Thoughts on March

I’ve finished two books in March so far and am on track to finish a third, all by women. This is a little unusual for me, I wasn’t reading much last year or the beginning of this year with everything that happened. It helped that both the finished novels, Hild by Nicola Griffiths and Kindred by Octavia Butler, are excellent and engaging. Both are very much about looking at the past. The novel I’m still finishing up, Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi, is amazing, it’s gotta be close to my favourite novel I’ve read in a long time and easily the most sophisticated. It’s crowding my thoughts of the other two out somewhat.

KindredmycopycoverKindred is quite a sharp to-the-point book about Dana, a young black woman being dragged back into the past of pre-civil war Maryland as a sort of guardian angel for her white slave-owner past. Butler has a clear no-nonsense voice, even for complicated subjects. I love how she can manage to allow the reader the option to hide from her meaning by obfuscating. If something is horrific she shows exactly, unflinchingly how horrific.The book is a lesson in the effects of cruelty, both as outright violence and the damage in hiding the past. The settings and time-travel tropes are as far from romanticised as possible, which was a relief.

The thing is though, I read it for a genre book club I go to. It’s a (mostly) male, (nearly all) white group and I think most are significantly older than me. It didn’t help that an aspect of the book that I really admired was the writing’s comparisons of Dana’s husband Kevin to the slave-owners Rufus and Weylin. There are uncomfortable parallels that I think others in the group found too easy to dismiss in favour of a ‘the husband wasn’t a bad bloke’ line of thought. Frustrating.

Hild is a very different sort of book to love. It’s not biting criticism, but it is critical in its lookHild at history. The book is super slow paced, it’s not really one to eat up in a sitting but one to read a chapter or so a night (for me anyway). I loved the attention to detail given to all aspects, especially the value and emphasis on the importance of cloth and yarn to trade and power. It’s about how women made and found themselves places of power and were active in creating events that changed history. Hild takes its subject – St Hilda’s early life, where she grew up in her uncle’s court – and documents her early life and her transformation into a seer, portraying this as the result of the competence and brilliance of herself and the women around her.  I completely absorbed it.

io9 did a pretty decent review calling it “skeptical fantasy” and “also a brilliantly-researched work of historical fiction”. It’s both, but I’d probably go further, the skepticism extends throughout the historical content of the book, constantly challenging more traditional historical narratives.Or at least, it does to me, but I am not a historian.

I think I’m growing to like historical narratives and fiction more and more, with or without speculative aspects. These books, alongside Sarah Waters’ fiction earlier in the year, watching The Borgias, Agent Carter and The Musketeers. Up to a week ago I was obsessively working through the Assassin’s Creed games and associated media (now edged out for Guild Wars 2). The end of last year had me increasingly bitter at the science fiction community, earlier in the year bored and frustrated by the comics community so it’s nice to find work slightly to the side of my usual interests that I still find engaging.

Late Music Thoughts

Okay so woah is this one late. I have a good reason though! It completely isn’t the Guild Wars 2 phase that is sweeping through my house or the insane amount of noise caused by local infrastructure “improvements” occurring in my area, though those haven’t helped.

I’d discovered and been listening to a lot on 8tracks, and decided it’d be fun to make my own for last week’s posts. Sadly I have no idea how these things work and FINALLY SEVERAL DAYS LATER I finished up a playlist. And then I discover I need a WordPress plugin to properly embed it.

And also discovered I can’t set it to show you the tracks until you’ve listened to them.

So anyway. I wanted to do a set list of the women in Australian music I remember hearing growing up, after a conversation with friends where I couldn’t remember any from the 90s (and not much from the early 00s) in alternative music. After a long, drawn out twitter convo and poking and prodding around my early CDs I came up with a playlist. Just remember that I was 12 in 1998 so while I aimed for alternative, it’s very pop in places.

Yeah. That’s a picture of me in 1991.

The original idea was that in about six months I’d do a second extra playlist after going through and researching. But frankly, unless the design of the site improves, it’s unlikely to happen. Because it is that bad, I’ve copied the track list across to here, though annotations are only on 8tracks.

