Archive for January, 2003

The Morality of Reading

Wednesday, January 29th, 2003

LJ is too slow to look up the exact quote, but I believe A.J. Hall commented in RJ’s LiveJournal that she could understand people not reading slash for moral reasons. Ah, here it comes:

Some people, it is true, who I know and who write slash have difficulty in understanding the “I never touch slash on principle because it can never be canonical” attitude. Most would have considerably more sympathy with a consistent moral position.

I was thinking about that, and came to the conclusion that there is no legitimate moral reason for not reading slash. There’s a moral basis for avoiding smut, and insofar as slash is smutty it falls under that reason, but slash without the smut is not a moral issue.

Why not? We read murder mysteries, even though murder is wrong. Were there an entire genre devoted not only to murder but to the glorification of murder it might be wrong to write in it, but not to read the occasional story. Even in non-fiction, we read about terrible things without feeling that reading about them makes us culpable in them.

The objections to slash are more basic than moral differences, and I think they fall into two categories: the literary and the visceral. A visceral dislike for slash is often identified with homophobia, but it’s more commonly human nature. Heterosexual men, especially, are deeply squicked by the notion. It’s not as strong as the incest taboo, but it’s out there and it’s a good enough reason not to read slash.

My objection falls into the literary camp. I have nothing against reading fiction that’s about homosexuals - I particularly enjoyed LMB’s Ethan of Athos, even though it’s not one of her better works. I don’t even have anything against writing about homosexual characters, be they Willow/Tara or characters in my own original fic. It’s not homosexuality as a topic that disturbs me but slash as a genre. A host of fans explicitly devoted to reversing canon sexual orientations, to writing stories because they are risqué, and to being generally contrary or rebellious do not appeal to me. It doesn’t make me want to know them, to be part of their clique, or to read their stories. The slash description adds no value for me - it merely alerts me that the story wasn’t directed at the general reader but at a subcommunity whose motives and principles I barely understand, never mind share.

I think when RJ exempted “Lust Over Pendle” from the slash genre she meant it in this sense - not that the story wasn’t about a non-canon homosexual relationship, but that it wasn’t about contradicting canon for its own sake. It was not about being slashy. I haven’t read it so I can’t say for sure.

There are other subcommunities of fandom that are just as self-congratulatory and anti-canonical as slash is - J/C fandom comes to mind immediately - but most of them don’t assert or assume a literary superiority over other fans. It is entirely possible that slashers are better writers, overall, than non-slashers, but that’s a matter of statistics which does not make slashfic better in principle than other kinds of fic. Being slashy is not a literary good in and of itself, and no amount of claiming it is will make it so.

Move to Iceland

Tuesday, January 28th, 2003

Evil link of the evening: Ariel Sharon eating babies, from The Independent. You’d think it was still 1939 across the pond.

While stalking the wild Mac Rumor, I found some cool links. Check out this switch commercial, and its switch to Linux companion. MacEdition has an interesting article on the rapid changes Safari has made to OS X browser demographics. Watch TV on your mac with EyeTV from El Gato software.

New PowerMacs

Tuesday, January 28th, 2003

New PowerMacs have popped up at Apple, along with much cheaper studio displays and the long-predicted 20″ model.

I’m still holding out for new iMacs with the swingy arms. The word on the information superstreet is February 3rd.

All Fanned Out

Monday, January 27th, 2003

Cool link of the day: Borg, especially the Borg Queen wavs at the bottom.

I started this entry about a week ago in a spirit of BOFQness and didn’t finish. After a day of writing fic and playing with FicML, I’m not so jaded - but the conclusion should be the same either way.

There’s a lull on ASC between February 1st and awards time in April. (I know they start earlier, but I only do VOY so for me, it’s April.) I’ve been thinking of spending the lull not writing fanfic.

You may say that I already spend too much time not writing fanfic, and that I hardly need to dedicate two months to not doing something I fail to do so naturally. I certainly am not pretending that I will devote the next two months to not reading fanfic. I already don’t read so much fanfic that no extra effort is necessary in that area. Moreover, I don’t feel that I’m voting properly unless I read the entire year’s worth of Voyager fic during the month of April itself, and preferably during the actual voting period. I love a challenge…

No, I want to stop writing fanfic because for the past few weeks, the ghosts of original fics past have been haunting me. Wasn’t I a cool idea? they say, and I was almost ready for submission. It’s the Tolkien-inspired ones that have been at me lately, not that they’re fanfic in any real sense of the word - they’re more like Tolkien in Space. I’ve been neglecting the original writing impulse, and the muse should never be thwarted when she’s willing to work.

I’m counting on the ASC Awards to inspire me to write more fanfic, after my break for original fic. Wish the muse luck!

The Jemima Manifesto

Sunday, January 26th, 2003

A Voyager fan manifesto, à la Liz.

  1. I think publishing RPF is wrong, unless you have the Real Person’s permission.
  2. I don’t particularly care if you think it’s offensive of me to say what I think. If you choose to read insults into other people’s opinions, then I’d recommend you stop reading other people’s opinions.
  3. I have no interest in slash, mainly because I don’t see a non-political motive for changing canon sexual orientations (in either direction). I’m not in fandom for the gender politics. See #4 also.
  4. I have no interest in smut. I’m not in fandom for titillation, pornography, or free biology lessons.
  5. I have very little interest in angst, but I don’t mind a good tragedy.
  6. There’s nothing in the world like a good crew story, unless it’s a good AU.
  7. I have a muse and she’s not afraid to use me.
  8. I have a not-so-secret weakness for J/P, and a well-known one for C/7. I’m still working on the T/K - the bun is in the oven.
  9. No, you may not archive my fic. Why should your site get hits out of my labor? Feel free to link my fic with the links provided at the beginning or end of each story, but don’t think I’m going to pay any fic taxes to get you to do that, either. I’m not in fandom for the marketing degree.
  10. It’s the 24th century, people! Please stop killing your characters in childbirth.

