Saturday, May 2, 2015

Reading as a Writer

So many books, so little time
One thing about writing is that it really eats into one's reading time. I used to devour a good book in 2-3 days, because I'd sit for hours with my nose buried in it. But writing (and yes, the siren's song of social media) means that I don't have hours of free time to lose myself in novels. It's been a while since I got sucked into a book I couldn't put down until it was finished, and the last time I did (the book was Robin Hobb's Fool's Assassin, by the way), I felt guilty that I did no work on my writing for a couple of days.

Another issue is that I have a very long list of novels I "should" be reading. Instead of seeking out books by old favorites (like Robin Hobb), I'm trying to read newer secondary world fantasy, especially successful debuts and top sellers from the past few years. And of course, there are also those award winning novels, or classic novels that everyone and their brother is talking about or recommending yet somehow fell through the cracks of my own awareness until recently.

And oh, God, I need to be reading more short fiction too, so maybe I can get over the block that stops me from coming up with short story ideas more than once in a blue moon.

The problem is, when I'm doing something because you "should" be doing it, even when it's something you enjoy and the book in question is really good, I have a harder time staying focused on it. Especially when I've got a couple of new novels I'm trying to get cracking on.

I thought I'd toss out some of the things I've read (or been reading) recently, however, as well as some books that are on my ever-growing to-read list.

Books I've finished recently

Lascar's Dagger by Glenda Larke: I loved her Stormlords books, so I was excited to see she had something new out. Interesting characters and world, though I didn't get quite as drawn in as I did with her previous trilogy. It's a little more standard-issue fantasy, though the interplay between the main characters is intriguing.

Shards of Time by Lynn Flewelling: The last novel in her long-running Nightrunners series. I've been reading her work since the early 2000s (when I discovered the Tamir Triad), and I love her characters and world. Sad to see it end, though I thought this one was maybe a bit flatter than some of her previous books about Alec and Seregil. Ending a long-running series is hard, though.

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan: A Gunpowder fantasy set in a society where the monarchy has just been overthrown. An unusual magic system and meddlesome gods (one with a penchant for cooking) adds a nice touch to this debut. The writing's a bit  klunky (as if the author couldn't quite decide if he wanted the pov to be omniscient or limited third), but it's a first novel. The dysfunctional, love-hate, father-son relationship between two of the main characters is fascinating as well.

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler: Another fantasy set in a society that feels like the late 1700s. Interesting world, though it feels like a lot of novel one is set up. Some nice surprises, and I like that the relationship between three female characters is important to the story. This is a fantasy debut, but I believe the author has published in other genres previously. A friend of mine from Cascade Writers says he's in her critique group and is a really nice guy, so I definitely wanted to give his book a read.

The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato: A debut steampunk novel by a writer I met at a workshop (Cascade Writers) three years ago. I don't read a lot of steampunk, but I enjoyed her setting, characterization and the romantic arc. Reminded me a bit of a Joan Aiken novel for grownups (I loved Joan Aiken as a child) Her protagonist is a healer, and I thought her healing system was really fascinating. Thankfully very different from mine.

Books I'm reading:

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison: Just read first couple chapters. Looks to be a court intrigue fantasy stories, and I need to read more of those, since court intrigue figures heavily in my Umbral series, especially book 2 (which I'm working on now). Also, it's a Hugo contender, and I'm voting in the Hugos this year. The writing is really good and lyrical, though the pov (third person, pretty zoomed out with omniscient parts) is more distant than my preference.

Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg: A few years old now, but I'm reading it because I discovered that the main character is addicted to a pain-based magic, which should be familiar to anyone who's been beta reading for me. The particulars are different, though her stories and characters are similar to mine in some ways--broken heroes with plenty of internal conflicts and flaws, and she puts them through hell. I like the first person narration and main character, though I'm halfway though, and so far, the story is a bit slow. It takes place in a monastery, and I'm only just getting a feel for the stakes. She's a fine writer, though who is very good at description and scene setting that doesn't break pov or bog the narrative down. It makes me sad that her work is often overlooked by people discussing good modern fantasy writers.

Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley: About halfway through this one, and it's really intriguing. Different kind of world building. I wouldn't call it Grimdark, but it's definitely got a body count and its share of gray-scale characters. She tosses you into the world and culture with very little prompting, and you have to figure out what's going on as you read. Some people have commented that this is difficult to do, but I've been tracking things so far. The main issue I have with it is that the large number of pov characters makes it hard for me to follow or attach myself to any one story (a bit like Martin's work, though she sets things up differently, and I believe the different character arcs intersect more). Fantastic writing, and it's a shame it didn't net a Nebula or Hugo nomination this year.

Cold Fire by Kate Elliott: The second book in the Spiritwalker Trilogy, (first was Cold Magic, which I enjoyed). Sequels have been more on my back burner lately, but I want to get to this one. I enjoyed her world building and characterization in the first one. Also, the focus on a relationship between two female cousins is nice. So often, female characters are stranded in a sea of men in fantasy novels and don't seem to have any important friends or mentors who are women.

Dragon Soul by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett: Loved the first two books in this series, and I'm about halfway through this one. Hoping the boys find the remains of ol' Havemercy and get her going again.

The Dagger's Path by Glenda Larke: Sequel to Lascar's Dagger. Lots of cool stuff, and it appears that the main characters are traveling to the Va-Forsaken lands in spite of the best efforts of 2/3 of them. I've heard that the author modeled them after Malay, where she lived for a long time (and her husband is Malay also), and the setting is very well developed. The only thing I'm struggling with is the addition of two new new povs who have sort of taken over the portion of the story I'm on right now. They're likable and compelling, and I'm guessing their stories will interweave back into those of the three main characters from the previous book. I assume she's telling the story chronologically, so we're not getting anything on these other characters while they're uneventfully on a ship, but it's a bit disquieting, as if they've disappeared from the story. There's no perfect way to do a novel with multiple pov characters (and where the story takes place on different fronts) however.
Books I'm currently stalled out on, though I hope to plow through.

The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan: Sequel to Promise of Blood. Torn on this one. The increasing pathos of one of the pov characters (Taniel Two Shot) and his developing relationship with the enigmatic Ka Poel is interesting, but I'm not connecting well with Adamat this time around (he was less interesting to me than the other three povs in book one also). I can't put my finger on it, but the writing feels more distant and stilted with him, maybe because the author uses this character's proper name in almost every sentence and filters a lot, instead of trusting the reader to know that anything described in one of Adamat's chapters will be what Adamat sees, knows, hears, thinks or feels. I like the story and magic system, however, so I plan on getting back to it.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch: I should love this one, and I suspect it targets a similar demographic to my own novel (being in a sort of early modern era setting and somewhere in between heroic fantasy, noire, and fantasy of manners) but haven't been able to get past the first few chapters. I think it's the omniscient pov. I'm much fonder of first person or a closer limited third these days. But darn it, Lynch has a good reason for wanting to distance the reader a bit from Locke, and there's a lot to like about this world and these characters, so I'm definitely returning to it.

Books on my to-read list

The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu: Because it's a Hugo contender and has gotten some great reviews. A SF novel set in China (and written by someone who is Chinese) is intriguing too.

Ancillary Sword By Anne Leckie: The sequel to Ancillary Justice, the winner of last year's Hugo and Nebula awards. I read AJ, and enjoyed it. The writing was clean and crisp but the author did a good job of capturing the setting and a very unusual pov character. Since AS is a Hugo nominee this year, I'll need to read it by July. Same thing for the other books on the Hugo and Campbell lists, and the short stories that are nominated. My general system for reading for awards is to read until I lose interest, and vote accordingly.

Star Crossed by Elizabeth Bunce: A YA fantasy novel that's categorized as manners fantasy because of its emphasis on intrigue again. While I don't think my own work is quite in that classification (supposedly, magic and combat aren't supposed to figure into fantasies of manners much), I do want to read more of them to see how writers who are good at intrigue spin plausible motives and dilemmas for their characters. I also need to read more YA. So it's in the queue.

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie. A YA fantasy novel by the master of Grimdark. I enjoyed reading his First Law trilogy, and I really liked the way he created very different narrative voices (in limited third) for each pov character. I'm curious how he approaches a YA novel (written in limited third and not the usual first) and how he's evolved as a writer since his first trilogy (haven't gotten to his interim books yet) and what his new world is like.

