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Author of queer, wry sci fi/fantasy books. On Amazon.
Editor of all fiction genres.

Friday, 27 November 2015

The Sexuality of Fear: The New World of Romance (Part 3)

Hello hello!

Today I have a phenomenal guest post by Katie de Long, following up on the concept mentioned in my last post. Because we're in the middle of a move and Important Life Stuff, the series I have planned will go into December. Don't worry--the ideas I have planned for you won't go wasted! But without further ado--please give Katie de Long a warm welcome. 


Horror's provided one of the most accessible outlets for people to explore their fears, from the Grand Guignol performances, to Dracula's penchant for distancing reproduction from sex, something that would have upset the societal order of the time, as well as confronting madonna/whore ideas about women's sexuality. But as time's gone on, and our societal discussions have changed, the exact nature of the fear has shifted, to one that allows us to confront much more direct societal issues, like sexual assault.

Think of the brooding vampire. He didn't know what he was getting into, when he followed that beautiful, dangerous-looking woman home. He looks on it after with traumatized eyes, remembering struggling as she forced her blood down his throat. Or not realizing what was happening until it was too late, and he was too weak to fight. When the curse takes hold, and he finds himself turning violent, unstable, it hammers the cycle of abuse home, how sometimes it's most natural to hurt those we love, or to betray our own ethics, because of how we've been hurt. Think of the aversions that often come with this: a fear of being touched, an obsessive awareness of others' proximity, moods, habits, a conviction you'll never be loved, never be redeemed, an implication that it's somehow your fault that you were turned.

This angle's often discussed less, in favor of the inherent sexuality in vampirism- the eroticism of the physical contact, of sharing intimate fluids with someone, the heat of the danger in feeding/being fed upon. But it's there, in basically every tortured vampire with a soul. Even Buffy has multiple examples of this mindset.

But the way it's written is often a far more deft way of handling psychological narratives better suited to an assault victim than the treatment of sexual assault victims. In this way, it's able to subvert narratives about power and domination, showing the complex downsides of that kind of drastic physical/mental change. It's people talking about rape without framing it as rape, and those characters being better understood, and portrayed in more nuanced ways than rape victims.

Vampires aren't the only way this manifests. The Mary Sue posted an interesting piece recently examining this aspect of iZombie, how the character's situation could easily be read as pre/post assault. (http://www.themarysue.com/izombie-allegory-sexual-assault/) It's a fairly common theme, because on some level we understand this thought process, even without having gone through it personally.

Just as the vampire's relationship with his vampirism evolves, between self-hatred and self-acceptance, moderating the harms of what's been done, and struggling to become someone he can live with despite it, so does our relationship with our own violent sides evolve.

Some have speculated that, rather than identifying with the heroine in a romance novel, female readers identify with the hero. The angry one, or aloof one, or brooding one. A prickly guy sells like hotcakes, while a prickly heroine gets panned in reviews. And while some of this has to do with the way we gender emotions- hell, even Inside Out allowed circumstantial anxiety and anger to be framed as male, while women were social awareness(Disgust), and the polar Joy and Sadness.- the rest has to do with the fact that we're not so much learning to love the hero for who he is, in the story's journey... we're learning to love ourselves. Even the angry, controlling, or violent bits.

In this way, our ongoing love affair with the brooding, straining-to-control-himself alpha Vampire is us setting up a framework to interpret our own experiences with sexual violence, or systemic issues like patriarchy or racism.

And this even includes the converse, the revenge narrative, like I Spit On Your Grave, or as books go, the Gypsy Brothers, that allow for a survivor to enact violence upon those who hurt them. In dark romance, especially, you see this theme emerge in the female narrators who are femme fatales: assassins, spies, people who are thrown into a position of being submissive to someone they hate and see as evil, but who have to ultimately come to accept both that person's darkness, and their own.

Horror and dark romance are all about exposing humanity's dark side for what it is... and then showing how to subvert or defeat it. How to control it. How to love it.

Katie around the internet:
Katie's site: http://delongkatie.com/
Katie's Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katie.delong.12
Katie's Facebook Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/696177510494600/
Katie's Twitter: @delongkatie
Katie's Mailing List Signup: http://eepurl.com/CSk3n
Katie's ARC Reader Signup: http://eepurl.com/5Z9uj

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Leave your comments, rebuttals, and vehement agreements below. Don't miss any of the phuquerie--get on the mailing list. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Monday, 2 November 2015

When Monsters Are Friends: The New World of Romance (Part 2)

Hello hello!

Before we go any further, please be aware that I WILL be talking about abuse, mental health issues, and physical health issues in the context of metaphor and real life. Brace yourselves. This is a trigger warning of the most sincere kind; for here be monsters.

Monsters are everywhere. I knew this when I was a little girl, and I was firmly convinced of it--shadows moved at night. Edging my foot over the side of the bed would be a step too far, enough to alert the crawling, creeping horrors lurking in the darkness of my room. Seething shapes with claws and red eyes and teeth waited in the back of my mind, torturing a vivid imagination. Sometimes they looked like raptors from Jurassic Park--cheesy now, but terrifying to my childhood self. The shark from Jaws looks quite fake now, laughably so, but back then, its churning maw and darkly thrashing fins kept me shaking in my flippers when I ventured into the deep end of the pool.

The monsters didn't go away as I got older--or, they did, but just became rarer. Side effects of an over-active imagination, I knew, but it didn't make them less scary. Stringy-haired young girls in white gowns, their long black hair draping over broken, distorted limbs, crawled through my nightmares. Long-clawed shadows made me watch the windows tensely, well into my late teens--just in case something was moving out there. Something that wasn't the neighbour's dog or a wandering coyote.

In university, a visualization exercise involving a misshapen, enormous, leather-winged beast had my heart racing even as I walked the corridors in full daylight. My partner introduced me to Lovecraft, and I shuddered over descriptions of cannibalism and nameless wraiths and vile magicians. And at some point, in the middle of it all, Twilight happened.

