Header
Sep
21
2016
0 C

Come see us at the Examined Life conference in Iowa City!

I will be presenting jointly with Rose Lemberg at the 10th Examined Life conference at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City. As I am spending this academic year in Kansas, this is a good opportunity to meet me if you are usually in Iowa City!

The conference focuses on the intersection of the health sciences and the creative arts. We will read from our speculative fiction work related to disability and illness, and then lead an audience discussion. Our presentation is scheduled on Oct 7, 8:30-9:45 in 2126 MERF.

This is our abstract:

Speculative Literature, Disability and Health

Bogi Takács & Rose Lemberg

Authors of speculative literature have often attempted to tackle health-related and medical topics, frequently through an outsider perspective of researchers and doctors. In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on storytelling from the margins, encouraging insiders to tell stories of their own experience. Disability, neurodiversity and chronic illness advocacy are coming into focus in the field of speculative writing, as a part of this wider movement. The two of us have been involved in these currents as authors, as chronically ill and disabled people, and as researchers. We will read from our short-form fiction and poetry relevant to health and disability experience, followed by a discussion with audience participation. Participants will be able to discuss how diverse influences can converge in depictions of disability and illness, and to examine how both personal experience and a research background can enrich genre writing and inform readers about the human condition.

Written by prezzey in: sci,sf,writing |
Aug
31
2016
0 C

Bonus story notes: Toward the Luminous Towers

My SF story Toward the Luminous Towers is coming out in Clarkesworld tomorrow! I thought I would preempt it with the bonus notes which usually come the day after publication, because I would really like to forewarn you this time. This story is probably one of the most upsetting things I’ve ever written.

Edited to add: Toward the Luminous Towers is now online!

***

Specific content warnings for the story: warfare and combat injuries described in detail, medical abuse specifically directed at a disabled person, oppressive political regimes, detailed discussion of suicide.

***

Spoilery notes:

This story is a prequel to a series of stories I’m working on, Iwunen Interstellar Investigations (I3) – about two queer, nonbinary trans people who are a couple, and who fight crime! with magic! in space!

The series is going to be much more cheerful in tone, but I wanted to show separately that the characters have rebuilt their lives starting from very difficult places; something that I think resonates with many trans people, immigrants, and so on – people like me. The protagonist of this story is going to be one of the two investigators in I3. And yes, e is going to remain disabled, though differently than at the end of this story (in some aspects more disabled, in others less) – the teleport jump will also affect em permanently. I just want to write about the facts that disability is not a singular, unchanging thing, and that even in the amazing magical space future, there will be disabled people.

*

The protagonist is gender-unspecified here simply because it is a first-person story and it is not so relevant to the plot, but in I3 we will see that e is agender. (There will be multiple sets of nonbinary pronouns in I3, similarly to my story in Capricious last year, and similarly to… um… real life? 🙂 )

Eir former teacher is also a nonbinary person and this is mentioned only so that I can use the appropriate pronouns – specifically, they pronouns -, but this fact is not in focus. There will be Many Genderthings in I3, though, and all the trans feels 🙂

*

The old song about the night sky quoted several times is not an actual song; I had people ask me if it were. I made it up from scratch – I wanted it to sound a bit Soviet-style, but the setting is not based on the Soviet Union or even the Eastern Bloc in general. (Beyond the fact that I am from a former Eastern Bloc country, which no doubt influences my storytelling.) I simply wanted the lyrics to have a flavor that reminded me of my childhood.

*

Character names are not meant to evoke a specific culture. I spent a lot of time fussing over this and even changing a name in the proofing stage (sorry!!). The names do not have a canonical pronunciation; for the podcast reader, I recorded them with my rather haphazard pronunciation that ended up being a mix of Hebrew, Hungarian, and maybe even German??

