game of thrones

Fall/Winter 2012 Books – Non-Fiction

otherworldsby Jarrah Hodge

I read A LOT the past few months: fiction and non, feminism/gender related and not so much. So even though the reviews are short and sweet, I’m going to break this up into two posts. If you’ve read any of the books on the list, let me know what you thought. If you’ve read something else good lately, comment below and maybe it’ll make it into my Spring 2013 book list post.

Non-Fiction:

In Other Worlds: Science Fiction and the Human Imagination by Margaret Atwood

Overall, this is probably a book more for the Atwood fan than the SF fan who isn’t familiar with Atwood. The first part of In Other Worlds feels like you’re hanging out with Margaret Atwood drinking wine when starts to hit the point of having too much to drink and begins ramblingly postulating on science fiction, mostly focusing on her relationship with the genre. It was interesting but I thought told us more about Margaret Atwood than it did about “science fiction and the human imagination”. The best segment was Atwood’s musings on the interconnected relationship between dystopia and utopia, which provided an interesting framework to look at Atwood’s books as well as many other SF works.

I felt the second part of the book, in which Atwood shares her reflections on specific works such as Brave New World and the stories of Ursula K. LeGuin, was more interesting and insightful. Though I had expected more gender analysis throughout the book, Atwood does hit on it a bit in this section. For example she points out that most dystopias have been written by men and from a male point-of-view:

“I wanted to try a dystopia from the female point of view – the world according to Julia, as it were. However, this does not make The Handmaid’s Tale ‘a feminist dystopia,’ except insofar as giving a woman a voice and an inner life will always be considered ‘feminist’ by those who think women ought not to have those things.”

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach

I’m a big fan of Mary Roach but I was disappointed by Spook. It lacked a coherent flow and despite the fact that the subject matter (scientific and not-so-scientific attempts to prove the existence of a soul and/or afterlife) was really interesting, the book itself actually managed to bore.

I also felt she tried way too hard to keep an open mind to some obviously-fringe “science”. While it made sense to reach out in good faith to cover these groups of “researchers” – such as the people who go into the wilderness to tape-record ghosts – it feels in her writing like she’s bending over backwards to say that while she didn’t experience any ghosts, maybe it was just her. I know she wasn’t aiming to write a scholarly book but in comparison just to her other books her research seemed spotty. I’m thinking no one who has a strong belief on the issue of the paranormal – believer or skeptic – comes away satisfied reading this.

beyondwallBeyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire edited by James Lowder

Beyond the Wall is a collection of essays looking at A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) from a variety of angles. Two of the essays I was particularly interested in reading came from writers who appeared on a 2012 Geek Girl Con panel on Game of Thrones. While I found the panel problematic in its explanations for the practically non-stop rape in the series, I thought it would be fairer to also read the panelists’ articles, especially because the time in the panel was short and the lack of a moderator may not have allowed the panelists to have a more nuanced discussion. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Books, Can-Con, Pop Culture 1 Comment

Summer 2012 Book List

by Jarrah Hodge

What’s that you say? Summer’s over? That explains why this book list is a little long. Let me know what you’re reading by replying in the comments below this post!

Fiction:

Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

As with The Hunger Games, I liked Katniss and the fact that she was a strong girl role-model, but I didn’t think the writing was that great. Catching Fire was probably my favourite and the most exciting of the three, but I found it harder to like Mockingjay, possibly because of the somewhat disempowered state in which Katniss spends most of the novel.

Game of Thrones Book #1 by George R. R. Martin

This is too complex to discuss here but you can read my analysis of the Geek Girl Con Game of Thrones panel if you want to know more of my thoughts. If you don’t feel like reading that, know I rated book one a 4/5 on Goodreads and am looking forward to the other books despite their issues.

Swamplandia by Karen Russell

Swamplandia is truly a work of art, combining the mystical and the very real. Russell intricately and creatively describes complex family dynamics, an underworld adventure, sexual assault, alligator wrestling, and the struggle of an uneducated kid to make it in the big city. Read more

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The Awesomely Nerdy Posters of the SFU Choir

by Jarrah Hodge

This is a purely fun post because as those who read my Bitch Magazine blogs column know, I am a huge nerd. I was postering for the LACE Campaign up at Simon Fraser University yesterday and came across these amazing nerdy posters for the SFU Choir. Actually made me wish I was back in university again.

SFU Choir Poster Futurama

SFU Choir Poster Star Wars

A couple more after the jump:  Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Pop Culture 1 Comment

Geek Girl Con 2012 on Game of Thrones

daenerysby Jarrah Hodge

The only panel at Geek Girl Con I was disappointed with was “Women in Westeros: Is Game of Thrones Sexist?”. Here’s the panel description from the programme:

The world of the HBO series Game of Thrones and the George R. R. Martin book series is a dangerous (and, given the frequent lack of clothes, chilly) one for women. Westeros itself is clearly sexist – but are the show and books? What’s the line between glorification of sexual violence and critique? How do the books’ and show’s treatment of other socially disadvantaged groups, like the disabled and gender nonconformists, compare?

It sounded great and it was the only GoT panel on the agenda so I even skipped the Buffy musical episode sing-along to go to it. Both panelists had contributed to a collection called Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Firewhich I jwill hopefully review here at some point soon. To be fair, panelists Brent Hartinger and Caroline Spector were left without a moderator at the last minute and they hadn’t planned to run the session themselves, but it wasn’t any lack of organization that got to me. Rather, it was the cop-outs used to try to justify the amount of sexual violence depicted in Game of Thrones. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, Pop Culture 13 Comments