"Sparkly Vampires"

Everyone across the internet--and off of it, in fact--seems to understand what is meant by "sparkly vampires". And while those vampires are technically much closer to mythical portrayals of fey, the concept of effete, weak, sulky, ridiculous creatures was still cemented firmly in public imagination. Say the phrase "sparkly vampires" and people will know that you're referring not only to soppy portrayals of the legendary sanguinarian revenants, but to crappy, overly romanticized monsters in general.

Except...there's a merit to softening and humanizing our monsters. By making the vampires "nice", Meyer made them accessible, relateable. The way she did it--and especially her prose--bear some critique, but the yearning, angry isolation, and discontent within a world of privilege that Edward and the other vamps express--those clearly spoke to people around the world. The vamps may live on animal blood, but their supernatural abilities and other traits make them "different"--and all those differences are for the sole purpose of predation. Even love cannot make a monster cease to exist, or fix its true nature. And yet, love persisted, even though both Bella and Edward knew it was a bad, unhealthy idea. This is what spoke to so many people, something true that even purple prose and sighing, dull, sullen teenagers could not conceal: sometimes, love is bad for you, and sometimes, one loves "not too wisely, but too well". We abandon sense and logic and doing utterly horrible things in the name of that insanity-inducing hormonal cocktail of emotion.

"Why be nice? They're monsters!" 

Going back to the sparkly monsters and complaints about wussy shifters, it's worth looking at why people express cognitive dissonance at the idea of a less violent monster. Surely, the point of a monster is to be a villain, antagonist, or threat. Monsters, by their nature, cannot be wholly good. But Not being wholly good does not actually require being wholly evil. And that moral ambiguity allows people to insert themselves in the monster's shoes. Sex without consequences, without the need for reproduction? For a lot of people, especially those from Christian backgrounds, the idea of such a "sin" is seductive and tainted. And a high, consequence-free sex drive is just the beginning.

It allows us to deal with negative or shadow traits within ourselves and other people without rejecting or denying their nature. People can do good or bad things, and not simply be accepted or rejected based on arbitrary ideas of 'good' and 'evil'--human nature and human actions are complex; in addition to all the niggling little moral arguments, there's also the simple fact that 'good' people do bad things. Winston Churchill tested mustard gas on innocent people in Kurdish villages; Mahatma Gandhi was misogynistic and racist; Hitler was a vegetarian who was kind to, and loved, animals. Unfortunately, even the worst and best people that humanity has to offer have a mix of traits which represent complexity--on a micro scale, this means that people we love, care about, and who try to do the right thing most of the time can abuse us, commit acts of assault on others, or make individually harmful stupid choices.

It also allows us to own the harmful elements in ourselves, while both externalizing and accepting them as necessary.Another case--someone may have a physical or mental illness that makes it hard for them not to harm others, such as people who have developmental difficulties or who cannot control their muscles at times. If an epileptic nephew punches you in the face during a seizure, is it his fault? Or--if a lover screams at you while xe is having a bipolar episode, is it their fault? In the second case, the answer may be more than a simple 'yes' or 'no', but one argument does not cause for dissolution of a relationship make.

Wait, so how does this relate to monsters again? 

In a way, werewolves and shifters are like people with mental illnesses--yes, those illnesses can hobble us. Like a wolf, being confined to one's home for three days, avoiding others for fear of hurting them, having to undertake rituals to control the issue, people with these illnesses and problems can feel controlled by them. But they can also be a source of identity and wholeness.

In Gestalt theory, "wholeness" is the end result; achieving it can take a variety of paths. Similarly,  Jung's famous shadow-self theories have importance. We cannot accept ourselves as we are, nor can we improve our lives, if we ignore reality and our limitations. A werewolf is disabled by bloodlust and transformation for three days out of the month--or more, depending on the mythos. A vampire must cope with physical and dietary limits as well as emotional and mental limits. Just as people with disabilities sometimes or often develop strengths to compensate for or as a result of their experiences, both magical and more realistic limitations on life leave their mark.

Obviously, this does *not* ring true for everyone with a disability, or other life issues such as addictions, or even for every "normal" (whatever that means) person struggling with a dark side. But for some of us, it does, and having realistic monsters has real value.

And finally...

When I curled up in the throes of depression this weekend, doubled over and crying in despair, the problem was mostly a lack of meds to balance out some neurochemical issues. My hair fell down around my face, and I crawled on hands and knees to a safer, darker space. I was wearing torn clothes--a ragged layered skirt and raveling cotton shirt, unsuccessfully tea-died and denuded of sleeves long ago. But in my head, it seemed like a good idea to just lie there, die, and haunt the closet until some university kid came to rent the place.  I looked like a ghost, and felt like one, and in that moment, I knew what it was to really be one of the monsters.

And it was okay--not just because I chose to fight those feelings, but because they were mine. Eventually, my partner came in, offered me a hand, and helped me climb out of the pile of blankets I'd been crouching in. We visited his family. I tried a higher dose of meds, which worked. But for a while, in the 3 a.m. darkness, I let myself feel what needed to be felt. And then I came back.

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Leave your comments, rebuttals, and vehement agreements below. Don't miss any of the phuquerie--get on the mailing list. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

50 Shades of Bored: The New World of Romance (Part 1)

Hello hello!

So, a while ago, a certain movie came out. I promised to review it because I love you all.

I scheduled my comments to drip-feed them to all of you, but if you've been following my Twitter, you already know what I thought about the whole thing. Honestly? I haven't done up a proper post because I was bored out of my gourd when I watched it. There was a tiny bit of kinky sex, and lots of wide-angle shots of the rainy beauty of the Northwest, but the main actors were bland and the laughs were pretty feeble. It was so bad, and so dull, that I couldn't even muster the energy to hate it properly.

Then, just recently, E.L. James' inspiration, Stephanie Meyer, released "Life and Death", a gender-flipped version of Twilight. Other journalists have tackled this sad little publicity grab. I'm tempted to pick it up so I can giggle my way through it, but frankly--I'm tired. I'd much rather read the many better, darker romances out there than punish my brain cells with the masochistic experience of slogging through Twilight's casserole made from leftovers. There are some valid and artistically interesting things that Meyer did (stop giggling), and they're worth talking about, but every time one starts feeling inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt, she pulls something like this.

