An Evening with Tom Robinson

I am in Liverpool for the Outing the Past academic conference. The Friday evening programming of this event is always the Alan Horsfall Memorial Lecture. Horsfall, as Peter Tatchell explained in his introduction to the event, was a founder and mainstay of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality for many years, and someone who was never satisfied with whatever compromise for limited rights was brokered with politicians at the time.

This year’s lecture was given by Tom Robinson. If you are less ancient than me you might ask, “who”, but to anyone of my generation the guy is a hero. He’s the man who penned that great anthem, “Glad to be Gay”. And he made an additional step forward for equality much later when he found, to his surprise, that he was bisexual. It has taken a long time for the LGBT+ community to come to terms with this, and I am sure that there are pockets of people who are still furious. I’m delighted that the conference is finally honoring a bi celebrity.

Tom’s lecture was essentially a coming out story. Or rather two because he had to come out first as gay and then as bi. But it is a story which, for the second half, was lived in the full glare of tabloid publicity as one of the most famous gays in Britain. If you think “Glad to be Gay” is bitter about the media, you should hear Tom talk about them now. Though he did note that these days if the papers tell a bunch of porkies about you then you can at least tweet about what crap they are printing.

Obviously coming out is useful politically, but Tom also focused on the importance of intersectionality. Back in the days of Rock Against Racism, and of Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners, we were intersectional without having a word for it. The same rules apply now. We are stronger together. No one is free until we are all free.

Naturally the evening ended with a rendition of “Glad to be Gay”. My thanks to Tom for encouraging the crusty old academics in the audience to sing along so that I wasn’t the only one doing so.

I had a quick word with him afterwards and grabbed a selfie for Twitter. He told me that he’ll be playing the Fleece Bristol in October, and that the band will be playing songs from Power in the Darkness. The dates haven’t been officially announced yet but it won’t be the day of BristolCon because some guy called Ed Sheeran is booked in that night.

Here’s a taster of the sort of thing you might expect.

I do love the way Tom adapts lyrics as time goes on. The version of “Glad to be Gay” he sang tonight only had the first verse in common with the original single.

Anyway,that’s enough for tonight. I have a busy day tomorrow and could do with some sleep.

What? You want an encore? Oh, alright. Here is a much younger Tom. Y’all sing along now.

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Fringe Is Back!

I’m delighted to report that BristolCon Fringe is getting back into the swing of things again. We are still experimenting with venues, but there are some great readings lined up for this year.

On Monday we will be at the Gryphon on Colston Street and our readers will be Ken Shinn and Gareth L Powell. Gareth will be reading from his recently released space opera, Embers of War. We are hoping that Virginia Bergin will be able to be there too so we can congratulate her on her Tiptree win.

The readings will start at 7:30pm, but people will start arriving from around 7:00pm because we need time to order drinks first. What Pub says that the Gryphon does evening meals, but I’ve not tried them.

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Who Runs the World – Spoilerific Review

These days I have the shouty parts of the Internet mostly blocked on social media. It can take me a while to catch up with Drama. I was rather surprised, therefore, to discover from some of my fellow jurors that an evil bunch of cis people had voted a deeply transphobic book as the winner of this year’s Tiptree Award.

Not that I was surprised at being characterized as an evil cis person, of course. But I figured that my fellow jurors had more credibility than that. Besides, how could anyone assume that a jury that had put the Dreadnought books, the Tensorate books and “Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue” on the Honor List was in any way transphobic?

I am not at liberty to discuss jury deliberations in public, but I did make sure before agreeing to be on the jury that I would be working in a group where I felt I could highlight problematic works and be listened to. During the process I felt that absolutely was the case, and I am very grateful to my fellow jurors for doing me that courtesy. Some of them know enough about trans issues to be able to occasionally question me, and that was useful.

Personally I think that if there had been problems with Who Runs the World? then my fellow jurors would have spotted them. However, as I recommended the book to the jury, it is down to me to explain why I liked the book. This necessitates a spoiler-filled review. If you don’t mind the spoilers and want to see what I think, you can read the review here.

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Tiptree 2017 – We Have A Winner

As you probably all know, I have been on the Tiptree Award jury this year. It has been an amazing experience. I got to read a lot of fabulous books and stories. I met some lovely fellow jurors and learned a lot from them. And now I can finally enthuse about the books we loved.

This year’s winner is Who Runs the World by Virginia Bergin. At this point, if you are not Bristol-based, or well-versed in the YA market, you may be saying, “who?” Therein lies a story.

