Narnia: High and Lonely Destiny

[Narnia Content Note: Genocide, End of the World]

Narnia Recap: Digory prevented Polly from leaving so he could ring a bell. Now there's a very tall woman dragging them around the castle which is rapidly falling apart around them.

The Magician's Nephew, Chapter 5: The Deplorable Word

I'm sorry it's been such a long time since the last Narnia; life has been difficult over here and I'm so grateful for your continued patience with me. You are all the best. As you may recall, we last left off with the castle crumbling around the children while Jadis unhurriedly hauls them out whilst playing tour guide.

   They came at last into a hall larger and loftier than any they had yet seen. From its size and from the great doors at the far end, Digory thought that now at last they must be coming to the main entrance. In this he was quite right. The doors were dead black, either ebony or some black metal which is not found in our world. They were fastened with great bars, most of them too high to reach and all too heavy to lift. He wondered how they would get out.

This feels faintly strange to me but it's hard to explain why.

Open Thread: Colors of the Sky


Just after Sunset on Sunday.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies and shows, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are the current ones:
   ● Game of Thrones
   ● Avengers: Endgame
   ● Captain Marvel

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Film Corner: Morning Star Warrior

Y'all don't mind that I live-tweet movies at you, do you? It's. I'm grappling with loneliness, and it's a form of talking to people without exhausting my introvert reserves. Tonight I'm going to try MORNING STAR WARRIOR. I think that's it's name. The name on the listing and the name on the movie cover are slightly different. Always a good sign.

"After conquering their enemies, a group of triumphant warriors return home to rejoice with their nation. What starts as a day of celebration quickly turns to horror as the group discovers that the world they lived in has changed forever." Well that's delightfully vague. "Changed forever", like, aliens? Or, like, post traumatic stress? I don't know.

Two opposing armies stare each other down and so far everything looks nicely expensive and artsy. This is a much better quality than my usual fare. Someone had a costume budget. War happens and this looks kinda realistically what I think war would look like in terms of (three guys knife a dude because one on one fighting is harder than bringing your mates to help) but I have no idea which side wins SMASH CUT TO CREDITS.

(Bless you all for reassuring me that my live tweets are ok. The world is just so overwhelming and this helps. Thank you.)

Open Thread: Ripples and Light


Light going through ripply/wavy water creates an effect on the bottom that we never quite figured out a name for* when some light is concentrated into brighter areas† which naturally makes other areas darker.  This . . . doesn't look like that very much.  I think that the reason is twofold.

First, the waves are large enough to be visible in themselves, thus distorting the view of the play of light and shadow on the bottom.  Second and, I believe, more importantly is where the picture was taken from.  Basically, if I hadn't cropped the image, my shadow would be in it.  (The bottom of the picture is level with the top of my shadow's head.)

Unless you happen to be a light source, this is as close as one can come to seeing what it looks like when the light coming out of the water is altered in the exact reverse way of the light going into the water.

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* The reverse effect, the play of light and shadow created when the sun reflects off of a rippled surface (which is usually seen on ceilings) has a name in Italian, though it also applies to light from mirrors, which doesn't look the same at all.

WanderingUndine calls it "lakelight" when it's off a lake, which suggests a decent formula (pool-light when off a pool, sealight when off the sea, so forth.

† The technical term for an instance of any such phenomenon is "caustic", on the grounds that such manipulation of light is the means by which sunlight can be transformed into a death ray by, say, a magnifying glass.  Thus the bright areas are known as "caustics" or a "caustic network".

The noun "caustic" means "thingy that burns", with the adjective from which it is derived meaning "burny".  Most optical caustics do not burn; I feel that this technical term was badly chosen.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies and shows, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are the current ones:
   ● Game of Thrones
   ● Avengers: Endgame
   ● Captain Marvel

-

Friday Sunday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us almost over, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Let's Play: Stardew Valley | #35 Winter 22 Year 1

Another Stardew Valley video is up! ♡

Open Thread: Purple


Have a flower.

-

We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies and shows, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are the current ones:
   ● Game of Thrones
   ● Avengers: Endgame
   ● Captain Marvel

-

Friday Saturday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us here, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Let's Play: Stardew Valley | #34 Winter 19 Year 1

Another Stardew Valley video is up! ♡

Let's Play: Stardew Valley | #33 Winter 17 Year 1

Another Stardew Valley video is up! ♡

Transcending Flesh: Children and Childhoods

Note: This was previously published on my Patreon.

a pink and blue sky with a radio tower

This essay is one in a series which focuses on writing gender in science fiction and fantasy settings that provide body modification options beyond our current level of technology. Note that you can download this collection of essays from my website here.

