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Posts Tagged ‘linkage’

links for the fighty types

These have been piling up for a while, so I might as well put them all in one post:

Join them, or step away

I’ve been feeling for a while now that I ought to post something about GamerGate, but I really didn’t know where to start. I’ve seen all these posts referencing it, but none of them went back and gave me the whole story in a way I could understand. Okay, so it’s something about ethics in game journalism? Except it’s mostly turned into terrifying levels of harassment against women? What’s it actually supposed to be about, though? When we say “ethics in game journalism,” what is that supposed to mean? Why is this such a huge deal? (Sounded like a tempest in a teacup to me.) What’s the signal that got lost beneath the noise? But every time I tried to look it up, all I found was more crap about doxxing and sending death threats and a festering pit of toxic 4chan evil.

Thank you, Jim Hines.

That’s the post I was looking for — and yet not. The post I was looking for because it gives me the whole story in a comprehensible manner, with links; and yet not, because it turns out that foundation I was digging for just. isn’t. there. From the start, it was a harassment campaign against Zoe Quinn (which has snowballed to include a lot of other women), and everything else was a veneer deliberately crafted to recruit unwitting supporters and give the whole thing an aura of legitimacy. I assumed it was an actual thing that went off the rails, as internet stuff so often does. But no: this was always its nature. It was always a vicious, misogynist campaign designed to punish women for having opinions.

It doesn’t matter whether you actually care about ethics in game journalism. Or anywhere else in the game industry. If you want to talk about that, you have to ditch this name, ditch this entire moment, and start over fresh. Because right now? Any attempt to discuss this under the aegis of GamerGate means standing up to be a human shield for the assholes. It means letting them use you. It means giving your support to the actual movement — not the ethical thing, but the misogynist one. And if you do that, you have essentially announced that you don’t give a flying rat fuck about ethics, whereupon there is no reason that anybody other than fellow sewer-dwellers ought to listen to you.

It doesn’t matter what your intentions are. There is no redeeming GamerGate. You join them, or you step away: those are your two options.

That’s the actual story.

Assorted book-type-news-things

In the order that they occur to me:

1) Michael R. Underwood’s The Younger Gods is out! Main character is a runaway from a family of evil cultists, has to try to stop them from kicking off the apocalypse. Mike is a friend, of course, but this one would sound good to me even if I weren’t biased. 🙂

2) I’m starting to rack up some foreign sales for the Memoirs. So far it looks like you’ll be getting at least the first book in Thai, French, and Polish. I’m on the verge of completely outgrowing my brag shelf, where I keep one copy of every edition of my books: there are worse problems to have.

3) Speaking of my brag shelf, the Mythic Delirium anthology is also out! This has “The Wives of Paris” in it, among other things. You may recall this anthology as the one that got the excellent starred review from Publishers Weekly; well, now you can own your very own copy. 🙂

4) Strange Horizons is currently holding its annual fund drive. There are prizes listed here, but it isn’t the full list yet; they’re adding stuff as the drive goes on. Two of the additions will be a signed pair of the UK trade paperbacks of A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, and a signed ARC of the third book in the Memoirs of Lady Trent, Voyage of the Basilisk. If you want a crack at those, head on over and pledge some money!

5) I’ve got another ebook coming out next week, this one a collection of my dark fairy-tale retellings called Monstrous Beauty. You can pre-order it right now from Amazon or Kobo, or wait until next week and get it from Book View Cafe, Barnes and Noble, or iTunes. Just in time for Halloween!

Kick their Starters (or Indie their GoGos)

<looks at subject line> Apparently I’m in a weird mood today. 😛

Found out recently that a friend of mine is running an IndieGoGo campaign to fund the post-production for a documentary on the Rocky Horror Picture Show phenomenon. Why the post-production only? Because they ran a Kickstarter to raise the money for the whole project, but so many of their pledges defaulted that although they officially made their goal and then some, they didn’t actually collect all the money they needed to finish the task. They’ve been traveling the country to film and interview the various casts, and the result is likely to be awesome . . . but they do need the rest of their funding. Since it’s an IndieGoGo flexible funding campaign, every bit of money you pledge will help — it isn’t an all-or-nothing deal.

And while I’m at it, I should mention that both the Not Our Kind and Daughters of Mercury campaigns are still running, if you haven’t checked them out already.

Posner on Voter Fraud

I haven’t yet read the entirety of this dissent by Judge Richard Posner on the topic of voter ID laws in Wisconsin, but the words to describe the bits I have read are things like “searing” and “scathing.” This is a conservative judge who formerly supported laws requiring photo ID in order to vote, but his dissent is a 180% about-face that comprehensively calls out exactly what is wrong with such laws — ranging from the fact that they’re trying to solve a problem that basically doesn’t exist, to the fact that they don’t solve the problems that do exist, to the way they disenfranchise the “wrong kind” of voter.