*I wrote the story while being very unwell. I have an inflammatory disorder that occurs in waves, and at that point I had trouble just moving around at home in our apartment. This probably accounts for the very cynical and bitter voice.I do have all my limbs, though, unlike the protagonist; I’m just not always able to use them very well. I also have motor dyspraxia, which means I can’t use them very well even when I have no inflammation flareups; but that is an entirely different issue and I do not want to claim similarity. Losing limbs is different and is not something I am writing from experience. If you want to read an #ownvoices story about motor dyspraxia by me, I have one in the recently released anthology Defying Doomsday. This one is #ownvoices on different axes :)*As mentioned in-text, the protagonist is neuroatypical, like me; I do not get into the details in this story (this is why I am planning on having a very sprawling series of stories!), but e is autistic, specifically. This will be plot-relevant later, but is not plot-relevant here.*

The drugs are futuristic and all-powerful, but they were vaguely inspired by real-world drugs: GS-10 by modafinil and VPR-56 by valproic acid. I haven’t taken either, I just know about them related to work. Valproic acid is an anti-seizure medication, but it also has an effect of promoting neuroplasticity, as it has been recently described in a human study involving the acquisition of absolute pitch. (Hungarian first author!)

Disclaimer: do not take any drugs based on my story; I do not recommend this.

*

The story was beta read by Rose Lemberg. Thank you Spouseperson!!

*

The neuroplasticity theme was inspired by a doctoral seminar I was taking on developmental trajectories, led by Karla McGregor. She bears absolutely no responsibility for this story and hasn’t seen it before publication.

The bits about the logistic function, etc. are likewise based on actual science, and I was talking quite a lot about this the previous semester, when I was teaching labs for Psychology of Language.

…I guess this is a hard SF space fantasy story. *throws up hands*

*

I think many people do not really think about how librarians specialize in managing large amounts of data. It seems like such an innocuous occupation. I had this realization quite recently, and it stopped me in my tracks.

*

The very prima facie meaning of the ending is that the protagonist does not die but instead escapes, but I am sure there will be many people who read it as a suicide scene; it is kind of inevitable. What I was trying to express was that there are situations from which the only potential escape might as well look like suicide; both from an inside and an outside point of view. This point is very personal to me in ways that are probably not readily apparent from the story itself.

*

For people who like to keep track of such things (I know there are many of you!): this story found a market on the second try.

*

Finally, thank you everyone who came to my Worldcon reading to listen to this story! It meant a lot to me that I had an audience despite the fact that my reading was rescheduled multiple times and the wrong time was printed in the schedule. Thanks again!!

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing | Tags: , , ,
Aug
29
2016
0 C

Inkscrawl #10: Living Bodies in Motion!

The new issue of the speculative micropoetry magazine inkscrawl, guest-edited by me, is here! Inkscrawl #10: Living Bodies in Motion – 18 poems, each 10 lines or fewer. Section headings are quotes from the poems in each section.

A few words about the issue:

I was so happy to see a diversity of authors and approaches and emotions and voice. This is probably the longest issue of inkscrawl, but I hope it will be worth it for you. Poems range from the cheerful to the sublime to the defiant to the terrifying. The beginning even ties into the theme of my previous guest-edited issue of inkscrawl, #9: Atypical Weather… and from there we move through a kaleidoscope of flora, fauna, dancers and killers and toddlers and sportspeople, until we reach the absolutely bloodcurdling conclusion. (I mean it!)

Stylistically, I prioritized heterogeneity over cohesion – I didn’t want to end up with “Inkscrawl: The Bloody Murder Issue” (it could have happened!) and did not want to pass on my favorite cheerful or happy poems just because there were a lot of strong, grim poems; this was very much a conscious decision. I think in the end, an arc to the issue emerged, and there will be hopefully something for everyone. 🙂

The next issue’s theme and guest-editor will be announced in late 2016!

*

Since last time people asked for subject warnings, here they are. I will not list allusions, only direct mentions, because allusions are less straightforward to interpret, and I do not want to forcibly impose my reading on the poems.

Mentions of death: Shuttlecock, A Gun and a Boy (Le Cercle Rouge), Plate 24, The Dancer, the commute

Mentions of self-injury: marsyas

Mentions of medical abuse: quiet hands

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing |
Aug
28
2016
0 C

#diversestories / #diversepoems weekly roundup Aug 28

The roundups of awesome SFF by diverse authors are back! Links point to my recommendation threads on Twitter.

(Reminder that these are 1. my recommendations, i.e., I read a lot more than I recommend; 2. my recommendations, which only reflect my own taste and nothing else.)

