charlie jane anders


Daniel Handler: “A book that buoyed me during this grim year is All The Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders, which some people might have missed because some bookstores, despite my efforts to display the novel in the front window, keep it on the sci-fi shelf instead. It’s a magical, cross-genre sort of book, reminding us that childhood friendships can be just as magical and mysterious as, say, the ability to talk to the animals of the forest, and that we might get older but we’ll never leave behind what truly haunts us. It’s a funny and generous novel, a sad and wise one too. And it carries a torch, as I do, for San Francisco, my hometown and Anders’s too, from whence my hope and help doth rise.”

Of all of Class’ teens, the darkest is Charlie (Greg Austin),
who looks like the male lead of a CW show but has a disturbing secret.  'I love a character who has something really uncomfortable about them,’ says Ness.  'Charlie is handsome. He is our stereotypical hero.  He has a lovely boyfriend.’  And yet, Charlie’s relationship with the group’s thorny teacher, Miss Quill (Katherine Kelly), is one of the most twisted things the Doctor Who universe has ever seen.

ohmeursault  asked:

I hope spring in Boston is treating you well! What are you reading lately?

Spring is okay now that it’s no longer trying to kill me with pollen. Things are even blooming!

I’m reading several things, as always. Because ADD is nothing if not exciting!

All the Birds in the Sky - Charlie Jane Anders

This is scifi novel about the relationship between a witch who can speak to animals and a tech genius who is trying to save humanity from impending environmental doom by opening a wormhole to another world. I’m almost finished with it and it’s…okay so far. It touches on a lot of things that I like: artificial intelligence, magic, nature fighting back, the way society changes after apocalypse scenarios. Unfortunately so far it hasn’t really asked any deeper questions about any of these things. It does contain the line: I don’t think a crow has ever even considered the categorical imperative. I like that line a lot.

Diary of an Oxygen Thief - Anonymous

I hate this. I’m reading it for an episode of my friend’s podcast and I just don’t have the words for the disgust I feel over it. Well, I guess I do because I’ve been taking notes, but ugh. It’s ostensibly a true account of the life of a horrendously abusive asshole written by said asshole. It starts with the line ‘I liked hurting girls’ and then plows on through many gleeful descriptions of the abuse he heaped on unsuspecting women and how alive it made him feel until one of them hurt him and then suddenly he’s been reformed and I’m supposed to feel sympathy for him. Like, fuck you, bro. And if this is all marketing to somehow bring depth to an otherwise limp and sensationally uninteresting narrative then fuck everyone involved. 

This is gonna be some episode of Worst Bestsllers, guys. Get your booze and popcorn ready.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma - Bessel van der Kolk, MD

My therapist wanted me to read this, but it’s kind of a lot so I’m taking my time with it. It’s a really thorough discussion of the way trauma and living with PTSD affects people’s minds and bodies. The author spent time working with Vietnam veterans before anyone really understood the toll PTSD could really take on a person’s physical and mental health. From there he moved on to victims of abuse. I’m not sure if it’s quite comforting to be able to look at the cases of people who have it much worse than me and go ‘that, I have that’, but it does bring me some sense of understanding my place in all of it. And it’s not a competition, I guess. I’ve always done better with concepts when I can understand them from the inside out. 

I do recommend this one for anyone who lives with PTSD or knows anyone who does. 

Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell - Charles Simic

Joseph Cornell was an assemblage sculptor who was heavily influenced by the surrealist movement that was happening during his lifetime. He created intricately arranged shadowboxes and collages with found objects, among other things. 

Charles Simic is a poet who set out to write a book based on the work and life of Joseph Cornell in a form he thought might be the literary equivalent of Cornell’s work. The end product is a series of short prose pieces that are sometimes poetic and sometimes curious. 

I’m thinking about doing a collection of short poetic prose of my own based around a single story, so I’ve been trying to read examples of that by other authors and poets. I am quite enjoying this one. 

The Agents’ #FridayReads, April edition…
Dead Letters, Caite Dolan-Leach (Agent Ampersand)
Moshi Moshi, Banana Yoshimoto (Agent Brooklina)
All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders (Agent Bumblebee)
Mudbound, Hillary Jordan (Agent Daily Double)
They are Trying to Break Your Heart, David Savill (Agent Eyre)
Travels With My Aunt, Graham Greene (Agent Laundry)
Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby (Agent Llama)
The Idiot, Elif Batuman (Agent Pineapple)
Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan (Agent Saurus)
The Vegetarian, Han Kang (Agent Scully)
Emperor Mage, Tamora Pierce (Agent Silvertongue)
Ordeal by Innocence, Agatha Christie (Agent Sparrow)
People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks (Agent Sunshine)
An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York’s Irish and Italians, Paul Moses (Agent Touchdown)
Piper Perish, Kayla Cagan (Agent Velocipede)
The Dream of Perpetual Motion, Dexter Palmer (Agent Woollysocks)


