Book Tags, Not Books, Personal

The Sunshine Blogger Award IV

I was nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award by Meeghan last month! Meeghan runs such a fun blog, I highly recommend you follow her!

RULES:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated them and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated them.
  • Nominate 11 other blogs and give them 11 new questions to answer.
  • Notify your nominees and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your post.

Meeghan’s Questions:

  1. What is your favourite book you’ve read so far this year, and why?
    • Probably in part because it’s fresh in my mind, but I’d have to say Full Throttle!
  2. What is your favourite book to movie adaptation?
    • Jurassic Park, hands down!
  3. Which fictional character do you think would be the most boring to meet in real life?
  4. What is one thing you do to unwind?
    • As of late, watch The Great British Baking Show!
  5. If you could pick any author to write fanfiction for Harry Potter, who would you pick?
    • I think Maggie Stiefvater would write some interesting HP fanfic!
  6. What’s the best book title you’ve ever heard of?
  7. Who is your OTP?
    • Ugh probably Blue/Gansey, I’m hopeless.
  8. If you could control one element (earth, air, fire or water), which would you choose?
    • Water! I’m a big pisces, okay?
  9. Who is your favourite fictional animal? (i.e., not just dragons, but Kozu from The Last Namsara)
  10. What is your favourite way to treat yourself?
    • Donuts or cake, hehe.
  11. If you were stranded on a desert island that mysteriously had a magical bookshelf (as per above):
    • what genre would it refill itself with, and
      • Hmm, probably YA contemporary, because I’d want some cute stuff while stranded and presumably very sad?
    • what other three things would you take with you?
      • First aid kit, military stove, blanket???

My questions:

  1. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
  2. What motivates you?
  3. What’s the worst movie you’ve watched so far this year?
  4. 2020 release you’re most excited about reading?
  5. What’s your proudest accomplishment?
  6. What did you want to be as a kid?
  7. Least favorite food?
  8. What’s your least favorite kind of weather?
  9. Favorite book you read in school?
  10. Who is your hero?
  11. Are you a peppermint person?

Tagging:

  1. Karissa
  2. Pauliina
  3. Charlotte
  4. Naty
  5. Meaghan
  6. Diana
  7. Emily
  8. Destiny
  9. Callum
  10. Bec
  11. Portia

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Movie Reviews, Not Books

Letterboxd Gems

Hi everyone! I decided to try a new thing here: every so often I’ll post particularly funny or entertaining Letterboxd reviews from movies I’ve seen recently. If you’ve never heard of Letterboxd, it’s like Goodreads but for movies (feel free to add me if you’d like!) and there are plenty of interesting reviews. I’ll usually sift through them after seeing a film, which is how I got the idea to share them! A lot of these reviews will have spoilers, so feel free to skip through only to films you’ve already seen if you’d like to avoid being spoiled.


Shutter Island

I really relate to Leo in this because I also don’t trust anyone that isn’t Mark Ruffalo

Letterboxed user niceguys

take a shot every time leo reminds you he’s a fedrul you ess maashull

letterboxd user leslieburke

Wow Teddy’s dream journal must be wild

Letterboxd user ellefnning

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

constance: you should…you should…YOU SHOULD HAVE A BOYFRIEND 

merricat: *shocked in lesbian*

letterboxd user eely

In The Tall Grass

Lawn of the Dead.

letterboxd user nevermore1985

patrick wilson can make me eat dirt whenever he feels like it

letterboxd user magnetaire

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Book Tags, Not Books, Personal

The Sunshine Blogger Award #3

I was nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award by Destiny aaaall the way back in June, and I’m finally getting around to it! Definitely check out Destiny’s blog if you haven’t already, she is consistently posting great content!

RULES:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated them and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated them.
  • Nominate 11 other blogs and give them 11 new questions to answer.
  • Notify your nominees and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your post.

