I'll be honest: the older I get, the less I read books by male writers. Don't get me wrong, I still read more books written by men in a year than the average person reads in several years but I much prefer reading female writers, ideally with a female protagonist. It is hard for me to find male authors who can write realistic female characters. It's like - I don't know - men don't understand women or something. (I am convinced that I can always tell when a male writer writes under a female pen name, much like that straight guy I worked with who was convinced he could tell if someone was gay... Of course, he couldn't. He was an idiot. But I can totally tell when a dude writes like a lady.)
Thank god more and more women are writing SF. SF is not a genre I have glommed through the way I have with other genres. Partly because too many of my experiences with SF while growing up involved female characters who were little more than some geek's wish fulfillment sex fantasy. I mean, how many times can you read about an alien chick with three boobs?
Anyway, Nicola Griffith wrote this: Hard SF and Soft, or Girls v. Boys, on the genre's distaste for physical affection - y'know sex - especially hot sex. Oh, it's ok if it's some kind of electrode mind sex but physical means emotional which means girly and so it's not to be taken seriously.
And N. K. Jemison wrote a piece on “Feminization” in epic fantasy? that's pretty interesting, as is the discussion in the comments.
Then Paul Jessup had this to add: Feminization of Epic Fantasy.
Shedrick Pittman-Hassett chimed in with Too Sexy For This Epic: Feminization and Epic Fantasy. My favorite quote: I don’t want to get into the sexist origins of our puritanical views–that’s chickens and eggs and beside my point. The fact is that Americans, both men and women, tend to be deathly afraid of female nipples and will abide scenes of unspeakable violence and bloodshed so long as all the participants have their vitals covered. Right on, brother!
Foz Meadows wonders why some men get so freaked out by the "female gaze" here.
And Ann Leckie rejects the male gaze at Slushy slushy slush slush.
I wish the Joanna Russ Fairy would visit me. Sometimes I need to be reminded. A Visit From the Joanna Russ Fairy
One more Diana Wynne Jones tribute. Because I just loved her books and she deserves the accolades.
Theodora Goss has a super article over at Realms of Fantasy on Folkroots: Vampires in Folklore and Literature. Not to be missed.
New Science: Are Plants Racist? Interesting. But the comparison between the racism of plants and the racism of humans is apple and oranges. Plants discriminate against other species. Humans discriminate against their own species because of skin color. Scientifically speaking, we are all the same race - the human race. The rest is just decoration. For the comparison to work you'd need something like red pansies that discriminate against violet pansies (which I am sure they would do. Red pansies are real bastards.)
In Praise of Failure - the dude who got knighted for inventing a different kind of vacuum cleaner on why an environment that embraces failure fosters innovation. I think his philosophy speaks to more than just inventors.
So i09 has a story about the Chinese Government banning time travel movies and television because they portray history in an inaccurate and facetious manner. It's bad history and the people must be protected. But if you take a look at the comments, another reason for the ban becomes apparent. Like this comment from brillow: I'm kind of insulted that you are eating what the CENSORS in China are feeding you. They are not stopping it because its historically inaccurate (it is fiction right?). It's illogical to reject a story about TIME TRAVEL because it presents things inaccurately.
The reason, which every blog who mentions this comments on (except this one, oddly), is because the Chinese regime doesn't like people being presented with the idea that the China which existed before they were in power was in any way positive.
And Just For Fun:
Fried Food: It's Good for Your Heart - not book related by good to know.