Thursday, March 23, 2006

Future Farmers of America

Remember way back when I said I was working on an erotica piece? Well, I sold it. It will be appearing in Periphery -- Erotic Lesbian Futures (tentative title) under my OTHER name, along with such other amazing and talented writers as: Nicola Griffith, Catherine Lundoff, Gwyneth Jones, Marianne de Pierres, Cecilia Tan, and Melissa Scott.

This short story was really hard for me to write. I mean, it was just a pain in the ass (and not in the fun erotica way, either). I think it went through three complete drafts and took me three months to hammer out. What's funny about it is that the sex in it got less and less graphic the more I rewrote it. It went from fairly hot to what they'd call in the romance genre "sweet."

The reason the blog title is what it is because in one of its previous incarnations "istartu" (the name of the short story) had its climatic scene (yes, in the fun erotica way) on a farm. I ended up changing that for the final version because it wasn't terribly important to the plot, and in fact, had simply given me an excuse to meander through the scenery for a while.

Anyway, I'm kind of sad I ended up axing that now, if only because I don't think you see enough African-American lesbian farmers in science fiction.

Seriously, I was thinking about this in terms of what we talked about in class last night (which was overused F&SF cliches). One of the things we left with was the fantasy cliche of a world which appears to only produce adventurers and no one actually does the labor required to sustain a viable economy. I started thinking -- are there are lot of farmers in space? Not really. Okay, Luke Skywalker was a moisture farmer on Tatoonine. But, the farm existed as something to escape. I mean, it had to be literally torpeodoed for him to get his butt off-world and on to the work of becoming another science fiction/fantasy cliche -- the lost heir with the secret powers to defeat the evil empire.

James T. Kirk was from Iowa, but I don't think that should count. (Sorry, JPJ!)

Seems to me the girlfriend in "Vampire Hunter D" lived on a farm in the future (complete with ravenous mutants as a kind of stand-in for the coyote/wolf), but for some reason monsters and farms go hand-in-hand. (I just watched "Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Wererabbit." What a hoot! And also all about monsters and farms -- or at least veg!)

On a whim I checked into Adherents (a great resource for religion in SF) and found a few entries under Amish in Science Fiction. But, there's not a lot.

Of course, Serenity/Firefly had a kind of rancher feel to it, but I think that's one of the reasons a number of SF fans couldn't really grok it. The whole farm/frontier thing rang too much of Westerns, than SF.

I wonder why farms and farmers have not had their day in SF? I mean, I had some fun imagining farming in the future. (I went for the bio-dome myself). Anyway, I think that there's a lot about the current state of farming, particularly in America, that lends itself well to a dark, cyberpunk future. My sense is that family farms are becoming a thing of the past -- and who better to be a villian in a cyberpunk story, but THE CORPORATION??? It's not like farming isn't fraught with conflict and tension.

Maybe I should challenge myself to write an SF story that takes place on a farm of the future.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

*Cricket*, *Cricket*

Sorry I've been so quiet. Actually, I've been cheating on you. I joined one of those Live Journal communities (one called whileaway, which is a feminist fantasy and science fiction literature group) in order to talk more about books – actually, a certain book, and I've already wrote a missive about it here, and I really wanted more than what you gave me.

Well. Now the cat's out. Try not to cry. I still love you.

Anyway, I was talking to my friend April the other night and we both agreed that it's really kind of a shame that you can walk up to almost any science fiction fan and talk about the latest movie or TV show (ah, Battlestar Galactic-crack!) – but there's no place you can go where you're guaranteed to find someone who's read whatever book has been turning you on lately. You can surf the web for reviews, but that's not terribly interactive, you know?

I'm not trying to be some kind of literature snob here, because I'm not. I came into science fiction fandom by way of media. I saw Star Wars sixteen times in the theatre, and still didn't feel done with it. At my local library, some incredibly clever librarian put the Star Wars novelizations and books like Han Solo's Revenge right there in the science fiction section, so that when I finished with those I just randomly picked up one of the other SF books. I believe it was either one of the Nebula collections of short stories or possibly Philip Jose Farmer's Jesus on Mars, (which might explain a lot about my alternate self, wouldn't it?)

The point is, I enjoy talking media as much as the next geek, but I think part of the problem is that there's no way a person can keep up with all the SF&F and related genre books that come out in any given year. There's just too many. So finding six other people who happened to all pick up the same book (and who found time to read it) is pretty tough. And, of course, most books I read for pleasure don't make me really wound up. It's a rare book that gets me hopping – well, anything, mad, happy, torqued. Even books that make me think don't always get under my skin, you know?

Like the book I'm reading right now. It's called A Spectacle of Corruption by David Liss. It's a good book so far (I'm on page 88), but it's not SF or F. It's a mystery (my other genre of choice), and a historical one at that. I don't think it's going to be something I'll want to shout about though, other than the usual: hey, here's a good book.

This is an interesting thought, I suppose. I mean, is the point of writing to make someone think? Obviously, I don't think so. I generally write "beach books." I've always maintained that my whole purpose in writing to tell a "ripping good yarn." So... so what? What's my point? My point is that it's all good, but when a book makes you think it'd be cool if there were a bunch of people waiting in line to talk about it with you, don’t you think?