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Started reading INTERZONE #253 (TTA Press)

My Father and the Martian Moon Maids by James Van Pelt
Flytrap by Andrew Hook
The Golden Nose by Neil Williamson
Beside the Dammed River by D.J. Cockurn
Chasmata by E. Catherine Tobler
The Bars of Orion by Caren Gussoff

Cover: Bus Stop by Wayne Haag

Ansible Link by David Langford
Book Zone by Matthew S. Dent, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Jack Deighton, Stephen Theaker, Ian Sales, Paul Graham Raven, Ian Hunter, Andrew J. Wilson, Duncan Lunan, Simon Marshall-Jones, Jim Steel
Future Interrupted by Jonathan McCalmont
Laser Fodder by Tony Lee
Mutant Popcorn by Nick Lowe

Finished reading INTERZONE #252 (TTA Press)


The Posset Pot by Neil Williamson
The Mortuaries by Katherine E. K. Duckett
Diving into the Wreck by Val Nolan
Two Truths and a Lie by Oliver Buckram
A Brief Light by Claire Humphrey
Sleepers by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

Cover: Caravan by Wayne Haag

Ansible Link by David Langford
Book Zone by Andy Hedgecock, Jo L. Walton, Paul F. Cockburn, Paul Kincaid, Duncan Lunan, Simon Marshall-Jones, Stephen Theaker, Matthew S. Dent, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Jack Deighton, Barbara Melville, Lawrence Osborn, Peter Tennant
Future Interrupted by Jonathan McCalmont
Laser Fodder by Tony Lee
Mutant Popcorn by Nick Lowe

Normally I read INTERZONE cover to cover over a couple of days, but this one got interrupted by the Hugo Awards voter packet (which I’m proud to say I managed to read the vast majority of before voting). So I don’t have as good a sense as usual of the overall shape and/or any themes of the issue. This is the first time ever that a new issue has arrived before I’ve finished the current one.

Loncon 3 (non-selfie) photodump (see captions for details)

The collected selfies of Loncon 3 (the 72nd World SF Convention)

So I’ve been observing to friends at Loncon 3 that panel attendees don’t seem able to parse questions usefully for the panellists to answer. There’s a tendency to ramble for five minutes, sharing every stray thought the discussion so far has thrown up, then say “I wonder if you have any thoughts on that?”

Well, I won’t be making that criticism any more, having just shoved my foot right in my mouth in the Queerer War panel. I asked a question about the different stories / effects / queer representations it’s possible to create in mixed-gender militaries versus gender-segregated ones, and got taken solidly to task for it by Ann Leckie, who quite rightly pointed out that there’s never really been any such thing as a mono-gendered military force. The really stupid thing is, I’d got annoyed myself at someone in a panel the other day for asking a question that pre-assumed all military characters as default male. How are people still asking these questions in a post-We Have Always Fought world? I wondered. And now presumably everyone in the Queerer War panel is thinking pretty much the same about me.

In my defence: the non-existence of mono-gendered or default-male military forces in the real world doesn’t seem to have stopped people writing stories about them - otherwise Kameron Hurley would never have needed to write We Have Always Fought in the first place. And what I was aiming for was a point about the troublesome real-world assumption that people, especially men, in gender-segregated spaces - whether that’s an army, a school, a submarine, a prison, or what - will turn to each other to fulfil their sexual needs regardless of what sexuality they identify as; the idea that queer sex is something “straight” people do when straight sex is unavailable.

But that’s not the question I ended up asking, because I didn’t parse or examine it properly before asking, because there isn’t time to do that in that context. Which is why I won’t criticise people for asking badly-phrased or badly-thought-out questions in panels any more.

Footnotes (or Things That Would Be Clearer In The Text If I Were A Better Poet)

1. When I say I want the world to unbuild the closet, I am not, repeat not, suggesting outing closeted QUILTBAG people against their wishes. Stop assuming everyone is straight until proven queer: yes. Break the stigma attached to openly discussing sexuality (as opposed to trying to decode it from behaviour and/or past relationships, which can only lead to ridiculous sitcom misunderstandings): yes (as long as we all respect that people owe themselves safety and comfort more than they owe anyone else total honesty). Out your acquaintances to people they may have closeted themselves away from for very good reasons: no, no and thrice no, why would you even consider that.

2. The last thing I want to do is criticise or diminish people who have come out of the closet. My belief that we shouldn’t have to come out only increases my respect for anyone who has. Given the choice between cowering in the foxhole and sallying forth, I’ll cower every time: for evidence, see the above weaselly clever-clever non-disclosure of my queerness. I admire anyone who looked ahead to the inevitable shitshow of stupid questions and platitudes that would surround their coming out and said “Fuck it, I’m outta here anyway”.

3. I reserve the right to add more footnotes as my sense of panic deepens.

I should also note that I have been sitting on this recording for … shit, it’s not even weeks any more, it’s months. I’ve been thoroughly guilt-tripping myself over whether just slapping this up on the internet without warning certain parties (mostly family members) (actually, now I think about it, exclusively family members) is a selfish act.

Which was a kind of rehearsal, because while my family is pretty laid back and I don’t expect any kind of vilification/ostracisation, I do anticipate a guilt trip of the “We’re sorry you felt you couldn’t trust us personally with this information” / “We just wish we didn’t have to find out something so important through the internet grapevine” variety. At least I’ve pretty much covered all those bases myself already, so the guilt (if it comes, and I’m still hoping to be pleasantly surprised) won’t be so fresh.

I think the conclusion I reached is that yes, throwing this out there and letting people stumble on it themselves is basically selfish of me, but this is an occasion where selfishness was my only option. I thought about talking to my parents about it first, less as a coming out and more as an FYI, but I know myself well enough to know that I’d never have found the right time to bring it up - that there’s no such thing as “the right time” - and then I’d never have published this at all, and I needed to publish it.

Which is a long and self-absorbed way of saying, if you know me personally, and you’ve found this, and you’re hurt that you didn’t already know: I’m sorry, but I had to do this on my terms or I’d never have managed to do it at all.

And to everyone to whom this is not news: hello! Nothing much to see here. Let’s do lunch soon.

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M. J. Starling,
The Nineworlds Geekfest Podcast

I couldn’t be at nine-worlds-geekfest bodily this year, so I sent my disembodied voice to represent me instead. My episode of the Nine Worlds Podcast (part of the podcasting track) explains how I host and publish podcasts for no money by bodging free services together and hoping. Thanks Barry Nugent and Stephen Aryan for letting me get involved!

1. Your body is a missile launching platform. Obviously it’s not as stable or sturdy as the platforms people build to launch missiles, hence the focus on a strong T-shaped stance, with straight lines from floor to hips to shoulders to head, and from drawing elbow to arrow tip.

2. Pay attention to the instructor, for he is mischievous and WILL try to shift the bosses farther away while you’re talking among yourselves.

3. As well as limbs and a string (week 1) a bow has a back and a belly - important for stringing.

4. The full Olympic distance is THREE AND A HALF TIMES what we’ve been shooting.

5. Trying to get one in the red, one in the white and one in the blue before you’re fully confident your sights are set is basically a fool’s errand.

6. Beware of face-creep.

7. Arrows swim through the air like a piece of wet spaghetti.

8. Next week, there will be scoring.


I would love to tell you that I spent even a full minute resisting the urge to paint this classic coffee joke with Hawkeyes, but I did no such thing: you just know they’d be assholes about coffee.

(if you love me at all, click it to see it bigger)

(via thefingersofgod)