25 Things to Know About the OTW

Sep. 18th, 2017 10:06 am
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OTW 10th anniversary history


We've been around a while now, so as part of celebrating our 10th anniversary here are 25 things to know about the OTW! https://goo.gl/FuuMWS

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OTW 10th Anniversary Chat


What were some of your early experiences like when your work gained its own fans?

*MarthaWells
I think my favorite experience is seeing the fan art, and seeing fanfic from my books show up in Yuletide. That’s hugely exciting to see fanfic and fan art of your work, especially to someone who was a fan from way back in the print zine era.

*SeananMcGuire
The first time something I’d created showed up as a fandom option for Yuletide, I literally cried. Happy tears! But it was like, HOLY WHAT NO HOW OMG VIXY LOOK AT THIS DO YOU SEE THIS. It’s amazing. It’s still amazing. I can’t read any of the fanfic of my own work, but knowing it exists makes me so happy.

Did you miss our chat with Seanan McGuire & Martha Wells? If so check out the transcript of their talk https://goo.gl/Q3Wu6P
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OTW 10th Anniversary Chat


What things have you been excited to see in recent years, either regarding fandom or work in your genre(s)?

*Catherine R.
I really like fanfiction and its explosion on the internet. I think fanfic is a great way for people to learn the craft skills of writing. Many of my college students fall in love with writing that way: by reading fanfic and then starting to write it themselves. I always encourage them to go for it! I love the supportive structure it creates for imagination and fantasy to run wild. I think that realm is so important. Imagination lets us explore quandaries of desire and justice and truth and conflict: all the central problems of what it means to be human.

*Christina L.
It’s been incredibly exciting to see so many writers from our fandom specifically or fandom in general out there publishing books. Of course we all know the big ones—EL James, Cassie Clare—but there are others from the Twi world that had fantastic voices and ideas and who are now also bestsellers. Sally Thorne, Alice Clayton, Nina Bocci, Leisa Rayven, Mariana Zapata, Amanda Weaver—all of these women wrote fantastic fic.

Did you miss our chat with Christina Lauren & Catherine Roach? If so check out the transcript of their talk! https://goo.gl/8DR1PG
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"A self-described "email prankster" in the UK fooled a number of White House officials into thinking he was other officials, including an episode where he convinced the White House official tasked with cyber security that he was Jared Kushner and received that official's private email address unsolicited."

"Among [McMaster's] biggest challenges was holding the attention of the president. [...] Trump had little time for in-depth briefings on Afghanistan’s history, its complicated politics or its seemingly endless civil war. Even a single page of bullet points on the country seemed to tax the president’s attention span on the subject, said senior White House officials."

From August: "Residents told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that at least 100 civilians had been killed [by US-led airstrikes on Raqqa] since Sunday, with 55 civilians killed in the eastern neighbourhoods of Bedou and al-Sukhani on Monday."

"And my eleven-year-old asked me what that sticker meant, and what did it have to do with Trump, and weren’t we not supposed to use words like that."

Meanwhile, when people were lining up for a Hillary Clinton book signing (starting the night before), she sent her staff to deliver them pizzas. Imagine having someone like that in the Oval Office. Imagine.
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Banner by Alice of a book/eReader with an OTW bookmark and a USB plug going into the spine

TWC's issue 25 is out! Essay topics include book history, women's writing, Teen Wolf, World of Warcraft, Sherlock, cosplay, Lego, Harry Potter & more https://goo.gl/dN3m5a

Yuletide noms!

Sep. 14th, 2017 06:24 pm
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[personal profile] astolat
They close tomorrow so hurry and get your nominations in!

Mine are:

Witcher: Geralt, Emhyr, Ciri, Dandelion (duh)

Dragonriders of Pern: Menolly, Robinton (I totally want Menolly/Robinton NOT SORRY)

Dune (the book): Paul, Jessica, Stilgar, Feyd -- I don't know exactly what I want here, I think I want some outsider POV on Paul maybe?

