Worldcon Recs

Here is a list of the recs I picked up from various panels I attended at Worldcon. (These are likely not complete, but they’re the ones that I wrote down.)

In Defense of the Unlikeable Heroine:

  • We Who Are About To – Joanna Russ

Non-Binary Representation In Fiction:

  • Transcendent: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction – ed K M Szpara (anthology)
  • The Black Tides of Heaven / The Red Threads of Fortune – JY Yang (forthcoming in Sept)
  • Provenance – Ann Leckie (forthcoming, but read some on her website)
  • Jacob’s Ladder – Elizabeth Bear
  • River of Teeth – Sarah Gailey
  • Pantomime – Laura Lam
  • Killing Gravity – Corey J White
  • Interactive fiction Craft phone games (Choice of Deathless/City’s Thirst) – Max Gladstone (you can play an nb character)
  • “Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder” (essay) – David J Schwartz
  • Rose Lemberg
  • Foz Meadows
  • A Merc Rustad

Beyond the Dystopia

(This one should be complete as I moderated the panel and made a point of writing them down to tweet afterwards.)

  • Two Faces of Tomorrow – James P Hogan
  • Culture series – Iain M Banks
  • Dragonlance
  • Too Like the Lightning and Seven Surrenders – Ada Palmer
  • The Postman – David Brin
  • A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and A Closed And Common Orbit – Becky Chambers
  • Hospital Station – James White
  • Malhutan Chronicles – Tom D Wright (panelist)
  • Orbital Cloud – Taiyo Fuji (panelist)
  • The Goblin Emperor – Katherine Addison

Older Women in Genre Fiction:

  • All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses An Eye – Christopher Brookmyre
  • Blood Songs series – Anthony Ryan
  • Remnant Population – Elizabeth Moon
  • Barbara Hambly

Also, Catherine Lundoff keeps a bibliography of books with older women protagonists.

Colonialism and the Space Opera:

  • Praxis – John Williams

Moving Beyond Orientalism in SFF:

  • Black Wolves – Kate Elliot
  • Vixen and The Waves – Hoa Pham
  • Isabelle Yap
  • Ken Liu
  • Stephanie Lai
  • Zen Cho

(Plus one from Nine Worlds in which the MC has Borderline Personality Disorder: Borderline – Mishell Baker)

Me at Worldcon 75

In two weeks I will be off to Helsinki for Worldcon 75! About which I am very excited.

I am also in some programme items, so if you’re going & any of these are of interest, come along:

Now I need to start making some notes so I will have something to say…

Eastercon highlights

Slightly belatedly — I had a splendid time at Eastercon. I was on four panels (Emotional Storytelling Through Music; Mystery, Fantasy, and Romance; Writing With Disability, Writing About Disability; and In Search of Optimistic SF). My co-panellists were all great, and all four panels seemed to go well as far as I could tell. I was pretty entirely wiped out by the end of the last one on Sunday evening though.

I also went to lots of other panels; spent all my spare cash on books in the Dealers Room[0]; hung out talking to splendid people (old and new) in the bar and the fan lounge; and drank rather too much caffeine.

I especially enjoyed the Women In Star Wars panel, the BSFA Hamilton lecture (with impromptu singalong), the Vorkosigan Law talk (especially the bit where they acted out the scene in which Ivan and Tej attempt to divorce šŸ™‚ ), and the Populism in SF panel on Monday morning that wound up happening in the bar due to Technical Errors[1]. I had vague thoughts of putting some of my notes from them here but on re-reading them, I think turning them into anything comprehensible to anyone else is beyond me.

Looking forward even more to Worldcon in August now (and indeed to next year’s Eastercon, for which I am already signed up).

[0] I’ve been talking about Kindles lately and I do love my Kindle, but I want to support the small press folks and book dealers at the con too; buying directly from the author as in a couple of cases is awesome as well.
[1] Risk of being on fire due to mains cable problem. Being on fire generally considered unwise.

Eastercon 2017 recs

Eastercon was fabulous, and I may yet do a writeup post, but for now, I have many recs to extract from my scribbled notes. (NB I have not yet read any of these; things I had already read I didn’t generally write down.)

