badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Rachel Swirsky, Evelyn Brown,


I came in late to a discussion of the torture scene in the Steerswoman series! (this blew me away - i love these books and that's such an important scene)

oyceter: what happens when you take the wizards, the white western open source approach to tech and apply it to another culture where it has a different effect

Bork has written down "stairswoman". we are both giggling as we imagine what the Stairswoman series would be...

(mod question on science)

jhkim: science can't be treated as different from social structures b/c science is a social process. it is often misrepresented in the history of science, that individual scientists are just smart. thus, nobel laureate sperm bank. if you read in depth histories of science it's all written in retrospective, the things they got right are their genius, but the things they got wrong were just.... Anyway it's a much more social process . margaret wertheim, pythagoras' trousers. A good book.

micole: History of science, evelyn fox keller, problematic work on the social culture of high energy physics. sharon tralick. Science as a social practice, ways that particular theories get accepted or rejected based on the social interactions. bio of Barbara McClintock. what ways do our social practice of science are embodying ideas about what's evidence and what's knowledge and what you look at and accept. the war of the left on science is SF as a mythology of science. Science is this magic powder that makes everything cooler and everything right? like the firefly effect where it' cool because you're in space in your space ship wearing your space pants.

Rachel: the original question might not be so relevant now...

Aud: science as a western construct that specifically came out of a time period. inextricably woven with imperialism and colonialism. not possible to separate the scientific method, we can't separate it from the inhuman.... we bring our own things in...

Rachel to jhkim: you felt it was the rsponibitiy of scientists to defend science and make its points clear. that interacts with what we heard about the war on science.

jhkim: there is often this idea wihch certainly among scientists is, their job is to discover what the truth is. it's someone elses' job to disseminate that truth to everyone else. they become very frustrated when the authority of science is challenged. Hmm. they should consider themselves to have a responsibilty within the overall structure. their message, whether it's used or misused, they do have a role in it and should take part in science education.

Rachel: hard sf using jargon to convey authority.

jhkim dont want to dump on most recent example, it's not fair

rachel : go ahead

jhkim : well okay it was blindsight, searle's chinese room and some neurological science, general jargon about space travel... brown dwarfs...

Rachel: robert sawyer... where you use one argument to prop up another bad argument.

jhkim: lending an aura of authenticity rahter than communicating what the underlying science is.

rachel: so we've talked about using the language of science for credibilty. do readers buy into it?

joyce: who has the right to know? who gets to *know*? books about the practice of science. a lot of them don't question the fact taht some people don't have the right to know. the subject/object psotion in the social sciences. while some books question it they don't push it as far as i want.

rachel: maybe because the sf comes from countries who were colonical oppressors

aud: well i don't know much sci fi outside of the US. the idea of anthropological science and studying alien other and "going native"

rachel: anthrobpology, to be better imperialists... anthropologists could study another culture and come backa nd say how we can oppress them better...

aud: the blank spaces on the map, here there be dragons, well people live there and they know it, we don't know it, but we posit them as blank, or places to be filled in. and they're not.

rachel: is this related to that internet hooey about the book that replaced native americans with animals?

aud: that's not a good representation of it at all.

jhkim: the national museum in washington has native americans in 'natrual history" not in american history

oyce: yes, with the taxidermy animals

micole: like eduardo galeano and the conquistador who stood where he could see the pacific and atlantic at the same time... 13th child , you can't end up in the same place with pioneer culture by facing magic mammoths instead of prior cultures. if you google mammothfail you will find lots of discussion.

((I feel like there is a seethign underurrent of people who want to challenge the stuff about anthrolopology and dig into that a science and with examples from sf... i am a bit... but a lot of people started fidgeting and muttering.) (Same with mention of Mammothfail, a little murmur in the room...)

(subject changed)

Micole: a metaphor for being able to stop working on something else but someone else just comes up with it anyway thus absolving the scientists of any responsibility. atomic bomb used by the us on japan. so obvious it's embarrassing to say them.

Evelyn B.: what micole just said about general cultural narratives. peopel buy into the general colonialist viewpoint. but to what extent the shiny science actually furthers that. even if readers are resistant to the shininess of the science, there is reader buy-in without that being thru the Science Shiny Good. there might be two paths there.

oyce: writen from the point of view of the scientist/colonizer. oh, when they're talking about those object they're studying, they're talinab about me. the author might think the reader is identifying with that figure but i'm not... i'm identifying with the Outskirters or whatever.. who are being studied.

