Episode Number: 87
Episode Title: Spreading the Joy (listen to this episode)
Transcript by: Susan the Great
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Renay: Hello friends! I’m Renay.
Ana: And I’m Ana.
Renay: And you’re listening to Fangirl Happy Hour.
[Music: B-3 by Boxcat Games]
Renay: Ana, how’re you doing today?
Ana: I’m fine. I had a rough day but I’m ready to record. This gives me joy and I need some joy.
Renay: There’s probably gonna be some joy this time around. Today we’re going to do some feedback and updates, then we’re going to talk about culture, i.e. our Everything’s On Fire column; then we’ll dive into our media discussions with an analysis of Another Castle by Andrew Wheeler and Paulina Ganucheau, our happier favorites, and then we’re gonna discuss some Locus Awards that came out recently. Are you ready, Ana?
Ana: I’m ready! Let’s dive in.
[Music: B-3 by Boxcat Games]
Renay: So we get a lot of updates and feedback and stuff on Twitter, and Ttumblr, and via email, so I thought that I would collect some and read them, and then comment on your comments, to steal a catchphrase from one of my favorite Youtubers, Grace Helbig. Paul on twitter said, “On a recent episode of fangirlpodcast, Renay and Ana talked about All Systems Red by Martha Wells and I knew I had to grab it after that.” Paul: this was the correct decision. I approve of your life choices.
Ana: Isn’t it great? I love when that happens, because I get the feeling that we are spreading the joy. Like we loved something so much and now we know that someone else is gonna pick it up and read that thing, based on our opinions—of course there’s an element of fear and like, “What if they hate it?” But I’m like how can anyone hate that novella.
Renay: It’s so good.
Ana: And there’s gonna be more.
Renay: There’s gonna be more! In fact, the sequel to All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, comes out on January 30th, 2018.
Ana: How do you know that?! I didn’t even know there was a title!
Renay: Yeah, I follow the news!
Renay: Flex those pre-order buttons, guys, it’s coming. Next, Kaitlin, or KittyG on Youtube, she’s one of my favorite booktubers, she said, “Currently listening to @fangirlpodcast once more. I go through phases of podcast listening, but it’s nearly always this one. My favorite.” It’s so sweet!
Ana: Aaaaaaaaah I know!
Renay: Thank you, Kaitlin, that’s so nice! Transcendancing said on Twitter, “For those recently, was it via @fangirlpodcast or Galactic Suburbs, on Pies vs Pot Pies?” Ana did we discuss pot pies? Savory pot pie?
Ana: We did talk about savory pies, because they were my favorite pies, right? And they’re definitely pies.
Renay: So it might have been us. They also included a link to like, twenty-five pot pie recipes, and there are pot pie recipes there that you might even like, cause they don’t have any meat in them. Defeats the purpose, but whatever. I’m gonna put the link to those recipes in our show notes.
Ana: Vegetables are nice and chunky like meat.
Renay: But they’re not meat.
Ana: Thank god for that.
Renay: We’re gonna have a fight about veganism versus…
Ana: A carnist, that’s what you are.
Renay: wednesdaygilfillian on Tumblr said, “This is episode arrived in time to brighten my work day.” I love getting messages like this, because it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Like, “Oh! We made somebody’s day better! I made somebody’s day better, by posting an episode and not being a lazy asshole. Good job, self!”
Ana: We made her happy and therefore we made her more productive.
Renay: Exactly. In response to our recent Hugo episode, James Gordon said to us via email, “I took their word for it that best series represents the way people consume SF nowadays and nominated Cixin Liu. The whole thing. I’m confident enough that Bujold will win it that I may not bother to vote.” First order of business: if you don’t vote, you don’t count. You’ve gotta vote. I mean you don’t gotta, you can opt out, but when you don’t vote, your voice is not part of the decision making process.
Ana: Plus, you never know.
Renay: You never know how close a vote is going to be. Who do you think is gonna win best series, Ana? Predict.
Ana: I think it’s gonna be the Bujold one. Or the Temeraire series. I would be surprised if anything else won. Although Seanan McGuire seems to be very popular? Maybe not popular enough to win. The one that I would like to win would be The Craft Sequence series by Max Gladstone.
Renay: I think Seanan McGuire’s popular enough to win, I just don’t think that people who love her books participate in the Hugo Awards, so when your fanbase is not participating, it can be hard to win anything. PS I am definitely voting for that series. Somebody needs to finish the series.
Ana: Oh my god, I knew this was gonna happen. I bet this whole conversation about series was just so we could get to this point and you tell me to read it. It was part of a cunning plan that started with the person who emailed you.
