Tag: cons

Semi-hemi-darkness notice


Semi-hemi-darkness notice

In which I take a holiday…

I’ll be off with snakelet & family to a secluded location so I can write sleep. Email is (mostly) on hiatus, though if I owe you a thing it’s going to hopefully get done that week or the one after that! (you know who you are). Book promo stuff will still be posted: expect Shattered Wings Thursday to still happen. Social media might or might not happen (trying to get a little less addicted to the stuff).

And I will see you in London for those of you who are here: Blackwell’s High Holborn with Anna Caltabiano Wednesday August 5th 18:30 onwards (book tickets here, it’s free but you need to register your attendance); and Fantasy in the Court at Goldsboro Books here on August 6th 6:00pm-9:00pm (tickets £5, book here. Lots of other cool authors here!). FYI, The House of Shattered Wings finishes printing end of July, so hopefully there’ll be copies around.

The August newsletter will be a little late due to the aforementioned holiday, expect it around August 4th (earlier if I get through the to-do list faster than expected–one never knows!)

(and yeah, I know there was no July newsletter. Very sorry about that, but real life went a little bonkers on me).

MIRcon report


MIRcon report

The short version of this con report is: Hispacon rocks, and you should all go 🙂

The long(ish) version: I had a great time at MIRcon, the Hispacon in Barcelona. It’s a small convention (70-80 attendees, if I understood correctly), but it’s a very friendly and enthusiastic one: spread over several locations, it had a junior track, a sister con in Catalan (MIRcat), and a bunch of really prestigious guests (Nina Allan, Christopher Priest, Karin Tidbeck and Felix J Palma). I survived the delivery of my speech (and Silvia Schettin kindly provided a great interpretation–I think we’re both very glad it went, well since we were equally nervous about it :p); had a delightful impromptu roundtable with Spanish fans which converted into a Q&A session in Spanish (the audience kindly shouted the translations of those words I didn’t know at me; though after that hour of answering questions, I basically was ready for a high-calorie meal and some quiet time); signed a bunch of download cards (my Spanish editor, Fata Libelli, is ebooks only, but they had brought over cardboard books with a download code); and enjoyed a spot of gastronomy. I caught up with pan tumaca and great ham; and had a tussle with the Lobster of Doom (it started out as a bunch of us ordering arroz negre, a local specialty of rice with squid ink. Following a misplaced order, we ended with rice with lobster. Which would have been fine, if said lobster had come with actual decent tools. A flimsy pair of pliers and a knife don’t count–though you’ll be pleased to know that I did prevail in the end).

I also got to hang out with fabulous people (caught the tail end of the interview with Christopher Priest; and the tail end of Nina Allan’s interview; and sadly had to miss out on Karin Tidbeck’s brilliant speech due to a signing session), brushed up on my (rusty) Spanish; and attended the Ignotus Awards. And, hum, got to snatch some sleep (desperately missed in the weeks since the snakelet started crawling around the house).

So all in all, a great experience. My deepest thanks to the organisers and everyone who contributed to making this a great experience: the con team (Gemma, Miquel, Ismael, Oscar, Lupe, Raquel, and I sincerely hope I haven’t forgotten anybody, apologies if I did 🙁 ); Silvia Schettin and Susana Arroyo, my editors at Fata Libelli; Ian Watson and Cristian Macias for the great tour of Barcelona (and for showing me Gigamesh, aka the genre temple in Barcelona); Sofia Rhei for the company and the lovely book (the adventures of Young Moriarty–in Spanish!) and Leticia Lara for the great lunch, and the free copy of Alucinadas (an anthology of SF by women in Spanish, which I’m looking forward to reading).

I am given to understand that next year’s Hispacon is in Granada–what are you waiting for?

ETA: I’ve put up my GoH speech, here.

Eastercon brief report


So… don’t really have much to say, other than that the con was awesome: Heathrow remains one of my favourite locations because despite the weirdness of the con hotel, it’s *very* easily accessible from where I live (I’m already looking at Bradford next year in mounting dread). I had con crud pretty much as I walked into the hotel–my BA flight having kindly cranked up the air conditioning and worsened a pre-existing cold–and I spent the entire con trying not to run out of voice (the con bar was particularly bad for this, as it had ambiant music that made me speak louder just to be heard).