Last May I attended an event at Watershed with the feminist science writer, Angela Saini. There I met Virginia for the first time. As soon as she told me about the book I realized it was potential Tiptree material, but it was YA and UK published only so it was pretty much off the radar. However, Virginia was clearly One Of Us so I encouraged her to come and read at Fringe and bought her book. (You can listen to her Fringe reading here.)

Having read the book, I knew I liked it. But by this time I was in a rather difficult position because Virginia had become a friend. All I could do was suggest to the rest of the jury that they read the book, and recuse myself from all further discussion. So I did, and got to sit back and cry over my keyboard as I watched my fellow jurors tell me how much they loved my friend’s book.

Those of you reading this outside of the UK may be wondering how you can get the book. Fear not! A US edition is due out in September. It will be called The XY, the meaning of which will be obvious if you read a bit about the book. Also please don’t worry about the YA Award at the Hugos. The US publication means that the book will be eligible again next year so y’all have plenty of time to read it. Dublin is just over the water from Bristol.

Of course the Tiptree is about far more than the winner. The Honor List is full of fabulous books that we all liked very much. I am, fairly obviously, very fond of the works by April Daniels and Charlie Jane Anders, but all of the Honor List are well worth your time. The Long List is full of great books too.

I’ll be talking more about many of these books in due course, but right now it is party time.

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Hugo Deadline Reminder

The deadline for the Hugo Award nominating ballot is this Friday (or Saturday morning for those of you across the Pacific from California who get up before we’ve gone to bed). I have put in a provisional ballot and am trying to catch up with a bit more non-Tiptree reading before the deadline.

Every year I see people say that they have no idea what to nominate in Related Work. This year I have a suggestion for you. I have an essay on trans characters in SF&F in Gender Identity and Sexuality in Fantasy and Science Fiction from Luna Press. The rest of the book is great too, so you can nominate the whole book and gave the award to the editor, Francesca T Barbini.

There are a few other less-well-known works and people that I would love to see on the ballot. Top of the list is Charlie Jane Anders’ magnificent short story, “Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue” which is in the Global Dystopias series at the Boston Review. It is not an easy tale to read, but as dystopias go it is scarily possible, especially if Mike Pence ever becomes President. Next time you see some anti-trans campaigner wringing her hands and clutching her pearls in the New Statesman, and talking about how she cares so much about trans people that she wants us to get full support to come to terms with our “true sex”, it is a medical facility like the one that Charlie Jane describes that she is fantasizing about.

Note: The Locus Recommended Reading List originally had the story categorized as a novelette but has since moved it to short story. It was not me that did the counting.

I am still very ambivalent about the Series category, but this year there is an opportunity to give a nod to a long running, if highly intermittent, series that is a particular favorite of mine. Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula was first published in 1992. It won the International Horror Guild Award, the Lord Ruthven Award and a French award called the Prix Ozone. It was also shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award and the Stoker Award, and finished second in the Locus Awards. Since that time there have been several other books in the series, and the latest was published last year. One Thousand Monsters is set in 1899 while Dracula is still ruling England. Geneviève Dieudonné and a group of other English vampires are exiled, and end up in Japan where they find a very different vampire culture. If you have enjoyed any of the books in the series, please consider giving it a nod.

Finally, in Editor: Long Form, Jonathan Oliver is moving on from his post at Solaris. During his time there, the company has published some really great books alongside the more commercial material needed to keep a medium-size press going. These include Sylvia Moreno-Garcia’s Signal to Noise, and Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire series (Ninefox Gambit & Raven Stratagem). I’m not sure how much Jon had to do with editing those specific books, but I’m sure he must have made room for them to happen.

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My #IWD2018 Ujima Show

A day early for International Women’s Day, I devoted most of my show yesterday to feminist issues. However, I started out in Australia by welcoming film critic, Tara Judah, to talk about Sweet Country.

Tara is from Melbourne originally, so we had a lot to talk about. However, we did our best to keep the discussion to matters of race relations in Australia. Things continue to be pretty bad there, and I very much hope that this film shines a necessary spotlight on the situation.

After the news I started playing the interviews that I had picked up at the International Women’s Day event put on by Bristol on Saturday. They included comments from Penny Gane, Eleanor Vowles, Leonie Thomas, Rosa Taggert, Sian Webb and Elizabeth Small of Ra Cultural Consultancy.