Surprised and pleased to see Laurie Penny here. I’ll be pleased if she wins.
Hope Chuck Tingle gets his award last year, if only to spite Nazi trolls.
Fuck Vox Day. He can fuck right off.
A tad surprised to see Dr Mysterio, but what are the 21st century Hugo Awards without a Doctor Who nomination? There’ll never come a time we don’t need Doctor Who.
“Battle of the Bastards” wouldn’t have been my pick. “Winds of Winter” all the way. Happy to see “The Door” nominated though.
Note to self: listen to clipping. (Also holy shit)
Arrival! Yes! Please win. Thankfully Deadpool won’t win.
WicDiv and Injection continue to not get shoutouts. Sigh.
Kameron Hurley! Yes! RIP Carrie Fisher. Yay Gaiman!
China Miéville! <3
Note to self: read Charlie Jane Anders.
The Obelisk Gate is a marvelous book and I’ll be very happy if it wins, but nothing can top the ecstasy of last year’s win for The Fifth Season (I quietly screamed when that happen).
Overall, a worthy list of contenders. I’m afraid I’ve exhausted my knowledge of last year’s SFF. Looks like I’ll have to go back a bit. But man, we’re in good shape.
Bestselling YA author James Dawson comes out as transgender
Exclusive: Multi-award-winning YA author James Dawson spoke to BuzzFeed News about his gender transition, why he's still using "he", and why he refuses to hide away.
By Patrick Strudwick

James Dawson, the author of award-winning books like Hollow Pike, Say Her Name and This Book Is Gay, came out as a trans woman in an exclusive interview with BuzzFeed UK. Dawson asked BuzzFeed to continue to refer to him using his birth name and he/him pronouns for now. 

In the interview, Dawson says he was “confused about why he wasn’t a girl” since he was 3, and that he would express his gender in ways that little girls did. He was bullied and didn’t find an outlet for expressing himself the way he wanted, and he came out as gay. But during a workshop in 2013, he met an 11-year-old trans girl named Charlie who made him think differently.

“She had decided in year 7 that she was going to start going to school as a girl,” he says. “She was so cool and smart and I just thought to myself, Imagine if that had been you, if you’d been able to have your whole life in the right gender. I realised, If she can do it in a Lambeth school, aged 11, you have no excuse at 30. None. You’ve got to confront this.

From there, he says, his gender identity became clear through a succession of small realisations. “And it was a proper surprise that I wasn’t gay, was never gay, and was trans the whole way through,” he says, pausing, as if to evoke the penny dropping. “Damn.”

He’s hoping to start hormones soon, as his transition will likely be a somewhat public one with the nature of his work: 

The urgency is not only personal. In a little more than four months, Dawson’s new book, Spot the Difference, will be in every primary and secondary school in Britain, as one of only two YA (young adult) books selected for World Book Day – a global celebration of books, endorsed by Unesco. As such, every schoolchild in the UK will be given a voucher to buy Dawson’s latest. He’ll be touring the country, going into schools, giving talks to thousands of kids. It will, he hopes, be just a few weeks into his hormonal transition.

No trans author has ever been given this platform; and in the UK, no YA author has ever come out as transgender before (in the US, several have, including Zac Brewer, Charlie Jane Anders, and Everett Maroon).

“I’d like to think in 2015 being trans is so mainstream now that it won’t be an issue,” says Dawson, “but sadly there will be people who will think it’s weird, and there is the worry that there will be a tabloid backlash around a ‘trans children’s writer’.” He pauses and looks up. “Mainly I’m just excited.”

This is a wonderfully big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for so many trans young people who look up to him. Congrats, James! 

A #whitewashedout story

Here’s a story I wrote in 1993, in the MFA program at Emerson, in Pam Painter’s short-short story class. It’s actually an autobiographical piece about the disconnects between my “identity,” “ethnicity,” and “heritage.” It’s a very American longing, I think, not unique to POC, but it felt like in the wake of the #whitewashedout tag going around Twitter today, that in this story I had already said everything I would contribute to the tag. So I decided to post it:

“Learning the Alphabet”

by Cecilia Tan

All the words of Chinese that I know I can list on a single page.

Bok choy: chinese cabbage, something I do not like to eat.

Confucius: a philosopher, but whose name could not have been that originally, any more than my name would have been Cecilia if I had been born in China, a Spanish first name married to a Chinese surname. Dad’s name is Sergio, so I share that in common with him, like filipinos who were given new names by Magellan and the Spaniards who ruled the islands for three hundred years; but my grandfather who came from China is named Francisco, and I know that could not have been his real name any more than Confucius was Confucius’. Even Dad does not know what his father’s real name was, like a secret identity, a Chinese identity, that grandfather hid when he moved from China to the Philippines. For some time he had even changed the name of the family to Martinez, but that must have been too much for him and he changed it back to Tan, though he still never taught any of his children Chinese and scolded them whenever they were disobedient: “You rotten filipinos!” in a filipino dialect of course.

Given that my father never heard a word of Chinese when he was growing up, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I know so little of it. How about waray waray then, the filipino dialect only my father and his generation of the family speaks? I don’t know a single word of that either, since my father came to the United States, and like his father has only spoken the local tongue to his children – “You American kids!” – so I will stick with Chinese, of which I know so few words.

