Celebrating Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy

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Women of Color Win Big at 2016 Hugo Awards

Awarded annually since 1955, the Hugo Awards reward excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy. One of the things that makes this particular award so special is that the Hugos are run by and voted on by fans, or more specifically, by members of the current voting year’s World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon). This year the science fiction and fantasy fans awarded three of the fifteen possible awards to women of color.

N.K. Jemisin won the award for Best Novel for The Fifth Season. Nnedi Okorafor won Best Novella for her story Binti, and Hao Jinfang won Best Novelette for Folding Beijing. For those curious about the distinction between a novel, novella, and novelette, works in the novel category must contain 40,000 words or more, novellas between 17,500 and 40,000 words, and novelettes between 7,500 and 17,500 words. Short stories are works under 7,500 words.

25667918That an African-American woman, a Nigerian-American woman, and a Chinese woman won three of the top science fiction and fantasy awards is especially spectacular given the controversy over the last few years when various factions tried to argue that the Hugo Awards were unfairly favoring literary work over popular works and works by or about “underrepresented minoriti[es] or victim group[s].”

19161852Interestingly all three books comment and reflect on inequality and class in some way. The Fifth Season is an apocalyptic tale that takes place in a world where apocalypses occur as regularly as the weather patterns and where a caste system divides and scars the people struggling to live in that world. In Binti a woman is the first of her people to be offered a place at a prestigious university. To accept the offer means traveling between the stars and finding a way to survive a war with an alien race. In Folding Beijing a divided Beijing folds like origami revealing inequalities among the three sectors of the city.

For a humorous and honest reflection of what it means to her to win a Hugo, read Jemisin’s post where she describes her Scattered Post-Hugo Thoughts.

For more about the Hugo Awards, Worldcon, and the World Science Fiction Society which sponsors Worldcon, and how the voting process works see here. The full of list of Hugo winners can be found here. Finally, if you’re interested in reading an analysis of this year’s awards and what they mean in light of the controversy surrounding the Hugo Awards over the last few years check out this article from The Verge.

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The 2015 VIDA Count

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As Women’s History Month comes to a close it seems fitting that as readers we consider the state of women in publishing. Today VIDA: Women in Literary Arts (or VIDA for short) did just that with its release of the 2015 VIDA count.

VIDA is a research organization whose aims to “increase critical attention to contemporary women’s writing as well as further transparency around gender equality issues in contemporary literature culture.” One of the ways VIDA does this is with The Count. Beginning in 2010 and every year since, VIDA counts the rates of publication of male and female authors in various prestigious magazines that published fiction, nonfiction, and poetry during the prior year. The organization looks at whose books were reviewed, who did the reviewing, which authors were interviewed, who the interviewers were and more.

Initially VIDA simply focused on women as a whole in publishing. In 2014 VIDA began taking a more intersectional approach to their research, looking at not only the numbers of women as whole but also specifically at race/ethnicity, sexuality, and ability/disability of women in relation to their representation in publishing. The report showed improvement at some literary journals, but not surprisingly there is room for much more improvement with women of color, non-heterosexual women, and women with disabilities still underrepresented at many publications.

The full report is available at http://www.vidaweb.org/the-2015-vida-count/.


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14 Books For Black Feminist

Alexis14National Women’s Month is going strong.

1. In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens, by Alice Walker

Walker pens essays that cover topics from womanhood to motherhood to feminism and more.

2. Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism, by bell hooks

Hooks, known for being an evocative writer, provides a critical analysis of black activism and white feminism’s neglect of black women.

3. Sister Outsider, by Audre Lorde

In these essays and speeches from the prolific lesbian poet, Lorde challenges homophobia, sexism, racism, classism, and ageism in addition to calling for action and change.

4. Sister Citizen, by Melissa Harris-Perry

Harris-Perry breaks down the many degrading stereotypes faced by black women in America, and charts the difficult road to confronting and changing them.

5. Women, Race, and Class, by Angela Davis

Davis analyzes the women’s movement from abolitionist times to the modern day, and critiques the racism and classism demonstrated by its leaders.

6. When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost, by Joan Morgan

Morgan speaks on feminism with the voice of the hip-hop generation, examining the contradictions present in black feminism and how modern black culture affects black women.

7. Homegirls: A Black Feminist Anthology, edited by Barbara Smith

The radical lives of black women take center stage in this compilation of essays by black feminists and lesbian activists.

8. Assata: An Autobiography, by Assata Shakur

Assata Shakur is a revolutionary who put everything on the line fighting for a cause she believed in. These reflections on her life of activism and participation in the Black Power Movement are a poignant account of the American black woman’s experience.

9. When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America, by Paula J. Giddings

Giddings’ book is a testament to the extraordinary impact of black women throughout American history, which is often overlooked.

10. Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay

In this witty and, at times, all-out-funny collection of essays, Gay takes us through her own journey into womanhood as well as a journey through what it means to be a woman in American culture.

11. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, by Ntozake Shange

Shange’s choreopoem is an ode to the strength, resilience and courage of black women, and takes a hard look at some of their struggles.

12. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness & the Literary Imagination, by Toni Morrison

This work identifies and speaks to the role black people played in creating some of literature’s great works—a revolutionary analysis in a canon that often ignores our existence.

13. The Black Woman: An Anthology, edited by Toni Cade Bambara

This compilation of essays from celebrated black female writers covers sex, body image, politics, and more.

14. This Bridge Called My Back, Fourth Edition: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua

This volume features voices that are often silenced in mainstream America and exposes the stories of women left out of history books.



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Women in History: Writing Women Back into History

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Did you know that not only is March Women’s History Month, but every year there is a different theme? The 2016 theme is “writing women back into history.” The theme aims to honor “women whNational Women's History Projecto have shaped America’s history and its future through their public service and government leadership.” To learn more about Women’s History Month, this year’s theme, and about amazing women like civil rights organizer Daisy Bates and women’s right activist Bernice Sandler, check out the National Women’s History Project.

While visiting the National Women’s History Project, take the Black Women’s History Challenge. How many will you get right?

As it so happens, we Mocha Girls read about a few inspirational women in February’s book of the month, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. While Hetty “Handful” Grimke was a completely fictional character, Sarah and Angelina were based on real life sisters, Sarah and Angelina Grimke. Raised on a South Carolina plantation, the sisters grew up to be abolitionists and early advocates of women’s rights. To learn more the real people that inspired Kidd’s novel, see the National Women’s History Museum online exhibit Young and Brave: Girls Changing History.

Other online exhibits at the National Women’s History Museum include:

Of couTitle: A Ballerina's Talerse, women continue to make history as we live and breathe. For example, in 2015 Misty Copeland became the first African-American principal dance at the American Ballet Theatre.  Her story is told in the film A Ballerina’s Tale. Also check out her memoir, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina.
Title: Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, Author: Misty Copeland



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March Voting is Now Open

vote button  For the month of March we are going to read a a non-fiction book about an inspirational woman, since March is Women’s History Month.  As always there are some really great titles up for vote this time.

Here are the Rules for Voting.

1. You may vote for three (3) books.

2. All members get to vote only once.

3. Last day to vote will be February 21, 2016. (11:00pm Los Angeles time)

4. The book with the most votes wins.  But if there is a tie there will be a 48 hour death match. The two or three books will go into a head to head competition for only 48 hours. Whichever book is left standing (with the most votes) wins!

Below the poll you will find the title of the books linked to a brief description.  Now…may the best book win!

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