 Finn Fancy Necromancy, by Randy Henderson. I don't generally read much UF or humorous fantasy, but I know the author slightly from Cascade Writers, and he's a nice guy with a great sense of humor. The premise looks intriguing and rather unique, so this one is definitely in my queue.

Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith: Looks very interesting and a non-standard fantasy setting, neither the contemporary world, nor a quasi-historical society.

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal: The idea of something that's like a Jane Austen novel with magic is really intriguing.

The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler: Sequel to The Thousand Names.

The above lists can be added to or rearranged without notice.

So, how do other writers who also have day jobs keep up with their reading? Have you found that you read differently since you've been serious about writing fiction? How do you decide which books to read and how to prioritize them?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Writing Stories Set in Societies That Aren't Ours

 Writing from the point of view of someone who isn't like oneself. This is an issue faced by most fiction writers, of course. Most of us don't want to write stories with different versions of ourselves over and over and over. But writers of historical and speculative fiction have a special problem: they're writing in settings where the characters are likely to have very different sensibilities from modern readers.

Writers of historical fiction have a more restrictive situation, since they're constrained by what we actually know about a period of history. If your novel is set in ancient Rome, or the antebellum South, you have to have slavery. And attitudes about everything from the role and status of women, treatment of children, treatment of animals, pluralism, class/castes etc. varied greatly with time and place, but they were usually quite different from our modern sensibilities. Fantasy writers have more leeway, as they can construct worlds and societies that are different from history. But it's still unlikely that the attitudes held by characters in a different society are going to mirror ours in all, or even most respects.

This leads to some questions about both world building and characterization. How do you portray your world and character in a way that's plausible, internally consistent and different without alienating modern readers?

The answer is complex.

First of all, one should do meticulous homework. This is vital when writing in a real-world setting, but it's important for writers who creates fictional worlds too. One shouldn't rely on what "everyone" knows about a given time and place. Some conventional wisdom is wrong, and even carefully researched history often ignores the perspectives or contributions of marginalized people unless you really dig for them.

On a lighter note, many modern readers assume that Hoffmann's Struwwelpeter represents an accurate view of 19th century German morality regarding child rearing, but in fact, the stories were very tongue in cheek, and cutting children's thumbs off was no more acceptable then than it is now. Hoffmann was an interesting mix of qualities, in fact, with some attitudes that were very ahead of his time, and some that weren't.

Secondly, people living in a given place and time aren't monolithic. History tends to focus on averages and blur distinctions between groups and individuals. I've often wondered how historians (let alone pop culture) of the future might portray the attitudes and norms of Americans during the late 20th and early 21st centuries. I can think of several social issues that are currently very much in contention. Presenting an "average" way everyone thinks about them is impossible, even for modern pollsters. Anyone who has been in a conversation with friends and family (let alone online) about the divisive, or even not-so-divisive, issues of the day knows this.

Results from 2010 Gallup Poll shows how divided modern people are on many issues. The gap between what people say they believe and how they actually behave may be even wider on some of these issues, at least.

 People hold a wide variety of views and these views are even sometimes inconsistent or self-contradictory. Societal baselines change over time, but that doesn't mean no one in the past overlapped with modern views. Imagine a hypothetical future where nearly everyone (except an occasional depraved weirdo) is vegetarian and it's illegal to spank one's kids. Will writers of historical fiction insist that it's unrealistic to portray any early 21st century Americans as being anti-spanking or as vegetarians simply because the average person living in our times eats meat and hits their kids? And even more tellingly, would they insist on presenting everyone who eats meat and practices corporal punishment as having the exact same approach to or attitude about their own behavior?

Thirdly, one must consider who you are writing your story for, or to put it another way, what the purpose of your story is.

--Is it simply to entertain the reader by transporting them to an "exotic," yet still relatable time and place, a setting that's foreign yet fun? This is often referred to as "escapist" fiction. Some readers of historical romance, or fantasy want to enter a fairy tale (and not one that resembles the original darker versions of fairy tales either). Writers of grittier or more "realistic" fiction may poo poo this, but I don't think it's necessarily wrong.

--Is it to indulge a power fantasy that one might have about living in a world where their kind of person has a level of autonomy, acceptance, and control they probably lacked in real history, or might even lack in the world today? Another kind of escapism, I suppose.

--Is it to subtly explore a different perspective or world view in a critical way (or in a way that shines a light on our own)?

