Cool Stuff Friday

Jun. 23rd, 2017 11:18 am
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
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Friday is almost finished with this first draft…

 

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Senate Healthcare Bill

Jun. 22nd, 2017 03:25 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Senate Republicans have finally released what appears to be the draft text of H.R. 1628, the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.”

It’s 142 pages, and to be honest, I’m having a hard time deciphering it all. (Not a lawyer or a legislator.) But here are some things that stood out at me…

Elimination of the individual and employer mandate. (Pages 10-11)

Tax repeals on medications, health insurance, health savings accounts, etc. (Pages 25-29)

This includes the “Repeal of Tanning Tax” on page 29.

The continuing attack on abortion rights.

“Disallowance of small employer health insurance credit for plan which includes coverage for abortion.” (Pages 8-9)

“No Federal funds provided from a program referred to in this subsection that is considered direct spending for any year may be made available to a State for payments to a prohibited entity,” which is then defined as an entity providing abortion services except in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life is in danger. (Page 35)

#

According to a USA Today analysis, this bill would:

  • Reduce or eliminate most subsidies for individuals and families
  • “Eliminate the ACA’s requirement that insurers can’t charge older customers more than three times what younger customers pay for the same coverage. Instead, those in their 60s could be charged five times as much, or more.”
  • Eliminate penalties to large employers who choose not to offer health insurance. (Elimination of the employer mandate.)
  • Make it easier to drop coverage for things like maternity care and mental health issues.

CNN points out that the bill would also:

  • Defund Planned Parenthood for a year.
  • Require coverage of preexisting conditions. However, it also lets states “waive the federal mandate on what insurers must cover… This would allow insurers to offer less comprehensive policies, so those with pre-existing conditions may not have all of their treatments covered.”

A PBS article says the bill would:

  • Cap and reduce Medicaid funding, and allow states to add a work requirement for “able-bodied” recipients of Medicaid.
  • Provide $2 billion to help states fight opioid addiction

Fox News, unsurprisingly, focused on what they saw as positive in the proposed bill:

  • It preserves health care for people with preexisting conditions (with the potential exceptions noted in the CNN bullets, above), and allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance plan through age 26.
  • It expands health care savings accounts.
  • It provides a short-term stabilization fund to help struggling insurance markets.

The Congressional Budget Office is expected to release their report on the senate bill next week. The CBO estimated that the House-passed bill would result in 26 million fewer insured Americans by 2026, and would cut the budget by $119 billion over the same time. (Source)

#

Nothing here is particularly shocking. I’m glad I and my family can’t be kicked off our insurance for our various preexisting conditions…though some of those conditions might no longer be covered, which sucks. It would hurt the poor, the elderly, women, and the mentally ill, among others. None of my readers will be shocked to hear that I think this is another step backward. The ACA was far from perfect — it’s like a patient with a broken leg, but instead of trying to fix the broken leg, we’ll just throw them through a woodchipper, because hey, it’s cheaper!

It looks like this may be a tight vote, which would make this an excellent time to call your Senator.

Please keep any comments civil. I’m angry about this too, but I don’t have the time or the spoons to moderate fights and nastiness today. (Which probably means I shouldn’t have posted this in the first place, but I never claimed to be that bright…)

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Another DA canon in the books

Jun. 21st, 2017 11:55 pm
owlmoose: (da - seeker)
[personal profile] owlmoose
It's been a week for finishing video games; first ME:A, and now this. I've been slowly working on a Qunari mage Inquisitor, Nazlin Adaar since about ten minutes after I finished up my Trevelyan warrior playthrough, and I wrapped her up through Trespasser yesterday. She is easily my favorite Inquisitor so far: fun and snarky, thoughtful and caring, and I loved playing out the Josephine romance with her.