Renay: Yes, James, that’s right. I used your question in order to blackmail Ana into reading this series, via shame.
Ana: No, you didn’t use his question, you got him to ask the question. You set this whole thing in motion.
Renay: I’m not playing three-dimensional chess. I can’t even play regular chess. Anyway, James, my advice, and I think Ana’s advice too, is vote for the things you love, that’s the whole point of the Hugo Awards.
Renay: adisusedshed on Twitter, “Thanks for reminding of amireal’s unbelievable SGA works in the most recent podcast.” Thank you, did you also go down the rabbit hole of re-reading a bunch of SGA fanfic, because I definitely did. Ana is just like, “I don’t know what this is all about.”
Ana: I have no idea.
Renay: Anonymous on tumblr said, “Hey, I heard your recent episode about Stargate and was wondering if you know about another series with eel-like aliens. Animorphs? The books, not the TV show. The early books are quite good, but they’re surprisingly brutal for middle grade books.” Ana, have you read Animorphs?
Ana: I have heard of these books but I have not read them. Have you?
Renay: I have read five or six of them? I first saw the show, and one of my friends had the first three books so I read the first three books, and then my library had a few more and I read those. But here’s the saddest story: a few years ago, I got my hands on a copy of all the Animorphs books, in PDF form. And I don’t know what happened to it. I think my stupid computer ate it because I was on Windows at the time and so now I will never get to reread and finish this series. I’m so bitter. That’s my sad Animorphs story. But, this person is right about the brutality. These do not read like middle-grade books at all.
Ana: So what are Animorphs? Is it like – are they part animal –?
Renay: They can morph into animals, yes. And then there are some bad guys who are controlled by little parasites. So thanks to everybody who sent them comments and emails and Twitter messages. Thank you for your feelings, I appreciate them.
Ana: I appreciate them too, and please send more.
Renay: Meanwhile we have some updates. We are going to change our $5 patreon level due to shipping shenanigans. i.e. I was quoted a price that was not the actual price of shipping. So we’re looking for suggestions of new or different $5 reward levels. We’re also looking for reward levels for $7 and $10 backer levels so if you have any suggestions, please send them along to us via email. On the plus side, our fanzine is being created right now and will soon go out to people who were $5 backers.
Ana: Renay gave me a task: to write something light and fluffy about Brazil that would be related to language and culture and I ended up on a rant about everything you can think of. Like, in this one post there’s something about Native Indians from Brazil, as well as Girl From Ipanema and why I hate that song. You’re welcome. Only if you’re a patron you can get that rant in your hands.
Renay: For five dollars, you can get that rant from Ana.
Ana: At the moment it’s cheap!
Renay: [laughter] We might still do a fanzine, somebody suggested that we maybe do it digitally instead, but I don’t know how popular that would be, but that is an option for us. We could need to do the content of the zine but in a file instead.
Ana: If you have any other ideas, just let us know.
[Music: Love of My Life by BoxCat Games]
Renay: Our previous Outside The Echo Chamber has become Everything’s On Fire. My culture item today is a article that I read on PBS at work about a political group in West Virginia. West Virginia voted for Trump. This article talks about the women in this town who after the election started getting politically active. It’s a fascinating article because these women are living in this extremely, extremely conservative place. They struggle to protest; there’s a story in the article about how when they were protesting the travel ban there was a counter protest, where men came out with their trucks and spun up dirt and smoke to attack and intimidate them.
When I was reading this article I felt like this could be people here. People that I know here could be saying these same things and have said some of these same things that are said in this article to me. If you want kind of an idea of what my political life, you should go read this article; cause although it’s about West Virginia it could also apply to many rural places in America right now.
So on one hand, reading this article made me go, “Wow, even in conservative rural places, people still pushing back, people are still fighting, and it’s not hopeless, you can find your people. You’re not alone.” Then of course the article ends with the perspective from the other side who were just, “You can’t protest a loss, grow up.” That statement, “You can’t protest a loss,” this idea that you just have to accept it and sit down, treating politics like sports, is really strange to me. So anyway, I’ve a lot of feelings about this article, because it’s like, my life, right now. I’m struggling a lot. But it’s good to know that there’re other women in rural places trying to make things work and push back.
Ana: I am tired. In more ways than just physically. But I’m also physically. And it sometimes it feels like it’s a battle uphill—well it is a battle uphill, a battle that we are fighting in multiple fronts or we’re trying to at least. I think that brings me to my pick, because it’s somewhat related to it, because it’s related to resistance and revolution and movement and looking at history and seeing how things have affected—or not—your country. And when I say your country I mean the United States.