Rachel i thin it's very difficutl to create fiction from an american perspetive and give it to the people to read the boos and do idenfity with rowan, it can be difficult to get the reader to identify with the subject position.

micole: i'm concerned by the way we're talking about science as an exculsively western thign because it's an imperialist narrative that science developed in the West without other influences but while the west was barbaric , science was very advanced in other parts of the world, i will throw out cliches caue they're all i know, math in middle east, astronomy in middle america, medicine in islamic countries, when we say we don't hav access to what science in another culture would look like, we actually do, we don't need an alternate history, we have our actual history, we just don't know it so we think it doesn't exist.

joyce: THE scientific revolution. there were many of them, all around! imperialism and colonialms so tightly coupled! it wouldn't be THE scientisfic revolution if it weren't for imperialism and colonialism!

micole: atevi books by cj cherryh. they crash landed on this island are are slowly releaseing their technology, i was getting weird colonialist vibes like oh cj cherryh dpnt make me hate you! but then later the aliens are realy distressed byt hte idea of FTL travel! and i thought oh that's realy backward of them but by the end of the book she had established that the aliens had a way more deep understanding of math and topology and the theory of relativity, it's not that they're superstitious and strange , they're being RIGHT...b ecause they know more. It turned around the entire assumption of superior science and superior understanding adn technological advantage, of technology equally understanding of the physical universe. that was a book really useful in overturning the imperial narrative.

oyce: you cant compare the war on science from the xtian right, from, stuff that violates people's view of themselves, becuase it depends on viewpoint and who's the colonizer.

Rachel: I do edit a magazine and we public work, and we try to spublish work that is anti racist. people react who are white male libertarians with a military background, often in the computer industry. and they say "i don't get it. this is about NOTHING" and i say what! this is very clearly about something! this is about race, did you notice the word black being used? and when they hit race, they just igore it, they can't see it. how do you get people to look at things they don't want to look at. i think to some extent setting them up with a narrative they think they identify with and then subvert it. and does it work? instead of being subverted they hit the subersive part and don't even get mad, they just go HUH?

aud: they dont SEE race, Rachel!

*laughter*

Rachel: what is out there other than taking on the mantle of objectivity.

aud: read octavian nothing! it's not sf... rewriting these tropes of exploration and conquest, from the different point of view and switching it off... it's hard to say how well it will go over. will they read it. but having those stories out there is so good.

jhkim: you ahve to reduce the scope a lot if you want to convey points, rather than haviing a lot of jargon, you have to actually educate. be less far reaching within the stories and just ahve a core point which you explain from a number of points of view, simplifiy as far as the science and social aspects.

Micole: it's interesting that the text we coming up with are not hard sf and are not in the core of sf they're weird alternate sf or alternate history. steerswoman series is actually about the scientific method. ted chiang, tower of babel, 72 letters, inventing dna because it makes sense. octavian nothing! is historical, is not sF but is very deeply about the scientific method.

evelyn: well it responds to sf ways of reading. i read it on your recommedatin. he's raised by aliens. i picked it up not knowing he was a slave and not knowing hie was balck. i was reading the whole first chapter as science fiction. and when i figured it out, i just decided to keep reading it like it was, though it is not even alternate history, it's our real history.

micole: cuckoo's egg, cj cherryh, octavian nothing as historical ficiton responds to sf reading protocols, says a lot about sf as a literature.

rachel: earthy women, male scientists...

orange mike: are you going to cripple your fiction by...
racheL : ableist language!
(i was talking with pat murphy and lost what was being said)

timmi: Vandana Singh. Distances, about a mathematician. and the male reviewers aren't liking it, it doesn't fit their notion of what a mathematician's like. she has this character developing mathematical models,. stories about indian physicists, in one he's very old and he doesn't fit the image that science fiction likes to give of scientists, so her work is not read as hard sf, but i think it is. she does give an image of science in a foregin culture that john was asking about.

rachel: fiction that disclaims the mantle of problematic aspects of science, becomes not science fiction any more ..

nancy jane: question...

oyce: she's very good, high energy phyciss in japan, gender and what's going on. the ethnological perspective.... she doesn't notice she's doing it to the japanese scientsts, she doesn't see it and that there's this racial issue.

micole: octavia butler book Survivor where they made the green woman on the cover, sf readers can't identify with black woman but they can with a green one

timmi: in Distances she has green skin...

joyce: language so metaphorized that they write out these issues entiresly, you can't even say the aliens are a metaphor for brown people because, you kno, there are no brown people!

micole : it's hard to take the recognition of your subjectivity all the way down, it's subjectivity all the way down likte it's turtles all the way down.

Rachel: octavia butler, Amnesty...

