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Posted by Jessica Mason

In these waning weeks of July, devoted supplicants donned colorful regalia, braved massive crowds and endured media scrutiny to pay tribute to gods, monsters, heroes and villains, including a legendary warrior woman with a storied past and a billionaire some fear may bring the end of the world. I’m talking, of course, about the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. The rest of us went to Comic-Con.

Though the teeming crowds in San Diego came to get a look at the first footage from new movies, snag limited edition toys, or meet their fave comic writers, the shadow of the election, like Batman, was hard to escape. Donald Trump was mentioned on panels–I even got to hear Benedict Cumberbatch do his Trump impression–and creators and celebrities alike touched on the subject. But what were the regular nerds in the trenches feeling about the election? I talked to nearly fifty fans over the con’s four days to find out.

The primary thing I learned is that, no matter where people fell on their political opinions, when I brought up the election their reaction was almost uniformly a long groan of exhaustion and disgust. Everyone is fed up and appalled with the political tone in America, and in general pretty depressed by the state of the world. The other sentiment that came up again and again? Fear. Most of the nerds, geeks, fans and pros I spoke to were genuinely worried about what will happen if Trump is elected President. Some of them were concerned about practical issues like social security or his foreign policy, and others are simply frightened by such a man having his hand on the button. Though many were hopeful that the polls would be correct and Trump would lose, some feared what one con-goer called “the troll vote” would prevail and lead to disaster. A pair of women in a glorious Mad Max: Frozen Road cosplay (complete with War Boy Olaf) worried that the wasteland of Mad Max would become all too real if Trump were to win.

As you can perhaps guess, the SDCC crowd overwhelmingly fell into the Clinton camp, with 31 out of 40 American voters I spoke to saying they were casting their ballots in that direction. However, most of those voters were not so much with Hillary as against Trump. I only met one fan–a lovely teacher in a Lady Captain America cosplay–who was excited about voting Hillary and had supported her in 2008. Most others were just resigned to voting against Trump even if they weren’t Hillary fans. This went the other way as well; the single Trump supporter I managed to locate was willing to give The Donald chance simply because he reviled Hillary. Another fan I spoke to who was planning on voting for a third party described Hillary’s insidious villainy in terms I’d usually only heard in relation to Cthulhu. (Perhaps she’ll win the Eldritch vote.) There were at least 8 out of the 40 voters I spoke to who were planning to vote either for a third party candidate, write in Bernie’s name or had not decided yet. This overall negative feeling isn’t surprising given that Hillary has the highest “strongly unfavorable” poll numbers of any candidate in history…except for Donald Trump.

Overall, SDCC attendees were very aware of the election and everyone I spoke to who could vote was planning on doing so. Even those not from America were interested, though more in the sense that passersby react in horror and sympathy to a flaming car wreck. A pair of Canadians in Captain America and Winter Soldier cosplays lamented the brokenness of America’s two-party system, and a couple from England in the Hall H line just shook their heads in dismay. The general sense of fear crossed borders as well: I spoke to four GISHWHES participants from Mexico who spoke earnestly about how hurtful and frightening Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric was for them.

It was not surprising to me, and I doubt that it’s surprising to other nerds, that the politics of Comic Con skewed liberal. When I asked if their participation in fandom influenced their politics or vice versa, the most popular answer I received was yes–in the sense that the word of nerds is often the realm of the oppressed or marginalized in many ways, and those are the people that liberals generally speak for, rather than conservatives. However, many fans also noted that being a nerd meant that they were exposed to many and varied ideas, just because geeking inherently means having a curious mind and exposes you to different people and ways of thinking. It’s not necessarily that the media we enjoy tends to extol more liberal or conservative ideals or even that it is progressive at all, but that the very act of participation and pursuit of our passion leads us towards greater learning across the board, which in turn tends to lead to more liberal thought. I spoke to fans who hadn’t been aware of Bernie Sanders or general social issues until they discovered these things through social media that they had only become a part of because of fandom.

Even in this climate of fear and general “UGH” feeling, though, there was some hope. One of the best things I heard was the idea that if America at large was able to get along as well as the people of SDCC, we wouldn’t been in this mess. It is amazing how nice everyone at Comic-Con is; even though we were all hot, tired, hungry and had been waiting in line for what felt like most of our adult lives, every single person I spoke to was kind and everyone treated each other with respect. I think it’s because we nerds understand that we may not all like the exact same things, or have the same personal stories, but we all come together at an event like SDCC because of the same love and passion. That sentiment–that at the core of fandom is love–is important in such a divided, frightening time.

I left the convention feeling inspired by the fans I got to know. Though we worry that Mad Max might be our real future, these was also hope that we could still reach Star Trek’s more optimistic world. Bryan Fuller closed out the panel celebrating the 50th anniversary of Trek with great words that applied to the election, but also the world: “As we chart a path to the 23rd century, let’s make a promise to everybody in this room. Look at each other and make a promise to leave this room with love. Leave this room with hope.” Let’s cross our fingers everyone registered to vote as well.

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Jessica Mason is a writer and lawyer living in Portland, Oregon. More of her writing can be found at www.fan-girling.com, and follow her on Twitter at @FangirlingJess.

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Posted by Jon Brodkin

(credit: Getty Images | Justin Sullivan)

Despite a rocky tenure as Yahoo chief executive that is likely to end in a sale to Verizon, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer today said the company has been transformed under her leadership and that she "couldn't be more proud of the achievements to date."