My pick is from a Twitter thread that I saw the other day. It was—I thought was brilliant. It was by Samuel Sinyangwe, I pretty sure I just mangled his name, for which I apologize, and he’s @samswey on twitter. He’s a black activist and data scientist and policy analyst, and he was in Barbados. He tweeted pictures of a monument that he’s seen there, and the monument is a representation of someone named Bussa, who led a revolt against slavery in 1816. He continues to talk about on that same thread, talking about how he grew up in the US seeing different kinds of statues and different kind of monuments and most of them celebrating Confederate soldiers, fighting to keep black people enslaved, and how that is a recurring thing across America. The conversation that you keep having is the one that is do you keep or bring down pro-slavery monuments, but no one talks about building monuments anti-slavery or to celebrate figures that fought against slavery.
And then the thread gets amazing, because then a lot of people come in and start adding their own pictures from other Latin American countries, Central America countries, and even some countries in Africa, with pictures of similar monuments from those countries. And I was going to step in and add one from Brazil but someone else beat me to that and—because in Brazil we also have a monument that celebrates a guy called Zumbi who led a revolt, basically he created a town in the middle of Brazil that had at point thirty thousand escapee slaves in Rio de Janeiro and from—we even have a day that is a holiday, that nobody works to celebrate this guy. I thought it was a beautiful thread, but it also made me think America still hasn’t faced that part of their history, head on, and that’s probably what causes so many problems, too.
Renay: I saw this thread go by but I couldn’t read it. It just made me sick to my stomach. Not because the thread is bad, the thread is great, I’m sure, just because I live in the South. I was taught in school that the Civil War, literally the words, “The War of Northern Aggression” were used in classrooms. And there are Civil War monuments in my county, there’s one that says Sons of Confederate Veterans, like it’s a monument to sons of Confederate veterans. There is a big sign at the Craighead County Court House—at least there was, I remember it, I don’t know if it’s still there—and it says “The battle of Jonesboro took place at Craghead County Courthouse in Jonesboro, Arkansas, in August 2, 1862. Company 130th Arkansas Infantry and the 5th Transpacific Confederate Army under the command of Captain Mitchell A. Adair. Defeated Company 1, First Wisconsin Cavalry of the United States Army of the Southwest, under the Command of Lieutenant Charles L. Porter. Seven Yankees and one Confederate were killed in the battle.” And this is a kind of sign that we get. This war was about enslaving human beings, and the type of monument you see will always be about Confederate soldiers. Not about the people who were enslaved, and beaten, and raped, and murdered.
A few years ago on some social media site, this woman posted a video of this white couple yelling and screaming at her. This white woman was in this—this white woman’s face going, “We used to own you, we used to own you.” It was out of Texas. And so the fact that our monuments are to people who were trying to keep a system of enslavement of human beings in place, and not to the people who treated so horribly—like, we haven’t faced it. We haven’t unpacked it. We haven’t dealt with it or processed it as a country, especially the South.
So if you look at the thread and see how other countries have processed their own terrible history; until the US does that, we’re gonna continue dealing with this problem. We’re just gonna keep creating the same systems of oppression in new ways. And I think think that thread is a perfect indication, if you wanna see how we need to react to our history that thread is a good way to see where we need to start. So yeah until the South breaks out of the false history that we built up after Reconstruction failed, until say as a region, “No, we do not accept this, this is wrong,” nothing’s going to change. Not here. Sorry to hijack your item.
Ana: No, that’s fine. You know much better than me of course, you are from there. I am like nothing but a bystander to that history. But knowing that even when you face those issues, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all problems will be magically solved, as in the case of Brazil where there is so much internalized racism still, but perhaps not in the same way as in America.
Wow. Aren’t we a barrel of laughs?
[Music: Sorrow by Chuki Beats]
Renay: Onto happier topics! Let’s not depress our listeners any more than we have to.
We read Another Castle: Grimoire by Andrew Wheeler and Paulina Ganucheau. It is a graphic novel about Misty, who is a princess from the kingdom of Belldora, and how she goes on an adventure and ends up saving the neighboring kingdom, with a little help from her friends.
Ana: I loved this comic. Did you?
Renay: Yeah, I think I had some problems with the first two issues, where the writing was not as tight as it got in the last three issues. But overall I think it was very cute. It’s a very adorable middle-grade comic.
Ana: That’s so interesting that you say that, because I thought it was so well put together in terms of providing a type of narrative that flowed from one issue to the other, to the point where I felt here more than in any other trades that I’ve read recently, that there was just one story being told. And it was epic fantasy in graphic novel format, condensed to its bare details but the most essentially important ones. The girl that goes on a quest to find herself, ends up saving a whole kingdom, except that the kingdom kind of saves themselves with her help, because there was already a revolution brewing and democracy’s better than monarchy. In the cutest possible way.