Aud: privileged position of science in colonialsim . the Free Market is taking the place of that in neocolonialism. what the Market wants,etc.

micole: is neocolonialism not so neo...

joyce: the free hand of econimics is like the totally objective, oh, it will change everything,perfect objectifity makeing a level playing ground. we just elt everying run its course and everything will be fine! the IMF, world bank, and chain post colonialist countries,

jhkim: economics pretends to be a sicence, but our scientific social structures, but how people understand eonomics feeds back into how "economics" behaves! this needs to be studied some, how people, if people come up with a new economic formula, this is then known by people making the strucutures, but we're still treating it with the same social structures as if there are economic sicentists and bussinesspeople, but in reality they are the same people!

pc hodgell: i dont see how you can say it isn't science because it has positive feedback! many things have feedback.

jhkim: scince is not all of rationality or all experimentalism, but it is a particular social structure

rache: cutting off this fascinating topic it's not QUITE on topic

jhkim: sorry

heyiya: west getting to say what objecivity and sicence and rationality are. the idea of rationality has a specific history! what we think it means to know something is so tied into what we think human is, from western enlightenment. distinction between science and rationaisma nd objectiity, all these terms have been claimed by colonialsim! i'm not sure there's any way out fo that.

Rachel: awesome but cutting you off now

Aud: Recommendations . books in fantasy, not considered science b/c deal with shamanism or intellectual property rights and other cultures, anything that won't make my head explode?

Rachel: ambling along the aqueduct, i will post a list. expand and list!

aud: a book very popular i can't remember... human behavior ... can't remember
liz: robin hobb liveship

timmi: woman who thought she was a planet. And Distances, which is from Aqueduct.
aud: science, gender, race in america,
aud: mismeaure of man
aud: years of rice and salt, all of western civ is dead
aud: the body hunters, non fiction about big pharma and testing on the poor
aud: colonialism and grass roots science. and(***) Shiva
aud: (somthing else big pharma and ) Pump Six
timmi: Donna Haraway's Primate Visions. an obvious one!
racheL: tiptree stories
aud: the sparrow....
rest of aud: Whut?
aud: well she stated she wanted to explore colonialism and...
rachel: with good intentions but...

Date: 2009-05-23 06:30 pm (UTC)
al_zorra: (Default)
From: [personal profile] al_zorra
Are you live blogging?

In any case, thank you so much for these reports. They are carefully perused and deeply appreciated.

Love, C.

Date: 2009-05-23 06:32 pm (UTC)
al_zorra: (Default)
From: [personal profile] al_zorra
BTW, 'colonical oppressors' is one of the best coinages evah!

Love, c.

Date: 2009-05-24 07:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] madam-silvertip.livejournal.com
I may be misreading this: I just want to say I asked a question about "Beamtimes and Lifetimes" and don't remember seeing Nancy Jane there so maybe it's just that I look a little like her from a distance. If there was something else that she said, no desire to gank it.

Date: 2009-05-25 03:07 pm (UTC)
elf: Another link in the chain (Linkspam)
From: [personal profile] elf
This post has been included in a Linkspam roundup.

Date: 2009-05-25 10:59 pm (UTC)
la_vie_noire: (Default)
From: [personal profile] la_vie_noire
Wow. Amazing write up. I always enjoy these.

Date: 2009-05-26 09:53 am (UTC)
la_vie_noire: (Meets Minimal Standards of Decent Human)
From: [personal profile] la_vie_noire
Uhm, by the way, I never got the courage to tell you this because I'm self-conscious like that, and always think I'm going to screw up worse or sound pretentious.

But I'm really, really sorry to have used ableist language in your journal. It was a year ago, during that Wiscon imbroglio. I used "retard" as an insult to one of those SA trolls.

I had no excuse. I'm sorry.

Date: 2009-05-26 06:52 pm (UTC)
la_vie_noire: (Anthy flower)
From: [personal profile] la_vie_noire
Hey, thank you. Still, I was just plainly ignorant then.

Date: 2009-05-26 03:20 am (UTC)
coffeeandink: (Default)
From: [personal profile] coffeeandink
I'm pretty sure the comment attributed to P.C. Hodgell was made by Beth Friedman.

Date: 2009-05-26 05:51 pm (UTC)
cofax7: climbing on an abbey wall  (Default)
From: [personal profile] cofax7
What? I was in the SAME ROOM as PC Hodgell?

::whimpers::

Date: 2009-05-26 06:07 pm (UTC)
coffeeandink: (Default)
From: [personal profile] coffeeandink
No, I don't think PC Hodgell was in the room.

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