So instead of talking about faux darkness and incompetent echoes, let's talk about Gone Girl and dark romance and the kinds of things that you won't find in a regency paperback with lurid 80s script and fainting maidens. Let's talk about huntresses and murderesses and strange, dark, damaged characters and madness and attics. I have the most wonderful and terrifying things crossing my editing desk, and a few of those will be touched on as well.

October is a scary month, and what's more terrifying than falling in love? Get ready; we're going in deep.

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Leave your comments, rebuttals, and vehement agreements below. Don't miss any of the phuquerie--get on the mailing list. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Monday, 5 October 2015

In Praise of Bad Art

Hello hello!

So, life has happened, is happening, continues to happen, and I have a lot of good ideas sitting in my draft folder. But once in a while, my emotions and thoughts swirl and bubble over, and an impulsive post comes rushing out, overflowing tidy restraint.

Today, I need to complain and praise something strange: sub-par, bad, and merely average art.

Right now, I am reading a book that I know in my soul is Hugo-quality. I can't tell you whom it's by, because it's not finished yet, nor has it been published. I'm listening to Lana del Rey's Honeymoon album. It is very early, and so the world is quiet, except for this music and this book.

It is far from the only exceptional, stellar work I've had cross my plate in the last month or so. But having two superb novels to edit, having this one to read right now, and having The Brothers Jetstream on my Kindle app--having works of this quality should make me overjoyed.

But while it is not oppressive, it is overwhelming. There is so much beauty and amazingness that I need something less amazing to take refuge in. It's similar to the way I feel whenever we take a trip to the Rocky Mountains--everything is so beautiful and amazing and perfect that it becomes exhausting.

So--next time you find yourself shaking your head and lamenting the decline in culture, consider the alternative. Consider a world in which everything is so beautiful that you are struck with a kind of choice paralysis. "Precious cinnamon roll too good for this world, too pure", as a meme goes--but that stupid, amazing moment of clarity when you bite into a morsel that is perfection itself, that moment is too incredible to last. And when it does last, it's almost upsetting.

How can anything be that good? It's almost upsetting. The mind strains to comprehend real beauty. Better to have it in spoonfuls, scraps, drops, than to live it and bask in it daily. It would become boring, eventually, because brains just cannot appreciate every nuance day in and day out. And that which we called 'transcendent' once would become shlock--just because brains crave homeostasis.

So do yourself a favour, sweet reader--read some fanfiction. Grab a cheesy thriller or romance novel off a shelf. Look at some stupid cartoons. And try not to lose yourself in hunger for a world too full of beauty, because there is no way our frail human hearts could ever handle it.

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Leave your comments, rebuttals, and vehement agreements below. Don't miss any of the phuquerie--get on the mailing list. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Saturday, 26 September 2015

A Journey in Color: Dreamsicle Delight

A Journey in Color: Dreamsicle Delight: What sounds more refreshing than cooling off on a balmy summer afternoon with a sweet orange creamsicle pop? Have you tried a Dreamsicle Mar...

Sunday, 23 August 2015

How to Act Like An Editor--A Brief List (Part 3)

Hello hello!

So *blows dust from blog again* I've returned with yet another post about the world of writing--and in this one, I'm tackling my own special breed--editors.

In the event that you find yourself impersonating an editor, I have compiled a few handy tips to ensure that the deception is perfection itself.

How to Act Like An Editor

1. Frighten other writers. When you walk through a crowd, a cold shiver should run down the spine of every writer present. Doing a "murder walk" helps, but generally, people should just know that you are coming, and that you are a barely contained force of nature. 

2. Wear slightly tidier clothing than the writers--though you needn't be less weird. Red spots, ashes/cremains, and flecks of ink are allowed, as are the fingernails of the last client who pissed you off--but those last ones make better earrings, generally.

3. Alcohol and caffeine are no longer food groups--they run in your very veins. You have become the caffeine and alcohol. You bleed them, breathe them, emit them in a fragrant cloud. 

4. A cold, haughty laugh and thousand-yard-stare are a must. "I've seen things," you should murmur to yourself, whenever the topic of your work comes up. "I've seen things you cannot fathom. Are you frightened? You should be frightened."

5. Being more aggressive, blunt, and experienced than other writers is also important. Basically, you are the shit--but you don't need to advertise it quite as much as the bestsellers. When people walk into a room with you, they'll just know. 

6. Elucidate your issues with various style guides at length, even when other people have stopped listening and just want to beat you to death with the Chicago Manual of Style. 

7. Don't nitpick poor grammar on Facebook--leave the amateur grammar Nazis to do that. Save your bile for bloggers and news articles, and complain mercilessly about typos in bestsellers--but only in private. 

8. Be a hunter, not a scavenger--don't stalk authors on social media and threaten them with crappy reviews for missing a comma on page 81 of the Kindle edition, and repeating a period on page 275.

9. Let your writing career slide, because oops, work is important.

10. Be extremely forgiving with authors and writers at all levels--after all, it takes time to get this crap down, and everyone was a beginner once. Actually snobbishness has no place in the writing world. Every author deserves a second chance, and often, a third.

11. Write love letters to every punctuation mark and obsess over the effect of sentence structure on phrasing and emphasis. You alone understand how beautiful semicolons and Oxford commas and em dashes are. But that won't stop you from telling everyone else anyway.

12. No matter how many bad ones you read, never stop loving books. 

Next time--we'll return to our regularly scheduled programming of thoughtful, intellectual blog posts. Stay tuned!

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Leave your comments, rebuttals, and vehement agreements below. Don't miss any of the phuquerie--get on the mailing list. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

How to Act Like A Graphic Designer--A Brief List (Part 2)

Hello hello!

Shockingly, this week's update follows within a reasonable period of time. How very peculiar, eh? I'm hoping to get back to a more regular update schedule now that some of my medical issues are in better shape.

In the event that you find yourself impersonating a graphic designer, I have compiled a few handy tips to ensure that the deception is perfection itself.

How to Act Like A Graphic Designer

1.  Fonts. Fonts, fonts, fonts, fonts, fonts. Every conversation and walk, every casual browse on Facebook--it's all about fonts. The sizes, the textures, the colours, the serifs--you don't even read words anymore. You just see the way they're written.