  1. So Rude, Rebecca’s Empire [video]
  2. Down Again, The Superjesus [video]
  3. Don’t You Know Who I Am? Happyland [article]
  4. Dirty Jeans, Magic Dirt [video]
  5. Live Without It, Killing Heidi [live]
  6. Next Time, Marie Wilson
  7. Naughty, Skulker [video]
  8. Goosh, Spiderbait [live]
  9. Have a Look, Vanessa Amorosi [video]
  10. Did It Again, Kylie Minogue [video]
  11. I Go Off, Diana Ah Naid [video]

And for those of you that would just like an embedded youtube clip, have a woman being awesome with a guitar in with sheds, utes, highways and 90s sunnies.

Next fortnight, back to normal. This was much too stressful.

No Man’s Woman

Trying to think up an appropriate song for International Women’s Day, that would also be easy to write about, was not as easy as I thought it would be. This song is probably not quite right for it, but it’s the 10th now anyway and it is a song I found easy to write about.

I have incredibly mixed feelings about Sinéad O’Connor’s No Man’s Woman. It’s not the most famous of her songs, or my favourite of her songs, but it’s the one I have the strongest but most contradictory feelings on.

I love the first half of the song. Uplifting, catchy, powerful, a little cheesy pop rock singing the merits of moving away from seeking fulfillment via a relationship with a bloke. A song about not putting up with abuse, settling, compromise and being defined by someone else. And fuck all your friends for thinking you’re lonely as opposed to alone for doing your own thing.

The times I am most likely to want to leave my relationship are the times when I am most treated (by family, societal expectations, friends or my partner) as part of a pair, the part that should give for the other, to wait around for approval. It’s a reassuring song to know it is okay not to want that, a type of reassurance that’s desperately hard to find sometimes.

And then halfway through, the climax of the song starts singing about the importance of god and his forgiveness. And what I can relate to breaks down and I’m staring into an alien world. I’m not strongly atheist, but seeking comfort through religion is not something I can understand or empathise with particularly well. It was like finding out my grandmother had her church praying for me after I crashed my motorcycle. For the record, I never had the heart to find out if it was for me to heal or if it was for me to stop riding motorcycles. I just don’t know how to react to this and it’s frustrating.

The video clip is the same thing as well. Despite the cheesiness, I love the subverted implications in the scenes of crashed cars, isolated beaches, railway tracks – it’s all about self escaping, not being rescued. The wedding scene at the beginning is particularly powerful, clearly showing her fleeing from the marriage for her own reasons, on her own terms. The nod from the severe mother figure only approving until she leaves her partner is a nice touch to that piece. I did also like in the final scenes that the spirit/fishermen only left her the guitar, left her the method of becoming herself again.

But on the other hand, as my partner pointed out, for a music video about not wanting men, it has an awful lot of men in it. For a song about freeing yourself from unwanted and unfair burdens relating to men, it is still all about them.

Everything’s Fucked

This post is being written a little late for my ‘fortnightly’ ideas of writing about a song.  I’m just not up for that much, so rather than going for meaningful art-appreciation like I was intending and going nowhere fast with, instead I’ve gone with one that sort of sums up my feelings lately:

Frenzal Rhomb’s Everything’s Fucked.

Obviously it’s a bit explicit and obviously youse all want the full effect so I’ve embedded a live uncensored version. The (slightly, it still has fucked) censored version, the one I have in iTunes is also a track on youTube.

Frenzal Rhomb’s Everything’s Fucked, I have to admit, is one of the most cathartic songs to be screaming along to in the car, and incredibly catchy despite itself. I’m not a huge fan really, but they are a lot of ridiculous fun amongst the childish bullshit and stunts. I have more time for them than I probably should.

Another aussie band, they formed in the early 90s and seem to have mostly just been fucking about ever since, sometimes with more and and other times less success and controversy. They’re hard to ignore, and are sort of the other side to Australian alternative music to the sound in the Happyland song I posted. Simple punk rock screaming with ocker accents, charging in with completely derro attitudes.

