Sunday, October 19, 2014

Women ! In my books !

In a recent blog post (in French, sorry), my friend Neil Jomunsi wrote about hero gender in books.
For a long time, I've seen in my choices of books that I LOVE good female character, with a clear personality, feminine without beeing a caricature or "discriminating". It gave me the occasion of listing some of these women I love in books.

Illisidi (C.J. Cherryh, Foreigner) 
The old crone, still dynamic in her old age. Nothing will change her ways, unless it suits her and through her, her people.

Tanyth Fairport (Nathan Lowell, Fairport adventures) 
An itinerant herbalist, on the road for decenies to learn the secrets of the plants.

Royina Ista of Challion (Lois Mc Master Bujold, Curse of Challion) 
Retired dowager of the Challion throne, she takes her future in her hands and to the road.

Lisbeth Sallander (Stieg Larsson, Millenium) 
Hacker extraordinaire, small and autistic Lisbeth won't let anyone dictate her who she is...

Lessa (Ann McCaffrey, Dragons of Pern) 
Mistress of dragons, Lessa was one of the first Strong Women I remember reading about in SF&F 

Phedre no Delaunay (Jacqueline Carey, Kushiel) 
"That which yields is not always weak." Contrary to Lisbeth Salander (see above), the courtesan Phedre bends rather than break, but as Lisbeth, she keeps her integrity all along, leading others after her.

Cassandra (Andrea K Host, Touchstone) 
Resourceful teenager, stranger in strange lands. Frail but keeping strong in adversity.

Amaranthe Lockdon (Lindsay Buroker, Emperor's Edge)
Leader of men, quirky founding member of a mercenary outfit.

Audham En Tha (Ayerdhal, Mytale) 
Don't try and tell her what to do, unless you want her to do the reverse. And even then, she would surprise you.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fifteen minutes of fame... (partial citation on the NYT!)

I have reached a new peek in fame ! Part of a comment I made on the Passive Voice Blog was reproduced by Mr Streitfeld in the New York Times ! Well, the operational word here is "partial". In both senses of the word. Here is my full comment reproduced here with my own permission ;-)
I’m quite disturbed by the quote of Ms Le Guin (who I hold in the highest estime) :
“We’re talking about censorship: deliberately making a book hard or impossible to get, ‘disappearing’ an author,”
I’ve yet to see proof by anyone in Amazon/Hachette of any real active censorship, of making a book hard or impossible to get.
I thought Ms Le Guin, as one of the “Book View Cafe” founding members, better informed…

For those of you who don’t know BVC, it’s an author’s cooperative to publish backlist and new works from professional writers. It sells directly (and indirectly via retailers) their ebooks DRM-free and correctly priced.

Later in the comments, I added a copy of a comment I made on the related Book View Cafe blog post:
Since I was a child, I have great respect for Ms Le Guin’s books as a writer, and later for her as a person.

I’m quite pleased to see her stand strong regarding censorship, I’m on the same boat, really. However, I don’t remember seeing any real proof/instance of censorship on the current Amazon/Hachette negociations.

“We’re talking about censorship: deliberately making a book hard or impossible to get, ‘disappearing’ an author,”, she writes.

As far as I understand, no author has “disappeared” from the store, nor books made impossible to get from Amazon. Not active stocks, no pre-order, sure. But I fail to see how that is censorship, especially since Amazon does sell the books.

Any real censorship example would be welcome for this blogger…

On the contrary, I see in the ebooks stores a much wider diversity nowadays, from diverse authors, in diverse genres. Of course, self-publishing/indie publishing allows anyone to publish anything, and a good portion of that work is rubbish. Nonetheless, some of the rest is quality, and would have never been published otherwise.

I know and understand that Amazon is clearly not disinterested in its massive support of indie-publishing, however, I think that far from censoring, it’s ultimately (and for now), working FOR expression.

And if Amazon were to change its stance, and reduce indie publisher’s liberty to publish via their store, at least the authors will have kept their rights to their work and will be able to sell it elsewhere, or even distribute it freely if that were their wish.

On the other hand, I don’t think authors having signed with Hachette would be free to do so, if Hachette decided to stiffle their sales…

Once again, with the greatest respect for Ms Le Guin, in this I think she’s mistaken…
Mr Streifeld also implies that the majority of the other comments were less than respectful for Ms Le Guin. While SOME indeed were, he failed to mention the numerous others that were expressed both respect and incomprehension...

Since I'm no journalist, I think I'm allowed to be partial oustside of an edito, so I'll choose my own quotes too:
Agreed. She seems to be making some very exaggerated claims in that statement. While it is very quotable (and thus managed to get into the article), it seems to be intent on escalating the hysteria rather than conveying actual information about what is actually going on. I have no doubt that Ms Le Guin is concerned about that potential aspect of this commercial dispute, but as you I expected something better.
and later :
Ms. Le Guin is certainly a “smart cookie”, but she has a real passion regarding anything that smacks of censorship. If this was presented to her in a way that made her reach that conclusion (as appears to be the case), I could certainly see her going on the attack for that reason. That she is mistaken in that conclusion is obvious to us, but she probably hasn’t seen both sides of this disagreement.
(by Shelly Thacker)
I’m just gonna pretend I didn’t see Ms. LeGuin’s name in this article. Mentally erasing it now. Nope, don’t see it anymore. La la la. She’s been one of my favorite authors since I was 12. She’s almost 85 years old, and I can’t bear to see her being used by this band of bozos to further their ill-informed agenda.
(by Anon. Author)
It makes me sad to see Ursula LeGuin signing onto this and turning it into an issue of “censorship”. I was privileged to interview her for an article I wrote on women in SF and I have the greatest respect for her as an author. However, it demeans the real censorship going on in the world to equate it to what is happening in the Amazon-Hachette contract dispute. I could claim that I am being censored because bookstores will not stock my Createspace print books because of old disputes with Amazon. This is business, not politics, Ms. LeGuin. Censorship is a whole different kettle of fish and for you to try to lump this in with what is happening in countries like Pakistan and China and other repressive regimes is a real shame and totally bogus.