In a call with investors describing the $4.8 billion acquisition of Yahoo's operating business that Verizon announced this morning, Mayer praised the Yahoo staff for "the tremendous accomplishments made over the past few years in our transformation." Without mentioning missteps like the Tumblr acquisition, Mayer said, "we invested in and built our mobile, video, native, and social businesses from nothing in 2011 to $1.6 billion in GAAP revenue in 2015. We tripled our mobile base to over 600 million monthly active users and generated over $1 billion of mobile advertising revenue last year."

Yahoo, Mayer said, has also "streamlined and modernized every aspect of our consumer products and dramatically improved our advertiser products. We've laid incredibly solid groundwork and the sale gives us the opportunity to build on that momentum."

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Posted by Maddy Myers


Get ready to feel the sting of existential dread, because it’s time to talk about the political implications of Ghostbusters. This movie has been so heavily scrutinized ahead of its release that it’s almost impossible to evaluate in a vacuum, and the movie itself seems grimly aware of that. Predictably, a lot of the early criticism of the movie has revolved around whether or not it’s funny and whether it’s not it’s feminist and whether or not one of those things is somehow related to the other. I don’t know about all of you, but I’m exhausted.

Truth be told, I just don’t think it’s ever going to be valuable to ask “Is [piece of media] feminist?” I don’t think a piece of media can “be feminist,” since feminism is something you do, not a state of being or an on/off switch. But I still think it’s valuable to evaluate the political themes of this movie. Because, yes, Ghostbusters is a political movie, while also being a very silly movie about Kate McKinnon accidentally lighting objects on fire while dancing around a laboratory.

The original Ghostbusters was a political movie, too. As Peter Suderman explains at length in a piece about the 1984 Ghostbusters, the original had plenty to say about academia and bureaucracy as seen through the lens of small business owners. However, I disagree with Suderman’s evaluation of the 2016 film, which he seems to think has next to no political commentary.

I keep having the “did we see the same movie?” moment when it comes to the new Ghostbusters, and this is no exception. Personally, I felt like the political commentary in the new Ghostbusters movie had all the subtlety of an anvil, but given how few people I’ve seen talking about that aspect, I guess I must be imagining things … which means I’ve got something in common with the new Ghostbusters team, since the entire theme of their movie is that no one will believe them and no one will ever take them seriously.

I don’t think the new Ghostbusters is “feminist” or even “about feminism,” necessarily – but it is about gender, and it is about sexism, and it is also about race (albeit not nearly as much as it could stand to be).

The original Ghostbusters is also about gender, and about anxious masculinity, and about the inaccessible ice queen purity of Sigourney Weaver’s character – who, post-possession, transforms into a lusty seductress who can’t get enough of the guy she’s been politely rebuffing for the entire movie hence. This is a movie that throws Sigourney Weaver together with Rick Moranis, the Nice Guy Nerd she’s been avoiding, in a Doomsday scenario that will result in her getting rescued by the Jerk Guy she’s also been avoiding … but of course, we see all of this from the guys’ point of view. This is a movie about small business owners who learn about the existence of ghosts and find a way to turn it into a viable business model and pick up chicks in the process. This is a movie that features, famously, a scene in which Dan Aykroyd gets a blow job from a ghost … and, of course, the movie is careful to render this ghost as explicitly feminine. This is a movie that opens with a female librarian seeing a ghost and then getting disbelieved; Bill Murray’s character asks her if she’s “menstruating” (when asked by a bystander why that question is relevant, he smirks, “I’m a scientist”). Oh, and the fact that Ernie Hudson’s characterization got screwed over by Bill Murray’s unexpected addition to the cast should tell you a lot about the original Ghostbusters‘ take on racial politics, both in front of the camera and behind it.

The new Ghostbusters serves both as a standalone movie about four women who just so happen to prove that ghosts are real – as well as a movie that is also an implicit commentary about its own historical implications. After all, a movie about ghosts should also be a movie about history, right? And in the new Ghostbusters‘ case, that history is ugly – it’s attacking the present day, and trying to keep us all stuck in the past.

Ghostbusters 2016 opens with a historical tour through a mansion haunted by a lady-ghost, but she’s a far cry from the ghostly gal who hooks up with Dan Aykroyd in the first movie. This new ghost is a mega-rich murderess who killed a ton of her own servants, and her parents were so concerned about potential scandal that instead of handing their daughter over to the authorities, they locked her up in their own basement. (That concern about scandal will come up again later in this movie, by the way, once the Ghostbusters start making waves.)

Statistically, women are almost never mass-murderers. In fact, homocidal women are so rare that scientists don’t have enough cases to effectively evaluate them. Anyway, this movie is predicated upon the idea that only “bad” ghosts are being brought back from the dead, because the villain orchestrating all of these hauntings has set it up that way. Still, I don’t think it’s any accident that the movie intentionally positions this woman first in the lineup; she’s an example of Victorian patriarchal oppression gone horribly wrong – a total what-not-to-do scenario.

Anyway, in this version of Ghostbusters, no one believes that ghosts are real, and no one believes that bustin’ ghosts is a viable business strategy. In the original movie, Bill Murray doesn’t believe in the paranormal, but he doesn’t think that it really matters either way; he can still pick up women and make money off of it, whether it’s fake or real. In his case, ghosts do turn out to be real, but that isn’t the sticking point around which the movie revolves. In the new Ghostbusters, the collective disbelief in ghosts is the entire crux of the story. It turns out that when two women write a book together about ghosts, it gets seen as touchy-feely quackery.

