Blessed Be the Nerdy Grandmothers: A Requiem

My long bout of vegging out in the week between Christmas and New Year’s included a rewatch of the Star Trek reboot. When the movie first came out back in 2009, a friend and I saw it in the theater five or six times, and I even dragged my mother and brother to see it once when I was home for a visit. It really wasn’t that great, not for me to devote as much time and money as I did to it that spring, but something about it seems to compel me to keep going back. I now think it was my grandmother.

When Chris Pine swaggered across the screen in the scene where he cheats at the Kobayashi Maru test during my most recent rewatch, I had a weird That’s So Raven-esque vision: my grandmother’s long, thin frame stretched out on the couch in her cramped living room, me in the chair right next to her, watching an episode of the original Star Trek. Grams loved William Shatner’s Captain Kirk, and in that moment, I wondered if she would have liked the reboot and its sequels. I was momentarily struck by a sweeping sense of grief. I wanted to watch these films with her. I wanted to know what she thought of Pine’s rendition of Kirk. I wanted to know if the Uhura/Spock storyline intrigued her as much as it did me at the time (Zachary Quinto’s Spock was bae that summer).

My grandmother died 19 years ago this week but as the person who gave me my first foray into geekdom through our Star Trek viewing, she lives on through me. She—along with my mother and my aunt—nurtured my imagination, and gave me the space to be smart and shy and introspective in my formative years. I lost sight of some of that creativity during my teen years and early adulthood, and it took me a while to fully recover from the bandwaggoning that can occur during those time periods, but ever since starting Midwest BSFA and getting into steampunk, I’ve been able to rediscover my love of geeky things. I think knowing that this rediscovery has happened would make my grandmother happy.

Rest on, Grams.

Diasporic Blackness and Revising Steampunk Characters

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Art by Laanz

I’ve been thinking a lot about the rift between black Americans and continental Africans, and how more visible it is these days, thanks to social media. From Seren Aishitemasu’s slightly unhinged but still insightful YouTube videos about continental Africans’ appropriation of black American culture for profit and fame to the online grumblings from continental Africans about Black Panther/Coming to America mashups earlier this year to Luvvie Ajayi starting what felt like a diaspora war on Twitter last week when she tried to talk slick about Tevin Campbell, I’m seeing more clearly the fissures in the already fragile foundation on which black Americans and continental Africans stand. As someone who does steampunk from a multicultural perspective centering on a  West African narrative, this all makes me think about changes I could make to my character’s backstory.***

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On Impostor Syndrome

Back in March, I participated in a conference on “nerd lit” at Miami University. I was invited to be on the main plenary panel (with three other speakers) as well as present my steampunk character building workshop as a breakout session during the event. It was a paying gig at an official undergraduate academic conference, but in the days leading up to it, the thought of participating started to make me a little queasy. And there’s a very easy explanation for that — Impostor Syndrome. Read More

A Fangirl’s Manifesto: Avoiding the Gatekeepers (in Any Fandom)

NoEntryI was a teenager when I started to like jazz. In high school, my marching band director played John Coltrane and Miles Davis in his office, the notes wafting in and out of our practice room during our breaks. I bought jazz CDs through that Columbia House CD Club scam when I was in college and by the time I was in grad school, I was crate digging for jazz on vinyl at local record shops. However, it wasn’t until I got deep into the Cincinnati jazz scene that I fell in love with the art of the live jazz show…and subsequently learned what gatekeeping was. Read More

What Midwest BSFA Means to Me

13528699_1754031818172907_2305898099490772042_nIt’s been a full two years since I reached out to some of my favorite people to ask them if they’d be interested in being part of a local group that focuses on programming for, by and about African-Americans in the genres that fall under speculative fiction. I’ve had a blast creating and executing programs with them and I’m looking forward to doing more of that in 2017 and beyond! Here’s what they had to say about their involvement in the little spec fic group that could. Read More