Destiny’s Questions:

  1. What was the last book you strongly disliked?
    • Rebel Girls, which is a bummer because it had such potential!
  2. How does your star rating system work for your reviews (if you use one)?
    • 5: Loved it
    • 4: Really liked it
    • 3: Liked it
    • 2: Didn’t like it
    • 1: Hated it
    • Pretty simple!
  3. What are your favorite pizza toppings?
    • Hmm, I’d say probably just pepperoni! Classic, and delicious. 🙂 I’ll fw most pizza toppings though, haha.
  4. Would you rather read a great plot with mediocre characters, or a boring plot with amazing characters?
    • This is a great Q! I’d have to say a boring plot with amazing characters, for sure.
  5. How many books are you currently reading, and which one is your favorite so far?
  6. What was the last book review you posted?
  7. Do you prefer MG, YA, NA, or adult books?
    • I would say right now I prefer adult, but I enjoy everything except MG (with exceptions!).
  8. Is there a popular author you’re NOT interested in reading anything by? (Elaborate if you’re comfortable doing so!)
    • Yes! I’m having trouble remembering off the top of my head, but I know there’s at least one.
  9. What marginalized rep would you most strongly like to see more of in books?
    • Selfishly, bi polyamory! For a group I’m not a part of, I’d have to say qpoc.
  10. Do you listen to music while reading?
    • Never!! I absolutely cannot focus, and it would have to be instrumental and match the tone perfectly for me to be able to.
  11. Do you prefer book twitter or bookstagram?
    • Book twitter! I feel like it’s easier to interact with and I honestly just always forget about bookstagram, eep.

My questions:

  1. Do you listen to any podcasts? If so, what are your favorites?
  2. Do you genre hop when you read or do you tend to stick to the same genres?
  3. What’s the best movie you’ve watched so far this year?
  4. 2019 release you’re most excited about reading?
  5. What’s your favorite way to treat yourself?
  6. Describe your ideal home in as much or as little detail as you’d like!
  7. Favorite snack?
  8. What’s your favorite kind of weather?
  9. Favorite book you read as a child?
  10. What’s your favorite thing about yourself?
  11. Are you a pumpkin person?

Tagging:

  1. Kal
  2. Emily
  3. Callum
  4. Jenna
  5. Hannah
  6. Wendy
  7. Leelynn
  8. Rachel
  9. Naty
  10. Bec
  11. Kelly

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Book Tags, Not Books

My Blog’s Searches

A couple months ago, Ally made this really fun post (inspired by Kaleena) about looking at her blog’s search terms. I love to look through my search terms from time to time, so I decided to make a post about it as well! I’ll group related searches together just for simplicity’s sake, and I won’t include searches that are just “[book] review” unless there are more than expected for a single book.


“sarah suoerfan stuff you should know”
I have no idea what this means??

“merry spinster thankless child”
“the merry spinster review the wedding party”
“a merry spinster the thankless child”
“the merry spinster the wedding party”
“ortberg thankless child”
I don’t know how so many people ended up at my blog searching for this, but I hope they enjoyed my review.

“stefan merrill block”
“oliver loving review”
“”oliver loving” “stefan merrill block””
This is also another book/author that has given me some traffic for ??? unclear reasons.

“we have always lived in the castle characters”
Ah, one of my fav books! Unfortunately I do not provide a list of characters.

“sarah foley black lives matter”
I have gotten curious and also searched this, but I don’t know who or what they’re looking for!

“ghost wall spoiler”
Pretty sure there are no spoilers in my review. Sorry, stranger!

“bad man by dathan auerbach explained”
I wish I knew what they wanted explained, because I’d be happy to help.

“sarah foley short story”
Whomst is she?

“the winter people sara”
Kind of, I guess?

“tbr gems”
Vague yet specific. Sorry I don’t have this for you!

“the wild girls by pat murphy real life comparison”
I do Not know what this means.

“seven deaths of evelyn hardcastle spolier”
“seven deaths of hardcastle review”
No spoliers here.