I wish the line “Prime Minister’s a racist cunt” could be a little less accurate over a decade on though.


Cover of Affinity by Sarah WatersOne of the few books I’ve managed to read was Affinity by Sarah Waters. These thoughts are a little late for the friends I mentioned this to, also quite spoilery.

Briefly, context: the story is told via the diary of the young upper class chronically depressed girl Margaret Prior, who after her father dies is convinced to become a Lady Visitor for Millbank women’s prison. She becomes obsessed with Selina Dawes (whose diary chapters also appear), a poor but well known disgraced medium, in prison for the murder of her benefactor. Prior begins to explore the world of spiritualism whe they plan Dawes’ escape from prison.

I didn’t think writing about this book would be as hard as I am finding it. This is a melancholy book. This should be less surprising than it is, it’s not a cheerful piece, even compared to Sarah Waters’ other books. Gloomy book, gloomy world with gloomy resolutions.

I ate it up. It’s one of the few books in the past six or so months I was able to read and I fucking inhaled it.

I was in a gloomy sort of world too I guess, though instead of enchantment at Victorian Occultism it was a much more mundane nightmare of returning home (again, again and again because you can’t stay home) as a loved one succumbs to cancer. Maybe this is why reading the book had such drive, a drive to read that I’ve been lacking lately? This parallel is hard to ignore but it is unfair to the author.

Waters primarily writes in the lit-fic realms, credited with inventing the idea of period lesbian fiction as a sub-genre. Starting off as a researcher, her attention to detail, to history, to its gaps, her books excel at telling tales of the forgotten Other both in terms of queer women and the awful realities of station, breaking me at least firmly away from the rose-coloured lenses that fill everyone from a young steampunk cosplayer to my Dickens-worshipping grandmother with romantic notions of the 19th century.

It’s important to understand this weird sort of disconnect reading this book had for me. I know Waters writes based in lit-fic, which I only ever really invested in for studies. She is invested in the realites of how ‘outside’ mainstream cultures worked in the Victorian. I am primarily a genre reader with a love for science fiction and fantasy, markets and a culture that are currently dominated by aesthetics of steampunk and the (re?*)acceptance of paranormal romance as its embarrassing genre cousin. These are groups invested in a completely different other, that often does involve miracles not always disguised as real-life science, I-want-to-believe attitudes** and deus ex machinas to ensure happy endings.

This mesh of reading suits the novel well, I think. Waters hinges the book on investing you in that want and need to believe in the unreal, that Dawes can simply disappear from prison. For the love between them to be real, for Prior’s clumsy understandings of herself and sexuality to be real, the magic needs to be real. I think as a genre reader you can’t help but feel that it will be real, or that the ‘trick’ behind the magic will be suitably real to enable that love and happy ending. The more hypnotising the book becomes.

The more you invest in this belief the more devastating, I think. Waters extends the theme of tricking perspective writing into perspective of the narrative itself to create the climactic break. Unlike Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet the happy ending of the story is less obvious. And it is a happy ending, but you don’t see it straight away. Dawes escapes and runs away to Europe presumably to be happy with her lover, after tricking the wealthy into giving her what she needs to escape from poverty… but we don’t see that perspective. We see Prior absolutely broken by the betrayal, her need to believe and isolation used to steal her passport, identity, money and clothing. The novel’s emotional catch: Dawes’ spiritual non-existence.

I did say it was a depressing book.

* I remember how popular Interview With A Vampire in the 90s. Paranormal romance just doesn’t have a name now.
** 90s nostaligia seems to suit sentimentality.

A Music Happyland

Last post I mentioned shitty riot grrrl videos which is not an entirely fair description of what I have been listening to (as a comment on me, the music or riot grrrl). I primarily listen to music in the car and in the past three months, I’ve driven at least 10 000kms, so the amount of music I listened to skyrocketed. It feels appropriate to try this out as a fortnightly post theme, just a clip from a song I have enjoyed and maybe a bit on why I think it’s important.

