• Sigrid Ellis

  • Bio

    Sigrid Ellis is co-editor of the Hugo-nominated Queers Dig Time Lords and Chicks Dig Comics anthologies. She edits the best-selling Pretty Deadly from Image Comics. She is the flash-fiction editor of Queers Destroy Science Fiction, from Lightspeed Press. She edited the Hugo-nominated Apex Magazine for 2014. She lives with her partner, their two homeschooled children, her partner’s boyfriend, and a host of vertebrate and invertebrate pets in Saint Paul, MN.
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I have two essential reactions to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

First is that I have lost the ability to not-see issues of representation in my fiction. I spent a great deal of time wondering why on Earth the human lead, Malcom, could not have been a woman of color. I couldn’t think of a single story-related reason for it.

I also noted, with tired resignation, that for a story set in California, the background characters were AWFULLY white.

But my second opinion is that, yes, it’s probably true that a chimpanzee does not suffer the recoil penalty when dual-wielding assault rifles.

Once a gamer, always a gamer.

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NetFlix’s House of Cards

I finished season two of NetFlix’s House of Cards. The last moments of the last episode gave me chills, the good kind. I loved the second season about as much as I loved the first.

The second season had a harder challenge, I think. Because we-the-viewers knew how the show works, from season one, how do you do that again, without making it either predictable or unbelievable? In my opinion, season two managed to deliver.

The question in my mind in every episode is how loyalty works. House of Cards is, fundamentally, a show in which almost all that happens is characters stand around and have conversations. They promise each other things, they threaten. They deliver on those promises or fall through. They give their word of honor and keep or break it. It’s a show about things that don’t exist, and yet is about that thing which pervades all the other things we do and build and destroy. It’s a show in which all the action comes from and is the trust and loyalty of human relationships.

I love these relationships. I love all of them. I root for people to be their best selves, I mourn when they are not. I cheer for the Underwood’s marriage, and wince when I think they are in conflict. I watch through my fingers in anxiety when the loyalty of trusted followers is tested, hoping that they remain true.

… It doesn’t even matter to me, that much, to whom they are loyal. I just want to see loyalty and trust and fidelity come through.

It does, sometimes, on House of Cards. Sometimes it does not.

In the same way that I recommended the first season of Scandal to people by saying “it’s what would happen if the team from Leverage were Neutral Evil instead of Chaotic Good,” House of Cards is the mirror-verse of The West Wing. It’s the Neutral Evil version of The West Wing‘s Lawful (or Neutral) Good.

I like this show a lot. I highly recommend it, if what you want is lots of dubiously ethical people having whispered conversations in halls of power.

Excellent stuff.

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Finally saw FROZEN

I finally got a chance to go see the movie Frozen. I took my daughter. We both liked it a great deal.

Frozen is the first media property that I first encountered or watched on Tumblr that was ACCURATELY represented by Tumblr. I saw Pacific Rim first on Tumblr, and was rather surprised when I got to the theater and found the main character to be a scruffy white guy. I first saw Teen Wolf on Tumblr, and was disappointed to find that the women and people of color on the show are not the ensemble leads. But Frozen was as advertised.

I have seen an analysis of the movie that discusses Elsa in terms of a coming-out metaphor. I find this analysis to be valid and accurate.

I have seen an analysis of the movie discussing Elsa’s value as a lead character with some mental and emotional imbalances, her value as a role model for people with depression and anxiety. I find this analysis valid and accurate.

I have heard how Anna is an amazing hero-protagonist, active and powerful and trusting in herself. I find this analysis to be valid and accurate.

I have read how featly the film disembowels the myth of love-at-first-sight, and I enthusiastically approve of how this is portrayed. Kudos to the filmmakers.

The one thing I haven’t seen anyone talk about yet — and that’s probably merely because I haven’t gone and looked — is a discussion of the choices made by Elsa and Anna’s parents. The choice to lie to one daughter and imprison the other.

The thing is …

The thing is, I believe that these parents were supremely well-intentioned. They did not lock Elsa in a dungeon. In fact, when they left on their two-week trip, they left Elsa in charge. They had clearly trained her to be queen next. Everyone in the kingdom expected her to be queen, and expected her to be a competent ruler. There was no incipient rebellion, no palace coup. Elsa was raised to rule.

Her parents clearly thought that their eldest daughter had one issue, one controllable flaw that had to be hidden. But it wasn’t a deal-breaker. She was still their daughter, still the eldest, still the heir. They still loved her.

