Just a heads up, I talk about some darker stuff than usual in this review, including incarceration/institutionalization, trafficking and homelessness, all with regards to queer and trans youth.
Last week Almost a damn month ago I talked about “fantasy soup”, a grab-bag of a genre that combines various genre tropes and wild imagination to create something truly weird. I also talked about how that genre as we knew it in the Webcomic Wild West of 1999-2005 has all but died out, a product of an environment, ideally suited to it, that has simply ceased to be.
I have a confession: I haven’t actually read a lot of classic science fiction, and most of what I have read, I hated. Clarke’s too horny, Bradbury’s too racist, Dick’s too pessimistic, Orwell’s too reactionary. But one book in the “canon” actually stuck with me to this day because of its exploration of non-human intelligence: Asimov’s I, Robot.
In the last site news, I talked about how simply including people of various identities in your work isn’t enough. Creators have an increasing awareness that representation of marginalized identities in fiction is important, but lacking good examples, many don’t know what good representation actually looks like. This leads to an effect where creators fill their work with as many different identities as possible without giving those experiences the depth of treatment or culturally competent touch they deserve. Such works can feel like they were cast by checklist: “Okay, we’ve got a lesbian character, a trans woman, and a trans man, we just need a gay guy and a bisexual. Flip a coin for the bisexual’s gender.”
Nerds are frequently bad at naming things. Most of you probably know what “jumping the shark” means – the point at which an ongoing story starts to go downhill. If you haven’t heard of its counterpart “growing the beard” you’d be forgiven, because it’s honestly kind of a terrible name. Like so many fandom terms, it’s a reference to Star Trek; fans of TNG noticed an upturn in the quality of episodes around the time that Riker grew a beard in the second season. In addition to “growing the beard” bringing to mind a bizarre visual out of context, the beard in question isn’t even what caused the show to get better, making the entire thing kind of inexplicable (cue hatemail from beard enthusiasts). Maybe there are better options for how to refer to this phenomenon.