Don’t You Know Who I Am? – Happyland

I don’t really need to write much on this one, though I don’t think it got much play outside Australia. The reason to enjoy this song is obvious: its power is in its plainness.  An incredibly catchy, upbeat tune with increasingly sarcastic lyrics, it bites into the hopeful celebrity lifestyle and associated meltdowns. Plus the video has super creepy bunnies dancing around all threatening.

For those unfamiliar, it’s pretty much the peak sound of late 90’s Australian music, which follows as it’s part of the project Welcome to Happyland between the vocalist and bassist of Spiderbait, Janet English and Regurgitator’s Quan Yeomans (two of the biggest Australian bands of the 90s). To my (very musically uneducated) ear it sounds exactly like what a cross between those bands should. Regurgitator’s electronic sounds, Janet’s amazing ability to sing sweetly, alternating between dryness and powerful rage without skipping, and the mocking humour disguised in earnest rage common to both.

Simple effective earworm, straight forward themes, it stays fun while poking fun. The hilarious and beautiful demand of pretend you know who we are.

It’s a good song.

Restart, Reblog.

I wasn’t really sure if this blog would continue. I’ve gone with renewing, what better time than a birthday?

I struggled to update last year, a combination of exhaustion and this emotional holdover from 2013, with several incidents causing an increased bitterness and dislike of behaviours within various fannish communities. What is the point of a nerdish blog if it can’t relate or be of interest to anyone within the communities actually able to relate to it? Frustrations and isolation (both chosen and imposed) are not a good combination.

There were other good and non-geeky reasons for the exhaustion too. My workplace got so shitty that I had to leave quite suddenly. My beloved Magna hit the point of no repair – written off four years ago, it was on borrowed time. The house I lived in reached crisis point with regards to decisions on repairs and renovations, and they had to be managed alongside clearing out my partner’s dead father’s workshop (and other areas of the house that hadn’t been dehoarded). Ending the year, the discovery my father was terminally ill with liver cancer. I was fortunate enough to be able to drive to my family home loads and spend time with him, but he passed away in January.

So I’ve been a bit of a wreck.

Comics had been bad awhile (with a particular nod to DCnU), I’d lost interest. I’ve watched so much mindless television it’s not funny, been constantly enraged by the awful movies my family loves. I’ve had one playlist of angry women playing in my car for hours on end and my reading ability is shot to pieces even for the trashiest trash.

But, I still need to practice writing (I give no guarantees as to the return of the podcast or the creation of a new one). I need motivation to read. And I need to remember why I enjoy what I enjoy and how I enjoy it.

Comics turned again, moving away from grim dark. My boyfriend doesn’t need to be ‘got’ into comics anymore, he’s happily there, even if he still mostly just steals mine. My reading ability is (slowly) coming back. My love for music is repetitive but I’m enjoying it again and the sheer amount of time in the last three months spent in a car, plus the efforts of an understanding friend, means I’ve found more. People to discuss these things with again, people to show, people to listen to, are now an appealing thought.

There’s going to be new aims here, at least for awhile. I want to write about what I enjoy, even if it’s just a paragraph on a shitty riotgrrl youtube video. Even if it’s that terrible 90s drama I ate up in about 3 days. Even if it’s a weekly paragraph on why I really enjoy Assassin’s Creed games despite the fact there is so much broken in them and Ezio is a total cunt.

I tend towards the clumsy critical analysis, I think I genuinely enjoy stories and media by tearing them apart to see how they could be better. It’s easy to lose interest in seeing the positives in media this way, you forget what you enjoy. My aim will be to work out what I like and why, while isolating out what I don’t and why. Expect swearing rants and raves of aspects of whatever I enjoy, rather than formal reviews and internet lists on a strict diet of comics and novels.

Welcome back if you are still here? At least for now. I don’t really know what this will be yet, but I hope it’s interesting.

10 Books That Influenced Me

Everyone was doing this about a month ago, but I never got around to it.

