23 May, 2015

Weekend Links for May 23-24

It's been awhile since I've done one of these, but instead of the previous format, I thought I'd curate approximately five items of interest that I read over the week plus one video.

With that, the video for this week comes from this year's re:publica conference where Cory Doctorow discusses the issues prevalent with the Internet of Things and general purpose computers with regards to surveillance and digital locks. Reminded me of his 2011 talk at the Chaos Computer Congress that I also recommend watching.

This Week's Links of Interest

Alice Bolin writes about how Agatha Christie plays around some of the most common tropes in mystery writing through Miss Marple:
Miss Marple elevates the archetype of the spinster, which has been, as Kathy Mezei writes, “a recurring icon in British literature.” This phenomenon reflects a reality of British demographics, particularly after the traumas of two world wars: women outnumbered men, and single women were seen as “lonely, superfluous, and sexually frustrated.” Mezei’s wonderful article “Spinsters, Surveillance, and Speech: The Case of Miss Marple, Miss Mole, and Miss Jekyll” from the Journal of Modern Literature lays out the way that a spinster character has been used by Christie and others to accomplish feats of narrative misdirection, and, more importantly, to “covertly query power and gender relations while simultaneously upholding the status quo.”

Simon Pegg follows up on what he said in this week's Radio Times about science fiction and genre films "dumbing down" audiences, noting the traits expressed by Tim and Daisy in Spaced:  
In the 18 years since we wrote Spaced, this extended adolescence has been cannily co-opted by market forces, who have identified this relatively new demographic as an incredibly lucrative wellspring of consumerist potential. Suddenly, here was an entire generation crying out for an evolved version of the things they were consuming as children. This demographic is now well and truly serviced in all facets of entertainment and the first and second childhoods have merged into a mainstream phenomenon.
Jessica Valenti writes in her Guardian column about how the lack of female authors on one's bookshelf might denote sexism, but also points out how others view authors based on sex, race, and gender:
 Part of the problem is that while art or books that white men put out is portrayed as universally appealing, culture produced by women or people of color is seen as specific to their gender or racial identity.
 Leigh Alexander writes about why video game stories are not always gripping:
Having a writer helps, but developers often just bring writers in to help fill in dialogue around setpieces (make up a reason for everyone to have a huge zombie battle in the football arena!) not to contribute to an overall narrative design. Writers on big games have told me privately of the friction they felt between what they wanted to happen in the game and the absurd, dissonant moments of gameplay that were beloved to the developers and too late to change.
Alistair Coleman points out some of the click-bait books that he found on Twitter. Here's one of them:
This man was shipwrecked on an island for 28 years. His one great life hack will blow your mind, and you can use it too! 
May's Itinerary

Same as April's so there won't be another flash fiction piece this month. I do plan on posting a short story to Wattpad in June.

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