Reading this piece by Jon Del Arroz about alleged anti-male bias in SF&F made me think about two events of my life which bear on this issue. Jon’s point –and the numbers he presents seem to support his claim– is that there is an anti-male bias in some parts of the short story market (and probably also in others.) I think that’s plausible, and there are some obvious examples like Tor.com or Uncanny. However, the problem goes deeper than that, and the alleged anti-maleness may be just an unfortunate consequence of an even more indelible bias than merely avoiding stories by testosterone-poisoned individuals. Let me tell you about two things that happened when I was young, so you get an idea of what I’m talking about.
Via the Elder of Ziyon I have discovered this funny bit of Palestinian politics.
There was an election for the Peple’s Committee of the Jenin camp.
Two of the candidates on the winning slate are women.
Here is how the winners were shown on the official Fatah webpage:
The two drawings on the bottom represent the women, named Najat Abu Qatana and Hanadi Abu Qandil (a former prisoner).This is the official photo of the winners from the Jenin camp Facebook page as well.Here is how the winners were depicted in the Safa.ps news siteWhile these media will routinely show faces of women in other cases, there seems to be no pushback that the Jenin committee is clearly so Islamist that they consider the depiction of women to be forbidden.
The high percentage of Palestinians who support fundamentalist interpretations of Islam is a very under-reported story. The last Pew poll on the topic showed that 89% of Palestinians support Sharia being the law of the land.
(h/t Ibn Boutros)
Much better now.
Because the word “pulp” references the material on which those stories were published (compared to the “slicks,” for example) and not any specific genre or style (beyond the fact that all the stories attempted to be exciting -not a minor trait-) it is sometimes difficult to write about them without misrepresenting the whole phenomenon of the pulps, which was huge and encompassed at least three generations of authors. There is also the problem that most of the writers died many decades before our current literary and cultural controversies (or died too young,) or left the field once they could start writing in more prestigious circles.
You are hungry, but there is a bakery near your place, so you go up and leave your home [you are a ratman, and you live in the sewers], following that delicious smell.
“Hello, Mr. Ratman,” says the fine lady behind the counter. “May I help you?”
You can choose one of these answers:
a) Just ask for a classic butter croissant.
b) Ask for the same croissant, and explain to her why you like them so much, perhaps illustrating the point with a humorous or beautiful short story about your croissant-filled past. It’s a small town (but with big sewers!), though, so people don’t mind a bit of small talk.
c) Ask for the croissant, and then go rambling for half an hour about its origins during the Siege of Vienna, and about all the European kings who have ever suffered from lactose intolerance.
Two months ago I reviewed the first issue of Cirsova. For those who don’t know about it, Cirsova is a magazine that specializes in fantasy inspired by the golden era of fantasy and science fiction (the distinction was blurry sometimes.) It also looks back to the pulps and tries to regain that spirit of weirdness and wonder that eludes contemporary fiction. The second issue is already here, and I can tell one thing right away: This second issue is even better.
I really liked the first issue, but I thought it still could be improved. It had a great variety of stories, though, so all kinds of readers could find something for them.
On the other hand, while I quickly realized which ones were my favorites stories, I can’t say the same about this second issue. But not because they aren’t any good, but because not only have the best one got better, the “average” has also improved.
Do contemporary artists draw unrealistic or non-average looking persons? Yes. Has any artistic style or period ever drawn something that looked realistic AND average? I doubt it.
For the purposes of this blog post, “artists” means those that paint, draw, and design characters for popular media. Movies, comic book, video games, or even some ads are what interest me. Therefore, fictional people, not real models. Think Lara Croft, not Angelina Jolie.