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Ancillary Justice Blog Giveaway

So, there are currently giveaways running at Goodreads and LibraryThing. But they won’t ship outside of the US. And not everyone has or wants an account at Goodreads or LibraryThing.

And I just got a big box of finished copies! So. I’m going to give away four of them.

Starting today, running until, oh, let’s say next Tuesday, September 24, if you’d like a copy of Ancillary Justice, leave a comment here (“here” can be on this entry at annleckie.com, at the ann_leckie livejournal, or the ann_leckie Dreamwidth account) or email me at ann@annleckie.com and let me know two things–your name, and your favorite color.

I’ll collect all the entries and randomly choose four.

I’ll ship to pretty much anywhere, too.

Back from Worldcon!

So, Worldcon! It was a thing that happened! I really admire people who write up nice, detailed con reports–I’m not one of them. Or, I did it once, for the first convention I ever went to, and it was a lot of work, and generally I find my brain is mush for a while after I get back, so this is the super-abbreviated, I-really-should-be-napping-right-now report of my weekend.

I decided to take the train, because I love taking the train and San Antonio is a straight shot, twenty-four hour ride on the Texas Eagle. I splurged for a sleeper and had a great time. It’s not quite as swanky as the Orient Express in the Thirties, but I did wonder now and then if I should arrange an alibi with the guy across the corridor. Really, the only negative was that it cut into my con time. Well, and that I still, seven hours after getting off the train, have that sort of swaying feeling like I might still be on it. And I’m earwormed something fierce with Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, because it seemed like it would be perfect music for on the train (it was) but now it’s stuck.

So, Saturday morning I did my thing where I go down to the lobby around breakfast and see who’s there. Generally I run into pretty much everyone I want to see, but this time there were a lot of folks I missed. I think this location had, like, three different natural congregating spaces, and they were all fairly distant from each other, and that probably accounts for it. Still, I of course ran into people right off and spent the rest of the day hanging, and meeting new and awesome people. (I am not good at this, generally. I try to find someone who is and follow them around a bit, and that usually works quite well.) Like last year, I attended basically no programming except the SFWA meeting and Rachel Swirsky’s reading. I kept thinking I might go to a panel, but then ended up in the bar or some other hanging-out space instead.

There were lots and lots of great people at the Drinks with Authors party, and Justin did his best to swell my head up by saying extravagantly nice things about Ancillary Justice, and gave away a couple of ARCs. In fact, there were volumes and volumes of books (that weren’t mine) they were giving away as door prizes. It was pretty darn fabulous, and the whole thing was a great idea.

Sunday went pretty much the same way, except instead of Drinks with Authors I ended up at a Brazilian steakhouse, which I’m telling you now, if you eat meat and you ever have the chance to check this out, do. After a huge, delicious dinner, I ended up in the hotel bar hanging out with people and watching Twitter for Hugo results.

It was a wonderful weekend all around, really, and the only thing I really regret is not seeing so many people I was sure I’d run into. I will catch you all some other con!

Morning Walk

Scene: The bridge in the Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden. The weather is warm and sunny. There are some HUMANS on the bridge throwing food pellets to an assortment of VERY LARGE CARP. Some DUCKS are competing for pellets. A TINY FUZZY DUCKLING swims into view.

VERY LARGE CARP: Gape, gape. Perhaps the humans on the bridge will continue to shower me with food pellets!

TINY FUZZY DUCKLING: Is this leaf good to eat? It is not. Is this small twig good to eat? It is not.

VERY LARGE CARP: Gape, gape.

TINY FUZZY DUCKLING: Perhaps this very large carp is good to eat!

HUMANS: Tiny fuzzy duckling! Your towering ambition delights and amazes us, but we fear for your safety!

VERY LARGE CARP: I am not good to eat, tiny fuzzy duckling. I may even bite you.

TINY FUZZY DUCKLING: Well, that was rude! I was only asking.

VERY LARGE CARP: Gape, gape.

TINY FUZZY DUCKLING: (sticks its head ALL THE WAY INTO THE CARP’S GAPING MAW) Perhaps something in here is good to eat!

