Human evolution is more complex than you think

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Reimagination of an early South American hunter
(Credit: Sonora Hills, 2020)

A taruca deer, grazing on shrubs in the grasslands of Peru, only has moments to live. Too late, it pauses to sniff the air. Humans, crouched with spear-throwers are only meters away. The taruca turns to run, but an 18-year-old hunter rises from the grass in front of it and sends a thin, stone-tipped spear deep into its chest. The hunter leaps forward to grab onto the antlers, holding down its head for another to deliver the final blow.

Nine thousand years later, the hunter’s grave is found. Time has destroyed everything but her crumbling skull and a pile of sharpened stone hunting tools. …


As with all minority groups, representation in media is the first step to sloughing off our invisibility cloaks

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Drawn by author

I often refer to my sexuality as the “invisible” one. Which is odd as bisexuals arguably make up more than half of the LGBT+ community. The issue is that for years there have been two options: you are gay or you are straight. And this ideology hasn’t gone away — depending on who my partner is, I am gay or I am straight.

As with all minority groups, representation in media is the first step to sloughing off our invisibility cloaks. But is bisexual representation really helping? Or is it just driving us further into the “pick a side” argument? …


Yes, and that’s a problem

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Screen grab from Mulan

Disney’s release of Mulan 2020 was preceded by the headline news that the lead actress, Liu Yifei, had “tweeted” support of the Hong Kong police. Why is everyone so upset? Because the Hong Kong police have been aggressively stifling freedom of speech during protests for human rights. Why am I upset? Because the remake is a terrible film that I believe has worse connotations for human rights than Liu’s post on Weibo.

To understand the extent of why Mulan 2020 was a mistake, it’s first important to examine the 1998 film. …


The LGBT+ community is losing its flag — here’s why this matters

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Photo by Christian Sterk on Unsplash

In March, 2020 COVID-19 sparked a global pandemic. In the UK, lockdown was quickly followed by a huge outburst of support for the NHS (the National Health Service) in the form of weekly clapping, money donations, and the nationwide use of a rainbow flag.

This support was really important for the NHS, because it is a tax-funded service that has been gradually losing funds due to recent government decisions. This lack of funds was very apparent when COVID-19 almost immediately filled up every bed in hospitals, draining PPE supplies and overworking hospital staff.

However, it’s become apparent that this support has also had negative connotations, replacing the meaning behind the rainbow flag. Here’s what you need to know about the situation and why it’s important. …


I think we all need some Halloween escapism

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Photo by Itana Salopek on Unsplash

If there’s anything 2020 has shown me, it’s that reality is its own kind of horror story. To combat that, I’ve gone looking for some old-fashioned spook. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest horror fan; I prefer creepy absurdism to spine-chilling slashers. So here are my top five creepy but not too creepy books.

I went down the nostalgic root while picking these books, so I would class all but one of these as YA. I’ve also repeated two authors, because they’re just too good at the spooky absurdism. …


Are we morally obligated to reject art if we don’t agree with the artist?

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Image by Anuj Chawla from Pixabay

Can we still appreciate content made by a creator whose views and actions have inflicted harm on others? This question is by no means new, but it is still an important one. Numerous creators throughout history have been abusive, racist, or just generally unpleasant people. In the last few years, huge movements like #MeToo have outed many creators as sexual abusers over multiple creative industries. In light of 2020’s BLM protests and JK Rowling’s transphobic essay, I know many people are grappling with their feelings about art they consume. …


Breaking the type-and-delete cycle

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Photo by Trent Erwin on Unsplash

A friend once told me “I can’t be a writer, I love creating worlds but I hate writing.” Without thinking, I laughed and told her “Oh, writers hate writing more than anybody else.” Is that true? It certainly looks like it is. Twitter is full of writer’s block and procrastinators. As a writer, it almost feels obligatory to wake up and post an “I should be writing, but hello Netflix”.

“I hate writing, I love having written.” ― Dorothy Parker

As a second grader, my favourite subject was spelling because my homework was to turn my spelling words into stories. What happened to that kid? Writing isn’t easy, especially if you’re trying to make a living from it, but why did we train ourselves to hate it? …


Mainstream media is secretly fuelling our bigotry

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Image by Alexandr Ivanov from Pixabay

Society is all too quick to label criticism as just another ‘sensitive opinion’. This attitude dismisses real problems and silences people from under-represented groups. Why am I discussing diversity? Because I want to do my bit in promoting equality and I think analysing diversity in stories is a good place to start.

Lack of diversity is not a new issue. Throughout history, there has always been an ideal human that was represented in media from medieval paintings to silent movies and sketches in newspapers. Kind of like a time-travelling Barbie and Ken. Fashion and beauty standards have changed, but Western culture has always put these unattainable figures in front of us. For me, the scary part is that a lot of us grow up surrounded by these ideal figures until they become defaults in our brains for ‘woman’, ‘man’, ‘family’. And then we’re comforted when the world matches these expectations. Sometimes we even try to actively make our surroundings fit the stereotypes in our head. …


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I like the implications of this quote: we use labels too simple to define us.

50% of today’s social media appears to be made up of quotes.

Take Facebook for example — most of the posts I see in my feed are in the form of sentences written in curly letters across a picture. Most of these quotes are authorless with thousands of shares. I know some people who see these quotes and sigh, saying things like, “She has a strong, powerful voice of her own — why is she using these recycled clichés?” And I also know people who are passionate about quotes. …


Age Restrictions and Writing Taboo Topics

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Why don’t books have age restrictions?

Films do. Yes, you can buy that 18 and watch it at home in the secrecy of your room or let your kids watch it. But there is still a huge red number on the cover. Books occasionally have suggested reading ages, but for all intents and purposes, they have no age restrictions. Their content also has very little moderation.

A blind eye is turned on our “Teen novels”, classics, and especially self-published novels which often deal with disturbing, delicate topics like rape, violence against women and children, and minors having sex.

Is this okay? …

About

Sonora Hills

Fiction writer, story critic, and biologist. Passionate about inspiring writers, discussing fun science, and promoting equality.

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