  • (Non-free) (Novel) Infomocracy by Malka Older, published by Tor.com in 2016
  • (Free) (Poem) To My Shyaam by Shweta Narayan in Strange Horizons, Aug 2016
  • (Non-free) (Novel) Bereft by Craig Laurance Gidney, published by Tiny Satchel Press in 2013
  • (Free) (Poem) Children of the Geese by S. Qiouyi Lu in Zetetic Record, Aug 2016
  • (Free) (Short story) Pimp My Airship by Maurice Broaddus in Apex, Aug 2009

I also had some related threads:

  • How (not) to get non-native speakers of English to submit to your magazine – reflecting on some of the side threads in the current conversation wrt anti-Blackness in SFF
  • Goodreads lists of 2016-17 adult SFF by authors of color – I didn’t start these, but I added a lot and the lists are a great resource to me. Please add books; if you can’t, let me know and I can add them. Tell me about your own books, too!
  • My recs of awesome Black SFF writers
    I actually have a lot more, so if you just follow my #diversestories & #diversepoems hashtags, you can find more. But I was very upset by the suggestion in my Twitter feed that Black SFF writers did not exist beyond a few popular names, so I did this thread for an hour and a half, before my arm started to really hurt. (Literally, the bottleneck was not the number of absolutely awesome authors I could mention, it was the amount of very rapid typing I could accomplish.)
  • Diversity and free books
  • Reviewer copies, library copies, Little Free Libraries… Many things about who has the money/resources for marketing their book (it’s usually not marginalized people)

Worldcon-specific threads will go into a big Worldcon post after I am done with the panel writeups.

How to support me:

If you enjoy my roundups and threads and things, you can surprise me with food from my Amazon wishlist! …or books, books are always cool. But, food. 🙂

Next up (G-d willing): Worldcon translation panel writeup!

Written by prezzey in: sf |
Aug
26
2016
0 C

Many announcements!

Sorry, no panel writeup or story recommendation today – I spent a lot of time just sleeping, and the remaining time reading work-related stuff and having minor epiphanies connected to it (I suppose that’s a good thing?).

I have many announcements to make, though!

*

The new issue of inkscrawl, guest-edited by me, is coming just in a few days, G-d willing – almost all poets have responded to their proofs by now, and everyone signed their contracts. Behold the amazing table of contents! All credit is due to the great poets who sent their work to me. I am truly honored!

*

I will have a story in next month’s Clarkesworld, titled Toward the Luminous Towers. If you met me at Worldcon, you’ve probably already heard about it! This will be my second appearance in Clarkesworld, and probably one of the most upsetting things I’ve ever written. (Yes, I am planning on having story notes, with copious warnings.) Toward the Luminous Towers also serves as the first prologue to the Iwunen stories, about which more later as I actually end up writing them… They will be very different in tone and much more cheerful (though also depicting many difficulties), but it is important for me to establish where the main characters will be coming from.

*

I will have a poem in the upcoming next issue of Bracken Magazine, Marginalia to Eiruvin 45b – it is a very brief magical-realist poem about the riverside, and a Talmudic reflection at the same time.

*

My story This Secular Technology will be reprinted in the anthology “Menschen and Minyanim” featuring Jewish-themed SFF.

*

I will have both a science-fantasy poem and a full-page line art drawing in a… something whose table of contents hasn’t been released yet. 🙂 I ACTUALLY DREW A THING I HAVEN’T DRAWN ANYTHING IN SUCH A LONG TIME. And it found a venue!

*

Also, I’ve found a home for my fantasy story To Rebalance the Body in another something whose table of contents… etc. You will see, G-d willing! This is the story I mentioned several times that forms a pair with my story in Capricious, The Need for Overwhelming Sensation. Both feature similar characters and dynamics, but a diametrically opposite setting.

You might also remember this as the story which led the chief editor of a “trans-friendly” “QUILTBAG-inclusive” venue to publicly, repeatedly misgender me, while attempting to summarize my story in rather confusingly misleading ways… AKA, the vampire story which features no vampires. So, if you wanted to read that one, it is coming! It took a bit, because after that fiasco, I was determined to see it published in an explicitly trans context and not as much in general SFF markets.