HUMANS: Tiny Fuzzy Duckling! No!

TINY FUZZY DUCKLING: (examines the interior of the VERY LARGE CARP some more)

HUMANS: …

TINY FUZZY DUCKLING: No, nothing good to eat in there. Perhaps I will swim under the bridge.

HUMANS: Oh, Tiny Fuzzy Duckling, why did we not get out our cameras the moment you came on the scene? We’d have been heroes of youtube.

So, I recently read this book, that I saw someone mention either on LJ or on one of the blogs I read. I read the title and the description and I said to myself, “Self, I think it would be beneficial if you would read that book.”

So, you know, I got myself a copy. The book is Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts and it was absorbing reading and I recommend it.

So the “hidden transcripts” this book is talking about are the things groups of people don’t say in public. In the case of the powerful, these are things that, acknowledged openly, would undermine their claims to power and authority. And in the case of the less powerful, they’re things that can be downright dangerous to say in the hearing of the powerful. Sometimes the hidden transcripts of the less powerful become visible, for various reasons, but mostly they don’t make it into histories, they don’t get officially acknowledged. Because that’s kind of the point.

So, very little of what the author presents is particularly new to me–I’ve had varying amounts of power, relative to various other folks in my life, and I’ve seen the hidden transcript thing in operation. None of the examples surprised me at all. Mostly what I liked about this book was the way it connected things together–like, I already knew this and this and this–did it occur to you that these were connected in this way? And gosh, it should have because that makes so much sense.

For instance, the author points out a thing that of course I’d noticed–that (relatively) more powerful groups often consider less powerful groups to be unreliable, shifty liars. It almost doesn’t matter what less powerful groups you pick, right? The author here suggests that it’s due to the fact that the more powerful can see that the “public transcript” isn’t all there is–usually when a hidden transcript pops into view, it’s veiled or deniable, but sometimes it’s obvious there’s more to what someone is saying or doing, no matter how veiled, no matter how plausibly or strenuously denied. But they don’t actually have any access to the subordinate group’s hidden transcript. And for various reasons there’s no percentage in admitting the existence of that hidden transcript (see above, undermining legitimacy). How to resolve this problem? Easy! That class of people are just naturally dishonest.

“I should totally have thought of that myself,” says I. Because I should have. But I didn’t.

So, another thing the author points out–or at least that I came away with–is that when you ignore the hidden transcript of a subordinate group, those moments when that transcript becomes suddenly, plainly visible–someone finally snaps and tells off someone more powerful, or a whole group of the less powerful up and revolt–those times when that happens quite literally make no sense if you don’t know about or acknowledge the existence of the hidden transcript. Now, because of who writes history, those hidden transcripts just don’t show up. So you get stuff like theories about how crowds can be whipped into a hysteria or whatever. Without acknowledging the existence of that entire back-channel, there’s no way to acknowledge the agency of the people in that crowd. So you get theories of how these things happen that do not attribute agency to the people who are acting. It’s mass hysteria, it’s the madness of crowds, it’s people being whipped up. *

And I thought to myself, “Self, that’s like Wossname you used to know, who had married three or four times and every single time, after however many months or years of wedded bliss, his wife would just all of a sudden inexplicably lose her mind. Completely out of the blue!”

And then I said to myself, “Self, this is making me think of all the “witch hunt” and “lynch mob” comments I’ve seen lately.”

It used to be all this stuff was back-channel. If you were a cis, white, straight guy, you could go your whole life and never see that hidden transcript out in the open. You never had to, and like as not the non-cis, non-white, non-straight, non-guys around you never really let on, because it wasn’t safe. I mean, like, physically safe. But things are changing a bit, and some of those groups who would never say anything aloud before? Are now saying things aloud. And since you (cis, white, straight guy that you are) don’t know of or admit the existence of those hidden transcripts, what could it possibly be except agitators, mass hysteria, the madness of crowds whipped into a killing frenzy by…uh…somebody?

