve not yet attended and I am looking forward it for a range of reasons. Most conventions I attend are usually focused on one aspect of fandom or geek pursuits, but this looks like a real all rounder.  I am looking forward to hearing Paul Bolger talk about , hopefully meeting Professor Elemental, attending the Kapow Burlesque, meeting members of the USS Cuchulain.

So much to see and do, I have images of the current time table below so people can have a look at what to expect over the weekend. As ever a time table is only every finalised after an event has finished.

Friday

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Saturday

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Sunday

 

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If anyone wants to talk to me about Octocon please do come find me, I may also have some Dublin2019 flyers with me.

Writers are my rock stars (Neil Gaiman is coming to Dublin)

I have written before bout how Writers are my rock stars (also known as go go plan crazy, travelling to Galway to hear Warren Eills speak)  and how they open worlds to me, their words delighting, haunting and staying with me.

There are a few who’s craft is so beguiling I will try and make the effort to see them talk in person. So far I have been lucky that many of them come here to Ireland.

I don’t go crazy for autographs or photos with, but just like to listen to them talk about their work. I have found they are usually inspiring people.

Last summer due to my involvement with Shamrokon I got to meet Carrie Vaugh, Charles Stross, Ruth Long Michael Carroll and do the Guest of Honour interview with Seanan McGuire.

So I was delighted when I saw this

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(photo by @ClaireNolan)

So I will be out in UCD next Wednesday as Neil Gaiman will be receiving the James Joyce Award. I did come to his writing via Good Omens and then Sandman, and have read just about everything else he’s written over the last 25 years. I got so see Terry Pratchett a few years back when he attended the Unseen University Challenge in TCD and it will be nice to finally have seen them both in person.

 

Purple Monkey Dishwasher

Ever play Chinese whispers? That game when you get a group of people and a sentence gets whispered from one person to another. This of course distorts the message, some times it is completely different, other times parts remains or it’s important context is lost.

Sometimes the internet is like the most complex game of Chinese whispers. Often primary sources can’t be found, esp in the fast moving world of internet blogs, forums and of course twitter.

The sheer amount of stuff which can get written by thousands of people on various platforms around the globe in one 24 hour period can be staggering. So it’s not surprising that it can be at times impossible to get a grasp on certain topics like Gamer Gate.

What I have found startling is that the same arguments which get put to me about why I should not say I am a feminist are being used to tell people why should not say they are supporters of gamergate. Should radical or extremist elements be let take over an idea or a movement?

I can understand why the reasonable and moderate people who id themselves as part of not wanting games to be censored and who think that there needs to be better ethics & standards in game reviews and games journalism won’t walk away from gamergate. There are actual issues which do need to be talked about.

Where ever a person stands on how they think the games industry & culture needs to evolve, the abuse and threats to people need to stop. I would dearly like to see those who have made such threats feel the full force of the law, but that mean justice depts have to start taking online abuse seriously.

Yep Z.Q. is being punished for being an outspoken woman, I know what is like, thankfully never as extreme as what she has had to endure. There were those who were out to get her before her ex trashed her in that blog and it was the excuse they felt they were waiting for, all of which is unacceptable. Funny the journalist whom she has been accused of trying to bribe isn’t being hounded, a reporter who let themselves be compromised would be the person I would be pissed off with.

How ever I do know there are some who won’t want games to be sanitised and I get that and know people have not acted in a reprehensible manner. I really worry that those who have behaved as vile scum will tarnish the term gamer for ever and cause a regression in how people think of games. It feeds in to the whole manchild myth about games and gamers, how it is to be ever taken seriously as an art form with this crap happening around it.

I honestly think it is the generation who grew up playing Halo on consoles who created a community out of foul mouth teens who have dominated gaming culture to a point. There were awesome online gaming communities before them but that for me was the tipping point of one which grew up with out much adult interaction and it’s spread across online gaming, unfortunately.

I don’t agree with at least 40% of the critique in FemFeq, esp as there seems to be an element of eroticphobia to A.S. feminism. I think that the series of videos should have been the kicking off point for a heap of much needed discussion about games as an art form and how they can reflect society and culture. Don’t agree with what someone says and their conclusions, then refute them, tear down the position and the argument.

If you can’t do that and your only recourse is to attack the person rather then the position or the argument, then you’ve lost, you are not going to be taken seriously or have any credibility. All that has been done by those going to extremes to shut up women like Z.Q. A.S. and D.W. is to poison the well and make Jack Thompson seem right to people who don’t game and don’t know the joy it brings.