I went into this playthrough with three goals in mind, besides the obvious ones of seeing how the game plays out for a Qunari and with a mage, and wrapping up my Garrett Hawke's canon: 1) an F/F romance; 2) seeing a different outcome at the Winter Palace (both of my previous Inquisitors put the same person on the throne); and 3) befriending Solas, something that neither my Cadash nor my Trevelyan remotely managed. Other than that, I let Nazlin make all her own decisions, which may be why I enjoyed her so much.

It was a fairly light playthrough, all things considered -- I didn't quite finish Jaws of Hakkan (even with difficulty turned down to Casual, it was clear that I was never beating the final boss with the team I wanted), didn't even start Descent, and left a lot of the optional areas only half explored. And I'm okay with that, considering how little bearing most of the sidequests, even the major ones, have on the outcome. Even the ones that are interesting for their own sake tend not to differ from Inquisitor to Inquisitor. I doubt I will ever play a thorough game again, which is kind of too bad, but I feel like that's the best way to feel like I'm seeing different stories each time: concentrate on the content that can change.

Next up is DA2, where I will continue Loral Mahariel's universe. I started that game awhile back and got a little into Act 1 (meeting Merrill and her clan). This Hawke is a female mage, mostly aggressive so far but with a side of snark; I want her to romance Isabela, but otherwise I don't have much of a concept for her yet. That will set up my elf Inquisitor, probably my first male, probably to romance Dorian or maybe Cassandra. Since Loral was my Morrigan romance, I'm pretty much dying to see that play out in DAI, but I do need to get through DA2 first. It'll be nice to get back into that story -- it's been quite awhile.

So, about Jingrui

Jun. 20th, 2017 05:44 pm
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[personal profile] branchandroot
And here’s where I run into problems with anything that moves Jingrui’s relationships to somewhere they are not currently: Jingrui takes things at face value. He’s not dumb or unsophisticated; on the contrary, he observes quite accurately that, for example, Su Zhe does not particularly like (or suit) working for Prince Yu. But it’s Yujin, not Jingrui, who spots that maybe Su /isn’t/. Jingrui is trusting to an alarming extent, considering his family.

This suggests to me that both sides of his family, and in fact everyone else of his acquaintance, have deliberately kept him out of Serious Business concerns, and have probably done so from day one. It further suggests that, despite that, he’s gotten regular confirmation that he’s valued and loved. Watching the way he interacts with everyone except the Marquis, even while things are falling apart and blowing up, I think we can bet on this–there’s been a feedback loop there, his whole life, in which Jingrui is open hearted and is therefore cherished by his family, and therefore keeps being open hearted and trusting, and is therefore sheltered, and so on.

Which means that Jingrui probably also has a tendency to go with the flow and trust that everything will turn out, until or unless he’s whacked over the head with something that is clearly Wrong in some way. (Jingrui inspires me to use capitals, too.) So shifting his relationship with Yujin, especially if we assume Yujin has been taking some trouble to be a bit misdirecting thanks to his fear to screwing things up, is… going to take some work, let’s put it that way.

I do find it interesting that Jingrui apparently idolized Lin Shu (at least, Yujin says he was the one always running after Lin Shu, and dragging Yujin along), and keeps idolizing him, even in disguise. Jingrui might not /do/ the incisive insight thing, but he does seem to /respect/ it, very highly. (One possibility here: that he notices this characteristic as it comes out more strongly in Yujin.) I suspect part of Jingrui’s youthful cousin-crush was also that Lin Shu was already in the military. Jingrui gets the warrior thing from both sides of his family, both the in-system and out-system versions. I suspect the military is genuinely Jingrui’s career goal, insofar as he has one; the camaraderie of soldiers, as presented in the story, seems very like what Jingrui values in his relationships, and it’s what he’s been raised to. (Alternate possibility: Jingrui and Yujin’s squads can’t take the pining any longer and set them up.)

So, if Yujin is currently Prince Ji’s understudy, I kind of think Jingrui is Meng’s. The trick will be moving them both toward a little conjoint personal development when both characters have so much inertia built up in their current positions.

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“We’re so conditioned to believe that white is the default that we write ourselves out of the worlds that we create.”

