Today On The Bias: The Geek’s Guide to Disability

I’ve got a post up on The Bias today about disability, how it’s represented in genre fiction, and how that representation differs from the lived realities of non-fictional disabled people, and political frameworks that guide our discourse about disability. Check it out: The Geek’s Guide to Disability.

Posted on February 16, 2016 .

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2015 Awards Eligibility

It's awards nomination season in the Science Fiction and Fantasy fandoms. Eligibility

I encourage anyone nominating to read widely and nominate what you love, but I would be honored to be considered for the following:

Hugo Award for Best Related Work

I have several things eligible for Best Related Work, but I'm most proud of these two:

I'm Not Broken, an essay about how sexual assault survivors are represented in genre fiction, which appeared in Jim C. Hines's Invisible 2. My essay and the collection as a whole are both eligible for the Hugo Award for Best Related Work.

The Call of the Sad Whelkfins: The Continued Relevance of How To Supress Women's Writing, which I co-wrote with Natalie Luhrs for Issue Seven of Uncanny Magazine. This is the essay I'm most proud of from 2015, and I can think of few things that would make me happier than sharing a Hugo with Natalie for it.

Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer

I'm also eligible in the fan writer category. In addition to the two works above, I'm also proud of writing the following things in 2015:

That's me for 2015! I very much appreciate your consideration. And if you're looking for other works to consider, Author A. C. Wise is keeping a running list of eligibility posts.

Posted on January 19, 2016 .

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My Sasquan Schedule

I'm excited to be attending Sasquan in Spokane, WA this August. I've been to my share of mid-sized regional conferences, and had a blast at DetCon One--last year's North American Science Fiction Convention--but this will be my first Worldcon.

Will I see you there? If so, here's where you'll be able to find me:

Thursday 12:00 - 12:45PM, Bays 111C (CC) - Female Characters in Video Games

How are female characters rendered and scripted in video games? How can we get more realistic female characters rather than the juvenile male fantasy that predominates the field?

Tanglwyst de Holloway, Annalee Flower Horne, Lauren Roy

Thursday 5:00 - 5:45PM, 206A (CC) - How to Judge a Masquerade

What makes a good judge? What do judges need to consider? Just how hard is it to judge a masquerade? What are the judges looking for? How do they decide who wins? Why does it take so long?

Ms Suford Lewis (M), Annalee Flower Horne, Richard Stephens, Kathy Sanders

Thursday 8:00 - 8:45PM, 300C (CC) - Genre and the Global Police State

Thanks to the Five Eyes -- the joint intelligence sharing treaty between the USA, UK, Australia, and others -- and the total penetration of the internet by NSA/GCHQ monitoring, we now live in a society that is a secret policeman's dream. Wikileaks and then Edward Snowden blew the lid off the scandalous subversion of western democracies by unaccountable secret government agencies. In past decades, SF and fantasy provided a vehicle for trenchant social and political commentary on on-going cultural changes (consider "The Forever War" as a comment on Vietnam), but where are the genre works dealing with the global police state?

Annalee Flower Horne, Karl Schroeder, Charles Stross, Jim Wright

Friday 1:00 - 1:45PM, Bays 111A (CC) - Do We Live in the Marvel Universe? Marvel Conquers TV, Movies & Comics

Are the Marvel movies now driving the comics universe?  Is this good?  And what about Agent Carter?

Ajani Brown, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Annalee Flower Horne, Tom Smith

Saturday 11:00 - 11:45, 206A (CC) - Costume Design for Writers

Designing real clothing for your characters that will fit the need of your story which allows your characters to move, indicate rank if needed, and give people an idea of your society.

E. C. Ambrose (M), Tanglwyst de Holloway, Annalee Flower Horne

Saturday 12:00 - 12:45, Conference Theater 110 (CC) - Alien Linguistics

Science fiction and fantasy often deals with alien or made-up languages. What makes a convincing language? What can we learn about creating such languages from the diversity of human languages?

David Peterson (M), Annalee Flower Horne, Lawrence M. Schoen, Julia Smith, Stanley Schmidt

Saturday 1:30 - 2:00PM, 301 (CC) - Reading!

Reasons you should come to my reading:

  1. Action! Adventure! Feats of daring-do!
  2. I'm a hit at parties.
  3. I tell only the highest-quality fart jokes.
Posted on July 25, 2015 .

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Asking About My Cane

A .5lb collapsible carbon fiber in sparkly indigo. It might be the most stylish thing I own.

