Here are some good things I read this week.
Children’s Books (and media):
Rob Maslen on T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone (which is of course perfect). And here is a conversation from a few months ago about The Once and Future King, in which Felix Gilman, in particular, says some good things.
Brent Ryan Bellamy at Strange Horizons on energy in The Jetsons and The Flintstones.
The results of the Hindu Young World-Goodbooks awards are here (shortlists here). I’m in Delhi soon, and am planning to pick up some of these (definitely the Venita Coelho).
Nicole Pasulka and Brian Ferree on Ursula the Sea Witch and Divine. I enjoyed this, but also I’m confused by any writing about Ursula that reads her as white.
Anne of Green Gables is pro-choice! (Mrs Lynde I’m not so sure of …)
Malcolm Harris reviews Ned and Constance Sublette’s The Slave Coast; I’m particularly struck by this, near the beginning:
But to think about American slaves merely as coerced and unpaid laborers is to misunderstand the institution. Slaves weren’t just workers, the Sublettes remind the reader—they were human capital. The very idea that people could be property is so offensive that we tend retroactively to elide the designation, projecting onto history the less-noxious idea of the enslaved worker, rather than the slave as commodity. Mapping 20th-century labor models onto slavery spares us from reckoning with the full consequences of organized dehumanization, which lets us off too easy: To turn people into products means more than not paying them for their work.
Deana Heath on Britain’s national curriculum and its whitewashing of imperial history. Via Alex Adams.
So many Rhodes Must Fall thinkpieces, so little time. But this by David Olusoga and this by Christopher Phelps and this by Minesh Parekh aren’t bad. (The position of this website is, obviously, #RMF)
Joyelle McSweeney interviews Kamau Brathwaite on catastrophe, ecological and otherwise, and history, and home. (This is amazing, you should read it.) (via Kate Schapira.)
In Goa, coconut trees are no longer trees.
Rather terrifying (and yet also not at all surprising :/) that the effects of the caste system are literally visible in Indian DNA. Via Alok Prasanna Kumar.
Florence Okoye on realising an Afrofuturist Africa. Via An Afrofuturist Affair on twitter.
Pritesh Pal’s everyday photographs of a queer couple are rather lovely–link and some context at Gaylaxy, here.
The text of Sara Ahmed’s lecture, “Feminism and Fragility“.
Vajra Chandrasekera destroys SF and writes a really good essay.
What I loved about these books is what they had in common, this beautiful blue-shifted Soviet optimism. “I want to capture the many fleeting expressions on the faces of my youthful contemporaries—those who ride in trams and make their way on foot, those who are building towns in the taiga, those who are training for flights into space.” That’s Aksyonov talking about his book, the one without robots or artificial islands. It comes from that particular time and place when real people like Korolyov and Glushko did utterly science-fictional things, and even though I was reading it as the dream of the USSR crumbled, it managed to transport me across the thirty intervening years to a place where the dream was still alive. Communism, the future, space—no, I had it right at thirteen, that was science fiction.
JR Martin on Carol, Velvet Goldmine and David Bowie.
Sridala Swami links me to Dhrubo Jyoti’s fantastic reply to a ridiculous piece about caste by Devdutt Pattnaik which Scroll.in inexplicably decided the world needed to see.