It's A Trap!

A number of historians and political analysts have come forward to point out that the USA is falling into an old political trap: divide and conquer. We are an increasingly polarized nation, treating each other as if we're fans of opposing sports teams rather than a whole society looking to its best interests. As the left and right move apart, they leave a gap in which a demagogue fits perfectly.

Human nature lends itself to tribalism, but a nation needs to see itself as a tribe or it will fall apart. I recently saw a comment to this essay that asked, "So what can we do?" In this case, the "we" would be those on the left. I don't have the answer, but I suspect that a good first step would be to recognize the trap and avoid it. In our eagerness to protest - and why wouldn't we be? We're angry! - we fail to see how this plays into the executive branch's strategy of false dichotomy. We say, "No discrimination!" and the other side says, "The liberals care more about immigrant rights than citizens."

Of course, this isn't true. Liberals have a long history of caring for those who struggle to care for themselves. Conservatives (the fiscal kind) have a long history of supporting open borders. But we can't talk about middle ground when each side is busy fighting to score for their team. We've fallen into the trap. Who ultimately wins? The Trump administration, by consolidating their power.

I understand the anger. I'm an immigrant. My parents struggled with visas, finances, and the family we left behind. I'm a feminist and a support abortion right. My first instinct on hearing about the new Supreme Court nominee was to say, "Obstruct him! For the next four years! Let the right have a taste of their medicine." My reaction the new immigration order was that it's a BS political stunt that hurts innocents.

But all of that, once again, plays into the trap. Tit-for-tat is a losing strategy without cooperation. Who wins in the Prisoner's Dilemma? The jailer. Only if the two prisoners share information and agree to cooperate will they benefit. 

The Trump administration is playing this country - and our Congresspeople - like a zero-sum game. It isn't. We need our representatives in Congress to communicate and cooperate with each other - and this has to go both ways or it fails! We need to push less on emotional hot-buttons and more on the legislative gridlock that's tearing us apart. If we keep falling into a punishing tit-for-tat trap, we all lose. We lose economic prosperity, jobs, global power, and social progress. Meanwhile, the jailer wins.

The question left in my mind is: How do we get through to the other player when we've locked ourselves in separate rooms?

My Award Eligibility for 2016

It's that awkward time of year for published authors in genre fiction. The Nebula and Hugo Awards are open for nominations. After having a reader be incredibly generous enough to buy a WorldCon membership to nominate Binaries, I felt that I would be remiss not to make this post. 

All of my stories from 2016 are eligible for the Nebulas and the Hugos. I am no longer eligible for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Foremost for your consideration, in the Novella Category, my debut standalone book, Runtime, was released in May, 2016, from Publishing. This is a near-future, adventure-cyberpunk story with layers of social commentary and set in Los Angeles and the High Sierras.

My other three publications last year fall into the Short Story Category.

The shortest, Binaries, appeared in Lightspeed Magazine's special issue, People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction as well as on their website in June, 2016. This slice of science fiction won't take you long to read, but it may not leave you quickly.

The Boy Who Made Flowers is a fantasy/slipstream story published in Mothership Zeta, Issue 4, in July 2016. It also appeared on BoingBoing. 

Another flash piece, Gaps of Joy, and a Knot for Love, appeared in Podcastle in October, 2016. This is a magical realism story set in my family's home state of Tamil Nadu.

I consider the ability to nominate and vote for awards to be a privilege, and I'm grateful for the excellent stories that the Hugos and Nebulas bring to my attention. If you are reading for awards consideration, please accept my thanks for your time and effort.


Looking Back on 2016

I've been on LiveJournal for over 10 years now, mostly using it as a semi-private ("friends-Locked") record of my life. Besides keeping my writing skills honed, it's been great for looking back and remembering years past. 

When I started on LJ, it was a thriving and active community that included many of my friends, but those numbers dwindled - especially after Facebook took off - and are almost down to zero these days. Given that, I decided to poach snippets from my LJ to recap my 2016.  

January: "Okay, so much stuff going did I ever manage to get any work done at the office? I turned in my line edits for Runtime! I did a short presentation for M's class on Pongal - made a little packet for everyone and passed out the food. Signed off on the cabinet designs for the house and selected the paint color."

