The OutStories Bristol AGM

Jana Funke
I spent Saturday in Bristol for the OutStories Bristol Annual General Meeting. The official business was done very quickly because I have been taught how to run a meeting by the brilliant Mr. Standlee. This allowed us to get on with the more interesting part of the day, which was a talk by Dr. Jana Funke of Exeter University on the subject of Radclyffe Hall. I have a very nice recording which you can listen to here.

The meeting, by the way, took place in the Wills Memorial Building at Bristol University. It is a faux medieval fake, presumably built with the proceeds of the tobacco trade, but it does make for a nice backdrop. Goodness only knows what the face on the lectern is about.

One of the things that interested me about the talk is how much of Hall’s writing has fantastical themes. She does a lot of time travel and body-swapping. Both she and Virginia Woolf used these techniques to write about sexuality and gender in a way that would attract less attention, in contrast to The Well of Loneliness which was explicit and banned. It rather reminds me of Russian writers using science fiction to write about politics.

The other thing I latched onto was discussion as to Hall’s gender identity. Jana used female pronouns throughout because Hall and her acquaintances do so. However, she notes that Hall has a very masculine gender presentation. I could add to that the doubly-masculine name of the female hero of The Well of Loneliness, Stephen Gordon.

During the later 19th and early 20th Centuries most people conflated ideas of sexuality, gender identity and gender presentation. If you were an “invert” (the term used for homosexual people at the time) then you were expected to adopt characteristics of the other end of the gender spectrum. Lesbian couples were expected to be a femme and a butch, and the femme partner was not seen as an invert in the same way that the butch was.

Some people will argue that we can’t identify Hall as trans because the term did not exist back then. Certainly she wasn’t able to able to adopt it for herself. Nevertheless, there were people of the time who clearly identified in a way we now recognize as trans. Dr. Alan Hart had his top surgery in 1917 and went on to take testosterone once it had been identified by science and pioneered by Michael Dillon. The important question for me (and my thanks to the young lady in the audience who made this point) is whether Hall herself identified as a man.

You can do interesting comparisons of biographies to throw light on this. Michael Dillon (whose shortly to be published autobiography I have just been reading) clearly identified as male from a very early age. Alice Sheldon, on the other hand, was much more ambiguous. Her lesbian feelings seem to have so horrified her that she never acted upon them, and while she occasionally wrote of wanting to “be a man” it isn’t clear whether this is a gender issue or a yearning for the freedom and social status that masculinity would have given her, or a combination of both.

One thing that I learned from Jana is that Hall was known as “John” to her close friends, so she had in fact adopted a masculine persona. That definitely suggests more of a trans personality. Jana also pointed out a photograph in which Hall is dressed as a native American warrior (her mother was American and she fancifully assumed native descent).

What most gave me the sense of a trans person, however, is what Jana said about The Well of Loneliness, specifically its ending, which is not a happy one. At the end of the book Stephen Gordon fakes an affair with another woman so that her beloved Mary will succumb to the advances of a man and get married. As Jana noted, many modern lesbians dislike the ending. It is hardly a good advert for lesbianism.

Because I had been reading Dillon’s biography, his relationship with Roberta Cowell was in my mind as I was hearing this. We will never know for sure why she refused his offer of marriage. He appears to have been something of a misogynist, which would not have appealed to the independent-minded Cowell so fresh from a life of male privilege. There is some suggestion that she strung him along to get his help in obtaining surgery. But years later in her autobiography Cowell states that her marrying Dillon would be like two women getting married, suggesting that she rather literally thought he wasn’t man enough for her. That’s a very cruel thing for one trans person to do to another, but trans people are no more free of cruelty than anyone else.

Listening to Jana talk about The Well of Loneliness, I wondered about Stephen’s reasons for abandoning Mary. Did Stephen think that she wasn’t “man enough” for her lover, and that it was therefore her duty to step aside in favor of a “real man”? And does this mean that Stephen identified as a man, but was ignorant of other trans folks and so didn’t know that something could be done? If that’s the case, did that reflect Hall’s own feelings about gender?

Ultimately we can’t know. Because of the conflation of sexuality, gender identity and gender performance it is possible that Hall felt she could only be a proper lesbian by being a man, even though she identified as a woman. Certainly enough trans people down the years have been accused of being gays and lesbians who are ashamed of their sexuality, so the idea is very much in the public consciousness. But I agree with Jana that it is possible to read both Stephen Gordon and Radclyffe Hall as trans men rather than butch lesbians, and I think that the end of The Well of Loneliness makes much more sense if you do.

Wikipedia tells me that the novel ends with Stephen pleading with God to, “Give us also the right to our existence!” Chin up, old chap, we’ve done it for ourselves.