Renay: I like what you say about it being epic fantasy because there is a lot of different storylines in here that mesh really well. The reason that I said I had trouble with the writing in the first two issues is that it really digs in on the trope part. It’s really pulling all these fantasy tropes forward in—not a really subtle way? So on top of all the tropes and the writing I was like, “Oh no. Oh no. I’m nervous.” This really got a hundred percent better by that third issue, it’s like everything folded together, and I think probably it’s because I read it issue by issue that I’m maybe having this problem, because I reread it in like a whole collection, and it flowed together much better for me.
Ana: Yeah, that’s how I read it.
Renay: I really liked that it incorporates all sorts of different relationships in not a heavy-handed way. Like especially Fogmoth who’s Misty’s jailor, who becomes her friend, like has a relationship with Robin, who is the heir to the Grimoire throne, but doesn’t want a monarchy anymore. He wants the people to rule themselves. And it’s just really casual and I really like when that happens.
Also, Misty gets to have a close female friend. Gorga helps Misty and Misty helps Gorga find confidence in her own skills. It was a great female friendship; I was super happy with it.
Ana: Yeah, there’s like each character had their own mini-arcs. I felt like they folded into Misty’s story even though she was the protagonist. They had their own time in the spotlight without it detracting from the overall story. Gorga, for example, has her arc of not knowing about her powers and also kind of like having a crush on the guy that was coming to save Misty, the—the prince. Who turns out not to be a complete asshole, which was also kind of nice? He was just like really earnest. So this is why I think it kind I said before, it did a lot of tropes in that way too.
Renay: Pete. The guy who technically Misty was supposed to marry and came to rescue her. Misty does this thing so Pete won’t get hurt on his way to Grimoire, and because she does whatever she does—I don’t wanna spoil it cause it’s so good—he ends up meeting monsters like as friends and not like as enemies so he gets to know all these monsters. It was a really super sweet to show, hey, if you sit down with people you might have a problem with and talk to them and learn about them, you’re going to find common ground. It was a such a like a really nice way to like, have that message in the book, but to not make it didactic. Because it’s part of his arc as a character.
Ana: Yes. I also loved the three sisters who had the powers of foresight and the one that just saw the present, which was like, “What?!” [laughter] And the one that saw the past which was—I love that kind of thing. I love that it’s a recurring archetype in fiction to have the figures of the three women that together can work with time in different ways and I love—I just love that trope so much, and I thought it was done really well because they were kind of like older ladies, too. And they had a mini-arc because two of the sisters were estranged from one of the—the third sister, and they kind of like got together in the end.
Renay: This graphic novel really uses tropes in a great way. It just pulled all the tropes it could forward and then went, “I’m gonna make this interesting. I’m gonna do something cool with this.” And I really think it knocked it out of the park on taking the tropes and refreshing them.
But I don’t think we can go any farther without mentioning the art in this comic? I’ve said before that I find Paulina Ganucheau’s art amazing. I compared it to watching a cartoon, almost, because it’s so animated and bright. A lot of dark things happen in this graphic novel. Like there’s some stuff about Misty’s mom, there’s stuff about Grimoire before Misty came to it that happened, and, like, in any other artist’s hands it might have been almost a depressing comic? But because Paulina Ganuchaeu’s art is so vibrant and colourful, it keeps it upbeat. Even when the dark things are happening, it doesn’t, like, it doesn’t make you despair. The art makes sure you stay like above that line. Cause yes, bad things happen, but you’re not like sinking into this really awful sadness that they happened, and I thought that really well done. Especially since this is a comic that was gonna get pushed to kids a lot.
Ana: It’s very colorful and it uses very bright colors like pink and purple to really great effect.
Renay: At end we get the sense that Misty’s going to go on more adventures later, and I really wish that we would be able to see more of what she does in the future. The graphic novel really draws a line between monarchy and democracy, having people in power versus people ruling themselves. What in the world is Misty gonna do in a world ruled by democracy?
Ana: She’s gonna be a warrior? A president.
Renay: I need fanfic.
Ana: Do—do we know if there’s gonna be more?
Renay: I don’t know. I really wish there could be, Oni Press. I really liked this comic and I think you should maybe get more from Andrew Wheeler and Paulina Ganucheau. Give them a longer run of something. Or a sequel to this!
Ana: I absolutely agree.
Renay: How many space bees would you give this?
Renay: I would also give this four. This was so charming.
[Music: Help by Chuki Beats]
Renay: It’s July now and we have reached the half-year mark! It’s time for us to talk some of the media that we enjoyed in 2017.