Normally I would tell you to go to the Listen Again feature for all of this, but for some reason only 10 minutes of the first hour recorded. It is still worth it for a few minutes of Tara who is an amazing guest, but the IWD interviews are not there. Thankfully I still have the originals, and I hope to post them as a podcast at some point.

The second hour kicked off with more IWD interviews featuring No More Taboo, Sandra Gordon and Alex Raikes. The singers that Alex refers to are Pitch Fight, the Bristol University a capella group, whom you can find more about here.

The African Queens project that I talked about with Sandra is a project photographic Bristol women of color cosplaying famous women from African history. It was done for Black History Month last year. You can find out more about it here.

Finally I was joined in the studio by a couple of people I met on Saturday. Charlotte Murray is a young student who was interested in finding out more about radio, to I invited her into the studio. Jane Duffus is the editor of The Women Who Built Bristol, a fabulous collection of stories about the famous, and not so famous, women from the city’s history. If you are interested in buying the book, please order it through Bristol Women’s Voice because if you do all of the proceeds go to the charity.

Thankfully the second hour recorded correctly, and you can listen to it here.

The music for the show was as follows:

  • Walking the Dog – Jackie Shane
  • Natural Woman – Aretha Franklin
  • Make me Feel – Janelle Monae
  • Independent Woman – Destiny’s Child
  • Our Day Will Come – Amy Winehouse
  • We Are Family – Sister Sledge
  • Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
  • It’s Raining Men – Weather Girls

Sadly I had to cut off Janelle after a minute or so because I did not want to bleep out the swears. Once I have a copy of the clean radio mix I will be playing that song regularly.

Posted in Australia, Books, Costuming, Feminism, History, Movies, Radio | Leave a comment

Cover Reveal – The Green Man’s Heir

Something else I need to do on International Women’s Day is celebrate living women, and who better to chose for that than my friend Juliet E. McKenna whose books I am honored to publish. Here, therefore, is the cover of her new novel, The Green Man’s Heir, which will be available once I have got a proof back from the printers and checked that it is OK.

Juliet has written about some of the inspiration for the novel here.

And while I am mainly talking about women today I should add that Ben Baldwin, who provided the art for the book, and for Shadow Histories of the River Kingdom, is an absolute joy to work with.

Posted in Art, Books, Wizard's Tower | 1 Comment

For #IWD2018 – Artemisia Does Snark

For International Women’s Day I want to feature one of my favorite women from history, the hugely talented 17th Century painter, Artemisia Gentileschi. This picture (currently owned by the Queen) is probably a self-portrait. Much more importantly than that, however, it is a response to this picture by another Italian, Cesare Ripa.

That is from Ripa’s famous work, Iconologia, and it is intended to represent an allegory of “painting”. The woman in Gentileschi’s picture is a physical embodiment of that allegory, sharing many of the iconographic elements. But there is one symbol that she has chosen to omit. I think you can probably spot it.

Well played, Artemsia, well played.

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Punished Twice: Trans in Prison

Next week is very busy for me, but aside from a radio show all of the things I am speaking at are for clients. The following week, however, I will be at Bristol University as part of an event called Punished Twice: Being Trans in the Prison System. The event is put on by the Howard League for Penal Reform, and I’ll be accompanied by several other guest speakers, all of whom probably know more about the prison system than I do. I’ll be there to talk more generally about trans politics and medical treatment. I’m also going to make sure that we talk about trans guys being prosecuted for “fraud”, because that tends to be forgotten in all of the media fuss about trans women. The event is free to attend.

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Champagne Time

In amongst the misery that always accompanies snowfall in Southern England, here is something that cheered me up. Yesterday I was doing the month end accounts for Wizard’s Tower and I noticed that The Thief’s Gamble by Juliet McKenna had become the first book of ours to sell over 1000 copies. I am, of course, very pleased. Go pour yourself a glass of something, Juliet, you’ve earned it.

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I love this so much.

By the way, if anyone has a copy of the clean version, please get in touch. I know it has been made available to larger radio stations, but I don’t have a copy and I very much want to play it on my next show.

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Another February Done

LGBT History Month seems to be going from strength to strength. Or at least I seem to be busier every year. I’m glad it is over. I’m glad we didn’t have all of this snow during it. But equally I had a wonderful time yesterday at Bath Spa University (thanks Ceri!) so I’m definitely doing it again next year.

