I fully intended to post this review before this dreamy little book went on sale, but alas, I failed. Anyway, that will not stop me from telling you I loved it and hugged it and called it George, to use a reference that marks me as an old. Sam Maggs has put together a really impressive and easy-to-read reference of badass ladies throughout the world’s history. And it includes some lovely illustrations of those ladies by Sophia Foster-Dimino, who also did that rad cover.
At a time when both feminism and geek culture are pretty large topics of conversation in the mainstream, with feminist essay collections and assorted genre movies, TV shows, and books getting tons of attention, the arrival of Kameron Hurley’s The Geek Feminist Revolution seems natural. From chainmail bikinis to GamerGate and whiny puppies, it’s never been super easy to be a female fan or creator of sci-fi and fantasy stuff. Hurley has been at it a while, and she has plenty to say about all of it, which is good for those of us who want a better world — a thoughtful, messy, diverse, and nerdy world with stories by and for everyone.
Daniel José Older’s Shadowshaper is a lesson in a lot of things, depending on how you want to read it. Creating mythos, writing developed and dimensional background characters, building an intriguing mystery, worldbuilding — well, not so much worldbuilding as putting Brooklyn on the page and walking you around in it during the heat of the day so you get a little grime in your sweat — but the best part is easily his protagonist, Sierra. She feels like a real person, but handles her teen insecurities and family drama (and you know, supernatural troubles) with a confidence and determination that is just damn lovely. She loves herself, big fro and big butt included, and even though she lets other people make her wonder here and there, she quickly realizes they’re wrong and she’s awesome just how she is.
I acquired my love of Wonder Woman as an ’80s kid, through reruns of the TV series with Lynda Carter. She was a badass, she was pretty AND she didn’t wear pink. Of course I loved her, and had the lunchbox & pajamas to prove it. Despite that, I never really read the comics too much. I’ve read a few here and there, but as of yet, haven’t gone through any significant number or a writer’s full run. This is a thing I finally want to rectify, I think, partly sparked by reading this book and perhaps as a natural development in my full-blown comic nerdery. Anyway, I got a copy of The Secret History Of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore for Christmas and finally read it. It is a thoroughly fascinating read.
Nearly 10 years after it was published and now that it’s a Tony-winning musical (!) I finally read Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. (Hey, we all have gaps, right?) It definitely lives up to all the hype. The story of Bechdel and her father, mostly, it begins with her childhood in rural Pennsylvania, where she, her mother, and her brothers lived with a man obsessed with restoring their huge Victorian home, tending its gardens and generally maintaining and aesthetically pleasing appearance of a perfect home and family. He was also a part-time funeral director at his family’s funeral home, giving the Bechdel children and up-close and unflinching view of death. Really, up-close and unflinching is a pretty good descriptor for the book itself, the non-linear structure bringing the reader back to certain moments to re-examine them with new information or from an enlightened viewpoint. To say the book is peppered with literary references would be an understatement. Reading, bookishness and finding one’s own story are extremely important pieces of the narrative, every step of the way. It’s as much a love letter to reading as it is an autopsy of a father-daughter relationship.
Recently, we’ve learned Kelly Sue DeConnick is going to wrap up her run on Captain Marvel, which is quite sad, but I’m also pretty optimistic about it. With the recent TV deal she and husband Matt Fraction signed, she’s going to be plenty busy with her own projects. And, really, I’m hoping she’ll have more time to focus on her own comics, because those are fucking amazing. So’s she. I want to Kelly Sue when I grow up.
Since reading this fantastic conversation between Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro, ideas about genre and what makes one thing “fantasy” while another very similar thing is “horror” or even the esteemed “literature” have been rolling around my brain. I plopped myself in the middle of this very problem this week when I was met with delightful pain in the butt of trading my old, crappy Target shelf for a bigger, wooden one that used to live in my neighborhood bookstore. (Until the owner decided to close it – sniffle.) My genius self got the bright idea to actually organize my books by genre for real this time when I re-shelved them.