Posted in Gender, History | 1 Comment

My Eurocon Schedule

The Barcelona Eurocon has a program. Right now it is only available on the EuroSMOF Facebook group, but that’s public so I presume I can talk about it.

I have just one program item, and it is one of the first items after the Opening Ceremonies, so I’ll be done pretty quickly.

Friday, 11:15; Auditori
Queer Societies in SF (ENG)
Panel. Gay pride and prejudice.
Mariano Martín Rodríguez (Belg) MOD, Cheryl Morgan (UK), Lawrence Schimel, Arrate Hidalgo

I guess I’ll be talking about things like The Female Man, Nicola Griffith’s Ammonite, and Elizabeth Bear’s Carnival. Other suggestions welcome, especially lesbian societies because I’m on a panel with three guys*.

Much of the program is in Spanish or Catalan, and while Kevin might have enough Spanish to get by I will be the clueless Brit. However, there is plenty of English language progamming to keep me away from the delights of Barcelona. There are several panels about SF in other countries; I can listen to Richard Morgan and Adam Roberts talk about political SF; or Charlie Stross talking about the failures of futurology. There’s a person from Germany asking, “What does being a transvestite have to do with SF?” Karin Tidbeck and Johanna Sinisalo are talking about weird fiction. There is a panel about promoting European SF that I really need to go to (sorry Clute), and there’s a panel on Evil Female with Mihaela Perkovic and Johanna Sinisalo. Talking of Mihaela, she’s moderating a panel on cross-media SF featuring Richard Morgan, Rhianna Pratchett and John Clute. I shall go along to provide moral support because that’s a tough ask, though one I am sure she’s more than capable of handling. All in all, it looks like being a busy weekend.

* Correction: two guys and one non-guy, because I am a clueless Brit and don’t understand Basque names.

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Coode Street and the Best Series Hugo

This weekend’s edition of The Coode Street Podcast was devoted primarily to discussion of the proposed Best Series Hugo award category. As you may recall, this is a proposal that was given first passage in Kansas City and will be up for ratification in Helsinki. Furthermore, the Helsinki committee has used its power to create one special Hugo category to trial this award so that we can all see how it works.

Jonathan and Gary have used their podcast to look at the proposed new category and, in time-honored fannish fashion, test it to destruction by finding the most ridiculous nominees possible. Obviously, as with all other Hugos categories, we have to hope that the sanity of the voters will prevail. But, as we know to our cost, this isn’t always the case. And regardless, Jonathan and Gary have thrown up a number of interesting questions about the category. Doubtless many of these will have been raised in fannish discussions when the category was first proposed, and I apologize for any re-opening of old wounds. Hopefully those behind the category will see fit to clarify matters.

As with any live recording, Jonathan and Gary weren’t able to edit their thoughts into a coherent argument before unleashing them on the world. That’s a limitation of the format. However, listening to their discussion, it seems to me that they have identified at least four different sorts of things that might be seen as a “series”.

Firstly there is the multi-volume novel. Works like The Lord of the Rings or The Book of the New Sun are at an obvious disadvantage in the Novel category because each individual volume is necessarily incomplete. The new category will be a boon to such works.

Then there is the multi-volume series, in which each volume is complete in itself, but all volumes feature the same setting and characters, and there may be some sort of over-arching narrative. Crime fiction is full of this sort of thing. So, for example, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books, Seanan McGuire’s Toby Daye books, and Mike Carey’s Felix Castor books all fall into this grouping.

Next up there is the franchise. This is where one writer creates a world and then invites other writers to create stories set in that world. Gary and Jonathan mentioned George Martin’s Wild Cards and Ellen Kushner’s Tremontaine as examples. The suggestion was that if Wild Cards won then every person who had written for Wild Cards would get a Hugo.

Finally there is a thing that, for want of a better term, I shall call a mythos. In the show Gary and Jonathan speculated as to whether HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos could be regarded as a “series” for the purposes of the new Hugo category. There was also discussion as to whether Star Wars or Star Trek could be seen as a series from this point of view.

Some of these suggestions are clearly more sensible than others. I very much hope that the mythos idea doesn’t get included. The idea that every few years the Cthulhu Mythos would become eligible for Best Series and that every mythos story published in that year (possibly including one of mine) would automatically share in the win is patently ridiculous. So is the idea that every piece of Star Wars fanfic published in a year could become a Hugo winner if Star Wars wins Best Series.

Franchises are more complicated. There is a clear limitation as to what works can be included. Nevertheless, I am dubious about the idea that a writer can win a Hugo for a short story whose primary qualifying characteristic is that it happened to be part of a winning franchise. When a fiction magazine wins a Hugo we don’t give a trophy to every writer who had a story in it that year. Equally if a collection of essays wins Related Work the trophies go to the editor(s), not all of the contributors. And we don’t give a Hugo to everyone listed in the credits of a movie.

