That’s not *all* about Eve….

I just read this piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education that really yanked my chain. For a lot of the reasons discussions of gender and religion yank my chain. People are completely oblivious of the assumptions and atextual contributions they bring to biblical study. Which is, most of the time, fine and natural and understandable. But when scholars are equally blind to their intextual interferences? It pisses me off. It shouldn’t, really. When I studied Religion, I was often called brilliant for insights free of Christian cultural interpolations, so I should be grateful for scholarly Christian blindness. But I’m not. I may in fact be brilliant, but I want that to be recognized because of my insights and contributions, not because other people can’t see around their cultural accretions.

Anyway. This piece in the Chronicle. Retelling Eden. Through gender switching. It might have been pretty cool, except for the fact that it completely overinterprets what Genesis reports to have happened between the fruit-eater and the serpent. Here’s where it goes wrong:

One day a serpent came along and said, “Hey, Adam, look here. I’ve got this fabulous idea for you. If you eat a piece of this apple, you’ll look at Eve in an entirely different way. You’ll experience a very pleasant urge that will enhance that useless protuberance of yours and make you want to put it to work rolling around in the grass with Eve. What do you say?”

Do you see it? Go ahead, double check, the part in question is Genesis 3:3-7. Here’s the NIV translation:

3but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

See it now? Knowledge. Wisdom. Culture. Sex? No. No sex. No sexuality. No frolicking with protuberances. That’s all Christian add-on, coming much later.

Here’s how to re-read it. Eve was a little bored with mindless frolicking. She was adventuresome. Wisdom sounded good to her. She wanted it. She reached out and took it, and handed to her friend, who also partook of wisdom. Without challenge, qualm, or question. And then the first thing they did was get crafty and make some clothes. (clothes=culture).

And then God got upset that his plans to keep his pets innocent, protected, and bored. Really really upset. I want to say it was because everyone kept passing the blame, but he also punished the serpent, who simply pointed out that the fruit would make life more interesting. He didn’t deceive Eve at all. He didn’t slip her some fruit like a frat boy at a party. He told her straight. She knew what she was getting into.

God was maybe a little unreasonable. He did not like losing his pets.  His reaction kind of makes me want to hand him an apple and tell him to chill.

But maybe God was right to be pissed. Woman and Beast and Man, living together, with access to knowledge and all of the bountiful resources of this planet? Had no need for a God like that. He had to crush and smash them, make them weak and broken and pained. Or else he would have had to deal with companions of grace and equality.

I say Go, Eve! you did good girl!

Scalzi’s Old Man’s War

I finished this last night, took me ages to read. That has more to do with how little time I devote to reading fiction than it does to Scalzi’s writing (although the style was a little offputting to me, but I got used to it)

I liked the book as I read it, especially the diversity of alien life represented in the book. But my lingering thoughts this morning are about the ways this book is so clearly by a man. To clarify, I almost exclusively read a subgenre of speculative fiction, a subgenre of the subgenre social science fiction– feminist speculative fiction. 99% of the time, I read fiction written by women. This is somewhat by design; I can suspend disbelief about a variety of science fictional premises, but I find it unacceptable jarring to be asked to enter worlds where women are simply and unquestioningly their tits or their sexual role or absent or otherwise one dimensional and false.

Scalzi doesn’t do that. Certainly, a man is the main character, and the book would not pass the the Bedchel test (there are multiple named female characters, but they never talk to each other). But that’s OK, the women characters are as fully drawn as other characters and are not marginalized in any way. That wasn’t the part that bugged me.

So what made me feel the maleness of the author so profoundly? I think it was the lack of anthropology.

I don’t know if it’s related to gender, or just to the women authors I read, but I find myself missing the answers to the questions about what the alien life is like. Even when that isn’t the point of the book, the authors I read would have included some aside about the handicrafts or housing peculiarities of the 1″ tall humanoid species, of the whalelike species that polymerize water, of the lobsterlike species with additional humanoid hands….

This morning I found myself drowsing in bed this morning wondering about the cool ability of inch tall humanoids to do fine electronics work, and how valuable that would be. And wondering if their swimming pools would make interesting bracelets. I know it’s not the book Scalzi wrote, but the complete absence of those tiny details has also made me realize the absence of those details in the story Scalzi focused on, and this lessened the book for me.

