Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel / California by Edan Lepucki

I’m beginning to think – actually, I’ve been thinking this for a while – that the dystopian genre has written itself out. Stories keep coming out and even when they introduce new thematic points, they still kind of feel like a rehashing of things go bad blah blah blah. This is going to be a dual review. I’ve read two books recently that I feel like I should have liked but wasn’t completely sold on – Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and California by Edan Lepucki. To talk about what bothered me, I have to talk about the content – spoilers.

I had heard really great things about Station Eleven, so I was very much looking forward to reading it. And, to be totally honest, I actually enjoyed it. It was a pretty good story. I’ve recommended it, because it’s entertaining. It was just missing something. I’m not sure what exactly, but something. It brought something new to the table that should have made it a real stand out. It reminded us that the mere act of survival is not enough to make a life. Through references back to old world sci-fi, specifically Star Trek (thanks for choosing Voyager, Mandel), the characters remind us that as people, we need more than to just be alive. We need culture. Continue reading

Call for Submissions: Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture

I am reposting this call because these are important stories. Write something and submit it. If you’re not a writer, watch for the publication date. I have no association with the editors or the collection. I’m just spreading the word.

Victims and survivors of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse have been taught by this culture that whatever horror they have endured could have been worse. At least you weren’t touched. At least you weren’t raped. At least you weren’t killed. This world effectively silences those who have been violated by demanding their first reaction be gratitude for what did not happen.

Not That Bad is an opportunity for those whose voices were stolen from them, to reclaim and tell their stories. This anthology will explore what it is like to navigate rape culture as shaped by the identities we inhabit.

Contributing to this anthology is a chance to own your own narrative with all of the complexity of reality without shame or condescension. Because too many of us have lived this truth, there is no one way to tell this story.

We warmly encourage submissions from people from all walks of life and across the gender spectrum.

If you would like your essay to be considered for this publication please submit via Submittable at notthatbad.submittable.com. We are accepting essays, 2,500 – 7,500 words in length. We are not accepting queries. Please submit your work as a Microsoft Word file. Please submit your best work. We will be accepting approximately twenty essays so please be patient with us as we take the time to consider your work.

Submissions will be open until December 15, 2015. We hope to respond to all submissions by March 15, 2016. All accepted contributions will be paid.

Not That Bad will be co-edited Roxane Gay and Ashley C. Ford and will be published by Harper Perennial.

SUBMIT HERE

Potential Topics (a brief list, not a prescription)

  • Testimonies of what “not that bad” looks like
  • Critical examinations of rape culture
  • What it’s like to negotiate rape culture as a man
  • How women diminish the sexual violence and aggression they experience and the effects of doing so
  • What “not that bad” looks like in popular culture—film, television, and music
  • Resisting rape culture
  • Combating sexual harassment, street harassment and cat-calling
  • How sexual harassment and violence erode women’s privacy

Unfortunately, this is a topic that pretty much every woman, and many men, have experienced in some way. Fixing rape culture starts long before the act of rape. Find your voice. Submit it!

Top Ten Tuesday – Disney Villains

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Halloween is here again! I adore this time of year. Not all the pumpkin stuff – gross – but the decorations and the general spirit. A few weeks every year where people get to test out a new identity, or to be their real self without question. You can embrace your inner mermaid or roller girl or Doctor Who or whatever you want. As long as it’s genuine, it’s awesome.

This year, I’m going to focus on some of my favourite villains. I like villains all year. I revel in them. Their stories are typically more interesting than the nicey nice good guys. But sometimes, they’re just plain being mean and that’s delightful on its own. I’ve always had a thing for Disney villains. The way they’re drawn. They’re motivations. They’re the best part of any Disney movie.

These are, in no particular order – except for the first, my ten favourite Disney villains.

Maleficent – Sleeping Beauty

Lady has a right to be pissed. At the time, for a person of her status to not be invited to the christening when the other fairies were… basically a slap in the face. An act of disrespect. (There’s an interesting article about this one tumblr, but I can’t seem to find it right now). Also, she can turn into a fucking dragon. And her spirit animal is a raven. We’re essentially the same person.

Maleficent_from_Sleeping_Beauty

Look at how much fun she’s having. Try not to love her. Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday – Reviewless

October is full of Top Ten Tuesday topics I’m not really interested in. It’s not that I don’t want to put in the time to come up with answer. I’m just really, really not attracted to any of these book concepts. This week’s topic is dream author duos. I don’t lean towards reading these books, so… Instead, I get to spend a month making up a whole bunch of my own topics. It’s slightly exciting.

If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been doing a lot of reviewing lately. It’s not that I haven’t been reading, just not reviewing. I seem to have hit several books this year that I’m not interested in reviewing. I was talking about it with a friend recently, and that got me thinking. Why do some books compel me to write reviews and others are a struggle or I know long before I’m finished that I’m not going to review them? So, this week I’m going to talk about some of these books and touch on why I chose not to write a full length review for them.

None of these books were truly bad. Some were actually quite fun. But none of them spurred deeper thought or longer consideration.

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Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford

Had potential to open up depression from a teen male protagonist but was mostly predictable.

Fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up on New Year’s Day to find himself in the hospital. Make that the psychiatric ward. With the nutjobs. Clearly, this is all a huge mistake. Forget about the bandages on his wrists and the notes on his chart. Forget about his problems with his best friend, Allie, and her boyfriend, Burke. Jeff’s perfectly fine, perfectly normal, not like the other kids in the hospital with him. Now they’ve got problems. But a funny thing happens as his forty-five-day sentence drags on: the crazies start to seem less crazy. Continue reading