My runners-up were:

Rome: Pullo, Vorenus, maybe Octavian -- man, I would love a story that undid what the show did to Octavian in S2 so much

Gladiator: Maximus, Commodus

Brimstone: Ezekiel, The Devil

Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon: Eric, Hank, Sheila, Venger

Battle of the Planets: Mark, Jason

and my perennial hope-springs-eternal Dracula: the Series: Lucard (hope doesn't really spring very far lol)

I am totally not mentioning these here in hopes that someone has a spare nom they wouldn't mind using on one of these. ;)

Five Things Naomi Novik Said

Sep. 13th, 2017 10:31 am
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

As part of our Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said series, we have a special anniversary edition with OTW co-founder Naomi Novik. She discusses its evolution during her 10 yrs volunteering for it: https://goo.gl/nJXJrY

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This Week in Fandom, Volume 62

Sep. 12th, 2017 12:45 pm
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This Week in Fandom banner by Olivia Riley

This Week in Fandom: The author of My Immortal and her story, the Not Now I'm Reading podcast talks fanfic and AO3, and more: https://goo.gl/7YLw4h
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OTW 10th Anniversary Chat

Did you miss the chat with author Lev Grossman? If so you can check out the transcript of his talk at https://goo.gl/KGa7sw
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The last flight out of Puerto Rico, ninja'ing its way out the narrow spiral between the body of Hurricane Irma and one of the arms. These pilots, and the people on the ground who plotted that flight, deserve some kind of medal.

“They helped him get job training. They helped him get counseling. And now, as a former white supremacist himself, he will receive training on how to help other people. It’s a very individual program and it really works.” The important work of Life After Hate (whose government funding got cut under this administration, because of course).

"I was a neo-Nazi. Then I fell in love with a black woman." It's more complicated and less Pollyanna than the headline suggests, but the progress is genuine.

"For three months, the [Canadian] federal government has been secretly spiriting gay Chechen men from Russia to Canada, under a clandestine program unique in the world."

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if all our letters could be published in the future in a more enlightened time. Then all the world could see how in love we are."

August 2017 Newsletter, Volume 116

Sep. 8th, 2017 10:17 am
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Banner by caitie of a newspaper with the name and logos of the OTW and its projects on the pages




In the OTW August newsletter: Election success, legal advocacy & the DMCA, updates to AO3, and more! https://goo.gl/JX72MU

Review - Every Heart A Doorway

Sep. 6th, 2017 11:32 pm
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There was a ton of buzz going around about this book not long ago, and understandably, given the amazing premise. A boarding school to accommodate all those kids who have wandered off into magical fairylands for a while, and help re-acclimatize them to reality? So much possibility.

Guys, it...it really squandered the premise.

After a promising setup, Every Heart A Doorway turns into "a fairly gruesome murder mystery at a school for kids with weird/magic abilities."

They don't actually have any scenes of the kids in classes, much less any "here's how to deal with reality" sequences. It's insular, almost claustrophobic -- the characters never leave the school. There's no mention of phones, Internet, pop culture, anything connected to the Real World they're supposed to be reintegrating with. Early on one of the characters mentions looking something up on Google Images before she arrived, but if it wasn't for that reference, this could've taken place any time in the past hundred years.

When the gruesome murders start, there's no police investigation, no real-world forensics, no "here's how crimes are solved in a world without magic." Even the adult authorities at the school, who are In On The Secret, don't manage the situation at all. It's just...left to the teenagers to solve on their own, with the residual supernatural talents they have from their fantasylands.

(How great would it have been to have the cops show up with all their mundane nonmagical expectations, and the teachers run interference, and it takes their combined efforts to make progress? Better yet, what if the investigative team included a former student, who could handle both aspects of the case at once?)

Without spoiling any specifics, by the end of the book, it doesn't support the idea that "learning to be part of the world you're in" is a worthwhile goal in the first place.

This in spite of the fact that some of the kids' fairyland-developed coping mechanisms...do not seem healthy. I don't mean "sensible by fairyland rules but maladapted to our-world rules," I mean generally unhealthy.

You know what series handles this really well? Star Versus The Forces Of Evil. The heroine in this case is native to magicland, studying abroad on Earth, and the show does a lovely job of exploring the nuances from "Star learns that this behavior isn't culturally appropriate for Earth" to "Star learns that this behavior is uncool anywhere."

And I've loved fanfic that explores post-magic-journey culture shock. The Pevensies struggling to balance "solving problems by breaking out our mad skills as former-adult Kings and Queens of Narnia" with "not freaking out everyone around us." Lyra and Pan having to remember to stay close together. Dorothy getting so much cross-cultural experience so young that, after a certain point, she can drop into pretty much any world and have no trouble going with the flow.

