Short Fiction Spotlight: “Wine” by Yoon Ha Lee

Yoon Ha Lee’s “Wine”, published in Clarkesworld Magazine‘s January 2014 issue, takes us to a planet where the ruling elites elongate their lives by the consumption of a wine grown in a delightfully grisly way. Faced with brutal invasion, they make a deal to acquire an army.

“Noninterference, hell. I’ve had the scanners on it and they can’t even tell what our allies are. They come from nowhere and the corpses of their units degenerate with astonishing rapidity. There’s probably a paper in it for some scientist somewhere.”

Khy brought up more photos and videos. At first Ruharn didn’t recognize what he was seeing, too busy being distracted by fractal damage, stress marks, metal sheening red-orange in response to unhealthy radiations. Familiar shapes.

Except those weren’t the only familiar shapes. Burnt into the wreckage were symbols he remembered from his childhood. The depressions of board games he had played in the dirt, or score-tallies chalked onto walls, or warding-signs around which he and his friends had danced in circles, chanting rhymes to keep the Gardeners away.

General Loi Ruharn is no stranger to distasteful decisions, but the deal is more than he can ignore.

As a military SF story (from the perspective of military leaders far from the front), it’s solid: that Ruharn would be pushed to act is inevitable, but what he chooses to do is interesting. I’ll admit to an interest in ruthless generals.

It’s also notable for having a trans protagonist. Ruharn’s history is laid out clearly: he was born “girlform”, joined a military young to escape poverty and lived a man, rose through the ranks for his skill and survival, and attracted the attention of the Falcon Councilor because she had never taken a trans lover before. Becoming the Falcon Councilor’s lover gave him the power and possibility of personal security that he wanted. Fetishisation of trans people is unpleasant, but all too real. That it happens in “Wine” points to a culture a little more accepting than ours: one where Ruharn’s transition meets with no opposition, but he is fetishised by his Councilor and his voice is commented on by her and his sister. I have mixed feelings about this. I’m a big advocate for futures where transphobia (and homophobia, etc) no longer exists (because we certainly don’t get to enjoy that possibility in the present). I’m sympathetic to writing about trans people (and issues faced by being trans) while blowing up cities and spaceships. Ruharn’s history is relevant to the story, but not central: most important is the decision he makes about the deal. I liked that. I liked the story a lot more than I “hmm”d about its future, but I did “hmm”.

(If you’re in the market for more military SF, I’d like to point you to Yoon Ha Lee’s “The Battle of Candle Arc” and “Ghostweight”. My favourites of Yoon Ha Lee’s work.)

Posted in Short Fiction Spotlight

‘Gaming in Color’ Trailer (Because Sometimes We Can Have Nice Things)

The people behind ‘Gaming in Color‘ – a full length feature documentary on the queer gaming community that ran an awesomely successful Kickstarter last year – have released an official trailer, and it’s lovely:

From the Gaming in Color website:

For too long gamers have been painted in a very specific light, and the mosaic of gamers have lacked the diversity of minorities, queers, women, and members of LGBTQ communities. We want to create this film in order to take a closer look at the challenges and growth of these communities in the gaming world.

Read more here!

Posted in Gaming, News

Starship’s Weekend Soundtrack: 2NE1

Welcome to the weekend, folks, where we’re firebombing VR utopias with K-Pop stars 2NE1. They’re one of Korea’s biggest girl groups and are known for their big tunes and lush science-fictional aesthetics, and basically everyone should watch their new video right now:

This is from their new album Crush, available on iTunes. They also have a YouTube playlist of all their music videos here – fire that up and you’ll have your weekend tasks underway in no time.

What’s your favourite weekend jam? Tell us and we might feature it for a future Weekend Soundtrack!

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Posted in Weekend Soundtrack

Friday Fanvid: Jane/Sif ‘Conqueror of Your Heart’

That glance between Jane Foster and Lady Sif in Thor: The Dark World – we were all thinking the same thing, right? With thanks to the excellent Femslash Revolution on tumblr for introducing us to it, this week’s Friday Fanvid is ‘Conqueror of Your Heart’ by SweetestGale – and it’s the Jane/Sif vid of our heart. It’s almost painfully short, but packs more into one and a half minutes than many vids seem to manage in three or four. From the YouTube description: After some tense encounters on Asgard, Sif realizes she has feelings for Jane and goes to Earth to find her.

… can that be a movie please?

Got a favourite queer-themed vid? Tell us and we’ll feature it on a future Friday Fanvid.

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Posted in Fanworks, Friday Fanvid

Starship’s Weekend Soundtrack: Riot Grrrl Berlin

It’s the weekend, let’s dance! Or bop in our chairs if we’re still chained to our desks, whatever, the point is MUSIC! Since it’s International Women’s Day, we thought some RIOT GRRRL could be just the thing, and we’re delighted to offer Riot Grrrl Berlin for your listening/raging against the machine/CLEAN ALL THE THINGS/doing sweet FA/etc pleasure.

They produce free compilations of modern alt music by women, a lot of it punk but with a pretty diverse range of sounds and styles, and featured artists are from all over the world. And if you need any more convincing, their albums are called things like ‘Cats Against Catcalling‘ and ‘Mansplaining on the Dancefloor‘. Did I mention it’s all free?

cover art credit: dana krusche

cover art credit: dana krusche

Yell at the patriarchy with this list of all their compilations to date.

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Posted in Weekend Soundtrack

Friday Fanvid: Alexander/Hephaistion ‘Hungry Eyes’

Welcome to the almost-weekend, everyone, and with it another instalment of Friday Fanvid! This week’s vid comes recommended by Alex Dally MacFarlane, who knows a lot about ancient history and can vouch for the accuracy majesty of Hephaistion888‘s ‘Hungry Eyes’.

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Posted in Fanworks