It’s a fun meme: list the 10 books that have most influenced you, the 10 that first come to mind, not the list of 10 you might carefully craft to show the world. Unfortunately, taking the meme as it suggests, I’m feeling a little bit embarrassed right now. Ah well. It would seem I’m influenced entirely by what I read up till about 23.

1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Can’t really get past this one. Mum had an audiobook and it was played on long trips as kids. Living quite far from the nearest city, we took a lot of long trips.

2. Dragonsong/Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey
Again, handed to me as a bored child on a holiday. I hated swimming (the primary activity when your summers involve going to beaches). McCaffrey has her terrible moments, but she created fascinating worlds.

3. The Word for World is Forest by Ursula Le Guin
Addictive. Beautiful in the way Le Guin’s writing is. I’ve heard it described as what Avatar should have been, which is right, but that undersells it horribly.

4. The Book of Earth (The Dragon Quartet) by Marjorie Kellogg
This one is utterly terrible and awful in pretty much every way by my standards now.
The reason it’s on this list is entirely that when I was about 13, I read this book in the school library, and promptly forgot what it was called or where I’d grabbed it. And it very, very obviously lead into a sequel.

So it’s on the list because it kinda stuck in the back of my mind til I was about 25, when I was at a secondhand book sale and found another copy of it. It did not live up to expectations, but at least I learned what happened.

5. Deverry Cycle series by Katherine Kerr
I chewed through these in high school. They’re still quite high fantasy in the sense of Tolkien, but Kerr showed me that stories could centre around women as well as men. With an introduction to the ideas of reincarnation and magic, it matched the little New Age Hippie I was at the time.

Also I really really liked the elves.

6. How To Suppress Women’s Writing by Joanna Russ
It was a toss up between The Female Man and this. I chose this book. It’s not the one that made me cry, but it’s the one that helped me understand and conceptualise a lot of points I’d kind of been aware of, noticed, but had not been able to express or clarify to myself.

Also, omg powerful book jesus christ.

7. The Queen Of Erewhon by Lucy Sussex
A short story rather than a book, but one that was incredibly powerful and a huge influence on me. I nag everyone on the planet to read it whenever given the chance.

8. Secret Six by Gail Simone
Fucking hilarious, and full of characters I just love. It also introduced me to Simone’s amazing writing and made me fall in love with characters I never thought for the life of me I could be interested in.

9. The Authority by Warren Ellis
I still really really really want to be Jenny Sparks when I grow up. Nothing really deep here, just Jenny is amazing.

10. The Hiketeia by Greg Rucka
The first comic I ever read that made me appreciate how Wonder Woman could be awesome and cut through bullshit rather than being the stuck-up bitch I was used to seeing as a side character in other comics.

The art is shitty but I have to love it for that.

Episode 22: Not Wolverine!

The 22nd episode of How I Got My Boyfriend to Read Comics. Please note, due wisdom teeth being removed, there’s about a week delay between the podcast being recorded and posted.

How I Got My Boyfriend To Read Comics (tiny)

The News

  • Arkham Origins is out! Neither of us own or have played it – probably will soon though. Heard good things.
  • DC Scribblenauts is out. Neither of us own or have played it. Or own a console to play it.
  • Marvel Lego superheroes. Neither of us own or have played it.
  • Look to the XXP girls if you want actual superhero gaming opinions.
  • Zoe joined a beta of a browser game Flight Rising. It is the greatest.
  • DC moving away from New York offices moving mostly west coast. via Bleeding Cool.
  • NYCC was awhile back. There’s gonna be a Batman comic with Stephanie Brown! Again, via Bleeding Cool.

What We’ve Been Reading



  • Heroes for Hire. Was bad. A few seconds of interest then no, badness, boring.
  • Girl Comics was interesting.  Like the write-ups of the previous women.
  • She’s Fantastical edited by Lucy Sussex.
  • A Week in the Future by Catherine Helen Spence. Early suffragette sci-fi available for free as an ebook? Yes please.
  • Discordia by Molly Crabapple and Laurie Penny. Was good.
  • Currently reading Infinite Jest. Because fukken English majors making me feel bad for not.