2. Looking at advertising posters made by authors will hurt you. They don't know what they're doing wrong, but you know. You know, and you will bleed.

3. You are the fashionable younger sibling of a computer programmer. Even if you're an only child, pretend you're someone's younger sibling. By "fashionable", one merely means less dirty than a programmer, though not quite clean. A subtle sheen of grease is your natural state.

4. The grease may be a result of your diet. Ramen, Doritos, and mac and cheese are your main food groups. Lactose-intolerant? Celiac disease? That's okay, there will be no-one around to smell your farts.

5. Swear at pixels. A lot.

6. Caffeine makes up about 20% of your body weight at this point. Your cremated remains could be used to power several thousand high school students through their exams for the next ten years. You may be into the hard stuff--pills, powders, weird energy drinks you have to buy under the counter from patchouli-scented hairy people, or anything else suitably esoteric.


8. Seriously, another two hours and it'll be symmetrical. You swear.

9. What is sleep? No, really? You've forgotten how it works. It is a rumour, a legend, not a part of your life.

10. There is a purpose to your work, and no matter how many people give you a blank, confused look when you describe your job, they require your work to function on a daily basis.

11. The first thing people see when they look for a book is what you did. Not the words, but the picture. You don't have to remind authors of this--you just know, and you smile to yourself at night.

Next time--you'll learn how to impersonate an editor! Stay tuned!

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Leave your comments, rebuttals, and vehement agreements below. Don't miss any of the phuquerie--get on the mailing list. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Thursday, 30 July 2015

How to Act Like A Writer--A Brief List (Part 1)

Hello hello!

So *blows dust from blog* this really isn't the best year for regular updates so far, is it? Well, never fear, because I have an hors d'ouvre to keep you satisfied while you wait for more gripping, meaty content. Or tentacles. Or gripping, meaty tentacles. Where was I? Ah, yes.

In the event that you find yourself impersonating a writer, I have compiled a few handy tips to ensure that the deception is perfection itself.

How to Act Like A Writer

1. Procrastinate. Deadlines should not only whoosh past, you should be able to make impressive Youtube videos recording their colour shift and Doppler effects as they fly by. In fact, they should fly by so quickly that the sound of their passing merely follows behind them.

2. Pants are for the weak. Writers do not wear pants. Socks, stockings, leggings, skirts, kilts, pyjamas, sure--but never true pants.

3. Alcohol is a food group. One near the bottom of the pyramid. It's made of grain, right?

4. Alternate between dominating all conversations with discussions about your book, and refusing to talk about it.

5. Any success should be met with an outburst of joy and gloating, followed immediately by crushing self-doubt.

6. Cultivate a rakishly unshaven look--regardless of your gender--and then skip a couple more days of shaving and personal grooming. If necessary, iron your clothes at weird angles to get the appropriately rumpled chicness down.

7. Show up either half-dressed or wearing something slightly odd. Maybe an in-jokey t-shirt. Look disappointed yet perpetually hopeful when people ask you to explain the shirt--someone might get the reference eventually.

8. Bust out peculiar archaisms or cross-linguistic swears at every opportunity.

9. Caffeine is also a food group. It supercedes water itself. Whether you drink tea, coffee, energy drinks, or the sputum of ginseng-eating monkeys from the Southeast Amazon, caffeine is how books are made.

10. Hiss when people damage books in public, such as by dogearing or, gods forbid, spilling something--then drop your Kindle, phone, or paperback in the bath while you're reading.

11. Treat all agents, opportunities for publicity, and book-signings like precious morsels of food that will keep you from starvation--because they well, technically.

12. Be broke. Even if you have money, find a way to not have any.

14. Be absolutely terrible at math.

15. If these steps fail to work, or already describe you, resort to actually trying to write something. When that fails, read rather a lot of books of every genre, go back, and write it again.

16. Love writing, and actually work hard at it, rather than just complaining about how hard you work while you flip through Facebook and search for alien dildoes on Etsy.

Next time--you'll learn how to impersonate an editor, and after that, a graphic designer! Stay tuned!

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Leave your comments, rebuttals, and vehement agreements below. Don't miss any of the phuquerie--get on the mailing list. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Bittersweet: A Short Story Anthology

From the editor of "Cult Classics for the Modern Cult" comes a bold new collection of love stories from the wrong side of the tracks. Romance is about having your heart's desires fulfilled...but what if they go wrong? Or what if you don't know what you really want?

Six authors tackle the flip side of happily-ever-after in this collection of sci fi, paranormal, and contemporary short stories and novellettes. But beware--these stories are shaded by tragedy and sorrow. Abuse, substance addiction, sex, and suicide colour these pages. But then...who said love was easy?

After the Garden (The Memory Bearers Saga)

After the Garden
(Book 1 of the Memory Bearers Saga)

Now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Smashwords, and Kobo eBooks

Memories of another life and lover guide her, but are they even hers? She is a Bearer—keeper of past lifetimes and gifted with strange talents. Ember must find her answers away from safe Longquan Village, snared instead in the sensuality and dangers of The City. Hidden among spider farmers and slaves, prostitutes and weavers, a nest of people like her are waiting.

A powerful man outside The City raises his forces, determined to hunt down the ‘demons’ who could taint his followers. Threatened from without and within, can the Bearers even trust each other?
Powers will rise and alliances will be forged in a dark new world. The Memory Bearers are coming.

This book includes violent and mature content. Reader discretion is advised.

Buy it here:

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Hunie Pop: Or, Evil Feminist Examination of a Dating Game

Hello hello!

So, another gaming post at long last--I'll be writing about Witcher 3 when my partner finally finishes it, but lately, we've been playing a match-3 dating game--Hunie Pop. So, full disclosure--this is the first time I have ever played a dating game.

Now, if the concept of a serious (ish) analysis of a dating game makes you shout, "IT'S ONLY A GAME, CALM YOUR TITS, LADY", the door is over there. Yes, it's 'just a game', but the things that someone says when they're being serious, compared to the things they laugh at when they're off guard, will both tell you a lot about that person.

