October 3, 2019

Let’s begin with a story. This one involves a recent bit of news, even though I’m trying my best not to write hot takes on trending issues. (Yes, snappy rejoinders are a sure way to spike ad-revenue through frenzied online discourse, but this entire post relates strongly to my caution about the overall humanistic benefit of such infotainment pursuits.) Nevertheless, sometimes one sees the “evergreen” even in up-to-the-minute news, and I think you’ll agree that this is one such situation. Just as… Read more

September 22, 2019

Let’s begin with a story. Back in my early 20s, when blogging was still a more sincere and optimistic endeavour for a lot of us, I first published a post negotiating my lack of inner gender identity by outlining the three domains where our related terminology seemed to sit: natal sex (male/female), external performance (being “read” as man/woman/other by outsiders), and inner identity (how we recognize ourselves). Simply put: I had a biological sex, I was read as having [X]… Read more

September 19, 2019

Let’s begin with a story. I’ve been veering into literary matters quite a bit late–which happens when you’re juggling different forms of writing in your wee slices of free time–and yet, I’m often reminded, too, that the very idea of a “divide” between different forms of storytelling is all social contrivance. Most recently, I was reminded of this last Saturday, when I attended Medellín’s Fiesta del libro, a sweeping display of book culture that for a week and a half permeated… Read more

September 12, 2019

Let’s begin with a story. This one is Alice Sheldon’s, and it’s complicated. Dr. Sheldon gained her doctorate in experimental psychology, but her career was centrally in the arts–both visual and literary.  She famously published science fiction under the name James Tiptree, Jr. (among others pseudonyms, like Raccoona Sheldon)–and in ensuing years so thoroughly tricked the SF scene into believing she was a male writer that, in one notorious introduction to Sheldon’s stories, Robert Silverberg wrote the following: Inflamed by… Read more

September 8, 2019

Let’s begin with a story. This time, it’s mine. Last Sunday, one of my science-fiction stories was published in Clarkesworld. “To Catch All Sorts of Flying Things” is a novelette in my favourite subgenre, the SF mystery, and you can read it here, if you’re so inclined. But today I want to talk more about another part of Clarkesworld’s latest issue. When one of my stories gets published, I love reviewing the magazine on whole. I love seeing how the… Read more

August 27, 2019

Let’s begin with a story. We live with ideological contradictions all the time, but one of the strangest might be our treatment of “innovation” as an automatic positive. I mean, it hardly matters what you put after the word–“innovative torture methods, innovative route to state oppression, innovative gas chamber”: That first descriptor lends a positive spin to the whole, as if to say, “yes, this is awful… but also pretty darn clever!” Then again, progress, in general, is hailed as a… Read more

August 23, 2019

Let’s begin with a story. It’s the story of lignin: one of the plainest illustrations that evolution has no grand design. Our planet’s earlier worlds were also rich in biodiversity–not billions of years ago, mind you, but relatively recently: 470 million, give or take, being when the first plants arrived on land. Even then, these were fairly rudimentary species: mosses and the like. Root systems, vascular systems, seed structures… these all took time to evolve–which is why, at first, there… Read more

August 18, 2019

Let’s begin with a story. This one is Ursula K. Le Guin’s. It’s called “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” (1973), and it was inspired by The Brothers Karamazov–specifically, Ivan’s discourse on the immorality of heaven. The “plot” of Le Guin’s story is simple: we’re introduced to one utopia, Omelas, where all is as splendid as splendid can be. Then we’re introduced to the secret to this community’s prosperity: a social contract that compels one child to suffer horrifically, that… Read more

July 30, 2019

Let’s begin with a story. In 2013, the Pew Research Center released survey data that was widely misrepresented among atheists, because of how easily it tickled our horror, disdain, and general assumptions about religious believers. 33% of estadounidense (U.S. citizens) don’t believe in evolution? Another 24% believe that evolution was a divinely guided process? Oh, the scientific ignorance! Oh, the poorly educated sods who walk and vote among us! Well, no, not exactly. The problem with survey data is that people are… Read more

July 20, 2019

Let’s begin with a story. A few weeks ago I had a charming encounter on the street. I saw an old, rather frail-looking lady stop about a block from her church (contextually obvious due to all the seniors gathering for service at the time) to adjust her make-up. I don’t know what it was about that morning, but there’s such an atmosphere of warmth in my neighbourhood that I felt safe saying to this stranger that she looked just lovely… Read more

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