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Transgender and Androgyny in Speculative Fiction

Drag queen
Image by VOLPE1981 via Flickr

My new story is in trouble.  A lot of trouble.  I can not figure out what I want it to be about.  I really want to do something different, something I want to read, something I want to see, and I've learned that I am a hard target audience.

I only know one thing about the story, I want it to have a drag cabaret in it and I want to play around with gender in a way I've never done before.  I want the character list to include at least 1 drag queen, 1 transgender, and 1 androgyn.  It is hard to deal with this in a way the average reader will be able to cope.

Pronouns and gender words are posing a problem for me.  Also introducing the characters in a way that tells the readers who these characters are without a "coming out" scene or using unflattering language.

When I read iambic kilometer's META: Five+ Ways Being Transgender in Fandom Really Sucks, and Why I Stick With It Anyway, I felt an ache within me to work even harder to get this right.

The trans character is to one I am having the more trouble developing, so I might drop her from the roster.  Is it better to do a questionable job with a character or to leave them out?  I'm not really sure, but I need to figure that out.

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Felicia Day the Werewolf Hunter

Felicia Day, actress and web content producer. Image via Wikipedia

Felicia Day will star in Red a Syfy original movie as a werewolf-hunting descendant of Little Red Riding Hood.

Story:

“Red brings her fiancé home, where he meets the family and learns about their business - hunting werewolves. Red' fiancé is skeptical until he is bitten by a werewolf. When her family insists he must be killed, Red tries saving him."

The story line sounds horrible and it is a Syfy original which does not bode well for the project.  I’m also confused why Red isn’t the descendent of the woodsman.

Making her the descendent of little red riding hood sends mythological mixed messages about the film.  Will she be naive and unprepared not heading the wisdom of her elders.  Are we to expect after a scarring experience with her fiancé she will be saved by some axe wielding woodsman. I would be upset if they put Felicia into such a weak role especially if they want us to believe she is a successful werewolf hunter.

Felicia Day is in it so I will have to watch.  Red is scheduled to premiere in 2011.

(via fantasy sf blog )

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Continuum Starts Production

Continuum a Sci-Fi Thriller, indie, web series, set in space begins production February 22.  Continuum is about:

"Reagen, a young woman who awakes on a space ship without any memory of what she is doing there. Her only companion on board is the ship’s computer, a female spin on 2001’s “Hal,” From the creators of pink.

I like seeing more independent series being produced.  It gives me hope for the future while watching the main TV studios go mad with not getting the paradigm shift in their industry.

Visit the main production site here

(via tubefilter)

Welcoming 2010 a little late

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Image by Eloy Gómez via Flickr

Hey everyone!  It is January 21st, and I am finally ready to ring in the new year...

Illness broke be for quite some time, and I have not been able to sit at my desk, or even use my computer for any extended period of time, but I am mostly better now, and we have a lot of work to do this year so I hope you are feeling up to it!

As always we are looking for suggestions on topics and direction for the new year.  I have some plans, and they will become clear soon, muhaha.

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Tour Of San Francisco Holiday Windows

P1010153It’s that time again! Time for my annual tour of the San Francisco shop windows.This year we have much more in store for us than empty windows with boring, unemotional, uncreative, nothing. Most of the stores actually seemed to put some thought into it this year.

Top Pick

Anthropologie who used recyclables to create their winter scene.

They created two large animals using plastics that we all either used or thrown away in our daily lives.  I believe these bears are made from the leftovers of plastic bag packs used in stores.

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You can also see box straps, soda can holders, and other plastic trash hanging from the ceiling to simulate snow. Great job guys! Not only is your window expressing your interest in the environment, but it’s creative and innovative.

Second Pick P1010193

Tiffany’s

After years of same old same old windows at this monster retailer, we finally get something interesting to look at.

These intricate paper works are so different from their previous windows and beautiful to look at. Whether it’s because of cutting costs, going green, or an new visual manager, I applaud this change and hope it continues in the future.

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Other Notable Decorations

Barney’s on the left and Nordstrom’s on the right.

barneystree

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Barney’s tree (which was so big, I couldn’t get it in one shot thus the two-shot collage) sits in the lobby of Barneys. It is made of what appears to be cardboard and other toss-ables arranged in a very interesting way. They have some other visual elements on their walls in several different vignettes.

Nordstrom’s windows are rather pretty this year showing a pretty winter scene.

P1010205Don’t miss The Sugar Castle displayed in the lobby of St. Francis Hotel on Union Square. They also have an awesome Sci-Fi like tree. You have to see the laser lights on the tree.