I explained this a bit in my discussion of the use of magic vs. sci-fi in my evaluation of the Marvel movie universe, but it’s worth reiterating the point again here. The use of magic as a narrative device has classically been associated with femininity – whether it’s witchcraft or Tarot cards or astrology or psychics or mediums. From my own anecdotal experience, every all-girl slumber party that I attended in my youth included a lot of ghost-summoning attempts, and Bloody Mary stood us up several times over. Ghost stories aren’t exclusively a “lady thing,” but science is definitely still seen as a “guy thing” (sigh), and sci-fi doesn’t typically include ghosts, so there you have it.

Ghostbusters is the big exception, really. That’s part of why the original Ghostbusters was so hilarious and unexpected. You take a ghost story, something that has no scientific or logical basis, then slather it up with a bunch of scientific jargon and sci-fi weaponry and whatnot. Add in a bunch of super-macho scientists and dress ’em up in scrubs and give ’em cool weapons. If ghosts were real? Well, scientists would study them, that’s for sure.

All of this subtext gets put front-of-mind in the new version of Ghostbusters, where Kristen Wiig’s character, Erin Gilbert, is also working at Columbia University – just like the three scientists do in the first Ghostbusters – before she, like them, loses her job. But in her case, the circumstances of the firing are quite different. She’s trying to secure tenure, and the scene with her boss (played by Charles Dance of Game of Thrones fame) revolve around the double standards she’s up against at work. Even though she has a recommendation from Princeton, Dance’s character says that she needs to get one from a more prestigious university. (“More prestigious than Princeton,” she boggles.) As he walks out the door, he makes a snide comment about her outfit choices at work. She gestures to her skirt suit and earnestly asks: “Too sexy?”

The joke here, of course, is that Erin’s outfit is hilariously conservative. But Charles Dance’s character doesn’t even respond to her; he mutters, “Never mind,” and keeps walking. She never does find out what’s wrong with her outfits, and it’s implied that nothing would actually be good enough anyway.

The real source of her anxiety, though, is that she used to believe in ghosts and she published a book arguing to that effect. Why does she believe in ghosts? Because, as we learn later in the movie, as a child she saw the ghost of her next-door neighbor appear by her bedside every single night for a year. No one believed her – except for Melissa McCarthy’s character, Abby, which is how the two became friends and soon became determined to prove, via science, that ghosts exist. When Patty (Leslie Jones) and Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) hear this story for the first time, they echo the sentiment. They, too, would have believed Erin.

This scene might seem out-of-place and strange, I suppose, if you can’t figure out the larger implications within the context of the movie’s themes. For me, the parallels seemed obvious. Women, especially young girls, are not believed when it comes to their own experiences. It doesn’t matter how long the experience goes on or how bad it is or how much evidence there might be. The whole “lying for attention” myth, even though that type of lie could cost a woman her career (and does, in Erin’s case), keeps haunting these women.

Even after the team of Ghostbusters proves, over and over, in front of huge crowds of people, that ghosts are definitely real – the authorities still paint them as liars who just want to get media attention. Even though the government secretly supports the Ghostbusters and desperately need their help, they refuse to endorse these women in public.

Bill Murray’s cameo involves him literally wearing a fedora and playing the role of a skeptic who doesn’t believe in ghosts. He bullies Erin into releasing a ghost, in spite of Abby’s protestations that his opinion doesn’t matter, and the ghost then attacks him and throws his character out the window, after which point he’s never seen again. I’ve seen complaints from people saying that this cameo isn’t very funny. They are right. This scene is not very funny. But I don’t think that was the point of that particular moment. By throwing Murray and his fedora out the window, the new Ghostbusters has also dispensed of the person he represents – the disbelieving “well, prove it” guy who can’t be swayed by evidence. Add in the additional implication of the character type that Bill Murray played in the first Ghostbusters, and the scene makes even more sense.

Meanwhile, there’s also the villain of the entire movie – Rowan, about whom we’ve already written. In the first standoff between Rowan and the Ghostbusters, he explains that he’s been reviving ghosts and taking over the city because he was bullied and he wants to rule over the world. One of his lines is, “I see things that no one else does, and for it, I am rewarded with nothing but scorn and mockery.”

In response, Abby points out that his experience precisely matches up with the experiences of herself and her fellow bustin’ peers. They were all ridiculed, disbelieved, and not taken seriously–they’re still not taken seriously. But instead of wanting to rule the world, they still want to save it. This results in a joke wherein the Ghostbusters try to think of good things about the world that make it worth saving, and all they can think of is soup and salad. Soup is pretty good! But, really, the Ghostbusters have been totally shit upon. Why do they want to save the world? Especially a world that has undermined them, over and over again, no matter what they do!?

The culmination of our heroines’ battle with Rowan in Ghostbusters involves him gleefully announcing that he’s taking the streets of New York City back to the past. The women fight back against ghosts who look like various historical leaders and soldiers. There’s a ghost inhabiting a balloon that looks like President Lincoln. There’s some Pilgrims, plus the Victorian lady ghost makes her return, plus I’m pretty sure I saw a couple of Revolutionary War soldiers. Oh, and then there’s a huge stilt-walker ghost dressed as Uncle Sam. The climax of this battle starts with Holtzmann licking one of her two pistols before thrashing all of these ghosts into submission, finishing off with wrapping her proton lasso around Uncle Sam. Considering what Uncle Sam represents, there’s no way not to interpret this battle as political.

holtzmann(image via Giphy)

Patty is the Ghostbuster who is the history buff, and she’s the one who’s quick to point out the historical implications of each of their encounters and the reasons why each ghost might have a bone to pick with humanity. From a larger metaphorical standpoint, the idea of past historical disputes resting deep below the streets of New York City, then rising up to rear their ugly heads once more on an unsuspecting populace … well, it’s both timely and timeless. I would have loved to see Ghostbusters lean more into this theme with Patty’s character, allowing her to prove to the trio of scientists that the ivory tower isn’t always in touch with what’s happening on the ground (or underground, in the case of Patty’s MTA job). The idea that there’s an undercurrent of sexist and racist resentments, upon which our country was founded, would make for a haunting overall theme, if only it had gotten spelled out a bit more. Especially the part where no one will believe you about any of these problems, even if they’re staring you right in the face and spitting ectoplasm all over you.