Invisible 3 CoverDawn Xiana Moon is one of the contributors to Invisible 3, which comes out on June 27 and includes 18 essays and poems about representation in science fiction and fantasy. You can preorder the collection at:

Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | Smashwords | Google Play

(It will be available for Nook as well, but we don’t have that link yet.)

Any profits from the sale of the collection go to Con or Bust, helping fans of color to attend SF/F conventions.

As with Invisible and Invisible 2, the contributors to this third volume have shared work that’s heartfelt, eye-opening, honest, thoughtful, and important…not to mention relevant to so much of what we see happening in the genre today.

#

Of Asian-Americans and Bellydancing Wookiees, by Dawn Xiana Moon

We have always existed.

In the early days of the internet, back when we were on Prodigy or CompuServe and email addresses were long strings of numbers with a comma in between, I was answering distress calls on derelict starships. America Online (because it wasn’t yet AOL) launched an ad campaign that envisioned an internet with graphics; I dodged Borg at Warp Six. I outsmarted Q when he appeared on my bridge, launched photon torpedoes at Romulans, and flirted with fellow Starfleet officers in Ten Forward. I was thirteen. And like a good overachiever, I wondered if I could list being second-in-command of the CompuServe sim group Fleet 74 on lists of my activities and accomplishments, right next to years of piano lessons, parts in theatre productions, dancing and singing in the community show choir, and the environmental and video game clubs I’d started (and of course led as president).

My father is an aerospace engineer; by the time we moved from Singapore to the US, I was five years old and already lived in a world where discussing wrap drive was normal. My AP Biology teacher was shocked when I mentioned a singularity in class one day, surprised that a high school senior would know the term (which she made me define in front of the class before she was satisfied), but I’d been raised on a steady diet of Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, and every science fiction and fantasy novel I could get my hands on—my father handed me Isaac Asimov books in elementary school and I read them, wondering why I didn’t have a robot nanny or automatic food-making gadgets. I am a native speaker of technobabble.

All that to say: I’ve always been a nerd. And proudly so. But growing up I rarely saw people that looked like me onscreen—sure, we had Sulu, but George Takei was closer to my grandparents’ age than mine. Asian characters were few and far between, and girls? Girls didn’t like Vulcans or computers. Girls especially didn’t like dancing and princesses and talking about the space-time continuum all at the same time. Or so I was told.

But I was Asian. And female. And I existed.

I was the girl who hung out at the arcade playing Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat, first surprising boys who saw a girl in front of a fighting game, then shocking them when I won. I was the foreigner who walked into first grade in the middle of the school year, a Chinese kid from another country but a native speaker of English. I was the founding member of the high school forensics team who learned quickly that judges gave higher ratings to performances of minority stories by minority students than they did mainstream stories by minority students—so while the handful of black students I competed against performed passages from Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, I lent dramatic flair to Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club. I often won.

And now? I’m the bellydancer, firespinner, singer-songwriter, and nerd who designs and codes websites. I obsess with sparkles and sequins and makeup and then wrestle with merge conflicts in GitHub. I flirt with audiences and shimmy to Balkan brass bands and then debate backstage whether Daleks or Cylons would win in a fight. I sing 19th century French poetry layered on piano parts in 7/8 time inspired by traditional Chinese folk music, Americana, and jazz. I break stereotypes into tiny pieces and eat them like candy. I exist.

#

Growing up, the few Asians I saw in media invariably fell into tropes: the martial arts master, the submissive woman, the uber-nerd/scientist, the Dragon Lady seductress. None of these matched my personality. While I was able to beg my way into flute and voice lessons—in addition to piano—my father refused to let me study tae kwon do on the grounds that it would be “like handing a kid a loaded gun and telling him not to use it.” People told me I was bossy—my heroes were characters like Princess Leia and Babylon 5’s Delenn, forces of personality who were fully themselves and didn’t need rescuing. I was more Captain Kirk than Yeoman Rand. I was a geek, but I had far more interest in music and dance than I did in math or chemistry; science interested me primarily as story. And I had no idea what it would mean to be seductive—my conservative evangelical church preached “modesty,” and Bible camp banned spaghetti strap tank tops, two-piece swimsuits, and short shorts on the grounds that they would evoke lust in the boys.