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Book Tags, Not Books

Versatile Blogger Award

Last month I was tagged by Becky @ Strikeouts + Sprinkles to do the Versatile Blogger Award! Definitely check out Becky’s blog, she’s fun to follow. 🙂

Award Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Link to the blog of the person who nominated you.
  • Share 7 facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 more bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.

Seven Facts About Me:

  1. I’m surprisingly restrained when it comes to buying books, I try to keep myself from buying them unless I’m almost certain I’ll love the book or have already read it and want my own copy.
  2. My favorite movie is Jurassic Park.
  3. I’m allergic to cats but intend to own at least 5 when I have my own place (I’m not so allergic that I can’t live with them).
  4. My hair is rarely not dyed; I’ve been dyeing it on and off since I was ~12.
  5. I love cephalopods so much that I have an aquarium membership so I can go see my babies whenever I want to.
  6. I own a longboard even though I’m not great at longboarding and am terrible at getting myself out to practice.
  7. I’d like to move to Austin, TX at some point!

My Nominations:

  1. Hannah
  2. Destiny
  3. Emily
  4. Avery
  5. Rachel
  6. Lindsay
  7. Callum
  8. Kristin
  9. Ally
  10. Kaleena
  11. Sara
  12. Meeghan
  13. Cerys
  14. Christopher
  15. Shalini

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Movie Reviews, Not Books

The Staircase [series review]

The Staircase begins by setting the scene of a horrific accident: a woman, Kathleen Peterson, who had fallen down the staircase of her own home while her husband Michael was outside, far out of earshot. The emergency services call made by Michael upon the discovery of his wife is downright harrowing and raised goosebumps on my arms. It was clear he was devastated, hysterical even. While I found the story itself to be quite tragic, it all seemed to be rather cut-and-dry to me and I had to wonder how this was worth making a 13-episode documentary about. The Staircase’s biggest weakness is the lack of punch it brings to its beginning. Had I not heard people rave about it, I probably wouldn’t have even continued with the series but I just needed to know why it seemed to fascinate so many people.

While in cases like these it often seems easy to assume the husband is in the wrong, I just didn’t get that feeling here. I was confused as to why the police even thought something was amiss. To be honest, this is something that doesn’t clear up for me as the story continues. While the medical examiner stated that she didn’t find the wounds to be consistent with a fall, I never really understood why. There are conflicting testimonies surrounding this so-called fact and it seemed odd to me that a consensus couldn’t be reached. Without even substantial evidence that this was not the result of an accident, it was difficult for me to turn Michael Peterson into a perpetrator of what could not even be proven to be a crime.

The second episode set my anxiety in motion and made the whole series a lot more personal to me. The prosecution discovers that not only is Michael Peterson bisexual, but that he has had one-night stands with men throughout his marriage. Every person in Michael and Kathleen’s lives had vouched that they had a solid, loving marriage and had never witnessed anything less than pure devotion between the two. For some, this information proves that this was nothing more than a facade; after all, how can a marriage be truly blissful if one of the partners is seeking sexual satisfaction elsewhere? They alleged that this was proof that Michael had killed his wife.

The thing is, Michael shared that while he and Kathleen never explicitly spoke of the matter, there was a silent understanding. She knew he was attracted to men, she knew he sought out men sexually, and she was okay with it. While this seems to come down to whether or not you believe Michael Peterson is a liar, a male prostitute who Michael had solicited is later brought in to testify and seems to confirm this story. He shares that he had been involved with many married men and that most of the time, these men’s wives seemed to know and accept their husbands’ transgressions. He testified that Michael had not only told him the same, but also that Michael spoke highly of his wife and seemed to be deeply in love with her.

I was terrified that this documentary had set out to demonize a bisexual man in an allegedly open relationship of sorts. As a polyamorous bisexual woman, this really hits home for me. Luckily, while that seemed to be the prosecution’s argument, the documentary explored more of Michael’s side of the story and the defense tackled the subject quite matter-of-factly. Sadly, this seemed to turn Kathleen’s family on Michael. They truly believed there was no way Kathleen would have allowed this, that there was no way she could have known. In fact, one of her sisters even says in essence that if Michael could lie to them about being bisexual and sleeping with men, then it isn’t the least bit unbelievable that he could have murdered Kathleen. Statements like this got my blood boiling. While I can understand their point of view to a certain extent, a man not wanting to out himself does not equate to murder.