Of course March is no more sane. We have International Women’s Day coming up (see here). I hope the weather is rather better on Saturday. I’ve also got the Schools Out Academic Conference in Liverpool coming up soon, and I’ll be in Canada for part of the month. Not to mention that the Tiptree Jury has to come up with some decisions this month, so I have lots of last-minute reading to do.

Oh well, at least the training I had scheduled in Bristol tomorrow morning has been cancelled due to the snow. With travel time that’s a whole 8 hours extra I have in my life. I may do that thing that all smart cats do in weather like this: sleep. Or I may get on with doing stuff on The Green Man’s Heir, because people seem to be itching to buy it.

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International Women’s Day in Bristol

I have already posted about the film event on Saturday night, but I will be in Bristol all day because Bristol Women’s Voice has a huge International Women’s Day event happening at City Hall. You can find the full program here.

If you looked at that you will have noted that I am on a panel about women in the media from 2:15pm to 3:00pm. There are loads of other good things happening too. I am particularly looking forward to the Goddess in Prehistory talk. Also I have a radio show next week so I need to get some interviews. Hopefully I will see some of you there.

Posted in Conventions, Feminism, Where's Cheryl? | Leave a comment

HFRN – Day 2

Yesterday began with a great keynote by Philip Morgan (no relation) on battlefields. He wanted to know how they got named (the Battle of Hastings took place at Battle, not at Hastings), whether a memorial was built on the site, and if so whether that was contemporary or long after the event. These are not simple questions, and hence they make for a great research project.

There were lots of good talks, including some that I missed due to being in the wrong stream. One of my favorites was by Greek historian, Ioulia Kolovou, on the subject of Anna Komnene. She was a Byzantine princess and a historian. If you would like to get a sense of the paper, Ioulia has a blog post about Anna up on the Dangerous Women Project blog.

My paper went well, which is a relief because I am giving that talk twice more this week. The first will be at the Diversity Trust event in Bristol tomorrow. The second, which will be an extended version, is at Bath Spa University on Wednesday.

Also in my session was new pal, Lucie Cook, who gave a magnificent paper on how the Victorians wrote about Anne Boleyn. My favorite bit was when a historian produced a new book critical of Anne and a clairvoyant claimed that she had been visited by the ghost of the angry queen who wanted the record put straight. For some reason the historian declined the opportunity to interview the ghostly Queen to find out what he had got wrong. Lucie noted that most historians of the era were men, that this book was deeply misogynist, and that the clairvoyant, as was typical for the era, was a woman.

The third paper in my session was by a long time friend, Tanya Brown, whom many of you will know from SF conventions. She did a paper on Christopher Marlowe in fiction, including coverage of Elizabeth Bear’s Promethean Age novels. This was every bit as entertaining as you would expect.

The wrap up session for the event was a panel discussion on how we remember history. This was inspired by things like the Rhodes Must Fall campaign and the removal of Confederate statues in the USA. I chaired it. Tony Keen, who when not at SF conventions is a Classicist, talked about how the Romans would sometimes erase mention of past emperors who had not been popular. Catherine Padmore from Australia talked about the Australia Day controversy. My friend Will Pooley from Bristol talked about the controversy surrounding Edward Colston, a local philanthropist who made much of his money from the slave trade. And finally Yasmen (whose last name I didn’t catch) from Turkey talked about a soap opera about the Ottoman Empire which gives a very positive view of the ancient Turks. Oh, and there was me. I talked about the World Fantasy Award trophy controversy.

Getting home proved a lot more difficult and expected. A bunch of us arrived at Stoke station just in time to see the line closed because of a “person hit by a train” incident. Understandably there was much chaos. It took almost two hours to get Lucie, Will and myself to Stafford where we could pick up the mainline trains from Manchester. Fortunately there is an alternative route south that avoids Stoke. I was greatly relieved to get to Bristol in time to catch the 10:15pm train home. I hope Lucie made it to Portsmouth.

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HFRN Day 1

Hello from sunny Stoke-on-Trent where I have been spending the weekend at the Historical Fiction Research Network conference. I am, of course, an academic conference junkie, but I think there have been some great talks thus far.

The two keynotes from Saturday were Jerome de Groot talking about bioarchaeology, and Caroline Sturdy Collis on genocide archaeology. Jermome’s talk was all about how being able to do DNA analysis is changing the way we understand history, and how we tell those stories. People like Cheddar Man and Richard III are poster children for the new movement. Caroline does archaeology at the sites of Nazi death camps, and also collects oral histories from the few survivors. It is horrific work, but very necessary and also dangerous given the amount of harassment she gets from holocaust deniers.

