Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Fan Writing Samples: January 2014

Here is a breakdown of each of the nominees for Best Fan Writer. I included both Matthew David Surridge (who declined his nomination) and last year’s nominees for those that are interested in comparing. I did not, however, include myself. Each of these posts are from January of last year. I tried to find the best material and the most intriguing zingers; I hope you enjoy them!

Hugo Best Fan Writer Nominees, 2015

Dave Freer (Mad Genius Club) Something new under the sun — “I’ve got my young French cousin here, and things we find terribly mundane – digging up potatoes, catching fish… are still exciting novelties for him. He can’t wait to do what I consider bordering on chores. Food which is so ordinary we barely think of it, for him is a gastronomic experience of unparalleled intensity. I found myself wondering if this was not true of books too – and deciding it was.”

Amanda S. Green (Mad Genius Club) Indie concerns — “Choose your beta readers carefully. While I almost always have one who doesn’t read the genre of the book just written, my main betas are familiar with the genre and its conventions. The reason I have the one non-genre reader is to make sure I haven’t fallen back into tropes that signal those familiar with the genre but that will leave those not as familiar out in the cold wondering why my characters are acting as they are. I’ve heard horror stories of authors getting notes back from their betas with suggestions that make you wonder 1) if they read the same book you wrote and 2) what they were on when they read it. These are often the same beta readers who want to continually ‘help’ you as you are writing, offering advice and plot ideas that not only don’t work but would never work in anything you write.”

Cedar Sanderson (Mad Genius Club) Fantasy is Tough — “Fantasy worlds where saying the right words and poof, magic happens! just didn’t sit well with me. If repeating bibbidy-bobbidy-boo can shoot fire from your fingertips, the human race would have been extinct with the first babblings of a baby. Worlds where all you need is a handy ley line, or a handful of pixie dust, or whatever the magical contrivance the author was using, left me cold. Worlds where everything was handily available, because magic! annoyed the heck out of me. And I read slush for a while, and there is only so much Tolkein pastiche one person can endure before drowning in it. I stopped reading anything that said fantasy on the cover.”

Matthew David Surridge (Black Gate) “Beware the Man With the Stolen Soul”: Steve Ditko and Stalker — “Stalker’s a strong start for a young writer. It catches a real Weird Tales feel, a mix of Howard-like action and Clark Ashton Smith-like strangeness. And it moves like a shot. In the first issue, a strange man in golden chain armour sneaks and fights his way into a castle, where he throws a knife at the ruling queen. It misses, deliberately: the knife carries a message on its blade, a promise that this man, called only ‘Stalker,’ will return in a year to kill the queen. We then go to flashback, where we find Stalker was a beggar who begged the queen to let him serve her as a warrior. She agreed, and brought him into her service — as a slave. He escaped, and, among a crowd of a thousand temples, bitterly decided to take as his patron ‘the demon lord of warriors — Dgrth!’ The diabolical Dgrth appeared before Stalker and gave him ‘all the arts of killing men ever wished for,’ making him undefeatable, but took his soul in exchange.”

Hugo Best Fan Writer Nominees, 2014

Kameron Hurley (kameronhurley.com) Women and Gentlemen: Unmasking the Sobering Realities of Hyper-Masculine Characters — “I, too, grew up on Conan stories and Mad Max. I grew up celebrating dangerous alpha males who fucked and drank and blew shit up with no consequences. But whereas other authors, perhaps, grew up to emulate those sorts of hyper-masculine heroes without question, I started to think about how Conan would actually get along in a world. I started to think about ways that hyper masculinity would affect the quality of their lives. I realized that Conan would never have a happy ending. Whether or not that’s something to celebrate, I don’t know. But it’s something we should talk about.”

Abigail Nussbaum (Asking the Wrong Questions) Becoming Something Else: Thoughts on Arrow — “Somewhat less successful, but still quite interesting, is Arrow’s handling of class. One of the few things I did pick up about the comics’ Green Arrow is that he’s considered the left-wing answer to Batman, and especially in the current political climate, in which the fascism of the Nolan Batman films has been getting more and more pushback as people notice how problematic it is for a billionaire to go out at night and attack poor criminals, there’s space for a story in which the Batman analogue is focused on systemic, economic crime. As I wrote at the beginning of this piece, Arrow’s social consciousness initially seems skin-deep, but as the first season draws on it becomes clear that issues of class are baked into every aspect of the show’s world–in which the class war is a literal one, with the privileged classes drawing first blood.”

Foz Meadows (Shattersnipe: Malcontent & Rainbows) An A to Z of Non-Binary Genders — “So, here’s a thing that happened: Alex Dally MacFarlane had the temerity to suggest that non-binary gender is an actual thing that deserves to be represented in SFF, and certain persons lost their shit, citing a variety of ill-informed reasons that can basically be summarised as ‘non-binary gender doesn’t really exist, but if it did, we’d still think it was icky and unimportant, and also you’re just a liberal fascist trying to make us sympathise with imaginary humans as part of your nefarious agenda to destroy all men’. And as such persons are apparently incapable of performing a basic Google search before spouting bigoted nonsense all over the internet, I’ve decided to make things easy for them, and compile a handy A to Z of non-binary gender identities in the modern world and throughout history. “

Liz Bourke (Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea) Marrying one’s sofa — “Science fiction and fantasy is one of the few places where it is possible to conceive of worlds from the ground up that don’t carry the same historical, cultural baggage of binary gender, of masculine and feminine as socially concrete. I was eighteen or nineteen before I realised it was possible for me, for women, to be attracted to both women and men;* several years older, before I got my head around the idea it could be more complicated than that, that the gender you were socially assigned, the role society pressured you to fill, wasn’t necessarily the same as the one inside your head. That the faces we show to the world are all social roles. All performances.”

Mark Oshiro (Mark Reads) Mark Reads ‘The Kingdom of Gods’: Chapter 1 — “It’s also interesting how quickly Jemisin re-contextualizes the end of the last book for us by giving us Sieh’s perspective on Itempas’s punishment. Like Nahadoth, Sieh has very little interest in forgiving his father, but matters are complicated by the loneliness he feels. Just ten pages into this book and I feel like Jemisin has been able to brilliantly capture Sieh’s childlike nature. He longs for affection. He desires attention. He despises that his parents are not paying attention to him and in the same breath, he feels comforted by them comforting one another. He is, in every respect, a child inside, his emotions extreme and polarizing and contradictory, and it’s incredible to read.”

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5 responses to “Fan Writing Samples: January 2014

  1. Noah Doyle April 20, 2015 at 6:58 am

    Both sections are given the 2014 heading.

  2. Cirsova April 20, 2015 at 8:30 am

    You’re up against tough competition; Mad Genius Club has some really great writers.

    • jeffro April 20, 2015 at 8:35 am

      I check their site every morning now when I’m guzzling my coffee. Definitely some cool cats over there.

      • Cirsova April 20, 2015 at 8:39 am

        I’m finally reaching critical mass to where I’m probably trying to follow more writers than I have time to read; it doesn’t help that Sarah Hoyt puts out new content like a maniac.

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