A .5lb collapsible carbon fiber in sparkly indigo. It might be the most stylish thing I own.

If you follow me on twitter, you might have seen me singing the praises of my shiny new cane a couple weeks back.

I have a neurological condition that causes, among other things, dizziness. I bought a cane because having a third foot is really handy when I'm feeling unsteady.

Since I'm not dizzy every day and not in the office every day, my cane didn't make its first appearance at the office until this Wednesday.

Wednesday looked a lot like this:

for colleague in colleagues:
  curiosity = random.randint(1,20)
  if curiosity > 5:
    print( + ": what happened?")
    print("me: nothing, I just have a neurological condition\
          that causes dizziness.")

(For the non-parselmouths among you, that means I was answering the same question all day).

I don't particularly mind answering questions about my cane-use. It's natural to be curious when someone you work with suddenly shows up with an assistive device. If I had it to do again I would have dropped it in the office slack to get the explanation out of the way all at once, but I didn't find the question invasive or uncomfortable.

But sometimes, these questions are uncomfortable. Some people don't want to talk about their health or disabilities, especially at work. People with disabilities have good reason to fear discrimination. Even when we're not concerned about that, sometimes we don't want to have to be the walking brochure for our conditions, or we're not up for well-intentioned advice from people who are not part of our medical team.

Which is why I want to give a shout-out to my boss, for asking the question a different way. Rather than asking "what happened," he asked, "are you okay?"

I replied, "yup!" and went on with what I was doing.

This phrasing conveys the same sentiment--an expression of polite concern--but it's much easier to answer without either supplying personal information or making things awkward. That's especially handy when there's a power differential in play that might make someone feel like they need to answer a question even when they don't want to.

As for the rest of my team: none of them pressed me for more information about my health or offered me unsolicited medical advice. They're pretty good at boundaries.

I say all this not as a means of giving my office ally cookies, but because I think the world would be a better place if more folks followed their example of how to talk to people about their disabilities. It's nice to work somewhere where I can use a cane when I need one without anyone making it weird.

Posted on May 22, 2015 .

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How To Ally With Survivors, Avengers Edition

Hey, Captain Rogers. We need to talk.

I know you're probably still behind on your reading, so you may not know what 'rape culture' is. You probably haven't seen the studies showing that rape jokes convince rapists that their behavior is acceptable.

But you do know that rape jokes aren't funny.

You know this because you're a decent human being. You want to see all people treated fairly. You know there is nothing even remotely funny about rape. If you could do something to reduce the prevalence of rape in the world, or even just affirm the humanity of those who've survived it, you'd do it in a heartbeat. You're a hero, after all.

But Cap, when your buddy Tony Stark cracked a rape joke, you dropped the ball.

I get it. You froze. You didn't want to make things weird, or blow one vulgar joke out of proportion. I mean, what do you even say to something like that? 

I'm glad you asked. Here's what you say:

  • "Gross."
  • "Dude, not cool."
  • "Rape jokes aren't funny."
  • "Really?"

Go ahead and try those out a few times. I'm serious. It might sound goofy, but standing up to your buddies is hard. If you practice, you'll be a lot more prepared to respond in the moment.

I'll tell you what, though. As hard as it is to stand up to your buddies, when you do it, you won't do it alone. When you make it clear that you're not okay with rape jokes, you make room for others to say the same.

I can't be certain, but I'm pretty sure that this is how the story would go if you'd told Stark he was out of line:

"I will be re-instituting prima nocta," Tony said, reaching for the hammer.

Steve lowered his drink, looking at Tony as if he'd just ripped a noxious fart in the middle of the party. "Really, Tony?"

"Wait," Tony said. "You get jokes now? When did that happen?" 

Thor frowned. "Are not jokes supposed to be funny?"

"He's got you there," said Bruce.

Tony yanked on the hammer. It didn't budge. "Fine. Cap, let's see you lift it."

Steve rose and walked to the hammer, rolling his shoulders to loosen his muscles before grabbing the handle.

The hammer was lighter than Steve expected. It was half an inch off the table before he even realized he'd lifted it.

He dropped it immediately, and spent the next ten seconds pretending to pull.

Tony already felt like a jackass. There was no need to rub it in.

That's how it would have gone.

And you want to know the best part?

You don't need to be a super-soldier for these lines to work. Normal guys can use them, too.

Posted on May 6, 2015 .

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