Organisation was great; I met lots of people old and new, hung around until impossible hours, and mostly wish I’d had more time to actually see everyone whom I wanted to see.
The non-Anglophone panel was great, though, as Rochita points out, it would have been nice to have an extra half-hour in which to move beyond the false problem of translation (which is admittedly difficult, but no more from English to another language than from another language to English), and tackle the power differential and the effects of globalisation (especially as I roped Rochita in, and she could attest to personal experience of growing up in a country vastly overwhelmed by US culture). My panel on Youth and Youthfulness in SF was great (Tom Pollock being one of the best moderators I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing), and we tackled lots of interesting problems on that. Highlight of the weekend probably goes to a panel I wasn’t on, though: “The Nature of Heroism” featured Tricia Sullivan, David Anthony Durham, Genevieve Valentine, George RR Martin and Joe Abercrombie, and Tricia raised some very pointed and valid questions about the “men’s club” nature of heroism and our excessive preoccupation with violence in epic fantasy. You can watch the whole thing here, and it’s definitely worth a look.

They also announced the Hugo nominees while I was at Eastercon (but stuck in a signing): there are lots and lots of friend on that list, and many congrats go to them all (I’m especially impressed that a lot of people are on the ballot twice in different categories). To single out just two of them, though: it will come as no surprise that Ken Liu’s short fiction is nominated both for Best Short Story and Best Novella (and I will be very miffed if he doesn’t take at least one of those trophies); and many congrats also go to Nancy Fulda, whose short story “Movement” is a Villa Diodati success story (not often that stuff we critique ends up on the ballot for the Hugos and the Nebulas!).

(I do have a few other links about stuff that went on… less well, shall we say, but I’m keeping them for tomorrow’s link roundup. There were many awesome things about this year’s con, and this is the post for them).

My Eastercon schedule (provisional)


-Friday 5pm: Newcon Press Dark Currents launch

Launch of the new anthology Dark Currents, which has fiction by a number of awesome people like Tricia Sullivan, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Lavie Tidhar, Neil Williamson, Sophia McDougall, … (and my story “The Bleeding Man”). A lot of contributors will be at the launch, so here’s your chance to get that anthology signed!

-Friday 6pm: What is I?

We all think we know who and what we are, but the more science delves into the nature of ‘I’ the more ‘I’ seems to disappear. Is consciousness just a figment of our brains, and if so, where does that leave us?

-Saturday 11am: Non-Anglophone SF

What is the SF scene like outside English-speaking countries? Do they have their own thriving scene, or is it dominated by Anglophone SF from outside? Why does non-anglophone SF have such a small weight in the UK and US markets – is it down to the difficulty and cost of translations, or is there some other reason for this? Are the problems unique to SF, or present in all genres? And what can we do to change it?

-Saturday 9pm-10pm: Book Signing

I’ll have a few copies of Obsidian and Blood and probably a few other anthologies. Feel free to drop by and chat!

-Sunday 1pm: Youth and Youthfulness in SF

Science fiction, in its dominant form, is an American invention, and stereotypically has the outward-looking optimism of a young country in its DNA. How can contemporary sf reflect the best of that tradition without over-simplifying its worlds? What is the role of writing YA and writing diversity in keeping sf new?

-Monday 11am: What TV shows would we like to see?

What shows would we like to see made but probably won’t be?

-Monday 2pm: “The data deluge and the end of science”

Are our data gathering abilities outstripping our methods for analysing the results? Are our models of causal links inadequate for complex systems? Is scientific advance going to stagnate because of this, or will new tools, such as Bayesian statistics and network theory, allow continued progress?

In between panels, I’ll be in the bar, as usual 🙂

Recent reads


(well, OK, not so recent. Catching up on my summer of sloth)
A Tangle of Magicks/Renegade Magick by Stephanie Burgis: the sequel to A Most Improper Magick/Kat, Incorrigible, which finds teenage witch Kat Stephenson in Bath, trying to shepherd her sister into marital happiness, prevent her older brother from gambling the family fortunes away–all the while struggling with her Guardian powers, and a dastardly plot to use the power of the Roman Baths for nefarious ends. Kat’s voice is as delightful as always, and this is a very nice, punchy mix of comedy of errors and adventure book. Very much looking forward to book 3!

