On Heroines

(Spoiler Warnings Various)

I was very fortunate that, growing up, I was able to find books growing up in which girls were the protagonists, the chosen, the ones who saved their homes or their worlds. Particular thanks to Tamora Pierce, who practically codified this as a subgenre, but the truth is that between my school’s surprisingly large collection, given the number of students, and the vast resources of the New York Public Library, my books were full of people like me.

Where I was more lacking in representation was in films, although I never thought it was an issue. Sure, I had some complaints — Leia is undoubtedly awesome, but I wanted to wield a lightsaber goddamnit — but for the most part I accepted that the protagonists of my favorite movies were mostly male. Or that even if the main character was a woman, she would be surrounded primarily by men.

I didn’t think it was a problem.

Then, I learned I could have something different.

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A Hugo Award Recommended Reading List (2017 Edition)

For Tami, because she asked.

Best Novel

  • A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager US)
  • Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris Books)
  • The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit Books)
  • Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer (Tor Books)*

Yes, I am recommending that many. It was a really strong field!  A Closed and Common Orbit is a worthy sequel to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, with quite a bit more in the way of actual plot, while still retaining the charm and character focus of the first book. Ninefox Gambit is brilliant military science fiction that kind of messes with your head. The Obelisk Gate is a sequel that meets or even surpasses The Fifth Season, and that set a high bar. The final book in the trilogy is coming out within the next month and I am so excited. Continue reading

A Recommended Reading List (2016)

I am occasionally asked for book recommendations, which I LOVE doing although I am always baffled to be asked. I prefer to tailor recommendations toward the asker (if I know of two or three books or authors previously liked, I feel much better pulling recs from my “library”, so to speak), but I’m also happy to do a “best of the best according to Faith”, and so here is such a list for books I read in 2016*. Continue reading

Friday Flashfic: Careful

Again, with thanks to Tami for the prompt.

I lowered my head and charged straight at the lizard-man, hardening my skin as I went. When I collided with him my head and shoulders were solid metal, and he went flying.

My name’s Jake. I’ve got super powers.

The lizard-man didn’t seem too fazed by his fall, or by the fact that I’d already knocked out his buddy. He whipped his tail, flipping himself back upright and slashed down with wicked looking claws. They sparked as they glanced off my metal skin, but the force of the blow still bowled me over. I hit the parking lot pavement hard, and the lizard-man landed squarely on top of me.

I tried to shove him off me, but I didn’t have super strength, and a full-size lizard man totally outweighs one scrawny twelve-year-old, even one with super powers. But I had to defeat him. I had to prove that I was good enough to be a Super Ranger.

The lizard-man realized he wasn’t going to be able to injure me, not with my skin all slivered. But he could still make a clean getaway – he dashed off, away from the nearby shopping mall and toward the tree line. I tried to go after him but I’d had the wind knocked out of me – and superspeed isn’t one of my powers.

But before the lizard vanished into the trees, he was struck by a bolt of blue lighting. I whipped around, just in time to see a woman in a bright blue jumpsuit with black stripes jump down from the hood of a car. Tiny bolts of blue electricity crackled along her arms.

I pinched myself. Electra, here?? She was the leader of the Super Rangers team, and she’d won ExtraOrdinary Magazine’s Superhero of the Year award for three years running. She was amazing.

Electra glanced around the parking lot, noting the unconscious lizard-man by the shopping cart return. “Not bad, kiddo.”

I flushed bright red, though Electra wouldn’t be able to see it under my mask. I hoped. “Do you really – uh, I mean, thanks!”

“Will I see you at the tryouts next month?”

“Definitely,” I said, with a confidence I didn’t feel. I’d have to come up with some excuse for my parents – an overnight field trip, maybe, or a fake sleepover if I could convince Cyrus to help me out.

“Good.”

The Super Rangers were the top superhero team in the country, and they only took the best of the best as members and apprentices. They had tryouts once a year. If Electra thought I was ready for tryouts…

I tried to remember to breathe.

“Um, do you think –“ I was interrupted by my watch beeping. Damn, damn, double-dog damn. “Sorry, gotta go, late for something,” I gasped out, turning and running for the mall entrance. I could change in one of the bathrooms and go out the back door, where my bike was leaned up against the wall.

“Wait!” Electra called after me, but I ignored her.

Mom was just coming up from the basement, a basket of laundry balanced on her hip, when I crashed through the front door.

“You’re cutting it close,” she said, one eyebrow raised.

“I know, I know, sorry.” I kicked off my sneakers into the pile of shoes by the door. I didn’t see Ellie’s flats yet – I’d gotten here before my tutor. You’d think saving the world would get me a break on algebra, but I was too scared to tell my parents about my, uh, new extracurricular activity. I could just imagine them freaking out about it being dangerous and grounding me forever, and then I’d never get to be a Super Ranger.

“There’s yogurt in the fridge, and a new jar of peanut butter in the cabinet. Make yourself a good snack – you have to keep your strength up if you’re going to be ready for the Super Ranger tryouts.”

“Uh huh,” I said, shuffling toward the fridge. “Wait, what?” I realized what she’d said and dashed back into the hallway.

“How did you know?” I asked, not sure I wanted the answer. I thought I had been careful. I thought she was in the dark. Please don’t ground me.

Mom grinned, and pulled up her sleeve to reveal a formfitting jumpsuit: electric blue with a black stripe down the side.

Friday Flashfic: Winter

Thanks to Tami for the prompt.

The wind whispered through the dark, empty trees like a warning in a foreign language. Winter was coming, and with it the snows that turned the mountainside, difficult to traverse even in high summer, into a prison as inescapable as any king’s dungeon.

If I was leaving, it would have to be tonight.

That was the last push I needed to step out of the doorway and onto the path, drawing my cloak tighter against the wind as I did so. My pack was a solid weight on my back: such food as I had managed to squirrel away without Father noticing; a spare set of boy’s cloths that my brother had outgrown; Mother’s books. Continue reading

Year in Review III

The concluding post to my review of books read in 2016. See Part I for pretty charts and Part II for boring methodology.

Major Takeaways

Let’s review the most significant conclusions from Part I:

  • I read a lot of women
  • I don’t read a lot of nonwhite authors
  • I don’t read a lot of books with LGBTQ+ authors or characters

And let’s also recall the following chart, which demonstrates my clear and obvious preference for female characters written by female authors:

image-2

Female Bias

Of the 110 books I read last year, 85 were written by women and 25 were written by men. However, once I account for series books written by the same author, I am left with 76 individual authors, of whom 51 are female (67%) and 24 are male (33%).

Considering that I make a deliberate effort to seek out work by female authors, I’m not at all surprised to see that they make up a majority percentage of my reading material. In fact, I almost expected the percentage of female authors to be higher. I can think of one possible reason why that was not the case… Continue reading