The ghosts of the past don’t really “die” in this movie; instead, they get sucked back underground, where they’ll presumably stay, unless someone tries to wrestle them all back to the surface again. The apocalypse gets orchestrated by a human villain who wanted power and invoked the most disgusting denizens of American history in order to seize it. Even the ghosts themselves are pawns in the larger scheme, which is a human one.

The original Ghostbusters, which celebrated the private sector, was apparently beloved by Reagan voters and had an unquestionable conservative and libertarian ethos. The new one? Well … given its themes, is it really any surprise that “original” Ghostbusters fans feel like this one is an abandonment of everything the original movie stood for? The new movie ends with the government deciding to completely support the Ghostbusters and provide them with the funding they need in order to keep their business running. This movie isn’t an argument in favor of privatization and limiting governmental influence. Instead, it’s a movie about marginalized people finally getting the resources that they deserve, but only after decades of getting ignored and mocked.

Does Ghostbusters manage to juggle all of these narrative threads effectively? Perhaps not, since there’s plenty of time for slapstick and jokes about the Jaws mayor. But if we’re going to overthink the original Ghostbusters, then I think we may as well give the new one the same treatment, because I think there’s actually a lot more to chew here beyond the cursory question of whether or not it’s “funny.”

Oh, and by the way, I did think it was funny. But perhaps that argument will have to wait for another day.

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Posted by Jennifer Baker

Lauri Love. (credit: BBC)

Briton Lauri Love is expected to learn on September 16 whether a judge will rule in favour of his extradition to the US to face charges of alleged hacking, Westminster Magistrates' Court has heard.

According to his legal representative, Love—who faces charges of hacking as part of the Anonymous collective in 2013—could serve up to 99 years in prison in the US. He is accused of using a security flaw in ColdFusion to gain administrator-level access to servers.

Love is alleged to have been involved in the hack known as #OpLastResort, which targeted the US Army, the US Federal Reserve, the FBI, NASA, and the Missile Defense Agency in retaliation over the suicide, while awaiting trial, of Aaron Swartz.

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Posted by Jessica Lachenal


So what’s the over/under on Rocky references in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2?

This weekend, amidst the flurry of blockbuster movie news and announcements, a bit of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 news popped up on Facebook, courtesy of director James Gunn. In a big ol’ info post, Gunn confirmed rumors that began swirling back in March regarding Sylvester Stallone’s possible appearance in Vol. 2. He wrote:


This was an amazing experience for me, considering I ran around in my backyard as a kid pretending I was Johnny Rambo. Working with Sly was one of the high points of shooting Vol. 2 for me.

Gunn appeared to be confirming what seemed to be a glimpse of Stallone in the teaser they debuted at Comic-Con. In it, Stallone is shown sharing a scene with Michael Rooker as Yondu. There’s no word yet on what Stallone’s role might be. Gunn said, “Who does he play? Well, I can’t reveal that quite yet, but we do see him interacting with Yondu in the teaser.” Does this mean Stallone could be a Ravager? Or perhaps part of a rival gang? Or, or, maybe a member of the Nova Corps? I mean, the Judge Dredd uniform isn’t that far from a Nova Corps uniform, right?

All the same, having Stallone in a movie that’s paid more than a little bit of tribute to 70s and 80s pop culture seems only right. You’ll be able to check him out for yourself in the movie when it releases next May.

(via CBR, image via Shutterstock/Tinseltown)

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Posted by Cheyenne Smith


If I crunched the numbers, I think I’d find that 90% of my disposable income goes to geek spending.

What can I say? I’m obsessed with decorating my house in nerd memorabilia. It’s not a sickness, it’s a hobby … at least that’s what I told my husband when I bought my 7th Funko Pop figurine in a week (and yes, of course it was Holtzmann from Ghostbusters, glad you asked).

So when it comes to geeky subscription boxes, monthly deliveries of the latest and greatest nerd culture collectibles, I’m here for it. I want someone to ship me Harry Potter art prints or the newest board game that will finally release me from the shackles of Settlers of Catan.

And that’s where Cratejoy comes in. We are the go-to destination for subscriptions, a place where you can browse hundreds of boxes that fit your interests. From books and comics to toys and gaming, here are my 12 geek-friendly favorites from the Cratejoy marketplace:

Fandom + Pop Culture

1. Half Blood Prints – Fandom art prints starting at $8.00/month


2. Anime Bento – Anime collectibles starting at $35.00/month


3. Charm With Me Club – fandom-themed charms for Pandora bracelets starting at $19.99/month

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 10.54.34 PM

4. Geek me Box – Geek and gamer goodies starting at $22.00/month



Books + Comics

5. Comic Boxer – Special edition comic books starting at $22.59/month


6. Go Indie Now! – Indie books and goodies starting at $20.00/month


7. LitJoy Crate – YA novels starting at $29.99/month


8. Hello Book Lover – Modern book club subscription starting at $28.00/month




9. Retro Game Treasure – Old school video games starting at $34.99/month


10. Game Box Monthly – Board and card games starting at $25.00/month


11. Dungeon Crate – RPG & tabletop accessories starting at $33.95/month


12. Gorilla Gamer Crate – PS4 and Xbox 1 gear starting at $39.99/month



Didn’t see the box for you on this list?