Ana: At this time of the year I always do a count to check my stats of how many books I’ve read and I’m like so sad that I only read thirty-five books so far this year. But I’ve given three of them a ten.
Ana: Last year, the whole of last year, I did not give a single book a ten. I think I already have five of my top ten of the year and I still have to read the Megan Whalen Turner and Ann Leckie, the Kate Elliott, the N.K. Jemisin, the Yoon-Ha Lee. I am fucked.
My top five so far are All Systems Red by Martha Wells, which has one of the best voices and a fantastic narrator in Murderbot. It’s fantastic, it’s hilarious, and also very heartwarming because it’s about identity.
The next one is When Dimple met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. That one is a contemporary YA about two Indian kids that meet and they are supposed to get married, but the girl doesn’t quite want that because she’s not so much into tradition as the boy is. But they meet and they become kind of friends and it’s adorable, it’s charming, and it deals really well with that friction between tradition and modernity within that particular community.
The next one is another contemporary YA novel. It’s The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It’s probably my favorite book of the year so far. It’s also about a young woman, whose best friend dies. They are both black and they were inside a car, and the guy didn’t do anything and he got—he gets killed by a cop. And it’s very much about what do you do as person, when something like this happens, when you are so involved, when you know the person that died, and you have those feelings of, “Do I fight for this? Do I go public?” How do you conciliate the personal and social and the political and who you are, basically. And it’s a brilliant, beautiful, really hard-to-read novel, but very hopeful in the end with some of the best parents that I have read, ever.
The next one is another one that we’ve talked here on the podcast, The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley. I still think this book is really surreal and out there in the way that it has its narrative. But I love the unreliable narrators, I loved the romance, I loved the arc of the main character, that goes from having no memory to deciding what to do with her life again. And there is an element of found families and that was brilliant.
And finally, I have one that is a middle-grade novel. This is one of the ones that I gave a ten, and it’s Squirrel Meets World by Dean Hale and Shannon Hale, and it’s the Squirrel Girl novel. And it’s hilarious, it’s funny, it’s everything that you love about Squirrel Girl from comics in novel format and it’s great for kids, it’s for adults, great for everybody, really.
And those are my picks. Are you gonna read When Dimple Met Rishi?
Renay: I’m gonna try. I’m really picky with contemporary YA.
Ana: It’s so charming. I think you would love it. What are your picks?
Renay: I also put All Systems Red by Martha Wells on my list. Everybody should just go read it.
Another book that I loved was Warchild by Karin Lowachee. This is a book about Joss, who is kidnapped from his original spaceship where he lived with his parents by pirates, and he lives with a pirate for one year until he tries to escape and then is taken by the other side of this war that’s happening: the aliens and their human sympathisers. This is a book about war, it’s a really emotionally gutting novel.
My next pick is Hidden Figures, the movie starring Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer, and Taraji P. Henson, about the black women who were part of the NACA that became NASA. Ohh this movie, Ana, every time I think about this movie, I just all these little warm fuzzies. I love this movie so much.
My next pick is Steven Universe season one. So I went to WisCon, and at WisCon I met Amal El-Mohtar, and she talked up Steven Universe so much, and so well, that I was like, “Okay, I’m going for it, I’m doing it.” It’s a middle-grade cartoon about a little boy who lives on a planet with three guardians who are Crystal Gems: Amethyst, Pearl, and Garnet. And Steven is half-Crystal Gem because his mom was a Crystal Gem. I have so many gay feelings about this show. This show’s just so queer and beautiful. And the songs are great too. Highly recommended.
Ana: There are songs?
Renay: Yes. If you like middle-grade stuff, Ana, you’ve got to watch this show.
Ana: I know I’ve had it on my to-watch list but I just can’t find it in the UK.
Renay: Ugh, that’s bad, I need to find out how to solve this problem for you. Don’t worry, I’m on it.
Renay: My last choice.
Ana: This is the greatest moment of my life. Go on. Say it.
Renay: My last pick for my favorite book so far of 2017 is Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner.
Ana: [applauds] I am so happy.
Renay: I’m just going to point out right now that somebody has not even read this book yet. I read it before her, I’m probably going to write some fanfic before she even gets it read.
Ana: I mean, how do you read your most expected book of the past five years? I have fears.
Renay: You need to read it, Ana, it’s great.
Ana: I have fears.
Renay: But it’s good!
Ana: They are not small! They are BIG fears and I have not yet been able to sit down and beat these fears into submission enough for me to actually read this book. It will be read, but it’s just great that it’s on your list. I’m just so happy.
Renay: Well I had a great 2017 so far book-wise, I actually read ninety-eight books. But you have to subtract so you don’t feel bad, Ana, you have to subtract forty-two books from that.