I chaired a panel of papers by ancient historians, though one was actually presenting out of period with a look at the various versions of The Woman in Black. Tony Keen was his usual entertaining self on the subject of film and TV portrayals of Celtic Britons. However, the paper of most interest to me was Lynn Fotheringham talking about Kieron Gillan’s graphic novel, Three, which is a response to Frank Miller’s 300 on behalf of the Helots, Spartan slaves. The Spartans are a much misunderstood people and I’m hoping to do a paper on their for next year’s LGBT History Month (which of course means that they were very gay).

Today I get to give a paper and chair a panel discussion. Should be fun. I’d better stop writing and get on with it.

Posted in Academic, Conventions, History | 1 Comment

I, Film Critic?

Next Saturday (March 3rd) the Watershed cinema in Bristol will be hosting a screening of the Oscar-nominated films, A Fantastic Woman, followed by a panel discussion. The film, which was made in Chile, is up for an award in the Best Foreign Film category. There was some hope that it’s star, Daniela Vega, would also get a nod. She didn’t make it, but the Academy was sufficiently impressed to make her the first openly trans person to get to present an Oscar.

After the screening, there will be a panel discussion about the film, and about the wider issue of trans visibility. It will feature Shon Faye, my Ujima colleague Yaz Brien, Jo Bligh, and me. I don’t expect to have too much to say about the film as I’m not as well versed in film criticism as some of the others, but I will have plenty to say about visibility, gaze and so on if that’s required. Hopefully I will see some of you there.

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Graz in December, Anyone?

Here’s a cat that is now out of the bag, so to speak.

This December (6-8) the University of Graz in Austria is putting on a major international conference on science fiction. You can find the Call for Papers here. The reason I am telling you about it is that there are three invited keynote speakers, one of whom is me.

I have been keeping this one quiet since before the Holidays so I am delighted it is now public and I can stop exploding. I’m very pleased to be sharing the platform with Mark Bould whom I am sure will give a great talk. I don’t think I have ever met the third keynote, Gerry Canavan, but he’s an expert on the work of Octavia Butler so I’m sure we’ll have lots to talk about.

Everyone else (well, those of you into academic conferences), I’d love to see you there. Graz sounds lovely. It has a funicular railway and a museum of medieval armor; and it is very close to the Lipizzaner ranch.

Posted in Academic, Conventions | 1 Comment

Hugo Myth Season Again

Voting is open for this year’s Hugo Awards, and consequently I need to get back to dispelling the strange ideas about the Hugos that seem to proliferate at this time of the year.

This post has been inspired in particular by the latest episode of the Coode Street Podcast where Gary and Jonathan do their usual fine job, but don’t quite get everything right.

Something that they do get right is the “I haven’t read enough” myth. Every year people trot out the idea that if you haven’t read “everything” then you are not eligible to nominate. This is nonsense. Jonathan and Gary make two very good points. Firstly they talk about some categories in which they feel they don’t know enough, but that isn’t stopping them from nominating in other categories. Nor will it stop them from looking at the nominees in those categories once the finalists are announced.

Secondly Gary notes that he has not yet read a number of very high profile novels, including the latest books by Ann Leckie and NK Jemisin. Gary is a novel reviewer for Locus, and has been for decades. It is his job to read novels. But there are so many that he hasn’t had the chance to read these two obvious contenders. I have read them, but because of the Tiptree reading I haven’t yet read the 2017 novels by Cat Valente, Jeff VanderMeer, Kim Stanley Robinson or Nick Harkaway (sorry guys, I have bought them). Both Gary and I will still nominate in the Novel category. No one can read everything.

There is some discussion in the podcast of the Series category and the question of how many words have to have been published for a series to qualify. That limit is 240,000 words. I’m afraid that Nnedi will have to write at least one more Binti book for the series to be eligible.

The other new award is the YA Book. There is no word limit for this. That decision was made deliberately because many YA books are much shorter than books aimed at the adult market. Jonathan mentions the possible overlap between the YA award and Hugo categories. Yes, we know. One of the main reasons why the YA Book Award is not a Hugo is precisely because there was potential for overlap. That was done deliberately. So I’m afraid saying that you won’t nominate a book in both the YA Book Award and a Hugo category is a bit pig-headed.