-David Gemmell: hum, a lot of books? Finished the Drenai books, and found one I hadn’t read (the very last one, Swords of Night and Day). The earlier ones are still those that carry the most punch for me; I suspect partly because of nostalgia. Also read Lion of Macedon/Dark Prince, which is basically Greek legends on crack (I exaggerate a bit, since Gemmell obviously documented himself well and has always had a fondness for Antiquity settings in his books; but not by much. The entire many-worlds experience, and the Source vs Spirit of Chaos thing are very entertaining, but I very much doubt that they have anything of “authentic” Ancient Greece about them. Still, what I very much enjoyed about them is their scope: the books take place over decades, and it’s refreshing to see alliances form and break as time passes. It also allows the author space to show the characters grow and age, which isn’t often found in genre fiction–especially in epic fantasy–and this gives a gravitas to the books which prevents them from tipping into outright silliness. Not by much, admittedly).

My Vietnamese progresses; I can now get *some* words recognised by my mother when I say them (don’t laugh. The potential for screwing up words in this language is oh-so-boundless). And this weekend is going to be busy busy, as I’ll be at Rencontres de L’Imaginaire in Sèvres with the H, hopefully signing a number of books greater than zero…

Also, this: awesome xkcd comic. I want to go back in time and build one of those in high school.

Linky linky, the WFC edition


-The tireless Charles Tan puts together a links roundup for WFC, which includes several recordings of panels as well as reports. Really annoyed I missed it this year, especially as it didn’t conflict with Utopiales (which I end up missing for another reason entirely, mind you). Ah well, maybe next year. Toronto sounds nice.

-Several people, including Kate Elliott, Juliet McKenna, Sherwood Smith, report on the WFC “The Glass Ceiling” panel about women vs men in the field. Nothing very new, sadly, but I find the concept of male vs. female gaze fascinating (even though the dynamics that are used here are, I suspect, mostly US or UK. It’s occurred to me recently that French and Vietnamese culture probably don’t have quite the same sexual dynamics or problems, though I’d be hard pressed to pinpoint the bits that are different. Bit hard when you’re submerged in the culture to analyse it) . Also, see an older postby N.K. Jemisin, which raises some interesting questions on the same topic, especially RE sex scenes. (I tend to avoid sex scenes in my writing because reading them bores me, but I can totally understand why other people would want them in their books)

Worldcon brief report


So we had a great romp in the US (except for the bit where we burst the tyre landing, see earlier post): we got to stay with the amazing Dario Ciriello and his wife Linda; to meet up with Keyan Bowes, Jason Ridler, Erin Hoffman, Nick Mamatas, Katherine Sparrow, Kate Kligman, and Mike-whose-last-name-I-keep-blanking-out-on (sorry. If you’re around in comments and want to amend, I’d very much appreciate it).
And I had a great worldcon altogether, meeting with many many friends, and staying up far too late. I got to see good friends T.L. Morganfield, Chris Kastensmidt and Ken Scholes, met a whole bunch of people I only knew from online (or didn’t know at all) and spent a lot of time hanging out with awesome people, which is always cool. Many thanks to Patty Wells and her organising team –it is truly a massive labour of love to organise those events, and I don’t think I’m near aware enough of the enormous quantity of work that goes on behind the scene to give us this wonderful space in which to share our love of genre.

I had a lovely time on panels as well, though in retrospect I should have taken on more programme load (I wanted to avoid the Montreal burnout, but I ended up on too few items). The panel on non-European fantasy we had with Chris Kastensmidt, Ken Scholes and Saladin Ahmed had a great discussion going on, and many insights (and it was filmed, too, which means you should be able to see it on the internet somewhere…) I mostly played wallflower on the Minorities on Covers one (though I should really have registered my opposition to the notion that the reason Hollywood movies were so racist was because of foreign demand. Uh, I’m sorry? We don’t particularly care about White Americans over in Europe either, and I’m pretty sure most of Asia would rather have Chinese-Americans than middle-aged White dudes. Please stop using us non US-ians as excuses for all-Hollywoodian failings). And I ended up cancelling the Cross-Cultural Influences one because I was so nervous about the Hugos (which was stupid, I freely admit. I could have managed it). Reading and kaffeklatsch went pretty well, and so did autographing session. And I came home with lots of books (OK, not so many. Got Warbreaker, my fave Brandon Sanderson book, and a load of Shlock Mercenary comics).