--Is it to create a "what if" scenario, an alternative world where history unfolded differently because of the speculative story elements?

--Is it to give the reader a chance to see what it would have been like, possibly, to be an outlier in a historical setting (for instance, to be an abolitionist in the antebellum South or a pioneering feminist during the Early Modern Era)?

--Is it simply there to show the reader how things really were once upon a time (maybe so that they're damned glad they don't live in the story world)?

--Is it to immerse the reader in a different world view or set of sensibilities and do it so seamlessly that they internalize them for the duration of the story?

--Is it to create characters that the reader can like and relate to on a visceral level?

None of these reasons is necessarily wrong, and not all are mutually exclusive, but goals and target audience will determine how a writer approaches a story with characters who have sensibilities that might be repellent to most characters. The thing to keep in mind is that no approach is likely to appeal to all readers. Their own experiences in life, and who they are, will determine what they're comfortable reading.

I have more thoughts on this issue, but I think this is a good stopping place for today.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Nice Change of Pace

Doug and I just got back from a trip to Depoe Bay Oregon. My sister in law Amber organized it to celebrate a milestone birthday for Mike, my father in law. We stayed in a very nice beachfront "cottage" that had an extraordinary view of the ocean.

View from living room window
We actually saw some spouting and breaching whales from time to time. We had fourteen people total, as Doug's father, stepmother Michele, Sisters Angela and Amber (with their husbands Dino and Ian), and our teen-aged nephew Antonio and our three young nieces Ava, Mia, and Kia were all there, along with two old family friends Les and Eileen. The place was set up to sleep up to nineteen, however, and most importantly it had four bathrooms.

Doug and I brought Wiley and Roxy as well, though Flick stayed behind at the WAG hotel (she's what the veterinary behaviorists at the UC Davis vet school call a hyper-vigilant dog, so she does not do well in chaotic conditions with lots of new people running around). Wiley got tons of petting. Roxy did okay, but she was a bit confused at first. She's fifteen and doesn't see or hear so well anymore, so it took her a while to figure out the layout of the place. She still enjoyed walking on the beach, in spite of her arthritis. It's sad, though, seeing how much she's slowed down. She was a big hit with the girls, though, and they seemed to understand the need to treat her gently.

The only less than ideal thing about the place was that it lacked any good tidepooling rocks. We still managed to find some interesting marine life washed up on the beach, most notably some driftwood that was positively crawling with some kind of (I think) wood boring clams or mussels [edit--it turns out to have been Lepus aniterfera, the goose-necked barnacle], and some blue jellies (Velella velella) that have been reportedly washing up all over Pacific coast beaches lately.

Mysterious blue jellies-Velella

Lepas Anitfera, goose-neck barnacles on driftwood

I remember seeing something similar years ago when I was at the beach at the Sonoma Coast State Park in Northern California. Except those jellies were clear and colorless, not blue, and my Father dubbed them "alien condoms." Evidently, the aliens are back and partying on our beaches, and they've decided to add the excitement of color to their experience. I haven't managed to look up the mollusc species, but they were pretty impressive, as they formed writhing masses of tentacle-like things (those would be the muscular foot part of their anatomy).

The water was too cold for swimming, of course, but we got lucky with the weather, and there was a breeze that was ideal for kite flying. My niece Ava got a kite as one of her birthday gifts, so she had fun flying it.

One way I am blessed is that I get along with both sides of my husband's family, and he gets along with mine. Maybe it's because we're all crazy in a similar way or something. All in all it was a wonderful opportunity to break from our usual routine and have a change of scenery for a few days. A lot of driving, but I don't usually get up to Oregon during the Spring, so it was a treat.

Doug, Wiley and Roxy
Oh, and one unusual thing that happened to us on the way up was that Wiley got to meet another kelpie at a rest area outside of Shasta. He was thrilled. He was less thrilled by the gigantic Newfoundland he met on the beach on Saturday. Wiley has a distinct bias towards dogs close to his own size or smaller as playmates.

We're home now and have picked up a very excited Flick from the boarding kennel (where we pay extra to have the trainers work on her with socialization), and we have made up with our cats. I'm looking forward to spending the rest of spring break relaxing and catching up with my grading and work.