Unfortunately, Saks disappointed us again with no drama, music, or imagination that we’ve been used to in the past. I have no idea why they discontinued this special holiday event, but it does a big disservice to the community.

Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised with the windows this year. Thank you to all the creators and imaginative persons involved. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next year. Do you have a store in the San Francisco Bay Area that is dressed to the nines? Contact me and I'd be happy to drop by.

Sci-Fi Round Up: Star Trek 2 , Iron Man 2 and The Black Hole

War Machine
Image via Wikipedia

Star Trek

Iron Man 2

  • War Machine movie poster. (via /film)

The Black Hole

  • Disney started a project to Remake their 1979 classic “The Black Hole”. I barely remember the movie and am curious where it will go. Watch a trailer for The Black Hole below. (via /film)

Best: Glee, Vol. One: Road to Sectionals A Must Own

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Glee is one of the best shows to air this fall.  Like Joss Whedon it too is my biggest addiction.  From the amazing singing, eclectic music covered, tight writing, and deep social themes covered Glee will make you laugh, cry, think and feel edified in the end.  If you haven’t watched it there are some of the more recent episodes streaming on line Here.

Social Themes

This show is able to tackle such deep and complicated social issues like

  • the need and pressures of being accepted
  • teen pregnancy
  • the benefits of diversity and being a social freak
  • self acceptance
  • self actualization
  • being passionate about whatever you do

I love how the show starts out with the deep honest admittance that everyone is a looser.  It was such a shocking statement to hear but once we realize everyone is a looser we are able to move on to do that which you love and not to worry about everyone else.

Singing and Music examples.

Glee, Vol. One: Road to Sectionals is available for preorder and will be out on DVD December 29, 2009.

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Futurama and Simpsons Holiday Savings

Good news everyone! – Farnsworth

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Don’t worry I’m not going to send you on a suicide mission to collect space honey nor enthrall you with the many wonderful smells of the universe.  I did want to pass along some savings that even Conrad would be impressed with.

I love watching Futurama it’s a great show.  Often I find myself comparing my friends to the different characters in the show.  For me I’m somewhere between Fry, Conrad and Zoidberg which says all kinds of sad and weird things about me.

Fans of Futurama can get all 4 season on DVD and save $35 off.  Amazon is offering large discounts off of the purchase of Futurama, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy and American Dad! The offer is only good until November 22.

  • Buy 2 qualifying items and receive $15 off your total purchase at checkout.
  • Buy 3 qualifying items and receive $25 off your total purchase at checkout.
  • Buy 4 qualifying items and receive $35 off your total purchase at checkout.
  • Buy 5 qualifying items and receive $45 off your total purchase at checkout.
  • Buy 6 qualifying items and receive $60 off your total purchase at checkout.
  • Buy 7 qualifying items and receive $75 off your total purchase at checkout.
  • Buy 8 qualifying items and receive $90 off your total purchase at checkout.
  • Buy 9 qualifying items and receive $105 off your total purchase at checkout.
  • Buy 10 qualifying items and receive $120 off your total purchase at checkout.

Click here for the full offer.

Sanctuary Season 2 Cast

Season two of Sanctuary brings a return of many of the cast and crew we know and have fallen in love with plus some new faces and guest appearances.

Helen MagnusSanctuary-season2

Played by Amanda Tapping.  Head of the Sanctuary in Old City Helen is 157 years old doctor.  She and John Druitt have a relationship which produces Ashley Magnus though her embryo is frozen in stasis for many years before being born.  I love hos Amanda portrays her character Helen.  She comes across as genuinely caring, inquisitive, and open minded about the weird world she lives in.  She is the third from the left in the picture.

Will Zimmerman

Played by Robin Dunne.  He works for the Sanctuary now after serving as a police forensic psychiatrist.  Will possesses a creative and open mind looking beyond the surface of a situation.  He also has natural empathic abilities.  His talents serves him well in the world of the Abnormals where nothing is.  In season two we will get to look into the darkness that is in Will's past.  Will is a fun character.  If comparing Sanctuary to Stargate he kind of fills the role of Daniel Jackson when looking at the model but he is different enough to not be a carbon copy.  What they share in common are an endearing quality, a curiosity, and a boldness to fight for what is right regardless of weather that might buck the chain of command.  Will though has adapted to his new environment much faster then Daniel by the end of season one he is fully adjusted to the Sanctuary.  I expect to see more of Will in his own right in season 2.  He is second from the left in the picture above.