I have terrifically divided feelings about this.

On the one hand, “we love you as long as you lie to everyone about who and what you are” is poison to people. Especially when it so obviously comes from a place of love. Elsa tried so hard to not merely do what they said but to BE what she needed to be — and that trick, well, it hardly ever is sustainable.

On the other hand, I am a parent now.

It’s my job as a parent to love my kids. But it’s also my job to shape them, over twenty-odd years, into competent adults. Sometimes that shaping involves hugs and laughter and pride. Sometimes that shaping involves shouting and tears. I mean well. I love my kids and I mean well, but I have no idea how they are taking some of the things I say.

I certainly do not intend for “you must pick up your dirty clothes or you will have to write an essay on the importance of respecting communal space” to be taken as “do what I say or I won’t love you anymore.” I SINCERELY HOPE that it’s not taken that way, please for the love of crickets.

But I can’t know for sure.

I do know when I’ll find out — In twenty or thirty years, when my kids will (probably) have kids of their own.

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Holiday, health, Apex, and more

1. It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the U.S. Every year, for school, we sit down with the kids and watch a short documentary about the March on Washington, and King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

There’s obviously so much more to King’s life and work than that speech. But the speech alone, and the March, are such a part of the American mythos, so important to cultural literacy, that we have made sure the kids know that much.

2. I have a date for a throat biopsy. February 14th. This is inconvenient, in that I can’t sleep and can’t work more than 65% of the time. It’s comforting, in that were my situation an emergency, I would be having the biopsy sooner. (When I had a Weird-Looking Mass in my abdomen a few years back, I went from ultrasound to surgery in a matter of weeks. That fact alone was frightening.)

However, I can qualify for FMLA, and I have savings. I need to get a letter from the doctor asserting that I get FMLA rights and protections, and then I should be fine.

3. Apex Magazine opened for submissions on January 1st.

I am thrilled at the quality of work that is coming my way. Y’all are turning in some very good stories. Of course, I can’t publish them all. This means that very good, publication-worthy work is going to be rejected by me. It’s not you, it’s me. I promise. Take your short story and send it out again.

4. M is in his second term of Art Skillz. He likes it a lot, and is learning. I am personally impressed with the worksheets and materials that he brings home. This class is certainly not going to be useful for everyone, but M is thriving.

5. I am excited for season two of Vikings!

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2013 Moments in Fandom

When I was a young adult, I told people I was a feminist. Which I believed to be true. And then I strove to match what I thought a feminist would be according to other people. I looked around for some sort of community standard, and aimed for it. And when I failed I said “I’m a bad feminist” or “that wasn’t very feminist of me.”

These days, if I do it or say it or think it or feel it, it’s feminist, because I am one, and I am doing it.

This is how I feel about 2013 and fandom.

Your main fandom of the year?

I don’t think I had one. I re-read the Phryne Fisher series two more times. I watched Doctor Who, and Once Upon a Time, and other shows from last year. There are a lot of things I enjoyed this year, but none to the point of obsession.

Your favorite film you watched this year?

That’s probably Pacific Rim. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I loved the acting, the costumes and set decoration, the soundtrack, the visual effects. I yelped in glee during some of the fight scenes. I love the character interactions and dynamics. And I love the messages of the movie.

What I probably love the most about Pacific Rim, though, is the pure love my son has for it. He loves the kaiju. Loves them. When I see adorable fanart of baby kaiju on Tumblr, I save the posts to show him. I am planning on taking both the kids to see Godzilla because “Godzilla was the first kaiju.”

Your favorite book read this year?

Parasite, by Mira Grant.

I don’t know how to talk about what makes this book so good without giving away the cliffhanger punchline of an ending. (And this is the first book in a series, so the ending is more of a pause in events.) But I love the narrative voice. I love the premise of the world. I love the way Mira weaves queers and people of color and people of different ages and abilities into her books. The building of fictional worlds the resemble our own reality should not be so noteworthy, but it still is, and Mira does a fantastic job.

The story rockets along, and I deeply want to know what happens next.

Your favorite tv show of the year?

Oh, easy.

Sleepy Hollow.

This show is RIDIC. It is … it is crazypants whackadoo ambitiously off the rails. And it knows this and it owns it and it is keeping faith with the viewer. This is a show in which a time-travelling Ichabod Crane is just a blip in the premise that revolves around the Book of Revelations and the End of Days.

