Tag: eastercon

A very belated Mancunicon report


A very belated Mancunicon report

So… didn’t get around to this earlier because fatigue hit me pretty badly, but I had a great time at Mancunicon. It was my first time as a Guest of Honour (and, in time honoured fashion, I was 7 months pregnant, just like Finncon 2013 ^-^).

I arrived in the UK on Wednesday and had a great night out with the BSFA–many thanks to the BSFA, Andrea Dietrich, Chad Dixon, and especially to Ed Cox for the great interview!

Then met up with Zen Cho, who was travelling with me, and we got into Manchester easily (I love trains. So much easier than planes), and we chilled out until the con got into gear Friday midday.

The cooking demo

Things I learnt, in no particular order:

  • Got to visit the kitchens of the Hilton Deansgate–my first time in a professional kitchen. Wow, had no idea, that was very cool
  • Deliveroo is really awesome for takeaway food (eating in the room is really neat when fatigue levels are close to crashing). And many many thanks to Zen Cho for keeping my sugar levels up and my anxiety levels down.
  • Kari Sperring is an awesome interviewer–engaging and effortlessly keeping me talking (which is no mean feat when the room is full)
  • Apparently there’s a strong correlation between my having failed to prepare a speech (was too busy worrying about the cooking demo and completely failed to realise the awards were the same day) and my actually winning said awards. Kind of still flabbergasted at this one
  • Programming was very strong, only regret I didn’t make it to more panels. Also, Kari Sperring and I shouldn’t be on a panel about history together, we kind of encourage each other ^-^
  • The Saturday cooking demo was great–I was a bit worried because I’d never done that before, but it was well attended and we made a beautiful salad! Also, Zen Cho and I have a future as a comedy cooking duo if all else fails us
  • Mancunian weather apparently includes hail and horizontal rain. Which, even on the 23rd floor of a hotel, is something quite striking (and makes you glad you’re not under it. I’m given to understand Ian McDonald and a few others were, er, in the wrong place at the wrong time and got the brunt of it in their faces  °_°)
  • Manchester doesn’t seem to have good Vietnamese restaurants (makes sense, there isn’t a big community there), but it does have awesome dim sum, yummmmm
  •  1847 makes great vegetarian food

To everyone whom I hoped to run into/who hoped to see me–I hope I managed to be at enough of the con that I could be grabbed/chatted with/listened to.  I was always more tired than I expected, and being able to rest in the room made a big difference to levels of fatigue (yes, I know. Anyone could have told me I would be more tired than on a normal day. I’m possibly the only optimist who thought the, er, incubating would make little difference).

Going back took me most of Tuesday, but that was because I paced myself and allowed three hours’ changeover at St Pancras where I could sit and relax between trains.

My deepest thanks to the Con Committee, the con organisers/volunteers and the hotel staff for a great con; and to Gollancz for taking good care of me (and shipping my awards home, didn’t know what I’d have done otherwise!). Thanks as well to everyone who attended (and everyone who voted in the BSFA awards). It was a super experience. And now I get to sleep for the next two months before sleep becomes a thing of the long-ago past…

March/April Events


March/April Events

Just a quick heads-up that I’m doing a bunch of writerly stuff in March/April:

  • Tuesday, March 25th, 17h30-19h30: North London Lit Festival (Middlesex University, Hendon Campus): Speculative Fiction authors Stephanie Saulter and Aliette de Bodard, chaired by Farah Mendlesohn
  • Saturday, March 28th & Sunday, March 29th: Luxcon 2015, (Tétange, Luxembourg). I’ll be Guest of Honour, and there’s a bunch of things I’m going to be doing (reading, signing & panel).
  • Friday April 3rd-Sunday April 5th early morning: Dysprosium, Eastercon 2015 (Park Inn Hotel, London Heathrow). Hanging around, meeting friends, the usual…

I’ll hopefully have print copies of On a Red Station, Drifting handy, grab me if you want one! (and/or if you have something else you want me to sign and/or if you want to chat. I’m at these things to meet people, and if it doesn’t look like I’m making a beeline for some prior engagement, or to my room in order to collapse, I’m always happy to stop and chat)

Eastercon schedule


Since it’s gone public on the website, here’s my Eastercon schedule as it looks now:

Saturday, 12 noon, Main: “Non Western SF and Fantasy”

Anglophone writers and books by westerners still dominate the bookshelves, but Japan, China and India (to take three examples) also have thriving sff traditions. The panel look at the trends outside the Anglophone and western worlds. Rochita Loenen-Ruiz moderates Aliette de Bodard, Stephane Marsan, Sarah Newton and Gillian Redfearn.

Saturday, 17:00, Rowan, “Motherhood in SF and Fantasy”

Where are the mothers in our depictions of future societies and fantasy worlds? Very often absent or ignored. Our panel looks at the depictions of motherhood and asks what more we can do. Terry Jackman moderates Aliette de Bodard, Chris Beckett, Mike Cobley and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz.

Saturday, 19:00, Conservatory, “Get-Together”

Meet authors and get books signed

Sunday, 11:00, Rowan, “Why is the Future Drawn so White?”