The students in Every Heart A Doorway don't get any "here's how to codeswitch to Earth-appropriate behaviors" or "wow, you're interacting with regular Earth culture really well already" or "this isn't good at all, let's learn and grow and develop as characters." They stay in their insulated setting with all the patterns they learned in other worlds going pretty much unexamined.

So much potential material here! So painfully unexplored!


~*~


People were also talking a lot, when the initial buzz was going around, about book's the asexual protagonist.

Again: cool in theory! In practice, all it seems to mean is that her narration keeps doing unnecessary and shoehorned-in detours about how totally uninterested in sex she is.

The first time it came up was fine. Awkward, but forgivable. The rest, not so much. There's a scene where she's having a friendly conversation, and suddenly goes into an internal monologue about how she's flirting, and this is fun, but she's totally uninterested in having sex with the people she flirts with. It's like she's jumping in to correct an assumption that the reader isn't making -- I hadn't even realized she was supposed to be flirting in the first place.

The scene that struck me the most is: she's admiring the beauty of a male classmate, and thinks all the other girls around her must feel the same, "although she was sure she was the only one whose attraction was aesthetic, not romantic."

First point: the character is not aromantic. (She says so. In those words.) It's possible to feel romantic attraction in general, and not specifically feel it toward this guy. For her. But...not for literally anyone else?

Second point: why does she think there are no lesbians at this school? Why doesn't it occur to her that some people are aromantic? Why does she show zero awareness that even straight girls (and bi/pan girls, although I'm not sure she realizes those exist either) don't have to feel attracted to every boy in existence?

Is she just supposed to be really blinkered and self-centered, as a character flaw? Maybe, but I never felt like the narrative saw her that way.

Is it a "the lady doth protest too much" situation, where she is falling in love with the guy, and is aggressively denying/projecting to avoid facing the idea? Also possible, but has Unfortunate Implications for the way her asexuality is established by repeating "and she totally wasn't sexually attracted to people, nope, not at all."


~*~


The book is really weird about gender. Most of the students are girls (a couple hundred of them, to a grand total of 5 boys), and this is explained as a result of socialization and sexism and boys not wandering off as easily without getting noticed.

Which...doesn't track with the genre it's supposed to be commenting on. At all.

For every Lucy and Susan, there's a Peter and Edmund. For every Alice through the looking-glass, there's a Milo in a phantom tollbooth. Wendy Darling disappeared with both of her brothers in tow, and that's not even counting Peter and the Lost Boys. Dorothy, Betsy Bobbin, and Trot are balanced out by Button-Bright and Zeb. Lyra had her Will. I could go on.

On top of that, this main group of characters ends up including 2 of the boys (along with maybe 4 girls).

Why establish a mostly-female setting if you're then going to overrepresent the male characters that dramatically? Why not just have a roughly-gender-balanced school in the first place?

And it manages to wring a heck of a lot of heterosexuality out of this casting. Every major female character mentions having a male love interest in whatever fantasy world she wandered into. One of the boys basically wandered into Halloweentown and had a romance with a skeleton...very specifically a girl skeleton. I already mentioned the ace girl's weird obliviousness to the possibility of gay people. And the only flirting we see between students is m/f.

The aforementioned super-beautiful boy is trans. Which is nice! And the subject is handled more naturally than the asexuality. Doubly nice.

But in some ways that only makes the broader context weirder. If there's a setting where nobody is explicitly LGBT, it's easy to read that as "underneath the veneer of everyone politely ignoring the topic, people are still LGBT at the average rate."

Here, the author wants to have explicit representation! But it's like...she made one of her boys trans, and one of her girls ace, and then just...stopped. Without considering the idea of LGBT people existing generally. In background characters. In sidelong references. In the concept of female characters other than the heroine who aren't into a hot guy.


~*~


At least it was short? I blew through the whole audiobook in a single work day, so the disappointing aspects weren't dragged out for long.

But seriously, there were a lot of disappointments. And now I'm worried there are people writing better versions of the premise but getting shot down as ripoffs, or getting publishing deals but no hype because all the "what a cool, unusual premise!" posts have been done.

...Does anyone have recs? I'll also take recs for your favorite culture-shock fics of existing portal-fantasy series. Anything that takes this book's premise and actually, wholeheartedly, runs with it.

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