Show Notes for Ep. 2 "The Toilet Seat Con Hook-Up"
How does examining the rules and structures of relationships help define genres such as magical realism and science fiction? In this episode, Mohanraj and Rosenbaum humorously discuss their romantic experiences and the surprising connections to how we examine and shape genres… And leaving the toilet seat up might be more significant than you think.
Content note for mention of race play and of pedophilia. Also discussion of cheating on spouses and spousal abuse and murder. And a potentially ableist remark about brain tumors and personality change.
Recorded 13 May and 17 May 2020 / Published 29 March 2021
- 0:30: In which our hosts announce the title of the podcast.
- 1:40: Things Mary Anne and Ben will likely talk about in the podcast: writing, community, ethics, culture.
- 2:10 What counts as science fiction/fantasy? Genre is (among other things) a way of talking about reader experience.
- 7:10: Different angles that works can be seen from: fantastical, religious, magical realism, etc.
- 13:45: Orthodoxy as a response to modernity. Also, differences in cultural default ideas about “magical” things and occurrences.
- 22:05: Using certain signals and frameworks to evoke reader expectations and sources of reader pleasure.
- 29:55: People’s statements about what counts as being in a genre, vs what they treat as being in the genre.
- 35:55: Stories that are published in a given genre but don’t have some of the usual genre signals and attributes.
- 44:00: Dethroning the norm.
- 45:40: Figuring out what game you’re playing.
- 47:50: People who approach relationships as a set of rules, and people who think in terms of having a fundamental trust and regard for each other.
- 55:55: Rules can be an indication of things that are hard to do.
- 1:00:35: Jealousy, insecurity, and feeling alien.
- 1:06:30: Treating people as they want to be treated, not as you would want to be treated.
- 1:09:35: Ongoing irritants in a relationship, which may not be fixed by being married.
- 1:14:50: Don’t pretend to let something go if you can’t really.
- 1:17:35: In a relationship, fights about a lot of little things may signal bigger structural issues.
- 1:24:35: Darius explains that Mary Anne’s laptop ran out of power.
- 1:24:55: Brief intermission, featuring an ad for the Speculative Literature Foundation.
- 1:25:30: Rules (for sonnets, genres, etc), and how hard we hold ourselves to those rules.
- 1:28:15: Marriage can make a relationship much harder, and society doesn’t give us good roadmaps for what happens in a relationship after people get married.
- 1:33:10: The relative dearth of narrative about longterm close relationships. (Mary Anne and Ben both talk in this segment in terms of “married” vs “dating,” but I’m pretty sure they really mostly mean longterm-and-deep vs new-and-shallow, which isn’t the same distinction.)
- 1:45:10: Sf is trying to do more different kinds of things than literary fiction, which sometimes leaves sf a little thin on literary values like complex relationships between characters.
- 1:48:10: Verve and weirdness can make a story enjoyable even if the prose isn’t great.
- 1:53:05: Credits.
Alphabetically by author surname, or by title of work in cases where authorship isn’t simple.
- Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre.
- Lois McMaster Bujold: A Civil Campaign. (Source of the quote “I went from being the kind of person who made, and kept, a life-oath, to one who broke it in two and walked away.”)
- Michael Chabon.
- Civilization IV.
- Samuel R. Delany: “About 5,750 Words,” in The Jewel-Hinged Jaw.
- Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy: The Ethical Slut.
- Laura Esquivel: Like Water for Chocolate.
- The Fosters.
- Karen Joy Fowler: “What I Didn’t See.” (Which is deliberately in dialogue with “The Women Men Don’t See,” by James Tiptree, Jr.)
- Gabriel García Márquez.
- Grace and Frankie.
- Barbara Hambly: Dragonsbane.
- Dashiell Hammett: the Thin Man series. (Hammett wrote the book that the first movie was based on.)
- Patricia Highsmith: Strangers on a Train.
- Ellen Klages: “The Green Glass Sea” (original short story version; later expanded into a novel).
- Ursula K. Le Guin:
- Laurie Marks: Elemental Logic.
- Farah Mendlesohn: Rhetorics of Fantasy.
- Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
- Vladimir Nabokov.
- Ben Rosenbaum: “Start the Clock” (originally written for Frank Wu and Jay Lake’s anthology The Exquisite Corpuscle).
- Salman Rushdie: Midnight’s Children.
- Edgar Allan Poe’s “single effect” principle.
- Dorothy Sayers: Lord Peter Wimsey mystery series.
- James Thurber: “The Unicorn in the Garden.” (Mary Anne doesn’t explicitly mention this story, but does mention unicorns in gardens.)
- Chuck Tingle.
- Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina. (First sentence, quoted in podcast: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”)
- Virginia Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway.
Other Clarifying or Explanatory Links
- Some genres and subgenres mentioned:
- History of Orthodox Judaism.
- Adi Shankara.
- The blind watchmaker metaphor.
- Romance and Happy Ever After (“HEA”) endings: A longstanding argument among romance readers and writers. (We’re talking specifically about the romance genre here, not about all works that include romantic relationships or elements.) Two fairly typical examples of the main arguments:
- Some discussions about what genre is and where the boundaries are:
- Ben’s 2007 blog post Begin Genre Slapfight #34702, and the two dozen comments on that post.
- Mary Anne’s 2001 Strange Horizons editorial Avoiding the Potholes: Adventures in Genre-Crossing.
- Jed’s 2001 Strange Horizons editorial Where Does Genre Come From?
- Archive of Our Own (“AO3”), a vast archive of fanworks.
- Patrick Califia.
- The Turkey City Lexicon. (The podcast will feature more discussion of this in a later episode.)
- The Stories we’ve seen too often list at Strange Horizons. (A clarification from Jed: this was just a list of plots and tropes that we had seen submitted too many times and were very unlikely to buy. We also included some meta-notes about the list, including asking writers not to treat the list as a challenge. I agree that the list got too long, though.)