When the protagonist of Justine Larbalastier’s Liar was whitewashed in the cover art, both the author and the internet were outraged and the cover was eventually changed. Yet characters of colour are still all too often absent or elided. How can we work to challenge this and why does it happen? Caroline Hooton moderates Dev Agarwal, Aliette de Bodard, CE Murphy, Tajinder Singh Hayer and Stephanie Saulter.

Sunday, 13:00, Boardroom, “Advice for Writers: Setting”

Practical experience and observations on writing believable and detailed environments. Darren Nash moderates Chris Beckett, Aliette de Bodard, Simon Morden and Gaie Sebold.

Sunday, 19:00, Main, “BSFA Awards/Loncon 3 update”

Award Administrator Donna Scott and Master of Ceremonies Paul Cornell, assisted by our Guests of Honour, present the BSFA Awards for 2012. They then hand over to the LonCon 3 team for a presentation and update on next year’s UK Worldcon. (I’ll be presenting the James White Award at the beginning of the ceremony)

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).

TV shows hivemind question


So, as you might know, I have a panel at Eastercon on TV shows we’d like to see but haven’t, and I notoriously lack imagination for that sort of thing (I mean, the only things that come to mind is something with a decent main female character who’s not a Strong Female Who Still Needs to Be Rescued by Men cliché; and a female POC Doctor Who…). But judging by all the interest when I bitch about Sherlock, I’m pretty reasonably sure that some of you have got strong ideas on this 🙂

Therefore, I’m throwing the question(s) out for collective brainstorming:

What don’t you like about current TV shows? What shows would we like to see made but probably won’t be?

Thanks in advance!

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 🙂

Eastercon schedule


So, this is what I’ll be getting up to:

Saturday, 12:30-2:00pm, Waterstone’s Birmingham High Street: Angry Robot signing

Saturday, from 4pm, Churchill: Angry Robot signing
Yes, this is the AR afternoon. Featuring Lavie Tidhar, Lauren Beukes, Colin Harvey, John Meaney/Thomas Blackthorne, Dan Abnett, Andy Remic, and Ian Whates (hope I haven’t forgotten anyone…). Come see us!

Sunday, 7:30pm-9:00pm, Gladstone: Author reading with the fabulous Simon Morden.

(full programme grid here, though lacking the names of participants)

I was on a panel, but sadly it looks like I can’t be signing and panelling at the same time…

Also, not making any promises, but there should be some baking happening before Eastercon–think sweet things 🙂

Otherwise, I’ll be in the bar. Not sure yet about my arrival time, but I should be operational Friday late evening (10:00pm-ish), and I’ll be leaving Monday in the afternoon. Looking forward to seeing some of you there!

ETA: adjusted schedule to reflect new signing times (there’s a snafu with the grids, which is that they only work modulo 90 minutes…)

Signal boost: Eastercon Membership for sale


OWW buddy Cécile Cristofari is looking to sell an attending membership to Eastercon, following circumstances who make it impossible for her to attend. It would go for 60 euros–about 50 pounds, slightly cheaper than the current rate over at the Eastercon website.

If you are interested–or know anyone who is interested–ping me, and I’ll pass it on.
(any reposts/RTs much appreciated. Thanks!)

The Shipmaker shortlisted for a BSFA Award


Have been sitting on this since yesterday evening: the tireless Donna Scott let me know my Interzone short story “The Shipmaker” has made the shortlist in the Best Short Fiction category. Where it’s, er, up against some very stiff competition by Nina Allan, Peter Watts, and Neil Williamson.


While I go for a liedown, you can go congratulate Lauren Beukes, whose Zoo City is on the shortlist for Best Novel. And indeed, everyone else on the list (it’s quite an impressive rollcall).

The Award Ceremony will take place at this year’s Eastercon in Birmingham–any members of the BSFA/Eastercon can vote. I’ll see about getting the story up online.

As usual–many many thanks to everyone who nominated it, to Andy Cox and Andy Hedgecock for publishing it in the first place, and to the BSFA Awards administrator, Donna Scott, for so quickly tallying up the votes.

ETA: an online version is now available here. Thanks for Andy Cox for the sheer reaction speed.

Linky linky


-Paul Cornell on ebooks: some terrific points (the one on reader vs. publisher expectations on hardbacks was one of those “oh, of course” moments). Well worth a read. And, if you read this blog, you should know I’m cheering on for point 14, and adding a few choice words specific to those poor, benighted people like me who want to read in one language different from the authorised one in their region. At least with DVDs you get a choice of subtitles. And dear God, point 16–yes. Definitely point 16. If I have to pay for an ebook, I want a proper table of content–at the very least.
-Courtesy of Roberto Quaglia (and Ian Watson, who was doing the filming at the time), the video of last year’s Eastercon panel on “Writing in English as a Foreign Language” (with Roberto, Gérard Kraus, Anna Ferruglio Dal Dan, and Claude Lalumière, who actually was with me on the exact same panel at the 2008 worldcon–except it was in French 🙂 )
-And now for something lighter (via Lee Harris and Mark Charan Newton): automatic Daily Mail headline generator. As Lee says, not quite 100% accurate, but still scarily on the mark.

Off to wrap the last Christmas present now. See you later 🙂