25 random things

I’ve been trying to avoid this meme, but I’ve been tagged yet again, so here goes

  1. Since I left for college, I have lived in 5 states. I have lived in 11 “urban areas”. I have had 25 addresses. In 22 years folks. I feel permanent in my new zip code, and it’s a pretty alien feeling.
  2. My feelings about buying a home define ambivalence.
  3. I followed the Grateful Dead for most of a decade
  4. Jerry Garcia died the day I moved from California to NY for graduate school. I learned about it just west of Rochester, when I turned on the radio to check local news for my new home. I will always feel like a part of me died that day
  5. I like to fantasize about knowing how to do things. I have very little patience for actually learning how to do them. I am told this is a very Pisces trait.
  6. There are three hobbies I am committed to learning and taking up: belly dancing, glass blowing, and gardening
  7. I am completely fascinated with Australia. I have avoided reading and learning about Australia so I wouldn’t become a weird obsessive. Instead, I’m afraid I’ve made a bit of a fetish out of it
  8. I am currently saving money to go to Australia next summer for a conference, and a two week vacation touring Queensland. And I now have given myself permission to research it obsessively.
  9. I have only very recently  begun enjoying children. Other people’s children. It was a huge relief to realize that I remain quite happy about having none of my own.
  10. I have 13 nieces and nephews. Two more are on their way. The eldest is 8. The eldest in Chicago is in first grade. Only 2 do not live in Chicago.
  11. I get very frustrated when I do not have a vocabulary for describing my thoughts. Design and sound often fall into this trap.
  12. I enjoy simple cooking. I am very afraid of multi-course ‘company’ cooking
  13. I don’t bake. In my family this is considered odd. But I’ve never felt the need to bake, when mom and sis and bro and cousins are all so keen to do it. I make a wide array of tasty appetizers, though
  14. I’m vegetarian. Have been since 1989.
  15. I stopped eating seafood on the first leg of a family trip to Cape Cod when I was 8. I got very sick in a posh seafood resteraunt, and it was very traumatic.
  16. I miss the positive peer pressure of living with folks who hold me to a higher standard than I hold myself
  17. I am happy being single, but I am deeply afraid of dying alone.
  18. I hate arena rock
  19. Even in my dotage, I remain an idealist.
  20. I am working on bringing my internal forthrightness and my external conflict-avoidance into better agreement.
  21. I would rather be alone than be is a bad relationship
  22. I have never seen a Rocky movie, a Bond movie, or any of the Godfather films
  23. My reading materials theses days are either work-related or speculative fiction. Work, or reality escape :)
  24. Of all the forces of the universe, I feel inertia most strongly.
  25. An enigma: I love sleeping in my own bed more than almost anything. And yet, I rarely go to bed early enough to get enough sleep.

Proud

I went into this election with little faith in the system & great cynicism about Obama. Listening to his acceptance speech made me feel ashamed of myself.
To all of you who kept the faith, believed that hope and change were possible, who fought to make sure they happened, I salute you. Thank you. You have restored my faith in humanity, in America, in possibility and in democracy. I am humbled by what we did yesterday.
Everyone who voted, everyone who worked the polls, everyone who campaigned for their candidate (but especially those who trusted hope): you did this too:
I will work hard to ensure that the possibilities we set into motion yesterday have every chance of maturing into new realities.
Join me! It’s a new day, and everything is possible!

Ahoy! It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day mateys!

My pirate name the first is Dirty Mary Rackham

You’re the pirate everyone else wants to throw in the ocean — not to get rid of you, you understand; just to get rid of the smell. You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate.    Arr!

I also managed to get pegged Ale Drinking Ivan and Dirty Wendy Whitfurrow. Dirty Wendy sounds like a bit of fun (and friendfeed would not let me take her name! silly friendfeed!):

You look good in Spandex and can tell ‘light purple’ from ‘mauve’. You can’t make up your mind, but at least you don’t sweat when you use your super strength. If you would just stop clouding your co-worker’s minds for sleazy sexual favors we’d all be relieved. You use your flying ability even if you’ve been drinking. If only you had super speed it wouldn’t take you all day to clean the house. You could have sex with the Fantastic Four and still want more. No wonder you’re so popular with the Justice League!