I didn’t exist.

I grew up around Americans who discussed race in black and white terms, expressing couched racism with the assumed understanding that I was one of them. Those were the same Americans who complimented my English, told me my face was flat, and pontificated about how eating Chinese food was great except that you were hungry again immediately afterward. After the last election, CNN disseminated a chart of votes with breakdowns by both race and gender: Black men voted this way, black women this way, Hispanic men and women these ways. Asian-Americans didn’t appear on the chart—we were literally “Other.”

As an Asian-American theatre major, so often I was cast as that literal Other: I spent two summers performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in college. The first year, I was one of the fairies. So were most of the black students. The one who wasn’t a fairy was cast as Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons. The second year, we reprised the show; I was cast as Hippolyta. All of the black students were fairies. The Greeks and lovers were uniformly white.

How often do we cast an Asian-American as the protagonist, the superhero whose origin story we follow? How often do we allow an Asian-American to lead a movie as a swashbuckling rogue, the resistance fighter who marries a princess along the way, the rockstar with thousands of screaming fans? Hollywood casts Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange, Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell, Mackenzie Davis as Mindy Park in The Martian—with so few roles available to begin with, we’re often denied even characters who should look like us. We’re over 5% of the US population, but only 1.4% of the lead characters in studio films released in 2014. According to Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, the majority of media features zero named or speaking Asian characters. Zero.

Two years ago I attended a curated acoustic music showcase where every single one of the musicians was a white guy with a bushy beard. Most of them wore plaid. Producers often think of diversity in terms of instrumentation or musical style; I’ve released two albums of original music, toured 10 states, and performed hundreds of shows, but it’s rare to see another folk singer-songwriter of color. While the genre is dominated by white people, Asian-Americans are making this music. And making it well. We exist, but we’re not part of the narrative.

#

Living in a world where people who look like you are functionally non-existent yields odd fruit. As an ambitious elementary school kid, I wrote (what I considered then) a novel. Starring ninjas. Based heavily on the Ninja Gaiden video game. Of course I Mary Sued my way into the story. But I always envisioned my surrogate as white. And male. (Because, we’re told, the appropriate protagonist of an adventure story is white. And male.) Likewise, when I wrote other stories, every character—heroes, villains, NPCs—was white.

Bryan Lee O’Malley of Scott Pilgrim fame talks about how he never realized that he’d whitewashed himself out of his own story until seeing his comic in movie form and realizing that no one looked like him. As I’ve talked with other Asian-Americans, I’ve realized that I wasn’t the only one—many of us did the same thing. Even the excellent Ted Chiang—one of my favorite writers, and the first Asian-American I can recall encountering in science fiction—falls into this. We’re so conditioned to believe that white is the default that we write ourselves out of the worlds that we create.

#

I refuse to be invisible.

Faced with a culture that minimizes the existence of Asian-Americans in the arts, I’ve long created my own projects. In 2012, I founded Raks Geek, joining my love of geekdom and dance to form a nerd-themed bellydance and fire performance company that features a primarily Asian and LGBTQIA cast. While our society pigeonholes Asians as socially-awkward scientists, perpetual foreigners, and weak submissives, I’m determined to show Asians can be creative, tough, and unconventional.

“To dance is a radical act.”*

A body on a stage makes a statement. A female, POC body on a stage makes a statement. When I dance, I’m changing the narrative, the story of what an Asian-American woman is allowed to be. When I dance with Raks Geek, I’m making an audience laugh at the ridiculousness of a Wookiee shimmying, but I’m also bringing a new audience to an insular dance form, teaching them what bellydance looks like at a high level of technical and artistic proficiency, and defying a host of model minority and immigrant stereotypes.