Seriously my kids who have been brought up as gamers would rather people they are ‘filthy casuals’ then have their peers link them to the hatred and misogyny gamer gate has become associated with. They both have had run in with asshats online, they both try and model good gaming manners, not quiet to Starcraft levels but still the last few weeks has had them distancing themselves, which I understand, but it still saddens me.

I have tried to keep up with what has been going on but until no I have not written about it, I have instead when ever I felt the urge to get into discussions, I’ve gone and played games instead. Mostly Assassins Creed Liberation, which has a protagonist who is a woman a person of colour and  the game is nuanced, smart, full of tangential learning about class, gender and the world as it was in the time period of the game. And I get to kill people, what more could I want in my games.

Well bar some day Steam allowing games like Leisure Suit Larry and Lula The Sexy Empire on the Market place. Why is it I can kill people in so many ways, but not get people off in games? But that is a topic for another blog post.

 

 

Shamrokon: what I did last weekend….

I had been feeling the guilts that I was not at the marches on Saturday http://www.abortionrightscampaign.ie/  or Sunday, http://www.marriagequality.ie/ as I was involved with running a large scifi convention.
But as problematic as Scifi/fantasy fandom can be, nothing at the convention needed smashing, which given that it was the european scifi convention it had 1,300 people from 33 countries and we had 130 program items and 113 participants, is mind boggling.

Often at these events cis white men can dominate the panels, that wasn’t the case, in fact we did have a gender disparity as we had too many women on panels. Also we had more women moderating then men, I was delighted that Cheryl Morgan who is a trans right activist as well as  is an Hugo award-winning British science fiction critic and publisher. took part on panels over the weekend and as I was moderating the Boycott panel and we talked about TERFS.

We had equal numbers of men and women displaying in the Art Show , non of the cos players were harassed, we had panels on women in 2000AD, women writers, Gender boxes in Game of thrones and real life, why women have had to use pseudonym to get published, the Hawkeye initiative, Missing Medieval Women, discussions on why fiction women write had been seen as lesser.

I let it be known that I was queer and a feminist and made sure our code of conduct included making the convention a respectful place including respecting pro nouns and the photograph policy. I had people tell me they felt safe. Our youngest and oldest panel participants were women and the youngest at 14 is the youngest ever for a Eurocon. We had 4 workshops and all of them were run by women. including Lora O’Brien. It was refreshing and awesome and all off the convention was accessible.

There were even scholar ship tickets for fans of colour and those who may not be in the financial position to afford to go http://con-or-bust.livejournal.com/. 2/5 of the guests of honor were women, Seanan McGuire andYlva Spångberg.  Seanan McGuire was wonderful to interview and referenced the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and was able to cite figures from the studies, and one of the others was Jim Fitzpatrick who  was one of the public signatories on the Anti Amendment statement opposing the pro life amendment in 1983, he is also a human rights activist.

 Shamrokon got it as right as a scifi convention can be and I am proud of what we accomplished and the people on the committee and the staff who all had social justice awareness before we started.

Extra Credits parts company with The Escapist.

Breaking news is happening more and more often on socail media as people, groups and collectives choose to speak first to the people who are their fans and have connected with them. This is what happened this evening as the ExtraCreditTeam used Facebook and Twitter to announce they have parted company with The Escapist.

Statement taken from the Facebook status page:

http://www.facebook.com/ExtraCredits?sk=wall&filter=2

Hi Guys
I’m sorry about a lot of things over the last month. I’m sorry that I’ve been incommunicative. I’m sorry that I’ve been snappish. I’m sorry that I haven’t talked to you about what’s been going on. It’s been a rough few weeks, but I can finally talk about it, so here’s what’s been happening with us…
(this may take a bit, I’m sorry for spamming you too…)
When Allison hurt her arm all I wanted was to help her. I believe that a person has a responsibility to those near them and you should feel shame when you can’t live up to that responsibility…but I couldn’t. I was near destitute. I had spent all my money on the show.
Dan and I work on it for free and I pay Allison’s salary out of pocket each month, then, in turn, The Escapist was supposed to pay us for our work – not much, but enough to cover Allison’s wages – unfortunately they were never able to.
When Allison hurt her arm, The Escapist had only paid us for four episodes over the course of a year. That meant I was down $20,000. That was the $20,000 I could have put in to help Allison. That was the $20,000 I would have used to get her surgery while figuring out how I could earn more money. It hurt that I couldn’t tell you that then but I was asked not to.
I felt so bad asking without being able to do more than sell a computer and call in old debts…but you taught me a lesson in humanity and the goodness of people. I had never lost my faith in mankind, but that first Rockethub week you redoubled it.