*

I am also almost completely out of things to send out, so if you told me at Worldcon that you’d like to see more work from me, you’ll unfortunately have to wait for me to write it first…

I did manage to settle in in Kansas, and my visiting year at the University of Kansas started relatively smoothly after the two weeks of utter paperwork chaos. So things might happen… In the meanwhile, the #diversestories and #diversepoems (and even #diversebooks and #diversecomics) recommendations have resumed on Twitter – the first roundup is coming this weekend, IY”H. Enjoy the ride!

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing |
Aug
23
2016
2 C

Worldcon panels: Board games

These are various notes for the panels I was on. I am starting with the board game panel!

I was a bit apprehensive about this one – I asked to be put on at least one non-diversity-related panel, which meant that I was put on exactly one such panel 🙂 and this was it. It was a fun experience and I am glad I did not run away in fear self-reject myself from it. Special thanks to Miles Tugman for the encouragement and the board games! 🙂

These were the recommendations I mentioned, I hope I did not leave anything out:

Where to go to learn more about board games:

  • BoardGameGeek is probably the best place. Links will point to BoardGameGeek 🙂

If you are looking for a fun, short game (max. 30 mins):

  • for computer gamers: Race for the Galaxy. Many similarities to computer-based 4x strategy games. Plays especially fast in the online version.
  • for non-computer gamers: Dominion. Like a collectible card game, without the collecting part. It does have 84329 million expansions though.

Games that play well with 3 players:

  • Yggdrasil – cooperative game where the number of players also varies the difficulty a bit, 3 players seems quite good in my experience.

If you are looking for a good introductory game:

  • Carcassonne. Has both chance and strategy elements, simple rules, relaxing art, fun tactile experience of assembling the board from tiles. Also good in mixed age groups. Currently has a reissue with new graphics – compare the old and the new and make sure you get the version you like better! (I prefer the old one.)

One interesting current trend in boardgaming:

  • Games with overarching storylines structured similarly to TV series, like Pandemic: Legacy (I haven’t played it yet, but I really want to 🙂 )

Fun games few people know:

  • Jäger und Sammler – very popular in Hungary as Mamutvadász, won the local Game of the Year award (similar to Spiel des Jahres). Stone age theme with beautiful art! Simple rules that lend themselves to house variants really well in our experience. Zombiegeddon is an American version with really ugly art (I warned you). There is no text on the game elements themselves – you can order a European version and download the rules online.
  • CIA vs KGB – simple, fun, very cheesy Cold War theme 😀

And now for literature:

How can board games inspire my own SF writing?

In two ways:

  • Player interactions – the ways behavior can be manipulated by the use of explicit rules, what interactions emerge from this, etc. Not so much specific games and settings, but more of this meta-approach that stems from my experiences as both a board gamer and a video gamer. Thus it can be hard to see exactly where the influence appears in my work, but it is certainly there.
  • Depictions of gameplaying in a fictional setting – this is much easier to notice.

Books I mentioned (mostly related to the second point):

  • The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks – note the explicitly acknowledged influence of Civilization, which started off as a computer game, but then became a board game too.
  • Burning Bright by Melissa Scott – also RPG-related.

The quiz question I prepared for the audience:

I hope people enjoyed the panel and I’m also wishing much enjoyment to the winners of the quiz – have fun with your new games!

Written by prezzey in: sf |
Aug
21
2016
0 C

Inkscrawl: Living Bodies in Motion issue table of contents!

I survived Worldcon! It was fun! More updates including panel notes coming later, G-d willing. This is a pre-made announcement…

Everyone signed their contracts, so I can announce the lineup of the next issue of Inkscrawl! I guest-edited this issue of the speculative micropoetry magazine (10 lines or shorter) with the theme Living Bodies in Motion.

The issue will be online hopefully over the next week. In the meanwhile, the table of contents is here – the section headings feature words from each poem. I am very much looking forward to sharing these poems with you!