Sadly no requests from any agents arrived in my inbox while I was gone (no rejections either). It appears that a couple of agents I queried back in early Feb have skipped me, as (according to Querytracker) they've sent rejections and made requests from more recent submissions. I don't know what to make of this, as they're agents who generally have a high response rate (as opposed to ones where no reply means no) one way or the other. So I have the fun of deciding whether my queries to them were eaten by Spam filters or lost (so maybe I should re-query), or so horrible they didn't dignify a response, or if they're still trying to decide about them (in either of these latter cases, re-querying would be offensive). I don't think my letter and opening pages are horrific, as I got very encouraging early nibbles from a couple of agents. They turned into nos, but I was hopeful I'd get some more requests at least. Since then, though, it's been crickets.

Querying is a harrowing process, and I honestly don't know now if I should rework my query letter and opening pages, and if so, how. I wish I knew of my writing time was best spent on the sequel for UH (so a draft, at least would be ready if someone does want to rep it and it sells), or if I should just write something completely new (and essentially give up on UH and the series I hoped it would become).

Sunday, March 15, 2015

SF and F "Have You Read These Great Books" Lists

A lot of those lists have been circulating lately: the ones that give you a list of great SF and/or fantasy novels and ask you to check off the ones you've read. The higher the number the better your geek credentials. Some are based on an individual's feelings about which novels are best and most important, while others (like this list compiled by npr) are based on surveys. Nothing wrong with these in their place. We all have our preferences, and if we learn about some books we haven't read in our favorite genres then it's all for the good.

But there are a few of things about these lists that could be better.

One is that they nearly always focus on individual novels and not authors. So there may be a handful of very prolific and famous authors (Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, LeGuin and others) who end up dominating. If you don't care for Asimov or Heinlein (say), you'll likely perform more poorly than if you're not fond of someone who only has one book on the list.

Another is it can be tricky to know what "counts" as having read a given book. If the entire Foundation series is listed, and you only read the first book (deciding it wasn't for you after), then should you tick it off or not? For that matter, how much of an individual book should you have read before it "counts"?

If more of these were lists of authors' names, rather than lists of famous books or series, some of the ambiguity would go away. I think it would also remedy another problem with these lists: they're not terribly diverse.

This list (from Michael Sullivan's blog) is more inclusive than some and lists a number of authors/books who may be less familiar to some readers.

In contrast, one of the most infamous examples of a poll that ignores a huge chunk of SF and F talent is the Guardian survey, where only 4% of the polled readers' favorite SF and F novels were by women. While the npr survey was better, only 14% of the titles on their list were by women.

Some people claim this is because there are few women actually writing SF and F out there, but this is not true. Approximately 40% of SFWA members are women. 20% of Hugo awards have been won by women since 1968 (the percentage is higher in recent years) and about 39% of Nebulas and about 39% of the Arthur C Clarke Awards. The John W Campbell award for the best new writer is close to 50% female writers. So there doesn't seem to be a dearth of women writing quality SF and F either.

This guest post by Cheryl Morgan (on the SFWA site) sums the issue up very well.

So why aren't people noticing and remembering female speculative fiction authors more often? I don't know, but it's more than a little disheartening to those of us who are female and attempting to break into print in these genre. While being female doesn't seem to make it harder to get published in the genre (though it's hard to know for sure without access to slush pile statistics), or to receive awards, it does seem to make it harder to be noticed or remembered by everyday fans.

I've always disliked lists that separate out women this and female that as a special subcategory (it rings too much of that old, condescending "Lady Authors" or "Lady Scientists" thing), especially in areas where women are not a small minority. But given that female writers of speculative fiction are overlooked or forgotten more often than their male counterparts, then it may be a necessary evil.

So I've compiled a list of (approximately) 100 female authors of SF and F. Some of these women are famous, some have written bestsellers, and many have won one or more of the awards mentioned above. Others are women who were writing back in the 19th or early 20th centuries. Some wrote (or write) under male or neutral sounding pseudonyms. I didn't vet the list according to any standard of literary merit, even my own. I love some of these writers, don't care for others, and have yet to read a number of them. It's also not an exhaustive list. There are a ton of women I didn't include (since I was shooting for just a hundred). There are a few authors on here (like Margaret Atwood) who are not primarily speculative fiction writers, but some of their famous work has crossed that line. Most, however, are firmly within the genre.