Nor does he neglect the partisan component here: his dissent points out that all the states with strict photo ID laws and most of those with non-strict laws are politically conservative at the state level, while those which require no ID at all skew liberal. And the kinds of people who are disenfranchised by voting obstacles are also more likely to vote liberal. This is not a “both sides do it” kind of problem, where we can waggle our fingers and move on. Whether or not you agree that it is a concerted effort with the goal of stopping “those people” from voting Democratic, it is a concerted effort with that result.

Here’s a tidbit for you: the poll tax that was outlawed in 1964, adjusted for inflation, is substantially cheaper than the average cost for a low-income voter in satisfying a photo ID requirement. You may not be forking over the cash directly for the right to vote, but when you figure in documentation, travel, and time spent away from work jumping through the bureaucratic hoops, it ends up costing in the range of $75-$175. For people who are having trouble feeding their children, this is an inexcusable price.

I haven’t been following the judicial situation well enough to know what effect, if any, Posner’s dissent might have. The fact that it’s a dissent, i.e. a statement disagreeing with the ruling, suggests that it won’t be much. But I have some hope that seeing a conservative judge come out swinging on this topic might shift the winds a little. There are a number of really scummy things going on in American politics these days, but this is one of the worst: it strikes at the very heart of our ability to make things better.

two Kickstarters

These both came to my attention recently, and deserve a signal boost:

Daughters of Mercury — this is an art project, creating portraits of trans women “how they want to be represented, either complicating the conventional portraitist’s art of flattery with the dynamics of gender dysphoria, or celebrating features stigmatized as masculine as a woman’s features.” I know the woman behind the project, and I also know an increasing number of trans women (one of whom brought the campaign to my attention), so there’s a personal weight to this one: I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gender identity, passing or choosing not to pass, etc, and there aren’t any simple answers. But we can accept trans women for who and what they are, and I think projects like this one are part of how we can do that.

Not Our Kind — this is an anthology built around the theme of “outsiders.” Not only does a friend of mine (Marissa Lingen) have a story in it, along with several acquaintances of mine, but the topic sounds pretty dang appealing. I’m pretty sure I’m going to love the heck out of it . . . but first it needs to be funded, so.

Go forth! Support!

Stories, stories, everywhere

A number of these things have been piling up:

  • “Daughter of Necessity” is live at Tor.com today! Some of you heard me read this at FOGcon this past spring; well, now it’s out in the world. With fabulous art by Ashley MacKenzie — seriously, it is gorgeous and amazingly appropriate to the story and not a spoiler. Which is a remarkable balance to strike.
  • I just got my contributor copies for Zombies: More Recent Dead, which includes a reprint of “What Still Abides.” (Shhhh, don’t tell Paula Guran that I used to refer to that as my Anglo-Saxon vampire story. It’s as much a zombie story as it is a vampire story, which is to say it isn’t really either, but you can read it both ways depending on the angle you tilt your head at.)
  • The anthology made from the first four issues of Mythic Delirium‘s online reboot won’t be out until November, but it’s gotten a starred review from Publishers Weekly, with a specific shout-out to my story “The Wives of Paris.”

(Now I feel like there ought to be five things. But at the rate I do (or don’t do) short fiction-related stuff these days, that would mean delaying even longer, which is silly.)

HabitRPG: gamification works, yo

“Gamification” is a bit of a buzz-word these days: the idea that, hey, games are a really great psychological tool (challenge, risk, reward), so what if we harnessed their behavioral-modification powers for good?

HabitRPG is built around precisely that idea. And I’ll tell you up front: the rest of this post is me raving about how useful it’s been for me, so if you don’t want to read something that sounds like an enthusiastic infomercial, you can just skip this post. 🙂

The basic notion is that you can earn gold and XP and treasure by doing stuff in your daily life. The game divides these into habits (either positive or negative, i.e. things you want to encourage or discourage yourself from doing regularly), dailies (things you intend to do on a set schedule, either every day or on certain days of the week), and to-dos (one-off items). If you indulge in a bad habit or fail to complete a daily, you take damage to your Hit Points, but completing things lets you level up, which improves your stats, as does the gear you buy. It also gives you a chance to find eggs, hatching potions, or food; these are used to hatch pets, and feeding a pet can turn it into a mount for you to ride.

Your stats matter because you can form parties with other people on HabitRPG and go on quests; these take the form either of collection quests, where you have a chance of finding a specific object every time you complete a task, or boss fights, where you inflict damage by completing dailies and to-dos. The latter gives you more incentive to finish your tasks, because if you miss a daily, not only do you get hurt, but the rest of your party also takes damage from the boss. Add in a small chat-room function, and you’ve got the basics of social networking to help keep you engaged and playing.

