Tag Archives: writerly snark

On time travel and oooh them awful girl cooties

So Charlie Stross appears to have committed one of those “oh no headdesk no no” moments when he asserted that there’s a dearth of female time travelers in SF, going on to claim that it’s harder for women to exercise the sort of agency a time traveler could/should enjoy in older, potentially more sexually repressive societies.

Ahem (Marge Piercy, Woman at the Edge of Time for starters, cough-cough).

While there’s been some most excellent counters to his assertions from various excellent women writers, I want to throw my two cents in as well, based on my own knowledge of local and regional history in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

Right off the bat, I’ll confess to an occasional fascination for the tales of women adventurers in the Old West of North America (okay, maybe I’ll give Stross a pass on these, simply because that’s a regional focus and he may not know of them). Not all of them were cross-dressing as male, though there are some absolutely incredible stories about women who lived their lives out as remote cowboys, only to be outed upon severe injury or death. Some were spouses or female companions to males–Narcissa Whitman and Eliza Spaulding are two who come quickly to mind, along with Sacajawea and Marie Dorion.

But there were plenty-many other women in the Old West who went out along with the boys and held their own. Some, like Elinore Pruitt Stewart, were simply trying to make a living. We know about Elinore because of her entertaining published letters, but she and her sister ranchwomen had no qualms about loading up wagons and horses and going out on their own for camping and fishing expeditions, either with or without the men.

Elinore wasn’t the only one, though. Looking at my shelf of memoirs and diaries of settler women, I find Eileen O’Keeffe McVicker, Phoebe Goodell Judson, Agnes Morley Cleaveland, Harriet Fish Backus, and others. If you add in the Victorian adventure travelers, there’s Isabella Bird as well as a host of others. Dee Brown, Janet Robertson and others.

Granted, these are all frontier colonial women, in a specific setting and we won’t go into the issues which arise therein (except to point out that Native women also had similar bold and adventuring women–we just don’t hear those stories). But if I can think of these histories of real, actual women on just one continent, of women who weren’t necessarily madonnas, teachers or prostitutes, then who’s to say that a time-traveling woman with appropriate research couldn’t have found a way to fit into these societies?

Hmm. Methinks I have a twinkling of a story idea here.

That is, after I write the Big Post-Apocalyptic story with strong female leads who don’t defer to Big Male Macho Boy Sex Fantasies (otherwise known as my oh no John Barnes no moment).

Yeah. Let’s just say I’m a grumpy and disgusted crone at the moment.

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Dear Editor…..Rejection Slip Critique #34

Um…you know, it’s hardly convincing that your latest form rejection is “personalized” when it contains the identical awkward phrasing as your last allegedly “personalized” rejection slip.  As I would say to one of my middle school students possessed by a significant fit of the annoyings……”Really?  REALLY?”

Hon, let’s talk.  Instead of the really crappy workaround phrasing your Form Reject Auto Generator Mark 59 uses to suggest that “this is really just my opinion but here’s what I think is wrong with your story,” either get with a real generic form reject in several different levels or, if you think the writer has promise and you don’t want to piss them off because they Might Be Somebody Someday, then write the fucking reject yourself.  Don’t pull up the Merge Menu and insert munged up info fields that insert all sorts of interesting little codes into the e-mail.

I mean, babe, come on.  I used to sling WordPerfect.  I used to write MailMerge letters myself.  Let me tell you, sweetcakes, your MailMerge fu sucks.  Maybe it’ll fool the noobs who haven’t seen that old a version of MailMerge programming but darlin’, anyone who’s been around the block can recognize not just the awkward writing of a poorly done autogenerated letter but wince at the crappy formatting job it did in the process of butchering the database fields.

I mean, really?

Who the hell do you think you’re kidding here? The reject REEKS of poorly done MailMerge.  I’ve had the dubious privilege of receiving what must have been one of Nick Mamatas’s classic rejection rants that smoked off the screen.  Come on, muffinette.  Your passive-aggressive, barely trying MailMerge lacked the right degree of scoffing, scorn and implication of “you poor pathetic slime ball you’ll NEVER be good enough for this rag” in generic form rejection style that used to be a classic variant of the old Analog hardcopy reject.  And rumor had it that there were even ones worse than that for really pathetic losers.

Nonetheless, you didn’t score on that point.  Honeychild, I’ve seen better, not just generic form rejects but other pretentiously “personalized” rejects.  I’ve seen allegedly personalized rejects designed to send the weak of heart screaming into the outer darknesses of noncreative life, vowing never to violate another editor’s desk with their offal.  Except there was a problem with the believability of said comment.  Like, say, the “problem” with the dwarf.  Or the wizard.  Or the whatever character, or the formatting in hard copy…only said story didn’t have a dwarf.  Or wizard.  Or the formatting option that you, Dear Editrix, had lathered up into a fine rant over…except that it was either turned off.  Or on.  Whatever it was supposed to be.


I mean, come on.  REALLY?

I’m supposed to take this “suggestion” seriously?  With MailMerge formatting that WordPerfect 4.0 did better?!  Dear God, you must worship at the feet of whatever the buggiest, most munged up, slowest LInux word processor or e-mail client currently exists.  I don’t think I’ve seen that many screwy characters in an e-mail in ages that wasn’t coming from someone’s cheapass flipphone.  That’s some seriously messed up programming you’ve got there, darling.

Plus, sweetums, here’s another clue.  With that passive-aggressive a reject, don’t be coy.  Coyness just adds to the general miasma of fetid incoherence which emerges from your missive.  If you mean to imply that the lowly writer Has No Clue And Needs Must Be Crawling For Your Approval, then you really need to cultivate a MUCH more articulate artistic sneer.  You spend so much more time daintily dancing around your ultimate contempt that the entire effect is masked by the coyness.  EMBRACE your inner arrogant evil pretentious self.  CRUSH that writer ego.  Own up to your feelings.  Take that responsibility.  If you won’t who will?  Break that artist!  You know they’ll thank you for it!

And oh yes, my dearest darling little teacake, one last hint.  In order to really pull this off, my bonbon, you have GOT to do something about your sentence structure.  I didn’t whip out the old sentence diagram but I know darn good and well that about half my semi-literate middle school students can write a more articulate sentence than you did in twisting yourself in and around and about to strike just the right supercilious note of artistic superiority.  Somehow the condescension just doesn’t come through right with mangled syntax.  It just…oh.  The agony.  The pain.  The near-miss!  You came so close!

But then you flopped, leaving me to shake my head at the pixels and mutter, “I’m supposed to take THIS mess seriously?”



(and…yeah.   Let’s just say that I’m channeling my inner Sarah Stephens.  Those of you who’ve read any of the Netwalk stories…that’s the Sarah bitch out to play right now.  It really is a healthy thing, for reasons which have nothing to do with writing life.  Trust me.  In actuality, I burst out laughing at that particular reject)

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