The prosecution also pulls out another surprise: Elizabeth Ratliff, who had been a close friend of the Petersons when they lived in Germany, died in a similar incident years earlier. While this seems damning in name, none of the evidence supported it as a homicide. The doctors in Germany had ruled this the result of a cerebral hemorrhage — Liz had been experiencing headaches for weeks beforehand and blood was found in her cerebrospinal fluid. The same medical examiner who had announced Kathleen’s cause of death as homicide also said that Liz had been murdered. I already didn’t trust this ME, and most of the evidence seemed to indicate otherwise, so this wasn’t a clincher for me.

There’s a bit more to the series, so I’d recommend watching it if you haven’t already. The above points were what drew my interest the most, though. I also found the “owl theory” quite compelling. Regardless, as Michael Peterson himself said, “Truth is lost in all of this now… This has become a show.” Don’t come to The Staircase looking for answers, come to The Staircase if you have an interest in true crime and the inner workings of the criminal justice system. You are not going to find out without a doubt who killed Kathleen Peterson, but you will see how a (relatively privileged white male) defendant moves through the system.

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Movie Reviews, Not Books

Happy Death Day 2U [film review]

Happy Death Day 2U [2019] directed by Christopher Landon
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
rotten tomatoes: 68%

I’m a little biased because I’m writing this after listening to the Brunch review, but I do agree with a lot of their points. Their main issue with this sequel was that it lost sight of the original movie. In a way, I agree with that. It skips from horror to sci-fi, with some thriller elements. Still a dark comedy, but not in the same way the first one was. There is a hefty bit of suicide that comes across darker than intended. And honestly, the whole thing ended up pretty jumbled. They never made it clear how any of the science actually worked. The multiverse theory is briefly explained, but there are so many questions surrounding most of it. I’m not looking for scientific accuracy here, but a cohesive explanation would be nice. Also — you find out that she only lived through the same day 11 times in the first movie. I just don’t find it believable, it had to have been more than that. Especially with how hard she fell for Carter.

On the other hand, there were a lot of elements I really enjoyed! The humor was still there in a big way. I laughed out loud multiple times in the theater, something I rarely do. I’m sure I’ll re-watch it. I still enjoyed Tree a lot as a character, and think Jessica Rothe was just spectacular as her. I really liked the examination of her relationship with her mother and her grief, which I think went underexplored in the first movie and were used more for filler than anything else. I’ll be real, I almost cried watching this. That is not something I could have anticipated.

Overall, I liked it. There were a few bits that dragged on too much and plenty that could have been cleaned up, but it’s a fine addition to the franchise. I’m not sure I liked the idea of the possible third movie hinted at, but I guess we’ll see what happens.

Letterboxd Highlights

i’d die 12+ times for jessica rothe too

https://letterboxd.com/dianaprinceisbi/film/happy-death-day-2u/

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Not Books, Personal

Boskone 56 Day 2

ICYMI, the recap of my first day at Boskone can be found here. I didn’t make it to day three due to some medical issues, so this is both my second and last post about this year’s Boskone. I also made it to fewer panels on Saturday than I had hoped, but still got to plenty and had a great time! I’m already excited for next year’s. 🙂 In case you all are interested, I’ve got an entire shelf on goodreads of recs that came up throughout Boskone.

The Historical Progression of Horror

My first panel, at 10am sharp! The moderator was Jack Haringa, and the panelists were Deirdre Crimmins, Brett Savory, Tonia Thompson, and the one and only Paul Tremblay! I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to make it to Paul’s signing, but it was still great seeing him speak in the panel! Tonia also saw the cover of my journal prior to the panel and gave me a shout-out as a fellow Twilight Zone fan, which was fun.