It’ll come as no particular surprise that not only did I not win a Hugo, I also ranked pretty much last on most people’s ballots… [1] Not complaining though. It is truly an honour to be a nominee, especially for a Hugo, aka the award which defined so much of my science fiction reading. And it was a very strong ballot, and I am truly humbled by the number of people who read, enjoyed, and voted for “The Jaguar House, in Shadow”. Also, I got to show off my lovely dress, which counts for something [2] 🙂 (and the Hugo nomination was an excuse to do the California roadtrip with the H–on which more later, when we upload the pictures–, so pretty good there as well).

Many congrats to the Hugo winners, in particular to Mary Robinette Kowal for picking up her first Hugo, to Clarkesworld for their second (NOTE: Neil posted they were retiring from contention for next year, in the interests of the category)–and especially many many congrats for Sheila Williams for her well-deserved win: given the number of Asimov’s stories on the Hugo ballot/who won a Hugo in recent years, not having her win Best Editor for Short Form seemed downright odd. A bit miffed that the following wins didn’t happen: Ian McDonald’s The Dervish House (plus, Ian in kilt was awesome), N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (yes, it’s two in the same category. I’m allowed to be schizophrenic), Alastair Reynolds’ “Troika” (Alastair hasn’t exactly been recognised by the Hugo voters before, and it’s a crying shame…), and Lauren Beukes (who is very much made of awesome. Definitely looking forward to her next book). But you can’t win every time…

The H and I were also fairly puzzled by the Japan video at the Hugo Awards: we loved the glimpse into other cons in another country, but listing only the Western Anglophone winners on the Seiun Awards felt… oddly self-centered? We kind of wanted to see what was cutting edge in Japan, as well [3] (and I have to admit neither of the two names meant much to us except in a “oh, I’ve seen this name before” way, so seeing a few Japanese names and publication covers wouldn’t have been so conceptually different for us).

In travel news, I knew this already, but I think I’ll never trust security checks again: we realised after we’d cleared security that we had a folded Opinel knife in the outer pocket of our backpack, in full sight–and that absolutely no one had seen it or commented on it. But, on the other hand, I couldn’t check in online with American Airlines because they couldn’t figure out that “Aliette Debodarddelajacopiere” and “Aliette de Bodard de la Jacopiere” were really the same person (hey, not my fault the reservation systems has limited space for my full name and insists on lumping it all together…); and we got the suitcase searched coming AND going. Which, at a guess, probably didn’t yield much of interest (except if you’re looking for fully licit Shlock Mercenary contraband, of which there was plenty), and got me fairly miffed when whoever repacked the suitcase broke all the cookies we were bringing to the con. Still wondering–was it the TSA-friendly lock that they saw as a challenge?

Anyway, more later (including a confession post, and California picture trips). Gotta cook dinner and go to bed, and then we can see about this writing thing tomorrow…

[1] Most people on the internet seemed to be complaining about the story not working for them, so I figured my chances ran pretty close to a snowball’s in Hell…
[2] And the rocket pin. Don’t forget the rocket pin. I now have a Nebula pin, a Hugo pin and a Campbell pin, and feel I can dazzle my way out of pretty much everything (and if it doesn’t work, I’ll just hit people with the BSFA trophy).
[3] And thanks to the magic of Google, here’s the list of winners, and nominees (nominees isn’t great, there seem to be info missing from it, but I don’t read Japanese, it’s the best I could find…)



Am home from Worldcon. It was a good one, though I’m thoroughly exhausted at the moment: con fatigue + jetlag does not make a happy writer, or indeed sane human being…

More later when I have had some sleep (though a quick impressed shoutout to American Airlines for managing to transfer both us and our luggage in under 30 minutes at Fort Worth airport. Compared to this, the 30 min wait at the French end feels painfully under-efficient…)

Worldcon schedule


My schedule for Renovation. I’ll be arriving sometime Tuesday afternoon/evening (we’re not sure yet), and leaving completely bleary-eyed after the Hugo Losers’ Party (though the plane home goes through Fort Worth, and we have 30 minutes to change–so there’s actually a chance we might still be there Sunday evening…)

Wed 13:00 – 14:00, Molecular Gastronomy: When You have more Gadgets in Your Kitchen than Your Mom (Panel), A04 (RSCC)
What kitchen gadgets do you have now and which do you want to have? How soon will immersion circulators and anti-griddles be as common as pasta presses and sorbet machines in the “gourmet” kitchen? What _other_ strange lab equipment might become the Next Big Thing in kitche nappliances? The modern science and chemistry of cooking. _Future Food_ is a series on PlanetGreen featuring the restaurant MOTO in Chicago.
Dave Howell (M), Aliette de Bodard, John O’Halloran, Keith G. Kato
Ooh, neat. Have never been on this kind of panel before. This should be fun.