Renay: Because forty-two of those are One Piece.
Ana: You read forty-two already.
Renay: Forty-two volumes, yes.
Ana: Holy shit! I don’t know why you—you would want us to subtract them. Those babies are massive.
Renay: I’m just saying that with sequential art, it gets really easy to pad out your numbers and be like, “How are you reading so much!” Sequential art now I’m much better at it, I’ve had practice. I can kinda whip through it.
Ana: That still leaves you with over fifty books.
Renay: But yeah, it’s half-year.
Ana: Yes it is, and I’ve only read thirty-five.
Renay: Well yeah, but you have eight zillion jobs. Stop publishing so much fiction Ana.
Ana: I can’t.
Renay: Choose. Less fiction and more books, or more fiction and less books. Those are your choices.
Ana: This is a choice that I face myself every day when I look in the mirror.
Renay: Okay. Out of your book list, what one book would you have everybody who is listening to this right now read.
Ana: Oh shit. Do I recommend the light fluffy fun read or do I recommend the one that goes straight to your gut?
Renay: Your choice!
Ana: I’m gonna say The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. About you?
Renay: I would have everybody read Warchild by Karin Lowachee.
Ana: Does that book end well?
Renay: It’s not a super depressing ending. It’s got a bittersweet ending.
Ana: Sounds good.
Renay: So everybody go and read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and Warchild by Karin Lowachee. Those are you assignments.
Ana: And tell us, what are your favorite books so far this year, so that we can add more to our TBR list.
[Music: Memories by Chuki Beats]
Renay: Recently the Locus Awards were awarded in Seattle. The winners were Death’s End by Cixin Liu for SF Novel; All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders for Fantasy Novel; The Firemen by Joe Hill for Horror Novel; Revenger by Alastair Reynolds for YA Novel; Ninefox Gambit by Yoon-Ha Lee for First Novel; Every Heart A Doorway for Seanan McGuire for Novella; You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay by Alyssa Wong for Novelette; and Seasons of Glass and Iron by Amal El-Mohtar, Short Story. What on this list of winners have you read?
Ana: All The Birds In The Sky and Ninefox Gambit and Every Heart A Doorway. How about you?
Renay: I’ve read All The Birds In The Sky, Revenger, and Ninefox Gambit.
Ana: Okay, so what do you think of the winners?
Renay: I really was pulling for Company Town by Madeline Ashby to win Science Fiction Novel.
Renay: Although I know it’s hard to compete with a series that has momentum. I would have also not been sad if Babylon’s Ashes by James S. A. Corey had won.
Ana: Ah, really.
Renay: Surprise! I really loved Babylon’s Ashes a whole lot.
Ana: I’ve actually only read Company Town of those. I keep seeing The Underground Railroad and I’m really curious to see how is that science fiction.
Renay: I don’t know but it’s showing up on a lot of our lists. In the fantasy category, I’m super happy with All The Birds In The Sky. I really liked it.
Renay: I’m super fascinated to see what Charlie Jane does…
Renay: Yeah. Also I geek a lot when I think about Charlie Jane, because at WisCon when we walked toward dinner together, and she was like, “Oh yeah, I read your blog!” What—what! Excuse me, you read WHAT? She’s like, “Oh yeah, it’s great,” I’m like what, WHY, you’re… you, and I’m… Me, what are you, what?! I ended up negging myself to Charlie Jane, don’t do that guys, don’t do that. I know it’s hard, if you get—come up to somebody you super admire and they’re just like, “Aw, you’re so cool,” don’t neg yourself, just be like “Thank you.”
Renay: It’s hard, though. So I’m really excited to see what Charlie Jane does next. But you know I’m torn because The Obelisk Gate was on this list.
Ana: I know, and The Winged History which I really loved was my top ten last year.
Renay: I have some feelings. I know nothing about the horror category, although, but the only book I’ve read here, The Family Plot. I don’t think was that scary.
Ana: I thought it was, as you remember.
Renay: Yes. But Jenny recommended Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt.
Ana: Thea really liked it.
Renay: I might actually try it.
Ana: I read Certain Dark Things. I also don’t consider it very scary or horror at all. I think it’s more urban fantasy. It’s in Mexico City and it has vampires, but, nah, I wouldn’t call it scary. I would have put this into the Fantasy Novel category.
Renay: Then we have Young Adult.
Renay: I have a lot of feelings about this.
Ana: This year’s list a little bit better than most years, because usually tends to be all —
Renay: White dudes who have crossed over, but mostly write adult fiction.