LGBT to QUILTBAG panel:

  • “Not Your Sidekick” — C. B. Lee
  • “A Rational Arrangement” — L. Rowyn
  • “Hunger Makes the Wolf” — Alex Wells (cyberpunk)
  • The Raven Cycle — Maggie Stiefvater (YA, queer relationships)
  • “The House of Shattered Wings” — Aliette de Bodard
  • General recs: Uncanny Magazine, Tor.com, Lethe Press

Women of Star Wars panel:

  • “The Things I Would Tell You” — Muslim women anthology

Hamilton lecture:

Romance, Mystery, and Fantasy panel

(plus some recs from the bar afterwards. Some of these are non-SFF romance.)

  • Obsidian and Blood series — think this may have meant “Ivory and Bone” and “Obsidian and Stars” — Julie Eshbough
  • “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” — Laini Taylor
  • “Behind Her Eyes” — Sarah Pinborough
  • “Hold Me” — Courtney Milan
  • “Hold” — Rachel Davidson Lee
  • Cosy witch mysteries!
  • Heather Rose Jones (published by Bella Books)
  • “Don’t Feed The Trolls” — Erica Kudisch
  • “Rollergirl” — Vanessa North
  • “The Art Of Three” — Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae
  • “Storm Season” — Pene Henson
  • “The Ultra-Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves The World” — A. C. Wise
  • “Hurricane Heels” — Isabel Yap
  • Neville/Hermione/Luna fic generally (must check AO3 tag šŸ™‚ )

Fandom and Theatre panel

  • Team Starkid — on YouTube
  • Smash — TV show about backstage
  • Slings and Arrows — TV show about actors

Misc other recs

  • “At The End Of The Day” — Claire North
  • “The End of Days” — Jenny Erpenbeck
  • “Cities in Flight” — James Blish
  • “Meg and Linus” — Hanna Nowinski
  • “Every Heart A Doorway” — Seanan McGuire

So, uh, that should keep me going.

Tales of the Civil War — out now

Tales of the Civil War, another City of the Saved anthology, is available to buy now and shipping in physical form now-or-very-shortly! It’s edited by Philip Purser-Hallard and contains stories by Kara Dennison, Kelly Hale, Louise Dennis, Helen Angove, Selina Lock, and me.

Book cover, text "The City of the Saved", "Tales of the Civil War", "Edited by Philip Purser-Hallard". Behind the text a comic-style drawing of various people supporting/grabbing/fighting over a flag.
Cover art by Blair Bidmead

For a taster, try Kara Dennison reading part of her story, ‘The Tale of Sir Hedwyn’.

My copy hasn’t come through yet but I am greatly looking forward to everyone’s stories.

Tales of the Civil War announcement

Forthcoming later this year: another City of the Saved anthology from Obverse Books, Tales Of The Civil War. Featuring a story from me, alongside other excellent people:

“War has come to the City of the Saved. Once immune from harm, the resurrected Citizens of the universe find themselves once again most terribly fragile ā€“ and just as in the universe, too many of them now strive to take advantage of the fact.
In this unfamiliar City, the resurrected must revive the long-forgotten skills of their original lives. Knights, courtiers, detectives, killers, nurses, adventurers, spies: the afterlives of all will be irrevocably changed by the Civil War.
“These are their tales.
Contents:
* *The Tale of Sir Hedwyn* by Kara Dennison
* *The Age of Meeting Ourselves Again* by Kelly Hale
* *The Queen of Clubs* by Louise Sellers
* *To Die by the Sword* by Helen Angove
* *Just Passing Through* by Juliet Kemp
* *Angels on a Hoverbike* by Selina Lock
* *Interlude from a Civil War* by Philip Purser-Hallard”

Mancunicon 2016 — book recs

Note: these are not books that I am recommending personally, because I haven’t read any of them yet. They are instead books that other people at the con talked about sufficiently enthusiastically that I now want to read them. Some of them are on my (now much larger) to-read pile, either in dead tree form or electronically; some aren’t yet.

First up: two people I know had book launch parties at the con! David L. Clements released his collection of short stories, ‘Disturbed Universes’ (from NewCon Press); and Siobhan McVeigh has a story in the collection ‘Existence is Elsewhere’ from Elsewhen Press (scroll right down for buying options). I heard various of the authors reading extracts from their stories in this book at the launch and they all sounded great.