The panel began with a discussion of the stimuli that lead to horror, whether related to technological advances or cultural changes. Tonia noted that space is less scary now that we (the human race) have been there and that the focus has shifted back to Earth, specifically a fear of AI and lack of privacy. Paul piped in that the speed at which misinformation can now spread is also a contributing factor to fear and horror.

Deirdre pointed out that modern horror has embraced technology in order to exploit our fears of it, followed by Tonia noting that technology makes writers work harder. No longer can we rely on the trope of no cell service without coming across as lazy. This makes the isolation often inherent to horror a lot more difficult. Paul pointed out that it forces a different kind of isolation to emerge.

As the conversation shifted, the topic of underexplored tropes arose with Tonia’s assertion that zombie fiction has not been explored to its fullest. She talked specifically about traditional Haitian zombies, which have long been used as a metaphor for enslavement. On a similar line, she hoped that hoodoo (distinctly different from voodoo) would be explored as well.

Later in the panel, the concept of the happy ending was brought up. Paul said that he felt a happy ending still needed to respect the experience of the character, and that they could not be able to escape these horrors completely unscathed. Jack noted that it is harder to portray any internal changes in movies, while Deirdre added that on the flipside movies are able to do the heavy lifting in other ways.

Tonia later brought up the differences between US and Latin American horror, the latter of which is more focused on religion. She noted that it would be interesting to see US horror explore religion, or lack of it, a little more. Jack brought up the fact that while we do have horror that explores religion, it is almost always dealt with from a Catholic perspective, and rarely in a contemporary setting.

In Our Own Voices

This panel was moderated by Julia Rios and included John Chu, Kenesha Williams, Tonia Thompson, and Hillary Monahan. Julia started off the panel by asking if the panelists found it difficult to find themselves represented. Kenesha started off by clarifying that in traditional publishing, the answer is yes. She noted that there is more representation in independent publishing. She also brought up the fact that many black stories are limited to oppression stories and historical retellings, and that black people don’t get to be the heroes.

Tonia answered next, sharing the first time she had read a book with a biracial character — in her 30s. “I wept because I had no idea what I was missing out on” not seeing herself in books. Hilary explained that a lot of traditional publishers use a couple non-white authors to say they’re diverse. Also biracial, she talked about how white authors will write biracial characters, but only include the white half of their lives. She spoke about how an author can’t say someone is half something and then never speak to that half.

Julia asked where the panelists tended to find their diverse fiction. Kenesha used Amazon suggestions, whereas Hilary depended mainly on word-of-mouth. She said it’s important to listen to people in the community you’re looking to explore and that she’s skeptical of lists made by people outside of the community. Tonia said she likes to use conferences and conventions to find new authors. Kenesha jumped back in to say tailor facebook groups tend to help listing a few, such as Colors in Darkness.

The idea of writing outside one’s own lane also came up. Tonia expressed her frustration that white people continue to get recognition for writing outside their experiences. Kenesha added that you can tell when a white editor has had a heavy hand in a black author’s work, and that they need to step back and trust the reader. Hilary argued that you can write outside your lane, but you need to take the time to do it right, with research and sensitivity readers.

Near-Future Sci-Fi

This panel had moderator Paul DiFilippo and panelists Fran Wilde, Michael Swanwick, Karl Schroeder, and Brett James. DiFilippo started by discussing an essay from Charles Strauss (“Worldbuilding 404”) where he asserted that looking into the near future was 85% knowns, 10% known unknowns (something will happen, but what?), and 5% unknown unknowns (black swan events). Karl noted that sci-fi must stand as a plausible future, we must be able to see how we got there.

Karl also brought up the question of what happens if you get something wrong that is wrong by the time the book gets published. Michael brought up an incident where he almost wrote a book that involved a nuclear war between the US and the USSR, but decided at the last minute that he thought it would be boring. Sometime between the book’s acceptance and its publication, the USSR had fallen. Fran brought up a more concerning point: what if you get something right and someone uses it as their guide?