Ana: I think it’s a question of the demographics of who reads Locus and who votes for Locus awards. It’s probably less YA-focused people, and more Science Fiction and Fantasy then it will probably know more those authors that have, you know.
Renay: Oh yeah, that’s definitely the thing, but if you don’t know YA, why are you nominating and voting in the category?!
Ana: But you know, Poisoned Blade was here and This Savage Song. How do you feel about Revenger having won?
Renay: Not great because Revenger is not a YA novel. It’s not a YA novel at all in any way shape or form.
Ana: Why is it here?
Renay: Because a white dude wrote some fiction that had teen girl protagonists and people went, “Oh, teen girl protagonists, it’s obviously YA.” No.
Ana: So why do you think it’s not YA?
Renay: Just the tone of the book itself. Revenger is a fun novel. I just don’t think it’s a YA novel and I don’t think it should be winning YA awards.
Ana: Fair enough.
Renay: Controversial opinion! But yes, Poisoned Blade was here, I’m very excited to see Poisoned Blade here. I hope everybody is planning to read Buried Heart, which comes out very soon. July 25th.
Ana: Did you read it?!
Renay: Not yet.
Ana: Okay. Can you read just the end and tell me what happens?
Renay: I am very excited because I got—I called it an ARC on Twitter but then Kate pointed out, “Hey, that’s not an ARC, that’s a finished copy, not even I have that yet.”
Ana: Look at you!
Renay: I don’t know who at this publishing company likes me, but they like me a lot and I’m thankful. Yhank you guys. First Novel, Ninefox Gambit won the First Novel category, which is right.
Ana: That’s absolutely fine.
Renay: Accurate. But another novel I was kind of rooting to win was Everfair by Nisi Shawl. Listen, at Wiscon, Nisi Shawl was at Wiscon, and we were standing in a line to go into the Guest of Honor speeches, and Nisi Shawl was there. And I was like, “There’s Nisi Shawl, go over there and tell her you really liked her book!” Poor KJ and Ira! I just kept hemming and hawing, I’m like, “I could do it! But I’m scared! I could do it! But I’m scared!” Finally I did it and it was fine. And she told me a great about the goddess in the book and how their symbolism was bees. I was like, “I love bees.” And I don’t remember what I said. I hope I didn’t make an ass of myself.
Renay: I want more people to read Everfair.
Ana: I really liked that one, but I also was kind of rooting for The Star-Touched Queen. No, I know, I was not, I was rooting for Ninefox Gambit, but if it wasn’t here, maybe The Star-Touched Queen which I really loved.
Renay: Novella, Every Heart A Doorway won. Nobody’s surprised.
Ana: I really loved that one.
Renay: Also I don’t recognise anything else here except for The Dispatcher and I’m going to blow everybody’s minds here and admit that I have not yet read The Dispatcher by John Scalzi.
Ana: I read The Lost Child of Lychford, The Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe, Hammers on Bone, and then Every Heart A Doorway. They were all very good. They were all Tor.com Publishing. They are doing such great work with novellas it’s just—I’m very jealous.
Renay: Alyssa Wong, You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay, won novelette. This is another category where I just realized, “Holy shit, I’m so behind on short fiction.”
Ana: I have not read a single one of them.
Renay: Ana, what happened to us? We were doing so well, and then…
Renay: Ugh. Seasons of Glass and Iron by Amal El-Mohtar won short story, and again, here, shame.
Ana: Yeah, complete shame.
Renay: What on any of these lists do you think you’re going to read?
Ana: I still really want to read After Atlas by Emma Newman. I really wanna read The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, because I’m so curious about it. I really want to read the Lois Lane books by Gwenda Bonde. The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill, which apparently is awesome. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, which is a sequel to Six of Crows, which I still need to read, too. I think that’s it? I mean, I would like to have time to read all the short stories and novelettes, but, I don’t know.
Renay: My only appeal to Locus Award folks the next that this award comes around is: please don’t nominate things that aren’t YA novels! Keep working on it guys. I believe in you!
[Music: Mornings by Chuki Beats]
Renay: It’s time for recommendations. What’ve you got for us?
Ana: I’ve got two recommendations. Ha ha! I did it this time! I broke the rules and I beat you in your own game! So I’ve got a book and a movie.
The book is The Gentlemen’s Guide To Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, and it’s a YA novel that just came out. Basically, I read it on the same day that it came out. Like I read it in the morning and I read it on my lunch break and then I came home and then I read until I was done with it. It was that good. It’s charming and it’s set in the 18th century in England, where you have this seventeen year old boy who is about to go on the Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend, who he’s in love with, and his younger sister. So the idea in his mind is that they are just gonna go and have a grand old time, have lots of fun, get drunk, and he’ll probably try to hook with boys and girls, because he’s bisexual, and of course this is just his narrative because he’s a white privileged son of a lord who is about to inherit a fortune.