Cratejoy put together a special collection of subscription boxes just for The Mary Sue! Check it out to see dozens of other geek boxes or head to our general marketplace for subscriptions in art & culture, fitness & health, animal & pets, and more!

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How Creating Inclusive SF/F Sparked a Culture War

Monday, July 25th, 2016 03:32 pm
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Posted by Lynne M. Thomas

Hi, I’m Lynne M. Thomas. I’m the co-editor-in-chief and co-publisher of Uncanny Magazine, along with my husband, Michael Damian Thomas. And according to Wired, I’m partially responsible for sparking a culture war.

I co-edited Chicks Dig Time Lords, a collection of geek girl essays about Doctor Who which won a Hugo Award in 2010, and I also edited the story “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love,” which won a Nebula Award in 2014 and was also nominated for the Hugo Award. (So 25% of Wired’s list of “The Books and Stories That Sparked a Culture War”.) I won two other Hugo Awards for the SF Squeecast, a group podcast that was all about telling people what was awesome in SF/F. My Uncanny Magazine is currently a finalist for a Hugo Award and a World Fantasy Award. Uncanny has had 14 different award nominations so far for stories, art, and poetry.

Both Chicks Dig Time Lords and “Dinosaur” are routinely attacked on the Internet by certain people (a parody of “Dinosaur” made it onto this year’s Hugo Award ballot due to a slate and as part of a campaign of ongoing harassment directed at its writer). These works are derided by people who believe inclusive SF/F is bad for the genre, or just plain bad. These works were pointed to as the reasons for creating certain Hugo Award slates over the last few years. A well-known alt-right website weirdly implied that Tor Books was responsible for the Hugo nominations for those two works since they were so bad. (I’ve never worked for Tor.) There have been dozens of articles written about my work and what is wrong with it; most of them don’t mention my name.

I stand by my work. I’m proud of my work.The stories we tell to one another matter, as do the storytellers. Editors understand this. We select stories we want to see out in the world.

We all want to find ourselves in stories. Finding ourselves in stories should be easy. No one should ever have to feel grateful just to see themselves.

Yet many of us have to expend way too much effort to do so. Our daughter Caitlin is disabled, nonverbal, and uses a wheelchair. I’m bisexual and female. Michael is genderqueer, bisexual, and disabled. We shouldn’t have to search high and low to find stories that reflect us. And neither should anyone else.

When we founded Uncanny Magazine, we decided we were going to make a platform for writers and stories from every conceivable background. We assume you belong here too. That is our default. When writers have the space to tell their stories without having to expend energy demonstrating their right to exist, they produce some downright extraordinary work.

Sometimes those stories are critical examinations of the worlds we inhabit, from points of view we don’t always consider. Sofia Samatar’s “Those” examines colonization from the point of view of the colonized. Sam J. Miller’s “The Heat of Us: Notes Toward an Oral History” reimagines the Stonewall Riots as sparked by literal combustion from collective anger. Lisa Bolekaja’s “Three Voices” spins a tale of the transformative power of music in the Black community. “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang (translated by Ken Liu) follows a sanitation worker who will endanger himself trying to make a better life for his daughter. In E. Lily Yu’s “Woman at Exhibition,” a viewer eats a painting in protest of how women are often erased from their own artistic histories.

Many of our stories focus on friendship and community, like Shveta Thakrar’s “The Rainbow Flame” and Amal El-Mohtar’s “Pockets,” or the long-suffering graduate students in Elizabeth Bear’s “In Libres.” Sometimes, there are tales of how navigating our relationships and communities can be…complicated, like in Sarah Pinsker’s “When the Circus Lights Down,” Catherynne M. Valente’s “Planet Lion,” Maria Dahvana Headley’s “The Virgin Played Bass,” Charlie Jane Anders’ “Ghost Champagne,” and Kat Howard’s “The Sound of Salt and Sea.” Other stories are about coming to peace with where we are at, like John Chu’s “Restore the Heart Into Love” and Sunny Moraine’s “Love Letters to Things Lost and Gained.”

These stories’ themes are wrapped up in ghosts, zombies, space ships, psychic lions, first contact, horses made of bone, cat musicians, sentient prosthetics, and more. Each of these stories comes from the viewpoint of a writer who is marginalized, often in multiple ways. Their experiences and voices speak to readers from similar backgrounds, and to every reader who wants to expand their brains by seeing stories from viewpoints that are not their own.

David J. Schwartz calls this “Unicorn space,” a twist on our Space Unicorn mascot that I wish I’d thought of. Space Unicorns are folks who finds ourselves in stories and read stories about folks that may be different from us, and our response is: I’m glad you’re here, too. Because that is how you build a community; specifically, the kind that I prefer to live in. We still need more spaces where our right to exist is not in question. So let’s keep building it. Together.

We call our supporters (Kickstarter backers, subscribers, Patreon patrons, readers, and creators) the Space Unicorn Ranger Corps. Right now, we’re recruiting, via Kickstarter. We are putting together our third year, and we want you as a shareholder. This is your magazine.

I’ve been busy working with my partner-in-crime Michael, Michi Trota, Julia Rios, Erika Ensign, Steven Schapansky, Deborah Stanish, Amal El-Mohtar, and the rest of the Uncanny Magazine team to keep bringing more and more inclusive SF/F, issue after issue, podcast after podcast. We’ve lined up a whole bunch of fantastic contributors for next year, along with some epic backer rewards. The more money we raise, the more spaces for new contributors we create. We will be able to hand the mic to so many creators from various backgrounds. We want you to make the Unicorn space with us.

Shine on, Space Unicorns!