Karl argued the importance of near-future sci-fi by stating that setting novels 10,000 years in the future doesn’t help to solve present-day problems. Near-future sci-fi can give us a way to envision solutions to these problems. Michael stressed the importance of having a modesty about what you’re writing and looking just to the edge of the present for inspiration.

Why Diversity Matters

This panel was moderated by William Hayashi and had panelists Gerald L. Coleman, Cerece Rennie Murphy, Carlos Hernandez, and Reiko Murakami. William began by arguing that diversity in media normalizes the actual population of the country, as Cerece stated that “we write the world as it is… it’s time for us to stop explaining our existence.” Gerald also stressed the importance of having black characters with “every person problems” instead of relying on stereotypes to create “black problems.”

Cerece was lucky in that she grew up surrounded by diversity, and didn’t quite know that there were places where it didn’t exist. She said that someone once asked her what made her realize that she could write science fiction as a black woman. It was that moment that made her realize she had never thought she couldn’t.

Gerald and William began to discuss the impact of the Wonder Woman movie on women and girls. They walked out of the theaters visibly empowered, feeling like they could accomplish anything. Some had to wonder, “is this how white men feel walking out of superhero movies?”

Reiko added that, as someone who works in the video game industry, she has noticed the developers’ assumptions about the player have changed. They are no longer catering only to white teenage boys. She also stated that the most important part of writing diversely is doing your homework and showing respect.

Young Adult Science Fiction

Justin Key was the moderator of this panel and the panelists were Erin Underwood, Lauren Roy, Michael Stearns, and Fran Wilde. Justin began the panel by asking why there is so much more young adult fantasy than young adult science fiction. Lauren pointed out that when something is written by a woman, it is less likely to be labeled as sci-fi. Michael also said that the sci-fi label is avoided in YA as it is seen as the death of a novel. This leads to YA science fiction being sold in the general science fiction section instead.

Justin also asked whether sci-fi is encouraging kids to go into STEM fields. He used himself as an example, saying science fiction was part of why he became a doctor. Erin said that having the fiction to lay the groundwork for these interests can be essential. Fran also noted that fiction doesn’t have to be future-looking to be about science, “it’s not just robots and rockets.”

Social Change and the Speculative World

Janice Gelb was the moderator for this panel and the participants were Andrea Corbin, Robert VS Redick, Christopher Golden, and Hilary Monahan. Hilary was adamant that all fiction is political and that marginalized groups writing naturally makes their works political. What you include and what you don’t include in fiction is impacted by who you are. Christopher added in “Ignorance is privilege, and privilege is ignorance.” Hilary also noted that sci-fi and fantasy can put a fun twist on difficult topics, keeping people interested who might have otherwise checked out.

An audience member asked about how economic inequality and class systems are addressed in speculative fiction. Hilary noted that there are very few narratives set around poverty, although there are always exceptions. Christopher noted the Hunger Games trilogy as well as the Red Rising trilogy as examples. Hilary continued, pointing out other social justice issues that aren’t given as much attention: disability, classism, fatphobia. Andrea added that when these are included, they’re often an undercurrent and not the focus.

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Not Books, Personal

Boskone 56: Day 1

Last year I attended Boskone, a sci-fi/fantasy convention right here in Boston, for the first time. Not only did I get to meet one of my life-long favorite authors, but I also attended loads of wonderful panels and discussions. I had intended to write a post detailing each day but alas, only made the one. A lot of the events I attended had a strong focus on diversity of all kinds, which is part of what made me love the convention so much. Needless to say, I was so excited to attend this year’s convention as well!

This year I planned things a little better, figuring out which events I wanted to make it to ahead of time and what time I needed to get to the convention on Day 1. I arrived with plenty of time to check in and read a bit of my current read before my first panel. I’ve written summaries of all the panels I attended, but some are a bit lengthy. Each has their own header so you can skip around to read only what sounds interesting to you!