There’s more to dig into, there–like, actual witch hunts and lynch mobs weren’t actually something the less powerful ever did to the more powerful, and like, there’s something about a member of a relatively powerful group framing the deliberate actions of one relatively powerful group against a less powerful group as being without agency (hit publish instead of preview by mistake. Edited to add–framing it as without agency so you can compare it to the powerless defending themselves from the more powerful) that’s just messed up. But that’s beyond what I’m up for right now.

No, what I’m intrigued by is the idea of the invisibility of the hidden transcript. The fact that this anger has been there for ages, I’ve been seeing it plainly all this time, and seeing hints of it from groups I’m not a member of, but it’s only ever been behind scenes–whispers to avoid this or that guy, complaints and commiseration in more or less safely private places, just seething in furious silence because you just can’t safely speak. We’ve been soaking in it all our lives, some of us, women and PoC and folks who are LGBTQ, or some or all of the above. So it’s genuinely baffling when someone’s response to actually seeing that anger is “Wait, this must be mass hysteria! This is a mob and you know how mobs work!” Because we know it’s really just the obvious outcome of the anger we’ve been living with all our lives–but they’ve never seen it and apparently don’t really believe it exists. *

This is something I’ve felt for a while, whenever I run up against that “but this is just a lynch mob!” thing. I just couldn’t articulate it, why it was so baffling and wrong, why the people saying it couldn’t even begin to imagine that all these people are angry because they’ve got a good reason to be and it’s been there all this time and just got too much for people to contain, or people have found themselves in a place where maybe they won’t be hurt too catastrophically if they express it. The people crying “witch hunt!” can’t even imagine any other way to process it except to dismiss it. Because to acknowledge the hidden transcripts is to begin to undermine exactly what keeps them in the position they’re in.

Not a world-shattering insight, I guess. But that’s kind of what I got out of this book–nothing in it was exactly mind-blowing, but when I was done reading, some things just made a lot more sense.

____

*Note to self–this same set of assumptions is perhaps inseparable from the ever popular “What these people need is a honky” plot.

**This works, of course, wherever you’ve got groups with relative power differences, so even though women have their own hidden transcripts with regard to men, when white women catch sight of WoC’s hidden transcripts, the reaction is often much like when men catch sight of women’s. Or, you know, any other set of groups with an obvious power imbalance between them. “So,” I say to myself, “Self, don’t go feeling smug because you know all about it cause you’re a woman but when they do it, they’re just a mob.”

Despicable Despicable Me 2

So, back in the day, I took my then-ten-year-old to see Despicable Me. We both had a good time–my only reservations were the couple of fat jokes, and wait, why does Gru have that accent again? But the fat jokes were minor, and Gru was really quite a charming character. The girls, of course, were wonderful, and who doesn’t love the Minions? I am still somewhat shocked that toy stores were not filled with plush Minions, I’d have gotten half a dozen. The next week we rounded up Mr Leckie and the then-thirteen-year-old and took them to the theater to see it. We bought the disc pretty much as soon as it came out on DVD.

Among the things I really liked about Despicable Me was the way the happy ending (oh, spoiler!) didn’t force the characters into a standard family structure. It’s Gru and the girls and the Minions and Grandma is proud and they love each other and it’s all good.

So when Despicable Me 2 came out, going to see it was kind of a no-brainer. The couple of reviews I’d seen said it wasn’t as good as the first movie, but then how many movies are?

Those reviews did not prepare me for what I saw. Honestly. People could watch that and say “Well, it’s not quite as good as the first one, but it’ll do”? Seriously?

Avoiding spoilers makes it hard to be specific about some things–but sweet, merciful Unconquered Sun, the ethnic stereotypes. The return of the fat jokes.

And the misogyny. No, seriously. In a movie with three built-in awesome girls, and with a female lead that was intended to be awesome and cool, pretty much every single other woman was hated on. Sickeningly so, in the case of the woman Gru goes on a date with because his nosy, annoying (female, natch!) neighbor insists on setting him up. I’m not going to describe how that date concluded, but I’ll tell you I sat there in the theater wishing I’d spent my rare movie ticket money elsewhere.