So, without further ado--the game. Naturally, there will be


...beyond this point, so if that really bothers you, maybe buy and play the game first, then read this.

Wait, what the hell is 'Hunie Pop'?

Honestly? It's Bejeweled with tits, or Candy Crush but with actual girls to crush on. A fairy, Kyu Sugarplum, guides you through the game. There are about twelve girls, including unlocks, that you can have sex with, and players can be male or female--we're going to take a shot at the female version of the game and see how that changes dialogue, if at all, but we (my partner in crime, Disarcade, and myself switched up to play it) went with the male option. Basically, you're a hopeless virgin otaku who masturbates all day and is lonely, and this love fairy wants to teach you how to get some and make lady friends. 

So, you can probably see how this is problematic right away, but stick around--there's layers to it. 

From Kickstarter. It's like Pokemon--for your dick (or pussy).


The game is honestly a lot of damn fun. Its interface is nice, and there's some diversity with the girls--even the ones I didn't like had actual personalities. They felt like real enough people. The pinups and sexy art were fun to look at, especially for the uncensored version. The game itself is fun--I mean, come on, it's a Match 3 game!--and the mechanics were cool. There was a bit of diversity with the characters, in that Japanese, Latina, African-American, and Indian women were all included, but the other characters were white; of course, there was also a fairy, a goddess, an alien, and a cat girl. So, you know, it wasn't too bad as these things go. 

The other thing that I noticed was just how much personality the girls had. Each girl had a 'unique' interest and several 'common' interests, which could overlap with the interests of other girls. A couple of the girls were unabashedly dominant, and even bitchy or awkward--but realistically so. I have known smart, driven women who love self-help; awkward gamer girls who suck at conversation and communicating with humans; and then, too, I have known more than a few bratty princesses. There's a sweet-natured cheerleader and a bitchy Avril Lavigne type, and all of them are allowed to be themselves. They don't change for you, the stud trying to seduce them--you have to accommodate them. 


There were a couple fairly racist lines--where Kyu the fairy refers to the black character and says, "I love me some chocolate!" and talks about "yellow fever" when introducing the Japanese physics professor. I cringe just rewriting them, and we both winced when the dialogues played out. Having the Indian character love meditation and yoga, the black character be driven and strong-willed, but ladylike, and the cheerleader be as sweet and vanilla as possible also suggested stereotyping--I don't know how to feel about it, because the characters were handled pretty well, but still, conformity is conformity, and the game definitely made use of cultural tropes. Both of us winced when the Latina character gushed over the (sigh) sombrero and other Mexican kitsch objects that were her Unique gifts. The cultural portrayals do feel more than a bit fetishized, but they're decent for their limitations. 

Another thing is that while the girls did have a good range of heights, their weights and BMIs were fairly uniform--all were between 100 and 135 lbs, even though their heights ranged from 5'0 to 5'11. Their BMIs were around 19-23, with most falling at 19.5 or so. For those not familiar with the Body Mass Index, it's a very rough tool, but it gives you an approximate idea of the relative healthiness of your weight, compared to your height. 18-24 is considered healthy, and below 18 is considered medically underweight. So, they were all (literally) healthy, but it would have been nice to see some curvy, thick girls in the mix, too. Of course, they were all doe-eyed and pretty, and most of them were extremely femme in their presentation--not a butch to be seen, really. I understand that dating games *are* about the fantasy, but the presentations are definitely skewed towards traditional masculine ideas of attractiveness. 

Also, Kyu swears a lot, which is fantastic.

What does the game say about dating? 

It didn't escape my notice that the game literally uses affection tokens to get sex from women. It's very much a 'phuque and chuck' kind of game, in that after the first time you have sex with a character, there's not much point in continuing to talk to them or have sex again, apart from the grinding. And again, all the interests of the girls were pretty femme--a few of the girls liked hiking or sports, or working out, but there were no wilderness survival or gun and archery enthusiasts. The only real 'nerd' was a depressed, insecure, annoying girl with fairly androgynous tendencies--which, as anyone who knows more than one nerd girl can assert, is not representative of nerdgirldom. 

However, the fact that some characters were from more distant families and some were from closer families, and that an adult actress and sex trade worker was included in the cast was actually nice. The girls weren't perfect, just human. The game also ran on a metric of four different types of attraction--Sexual, Romantic, Flirty, and Talent--and used Passion, Sentiment, and Joy to affect these four areas. There were also heartbreak tokens. Honestly, I liked this mechanic, because each girl had a most preferred and least preferred token type of the four. That's pretty representative, because different people have different approaches and preferences for expressing their attraction. I also liked that the girls had overlapping as well as personal interests--that's realistic enough. 

The use of small gifts to keep a girl interested and the way some of the girls would comment on the payment structure was very interesting. Some of the characters expressed regret or embarassment about not having gifts or taking the protagonist out, and some demanded more resources without end. The idea of dating as a one-way pay structure really isn't great, even though it works for the game mechanics; especially since sex is the end goal, and the only end goal. Women are not slot machines (slut machines?) into which attention and resources can be inserted in exchange for sexual favours. It IS nice that every single case of the sex relied on initiation by the girls, and that inebriating them made them more generous, but did *not* automatically guarantee sex.  They also have sexual desires, to varying degrees--and it was nice to see a game acknowledge that ladies like to phuque too.

I think the most troubling thing for us was that the protagonist's lines often offer variations of the same answer, and that the game was very much about making sure women were told what they wanted to hear. There was no way to roleplay consistent answers or a personality--just to optimize answers for each woman.

I caught myself feeling jaded a few times. The formulaic way that one was supposed to respond was very much in line with elements of the PUA (pickup artist) systems, and it made it harder to feel like the characters we were sexing up were actually people.

Yes, it's only a game, but dating games are an emotional substitute or training wheels for more than a few people. If we're going to have a moral panic (tm) over the messages of romance novels for women--why aren't we throwing a moral panic over the messages these dating games send to young men? Sure, it's just fun, but no story passes through us without leaving a scintilla of an impression. 

So, is it good? 

