Saturday, June 11, 2016

Con Report: ConCarolinas 2016 Women in F/SF

I started my ConCarolinas weekend with this panel, and I felt totally outclassed by this outstanding group of women:
  • Beth Revis
  • Alexandra Duncan
  • Wendy Delmater Thies
  • Janine Spendlove
  • Nicole Givens Kurtz

Sorry my notes are pretty rough -- I was still getting into Con mode!

For aspiring authors - who want to write in spec fic
Let’s talk about women as characters

There's a panel this weekend on negative tropes: Hell Hath No Fury
Rape is lazy writing - an overdone trope
Yes it happens, it's a very real thing
But in writing, it's not the only way to build drama
It turns women from characters to victims and objects
Too often we see the author sacrificing the woman for the man's plot - kill them, sideline, marginalize
In much of feminist fiction, men stink - that's not really helpful either

Why do we get the dark tales? Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale, etc.
Do we have postive ones? Absolutely!
Lois McMaster Bujold - Vorkosigan series - many of the women have courage, conviction, honor, wits
We all have different strengths

What about older women? Vorkosigan, also CJ Cherryh's Foreigner series -   terrific role models
Ageism is rampant in SF
How ridiculous to try to pair young Scarlet Johansen with Robert Downey Jr? 

Hate the "There's only room for one bitch in this room" trope - as if you can't have two strong women work together

We need a panel on librarians! Because you don't mess with the librarian!

What are some of your fave sci fi characters?
The Bees by Laline Paull - not marketed as SF- takes place within a beehive - Watership Down for bees - murder-
Wendy's second-in-command at Abyss & Apex is a Canadian woman from Trinidad - she's writing a novel with an outstanding female main character
Leia in Star Wars
Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint - sequel shows the main character training to build muscles and become a competent warrior

Mary Sue - how do we overcome the trope?
It's primarily about wish fulfillment
Men have James Bond
Read about a woman resisting assault - female empowerment fantasy
Make the character imperfect - make mistakes, learn and grow
Daniel Craig's incarnation of the brand-new James Bond - part of the appeal was that he *wasn't* perfect - he fumbled and made mistakes!
Women are allowed to be shown with different kinds of strength
Men are stuck - *have* to be the hero, strong, successful
Nicole wrote Cybil and Jane as terrific partners - Cybil has to train and work out - she is injured and put in hospital, she's not infallible - grittiness, realism, didn't want her to be overly strong or a Mary Sue

How to write a strong female character who is more than a "dude with boobs"
Athena's Daughters - wanted to see women all out, show emotions, show strength and resolve when she needs to, not just physically strong, but someone who will sit up all night with a baby and then go to work the next day,  someone who puts up with sexism every day and stands up against it even though they know they could lose their job
Women characters, goal oriented, know what they want, move toward it despite everything
Decide what they want and go for it
Humans are infinitely variable
Weak women and weak men exist

Saga-graphic novel

Beth praises Alexandra's Salvage

Breaking stereotypes and roles - beautiful young want to get married and have kids - how does SF tear down those and show other amazing women?
Captain marvel comics - in her mid 40s - kick ass
Zoe in Firefly
Ready Player One - explodes a lot of tropes
Star Wars canon reboot
Claudia Gray, Lost Stars
Chuck Wendig, Aftermath
Janine didn't put a single white man in her story, Inbrief, in the Star Wars 2016 Del Ray Sampler
BBC just announced all their future shows will be 50% women
We make assumptions - all the time! "Black Hermione" ( JKR retroactively approves casting a black woman - she never said Hermione was white in the books!)
We have default settings in our brain

The first person to name Ripley's cat (Jones) in Alien won a copy of Athena Daughters 2!

And so, with a loving heart, I offer you 
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite: 
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes 
the light of the universe that shines within you. 

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