I didn't include specific book or story titles here. Most of these writers wrote a number of books, and as stated above, I find surveys that ask readers which authors they've read or are familiar with to be better than ones that ask about specific titles.

So how many of these authors have you read, or at least attempted to read? How many have you never even heard of? And are there any you think should be added to this list?

Margaret Atwood
Kage Baker
Elizabeth Bear
Danielle Bennett
Gertrude Barrow Bennett
Carol Berg
Anne Bishop
Leigh Brackett
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Patricia Briggs
Kristen Britain
Lois McMaster Bujold
Emma Bull
Octavia Butler
Trudi Canavan
Jacqueline Cary
Margaret Cavendish
Suzy McKee Charnas
CJ Cherryh
Deborah Chester
Miriam Allen DeFord
Amanda Downum
Kate Elliot
Lynn Flewelling
Mary Gentle
Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire
Carolyn Ives Gilman
Nicola Griffith
Barbara Hambley
Elizabeth Hand
Norma K Hemming
Robin Hobb
Nalo Hopkinson
Tanya Huff
Kameron Hurley
PD James
NK Jemisin
Susannah Clark Jonathan
Diana Wynne Jones
Gwyneth Jones
Jaida Jones
Kay Kenyon
Katherine Kerr
Francis Knight
Mary Robinette Kowal
Katherine Kurtz
Ellen Kushner
Mercedes Lackey
Glenda Larke
Anne Leckie
Tanith Lee
Madeline L'Engle
Ursula K LeGuin
Doris Lessing
Jane Lindskold
Malinda Lo
Karen Lord
Jane Loudon
Marie Lu
Anne Lyle
Julian May
Anne McCaffrey
Vonda McIntryre
Patricia McKillip
Elizabeth Moon
CL Moore
Pat Murphy
Linda Nagata
Andre Norton
Naomi Novik
Yvonne Nvarro
Nnedi Okorafor
Taomora Pierce
Cat Rambo
Melanie Rawn
Laura Resnick
JK Rowling
Joanna Russ
Mary Doria Russell
Michelle Sagara
Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Nisi Shawl
Mary Shelly
Alison Sinclair
Vandana Singh
Kristine Smith
Maria V. Snyder
Margaret St. Claire
Michelle St. Claire
Francis Stevens
Mary Stewart
Tricia Sullivan
Rachel Swirsky
Amy Tan
Sherri Tepper
James Tiptree Junior
Amy Thompson
Jo Walton
Margaret Weiss
Kate Wilheim
Connie Willis

Friday, February 20, 2015

More Stuff On Diversity in Fiction

My friend and critiquing buddy Nick Mena has just interviewed a couple members of our critiquing group, Nyki Blatchley and Daniel Ausema, about diversity in their own work and in general.

Relatedly, Nyki has just included a post on his own blog which discusses one the most profound and important reason for including diversity in one's work: realism.

Coincidentally, author Malinda Lo said something very similar in her own blog today.

We live in a complex world that has a variety of people in it and always has. There's no reason to suppose that this wouldn't be true in a fantasy or SF world as well (unless, perhaps, you're writing a dystopia where everyone is cloned or something). The idea that only one *kind* of person (or culture) has experiences worth writing about is as ludicrous as it is offensive.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Diversity in Fantasy 2015

My friend and critting partner Nick Mena is interviewing some writer friends on his blog Sanocho Pot this month. It's worth checking out.

Here's a link to his interview with me last year about my own novel, which is now being queried.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Fly on the Wall Hears Comment From Girl Gamer

Sometimes life hands you these interesting fly on the wall moments. I waiting for my car to be smogged the other day when a middle aged man came into the shop with his seven year old daughter. While they were waiting their turn, the little girl pulled out a tablet and started playing a game of some kind. Her dad asked her if it was a fun game, and here was the exchange, more or less:

Girl: It's fun, even though it's a boy's game.

Dad: What makes it a boy's game?

Girl: They only let you play a boy [name for avatar or character I didn't catch].

Dad: Ahhh.

Girl (still tapping on her screen): It's fun to play a boy sometimes, but I wish they'd let me play a girl.

Sounds like the gaming industry still has some catchup to do. News flash: girls, even very young ones, do play games. And at least some of them wish there were more with female avatars.