Wed 16:00 – 17:00, Interview with Aliette de Bodard (Interview), A09 (RSCC)
Aliette de Bodard, Christopher Kastensmidt
This one is Chris’ fault…

Thu 14:00 – 15:00, Autographing: Thu 14:00 (Autographing), Hall 2 Autographs (RSCC)
Aka where I will sign your stuff (short fiction, novels, sheets of white paper if you feel like it). Aka also the bit where I will feel quite lonely (not that famous), so the standard strategy of coming to chat with me works fine, too.

Thu 15:30 – 16:00, Reading: Aliette de Bodard (Reading), A14 (RSCC).
There will be cookies. Not homemade, ’cause I’ll be on the road, but I’ve brought over traditional stuff from Brittany.

Fri 11:00 – 12:00, Minority Representation in SF Art and the Ugly Reality (Panel), D05 (RSCC)
Minority representation needs to get better in our visual SF, including casting in film and TV and the design and selection of cover art. A discussion of what’s wrong with the status quo and how the industry can and should improve.
Lee Moyer, Aliette de Bodard, Lee Harris, Naamen Tilahun
This one should be interesting. Hope it remains civil (from past experience, those panels have a bad tendency to degenerate, most often because of someone in the audience)

Fri 16:00 – 17:00, F*** Your Knight and the Horse He Rode in on: Fantasy Series not Based on Medieval European Culture (Panel), A10 (RSCC)
An irreverent panel where young writers challenge the predominance of medieval-inspired settings in fantasy.
Christopher Kastensmidt, Saladin Ahmed, Aliette de Bodard, Ken Scholes
Hmm. Again, Chris’ fault. He’ll be moderating though 🙂

Sat 11:00 – 12:00, KaffeeKlatsch: Sat 11:00 (KaffeeKlatsch), KK1 (RSCC)
Wanna discuss Obsidian and Blood, future projects, or something else? Also, I’ll be bringing the Breton cookies leftovers…

Sat 16:00 – 17:00, Cross-Cultural Influences in SF (Panel), A03 (RSCC)
How are cross-cultural inflences manifested in Science Fiction? We look at the impact of both modern and ancient cultures on on SF. How, say, has American SF been affected by Japan? What are the trans-Atlantic influences in play? We expect a wide-ranging discussion.
Mari Kotani, Aliette de Bodard, Brenda W. Clough, Nick Mamatas, Takayuki Tatsumi
Ha. This would be the panel where I try very hard not to point out that SF is a one-way street from the US to the rest of the world? *diplomacy fail*

And, of course, the Hugo Awards, aka when I have a pretty dress and the H goes around in a serious suit. You don’t want to miss this 🙂

Brief Nebula Awards weekend report


So… very briefly, as I’m currently waiting at my gate for my flight to board. I had an awesome time: in the main, because I got to see people I hadn’t talked to (in the sense of “face-to-face”) for years; got to meet people I’d only ever exchanged messages with, and generally hung out with scarily talented writers and artists (among which, a particular shoutout to Chris & Fernanda Kastensmidt, and J.Kathleen & Matthew Cheney, whom I hadn’t seen in too long a while).
DC is a really lovely city; I only wish I’d been able to stay longer, but the tour of the Air & Space Museum was great (all those space artifacts, plus the Wright Brothers’ flyer, plus the Spirit of Saint Louis. Wow. Just wow). I have the obligatory White House picture, and a bunch of pics of the Smithsonian Castle, which is just too weird not to be photographed.
The con suite was also great, with some really good food–and an amazing selection of teas and a kettle, which is really all I’m asking for. I’m grateful to the people who put this all together, as this was a really great weekend altogether.

I didn’t win a Nebula, but honestly? It is an honour to be nominated; it was a really strong slate, and I’m awesomely happy for Eric James Stone, who’s having a very strong year; and for Rachel Swirsky, whose novella was one of the absolute three best things I read last year. I also have two shiny things to stare at: the Nebula Nominee pin, and a nifty sketch Barry Deutsch made of me while I was on a panel, and which he very kindly donated to me).
Plus, as Paolo Bacigalupi said, I get to bask in the glow of being a Hugo nominee for three extra months, and that’s got to count for something 🙂

And now, for Imaginales…