The Hopeful Future in Science Fiction

This panel contained James Patrick Kelly as the moderator with Muriel Stockdale, Gene Doucette, Fonda Lee, and Steve Miller as the participants. The discussion started with introductions as each panelist shared whether they had a hopeful view of the future or not. They then set into discussing optimism and pessimism and its place in the science fiction genre.

Fonda Lee noted that she felt “science fiction is an inherently optimistic genre” in that it implies that we will be here, even when things go sideways. She expanded on this by commenting that dystopian fiction is less of a genre, and more of a point of view. Lee argued that she could write a story set in the Capitol of Panem (from The Hunger Games) that was utopian; it all comes down to perspective. Gene Doucette agreed with her sentiment, adding that even in post-apocalyptic books the narrator (or reader) is assumed to be a survivor: “the future is going to be the end of everything, but not for you.”

The topic then shifted more towards optimism in the genre, with Fonda bringing up the sub-genre of “hopepunk” which James Patrick Kelly then compared to “solarpunk.” Both of these genres focus more towards cultural shifts as the solution rather than technology. Because of this, “climate fiction” and related stories are written more by authors who tend not to write sci-fi. Kelly also points out that whereas sci-fi as a whole glorifies the power of the individual, these sub-genres focus more on solutions that are the responsibility of an entire society. They are telling us that one person is not capable of making the changes necessary to fix this.

During the Q&A portion, an audience member brought up the question of whether more pessimism in sci-fi may be the result of discordant realities and a shift in the demographics that the genre is being marketed towards. Lee agreed with this idea, hammering home the fact that sci-fi that may have been considered optimistic 50 years ago no longer comes across that way to some; when the spaceships are full of cishet white men, the stories are only optimistic for a certain subset of people.

Overall, I found it great food for thought and definitely plan to explore the hopepunk genre a bit more deeply. Kelly offered the collection Hieroglyph as well as the Better Worlds project from The Verge as recommended reading for these topics.

Medical Ethics in the 21st Century

This panel had Robert B. Finegold, MD as the moderator with Paul Jeter, Julie C. Day, Frank Wu, and Justin Key as the participants. Prior to the panel, Dr. Finegold asked some audience members why they chose to attend this specific panel. As someone who works in clinical research — medical ethics are essentially my whole job. Questions like these (perhaps not always to this degree of intensity) arise on a daily basis in my office, so I’m always interested in learning more.

The panel began with a discussion on the ethics surrounding genetic testing. Frank Wu spoke first about the difficulty surrounding whether to undergo testing for Huntington’s disease, a devastating condition that is passed down genetically. Simply knowing whether or not you have the disease can impact the course of your life. Justin Key brought up the potential impact genetic testing can have if the results fall into the hands of insurance companies, who could potentially discriminate against their clients.

Dr. Finegold then moved onto the topic of genetic editing. A lot of nuances were brought up here: editing the genes of people who can choose (consenting adults) versus those who cannot (fetuses), editing genes to prevent or cure fatal diseases versus editing genes based purely on preference. Underlined here is the fact that genetic editing can and likely will have unintentional consequences that we may not even be aware of for years to come. Key weighed the pros and cons aloud, emphasizing that he was unable to pick a side: we could have the ability to treat chronic and debilitating diseases, but at what cost? He was also sure to add that even now we use medicine to change bodies to fit our own preferences: dieting and plastic surgery are two common examples he gave, commenting that we don’t even know the possible long-term consequences of these.

The last topic under discussion was organ transplantation, specifically how the demand far exceeds the supply and the dilemmas this causes. Key spoke first about how psychiatrists are responsible for evaluating potential transplant recipients for risk factors. While they themselves don’t choose whether someone receives an organ or not, this evaluation is taken into consideration. He noted that it will be interesting to see how machine learning and AI play into this process, essentially whether we will end up inputting all the available data and allowing a computer to decide who receives a transplant. Jeter took this in another direction, bringing up how we must account for animals, ethically, in our medicine.

