Book reviewer, cat photographer, fanzine editor, map blogger, snake whisperer.

Month: July 2021

Rabbit Island

My third review for Strange Horizons, which looks at Elvira Navarro’s short story collection Rabbit Island (Two Lines Press, 2021) is now online. “In eleven relatively short stories—the book is only 164 pages long—Rabbit Island draws on the fantastic to offer a bleak look at contemporary Spain; its arrival in English translation comes at a point where it is unexpectedly pertinent.”

Amazon (Canada, UK) | Apple Books | Bookshop

‘Art as a Mirror, Never as a Doorway’

Lincoln Michel’s response to the Isabel Fall controversy (previously) has a sharp point about the tendency toward what he calls puritan readings of art. “Art needs criticism to thrive, and there is certainly plenty of hateful, racist, sexist, and otherwise bigoted (or just badly made) art out there quite deserving of our scorn. But there is a difference between criticism and harassment. There is a difference between attacking bigotry and in demanding that art be unambiguous is its moral messaging. There is a difference between art—beautiful, strange, complex, and messy art—and Goofus and Gallant comic strips.”

TimeMachineEditor

TimeMachineEditor is a small Mac app that enables you to schedule Time Machine backups at intervals of your choosing. This solves a very particular problem: your choices with Time Machine are hourly backups or initiating them manually, and hourly can be a problem when Time Machine backups take the better part of an hour to complete. Because of this I’ve been backing up at the end of each evening, which actually works well for me, but it’s good to know that an automated option still exists.

Cat Pictures Made Pleasing

Cat pictures may well be nigh-ubiquitous on these here interwebs (see also: my various photo feeds) but there’s an art to it, one that Serbian photographer Zoran Milutinovic has made his specialty. He shares some tips on effective cat photography in this blog post for 500px, most of which boil down to waiting for cats to do their cat things, and not trying to force or rush them. Which, well, yes.

The ‘Make-Believe Positivity’ of Self-Help Books

Ed Zitron calls the self-help book industry a “delusional scam”: “[T]hese books are written for and geared toward a very specific audience of privileged individuals who have their life decisions affirmed and their failures explained away. The specific assumption they make is that everybody comes from the same sort of background—that they communicate in the same way, that they grow up the same way, and that, much like the world of advice articles and hustle culture, your failure to succeed is only a result of you not working hard enough.”

Some Weekend Reading

The rekindling of Fireside magazine (Andrew Liptak, Transfer Orbit): “Now, Fireside is looking to right the ship. After the controversy broke, Brian White, the magazine’s original founder and former Editor-in-Chief, stepped in as the publication’s Interim Editorial Director to save the publication, and is now implementing some new changes to try and steer the magazine back to sustainability.”

Queer readings of The Lord of the Rings are not accidents (Molly Ostertag, Polygon): “Revisiting the book in the last year, as someone who has been out for many years and who is deeply engaged in making and consuming queer stories, I was amazed to find a same-sex love story at the heart of the narrative.” Frodo and Sam: obvious in hindsight—and, here’s the thing, it was not necessarily not deliberate on Tolkien’s part.

How Twitter can ruin a life (Emily VanDerWerff, Vox): “In January 2020, not long after her short story ‘I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter’ was published in the online science fiction magazine Clarkesworld, Fall asked her editor to take the story down, and then checked into a psychiatric ward for thoughts of self-harm and suicide.” I’m not sure Twitter is to blame here, rather than an online sf community that’s gotten comfortable with punching down for great justice. On the other hand:

Did Twitter break YA? (Nicole Brinkley, Misshelved): Young-adult writers have turned to Twitter to connect with their audience; this has not turned out well. “Relying on Twitter to shape a culture like YA publishing inevitably leads to a moment where the most vulnerable participants in that industry will break. Either they become part of the rage machine, or the rage machine turns on them.”

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