Feed on

On this episode of The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond spend a little time talking about gender and reading in response to feedback received from one of their lovely listeners. Be warned, there may be some unqualified generalisations scattered about and there is definitely some drawing of disturbing stick figures. Kirstyn apologies for her barely suppressed laughter and also for the fact that listeners cannot see the horrified expressions on Ian's face -- or the disturbing stick figure -- that inspired said laughter. She trusts that listeners can use their imagination.

Around the 19:20 mark, the pair turn their attention to Kirstyn's recommended book for the podcast, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This review by Abigail Nussbaum is mentioned, as are the usual spoilers. Discussion of When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger begins at 56:25. Again, spoilers. Skip ahead at will.

The Night Circus and When Gracity Falls

But don't forget to check back in around 1:34:50 for some (very brief) final remarks.

Next month, Ian has picked Bad Power by Deborah Biancotti, while Kirstyn has chosen Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan. Read ahead and join in the fun!

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  • mark

    Thanks for covering my feedback - excellent answer and I’ll never look at a stick figure the same way again.

    Coincidentally, just last week my 3 year old daughter and I had a conversation about why we waited for the green man before we cross the road, and why it wasn’t a green lady.

    We had exactly the same ‘why do you think it’s a man?’ type discussion. My daughter did feel that if it was a green lady she should have long hair, but was willing to grudgingly concede that not all women had long hair.

    After listening to the podcast, “the green man” is now officially “the green lady”. That’s me - changing gender based stereotypes one traffic light at a time.


    ps I have all three George Alec Effinger books, bought in my university days when I was looking for as many cyberpunk style books as I could get my hands on. I really enjoyed them at the time, although in re-reading I did see a lot of the issues you both spoke about.

    Apr 25, 2012 at 9:08 am
  • mark

    ps congratulations on the Chronos and Ditmar award nominations. Very well deserved.


    Apr 26, 2012 at 6:59 am
  • Kirstyn McDermott

    Thanks, Mark. Your feedback sparked off a very interesting discussion, parts of which I’m still mulling over. Your daughter is very lucky to have a dad like you. Green ladies, indeed!

    One day, we will hopefully reach the point where it’s just a “green person” and anyone asked to gender it will say, puzzled, “But you haven’t given me enough information to tell what the gender is?” And then, even more puzzled, “Why would it matter anyway?”

    Apr 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm
  • mark

    Do you know what - it never even occurred to me to call them “the green person”. Now I feel a bit daft.

    Still, given the points made about overwhelming male bias in societal structures, I figure a little bit of “green lady” to (not even come close to) redress the balance shouldn’t hurt too much.

    My daughter is getting on board. My 10 month old son is remarkably indifferent to the whole debate, but I have high hopes that he’ll come around in the future.


    Apr 28, 2012 at 10:24 am
  • Kirstyn McDermott

    10 months old are the worst … all ME ME ME, all the time. There’s no point even trying to get through to them!

    Apr 28, 2012 at 11:55 am
  • Grant

    I’ve read When Gravity Fails and, while I absolutely agree it’s a problematic book with an unsympathetic lead, I did still think it was an exceptional piece of work. Effinger should definitely be remembered!

    May 3, 2012 at 11:56 am
  • Thoraiya

    Awwwwww….I’m ready to do aerobics for an hour and came here to download the episode with Bad Power and Sea Hearts. Finally, I thought, I can listen to the Writer and the Critic! I have read the books! And theirs only goes for an hour, so it’s perfect! TOO EARLY. I guess I’ll be back in 2 or 3 weeks then. La la la…*Goes to get Coode St*

    May 3, 2012 at 10:30 pm
  • John

    Don’t agree regarding the criticism of When Gravity Fails except some of the tech missteps, but the world as an alternative place is fine. The Marid character as loathsome at times is correct, but he has redeeming qualities and in the tradition of noir, both his abilities and events around him propel towards a conclusion. His bad behavior is meant to be realistic so not sure why that’s a reason not to like the book. Also, this book reads better than Neuromancer in my view so disagree there, although I am a Gibson fan. Effinger deserves more notoriety and his trilogy here marked a turning point in science fiction. The very unique setting is part of the reason why this is such a great read as it combines elements of Casablanca and Bogie as well as addressing numerous issues ranging from transgender acceptance to religious fundamentalism and does so with a wide range. The ‘convoluted’ detective plot is a fair point as that is probably the only weakness of the book (for me as well), but something I overlook as this isn’t a detective novel, it’s a science fiction story that is one of the foremost cyberpunk books ever written. Still entertaining to hear the reviewers talk about this book.

    And lastly, don’t agree that the new BBC series Sherlock is at all loathsome either. He is a new spin on an old character that, if one reads the original material, is kind of true to the character with a modern interpretation. In the Doyle books his flaws are glossed over while the new series hits them head on. That’s all!

    Jun 14, 2012 at 11:57 am