It's fun. Is it sending a Good Message? Eh, yes and no. But if you want the experience of trying to date someone, with proper nuances and characterization, just pick up one of the Dragon Age games, Mass Effect, or better yet, something from the Witcher series, especially Witcher 3. 

Also? TRISS AND GERALT 4EVA. Not sorry. 

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Leave your comments, rebuttals, and vehement agreements below. Don't miss any of the phuquerie--get on the mailing list. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Monday, 15 June 2015

Summer Cafe Blog Hop: Michelle Browne and Nicolas Wilson's Euphoria/Dysphoria

Hello hello!

I have a special post for you today--as you can see, there's an awesome blog cafe event going on, and I have included some very cool prizes. A necklace featuring the cover of Euphoria/Dysphoria and three ebooks, including Euphoria/Dysphoria, After the Garden, and The Underlighters, are all up for grabs.  You can participate in that below!

But that's not all. Since our feature is the romance in Euphoria/Dysphoria, Nicolas Wilson and I have a very...special...recipe for you this week. Let's just say that in a dystopia, sometimes you have to get a little creative with your meat sources. This one is abundant, local, and tastes great with garlic.

That's right! Tonight, we're cookin' with rat. Of course, you might want to substitute chicken, but that's up to you.

Roasted rat with garlic sauce (from The Food Network) 


1 (5 to 6-pound) roasting rat
2 heads garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise
3 stalks lemongrass
3 stalks rosemary 
(optional: oregano, basil)
1/2 large Spanish onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut diagonally into 2-inch chunks
2 large gold potatoes, cut into 6 pieces
4 tablespoons butter or lard, melted


2 cups water


Salt rat inside and out and leave in ice box for two days. Preheat fire to medium heat (if you have an oven, 425 degree F will do nicely). Salt the rat again and stuff with rosemary and lemongrass, or similar herbs if you can't get those two.

Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the arms together, underneath. Place rat and chopped vegetables in a roasting pan. Scatter onions, carrots, and potatoes around rat. Brush the outside of the rat with lard or butter (if you can get butter).

Roast the rat for 1.5 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the thigh and leg. Remove the rat to a platter, cover with foil, and continue cooking veggies for 15 minutes. When the veggies are cooked, carve the rat and place slices on a platter, surrounded by the veggies. Drizzle some pan juices over the meat and veggies.

This makes a very good leftover stew, if your rat is large enough to last for more than one meal, and can be stretched by serving the whole thing with cassava or cornmeal. It can also be made into a soup to stretch for more meals. If vodka is available, you can also deglaze the roasting pan and make a sauce for further meals when food is scarce. Store the soup or sauce in a clean, airtight container, in a cold place if possible.

That's all for today! Enjoy your roasted rat, and whether you're on an Engineer or Poca floor, or down below in the lower levels...try not to starve to death. 

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Leave your comments, rebuttals, and vehement agreements below. Don't miss any of the phuquerie--get on the mailing list. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

On Being One Of Those People: Or, Why My Blog's Been Quiet

Hello hello!

Sometimes, one goes on Facebook and sees a friend posting about awesome stuff happening in their life--a trip overseas, a fantastic concert, a great dinner, or all three. Maybe it'll be a craft project that's gone swimmingly. For a lot of people, this can be a cause for frustration and envy. For me, it's usually pleasant, because I like seeing my friends happy. I get envious too, but for the most part, I still feel a lot of positive warmth when I see good stuff like that.

Cobbler! Strawberry peach with granola.

 Strawberry peach cobbler. First ever--made today. 

Over the last couple of months, I've been getting help for a medical issue, and somehow...I've turned into one of Those People. I realised it today after I'd finished baking some cobblers and salmon for friends, preparing for a picnic that had been in the works for a couple of weeks. Just yesterday, I'd finished a pillow and some other sewing projects. After that, I'd prepared a tilapia in cheese, wine, and tomato sauce (with Mexican spices), some pasta with fresh herbs, and some pan-fried fiddlehead ferns (which taste like asparagus but much better) for dinner. We had mead with it, too--basically, it was lovely, and then I did something like that all again today.

Flipping through my Instagram and glancing at concert photos, art projects, and tasty food, as well as a bit of urban exploration, I was flummoxed. When the phuque did this happen?

A photo posted by SciFiMagpie (@scifimagpie) on

The truth is, I've had a few rotten and just blargh years. I'm fortunate in that I have a degree of privilege--upper middle-class background, an education, being white and cis, and being (mostly) able. That's certainly paved the way for my current situation. (I'd like to believe I've done every damn thing myself, but come on--those circumstances HAVE made it easier.) But with those given circumstances, I've still gone from being a mediocre cook and okay crafter, chugging along, to being, well, cool and kind of successful. This, in spite of a major family disruption that's been going on since December and flared up again in April and March--and in spite of my partner-in-crime being out of a job due to health reasons. Somehow--we're making it work.

There's not much point in pretending to be humble, here, because I'm proud of how far I've come--but at the same time, it certainly didn't happen overnight. I got out of a toxic job, started my own business, and slowly worked away at things. Over the last two years, I've learned to clean the house, and slowly learned to cook better. Along the way there have been a lot of mistakes--burnt food, accidentally getting high on poppyseed loaf (shut up, it really happened), clothes that didn't fit and sewing and knitting projects that just didn't work, and of course, fights with the love of my life. That's just how things go.

Now, looking back, I can see the peaks rather than the valleys. They're most visible, but that doesn't mean the valleys didn't happen. I can't help thinking that it's useful to consider that even if you feel you're really bad or just not much good at something, that it's not the end of the world. The trick of it is to keep trying, keep slogging along, and try different approaches. For me, tons of Anthony Bourdain shows opened my mind somehow, and made me relax and cook, well, better. Asking my boyfriend for cleaning help and asking one of my mentors for her cleaning tips helped me throw out some junk and unwanted possessions, and recycle others.

A photo posted by SciFiMagpie (@scifimagpie) on

When I look at the salmon roast and cobbler I made, I can't see the jar of Himalayan salt that broke all over the kitchen floor just earlier. I can't see the burned butter and herbs that ended up in the sink, last night, after the first attempt at a topping for the pasta didn't work out. But they're there--behind every success is at least a dozen failures and semi-successful attempts. In the end, one muddles through, and if one continues to muddle and keeps trying, eventually, it often works out.