Junks: the boats they paint eyes on the front of in China, this I learned from a children’s book, full of painting of men with round hats like cymbals.

Kung Fu: the martial art, this I learned from David Carradine, along with shao lin, Grasshopper.

Lo Mein: noodles, I think, but so are chow mein, chow foon… chop suey, Chung King?

Mei Fa: the art of hair sticks, this I learned in Macy’s from a perfumed, rouged woman with too many gold rings, who raised her clawed hands like a hieroglyph to show off how her blond, intricate whorls were held in place with what looked like short chopsticks sprouting from her head. Now I wear them, too, but I have my doubts that Confucius’ mother ever did.

Oolong: black, this from my Jewish boyfriend who likes Chinese tea.

Peking duck: but of course, it is Beijing now, and I know how to cook it, but what good is a “traditional” recipe that is only one generation old?

Quit this obsession with China, I think, and get back to eating apple pie and worrying about democracy. Really. So did I mention that my father thought apple pie was disgusting when he first moved to the States?

Tai Chi: something I always dreamed my grandfather would teach me when he came to visit us in the States, but he didn’t. Unless I spoke first, he never said a word to me, two generations of languages distant and nothing to talk about. Very often he received Chinese-language newspapers in the mail, and I used to steal them from his room and pore over the tiny black characters regimented in columns and rows, waiting for some moment of magic to strike me, to bring my Chinese blood out in me, and make me understand these symbols, this one like three boxes piled one atop the other, that one a lily next to a mountain, this one a robot by an easel, that one a picket sign–the only symbol I ever learned since the magic never came–the symbol which meant “Number One.”

Waiguoren: foreigner, this I learned from a book by a white American woman about an imaginary future China that had become the last superpower, but then I forgot it and had to learn it again when I read a book by a white American man about how he spent his life studying kung fu, Chinese language, Chinese history, and was finally granted a visa into the country to teach English at a medical college there. Xenophobic is how he described the Chinese, afraid of foreigners, waiguoren, aliens, rotten filipinos, whatever you call it, so it is no wonder my grandfather never told his secrets to waiguoren like us. You cannot blame him, I tell myself, but it hurts.

Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo: People’s Republic of China, this I learned just now out of shame, to at least be able to say the name of the place I will never call home.

Notes on this story:

This story originally appeared under the title “Lexicon” in OTHER Magazine, edited by Charlie Jane Anders, Issue #3, 2003.

This is the first story that ever made me cry while I wrote it.


Hooray hooray it’s Friday Reads!  I’m taking home an ARC of Charlie Jane Anders’ All The Birds in the Sky. Nicole says the Book Concierge inspired her to pick up Anthony Marra’s The Tsar of Love and Techno. Boss Lady Ellen is on a Dan Vyleta kick, and Mama Susan Stamberg is reading Da Vinci’s Tiger, about Leonardo’s portrait of Ginevra de Benci. How about you?

– Petra

Not for a second did I ever believe, as a child, that my disability made me any less the hero in my own story. I give Ms. Pennington all the credit for that. To this day, when I make up stories about kids who misunderstand and are misunderstood in turn, I don’t ever assume that’ll make them passive, or a victim, or weak. The figure of the misfit child has been a constant presence in my fiction, going back more than a decade. Kids who are lost in a thorny maze, who can’t make any sense of a world that everybody else seems to understand perfectly. Kids who find themselves at odds with others, despite having all the goodwill in the world. But I don’t write about them because I am trying to make some kind of a Statement about how their difference is actually a superpower or a source of unique insight. Instead, I think, I’m trying to figure out what becomes of them. Especially the ones who don’t get rescued, the way I did.

Teri heard a whooshing sound, a tidal wave of white noise, and turned to see a bizarre trio descending from a VTOL jet on ropes. They landed on their feet just behind her, right by the organic grocery store’s fruit bins. Teri glanced to see if the traffic would let her cross the street and get away from these lunatics, but they were already advancing towards her. They were looking at her — no, not at her, at the stroller.

“There she is!” one of them shouted. They rushed over and surrounded the stroller before Teri could maneuver away.

“Stay away from my baby!” Teri shouted.

“Stand back, ma’am,” said the big lunkhead with the odd nozzles sticking out of his bald scalp.

—  The Mary Sue is pleased to present strange, beautiful new fiction from Apex Magazine each month. This month’s story, from Apex Magazine’s current issue, is “Victimless Crimes” by Charlie Jane Anders.

“As a genre, science-fantasy is often as basic as it sounds: People with swords meet people with lasers,” says reviewer Jason Heller. “(In some cases, like Star Wars, the swords and lasers are even the same thing.) But there’s so much more potential in the overlap between science fiction and fantasy, a fact that’s not lost on Charlie Jane Anders.  The editor-in-chief of Gawker’s popular geek-culture website io9, Anders has been writing with passion and insight about science fiction and fantasy for years — so it only makes sense that in her debut novel for adults, All the Birds in the Sky, she’s melded the two genres in a way that opens a profound, poetic new perspective on each.”

Having ripped through All the Birds while snowbound this weekend, I can say you should definitely check it out – and see the rest of Jason’s review here.

– Petra