Mirror Move

Saturday, January 25th, 2003

Prohosting sent me a reminder invoice today, so I edited my main pages there to warn people away. I’ve also put more of the site back up at Crosswinds, which, for lack of a faster alternative, will be my new mirror. They still have popups, but anyone who doesn’t have a popup blocker by now is just asking for popups.

I’ve taken the occasion to fix a few typos and add two more songs to the originals page for my filks. Everything should be up-to-date in a few minutes. Not bad, considering the food poisoning - that’s the last time I keep leftovers in the fridge at work.

The iMac Cometh

Friday, January 24th, 2003

A reliable source has told MacRumors that the new iMacs are coming within a few weeks, with 15′”, 17″ and 19″ screens. I’m not sure I believe the 19″ story, since Apple has no 19″ item in its cinema display line. Also, 17″ is on the large side for the little half-sphere base - 19″ would be too much of a good thing.

About a Blog

Thursday, January 23rd, 2003

I’ve gotten a couple of trackback hits lately and rearranged a few categories, so I should probably say a little something about the blog. I started blogging about science fiction at another location in September of 2001, and about fan fiction on blogspot in October of the same year. In December I moved the blogger page off blogspot, putting it up as my home page here at Jemima’s Trek.

In April of 2002 I installed MovableType here and imported all of my blogger entries. In June I imported the sci-fi entries, leaving me with an all-in-one blog. In October I upgraded to MT version 2.5 and implemented the styleswitcher.

This month I split up the GeekSpeak category into Mac and Web, renamed the Fandom category Meta, and tried to separate Meta (discussion of fandom) more cleanly from Fanfic (discussion of fanfic - the actual blogfic is in Ficlets), though that’s always a tough call to make. It’s not meta until somebody gets annoyed, and obviously that someone isn’t me. So here’s the rundown on all the categories:

  • Anomaly: reflections on weird science
  • Boston: of local interest
  • Buffy: depresso-girl and her depresso-show
  • Fanfic: thoughts on fan fiction, genre, AU’s and the like
  • Ficlets: bits of unfinished fics and filk
  • Jemima: about the author
  • Mac: OS X, pretty iMacs and the little powerbook that could
  • Meta: all the things that drive me batty about fandom
  • Miscellany: the entries that don’t fit elsewhere
  • Muses: a much-maligned thread about the muse
  • Quizzes: Which X Are You?
  • Sci-Fi: mostly book reviews with some movies and Your Guide to LMB
  • Star Trek: the show that refuses to die
  • Updates: changes to the main site, especially new fanfiction
  • War: a blog war in fiction started by Seema and Lori
  • Web: geeky web page stuff like the styleswitcher
  • Writing: thoughts on writing original fiction - see Fanfic for fan fiction

All Accounted For

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2003

Today was nightmare day on the T. The Red Line was running late this morning, and then tonight I was running for the train at an open-air station and it just drove away. It was barely 5 degrees out, with a windchill twenty degrees below that, and the conductor couldn’t wait fifteen seconds for me to reach the door.

So I was faced with the choice of waiting ten minutes for another train, or spending an equal amount of time walking home in the cold. I decided to walk. Fortunately I made it home with all appendages intact, and decided to take a nice warm bath.

It sounded so simple at the time. There was this annoying car alarm going off in the courtyard, but otherwise it was just me and The Hobbit. Then the car alarm went up about a hundred decibels and I realized it wasn’t a car alarm, it was the fire alarm.

So I got out of the tub with my wet hair and put my cold clothes back on and went down to the foyer to shiver with some of the other human residents and a few cats. Word was it was just a burst radiator, so the evacuation was half-hearted at best. Considering the weather, we’d be better off inside a burning building than out in the wind.

So the firemen left without turning off the alarm. They said to call the management company to do it. I went back upstairs and resumed my bath, and eventually the alarm stopped. The heat is even still on, despite the exploding radiator problem. It’s not doing much good against the wind that blows straight through the walls, but you can’t have everything. At least I have my fingers and toes.

Happy Birthday to Veronica

Tuesday, January 21st, 2003

Today is my lovely sister Veronica’s nth birthday, and she’s feeling blue. Literally. Here’s her story in her own words:

Last night I started to do my nails; I was shaking the bottle of nail polish
and tapping it against the palm of my hand when the bottle broke.

Did I mention that it was a full bottle, of blue polish, and of the
Jet-Set-Dries-in-1-minute variety?

So blue nail polish flies everywhere, on the couch, on my yummy sushi pajamas and
all over my hands (full bottle remember). So I run to the bathroom and throw
the whole mess in the sink (still blue by the way, can’t wait until the
landlord sees that!) and try and wash the polish off my hands. Some of it
comes off but unfortunately, being Jet-Set polish - it set.

I looked like I killed a Smurf.

It took me almost 2 hours, a full bottle of nail polish remover and most of
Joannie’s cottonballs to get it off my hands. And I missed a few spots - so
today, I have blue freckles.

Hope your night was better than mine!

Strangely enough, when I put Veronica’s name into the Smurf Name Generator, it returned “Killdozer Smurf.” How did they know? For even more smurfy fun, Smurf the Web!