  • Snuff by Terry Pratchett.
  • The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter.

Not Wolverine

Exploring the Marvel world despite not reading about the best Marvel comic character (Carol Danvers). We decided looking at Wolverine would be too easy, so rather than discuss Hugh Jackman, we’d look at side characters: one of Wolverine’s kids and his clone. Results were mixed.

We looked at the following books for comparison:
X-23: The Killing Dream and Chaos Theory, written by Marjoie Liu;
Dark Wolverine:  The Prince and My Hero, written Marjorie Liu and Daniel Way;
and also Daken: Dark Wolverine vs X-23: Collision was read by Chris.


As always you can send us feedback in several ways. Leave a message on this blog post or on the Facebook page. You can also tweet to @thewolverina or email If you enjoyed listening, you can even leave a comment on our iTunes page. You can also receive notifications for all our podcast updates via RSS on the How I Got My Boyfriend To Read Comics homepage.

Just over a year on.

I’m a little bit cut up to be in Perth, WA (Australia) this year, rather than Seattle, WA (United States). Last year, I had the time of my life at Geek Girl Con ‘12, traveling by myself for the first time away from my home state. This weekend was Geek Girl Con ’13 for those of you that don’t pay attention.

I couldn’t afford to go this year, I went to a friends wedding in Oregon earlier in the year. I don’t regret deciding to go to the wedding in, but I’ve been watching the twitter feed for @geekgirlcon and its associated hashtag, feeling incredibly jealous and admiring the amazing cosplay and atmosphere that the convention seems to produce. Some Australian friends that live overseas and could get to the convention are helping by making me jealous with tweets like these:

Apparently I don’t just get to be jealous of the amazing array of guests (even more people I admire!) and the amazing program, I also get to miss out on people nerding out about my favourite musician.


Fair Warning: The rest of this post is just going to be horrible sentimental drivel, remembering what a great time last year was.

In 2013, I got to meet so many new friends, including the infamous Kyrax2 (the Batgirl of SDCC), Jason Sacks, Day and their families*. These people spoiled me rotten, after realising I knew noone when I took up Kyrax’s open invite for karaoke – not just for GGC but for my entire trip (Jason is particularly to blame for me discovering Fantographics, as well as convincing me I wanted to see New York and more importantly NYCC).

I also got to meet many amazing and creative people: Gail Simone, Jen Van Meter, Bryan Q Miller, Jane Espenson, Renae DeLiz (the brains behind the Womanthology project) and Jill Pantozzi (she writes at The Mary Sue). Again, I everyone was that I met was so lovely and kind, especially Miller who gave me the third Batgirl trade which I had been struggling to get. I still haven’t gotten the first one, sadly.

Star-struckness aside, I genuinely enjoyed everything about the con itself. I went to quite a few panels and workshops, and in all of them, I was impressed by the positivity and constructive attitude of those involved. It wasn’t a bunch of women nerds just bitching out the patriarchy, it was genuinely a huge collection of people giving each other advice and discussing projects and passions in a way that was fantastic.

I’ve been to many conventions (I even helped run one this year in Perth, where I inconveniently came down with a sinus infection) and I have to say, it is easily the most fun and the most freeing convention I have been to, for the creativity, positive vibe, safe environment, fantastic people, projects and options. This is a brilliant achievement that shouldn’t be underrated.

I haven’t blogged that much since Geek Girl Con. I was overwhelmed with three months’ travel and struggled to settle back into normal life when I got home. It took a while to remember why I started this blog and its podcast in the first place. The drive to understand and articulate my thoughts on my reading is only just starting to come back. This weekend, thinking on all this, it really hit me: I’m not near events like these, reviewing and critiquing what I read online. Getting the commentary is the closest I come to that kind of experience otherwise.

Basically I’m holding out for 2014. I guess I know what I’m saving up for.



* Plus many others but I don’t know who is cool with being linked to what.