Reading Round Up for February 2021

This month’s Reading Round Up offers a collection of some of the best articles I read, covering topics including Cinderella, Texas, and toxic men. Plus a list of my own written work. Get those tabs ready!

My Writing

Book review: Cyberpunk Freedom Fighters: Rise of the Red Hand by Olivia Chadha

Book review: “Fireheart Tiger” by Aliette de Bodard

Short fiction spotlight: Must-Read Speculative Short Fiction: January 2021

Book review: “Prepped” by Bethany Mangle

Book review: Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Listicle: A Nostalgic Watchlist for the Stressed Out Millennial

Book review: A Mature Ending: Soulstar by C. L. Polk

Other Works

It’s Possible: An Oral History of 1997’s “Cinderella”” by Kendra James for Shondaland: “We were a little worried that they would balk at the idea of doing “Cinderella” with a diverse cast, because that was the idea right from the start: It was going to be a diverse world that we would present. There was no pushback from the organization at all! I think it was because Whitney was so huge at that time; to a lot of executives she was popular entertainment as opposed to being defined by her race. We were also worried about making sure that Cinderella that was defined by more than falling in love with a handsome prince. She needed to have a story of her own that superseded just being attracted to his good looks. That’s not the way that the culture was going at that time. Robert was able to give her a little bit more of a backbone and have her be an independent woman.”

Imagining Futures: Where Our Works Go from Here” by Elsa Sjunneson for Uncanny Magazine: “There are different ways to talk about how books age into problematic territory. We say the Suck Fairy came to our favorite texts. When we revisit them, they have mores of a different time. They rely on that sexism or colonialism as a joke or even just a problematic turning point. I don’t think we have a word for it, but sometimes it is the author who makes bad decisions, and we can no longer separate the art from the artist.”

The 1970s Black Utopian City That Became a Modern Ghost Town” by Thomas Healy for The Atlantic: “Visit Soul City, North Carolina, today, and you won’t find much: an abandoned health-care clinic stripped by vandals; a pool and recreation center with a no trespassing sign; a 1970s subdivision with streets that are cracked and crumbling; and an industrial plant that has been converted into a prison. If not for the concrete monolith with the words Soul City cast in red iron, you might not know this was supposed to be a city at all.”

Inside Joss Whedon’s ‘Cutting’ and ‘Toxic’ World of ‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel’ (EXCLUSIVE)” by Adam B. Vary, Elizabeth Wagmeister for Variety: “Then in his early 30s, Whedon — who built “Buffy” into one of the most beloved and influential shows of the past 25 years and went on to write and direct 2012’s “The Avengers,” which launched the biggest movie franchise of all time — was heralded for his witty dialogue and wrenching plot twists. But he also scarred his cast of young actors with biting, inappropriate comments that stayed with them for decades.”

Bad Blood: The Quiet Misogyny of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”” by Marina Watanabe for Bitch Media: “Interestingly, Xander doesn’t simply act as a stand-in for sexually frustrated nerd boys in the audience who want to fuck women like Buffy; he is also, quite literally, Whedon’s self-insert character. Fans of the show had initially speculated about this, and Whedon confirmed it when he was interviewed by NPR in 2000, stating, “Xander is obviously based on me.” This was also reconfirmed during a panel at the 2011 Emerald City Comic Con when actor James Marsters, who played the vampire Spike, said, “[Xander] is Joss. That’s the way he sees himself.” As Buffy fans gain a clearer picture of Whedon’s behavior behind the scenes, it’s ironic that a man with a track record of abusing his power over women and people of color on set would align himself with a character whose primary character trait is powerlessness.”

Marilyn Manson ‘Almost Destroyed Me’ Game of Thrones actress Esmé Bianco says her relationship with the singer left her with physical scars and PTSD.” by Angelina Chapin for The Cut: “Seven years later, when Bianco got the chance to meet Manson in person, she was thrilled. But she says the encounter led to years of psychological torment and violence that derailed her acting career and left her with physical scars and PTSD. She says he went from being a “massive role model who really helped me through some incredibly dark and difficult times as a teenager” to a “monster who almost destroyed me and almost destroyed so many women.””

Crime, race, safety: what’s really happening in Oakland Chinatown?” by Momo Chang, Darwin BondGraham for name: “But Wong says it’s impossible to divorce the pressure and fear residents have been enduring for over a year from the massive outcry over what’s happening now. Chinatown, already shrinking before the pandemic, has been particularly hard-hit by shelter-in-place orders and the economic collapse. As many as a third of all Chinatown businesses are closed permanently or temporarily due to COVID, with notable restaurants closing or signaling they might have to. “How much can we take before we break? It feels like a breaking point for many people,” said Wong.”

What went wrong with the Texas power grid?” by Marcy de Luna, Amanda Drane for Houston Chronicle: “More than 4 million customers were without power in Texas, including 1.4 million in the Houston area, the worst power crisis in the state in a decade. The forced outages are expected to last at least through part of Tuesday, the state grid manager said.”

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