Documentary Review: ‘The Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin’

When established actors, musicians, writers, and other people of note die, many people get on social media and write so many words to elaborate on their broken hearts and flowing tears.

There have only been two such people for me–Terry Pratchett and Ursula Le Guin.

I’d always dreamed of meeting them, Ursula especially, and now I never will. So I had all the more reason to look forward to this documentary, which I backed on Kickstarter some time ago. Well, the backers-only link dropped last week and I got my chance to watch it earlier today.

https://youtu.be/AqH3nqXqlgs

The documentary is a thing of beauty, well worth the money I spent in order to help bring it into existence. You can tell that it was made with love: from the evocative music to the startling animation to the in-depth discussions of some of her best-known work (the four Earthsea books, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossed, and “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”) to the well-shot scenes of Ursula giving readings, discoursing with her husband, walking on the beach. It’s also a brief look into the fierce, clear, intelligent mind of Ursula Le Guin. Honestly, I didn’t want it to end. I’d recommend this documentary to those who’ve always loved her work and those who are just beginning to discover it.

There was just one rub.

The documentary was interspersed with interviews with not just her close family, but with other writers–some of whom were her contemporaries, such as Margaret Atwood and Vonda McIntyre, but most of whom were her younger colleagues. The latter included Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, and China Mieville.

And I have to say, it irritated me that a documentary that gave so much focus to Ursula’s struggle–to write more heroic female characters and to identify with the feminist movement despite being a wife and mother in the 70s–interwove that section with comments from three male writers. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Gaiman, Mitchell, and Mieville had more screentime than any of the other interviewees, including Ursula’s husband and children. I’m pretty sure that Margaret Atwood, whose work is as thought-provoking and as genre-redefining as Ursula’s, had less than a minute of talk time altogether.

One particular scene that struck me was Neil Gaiman saying that he considered it an honor to present Ursula with the National Book Awards medal. I mean, I’d consider that an honor too, but there was something about the way that was presented that made me think, “Why do we need the affirmation of a famous male writer to underscore how important Ursula and her work is to science fiction and fantasy?”

All in all, it’s still a pretty damn good documentary, one that rightfully–and joyfully!–celebrates the life and work of a giant of literature. It’s also a fitting farewell.

Publication Day: ‘Call of the Rimefolk’ and ‘Blushing Blue’

Some good news at least 🙂

Philippine Speculative Fiction 11, which has my week 4 Clarion story and first-ever sci fi tale “Call of the Rimefolk,” is now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Kobo! If you like solarpunk Manilas, gay interplanetary romances, and psychic ice snakes from Pluto, you’ll like this story 🙂

And I’m a little late on this one, but Broad Knowledge: 35 Women Up to No Good funded on Kickstarter! This one has my week 5 story, “Blushing Blue”–a tragic tale of Category 5 storms and tattoo magic.

Episode 209 – Narcissism (with Tade Thompson)

Go have a listen to Tade’s story!

“When you write a story about aliens, you are actually writing about people who are not like you.” Author Tade Thompson joined me on the podcast this month to talk about comic books, cons, and unconscious bias. Tade is the author of the novella The Murders of Molly Southbourne, and the novels Making Wolf and Rosewater. 

In the episode we talk about the amount of sympathy a reader has, and whether you can truly know people. At the end of the episode, Tade reads a brand new short story set in the Rosewater universe, inspired by a prompt.

Tade Thompson on twitter

Unthology 10

Not so Stories

Note: The audio on the episode isn’t great, my apologies for that. Also, some of you may notice that episode 208 isn’t in your feeds. Due to scheduling it will be released a little later in the year.

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One Last Time: Support for Our Final Issue

I have a story in this final issue! Please donate to see it in print!

LONTAR

LONTAR needs your help one last time.

Just as with issue #9, the National Arts Council has declined to financially support issue #10 with a publication grant, meaning that we are on our own once more to raise the funds to even get the issue to print.

Y’all came through for us before, and I’ll need to ask for your generosity again.

L10 is our double-sized final issue, with around 80,000 words of original fiction and poetry, as well as a brand new comic story from Eisner-nominated artist Drewscape and a full-page illustration by internationally celebrated graphic novelist Sonny Liew.

Because of the increase in content, we will need to raise at least $2,500 USD to cover our costs for the issue (with $4,000 USD needed to use full-colour printing for the artwork).

The deadline is at midnight SGT on 27 March 2018. This gives us two weeks.

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Why So Many Men Hate the Last Jedi But Can’t Agree on Why

I still believe Rose and Finn were out of left field, but this article is spot-on anyway.

Bitter Gertrude

leia.connix.leibovitz Carrie Fisher and her daughter, Billie Lourd, as General Leia and Lieutenant Connix, in a PR shot for The Last Jedi taken by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair

NOTE: Many spoilers.