Henry Foss

Played by Ryan Robbins.  He is the Sanctuary's weaponsmith and tech guy.  He started going through a transformation in season one revealing that Henry is an abnormal who can change into a werewolf.  I'm glad that his character has been promoted to main character status for season two.  This means that we will get to see more of Henry and where the show will go with his werewolf condition.  I expect that they will go in a fun creative direction with it giving a twist on the classic monsters.  He is on the right in the picture above.

Clara Griffin

played by Christine Chatelain.  Granddaughter of Nigel Griffin, one of "The Five" who had the power of invisibility which Clara inherited.  She joined up with the Sanctuary late in season one helping them in their struggle with the Cabal.  We expect to see her and will have a growingrelationship this season.

Kate Freelander

Kate FreelanderPlayed by Agam Darshi.  One of the new faces to season two, Kate is a witty and sarcastic swindler with a gift for persuasion.

She finds herself in an uneasy alliance with Dr. Magnus after her business relationship with the Cabal goes sour.

Kate should be a fun character this year.  Her comments in the trailer have been witty and sarcastic.  She should also adds some needed info on the Cabal along with being, I have enjoyed her comments in the trailers.

John Druitt

John-DruittPlayed by Christopher Heyerdahl.  A member of "The Five" during the Victorian era and Helen's former lover.  John has the ability to teleport through time and space but at a cost.  Each time he does so it furthers his brain damage which drives him to homicidal tendencies.  This is what drove him to become Jack the Ripper for a period of time murdering prostitutes in London.

After being tortured by electric shock at the hands of Nikola Tesla John was cured of his murderous urges.  He has now joined up with the Sanctuary helping them in their fight against the Cabal.

Christopher Heyerdahl is brilliant in his role as John Druitt.  I love how this character gives a fun spin to the Jack the Ripper story yet it still takes time to explain why Jack murdered and why he vanished suddenly.  The most memorable and slightly chilling part about John is Christopher's laugh.  He plays his character so well that in the minds of the fans he becomes Jack the Ripper a figure to be feared and John a caring troubled person who just wants to bring his family back together.

At a convention this past summer, in a crowded hall Christopher was deep in conversation and broke out in laughter.  A Sanctuary fan jumped, letting out an instinctual shriek because somewhere in the crowded hallway was Jack the Ripper.  After being openly amused and proud to meet another Sanctuary fan I admitted that my skin also crawled instinctually, just brilliant.

Nikola Tesla

Played by Jonathan Young.  Tesla is half human and half vampire.  A member of "The Five" who despises humanity for killing off the pure-blood vampires centuries ago.  He has an on again off again relationship with Helen, John and the Sanctuary.  He is definitely for himself no matter who's side he is currently fighting for making him a dangerous character.

Ashley Magnus

ashley-magnusPlayed by Emilie Ullerup.  She is the daughter of Helen Magnus and John Druitt after Helen kept the frozen embryo for over a century.  She was working for her mother at the Sanctuary but after her abduction by the Cabal she has become unstable and her loyalties have been brought into question by the end of season one.

There is a part of me that still believes that this is her attempt to gain the confidence of the Cabal to help bring them down from the inside.  Though with her inheriting her fathers ability there is the possibility that she too has suffered brain damage and is currently in a psycocitic killer state.  When John became Jack the Ripper he killed hookers to clean up the streets of a corrupting immoral influence.  Having Ashley become Amber the Abnormal Slayer on a puritanical crusade to purge the their corrupting influence on humanity would poetically parallel her fathers plight.  If that is the case then we can have hope that she will overcome her derangement but we can only hope that she does so before she does things that will leave her with a century of regrets.

Special Appearance From

  • Paul McGillion bringing Wexford back from the original web series but re-imagined.
  • Michael Shanks who will play Jimmy who shares similar backgrounds with Kate.

For more read Sanctuary Season 2 Cast

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Stephenie Meyer accused of plagiarism

A writer plans to sue Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, accusing her of plagiarizing her by lifting passages from an obscure book she wrote called The Nocturne and using them in her vampire romance Breaking Dawn (SCI FI Wire)

I don't know if there is any truth to the allegations, but my biggest question is WHY?

It is no secret that I am not a fan of Stephenie Meyer.  I don't like her style, and could not finish Twilight because of it.  I know a lot of readers that feel the same way as I do.  Why would you want to associate your name with Stephenie Meyer except to try to get the attention of Twilight reader?  There are 2 big PR problems with this.