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Leave your comments, rebuttals, and vehement agreements below. Don't miss any of the phuquerie--get on the mailing list. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Losing My Virginity: The Ultimate Missed It Review

Hello hello!

Today, I'm not going to pretend I'm even a little bit objective. This post is about finally seeing The Empire Strikes Back. 

Yes, that one.

Yes, really. I'd never seen it before. Oh, I watched A New Hope when I was, like, four? And I watched that and Return of the Jedi so often, RoTJ's VCR copy started to wear out and the protector thingy at the end fell off. I knew enough about the story to follow along, so it was fine. But Empire just never happened. I was scared of it as a kid, of the scary images and its violence and intensity, and while it's mild by modern standards, it was much more intimidating to my fragile childhood self. I was easily scared--more on that in another post.

Then, when I was ten, The Phantom Menace came out. I bought illustrated encyclopaedias of Star Wars characters from the extended universe and droids from the universe, and flipped through everything from game guides to visual dictionaries, soaking up the rich details. I saw the movie, and since I was ten and didn't understand racism yet, it rocked my world. (And really, everything except the horrible, horrible racism in those movies is awesome. The graphics are gorgeous, Qui Gon instantly reminded me of my dad, the person who got me into Star Wars...and Darth Maul was scary enough to live up to Vader's legacy. At least, to my ten-year-old self.)

The next two movies weren't as good, although Attack of the Clones definitely left an impact on my growing pubescent self--especially Natalie Portman's beauty and steadiness, whatever her character's flaws.

Even the third movie, as awful and frustrating and dark as it was, couldn't destroy my love of Star Wars and the universe. I actually own not only a mint box version of The Queen's Amulet, a goofy fluff piece about Amidala and her guards, I tracked down a bone carver to make a japor snippet for me. I found a scrap of ombre orange velvet during some fabric scavenging and kept it just because it looked like the handmaiden gowns. So, yeah. Star Wars has serious issues the prequels especially, but my love for it is instinctive and deep to this day, enough to make me buy things and lose my mind over the sequel in December.

(you can get really great, well-made japor snippets from 
this seller, by the way.)

And all of that...without having seen Empire. 

So--I won't pretend to provide analysis, because I can't. Watching it at last, after my friends nagged me for years and it had become a running joke, was like losing my virginity. I mean that in a really good way.


I knew about the big scenes, but that didn't prepare me for the wonder of seeing it for the first time. From seeing all the robots I'd only glimpsed in a handbook to the magnificence of Darth Vader stomping around to the Imperial March, to the sheer gorgeous detail of the practical effects in Hoth's battles, it was a feast. The movie was shockingly pretty and stood the test of time REALLY well, mostly due to the puppets and simple effects. The delicate foreshadowing, the beauty of the Cloud City and Dagobah...people don't talk about the fact that the camera work is as stunning as the writing and sets are, but the way shots are framed and the colour composition really stands the test of time. The use of colour, of white for deception and shadows for truth, is really stunning, even now. The Big Lightsaber Fight really stands the test of time, too, and made my heart clench and stomach churn with vertigo even though I'd seen the making-of shots. 


The unadulterated feminist/little girl synergistic squee of watching Leia be useful and also give Han Solo serious shit was overwhelming. I did not expect her to out-cool Han Solo, but, well, she did. Seeing Lando before he could be a hero, especially knowing he'd be redeemed later, was pretty compelling. Another thing about it was the pleasure of seeing young farmboy Luke (who I had a crush on as a pre-teen, I don't mind admitting) really struggle and change. I had only seen him in ANH and RoTJ--and in RoTJ, he's calm, collected, strong of will and at peace. The middle phase was another matter, and watching his development while Leia and Han struggled to work together provided a lot of wonderful tension. The grief in The Scene--"I AM YOUR FATHER" was still pretty moving, and the literal and figurative fall after was hard to watch. It was gutting, in fact.

Lando was another surprise--I knew he'd become a hero, and seeing him fail and struggle in this film was pretty amazing, the rare case of a journey that works even out of order. Vader is what can only be described as OG, a magnificent black spectre of looming failure and defeat who haunts the protags at every turn. Every actor is on point in this film, and every character's decisions and choices matter. Let it sink in.


Okay, this is the one area where I have a nitpick. The whole thing with Jabba having a hit out on Han, but Vader going LOL DIBS *freezie pop* for some reason, was a bit confusing. I had to ask my partner what was going on there, and he said the Emperor wanted to stay on Jabba's good side and deliver Solo...again, I'd seen both ANH and RoTJ MANY times, but that was confusing. That said, a Cracked author mentioned that they didn't understand "how Vader knew Luke was his son", but we SEE the Emperor go "yo, Vader, Anakin Skywalker's son Luke is running around", so I'm not sure how that was a "plot hole".

That being said, having the context of the prequels and sequel (and sure, the old extended universe) really enriched the interactions. Yoda and Obi Wan discussing Luke's impetuousness, Luke's transition from derpy farm boy to calm sage in the making, Han and Leia's cracking chemistry...all of the little details added up, and would add up, and it was amazing to see how this one film has pretty much defined Star Wars more than any other.

Still, with all those nuances, there's a LOT going on in this movie, and it's more packed and faster paced than the first and third, so it's not something you can slack off while watching. There are a lot of twists and turns, and it's a rewarding, unpredictable watch.

Final Verdict: 

How do you even rate a masterpiece? Sometimes a movie is so good, you don't know what to say about it. I should have been prepared for this. I still wasn't. The Empire Strikes Back is every bit as beautiful and devastating as when it was first released. I do have that Star Wars nostalgia prejudicing me, but I also have fairly fresh eyes. The classic scenes still stand up, are more moving in context and cannot lose their impact even with a thousand quotes. "Luminous beings are we--not this crude matter."

And if you'll excuse me, I need to go cry with happiness now.

