Conversation On Race and Feminism

Ibi Zoboi and i have a conversation about race, gender, sexuality, spirituality, class and everything else under the sun on tiger beatdown. go check it out when you can. here are a couple of excerpts:

“I agree—I’m definitely a root-for-the-underdog gal. It’s what I identify with. My experience was slightly different in that the battle for self-realization began at home. The disappointment of women who gave birth to girl after girl was a constant presence when I was growing up. The mothers around me, of cousins and friends, were desperate to have boy children, especially if they already had one or more girls. I was told I was a “luck” child because a boy was born after me. My mother got off okay because she was the mother of sons, but I remember, vividly, the torment of women who could not bear boy children. I remember the tears these women cried on my mother’s shoulder, their self-hatred, the sometimes extreme conditions they faced with their in-laws. It’s something that has seeped so deeply into my bones – the crying of these mothers, or soon-to-be mothers, and their heart-wrenching desperation. My mother going to console women after they’d had their second, third, fourth, or whatever number daughter, is something that lodged itself pretty deep into my psyche. It had a profound impact on my worldview.

The impact of the battle over control of my own body was no less profound. I was not allowed to cut my hair because it was against our religion. However, it seemed our religion only applied to me and my mother as my brothers and father and uncles all had shorn hair. What I wore, who I spoke to, where I spent my time—all were strictly monitored and controlled. I could not wear jeans that were too tight, shorts of any length, skirts or dresses, yet my brother wore what he pleased without so much as a passing glance. He was also enrolled in martial arts classes because he needed to learn to defend himself. No such classes were necessary for me because I would be protected by someone else. I was a smart girl, but that mattered less than my looks and the fact that I was not light-skinned, which would make me a harder sell on the marriage market.”

“This question brings me to WisCon, the annual feminist science-fiction and fantasy convention in Wisconsin. This year was my third year there and I truly love the hard-won space. I feel completely at home in feminist spaces and this is no different. Except that it is. It’s very different from the feminism that I came out in. While there have been great strides in the presence of people of color at the conference (through the tireless efforts of a handful of attendees who initially spoke up and organized and kept pushing for change), the percentage is still small, overall, and there is still great work to be done. At the same time, discussions about power imbalances and justice and equal rights can take place in feminist spaces. Feminism is about representation and the battle for control over bodies and psychologies, so it’s not such a huge stretch then (one would think) to inject the same awareness into issues of race and class and sexuality and other intersections where power and privilege play huge roles in the rights of marginalized peoples.

In a landscape where the mere mention of race puts people on edge, spaces where conversations about power and privilege can take place at all is where the hope is.”

read the rest of the interview and leave your thoughts in the comments!

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

The post A Plague of Giants appeared first on Elitist Book Reviews.

The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.