Visibility matters. Few would conceive of an Asian-American bellydancer performing as a Wookiee. Or Mystique. Or the TARDIS. But I do, and I hope to challenge perceptions of who we are and can be every time. We exist, and we have always been here.

We exist.

_____

* “To dance is a radical act because doing so implies that there are forms of knowing that cannot be mediated to us in words, which give words their meaning.” -Kimerer LaMothe

***

Dawn Xiana Moon is a lifelong geek that has worked professionally in almost every area of the arts. She the Founder and Producer/Director of Raks Geek, a nerd-themed bellydance and fire company that’s garnered acclaim from WGN-TV, MSN, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Mail, and UK Channel 4 TV. As a singer-songwriter, Dawn has performed in 10 states and released two solo albums; her latest CD, Spaces Between, fuses elements from traditional Chinese music with jazz and alt folk pop. She performs with Read My Hips tribal bellydance, spins fire with Acrobatica Infiniti circus, works as a UX designer and web developer, and has written for Uncanny Magazine, The Learned Fangirl, and RELEVANT Magazine. Though she loves Chicago, she periodically needs to flee the US; her wanderlust has brought her to 20 countries (and counting!) thus far.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

owlmoose: (da - aeducan)
[personal profile] owlmoose
We finished playing through the main storyline of Mass Effect Andromeda this weekend. I've heard many of the complaints about the game, and I'm hard put to really disagree with any of them -- sub-par graphics, too many meaningless sidequests, an uncomfortable colonialism narrative, etc. But ultimately, I enjoyed myself. I found most of the characters interesting, played out a satisfying romance, and for the most part had fun with the gameplay. Since I feel no deep personal investment in the Mass Effect series overall, I feel like I spent less time comparing it to the other installments, and more time appreciating the game for what it was.

Rather than a straight up review, I'm going to tell you about my Sara Ryder and use her story as the framing devise for my thoughts on the game overall. Spoilers ahead.



Pull up a barstool and settle in as I tell you a tale of a lady, her spaceship, and her traveling companions. )

About Yujin

Jun. 19th, 2017 05:44 pm
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[personal profile] branchandroot
The latest story is stalled in the way that usually means there’s something about these characters that I don’t know yet, so let’s think out loud for a bit about Yujin. (It may be Jingrui, but we’ll start with Yujin.)

The first thing that comes to mind is that Yujin is seriously Prince Ji’s understudy, which in turn suggests immediately that Yujin’s sunny smile is a bit of a front. This is not actually surprising, given that Yujin’s family life kind of shafted him. He’s the son of a woman his father didn’t love, and has been pretty roundly ignored by his father all his life. No matter how well-adjusted a kid is, that leaves a mark. I also note that Yujin is the one who says Lin Shu was impatient with the younger kids and not fun to be around, and that Jingrui was the one who dragged them both after Lin Shu all the time. Yujin preferred Prince Qi.

Now that’s interesting. Because Yujin is clearly reasonably smart, and very observant; he follows along with all the complicated plans easily. But he preferred the significantly older Prince Qi to the brilliant and older but still part of his own generation Lin Shu. So, yeah, I’m checking the box for “dad issues” here, and running on the supposition that Yujin has basically been hungry for any kind of father figure (which probably also ties into his friendship with Prince Ji).

And I have to wonder whether Yujin’s social-butterfly mode isn’t a way of reassuring himself that, whatever’s wrong with him (because of course he thinks there’s something wrong with him) it can’t be /too/ bad, right? You can see hints of this anxiety in what he says when he comes to thank MCS for fixing his family–thanking him for /allowing Yujin to be properly filial, which he’s been failing to do/. Of course Yujin frames this as all his fault, and I don’t think that’s purely down to cultural convention.