The rest of my recs are from the Feminist Fantasy panel:

  • Jo Walton ‘Lifelode’ (annoyingly, it seems to be out of print, and expensive second-hand)
  • The Chinese myth series Dream of Red Mansions
  • Elizabeth Gouge (note that not all of her books are fantasy)
  • Octavia Butler ‘The Wild Sea’
  • Someone mentioned the Green Knowe series of children’s books, which are sort-of historical fantasy. I read them as a child (a long time ago now) but am now minded to have a look for them the next time I’m in the library and see how they’ve held up.
  • Tanith Lee
  • Lois McMaster Bujold ‘Paladin of Souls’ — I have read this one and it is GREAT. Very strongly recommended.
  • Kate Elliott — both fiction and non-fiction. (Just looked at her post about her own books/series and am now wondering how I missed all of this for this long. Looks great!)
  • Mary Stewart — Merlin trilogy
  • Andre Norton ‘Year of the Unicorn’. (I should probably have read this already…) (but I haven’t, so.)

To enlarge your (my) reading list further, E. G. Cosh (who was on a panel with me and is v cool) has a recs post too.

Mancunicon 2016 — con report

I spent the weekend at Mancunicon, this year’s Eastercon, a gathering of UK (and a few international) SFF fans. And lo! I had a splendid time. I caught up with old friends and met new ones; I acquired half a suitcase full of dead tree and a vast recommended books list; I went to some panels; I took part in two panels for the first time; and I got three full nights of uninterrupted sleep PLUS several naps in my lovely quiet hotel room*.

A great start to the weekend was Friday afternoon’s panel on coping with anxiety at cons. I particularly liked the snowball theory, where meeting one person leads to meeting more people; and it is indeed true that fans are, in general, friendly. Volunteering is also a good way to engage with people if you’re a bit anxious. Having a job to do can be calming, and you’ll automatically meet more people. Many thanks to the panel for being honest about their own stuff and encouraging to the rest of us.

‘A Feminist Fantasy Canon’ on Saturday dispensed immediately with the notion of a “canon” as something of a patriarchal construct, but were happily still prepared to provide recommendations instead. There was a fair bit of discussion of the role of the “kick-ass chick”/woman with a sword, alongside the ways in which feminist fantasy can tackle “women’s work”, women’s interests and domestic fantasy. They’re both valid narratives (as are a whole host of narratives in the middle) ; the problem comes when kick-ass chick is the only narrative, and we’re simply transplanting women into very masculine swords-and-power stories.

Fantasy can also, the panel agreed, be insufficiently imaginative about what is and isn’t possible; the mindset in which dragons and telepathy are fine, but women in roles of power are “historically inaccurate”. Not to mention the fact that, as per Kate Elliot’s recent column, our view of ‘historical accuracy’ is woefully distorted when it comes to what women actually did and did not do. (See also, of course, ‘We Have Always Fought’ by Kameron Hurley.)

My first panel, Saturday lunchtime, was ‘Balancing the Creative Life’, where we talked about how to wrangle day job/family/writing/creating/anything else you might be trying to squeeze into your time. It was lovely to hear from the other panellists about how they wrangle their very different creative and work lives, as well as to be able to talk about my own problems and solutions. (Noise-cancelling headphones are my top tip to anyone trying to work in a noisy household, especially if the noise includes small children.) In other news, I am still looking for successful solutions to that time-sink of all time-sinks, the Internet.

Sunday lunchtime saw me and awesome co-panelists talking about ‘Supporting the Short Stuff’. We agreed that the short story market for SFF as a whole actually looks pretty healthy; venues opening and venues closing again is simply pretty much par for the course with any sort of small business. Which still means: if you want to read short fiction, support the publications and websites that you read, whether that’s through subscriptions or Patreon or Kickstarter or just linking to stories you like. There was some discussion about expanding the ‘bubble’ of those who read speculative short fiction, how people are already trying to do that, and how else it might be done — podcasts, anthologies, crowdfunding, link-sharing…

‘All Roads Lead to Kings Landing’ had a fascinating array of writers of epic fantasy talking about their various approaches to plotting, fights and battle scenes, conflicts, and world-building. ‘Steampunk as a Force for Good’ on Sunday evening sadly didn’t tackle the diversity and colonialism issues of steampunk as much as I would have liked it to; nor did it quite live up to the ‘radical potential of steampunk’ tag in the programme description. I did however discover that someone has recently run a Harry Potter activism workshop, which sounds amazing.

As I had a train to catch first thing Monday, my con finished up on Sunday evening with some bar time and then half of sing-a-long Rocky Horror before midnight approached and I ran out of steam. Next year I will try to stay a bit longer as some of the Monday panels sounded awesome. I’m looking forward to Birmingham / Innominate 2017 already.

Books rec round-up to follow here

* I gather that treating cons as “catching up on sleep” time is not entirely usual, but apparently that is what parenting has done to me.