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Transcending Flesh:
Gender and Body Diversity in Futuristic and Fantastical Settings


Essay #13: Children and Childhoods

~Infants and Alteration~

Giselle is an author who wants to write a BodyMod magitech society wherein every child is altered at birth to have a "boy" body (i.e., with a penis) and are only allowed to switch to a "girl" body (i.e., with a vagina) when they reach adulthood and legal emancipation from their parents' decisions.

I do have to point out that this premise makes very little sense to me. Some societies heavily prioritize bearing children of a specific body configuration, yes, but those communities do not attain total parental adherence to that ideal. Some parents will always exist who disagree with the larger cultural values around them, or who simply refuse to alter the bodies of their children against their will. Having said that, this is one premise which has a note of real world truth: it is still legal and acceptable in many places for parents and doctors to surgically alter the genitals of children without their consent.

The belief that all infants are born with one of two types of genitals is incorrect and unscientific. Many people are born with genitals which cannot be easily sorted into a binary "male/female" dichotomy. Our society uses the term "intersex" to refer to people who experience one or more of a variety of conditions which may lead to atypical development of physical sex characteristics; in this book I will use the term "perisex" to refer to people who are not intersex, with a note that the term "dyadic" may be used elsewhere.

In an effort to force a binary state which does not occur in nature, our culture has accepted the use of genital surgery on infants incapable of consent. Many intersex people are subjected to surgery at a very young age because of a bigoted society which believes that adherence to a constructed cultural norm of what genitals "should" look like is more important than individual bodily autonomy and self-determination.

Given this context, Giselle's world in which babies are fed into the BodyTron5000 to receive a standardized body becomes much more plausible. However, it is important for the author to understand that this culture is terrible, and to make certain that this fact comes across to the reader. The alteration of children's bodies without their consent is a human rights violation which flies in the face of all personal autonomy.

Giselle's fictional culture is not performing a "favor" for its infants. Bodies, whether intersex or perisex, are allowed to possess beautiful variation. Neither intersex nor perisex people are all longing for surgery to make them identical to everyone else. Any setting which performs body modifications on babies is a dystopia, and the author must be aware of that; this situation is not something which can be played off as a cutesy cultural quirk of Planet Monogender. Moreover, the author must be aware of real world parallels and how this situation isn't hypothetical for many of their readers.


~Childhoods~

Let us now consider two trans people in their late thirties, both of whom have the bodies they desire through the wondrous invention of BodyMod magitech. However, one of them was allowed to access that magitech at age four, while the other was not allowed access until age eighteen and legal emancipation from their parental guardians. As a result, these two trans people have had very different childhoods.

When an author writes a BodyMod magitech setting, it is important they understand that even if bodies can be changed easily later, experiences cannot be: we only have one childhood. Some authors get so wrapped up in the fact that their trans characters can "change later" that they forget that childhood experiences, validation, and affirmation are all incredibly important things which can affect a person's mental wellness.

Forcing someone to experience puberty in a body which causes them dysphoria is cruel. In Giselle's fictional world, every person in her setting is forced to experience puberty in a specific type of body regardless of their consent. This is an act of society-wide violence which would harm a large number of its inhabitants, and which only contributes to the stark fact that Giselle's setting is a dystopia and cannot be played for laughs or cutesy cultural characterization. If you are writing a society which is in any manner accepting of trans identity, then people must recognize that children have bodily autonomy and deserve the right to experience childhood and puberty in a body which does not cause them discomfort.

In our society, the biggest objection to allowing children to transition is that they might be "wrong" about their identity or could "change their minds later". This is not a good reason to deny a child access to transition, in part because it is based on a fundamental misconception of what "transition" is in this context. Childhood transition involves social transition (i.e., telling people the correct pronouns to use), presentation changes (i.e., clothing, hair, etc.), and puberty-delaying medication which prevents early onset of puberty and the major bodily changes which accompany it. None of these steps are irreversible, and it is important that cis people stop portraying childhood transition as scary and primarily surgical when it is neither.

Moreover, in a society where every body can be custom-made at any time to any specification, there is no good reason to deny a child the chance to grow up in a body they feel comfortable with. "But what if they change their mind later?" ceases to have any meaning in a world where there are no consequences to changing one's mind because the BodyTron5000 can grow and attach an unlimited number of body parts! "We can change it later, so you can't change it now" makes no sense unless bigotry is in play.