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Leave your comments, rebuttals, and vehement agreements below. Don't miss any of the phuquerie--get on the mailing list. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Trigger Warning: A Dissection and Confession, Part 1

Hello hello!

Today I'm going to talk about something ugly and difficult. Consider yourselves warned. But before I talk about trigger warnings and Trigger Warning, let's define the terms of battle.

What's a trigger, exactly? 

"Trigger: an event or circumstance that is the cause of a particular action, process, or situation.
  • "the trigger for the strike was the closure of a mine"

In mental health terms, the action, process, or situation resulting from a trigger tends to be panic, anxiety, anger, or even violent defensiveness. The trigger itself can be just about anything, but the most common triggers tend to be related to violence or abuse.

Triggers are often connected to other symptoms of PTSD, but can appear independently, the invisible scars of trauma. They aren't the same as a Garcia Effect-coded food or experience, such as--in my face--honey-dipped hazelnuts, on which I once ate myself sick. (The Garcia Effect is responsible for ruining a food once you've gotten sick from eating it: one of the brain's adaptive measures to keep the body safe in a world full of potentially contaminated food and toxins.) A trigger is not the same as a phobia, although it can activate the phobia reaction. For example, two people with a spider phobia might react to it differently--one might have a phobic reaction on seeing a picture of a spider; the other might have the reaction only when in the presence of a spider.

The (not) wonderful thing about triggers 

The second thing to know about triggers in the real world is that they are sometimes reasonable and sometimes absurd. Some are reasonable, such as violence, car crashes, decapitation, and sexual assault; some are small, like the words "bitch", "fuck", or "psycho".

I know this mix of absurdity and logic in triggers too well. Some, like being ganged up on in a discussion or being in the centre of a circle of people who are annoyed at me, are 'sensible things' to be afraid of. Some of mine involve apparently innocuous situations. Being in all-female groups, for example, or being in a space with no hiding areas, or having someone sharply criticize the very short List of my favorite people/things (Neil Gaiman, Leonard Cohen, Neko Case, John Green, and Farscape) can throw me into a bout of nausea and panic.

For people who don't experience panic attacks or phobias or traumatic flashbacks, trigger warnings seem ridiculous: like impedimentia, rather than useful, helpful tools. When trigger warnings first caught academic attention, and wider internet attention, they got abused on Tumblr and drew ire and panic on forums. A lot of us (myself included) thought proper use of trigger warnings would lead to a spoiler-riffic, dystopian, creative hell. More on that later.

What's the big deal?

There was a time when I thought they were ridiculous. An attempt to keep people from their emotions, from dealing with things properly. I got fooled into believing the rhetoric some people were espousing, suggesting that trigger warnings would balloon out of control and end up spoiling novels, ruining all discussions, and basically leading to the end of intelligible discourse in classrooms and forums everywhere. Some survivors (!) called trigger warnings ableist, some said that triggers were too arbitrary to pin down, citing things like the smell of paint or breakfast or a certain shade of orange; a lot of other people called them absurd, and so on and so on, in circles. A few people took a more moderate response to the faddish appearance of trigger warnings, but in response to this extreme climate, Neil Gaiman announced the title of his next story collection would be Trigger Warning.

When I heard about that title, though, instead of rejoicing in the stick-it-to-the-man potential, I cringed. That was after I realised I had my own triggers, and after I had developed close friendships with a lot of survivors. I'd been reacting to things as though triggered, but not having the vocabulary for it made it hard for me to protect myself, and even to know when I was being unreasonable.

Wat do: the musical

So what does one do, then? Avoid the potentially problematic work, which lurks like a shark in the ocean at the end of the lane, or risk pain and suffering by facing the thing head on? In my case, Trigger Warning was a persistent itch. Today, I caved and bought a copy. I have not yet read the stories; only the foreword, which tackled the rationale for the title.

It wasn't as good as I'd hoped, but it was better than I feared. It tackled that triggers are not a punchline or an absurd thing made up for the sake of attention and tone-policing--well, it didn't address those last two directly, but it did validate their existence. I can tell Gaiman either isn't a person who struggles with triggers, or else has a different cultural perspective on them from what I'm used to. And then I managed to read an essay criticizing the book's approach, and even discuss it with my editor and some friends--without panicking or falling apart. Okay, so I almost fainted in the shower afterwards--but it didn't derail my day or make me curl up and cry, something that happened during a nasty attack two weeks ago. Baby steps, to be sure. But steps.

But this paragraph, the closer, imperfect as it is, gives me comfort. It could be read sarcastically, but I interpreted it as sincere. A corner of comfort is a good start, but there are other books that have not been labelled which perhaps should have been.

"There. Consider yourself warned. There are so many little triggers out there, being squeezed in the darkness even as I write this. This book is correctly labeled. Now all we have to worry about is all the other books, and, of course, life, which is huge and complicated and will not warn you before it hurts you."

And yet, people still complain when a trigger warning shows up, complaining that it limits their freedom or that it's distracting. The thing is--do we want to cater to people who want to pretend they haven't been hurt, or help the people who have been hurt to brace themselves?

The thing to know about triggers is that they are basically pressure points. We all--from the angriest Men's Rights Activist, to a survivor and pro-choice activist, to a socially isolated government clerk, to a homeless person couch-surfing until they can make ends meet--have pressure points. We all have demons in the dark. So if you, too, are one of the people skeptical of the utility of trigger warnings, especially simple, general advisories like "Mature and violent content" or "warning: explicit description of child abuse", try to think about your own pressure points. Try to remember the last time something apparently arbitrary brought back a memory, and made you cry or panic or burn with rage. Remember the last time you felt out of control, or laid in bed and stared at the ceiling because it was absolutely impossible to imagine doing anything.

The Thought Police are not coming for anyone, and there are no Compassion Police to make us treat each other with sympathy. We ourselves have to take responsibility--for the sake of those who can't, but also for the many more who are trying.

The weirdest thing, though, is that having trigger warnings actually improves our ability to speak freely, rather than restricting it.  Yes, Virginia, you can have your cake and eat it too. How? That's coming up in part 2.

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Leave your comments, rebuttals, and vehement agreements below. Don't miss any of the phuquerie--get on the mailing list. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out!