Three-time Hugo Award winner Lynne M. Thomas is the Co-Editor- in-Chief and Publisher of Uncanny Magazine with her husband Michael Damian Thomas. The former Editor-in- Chief of Apex Magazine (2011-2013), she co-edited the Hugo Award-winning Chicks Dig Time Lords, as well as Whedonistas and Chicks Dig Comics. She moderated the Hugo-Award winning SF Squeecast and contributes to the Verity! Podcast. In her day job, she is the Head of Distinctive Collections and Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University, where she is responsible for the papers of over 75 SF/F authors. You can learn more about her shenanigans at lynnemthomas.com.

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

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Posted by Dan Van Winkle

Developer Niantic already had a Pokémon GO panel scheduled for San Diego Comic-Con, but after the game’s breakout success, it was moved to the legendary (6,500-seat-huge) Hall H, where con-goers were treated to brand new information and hints about the future (and present) of the game everyone is playing.

First, and most importantly, yes, Niantic is aware of the “three step glitch,” which has caused the in-game Pokémon tracking mechanism to break down entirely and show all nearby Pokémon as the same distance away, whether or not the player is closing in on them. That’s led to a lot of people using workarounds, including an online Pokémon-locating map (although they’d probably do that anyway). They’re working to fix it, but Niantic head John Hanke wasn’t shy about mentioning that their primary concern right now is keeping the servers running so the game remains playable as it continues to launch around the world.

Hanke also reiterated that trading Pokémon would eventually become a game feature, but he wouldn’t lay out any kind of timeline for when new features would be added, though he estimated that only about 10% of the developers’ original ideas have made it into the game thus far. As far as what those other missing game mechanics might be, he specifically mentioned the further modification of Pokéstops through the use of modules, including turning them into healing stations akin to the main series’ Pokémon Centers. There will also be updates to training, more Pokémon joining the game, and more direct interaction between team members and their fictional leaders, perhaps adding more specific objective-based gameplay.

Some of those additional Pokémon will also tie in with the team leaders (Candela, Blanche, and Spark) who made their non-silhouette debut at the con. Each team is represented by one of the legendary bird Pokémon from the original games, so it’s likely that team affiliation will have an effect on which bird players are eventually allowed to catch. My apologies to team Valor, whose legendary, Moltres, is the only one without an offensive type advantage against flying Pokémon and thus is the only one at a disadvantage against one of the other two: Zapdos.

There may be other Pokémon added in the future, not necessarily all from the original 151 monsters. Hanke views the game as a work-in-progress MMORPG and mentioned that the addition of new Pokémon could take place over years, rather than in the near future. When an audience member asked if breeding Pokémon could be introduced as a game mechanic, and Hanke mentioned that it’s not currently in the works, but the team has discussed it. He also talked about easter eggs currently in the game, confirmed that nicknaming your Eevee properly will yield the evolution you’re looking for, and said there are other secrets that fans still have yet to figure out.

The current version of the game, even with its supposedly limited features, steamrolls on and was recently confirmed to be the most successful iOS app launch ever. That’s great news for Niantic and players, as the developers have every reason to continue working on updates to make the game even more fun for us, but things aren’t so rosy for Nintendo. After the company made it clear that they’re not exactly the ones directly profiting off of Pokémon GO, some of their recently acquired stock value dropped off, though they’re still way ahead of where they were before the launch.

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

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[syndicated profile] ars_technica_uk_feed

Posted by Tom Mendelsohn

Ericsson's erstwhile CEO Hans Vestberg photographed presenting the company's sale report during a press conference in Stockholm earlier this year. (credit: Soren Andersson/AFP/Getty Images)

Ericsson's chief was ejected from his role at the Swedish mobile telecoms firm on Monday. Hans Vestberg stepped down with immediate effect, Ericsson's board of directors confirmed.

The company is now hunting for a replacement. In the meantime, its CFO Jan Frykhammar—who joined Ericsson in 1991, and has been its chief bean counter since 2009—is standing in as CEO until a successor to Vestberg can be found.

Vestberg, who headed up Ericsson for seven years, has been criticised for the size of his pay packet, and for presiding over weak results which hit the firm's share price hard in April.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[syndicated profile] goulet_pens_feed
Drawing of a Steve Jobs quote with Iroshizuku Yu-Yake and Pilot Parallel 2.4mm pen.
Hi there, fountain pen friends! Madigan here, bringing you the latest Monday Matchup. This time, I matched a Pilot Parallel Orange 2.4mm fountain pen with Pilot Iroshizuku Yu-yake ink. I chose this match because, while I haven't played around with the Pilot Parallel fountain pens, I've been intrigued by the incredible work I've seen others doing on Instagram. I knew that they are a little bit tricky, so I chose one with a smaller nib because I figured it'd be easier to handle. I hadn't tried Yu-yake before either, so I wanted to give it a go. It matched the cap on the pen perfectly, too!

The inspiration for this piece came from a commencement speech Steve Jobs gave at Stanford back in 2005. I recently took an online storytelling class where we were assigned this speech to watch as an example of exemplary storytelling. There are so many parts of this speech that I love, but the "Stay hungry. Stay foolish." line really stuck with me. It's easy to get caught up in the day to day and forget to stay focused, inspired, and joyful.

To get started with this piece, I inked up the pen and played around with it. Since I'd never used a nib this wide before, it was tricky to get a knack for how to write with it. I found that drawing a little bit of a line at first and then going into writing with it was a the best way to form letters. I also realized that it was better to write each letter by shape, and not all at once. I tried a few different types of paper as well- I started on Rhodia and then tried writing on watercolor paper. I realized immediately that it was much more difficult to write on the thicker watercolor paper. The nib dragged across the page and skipped. I decided to the smoothest paper I know of, Tomoé River, to much better results.