February: "I've been putting my other writing time this week into the Rogue Wizards script revisions, which are hefty but I should have them done this week. Consulting pulled me into some real work (i.e. on a deadline/critical path) on Friday and Monday. In other news, the kitchen cabinets have come in! It's looking good that we'll be back in the house by the end of March."

March: "Up: I sold another short story! Down: Two more middling review for Runtime, one at 3/5 and another at 3.5/5, but I'm starting to think that's the best I can hope for, especially at this stage. Up: Well, for my first time on programming at a convention, I'm not sure I could beat the FOGcon experience! Down: The remodel front has been very frustrating lately, with everything suddenly feeling like it's moving soooo sloooooowly toward the finish."

April: "Spring break was lovely! GUESS WHO GOT HER EARS PIERCED ON TUESDAY?? Meanwhile, our Subaru died that same evening. Our appliances are sort of in. The installers dinged the fridge door so we have to wait for a replacement, probably installed by the same dudes (not particularly skilled guys). The house might actually be DONE by next Tuesday."

May: "Paradise Lost: totally wonderful experience. Nebula Con was amazing. RUNTIME IS OUT IN THE WORLD. The house-foo continues apace. In other news, the Oakhurst house is sold and gone forever. The Caltech alumni reunion was good fun. Funny how people are more excited about Runtime than ANY of the engineering work I've done over the past 20 years!"

June: "The car rebuild is still not done. Tomorrow is M's last day at Montessori. Nearly 4 years feels like we're leaving a second home. Last weekend was a trip to the LA Natural History Museum for Father's Day, which was surprisingly empty for a holiday. I seem to be done with the final revisions for Rogue Wizards as of yesterday unless something major turns up there. Work at Marvell has been ramping down, too." 

July: "Our tour de midwest was pretty fun and drama-free. We spent time with lots of friends and family. The European travels were mostly good, with the one negative being that I caught a cold the night before we left Italy. Overall, it was a great two weeks with none of the international travel angst from prior trips. In other news, I had to set up a document for my WorldCon schedule. It's gonna be awesome."

August: "The visit from our friends went well. In between doing stuff with them, I had a fun time doing a Q&A and book-signing with Greg Van Eekhout at Mysterious Galaxy. WorldCon: I mean, really - 2 Black women, a Chinese woman, and a White woman won ALL of the fiction Hugos! What better F-U could there be for the Rabid Puppy bullshit?? All my panels, reading, etc., were fantastic, I caught up with tons of friends (including EA staff), and I finally got to meet my agent AND my editor in person!"

September: "New schedule is working out very well for me so far. I get to WATCH TV again. This year's Gordian reunion was a lot of fun, as always. I had a successful and fun reading at Shades & Shadows. M's masquerade-themed birthday party went off pretty well, and Rogue Wizards is DONE!"

October: "Worst flu ever? Perhaps...certainly the worst I've had in a good long while. I am utterly sick of being laid up in bed, not able to work much or read or anything.... My fever finally went away after two weeks. Hurrah! The party for my grandmother's 90th birthday & Deepavali was enjoyable, but would've been better had I not been so sick. The day after was a recovery day, and Monday was Halloween shenanigans."

November: "Hillary Clinton lost the election though she won the popular vote. I am so tired of fighting the same shitty battle over and over and over in every part of my life. I shut down for a bit after the election - emotionally speaking, that is. Taking Maya to see Le Corsaire at the Segerstrom (two weeks later) helped remind me that life is more than politics. Thanksgiving was quite good this year, though low-key, and I finally made it up to Loscon!"

December: "Pizza Port's Strong Ale Festival: every year I wonder if I'm burned out/jaded enough to stop going. And every year, I end up having a great time. Submitted a few manuscripts, some for the first time, some rescued from the trunk. I've also written/expanded a short story after months of working on novella & novel length drafts. Christmas was mellow, and the break has been productive, though not so much in terms of professional work. Now getting ready to host our New Year's Eve party!"

My wish for your 2017: that you learn something, (re)discover an interest, make a new friend, and spend time with the people you love most.