Posts Categorized: Feature Article

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It’s no secret that I believe we need to do a better job at engaging in positive discussion about genre’s best works in relation to award season. We’re really good at getting annoyed, upset and frothy at the mouth about some things (as Abigail Nussbuam recently wrote about with much finer words, and more hands, than I could ever hope for), and it’s important to also apply that passion and energy to screaming loudly enthusiastically about the books, films, and people we love.

Over the past six months, I’ve discussed my own ever-evolving list of recommendations for Hugo nomination. I’ll do so once more before the close of the nomination period on March 31st, 2014. However, those posts are very distinctly one person’s opinion, and the genre fanscape is much larger than one opinion (no matter how highly I think of it.) In fact, the reason that I’ve decided to post various versions of my ever changing nomination ballot is because the good people of the Internet (they do exist, we’re not all bad!) have alerted me to so much cool stuff that I’ve had no choice but to revise my ballot several times.

So, here I’m curating a collection of publishing Hugo Award recommendations, in the hopes that you (like me) might find something of value in there that makes it onto your final ballot (if you’re a Hugo voter), or just makes you smile. Read More »

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Bring on the controversy, and strap in for a devil’s advocate view through some eye-opening history, because certain game-changing books were never ‘discovered spontaneously.’ Notably, the profile of these landmark fantasy authors share a profile of mature scope and depth, and stories that open with adult protagonists.

First, busting the myth that Tolkien was ‘discovered’ and broke out by readership word of mouth is not true: Betty Ballantine’s actual account relates how Tolkien’s career blossomed through a publishing scandal.

Allen Unwin first published Professor Tolkien in Great Britain in hardbound. At the time, copyright law in the USA protected up to 2000 unbound copies of a book to be imported as loose pages, to be bound and sold by a US firm. Houghton Mifflin handled Tolkien this way, in routine partnership with Allen Unwin. Nobody paid much attention, though Ian and Betty Ballantine loved the story and offered for paperback rights. Professor Tolkien declined, avoiding what he considered a tacky American edition. Over a period of ten years, when the British edition underwent reprint, repeated lots of unbound sheets of were brought in and sold by Houghton Mifflin in quiet obscurity. Enter a certain paperback publisher’s back room lawyers, who tracked publication records, trolling for the loophole that titles compiling more than the allotted 2,000 loose sheets slid into the public domain. On that legal technicality, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings was reprinted as the very lurid paperback professor Tolkien had wished to avoid, and worse, with no royalties owed to the author. Read More »

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They were easy to spot: each was an accidental heroine, wholly unaware of her strengths, concerned to the point of obsession with her shortcomings.

In 1996 Helen Fielding burst onto the scene with Bridget Jones’ Diary, a novel-in-journal entries featuring a hapless, slightly overweight thirty-something struggling to land a boyfriend. The book went on to sell 2 million copies and, soon after, became a blockbuster film starring Colin Firth and Renee Zellweger. Predictably, in the years that followed, we began to see the “Bridget Jones” character everywhere. They were easy to spot: each was an accidental heroine, wholly unaware of her strengths, concerned to the point of obsession with her shortcomings.

From Twilight’s admittedly problematic Bella, to Game of Thrones’ ineffectual Sansa Stark [Editor's Note: Just keep reading/watching, Anna. ;) ], women who were the recipients, not the perpetrators of action began to overwhelm our fiction.  And these women, often depicted as heroes, succeeded in spite of their insecurities: after encountering a guide or a mentor,  each experienced a pivotal moment that guided her inner heroine out of the shadows and into the light. Read More »

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Editor’s Note: Myke Cole submitted this essay on November 21st, 2013, parallel to the historic graduation of three women from the Marine Corps’ Infantry Training Battalion course It was the first time in the 238-year history of the Marine Corps that this happened. As we know, however, it is far from setting precedent for the rest of human history.

Today, the first three women graduated infantry school for the US Marine Corps. I don’t have to tell you how big a deal this is. It marks the start of an era where our military steps out of a dark age that has limited not only our esteem, but our combat effectiveness, permitting us to tap a resource we have ignored for years for a host of non-reasons too numerous and too farcical to review here.

Life imitates art, folks say. The inverse is also true, so it’s not surprising to see military fiction taking females more seriously, especially in combat roles. The Oh-John-Ringo-No set is seeing its twilight. It no longer represents the military we know, where women hold combat arms roles. It lacks the authenticity that readers of military fiction crave.

People are saying that this is a victory for women, that they have struggled and fought and finally earned the right to be held as equals behind the gun.

I call BS. Read More »

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Hugo season is among us. With it comes a lot of enthusiastic discussion about the best that the science fiction and fantasy community had to offer in the previous year. 2013 was a big year for science fiction and fantasy fans. Yesterday, I posted a list what I expect to put on my own Hugo ballot when I cast my nominations in a few weeks.

This, on the flip side, is a collection of A Dribble of Ink‘s finest moments over the past year. For writing and editing A Dribble of Ink, I’m personally eligible for the ‘Best Fan Writer’ Hugo Award, but I believe there are many more suitable writers more prolific and deserving of the award than me (think Jared Shurin, Liz Bourke, Kameron Hurley, Justin Landon, and Foz Meadows.) So, instead, just like last year, this eligibility and ‘Best of…’ post will not focus on my personal output, but instead the wonderful content I had the privilege to publish in 2013. As A Dribble of Ink‘s audience continues to grow, the community and conversation has grown around it, and has contributed positively to the ongoing discussion of Fantasy, Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction in general.

Of note was Kameron Hurley’s tremendous “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative”, which was read over 135,000 times in 2013. Some early Hugo voters are suggesting that it be nominated for “Best Related Work,” and idea that is equally humbling and flattering for both Hurley and A Dribble of Ink.

I hope you’ll consider A Dribble of Ink when you’re making your nominations during this Hugo Award season. Read More »