Top 100 of 1983. The rudibrarian edition.

rules of the meme:  Go to www.musicoutfitters.com. Type the year of your high school graduation [or first year, if still in high school] into the search function. Retrieve the Top 100 songs from that year. Strike through the songs you hate(d). Underline the songs you like(d). Bold the songs you love(d). Leave blank those you don’t care about or don’t remember. Annotate at will.

I graduated in 1986, but I find this list from 1983 to be so much more defining of me. And since it’s my blog, I’ll meme it how I wanna!

1. Every Breath You Take, Police
2. Billie Jean, Michael Jackson
3. Flashdance… What A Feelin, Irene Cara
4. Down Under, Men At Work
5. Beat It, Michael Jackson
6. Total Eclipse Of The Heart, Bonnie Tyler
7. Maneater, Daryl Hall and John Oates

8. Baby Come To Me, Patti Austin and James Ingram
9. Maniac, Michael Sembello
10. Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), Eurythmics
11. Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, Culture Club

12. You And I, Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle
13. Come On Eileen, Dexy’s Midnight Runners
14. Shame On The Moon, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
15. She Works Hard For The Money, Donna Summer
16. Never Gonna Let You Go, Sergio Mendes
17. Hungry Like The Wolf, Duran Duran
18. Let’s Dance, David Bowie
19. Twilight Zone, Golden Earring
20. I Know There’s Something Going On, Frida
21. Jeopardy, Greg Kihn Band
22. Electric Avenue, Eddy Grant
23. She Blinded Me With Science, Thomas Dolby
24. Africa, Toto
25. Little Red Corvette, Prince
26. Back On The Chain Gang, Pretenders
27. Up Where We Belong, Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes

28. Mr. Roboto, Styx
29. You Are, Lionel Richie
30. Der Kommissar, After The Fire
31. Puttin’ On The Ritz, Taco

32. Sexual Healing, Marvin Gaye
33. (Keep Feeling) Fascination, Human League
34. Time (Clock Of The Heart), Culture Club
35. The Safety Dance, Men Without Hats
36. Mickey, Toni Basil

37. You Can’t Hurry Love, Phil Collins
38. Separate Ways, Journey
39. One On One, Daryl Hall and John Oates
40. We’ve Got Tonight, Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton
41. 1999, Prince
42. Stray Cat Strut, Stray Cats

43. Allentown, Billy Joel
44. Stand Back, Stevie Nicks
45. Tell Her About It, Billy Joel
46. Always Somethmg There To Remind Me, Naked Eyes
47. Truly, Lionel Richie
48. Dirty Laundry, Don Henley
49. The Girl Is Mine, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney
50. Too Shy, Kajagoogoo
51. Goody Two Shoes, Adam Ant
52. Rock The Casbah, Clash
53. Our House, Madness

54. Overkill, Men At Work
55. Is There Something I Should Know, Duran Duran

56. Gloria, Laura Branigan Liked then, HATE now!
57. Affair Of The Heart, Rick Springfield
58. She’s A Beauty, Tubes This was my very first concert. Opening act? The Plimsouls. By the way, the Tubes were really *dirty* in their stage show, especially for Great America!
59. Solitaire, Laura Branigan
60. Don’t Let It End, Styx
61. How Am I Supposed To Live Without You, Laura Branigan
62. China Girl, David Bowie
63. Come Dancing, Kinks
64. Promises, Promises, Naked Eyes
65. The Other Guy, Little River Band
66. Making Love Out Of Nothing At All, Air Supply
67. Family Man, Daryl Hall and John Oates
68. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, Michael Jackson
69. I Won’t Hold You Back, Toto
70. All Right, Christopher Cross
71. Straight From The Heart, Bryan Adams
72. Heart To Heart, Kenny Loggins
73. My Love, Lionel Richie
74. I’m Still Standing, Elton John
75. Hot Girls In Love, Loverboy
76. It’s A Mistake, Men At Work
77. I’ll Tumble 4 Ya, Culture Club
78. All This Love, Debarge
79. Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy, Sammy Hagar
80. Heartbreaker, Dionne Warwick
81. Faithfully, Journey
82. Steppin’ Out, Joe Jackson
83. Take Me To Heart, Quarterflash

84. (She’s) Sexy + 17, Stray Cats
85. Try Again, Champaign
86. Dead Giveaway, Shalamar
87. Lawyers In Love, Jackson Browne
88. What About Me, Moving Pictures

89. Human Nature, Michael Jackson
90. Photograph, Def Leppard
91. Pass The Dutchie, Musical Youth
92. True, Spandau Ballet

93. Far From Over, Frank Stallone
94. I’ve Got A Rock ‘N’ Roll Heart, Eric Clapton
95. It Might Be You, Stephen Bishop
96. Tonight I Celebrate My Love, Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack
97. You Got Lucky, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
98. Don’t Cry, Asia
99. Breaking Us In Two, Joe Jackson
100. Fall In Love With Me, Earth, Wind and Fire

Best SF by women since 2000?

