Problem With Gaiman’s “Trigger Warning” Title?

Kameron Hurley thinks Neil Gaiman did not make a good choice in calling his latest story collection Trigger Warning. Commenting at SciFiNow, she first explains the use of the term in its original context, then levels this criticism at Gaiman:

The problem with mainstreaming this kind of use of the term is that instead of saying, “Yes, trigger warnings are useful so let’s not continue to water it down” what you do when you title a rather typical short story collection “Trigger Warning” is that your work becomes part of the problem of breaking it down into meaninglessness and slapping it on any old thing as a marketing gimmick. You co-opt a term used in feminist spaces, and you use it for shock value, to be edgy and subversive, instead of acting like an ally who has empathy and understanding of the term for its intended use.

Gaiman, in his introduction, goes immediately from saying “Yes, I understand its intended use” to “I decided to use it in this work in a way in which it’s not intended.” A little whiplash, there.

I’m not part of the presold audience for the issue, but this post made me willing to think about it more. What I like about Hurley’s approach is that she unapologetically explains what she believes and equips the reader with enough information to understand the issue, while stepping up to challenge a writer who influences a wide audience. She respects the reader, and takes risks.

Of a Feather with Dave Kyle

By John Hertz: In case you, like me, couldn’t be with Dave Kyle in person for his 96th birthday (gosh) last weekend, here’s the verse thing I could think of to send him.

Happy birthday to you!
Hooray for First Fandom too.
We’re behind you in the relay race
Joining the old and the new.

First Fandom is the few, the happy few, active at least as early as the first World Science Fiction Convention, 1939.

I keep saying grab that torch.

While in Japan as a delegate to the Yokohama Worldcon, I kept meeting the proverb on ko chi shin “study the old to appreciate the new”.

First Fandom is fond of calling itself dinosaurs, possibly because dinosaurs were mighty and children seem to love them.  Since dinosaurs are apparently the ancestors of birds I ought to have gotten in something about flocking together.  I did with my Lloyd Penney song.

Verse and Re-Verse

Morris Keesan answered John Hertz’s recent metrical sally Verse and Verse with three haiku of his own. He sent them to John in a postcard, knowing better than to count on John seeing them online. However, the two poets have agreed File 770 readers should not be deprived…

Morris Keesan:

The creatures I meet
Have seven feet in one line,
Five in the others.

Meet them in a line
Exchange seven feet for five.
A net loss of two?

Do they profit, thus?
Is it how many they have,
Or how they use them?

John Hertz:

Seven-foot creatures
With five on each side to help
Exchange beauty, truth.

Verse and Verse

By John Hertz: Among the wonders of Loscon XLI (28-30 Nov 14) I saw a table in Ask Us Alley for next year’s Fandom Verse Expo, Lancaster. At that hour – 1 a.m. if I recall correctly – no one was staffing the table, but there was literature. Feeling I was surely in favor of fandom verse I left this sample, which Paige Willey later politely said the gang found acceptable.

I like fandom ’cos it’s strange.
It helps my mind get broader range.
The creatures I meet
May have seven feet
But there’s nothing I’d take in exchange.

Lovecraft Situation Gets Verse

By Sam Long: Further to your recent File 770 item about the increase in Lovecraftiana….here’s my contribution to that increase, in the form of some verses I wrote a few years ago. I hope you enjoy them.

The Starship Lovecraft’s skipper
Was eldritch as his crew.
He sat upon the bridge and said,
“Warp factor one, Mr Chthulu!”

The chief cook of the Lovecraft
Would not serve corned beef hash.
Instead, to honor Yog Suthoth,
Served Yoghurt Succotash.

The Lovecraft’s skipper’s hobby
Was running model trains;
A suitcase in his cabin
Held a layout like Skylark DuQuesne’s.

The rolling stock was tiny,
And some was of great age.
When asked, “What scale’s your layout?”
He’d tersely say, “N-gauge.”

The Lovecraft’s lounge’s barkeep
Is really quite demonic.
He uses Miska fizz to make
A gin and Miska tonic.

The Lovecraft’s shuttle Arkham
Is piloted by an alien.
It uses long and ornate words
And terms sesquepedalian.

That Arkham pilot’s speech, some find,
Is barely comprehensible,
But to be skillful at its job
Is the Arkham E.T.’s principle.

It moves the Arkham’s flight controls
With movements smooth and subtle.
A better pilot you’ll not find
On any starship’s shuttle.

The Lovecraft‘s plumbing’s haunted:
That’s what crewbeings said.
They call the “Lurker in the Loo”
The “Haunter in the Head.”


