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Toxic masculinity

USS Callister, Black Mirror

We started this podcast to highlight the issues around the representation of women in genre fiction. But women aren’t the only ones who suffer at the hands of harmful tropes, poor characterisation, and limiting traditional gender roles. In this episode, we discuss the men-folk. While they may tend to get …

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Idealised characters and Mary Sues

Superman: A major Marty Stu

We’ve all encountered them – characters who can do anything. They have physical and mental abilities beyond every other character in that world, perhaps even abilities that no one else in the world has in any capacity. They are so good-looking there are no words to properly capture their beauty. …

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Describing women with Gwen C. Katz

Among the Red Stars by Gwen C Katz

YA author Gwen C. Katz came across a forum thread about men’s ability to write female characters. There was the usual toxicity there – brushing off any criticism as more ‘SJW bullshit’. She wanted to speak out, but she had no idea her comments would strike such a chord. Her …

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Violence as climactic conflict

Starship Troopers

All stories require conflict of some kind… but does it always need to be violent conflict? There is certainly a trend in fantasy, science fiction, and horror to find narratives driving towards a massive violent conclusion. These have become set-pieces, the very things that sell Blockbuster films to audiences. We …

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The Bechdel-Wallace test

Bechdel: Dykes to watch out for

Back in 1985, Alison Bechdel had the characters of her cartoon strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, jokingly make a gender equality ‘test’ for films. 33 years later, the Bechdel (or Bechdel-Wallace, to give credit to her friend Liz Wallace for the idea) test is still used to determine whether a …

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2017 in review and anticipation for 2018

Are you ready for your to-read and to-watch lists to explode? Charlotte, Lucy, and I discuss our favourite genre pieces of 2017 and what we’re most looking forward to in 2018. We lament terrible accents and characters that have no agency, celebrate all the books, films, and TV we loved, …

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Mythical females

The Fates from Disney's Hercules

Mermaids, Harpies, Valkyries, Succubae, Sirens, Banshees, Nymphs – We’ve been encountering the mythical female in literature and folklore for thousands of years. She appears in numerous religions, sometimes as saviour, sometimes as a harbinger of doom. She lures men to their death, transports them to the afterlife, enchants them, tricks …

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In praise of YA with Frances Hardinge

Frances Hardinge on YA fiction

Young adult fiction is called a genre, a bookshop category, and more. It is a way of grouping books together based, usually, on the age of the protagonist. But a young adult protagonist does not mean that a book will only appeal to a younger audience, nor should it. And …

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The feminist obligation

It is common for feminist writers to feel the need to focus only on stories that preoccupy themselves with the marginalisation of women. Other writers don’t necessarily dwell on the representation of their own demographic, so why should women (and other marginalised groups) feel the need to? Feminists, like us …

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