The Geek Feminist Revolution, the latest work by Kameron Hurley, is a collection of essays relating to feminism in writing. More specifically, on feminism in the SciFi/Fantasy world. Hurley is the winner of numerous awards for her writing, which includes two series and by once the final book in her second series is published (it’s already in pipeline, and scheduled for publication early in 2017), she’ll have seven published novels. Her essay, “We Have Always Fought” was the first article to ever win a Hugo award!
There are four parts to the book, titled Level Up, Geek, Let’s Get Personal, and Revolution. Each part includes several essays, including nine new essays written just for this book. While the essays are deeply personal, they are not truly a memoir, and the book isn’t a direct attack against a certain subset of SciFi/Fantasy authors either. That group will disagree with that, they’ll disagree with anything that doesn’t fall inside their tiny definition of what SciFi/Fantasy should be.
Part One: Level Up works with honing your writing, breaking into the publishing world, reminders not to get discouraged, and reminders that you should continue to write, no matter what your haters tell you. Hurley talks about many of the struggles that are specific to women, and other marginalized voices in SciFi/Fantasy. Those struggles are much different for marginalized communities, working to break down the stereotype of SciFi/Fantasy authors being cishet middleaged white men.
Part Two: Geek has essays relating to character/world building. The theme of this part is building female characters that are “normal” people. They are the women you know in your day to day life, as opposed to the stereotypical women portrayed in the genre. She also talks about building unlikable protagonists, and the culture of toxic masculinity.
Part Three: Let’s Get Personal is a closer look at Hurley, and some of the struggles she has had in finding a place in SciFi/Fantasy, among other places in her life. Several of the essays relate to “not letting the bastards get you down”, that there is going to be a backlash against your work, for the sole reason of you being a minority author. The essay that resonates with me the most though, doesn’t have much to deal with writing. Hurley has an auto-immune disease that wrecked her pancreas, and left her in a coma for three days. After waking up, she then had the horror of trying to pay medical bills, find a doctor to see her, and attempt to get insurance coverage for a pre-existing condition. This took place before the ACA mandated that pre-existing conditions be covered, and reveals what some of us had to try to deal with to keep ourselves from dying.
Part Four: Revolution is about making yourself heard. It’s about putting yourself “out there” and the backlash you’re going to get from the establishment. It also calls on authors to continue to create the worlds they want to see. To continue to write books that cause controversy, to continue to fight for a more just and equal world. Not just in writing, but to push for a more just and equal world in the physical world we inhabit.
I’ve been reading some of Hurley’s work off and on for a few years now, and have always admired her voice. In The Geek Feminist Revolution, she tackles subjects like GamerGate and the Sad/Rabid Puppies kerfluffle. She never stoops to their level though, even after the personal attacks she received, Hurley has remained professional. She has been a beacon of hope for many authors, a person we can turn to for support and solidarity.
I highly enjoyed The Geek Feminist Revolution as a marginalized person and aspiring writer. There is an overarching theme of hope in the book. The hope that people can, and will, become better. That the struggles of the authors who have fought before us are there as blocks for new waves to stand on, and help the next generation up to go farther than we have. To help one another to be better than we were. Totally solid five star review for a collection of essays that are a must-read for writers, readers, and feminists of all stripes.
The Geek Feminist Revolution
Publisher: Tor Books (May 31, 2016)
Publication Date: May 31, 2016
Sold by: Macmillan
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