Oh, and Hessians. Can’t forget the Hessians. (Stuff You Missed in History did a special podcast on the Hessians just because so many people were emailing in to ask about them, as a direct result of this show.)

Here’s the thing. The opening credits cast has four names in it. Two are women. Two are people of color. The show runners and writers have specifically and publicly committed to casting diversity, to casting for women and people of color. And they are doing a damn fine job. If Sleepy Hollow, a show set in New England and also set in the 1770s early America, can easily feature women and people of color as their main characters, then all the rest of you tv shows don’t have any sort of bullshit excuse. No more of this “well, it’s not historically accurate,” or, “that doesn’t make sense for where the story takes place.”

Nope. Nuh-uh. Suck it up, writers. Your excuses are invalid.

Your best new fandom discovery of the year?

Sleepy Hollow, as I mention above.

The television reviews of Genevieve Valentine, particularly her reviews of Reign.

The truly wonderful Geek Girl Con, which I hope to get back to in a year or two.

Your biggest fandom disappointment of the year?

Scandal. This show was my HUGE favorite last year, and this year’s season just … I don’t even know. So many things are not right about it, I have stopped watching.

Second runner-up? Agents of SHIELD. This Marvel cinematic universe tie-in had absolutely every advantage, and it’s just not very good. I am watching it with my son, and I will keep watching it. But I really hope it finds some sort of footing after the mid-season break. I tend to do a lot of texting while we watch it together.

Your fiction boyfriend of the year?

Movie-verse Thor.
Movie-verse Captain America.
Stacker Pentacost

Your fiction girlfriend of the year?

It’s still Regina Mills from Once Upon a Time. I mean the show is really not very good, and the parts I care about are only 20% of what happens on the screen. But I still care what happens to her.

Your biggest squee moment of the year?

I quite liked The Day of the Doctor, the big Doctor Who episode for the 50th anniversary.

I squealed out loud in the movie theater during Pacific Rim when Gypsy Danger picked up a ship like a baseball bat.

The most missed of your old fandoms?

Comics. For various reasons, I haven’t kept up with reading comics this year, and I miss them. I hope to get back into the habit in 2014.

Your biggest fan anticipations for the coming year?

New Sherlock season!
The continuation of the Marvel cinematic universe!
New Phryne Fisher novel!

I am certain there is more. There’s ALWAYS more amazing, unexpected, fantastic stuff coming. Because the world is full of talented and ambitious people driven to produce story.

My thanks to them all.

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Doctor Who, “Day of the Doctor”

Because I was out of town, I am a little bit late to the party. But I did finally see the most recent episode of Doctor Who, “Day of the Doctor.”

I liked it.

I liked it rather a lot.

I had been wondering where the show was going to head next. As much as I have liked the last couple of series, I must admit that I am growing a wee bit tired of the “what terrible secret or power does THIS Companion hold?!?!?!” thingy. And, while there are hints of that in this episode, it’s just hints. Phew.

On the chance that you might not have seen the episode yet, I won’t say what the new show direction actually is. But I liked how they got there. I liked the super-sekrit-plot-twist this time. So often it seems shoe-horned in, the super-sekrit-plot-twist. But this time it seemed to make a bit more sense.

Inasmuch as ANY Doctor Who plot twist makes sense, you understand.

If you drifted away from the show in the last season or two, may I suggest giving this episode a chance? It is clearly making a fresh start, and might well be worth your time.

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Reign

I started watching the new tv series Reign this weekend. I can’t think of anything to say that Genevieve Valentine has not already covered. Let me direct you to her episode recaps:

Ten Things You Should Know About Reign

“Most of the time, however, they’re sort of magnificently awful; among a higher-than-likely quota of cooing and squealing, historically they were all named Mary, and they are now named Kenna, Greer, Lola, and Aylee, because Reign has nary a fuck left to give.”

Reign: Snakes in the Garden

“I have to say, I respect this show’s level of Who Cares, I respect it more than I thought I would, but if the goal is to modernize the dresses into Gossip Girl levels of covetable couture, as the costume designer has suggested was entirely the point of dressing them like this, I still don’t understand why they’re dressed like this. Every single one of these dresses is a monster; one of them has an enormous fake flower stapled to the bodice, and that’s BARELY the ugliest one. I honestly don’t know what to tell this show.”

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