There’s a question floating around the SF blogosphere asking for folks 10 favorite science fiction works by women since 2000. The question is inspired by a 2003 interview with Gwyneth Jones, where she listed out her answer to the same question.

I tend to read a lot more speculative fiction and fantasy than science fiction, mostly because I am drawn more to worldbuilding and mythological underpinnings than I care about the technological innovations or infrastructure of a world. But lately, my feminist science fiction reading group has been struggling for titles, and we have done a lot of revisiting of old classics in the past year. So this question caught my attention.

Here’s my list of what SF written by women I have read from the various lists. And I’d recommend all of them, they are good reads!

  1. Karen Traviss, City of Pearl (I’ve read and enjoyed the whole series. It reads like fluff but wrestles with deep issues and gives your brain plenty to mull over long after the book is closed)
  2. L. Timmel Duchamp, Alanya to Alanya, (I didn’t love the read, but the material has staying power, and I have decided I am compelled to read the next book. I believe there are 4 in the series)
  3. Liz Williams, Ghost Sister (fascinating. Wish there were more in the same world! Great book for tech, if that’s your thing. Also a facinating take on environmentalism, religion, and colinialism)
  4. Octavia Butler, Fledgling
  5. Elizabeth Bear, Carnival
  6. Rosemary Kirstein’s Steerswomen series
  7. Lyda Morehouse, Archangel Protocol (I really wish the rest of the series was still in print)
  8. Julie E. Czerneda, Survival: Species Imperative
  9. Louise Marley, The Child Goddess
  10. Nancy Kress Beggars in Spain

And here is the compiled list of titles from the various websites linked above (minus what I have read), mostly so I can keep track of them.

  • Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm
  • Cyteen by CJ Cherryh
  • Synners by Pat Cadigan
  • Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler
  • Tricia Sullivan’s Maul;
  • Gwyneth Jones’
    • Life
    • Bold as Love
    • Midnight Lamp
    • White Queen
    • Castles Made of Sand
    • Rainbow Bridge
  • Sarah Hall’s The Carhullan Army;
  • Justina Robson’s Living Next-Door to the God of Love; Natural History
  • Jan Morris’s Hav
  • Susan Palwick’s Shelter;
  • Maureen McHugh’s Nekropolis;
  • Jo Walton’s Farthing;
  • Kathleen Ann Goonan’s
    • In War Time
    • Light Music
  • Josephine Saxton – the Queen Of The States
  • Leigh Kennedy – The Journal Of Nicholas The American
  • Sue Thomas – Correspondence
  • Judith Moffett – Pennterra
  • Michaela Roessner – Vanishing Point
  • Kit Reed – @Expectations
  • Andrea Hairston – Mindscape
  • Lisa Goldstein’s Tourists,
  • Patricia Geary’s Strange Toys
  • Elizabeth Moon’s The Speed of Dark,
  • Elizabeth Bear
    • Undertow
    • Hammered
    • Scardown
    • Worldwired
  • Silver Screen is Justina Robson’s first novel;
  • Nylon Angel, Code Noir and Crash Deluxe are by Marianne de Pierres;
  • Time Future is by Maxine McArthur.
  • Warchild by Karin Lowachee,
  • Spin State by Chris Moriarty,
  • Tricia Sullivan should certainly be in there
  • Linda Nagata
    • The Bohr Maker
    • Vast
    • Memory
  • Timmel Duchamp’s Marq’ssan Cycle -  Tsunami, Renegade, Blood in the Fruit, and Stretto.
  • Empire of Bone by Liz Williams
  • The Poison Master by Liz Williams
  • Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson.
  • Vatta Series – multiple books (Elizabeth Moon)
  • Spin state and Spin Control – Chris Moriarty