My feed (and yours, I presume) has been filling with people, mostly men, denouncing The Last Jedi for all sorts of reasons. Here are a few I compiled out of my own feed over the past week:

It’s too draggy and long
It’s too fast-paced
It is magically both draggy and fast-paced
It’s too much about one family
It’s not about family
The plot is terrible
The plot is fine but the acting is terrible
The plot and acting are fine, but the pacing is terrible
The plot, acting, and pacing are fine but the characterizations are terrible
It needed more humor
It needed less humor
It needed a different kind of humor
Not enough character development
Too much…

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TL;DR: On 2017, Depression, Burnout, Self-Care, 2018 Resolution

I. Hello again, blues, my old friend

I’m going to admit something that I’ve been feeling for a few years now, but could never quite say to myself for fear of going down a long, lightless tunnel. But I’m saying it now because I think I’m strong enough and aware enough to know the root of the problem.

Here it is: I don’t like the Christmas season.

This despite enjoying decorating the Christmas tree (something that I missed this year), loving the cinnamon smell of the apple crumble pie I help my dad bake, spending a lot of time thinking about what each of the friends I’m giving gifts to need, and participating in no less than three company events–the company bazaar, the decorations contest, and a Battle of the Bands event that forced me to confront my lifelong stage fright as I provided both lead and backing vocals. Needless to say, I had my hands full.

But I soon found myself doing the same things I do only when I’m feeling extremely down: crying at my desk, coloring in coloring books, and playing video games for hours on end. I may have subconsciously anticipated this would happen, so I took the last week of the year off work. I’ve been cooped up at home since Christmas, coloring and playing video games and having mood swings and dark thoughts I don’t understand.

I think joining the company events was my way of trying to avoid how the holidays make me feel. And in the process, I made myself feel worse.

II. All the metaphors for exhausted

Earlier this month, I thought my 2018 resolution should be to declutter. But I realized that I’d already gotten a headstart, selling books I probably won’t read and cutting out or demoting to acquaintance-level the people who hang on to my energy and emotions like leeches. It pleased me to know that my bullshit filter has been steadily getting better over the years. So upon thinking about it some more, I’ve decided that my resolution should be about getting better at self-care.

Those who’ve been following my social media accounts know that my life in 2017 acted like some kind of extreme rollercoaster when it came to the things I couldn’t control–from a sprained knee that now aches during bad weather to winning a writing contest that opened many doors.

But what I did not talk about was the burnout. I’ve burned out a grand total of seven times this year. For a long time, this confused the hell out of me because I didn’t have quite as many incidents as in 2015 or 2016, which were years when I was in a solid depression state (though in a way, I guess you could consider that stage one long period where the candle hadn’t just gone out; the wick was burnt and I couldn’t find the matches). But in 2017, the year that my therapist declared me depression-free, I found myself often crying at my desk, coloring, or playing video games–things that I often did only when I felt spread out (like butter over too much bread, hehe) or simply couldn’t do anything else. The early part of the year definitely still had depression interlaced with burnout, but after I got cleared, that’s when I experienced more incidents. And I could never quite catch the symptoms before the symptoms caught up to me.

What. The. Hell?

III. Adulting and self-care are actually the same thing

If you’re impatient like me, you’d know the feeling of wanting to do ALL the things even though you’re not fully healed yet. It’s like in physical therapy; after the interns got my injured muscles working and feeling again, I had to do exercises over a period of two months to strengthen them. Healing is a slow process; that applies to your mental and psychological health, too.

This book I’ve been reading says that burnout is not actually rock-bottom, but a sign that something within needs to change. Likely an unhelpful attitude or harmful belief that drives me to take on more than my own limits can take, while ignoring the little voice in my head going “ENOUGH!”

I’ve only got one resolution for 2018, and that’s to get even better at self-care. Not the ice-cream-and-a-massage-on-a-bad-day kind. The adulting kind; that includes paying my bills on time so that I don’t fear my phone line getting cut, sleeping enough hours so that I don’t feel like killing a man during the day, eating food that gives me energy instead of tanking me in the afternoon, living within my means so that I don’t have to take on freelance to supplement my salary, learning to spot emotional vampires from a mile off. Things like that and more. It sounds like a lot, but it means fixing different areas of my life to become more functional, more kind to myself and to other people.

I’m coming out of another burnout this Christmas. I’m also coming out of Christmas hoping that this is the last one for a long, long time. If I haven’t been there for you as much as I should have this year, I’m sorry. I would not have been in the best shape to be present in your life. And if you’ve listened to my problems even just once this year, thank you. From the bottom of my burned out–but not burned up–heart.