A few other threads were followed including the concept of opting out of organ donation rather than opting in; populations that may distrust medicine for good reason; mandatory immunizations; and how short appointments and long waiting times both lead to injustice in medicine. I found a lot of these discussions absolutely fascinating and am hoping to seek out some resources to read about them.

Telling Tarot Tales

I took fewer notes in this one, since it was a workshop and not a panel. The workshop leader, Trisha Woodridge, was just great! She emphasized the importance of tuning into your intuition when reading tarot rather than trying to memorize what the cards are “supposed” to mean. We did an exercise where we each spent a minute looking at a randomly drawn card, then flipped it over and wrote what we remembered of it. We went around and described what had stood out to us while she helped us draw out our interpretations.

She then went over some general associations with the cards (minor vs major arcana, court cards, each of the suits) and finished the workshop by setting up a celtic cross spread and using it to tell a story. While the workshop focused less on the storytelling aspect than I thought it would, that’s mainly because 50 minutes is a pretty limited amount of time. I’m really glad I made it to this one and will definitely be using some of what she shared in the future.

Agency and Free Will in Speculative Fiction

This panel was a bit less structured than the earlier ones, with Juliana Spink Mills as the moderator and Gillian Daniels, Rebecca Roanhorse, Greer Gilman, and M.C. DeMarco as the participants. This discussion was mostly about prophecies and the “Chosen One” trope. Mills did a good job of asking some thought-provoking questions, which the panelists took and ran with.

Gillian Daniels cautioned that while this can give the reader a reason to care about the character, the author needs to make it interesting in order to make it compelling. She shared that double meanings and misinterpretations of prophecies are one way to accomplish this. Rebecca Roanhorse added that it helps to confound your readers’ expectations and that you should use what they bring to the story against them.

They went down a few other paths, but a lot of it circled around to the question of how you know whether a character has free will or not. Do the secondary characters surrounding a Chosen One have free will? Do we have free will if confined by the circumstances of our lives? Does your free will cut into someone else’s agency? How do addiction and behaviors stemming from it play into free will? It’s a lot of food for thought and I’m interested in exploring the concept more at some point.


So, that was Day 1 of Boskone! I am finishing this post at 10pm the night of, and am excited to see what the next couple days have in store. You’ll get recaps of those in the next week or two as well. I can say that it was already well worth getting ticket’s to this year’s con.

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Movie Reviews, Not Books, Personal

Movies I Want to Watch in 2019

With the Oscars coming up, I’ve been thinking a lot about the movies I intended to see in 2018 and didn’t. I rarely make it out to the theaters, so I mostly end up watching whatever is included with Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. I also usually end up watching movies with my sister, so most of the time we choose horror movies or comedies (a weird combo, but oh well). So, I figured I’d take some time to share with you all a few movies I’m hoping to watch this year. A lot are from 2018, but there are some older ones in here as well!

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse [2018] is everything everyone’s been talking about for the last month or so. This is one I’ll probably try to get to while it’s still in theaters, since I think it’ll be worth it to see it on the big screen!

My sister and I watched the original Halloween in preparation for Halloween [2018] and then… never saw it in theaters. Hopefully we’re able to find it streaming somewhere soonish.

I’ve been meaning to see the original Suspiria [1977] for quite some time now, but the remake definitely makes it feel a little more time-sensitive. So I’m hoping I manage to get to this one sometime in 2019!

I really don’t know how I haven’t seen The Shape of Water [2017] yet. I meant to see it in theaters, and then missed it, and then just… never saw it. Part of it is definitely that my sister has absolutely no interest in seeing it. So hopefully I’ll get to it sometime when she isn’t around, ha.

Gimme that gay shit!!! I’ve been wanting to watch The Miseducation of Cameron Post [2018] since I heard it was getting made into a movie, but just haven’t known where to find it. BUT! It looks like it may finally be on Amazon Prime, so I’ll have to check it out.


How many of these are on your watchlist?
Feel free to add me on letterboxd, as I am always looking for new friends and have been in quite the movie-watching mood lately.

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