  1. Twilight fans are rabid and will attack The Nocturne and author Jordan Scott
  2. Non-Twilight fans will categorize Jordan Scott with an author they don't like

The only hope Scott has is that she will win her case and get some money out of it, otherwise she has simply hurt her career.

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When there is no dark side...

FieryDemonANIThe oldest foe of humanity has to be the demon of time management.  It stalks the wasted minutes and hours of our lives.  Temples are built for its glory and those few souls who struggle to capture the beast are more often than not left wounded and disoriented from their encounter. Some say it is not worth fighting, "Ignore the creature and he will ignore you.  Just go about your business and hope it does not notice you and attempt to devour you."

Other say, "He is a gentle beast, tamed with the lightest whisper."

Then their are those who truly frighten me who say, "Submit to the demon as your lord and master.  Allow him to dictate every facet of your life.  You will be better for it."

In my life, I have been all of these people, but the work has become increasingly difficult.

The Compromise

"Demon! You will tell me what is required from me, and I will tell you what is a benefit to me, and what is a curse."

It's admittedly not the best plan, but it is one that has worked for a while.  I look at the mountain of To do's, and I do a pros and cons list.  What is the upside and what is the downside?  Focusing on the items with the most upsides in my benefit if completed or the most downsides if left undone, I was able to tame the beast for quite some time.

Then it found a new angle to attack me from.  Projects started cropping up that inevitably balanced on the scales.  The system broke.

The decision rests with you...

Gort, Klaatu NightFrom a slobbering brute who assailed me with fears, doubts, and risk, the demon morphed into Klaatu from The Day the Earth Stood Still, except both paths it offered offer the same benefits and the same risks,  and there is not enough time or energy available to me to accomplish both simultaneously.  Then with a cleaver grin the beast said, "The decision rests with you."

None of my tricks work anymore, and thw quandry makes my head swim in so many directions that I don't know where to go or what to do.

This is not untraveled ground for me.  It is a path that I know all too well.  I continually find myself in these predicaments.

In a limitless world, you are your only limit.

As I have said many times, the blessing and curse of the modern era is that anything is possible.  With so many possibilities it is hard to figure out which way to go, what path to go down.

So here I am.  The schedule is packed.  Between the podcasts, blogging, and novel requirements I have little to no time to turn around and see what I should do or where I should go.  None of it is an easy decision.  I feel guilty when I neglect any of these projects and I love and enjoy doing all of them.

How do I get out of here?

Well, part of it seems easy, and the rest fills me with fear and trepidation.

I have two stories wrestling in my head, and I am going to do the only thing I can: work on both of them.  I am going to post the ideas as they develop on this site, and grow them toward the novels they could become.  As for everything else, I am just going to have to let go.

I have been afraid to watch Merlin out of fear that it would spawn a new podcast from dashPunk.  If it does it does.  I am just going to have to do as much as I can.

To quote Queensryche:

The art of life is ... without rushing, without faltering, unraveling the secrets of knowledge. We must challenge and defeat our four natural enemies; Fear. Clarity of mind. Power and the desire to rest.

Michael Shanks will will be on Sanctuary!

Daniel Jackson
Image via Wikipedia

Former Stargate SG-1 star Michael Shanks will appear in an episode of SCI FI's Sanctuary in its upcoming second season, Shanks' managers at JDS in Los Angeles told SCI FI Wire.

Shanks reunites with his former SG-1 co-star Amanda Tapping, who stars in and produces Sanctuary, in episode 209, entitled "Penance," which begins filming next week in Vancouver, Canada; he'll play a character named Jimmy (SCI FI Wire).

This is some of the best news I've read in a while.  I love Michael Shanks.  I love Sanctuary.  Michael Shanks + Sanctuary = Brilliant!

I am really curious about the episode.  With a name like Penance, I have to wonder if this might have something to do with a sin Magnus committed in her past.  She has a long history, and I would love to learn more about it.  It would be great if Shanks was a part of that.

More realistically, Shanks will probably play a character who has done something terrible to the Abnormals and has to make amends.

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Blogging about what other people are making

Illustration of a scribe writing
Image via Wikipedia

Gina Trapani is no longer going to be the lead writer at Lifehacker.

The bottom line is this: for someone who loves making things on the web, spending 100% of the time blogging about what other people are making is simply untenable (via LifeHacker)...

I have butted up against that very same problem.  dashPunk Media, dashPunk.com, and the Project: Shadow Informant started as side projects for me.  They were footnotes to my fiction writing.

Brian and I were having these discussions anyway, why not have them publicly.