Eventually, I wrote out the quote in a way I liked but it seemed incredibly serious, written out like that. I wanted to lighten it up a little, while still staying true to what it was saying. The ink reminded me of an orange Dreamsicle, so I decided to put the quote in that shape. Once it was complete, I added in wood texture to the popsicle stick, and drew light shapes for texture on the popsicle itself. There was still a lot of white space on the page, so I took a syringe, filled it with ink, and made ink splashes around the page. I loved how it looked!

Just like the quote I used, this piece reminded me to keep experimenting. I could have picked a fountain pen I was more familiar with to accomplish the same thing, but it was really fun to try something new. I enjoyed using this Pilot Parallel! The ink was incredibly well behaved with great flow. This was a great match.

I'd recommend this match to anyone who is looking to add something fun to their writing. It would be great for calligraphers! It is thick enough to get varying line widths, but if you write with it vertically you can get really thin lines. The ink is bright and lively, perfect for note-taking or journal writing. I can see it working well as an editing ink, too.

Drawing of a Steve Jobs quote with Iroshizuku Yu-Yake and Pilot Parallel 2.4mm pen.
Drawing of a Steve Jobs quote with Iroshizuku Yu-Yake and Pilot Parallel 2.4mm pen.
Drawing of a Steve Jobs quote with Iroshizuku Yu-Yake and Pilot Parallel 2.4mm pen.
Drawing of a Steve Jobs quote with Iroshizuku Yu-Yake and Pilot Parallel 2.4mm pen.
Drawing of a Steve Jobs quote with Iroshizuku Yu-Yake and Pilot Parallel 2.4mm pen.
You can find the Pilot Parallel Orange 2.4mm fountain pen at GouletPens.com for $10. It is also part of the Pilot Parallel Rainbow set, which has all four Pilot Parallel fountain pens and a pack of ink cartridges for $32. Pilot Iroshizuku Yu-yake ink can be found in 50ml bottles for $28 or 2ml ink samples for $2.25.

What inspires you and gets you motivated to write? Leave a comment and let me know!

Write on,
[syndicated profile] ars_technica_uk_feed

Posted by Nathan Mattise

(credit: USA Network)

Last summer, the Mr. Robot crew made headlines by revealing they were working on a TV first—a scene made specifically for virtual reality. Last week when that scene was finally released, it happened in a very Mr. Robot-esque way: "The Mr. Robot VR Experience" launched inside the Within VR app at 10:45am last Thursday and promptly disappeared after 24 hours.

Now, apparently a revival is in order. Talking to the people at Within, Vice's The Creators Project (TCP) reports the limited-time experience will resurface this coming week (though no specific date was provided). The scene focuses on main character Elliot Alderson's memories of his first date with girlfriend Shayla Nico, so it supplements the series rather than providing any information vital to the overall plot or current season. "This piece is purely about Elliot," Justin Denton, technical creative director of the production company Here Be Dragons, told TCP.

Given the distinct and unusual visual aesthetic of Mr. Robot, it's no surprise creator Sam Esmail took an interest in trying virtual reality filmmaking. VR as an emerging medium has increasingly shown up at places like the Sundance or Tribeca Film Festivals, and some TV application was inevitable. Esmail apparently reveled in the experience, according to TCP, and the results provided some innovative visual work that Here Be Dragons said they'd be incorporating in future projects.

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[syndicated profile] ars_technica_uk_feed

Posted by Peter Bright

(credit: Microsoft)

The final build of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update is build 14393. The update, which provides a range of new features and improvements, represents Microsoft's last big push to get Windows 7 and 8.1 users to upgrade to Windows 10.

The update is available right now to those who have opted in to the Windows Insider program, and it will be pushed out to Windows 10 users on the current branch on August 2. The free upgrade offer from Windows 7 and 8.1 to Windows 10, however, ends on July 29, leaving Microsoft hoping that the promise of the new update will be enough to get people to make the switch.

For consumers, the big Anniversary Update improvements are in stylus support and Cortana. For as long as Microsoft has been pushing pen interfaces on Windows—the specs for Windows XP Tablet edition came out about 15 years ago—the company has done so as a mouse alternative, with the only major pen-specific feature being handwriting recognition. This never worked well. Finger-based touch interfaces dominated with the rise of the iPhone, but Windows has always retained its pen support, with devices like the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book shipping with pens.

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Posted by Charline Jao

Recreating one of my favorite Zootopia moments, Youtube user HydraDelDiablo shared a video of a German Shepard who couldn’t help but eagerly join in on the howls during the security dog scene.

The scene you see on the television is from when Judy and Nick are trying to break into heavily guarded Cliffside Asylum to investigate a lead. To distract them and sneak in past the timber guard-wolves, Judy imitates a wolf howl, setting off a flurry of howls that all the wolves can’t resist participating in.

According to a bunch of video comments, you should watch out if you have any dogs in earshotyou might set off a chain reaction too! Or maybe that’s what you’re trying to do, in which case, great power comes with great responsibility. Life imitates art, amiright?

(via Laughing Squid)

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Posted by Glyn Moody

Even Tencent, Asia's largest Internet company, must comply. (credit: Tencent)

China's top online companies have been ordered by the country's Internet regulator to stop producing original news reporting.

The Cyberspace Administration of China's latest order represents another online clampdown in the People's Republic.

The companies affected include Sina, which describes itself as "an online media company serving China and the global Chinese communities," the portal Sohu, and NetEase, a major player in the online gaming world.

