Friday News: Reader assault case update, World Fantasy Award, Snowden on privacy, and Disney princess mashups
British Writer Tracks Down Teen Who Gave His Book a Bad Review, Smashes Her With Wine Bottle – You may remember this 2014 case – a teenage reader-reviewer named Paige Rolland gave Richard Brittain’s self-published book, The World Rose, a negative review, enraging Brittain enough to track her down and assault her with a wine bottle. Brittain finally pleaded guilty to the assault in a Scottish court this week, which hopefully will bring some justice for the reader. If you’re horrified by this story, it’s not Brittain’s first experience with stalking, although he is supposedly “getting treatment” for the other situation.
Brittain, incensed at the one-star review, apparently tracked down Rolland’s Facebook page, discovering that she lived in Scotland and worked at an Asda supermarket. He allegedly traveled 500 miles from London and found her at the store, crouching to stock a low shelf of cereal boxes. He hit her from behindwith a full bottle of wine, leaving her unconscious and with a gash on her head.
According to the Daily Mail, this isn’t even the first time Brittain has been accused of stalking a woman online. The perfect princess of his novel, Ella Tundra, was apparently based on a woman he targeted, a creepy courtship he described in a blog post called “The Benevolent Stalker.”– Gawker
Whew. – Jemisin provides a brief but nicely pithy explanation of why the image of Lovecraft on the World Fantasy Award statuette was so problematic to many authors, especially authors of color. As Jemisin points out, when an Award is represented by a person, the qualities of that person can inappropriately inhere to the reputation and connotations of the award, and SFF hardly has a spotless history when it comes to subjects like race and gender. What I’ve quoted below actually comes from a a comment to the post in which Jemisin addresses the idea that honoring someone’s writing is different from honoring them as a person, and it’s that conflation that problematized the World Fantasy Award:
Well, here’s the thing: the WFA isn’t supposed to be honoring Lovecraft. It did, inadvertently, because it was his head. Which forced the award’s recipients — those who really are being honored by it — to aggrandize him even if they didn’t want to. Him, not his writing, or the award would’ve been a giant tentacle or something. That’s the core of the problem. When the WF committee of old chose to make an individual person the symbol of everything awesome in fantasy, that symbol was not neutral in value. A person cannot be. Everything about the man was represented in it: his mythos, his bigotry (which was exceptional even in his own era), whether he picked his nose. It’s happenstance that his particular failing was something so offensive to so many people… because few human beings can bear being the representative of a concept. Nobody’s neutral enough. Book lovers often idolize authors, but we’re just people, and therefore inherently flawed. — N.K. Jemisin
EDWARD SNOWDEN EXPLAINS HOW TO RECLAIM YOUR PRIVACY – This is a great interview with Edward Snowden, in which he discusses the steps we should all be taking to protect our privacy online. From using a password manager and adblock software, to encrypting hard drives and phone calls, there are basic steps, Snowden claims, that we can all take to make our online engagement safer, without having to disrupt our routines to do so:
We should armor ourselves using systems we can rely on every day. This doesn’t need to be an extraordinary lifestyle change. It doesn’t have to be something that is disruptive. It should be invisible, it should be atmospheric, it should be something that happens painlessly, effortlessly. This is why I like apps like Signal, because they’re low friction. It doesn’t require you to re-order your life. It doesn’t require you to change your method of communications. You can use it right now to talk to your friends. – The Intercept
8 Extreme Disney Princess Mashups – This piece takes the Disney princess hotdogs to an entirely new level. Donald Trump Princesses! Velociprincesses! and Piles of Rocks (seriously, check it out):
The group of characters now known as the Disney Princesses as a brand are a money-making machine for Disney. For internet artists and comedians, their iconic clothing and colors that make them so recognizable to little children also make them a tempting trope for blending with just about anything—the more ridiculous, the better. – Mental Floss