Over time, they have devoured more and more of my time.  It is no longer a side project, they have become my main job, and I am sneaking every moment I can to work on my fiction as a sideline.  It is not easy.

I am not giving up on the sites or the podcast, but I feel Gina's pain.

The Vision

The one thing that propels me forward is my vision for dashPunk Media, and for the Genres that I love.  So many reforms are necessary before any real change can happen.  The marketplace is shifting, and no one knows where or how it will settle out.

These are dark times for writers.  If the written word is to have a future beyond blogs and twitter, new models will have to be constructed.

It never ceases to amaze me the miriad ways people are exploring to move forward.  We can only get there togeter.

I wish Gina the best of luck with all of her future projects, and I wish the same for everyone driven by passion.  May you find every tool you need to realize your dreams.

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Spirituality, “The Devil and the Monk”

I accidentally upset Rodger Trinidad with my review of “The Deavil and the Monk.”

This is probably the first response where someone found the story more funny than they found it spiritually enlightening (Theory of Everything Comics).

I hate to say this, but I found the story to be a great tale of Crazy Wisdom.  I have practiced several forms of Buddhist Meditation for years, and after 2004, I have refrained from talking about my religious and spiritual beliefs on this site.  As a result, I did not mention to the enlightening nature of the comic.

As often happens, I have gone to an extreme that is too far from where I should be, and it caused my review to suffer.  When I told my friends in person, I explained the spiritual insight of the comic.

I am sorry for this, and I will work harder in the future to find a better middle between talking too much and not at all.

Success as a Blogger/Writer

Darren Rowse's post, A Secret to Sustain Yourself as a Blogger at Problogger.net forced me to answer the questions, Who is a successful blogger? and When have I achieved success? It reminded me of a conversation... disagreement... ok, it was more of a confrontation I had with A. C. Crispin at the last writers' breakfast I was invited to at Shore Leave 28. She informed me that I was not a "real writer," and I responded that I was

  • a real writer when I first put pen to paper
  • a successful writer when I finished my first book
  • a published writer the moment the book was in print

I would be a bestselling writer when I had a book on a bestseller chart. Well, Fate's Harrow has hit number 1 on the Amazon Charts several times.

I feel the same way about blogging, I am

  • a real blogger when I set up the blog
  • a successful blogger ever time a post to the blog
  • a good blogger because the things I blog about interest other people (no matter if that is 1 other or a million)

I will be

  • a financially successful blogger when the blog makes up a significant proportion of my income
  • a great blogger when I have rallied a vibrant community of contributers and commenters to the blog

Numbers mean less than nothing to me. Would I like to have millions of readers? Sure, but I would much rather have a group of readers that share the same interests as I do and who help me find more stories that I am interested in and help me by challenging my views and opinions on the subjects I blog about. (which I already have)

I think most people stop blogging because they learn that

  • they are too private or introverted to share their lives and opinions with a world of people they do not know.
  • they discover that it is a lot of time, work, and effort to find topics to talk about on a regular basis
  • they find out that this is not the easiest and quickest way to become a celebrity or millionaire
  • they get the harsh criticism that people feel they can give you when you do anything in a public forum.

Some people just love to complain. At the book launch party for my first book Liquid Sky, people came up to me to tell me how much they hated my books... Really? What books? Do you mean the one that just came out today or the ones that you imagine that I have written so you could enhance your own sense of superiority? These are the people who just long to complain.

Blogging, like writing, is something you either enjoy or not. For some people, it is almost a compulsion. If you enjoy it, then do it. It is important to know why you are blogging, then hold onto that reason.

I blog because I enjoy the conversation, and I want to have as many as I possibly can.

Men's Steampunk Corset

Forge Fashion over at Steam Fashion designed this Men's Steampunk Corset that blew me out of the water. I am used to seeing all manner of unique Steam Fashion for the ladies, but most of the men's ware is off the rack finds that have been mixed in such a why that they look kind of Steam or at the very least Victorian/Edwardian. I wish more designers and costumers designed more fantastical clothing for the men and boys in the audience that want to look better than great. Share the love, people. Men deserve to have nice things too.

Steampunk Wii and iPod

eightcell8 I found myself in a lazy haze tonight about to pipes!have a glass of Tokaji to relax when what do I see roll across the feeds? Brass Goggles' post on Eightcell’s Steampunk Gadget Re-Imaginings

This is a dream site with at least one item that I really would lie to see under the tree for Christmas. I wish Apple made that Steampunk iPod, or at the very least there was a place to get a modded one. The detail on the dial is phenomenal. I can only hope someone will make this really possible.