Then of course there’s the whole “but of course Agnes wants a mommy!” thing. For serious, that’s just lazy. I mean, you could take that direction and do something interesting with it*–but no, that wasn’t on the menu. We’re just going to assume that children without Mommies wish they had them and families must have Mommies to be complete. Because…um…look, we gotta turn this thing in before we can go to the bar. People love mommies! It’s just a kids movie, who the hell cares?

The whole thing was just freaking lazy. And a great way to totally ignore the elements that made the first one successful! I wondered briefly if they’d had different writers for 2, but no. Same writers. Kind of baffling. Something (or someone) must have held them to a higher standard for that first movie. Not to mention forced them to edit out the racism and the misogyny.

Anyway. My advice–don’t waste your money on Despicable Me 2. I wish I hadn’t.
___

*Yes, even in “just” a kids movie. Please don’t make me write that rant, too.

Ancillary ARCs!

Well, look what came in the mail today!

ARC of Ancillary Justice

So, I’m going to be giving some away. I’m not sure just how yet–maybe just something as simple as a random drawing. I haven’t decided yet.

But look at it! It’s a real, physical book that really exists!!!

June Fiction

I’ve gotten behind on announcing when stories go up at GNS. Sorry about that! Life, you know?

This month, A House, Drifting Sideways, by Rahul Kanakia.

On the morning of my fund day, our pilot landed the house with a particularly gentle touch. I was probably the only family-member who felt the house kiss our Philadelphia docking station. I abandoned my desk and went to the window. A crowd of grubby locals from the adjacent Suareztown had already gathered around the marble pediment of the docking station. It might be hours before we began recruiting, but they had no better use for their time than jostling for a place near the house’s entrance. Although Father refused to indulge their pretensions to serfdom by directly sharing our family’s arrival times with the Suareztowners, some groundskeeper had probably told them, days ago, that we were coming.

The leading edge of the crowd was just fifty feet below me. The mass of dirty limbs and garishly clothed torsos swayed, and arms were raised up. I waved, and the carpet of humanity rippled in time to my movements. I presumed they were cheering.

Stuff and Things

Been doing stuff! This weekend I went to the Missouri State Sacred Harp Convention. Which basically was like this: (If the embedding doesn’t work, try clicking here)

All day for two days, with occasional breaks for coffee and/or lunch. Or as it’s referred to in singing circles, Dinner on the Grounds. Which, translated, means “a ginormous potluck round about noon with so much delicious food that you can’t possibly try even a taste of every different thing, plus a zillion cakes and pies.”

I also attended Career Day at the nearby high school, where I talked to kids who were interested in writing. There were only a few students interested in SF&F, and several who were mainly interested in poetry, which I couldn’t really help them with. There were lots of good questions about quite a range of issues, including some technical ones (how to handle transitions, dealing with being stuck in a particular place in a project, etc) that really needed more complex answers–I mean, transitions? The choices are essentially limitless and without seeing the piece in question I could only give general advice (try just cutting to where you want to be, plus watch how the writers you love handle the same sort of thing and try imitating it to see if it works for you), but hopefully I was able to help a bit.

But my takeaway was, there are, locally, a good number of smart, eager kids interested in writing. They were a pretty wide-ranging group, too–I saw three sessions of about twenty kids each and they seemed to be from a pretty wide range of backgrounds from what I could tell just seeing them for a half hour or so. I really enjoyed talking with them.

Ten thousand thousand are their tongues, but all their joys are one

I need to run errands today like a super-efficient errand-running thing, but I can’t go anywhere just yet because all my jeans are in the dryer.

Meantime, I just thought I’d mention that Ancillary Justice has an amazon page, and it is, it seems, quite entirely possible to pre-order it.

At some point–no idea exactly when–I will have some ARCs to give away, too. I am trying to think of a fun way to do that, and haven’t come up with anything more exciting than “send me your name and I’ll pull some out of a hat.” There’s time, though!

Whether you pre-order, or wait for an ARC giveaway, either way, you can also apparently add the book on Goodreads.

No, I do not keep looking at those pages over and over again. I also did not set the mockup of the cover I saw a few weeks ago as the wallpaper on my computer and also my phone. Because that would be silly.