And that was truly one of the greatest weeks of my life. Better than releasing games, better than lecturing in the halls of GDC. I really can never say thank you enough.
But since then things have not gone so well. We joined The Escapist because we believed in what was going on there. We believed in the idea of examining games more thoroughly, whether it was Yahtzee’s blunt honesty or ENN delivering game news, we liked the idea that it was a place where consumers and developers could have a real conversation about games. We believed we were all in this together, fighting for the same ideals and goals.
We asked the guys at The Escapist if we could trade some of the debt they owed us for the rights to our intellectual property back if they weren’t going to be able to pay us so we could do things like sell t-shirts or write a book. We thought this was going to be an easy discussion. Instead they responded by telling us that they felt that they were entitled to 75% of the Rockethub money, thus their debt was covered and, despite not paying us for nearly a year, we owed them $9500 dollars
What followed was weeks of legal wrangling, lies and muck. Unless you guys really care about the details I won’t go over them here. I do think The Escapist does some good, and I wouldn’t want to destroy what good it does with how they operate their business. I’m going to work under the idea that our situation was unique and that their other content creators are paid regularly and don’t have a contract that was as onerous as ours.
Again: we don’t want to add to the damage done. I’m already kind of heartbroken that things turned out this way. I had faith in what The Escapist stood for. That faith is in tatters, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t good people doing good things for The Escapist.
What matters is that the show won’t stop. We’ll be releasing it on YouTube every Thursday until we find another site to pick it up. We’ll be posting links to here and on our twitter feed whenever a new episode goes up…but we’ll be counting on you guys to help let people know.

More of the issue esp around money outstanding and the nature of the contracts signed was posted about on twitter. That The Escapist held the rights to all the Intellectual Property rights associated with the Extra Credits show.

http://twitter.com/#!/ExtraCreditz

@ExtraCreditz ExtraCreditTeam
(I’ve now spent more on lawyers than we were ever paid for the show…this isn’t what I wanted at all)

@ExtraCreditz ExtraCreditTeam
The Escapist is still claiming our IP and our back catalog of episodes as “work for hire” though we weren’t paid ;_(

Extra Credits is a show which I have always watched, the content being some of the best which I have see discussing female gamers, gender in games, how achievements play a part in the gaming experience, the socail impacts of games as we learn about the psychology of gaming and how it can be used in other areas of life.

When 1 part of that team needed surgery the many fans of the show who want to see the show go one, chipped in to make it happen and frankly it is galling to read that the powers at be at The escapist tried to say they had a right to that money, esp when they had not been for filling their end of the contract which was in place.

I wish the Extra Credits Team the very best and hope that they will continue their good work else were.

Go go plan crazy!

Ok very shortly I will be leaving the house to get the bus to Galway and then will be getting the mid night bus back from Galway, and well such a caper isn’t that unusual for me, I’ve done it before, popped over to The Salt house for a friends birthday. The bus back from Galway will have me getting home 3am and then tomorrow I will be going back to Galway for Itzacon. A 3 night stay isn’t possible due to parental obligations, need to be here to get the kids to school Friday morning.

But I have to be in Galway tonight, Warren Ellis is getting an aware and doing an audience with. I will save my fangilr squeeing for later, but writers are my rock stars, they open worlds to me, their words delight and haunt me and stay with me, and a round trip to Glaway isn’t that much of an ask to go to a 3 hour gig.

This is part of me making things happen for me, part of being constructively selfish and just doing it and as I contemplate my to do list for ‘go go plan crazy’ which includes packing for my kids to stay in my parents over the weekend and all that entails, and leaving the house in smart conditions as I now my Mother will find some reason to pop in even if it’s just to check on the house, it’s stressful but I am worth it.

The universe I think agrees with me, and in my rss feeds today I was gifted with a new Amanda Plamer song and words on her blog about making things happen.

blog.amandapalmer.net/post/3631846280/new-video-for-in-my-mind-shot-ninja-style-by-jim

They are by Jim Batt who shot the video

On the train home after the shoot, I found myself thinking about what it takes to to make things happen. That it’s not enough to just know what you want. You have put yourself in the path of opportunity, to be bold and quick enough to seize the moment when it happens, but most of all you have to be prepared, so when it does happen you’re ready to go. No excuses.

The world is full of people talking about what they’d like to do ‘if’ or ‘when’. Pick up your tools and make something with what you have. It may not be the best thing you ever create, but it will make you feel good. And it will make the next thing you do better. So do it. Go make things.”