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Posted by Kelly Fiveash

(credit: Clever Cupcakes)

Verizon has confirmed earlier reports that it will buy ailing Internet pioneer Yahoo in an all-cash deal with a price tag of nearly £3.7 billion ($4.8 billion).

The sale doesn't include Yahoo's shares in Alibaba, Verizon said. Yahoo's Japan shares, its non-core patents, and minority investments are also set to be cut loose from the planned takeover.

Those assets will form part of a new publicly traded company that will be spun out of Yahoo as a separate business. It's unclear who will head up that firm, however.

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Posted by Sebastian Anthony

A 22nm Haswell wafer, with a pin for scale.

Transistors will stop shrinking after 2021, but Moore's law will probably continue, according to the final International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS).

The ITRS—which has been produced almost annually by a collaboration of most of the world's major semiconductor companies since 1993—is about as authoritative as it gets when it comes to predicting the future of computing. The 2015 roadmap will however be its last.

The most interesting aspect of the ITRS is that it tries to predict what materials and processes we might be using in the next 15 years. The idea is that, by collaborating on such a roadmap, the companies involved can sink their R&D money into the "right" technologies.

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Piracy site owner settles $50m lawsuit

Monday, July 25th, 2016 11:09 am
[syndicated profile] bbc_technology_news_feed
The owner of piracy site Isohunt agrees to settle a lawsuit with Music Canada for $50m (£38m).
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A robot which is learning how to move through pedestrian environments is being developed by Stanford University

Earworms meet Big Data (on Twitter)

Monday, July 25th, 2016 12:00 pm
[syndicated profile] improbable_research_feed

Posted by Martin Gardiner

Lassi_Hoover_PortraitBack in 2008, Dr. Lassi A. Liikkanen [pictured] of the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT), University of Helsinki, Finland performed a formal scientific study to investigate INvoluntary Musical Imagery (INMI), a phenomenon more commonly known as an Earworm. Now Dr Liikkanen, along with Kelly Jakubowski and Jukka M. Toivanen have for the first time extended the study of earworms into Big Data territory, using Twitter. Notwithstanding the fact that less than 1 in every 100,000 tweets reference earworms, over a period of six months the investigators sifted through 80,620 earworm-related tweets originating from more than 173 countries. Finding that, in general, twitterers don’t much care for earworms.

“We uncovered evidence that the earworm experience is a widespread psychological phenomenon reported in locations throughout the globe. We found that users openly discuss the types of music that they experience as earworms and potential causes and cures for these via their Twitter network. Finally, we discovered that people discuss INMI in more negative emotional terms on Twitter than other topics, including music in general.”

See: ‘Catching Earworms on Twitter: Using Big Data to Study Involuntary Musical Imagery’ in: Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 33 No. 2 (pp. 199-216) 2015

Note for earworm sufferers: Recent work by Victoria J. Williamson et al. draws attention to the possibilities of ‘Cure Tunes’ – citing as an example, ‘Kashmir’ by Led Zeppelin.

[Disclaimer. Improbable cannot independently verify or assure that the so-called ‘Cure Tune’ may not itself initiate INMI in some listeners]

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Mike Smithson

This is going to be a tough one for Clinton/Kaine

Any idea that Hillary Clinton’s election in November is a forgone conclusion have been shaken in the first batch of post-Republican Convention polls. As the table show he’s got a clear leads.

This comes as the Democratic national convention gets underway later today in Philadelphia with defeated nomination contender, Bernie Sanders having a prime slot.

Maybe the Trump polling will act as a jolt to the party and encourage greater unity round the Clinton campaign. A key Clinton objective is to try to ensure that those, particularly young voters, who had been giving the 74 year old socialist from Vermont their enthusiastic backing switch to her. There are hopes that her choice of Tim Kaine as VP nominee will help.

Looking at the numbers above it is hard to conclude that this is other than a very tight campaign and it is far from certain that Trump will be defeated.

One issue that is growing in importance are suggestions that Russia’s Vladimir Putin is backing Trump.There’s a good analysis here which, no doubt, the Clinton campaign will seek to exploit to the full.

The election will, of course, not be decided by national vote shares but by first past the post contests in the various states. As soon as we get some new surveys from the key swing conttests I’ll start produce tables like the national one above.

I’m now betting on Trump because I think he’s currently under-priced.

Mike Smithson

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Posted by Shaun Stevenson

homeopathy-waterFollowers of the mystical art of homeopathy were claiming a major success yesterday, after scientists admitted that homeopathic remedies are wholly effective at curing thirst.

Meal planning Monday – A short week

Monday, July 25th, 2016 10:30 am
[syndicated profile] calderside_cook_feed

Posted by sandi

I’ve had a bit of temporary work, so blogging, housework, the garden and just about everything else has been neglected, the work now done I find myself free for now…. So I am starting to learn a bit beyond the basics of html and css. I’m also determined to blog more, I have several new cookbooks full of beautiful looking dishes and I want to cook and blog as much as possible.

The meal plan for this week

Monday – Lemon and herb chicken with new potatoes and a endame, pea and green bean salad.

Tuesday – Butternut squash seekh kebabs with chappatis and raita

Wednesday – cauliflower cheese ‘burgers’ with sweet potato fries

Thursday – Sausage and mash with onion gravy

Friday – Lasagne

A couple of new things in there and a few old favourites. No idea how some of them will work, the mixed veg salad is based on one we have bought and the squash kebabs are a complete unknown, but I thought you can not go far wrong with squash and chickpeas. Next week I am hoping for a few more interesting meals, some more elaborate dishes and hopefully a sweet treat or two.


The post Meal planning Monday – A short week appeared first on Calderside Kitchen.

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Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.

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