inkscrawl #10: living bodies in motion

guest-edited by Bogi Takács

shout / gnaw / skitter / thrash / fly

Hurricane by Sheree Renée Thomas

verdigris by A Watson

Plastic Hour by M.J. Cunniff

Roar by Ada Hoffmann

Theretra by May Chong

grasp / shovel / turn / dive

Parallax by S. Qiouyi Lu

Still Snow(ing) by Mary Alexandra Agner

The Map, the World, the Dancer by Toby MacNutt

The Holiness of Your Turns by Mitchell Hart

sleep-dance / slap / plan / cut / scatter

Alien Baby by Malka Older

Shuttlecock by Naru Dames Sundar

A Gun and a Boy (Le Cercle Rouge) by Sonya Taaffe

marsyas by Na’amen Gobert Tilahun

quiet hands by Kythryne Aisling

deny / fall / emerge / continue

Plate 24 by Holly Day

The Dancer by Lynette Mejía

Full Blown Magnolia by Sheree Renée Thomas

the commute by Na’amen Gobert Tilahun

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing |
Aug
12
2016
0 C

Worldcon schedule

My Worldcon schedule is finally here! There were some difficulties with scheduling. This is more or less final…

Important:

I am still trying to find a ride back home from the convention center on Thursday – I just realized while making this post that my Thursday panel was 9-10 PM, not AM. If you are in the area and would not mind driving me home, I would supply you with ample sweets, pay for your gas and/or time, serve as your sensitivity reader, draw you cute fluffies, etc. as is your preference 🙂 I live about 40 minutes’ drive from the convention center. (We will drive with Rose on all the other days, but 10 PM is wayy past Mati’s bedtime.) I found a volunteer for this, thank you so much!

….and here is my schedule:

Asexual Viewing and More! – Beyond the Binary Gaze

Thursday 21:00 – 22:00, 2209 (Kansas City Convention Center)

Thor stands at a window, muscles rippling. Arrow strips and Teen Wolf shows a montage of bare-chested men. There is a growing awareness of the female gaze in attracting viewers (not to mention the female dollar) and as a result, film and television often caters to female (hetero)sexuality. This could be seen as fun and long overdue…but what about LGBTQI gaze(s), asexual, polyamorous or pansexual viewing? Our panel discuss the move from appropriation to representation.

Jed Hartman, Bogi Takács, Tex Thompson (M), Cait Spivey, Jay Wolf

*

Spec Fic Poets: A Group Reading

Friday 12:00 – 13:00, 2203 (Readings) (Kansas City Convention Center)

Eight speculative fiction poets come together in this fun and engaging reading as they perform their work in their own unique styles.

Frederick Turner, Michael Substelny, Mr. Robin Wayne Bailey, Mary Soon Lee, Jim Davidson, Symantha Reagor (M), Bogi Takács, Erin Wilcox

 *

I Love Boardgames!

Friday 16:00 – 17:00, 2208 (Kansas City Convention Center)

Boardgames rule! Our panellists share the boardgames they love playing when they are not busy creating worlds, destroying universes, and doing dreadful things to their characters. What kinds of games do they enjoy? What sparks their creative juices and stirs the imagination? Most importantly, they recommend great games for players both experienced and new.

William Frank (M), Andrea G. Stewart, Bogi Takács, Sean Patrick Hazlett, CFA, Miles Tugman

*

Reading: Bogi Takács

Friday 13:30 – 14:00, 2202 (Readings) (Kansas City Convention Center) – This was moved around and the new time is not in the program yet, so I am not 100% sure about the location.

*

Autographing: Rose Lemberg, Bogi Takács, Adam Rakunas, Alyssa Wong, Katherine Wynter

 Sunday 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM, Kansas City Convention Center, Autographing Space

*

Non-Anglophone Authors You Must Know

Sunday 11:00 – 12:00, 2208 (Kansas City Convention Center)

Most of the world is not English speaking, so as the minority, what should English-language users start to pay attention to so that we can start to read outside of our own communities – even if that will be in translation most of the time?

Bradford Lyau (M), Bogi Takács, Dr Nick Wood, Dr. Catherine Schaff-Stump, Ivan Kranjcevic

Written by prezzey in: sf |
Aug
09
2016
0 C

[Review] Beginning with the Mirror: Ten Stories about Love, Desire and Moving Between Worlds

Still away moving in, still reposting reviews from Goodreads that I wrote earlier in the summer. Please note that the fact that I prescheduled these reviews doesn’t necessarily mean I am very responsive otherwise. I’m working on catching up!

Beginning with the Mirror: Ten Stories about Love, Desire and Moving Between Worlds by Peter Dubé

I read this book for Week 1 of the #readproud challenge in the Gay Contemporary category.

Disclosure: I got a print reviewer copy from the publisher, Lethe Press.