I will not pretend this works for everybody. But for me? HECK YES. Oh my god. Early on, I would find myself doing things like taking out the recycling before the bag was overflowing, because if I was very productive today I might be able to buy an upgrade to my gear! These days I’ve bought all the gear for my character class (at higher levels you get to pick a class and obtain skills that can help you or your party), but I still motivate myself to complete all my dailies by remembering that if I miss one, I lose the buff to my stats that comes from getting everything done. I’ve made attempts in the past to keep a to-do list, but never managed it for longer than a short period of time; having it online (there’s a mobile app as well as the web interface) helps, but linking it to rewards helps even more. Recently I’ve found myself hunting for things I can easily complete because dang it, I am so close to getting the Beastmaster achievement (hatching all the basic pets), but I haven’t been getting enough zombie hatching potion drops.

Press bar, get pellet! Dance, little lab rat, dance!

The major flaw in it so far — apart from the mobile app, which is only slowly acquiring full functionality — is that once you’re a certain distance in, some of the motivating aspects lose force. I worked hard to earn enough gold for all my gear, but once I had that, gold became pretty useless. There’s a solution to that, which is that you can design your own custom rewards and set a price on them; the difficult part is figuring out what rewards will be effective for you. I don’t, for example, want to make “read for an hour” a reward, because it would be detrimental to my life and career if I positioned that as a special treat I have to earn, rather than a routine part of my existence. My best idea so far is actually “flake out”: I can, for fifty gold, buy the right to skip a daily without taking damage for having done so. Because sometimes you need a break, and this is one I earn by not skipping things all the time.

HabitRPG includes a subscriber option, where you can toss five bucks their way each month to help support the service. This gives you the ability to buy gems with your gold (though there’s a monthly cap on that), and the gems can purchase other things, like treasure or character customization. I think I’d been playing for less than a month when I subscribed. Am I getting five dollars a month’s worth of benefit from this?

Heck yes.

Modern Confederacy

Sometimes you read something that spins your understanding of a topic around like a whirligig and when it stops, you see things in an entirely new light.

Here’s what my teachers’ should have told me: “Reconstruction was the second phase of the Civil War. It lasted until 1877, when the Confederates won.”

Which is really just the lead-in for the part that has very direct relevance for today:

The Confederate sees a divinely ordained way things are supposed to be, and defends it at all costs. No process, no matter how orderly or democratic, can justify fundamental change.

When in the majority, Confederates protect the established order through democracy. If they are not in the majority, but have power, they protect it through the authority of law. If the law is against them, but they have social standing, they create shams of law, which are kept in place through the power of social disapproval. If disapproval is not enough, they keep the wrong people from claiming their legal rights by the threat of ostracism and economic retribution. If that is not intimidating enough, there are physical threats, then beatings and fires, and, if that fails, murder.

(See also “The New Racism: This Is How the Civil Rights Movement Ends.”)

The Cluster&#$@ of Xanth

Had you asked me a month ago, I would have described the Xanth series as somewhat puerile humorous fantasy that got kind of creepy about sexuality later on.

Now? I would describe it as somewhat puerile humorous fantasy that has had really awful attitudes about sexuality and gender baked into it from the start.

The change started with this post. If that isn’t enough, you can follow up with this tag, because she’s continued on into the later books (she’s partway through Castle Roogna now), giving me more than enough evidence to say this isn’t a fleeting problem. It’s pervasive. Xanth is horrible. In addition to the constant male gaze evaluating every female character (including human-animal hybrids) for their hotness or lack thereof, you have pretty women being stupid, ugly women being totally not worth anybody’s time, and the very few women who are both pretty and smart being untrustworthy schemers. You have women, countless women, who only exist to be used for men’s gratification. You have women’s protests against mistreatment being explicitly described as an act women practice to make themselves more attractive to men. You have marriage and raising a family being dreadful fates men are expected to run away from. You have men pretty much wanting to rape every woman they see, and being held up as wonderful paragons of morality when they refrain. You have a farce of a rape trial that is I guess supposed to be funny . . . somehow.

And that’s just Xanth. That isn’t even getting into his horror novel Firefly, which goes so far with the pedophilia that merely reading descriptions of the content (and the author’s justifications for same) has guaranteed I will never read anything written by Anthony ever again.

Sorry to rain on the parades of the people who remember the early Xanth books as being Not That Bad. They are. They really, really are. I mean, the original edition of A Spell for Chameleon contained the following passage (taken from that oh-so-funny mockery of a rape trial):

Bink felt sorry for his opposite. How could she avoid being seductive? She was a creature constructed for no other visible purpose than ra—than love.

Case closed.