Yujin is a very accomplished fighter (in the top ten of the tournament, survives the attack on the spring hunt) and quite willing to follow Jingrui around the pugilist world, but he has no contacts of his own there. He also isn’t the understudy of any of the military types, so I’m guessing that the military was never an ambition of his. Instead, he’s following as closely as possible in his family’s diplomatic footsteps (put another check in “dad issues” I’m thinking) which may, therefore, be both his hope and his interest. He’s definitely the one who reads people best, identifying right away when someone is having a one on one and dragging Jingrui away, setting up Prince Ji to witness Wei’s escape, etc.

Interpersonally… well, here’s where he gets slippery. Because Yujin seems to have no personal friends or connections besides Jingrui. He’s cut off from his family, for most of the series, and his social activities center, not to put too fine a point on it, among paid companions. He’s socially adept, but I’m guessing that he’s going to have some problems with any kind of mid-range relationships (not father or Jingrui but not courtesans either). And if there’s the slightest hint that something he does might injure his relationship with his father or Jingrui, he’s almost certainly going to strike that off the menu of options rather than risk it.

…which suggests that it’s /Jingrui/ who’s going to have to make the first move, oh god. Because Yujin will /never risk it/. That’s it, right there. *headdesk* Oh, this’ll be such a pain. Okay, need to think about Jingrui next.

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[Fic] Red Heart and White Sword

Jun. 18th, 2017 04:22 pm
branchandroot: pen with burning ink (ink burns)
[personal profile] branchandroot

Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Nirvana in Fire, In Every Time and Season
Characters/Pairings: Cai Quan, Eunuch Gao, Gong Yu, Jingyan/Shu, Li Len, Lin Shu | Mei Changsu, Liu An, Mu Nihuang, Nihuang/Shu, Shen Zhui, Xia Dong, Xiao Jingyan, Xiao Xuan, Zhao Wei
Summary: Lin Shu and Nihuang settle into life at court, in the field, and in Jingyan's home while Lin Manor is repaired. The rest of the court may need a few stiff drinks to recover from the process, especially once a complex political scandal breaks in the middle of it.
Meta: Drama with Politics and Porn, I-4
Wordcount: 22852

Now Jingyan returned his gaze, steady and serious. "Even though you hoped to be done with being the strategist, after Prince Qi, my brother's, and Lin's and Chiyan's names were restored?"

For a long moment, he was silent, because that had been true. "I did finish with it, though," he said at last, slowly. "And I returned to my old self, my own world, long enough to die there. I thought that would be the end of it, and I still believe I was right about that. This," he swept a hand around, at the palace, at the ministers and officials and ladies moving through the halls and gardens, each intent on their own ends and ambitions, and the three of them in the middle of it all, "this is what comes after that end, another new life." He gave Jingyan a tiny smile. "Now, what I can do, all that I can do, is for you and with you, nothing held back. That's as it should be, and I have no wish to be done with it."

Red Heart and White Sword )
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[personal profile] sarasa_cat
Title: Forever Her Greatest Desire
Characters/Pairings: Lucrecia
Rating/Type: G
Word Count: 100
Challenge: Prompt #22 - Deadly Sin: Lust at [community profile] ffvii_100 

Read here: https://ffvii-100.dreamwidth.org/158179.html
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[personal profile] branchandroot
The little mildly-kinky Jingyan/Lin Shu porn story demands to be titled “The Yellow Season”. I would like it to be understood that I do not /normally/ make dreadful puns or linguistic jokes in my story titles, so perhaps this can just be considered, I don’t know, truth in advertising or something?