“N-gauge” is a model railroad gauge of about 1:144 or 1:156 — very small. An engine that is 70-80 feet long in real life is only about 6 inches long in N-gauge, and will fit in one hand.

Miska or Miska’s Liquors is a chain of liquor stores in the Chicago area.  They also sell mixers like soda water and–of course–tonic water.

Vibrating With Graham

I nodded in agreement when I read Rich Coad say in a letter to Flag that most fanzine fans aren’t interested in awards anymore. (I mean besides you, Aidan, of course). Graham Charnock provides living proof (or maybe 100 proof) in Vibrator 2.0.4 [PDF file].

Frankly I have given up on this competitive stuff. No matter how much brilliant stuff I write for that seminal literary journal CHUNGA people (mostly Andy Hooper, which is strange because he is one of the editors) persist in ignoring me. Okay, once Marty Cantor proposed me for past fwa president at Corflu in Sunnyvale but he was soon shouted down and the anodyne Spike, who can’t even afford a last name and was on the organising committee, was elected in my place. Nowadays it seems Brits are elected every year without actually doing anything or displaying any talent. Even Roy Kettle. Bitter? Not me.

Having said that most of my impetus for writing comes from being drunk, I have to admit the flaw in my own argument. When I’m drunk I frequently just feel tired. I think of lots of stuff I could write, including long novels with vast starships (but also heart-searching poems dealing with death and mortality) but then I reach for another drink and turn on Bones.

The entire issue is filled with lightning wit — except for Graham’s article about death, I mean — and though I treasure the firecracker string of perfectly-placed in-jokes quoted above, most of it is far more accessible to the uninitiated. His readers add to the pandemonium, too. If only Graham charged for copies I would happily testify that Mark Plummer’s letter of comment is worth the price of admission by itself.


A LiveJournal Owner’s First Tweet

“Whatever happened to Livejournal, anyway?” asks Caitlin Dewey of the Washington Post, who says that the only people who use LiveJournal these days are Russians and George R.R. Martin.

She made the comment after George R.R. Martin “belatedly joined Twitter” (@GRRMspeaking) on June 9 and initially used it to promote his LiveJournal

I don’t tweet all that much, please check out my live journal page. 😉 #myfirstTweet

— George RR Martin (@GRRMspeaking) June 9, 2014

Dewey continues:

Livejournal, you’ll recall, was a popular blogging platform of the early-to-mid aughts, particularly beloved by teenage emos looking to spill their souls out to a sympathetic Web. At its peak, the platform had more than 2.5 million active accounts. But its peak was almost 10 years ago, in early 2005 — and since then, most of the English-speaking world, with the apparent exception of GRRM, forgot that it was there.

She reports an array of interesting statistics about LiveJournal, and explains why LJ is still beloved in Russia.

And, let it be said — in fandom too!

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster for the story.]

Fans Into Pros

In response to a question from an academic, I spent an hour yesterday generating a list of pro writers who began in fanzines.

Within fandom the idea of what is a “pro” can be rather flexible. Very few people become full-time writers. And among friends, anybody who’s sold one sf/fantasy story might claim to be a “pro.” In the Sixties my local sf club, LASFS, held a Fanquet when a member sold his/her first story. That rite of passage transformed the person’s social identity from fan to writer.

I prefer to reserve the word “pro” for those who have repeatedly sold sf/fantasy stories — who have demonstrated a journeyman level of craftsmanship. In that respect I find myself in company with Dr. Gafia (rich brown)


In fandom, generally it means anyone who has been paid for a published sf story. Although, since it is in fact short for “professional,” it probably should only be applied only to those who have made a significant portion of their living by writing sf.

Surprisingly, there isn’t that great a difference between the minimum fannish definition – anyone who has sold a story – and the minimum professional qualification for a writer to join SFWA as an Active member, which is “Three Paid Sales of prose fiction (such as short stories) to Qualifying Professional Markets” for $250 in aggregate.

Incidentally, I am not including my list of pros-into-fans because I don’t want people who aren’t on it to feel bad. (I’ve made bloggers feel bad enough this week.) Besides, there are only so many Ray Bradburys who belong at the top of this pyramid, and while Mike Resnick has bought a story or two from an awful lot of fans over the years, there is no urgent reason to widen the bottom of the pyramid by adding our names.

Funding A Convention Odyssey

Petréa Mitchell’s ambition is to spend a year video-blogging science fiction conventions throughout the world. That won’t be cheap. (Actually, it will be quite expensive.) Will fandom chip in and help realize her dream? It never hurts to ask. That’s why she’s launched an Indiegogo appeal for $191,000

Her fannish credentials cover a whole spectrum – including gaming, costuming, filking, huckstering and blogging (see her weekly streaming anime discussions at the Amazing Stories blog).