Beginning with the Mirror cover art

This is a collection of dark, sensitive gay stories with sometimes more than a dash of magical realism. I don’t know how I’d missed Peter Dubé’s work previously (I am thinking I might have read a short story by him in Wilde Stories…?) but it was clearly a mistake.

The more of the magical, the better the stories worked for me; my favorite was “Blazon”, where sexual desire is sublimated into pyrokinesis… or is it? I have read several stories by different authors along these lines, but this one is my current favorite.

There is often a kind of distancing from magical elements, the sort of “but are we SURE that’s what happened” that is somewhat of a non-genre literary trope. One can read this book as contemporary or as speculative, and in both cases it will be rewarding.

Sometimes the stories had elements I generally dislike and they still worked well for me; the hallmark of a good author. “Needle” had discussion of dubious consent, nonconsent and also featured a very messy breakup, but I still thought it was a standout story not just in this collection, but in general in my reading.

Where the stories were weaker was when they started to meander; I felt the tighter-plotted ones were more memorable and powerful. I did appreciate the very wide dynamic range from brooding, dreamy contemplation (“Tides”) to people beating the heck out of each other on a political demonstration turned violent (“Egress”).

I will definitely need to pick up more of Dubé’s work; I have a gay anthology edited by him in my TBR pile that I’m also looking forward to reading.

Note that not all of the stories end well: sometimes people separate, sometimes they die. Sometimes there is anti-gay violence. But as I’ve said many times before and I continue to say over and over again, I think queer people should write whatever they want, including tragic stories. The issue is with straight people writing and marketing an overwhelming amount of tragic queer stories, not with queer people writing many stories of all kinds, some of them tragic (and, for example when the topic is anti-gay violence, absolutely justifiably so). But I also understand that people want to be warned about those stories, so consider this a warning!

________

The best way to support my reviews is by surprising me with things from my Amazon wishlist. As we just moved to a different state, food would probably be the most useful, but we are always happy to get books too 🙂

If you want to send me books to review, please read my reviewer copies policy first!

Written by prezzey in: sf | Tags:
Aug
08
2016
0 C

[Review] The Horror at Red Hook by H.P. Lovecraft

While I am away settling into our new rental, I continue to post my Goodreads reviews from the past months that I hadn’t mirrored here yet.

I am behind on personal correspondence, writing and editing projects, beta reading and basically everything. I apologize and I’m working on catching up!

The Horror at Red Hook by H.P. Lovecraft

Originally published in Weird Tales in 1927, now in the public domain. Free ebook here.

I read this novelette because I’m interested in reading “The Ballad of Black Tom,” Victor LaValle’s new novella that subverts it.

I read most of my Lovecraft in Communist and immediately post-Communist Hungary, at an age when one probably shouldn’t be reading Lovecraft. This one hadn’t been translated back then (I just checked and it was first published in Hungary in 1998) – you have one guess why.

Lovecraft on diversity:

“From this tangle of material and spiritual putrescence the blasphemies of an hundred dialects assail the sky.”

…..oookay.

Yes, this story is as racist as people claim. (It’s also really ableist.) Many different races, cultures, ethnicities, religions get a brief mention; Hungarians might be especially interested in reading about the “hellish vestiges of old Turanian-Asiatic magic and fertility-cults.” The antagonists are basically a combination of everything around the globe that Lovecraft found repellent. He put a lot of effort into it, and his intent really comes across. It’s some powerful reading.

I think he would’ve found me repellent on at least four different counts explicitly mentioned in the story, and yet I felt an inordinate amount of fascinatorepulsed glee while reading. I mean sure, people hate all sorts of minorities and I get that in my daily life. But as a kind of mild-mannered and not very confrontational person, I seldom get to be described as an incredible menace of cosmic proportions. Now excuse me, I must be off to hatch my nefarious schemes…

________

The best way to support my reviews is by surprising me with things from my Amazon wishlist. As we just moved to a different state, food would probably be the most useful, but we are always happy to get books too 🙂

If you want to send me books to review, please read my reviewer copies policy first!

Written by prezzey in: sf | Tags: ,

Theme by: TheBuckmaker.com Wordpress Themes
Brushes by: Brushing Up, ~rce-ordinary, Nickel Plated Nine.