Is it too late to not use Taoist color symbolism for the titles in this arc? It is, isn’t it? *sighs*

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It's E3 time, and although I haven't been paying super-close attention, a few things have broken through. One of the harder stories to miss is the controversy over The Last Night, a side-scrolling platformer in a cyberpunk setting. Among other issues, the game seems to be set in a dystopia designed to be a critique of socialism (in contrast to most cyberpunk, which tends to be anti-capitalist). I'd seen a number of takes on the issue, but the one that broke through and inspired me to write my own thoughts was this Twitter thread by [twitter.com profile] petercoffin (the thread and replies are recommended reading, both up and down):



I retweeted it a couple of days ago, with a promise to come back and say more, and here we are. My thoughts are going to be less about capitalism vs. socialism and the many issues with this specific game (Peter and the rest of the Internet have that aspect amply covered) and more about the economics of creativity, specifically the economics of fandom, which is where my creativity has lived for the past decade and more. I said in my tweet that I have "literally never" been paid in money for creative work; there are some hairs to split (I've written freelance a little bit, mostly advertising copy, and [community profile] ladybusiness launched a Patreon about six months ago), but I think it's fair to say for the creative work that's personally meaningful to me -- fiction, fannish meta, book reviews, essays like this one, etc. -- I have never received renumeration. I consider this to be choice, because I have immersed myself in fandom, writing fiction of a type that I legally cannot sell. I've chosen not to write original fiction, or file the serial numbers off my fic; I've chosen not to pitch essays or reviews to paying venues; and I've chosen not to set up a personal Patreon or any kind of tip jar. Within my corner of fandom culture, we mostly accept that we're creating for the love of it, and for the personal satisfaction of sharing our creations with others.

So I look at a sentiment like the one that Peter describes, and it's alien to me. Many years ago, at my first FogCon, I got into a brief debate with a professional author during a panel about fanfiction, and why anyone would put time into writing something you couldn't sell. (Perhaps ironically, it was a panel about cyberpunk and other "-punk" genres.) Although my comments were well-received in the moment, the pro who raised the issue admitted that he still didn't really get it; he offered to continue the discussion over email, but I was too shy to take him up on it, so it ended there. I still think about it sometimes, though. There are plenty of people who undertake creative pursuits with no expectation of making them into a career: crafters, home cooks, musicians. I've never made money off music, either -- I actually pay for the privilege of singing in my chorus. Amateurs often create for love, in all kinds of fields. Why should writing be any different?

Fandom has an economy, of course. Most often it's described as a "gift economy", meaning that you publish your work as a gift to the community, with no expectation of receiving anything in return. Another, in my experience more accurate description, is the "attention economy". Instead of money, creators get "paid" in attention: likes, kudos, clicks, reviews. Both of these models are somewhat limited, and the "attention economy" frame in particular is still rooted in the paradigm of capitalism, but I think there's something worthwhile in both descriptions. One of my favorite articles on the subject is The Economics of Fandom: Value, Investment, and Invisible Price Tags by [personal profile] saathi1013, which goes into detail about the "work" it takes to be in fandom, and the different ways in which we value and/or are compensated for that work.

On the other hand, there are signs that this may be changing. In this respect, there's always been a disconnect in fandom between fanfic and fanart -- unlike fanfic, there's a long tradition of selling fanart: at comics conventions, for example, or via commissions. In professional comics circles, there's an expectation of sorts that artists will cut their teeth on fanart and perhaps even include it in their portfolio. And increasingly, fanfic authors have been questioning why they can't benefit from selling their work, too. I've known fanfic authors to take commissions, or set up Patreons. And the practice of "filing off the serial numbers" has gotten more transparent with the success of authors like E. L. James and Cassandra Clare. Everyone knows that 50 Shades of Grey was originally a Twilight AU, and that Clare was offered a book contract on the strength of her following in the Harry Potter and LoTR fandoms. As IP holders have grown less likely to bring down the hammer on fanfic authors, fanfic is coming out of the shadows. Can a growing commercial acceptance be far behind?

To me, maybe it doesn't matter. Although I certainly appreciate no longer living in fear that I'll receive a cease and desist letter someday, I don't know that I would try to sell my fic even if I were given the opportunity. Essays and reviews might be a different story, further down the road, but for now I'm happier where I am, in (what feels to me) like the lower-pressure environment of fandom, where I can write for the love of it, and in the hopes of finding fellow travelers who will love what I love with me.

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a jar of jae

November 2016

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