At first he reads like a very naive person, in a way that he is, but the more you read the book, the other facets of his personality come in and then you realize that things are not as rosy as they are, but he’s still kind of like…a rake. And he’s just wants to have fun. And he’s deeply in love with his best friend, who he doesn’t know if he’s gay or not, and the best friend is mixed race, and that poses a lot of problems. And then you start to peel away so many in this book at the same time it’s still so funny, and it’s so light, but also so deep and I just love it so much! And there are like alchemy, and pirates, and highwaymen, and lots of danger. The evolution of these characters is so great. I just love it to bits.
The other thing that I’m recommending is Spider-Man: Homecoming. This is the best Spider-Man movie of all, and would even say one of the best Marvel movies in the franchise, even though they are Sony Pictures—anyway. It’s the best Spider-Man; Tom Holland is awesome at it, but it also has amazing cameos, has a great arc, into what hero he wants to be, because he’s kind of like, he’s so earnest, he’s like, “I just wanna be an Avenger!” but he’s fifteen years old and how do you reconcile that? And in many ways it reminds me of Kamala Khan’s Ms Marvel; how she struggles to be a teenager and have so much responsibility and it’s the same thing with Peter Parker in this movie and please go see it.
What do you recommend, Renay?
Renay: I have one rec for a podcast. It’s called Hellbent, it’s hosted by Devon and Sarah, and it’s about politics! If you’re looking for a good politics podcast that is by women, I would highly recommend you check this one out. I got this rec from Diana, BookishDi on twitter. Once she recced it to me and I started it I never looked back, it’s so refreshing. They are foul-mouthed and super thorough in the issues they discuss. Their episodes run really long sometimes because on Thursdays they do interviews, but the interviews are always fascinating. And some of the stuff going on right now is so confusing, and complicated, and convoluted, that I just don’t have the mental energy to deal with it sometimes. I’m just tired. I really like that they take the time to read everything, do the research, and then come and explain it to their listeners in such a easy-to-understand, thorough way. It’s lovely. I highly recommend it if you want some context about American politics that’s not filtered through the perspective of cisgender white men which is a problem that I was having before. Devon and Sarah speak to me.
Ana: I just subscribed to it and I’m downloading the first episode.
Renay: Already a win for my recommendation. Okay Ana, tell everybody what we’ll be discussing next time.
Ana: It’s gonna be a Vault episode! Sponsored by Patreon. We are and discussing The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, which is gonna be the first time that I’m actually reading this book.
Renay: I’m so excited.
Ana: I am so scared.
Renay: No, it’s gonna be great, you’ll see.
[Music: Happy Summer Love by BoxCat Games]
Renay: It’s the end of episode eighty-seven and we made it through without tears.
Ana: It’s a win.
Renay: Our music this week is by Chuki Beats and BoxCat Games. Our show art was made by Ira. You can find links to their work in our show notes, plus information about the media we discussed. Susan creates our excellent transcripts and you can read them on our website at fangirlhappyhour.com.
Ana: Follow us on twitter at @fangirlpodcast for more antics during the week. Our email is email@example.com and we always love hearing from you. You can leave us a review on itunes, which would really, really appreciate. Just pretend the stars are space bees and you will be fine.
Renay: Drink some water; get some sleep; contact your reps. Thank you.
Ana: Look history in the eye, and do not, under any circumstances, build a confederate monument. The world do not need more of those.
Renay: Thanks for for listening space bees!
Ana: See you next episode.
[Music: Happy Summer Love by BoxCat Games]
Renay: Everything just got really uncertain!
Ana: [laughter] It’s just like you scared me there for a second.
Renay: But Ana, you’re so charming, why wouldn’t people wanna listen to you multiple times?
Ana: Is banana bread a bread or a cake?
Renay: … Oh no.
Renay: Do not self-reject.
Ana: I’m not gonna self-reject.
Renay: Thank you.
Ana: I stopped myself before doing that.
Ana: Who’s sending me messages?
Renay: It’s me.
Ana: No, it’s not you.
Renay: Oh, okay.
Ana: Ain’t nobody break my stride [humming intensifies] oh no, I got to keep on moving!
Ana: I’m making hand—motions because I forgot the words.
Renay: New rumor for me to spread: Ana is anti-democracy.
Ana: Oh my gods.
Ana: So cute—cute—cute—cute, is my trying to “cool” coming out with cute [mutters] it’s just oh my god, it’s just I’m so tired. The words are broken.
Ana: Listen, as long as you vote for us…
Ana: I don’t care about anything else.