Where there may be a possibility for overlap is between Novel and Series. NK Jemisin’s The Stone Sky is in line for Novel, and the Broken Earth trilogy is eligible for Series. It would be an amazing achievement if Nora was to win Hugos for all three books in a trilogy and for the series as a whole, but it is possible.

Finally we come to the bit where the podcast goes totally off the rails. Jonathan resurrects one of the best known zombies of Hugo lore, the idea that the Hugos were once for science fiction only and were later changed to include fantasy. This is not entirely Jonathan’s fault. He got the story from Justin Ackroyd. I have had this discussion with Justin before. He was wrong then and he is still wrong now.

The usual “proof” of this myth is that the Hugos used to be known as the “Science Fiction Achievement Awards”, and also affectionately as the Hugos. WSFS made the official name of the awards the Hugos because it was not possible to register a service mark for “Science Fiction Achievement Awards”. Quite rightly that was deemed too generic by the US mark registration people. The phrase “Science Fiction Achievement Awards” was later mostly eliminated from the WSFS Constitution as it was no longer relevant. (The official renaming was ratified in 1992 and, according to the Business Meeting minutes, was passed without objection.)

However, this change does not mean that the Hugos were once “officially” only for science fiction. The oldest version of the WSFS Constitution that we have available is from 1963. You can read it here. If you look at the definitions of the categories (Section 2) you will see that they use the phrase “science fiction or fantasy” (or, in the case of Amateur Magazine, “science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects”). This was long before “Science Fiction Achievement Awards” was dropped from the Constitution. There was, as far any anyone can remember or records show, never a time when the Hugos were exclusively for science fiction.

Of course this doesn’t stop people from nominating only science fiction if that is what they want to do. However, it is a bit disingenuous to compare the Hugos to things such as the World Fantasy Awards (which are exclusively for fantasy) or the Locus Awards (which have separate categories for science fiction and fantasy novels). The reason that those awards are able to make such distinctions is that they have management structures in place that can make those decisions. There is no “Hugo Committee” that is empowered to decide whether a work is science fiction or fantasy. The Hugo Administrators are just administrators and would run a mile from any suggestion that they should make such a decision. To have an award just for science fiction you would have to institute a process for deciding what qualifies, and that process must not devolve down to a popular vote.

Posted in Awards, Science Fiction | 12 Comments

Crawford Award

As many of you will have seen, the winner of this year’s Crawford Award was announced this week. The book in question is Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, and it is one of the most remarkable debuts I have seen in a long time. Machado’s work has appeared in venues such as The New Yorker, Granta and Tin House. The collection was also a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award, the USA’s top literary award. You will guess from that that the stories are very literary, and you would be right, but they are also fascinating. I am seriously impressed.

However, I would also like to draw your attention to the short list which contains many more good books. Here it is:

  • City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty (Harper Voyager)
  • Winter Tide, Ruthanna Emrys ( Publishing)
  • The Art of Starving, Sam J. Miller (HarperTeen)
  • The Tiger’s Daughter, K. Arsenault Rivera (Tor)
  • Spellhaven, Sandra Unerman (Mirror World)

I’d like to direct particular attention to The Tiger’s Daughter. The basic set-up is as follows: Shizuka is the heir to a fantasy version of imperial China; Shefali is the daughter of the queen of the nomadic Qorin; they are brought up together, fall in love, and together they fight demons. Rivera isn’t as accomplished a wordsmith as Machado, nor as off the wall, but this is a beautifully constructed novel and just the cutest lesbian warrior love story ever. I cried. I can’t wait for book two.

Both of these books have been recommended for the Tiptree, but the remit of the Crawford and Tiptree juries is very different and I have not said anything about the books’ treatment of gender.

Further details of the Crawford Award announcement are available from the IAFA website.

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Return of the King

It was great to have T’Challa in the last Avengers movie, but giving him his own movie was always going to be a whole new level, and one Marvel could easily have botched.

I can’t pretend to understand all of the political issues that the film has to deal with. Africa is not a country, and African-Americans are not the same as Africans. I could see some of that being played out, and I know it will be impossible to please everyone. From my point of view, as a Black Panther reader from way back in the Don McGregor days, and a cat person, this was a fine movie. I also understood and enjoyed the parts where it made comment on wider political issues.

The film isn’t perfect. I’ve been seeing people online complaining about lack of queer content. But all things considered it could have been so much worse. Or it could not have existed at all, which would have been terrible. I very much hope that other people enjoy it as much as I did.

Oh, and stay right to the end of the credits. You always do that in Marvel movies, right?

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