There is far less of a problem to an on-going series, but there are still questions hanging over them. What happens, for example, when a writer publishes a new book in a series created by someone else years ago? Could a writer who had a successful series years ago make it newly eligible by publishing a short story based in that series? What about a book such as Songs of Dying Earth in which a whole bunch of writers extended Jack Vance’s Dying Earth series? Here we are getting into the sort of grey area where fandom demands that the Hugo Administrator should be very proactive and exclude anything that is against the spirit of the category, right up until the point where the poor Administrator actually does something at which point they will discover that what they did was WRONG!!! and the Internet falls on their heads.

Still, this is why we trial categories, and why why debate them. Do have a listen to what Gary and Jonathan had to say, especially if you have nominating rights in Helsinki and can be part of the first year’s trial.

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Signal to Noise Wins Copper Cylinder

The Copper Cylinder Award is a juried award for Canadian fantasy fiction. This year the adult category was won by Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, a book I love.

Congratulations are also due to Leah Bobet who won the YA category with An Inheritance of Ashes. I’ve not read it, but clearly a bunch of keen readers were very impressed.

This is also a good opportunity to remind you that Sylvia has a new book out this month. Isn’t this a lovely cover?


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Dimension 6 – Issue #9

Issue #9 of the Australian SF&F magazine, Dimension 6, is now available for download. The contents list is as follows:

‘The Plastinarium’ by Zoë Harland
Students of necromancy should really take more care…

‘All the Colours of the Tomato’ by Simon Petrie
Out among the stars we need to learn to see with different eyes.

‘The Widow in the Woods’ by Barry Charman
Jakob lost one family member to the widow. He would not lose another.

You can download the magazine for free in either epub or mobi format from their website.

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River Kingdom Map Reveal

River Kingdom Map - Sophie E Tallis
Hello, lucky people, we have more River Kingdom goodness for you.

This is the map of Juliet McKenna’s new world. It was drawn for us by the fabulous Sophie E. Tallis (who is also a fine writer). You can learn more about Sophie at her website.

What you see above is obviously well shrunk for web display. However, if you click on the image above you can see a full size version. The paperback, sadly, will only have a black and white map, but the ebook version is in color. Hopefully Sophie and I can put together a means for people to get full color copies if they want one.

Talking of the book, the paperback is currently undergoing validation at Lightningsource and the ebook is almost ready. It won’t be available to the public until BristolCon, but if you are a reviewer and would like an ebook version do let me know. We’ll have epub, mobi or PDF.

Arrangements for ordering the paper book from non-piranha sources are underway and will hopefully be announced soon. I’ll also have the book available to buy (at a discount) at BristolCon, Eurocon and Novacon. If you want to make sure you get a copy, please let me know and I’ll reserve one for you. It will be £10 at the conventions.

Posted in Art, Books, Wizard's Tower | 3 Comments

Another Book of Arabic Fantasy Stories

There’s a fascinating post over at the Arabic Literature in English blog. Some of you may remember me posting last year about Tales of the Marvellous, News of the Strange, a new English translation of a book that significantly pre-dates the earliest copy of The 1001 Nights that we know of. That book was announced to the world in 1933, but was only available in German. Well it turns out that there is another book of tales, confusingly called The 101 Nights, which was translated into French in 1911. That book is now being translated into English by Bruce Fudge, Professor of Arabic at the University of Geneva.

The post I allude to above is the first part of an interview with Professor Fudge. In it he speculates that what we are seeing now is the tip of an iceberg of Arabic fantastic literature. There are, he says, plenty of other manuscripts lying unstudied in libraries in the Middle East and Europe:

I know in Paris and Berlin alone there are dozens, if not hundreds, of these types of manuscripts. I think Paris alone has enough for a few scholarly careers. But for much of the 20th century, scholars didn’t taken much interest in these.

There’s a whole world of fantasy history out there waiting to be rediscovered.

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All Foreigners Here

One of many “interesting” pieces of news coming out of the Tory Party conference is that the government wants to force companies to declare how many foreigners they employ. This is apparently intended to shame companies into employing more British workers. A few thoughts come to mind.

Firstly, is anyone bringing a case against the government under the Equality Act? Because the last time I looked discrimination in employment on the basis of ethnicity was illegal.

Second, as far as my own companies are concerned (all of which have precisely one employee, me), I would like to declare that we are 100% foreign owned and staffed. I do this for a number of reasons:

  • We all know that when the Tories say “British” they mean “English”
  • My boyfriend is American, and his chances of ever getting to live here with me have just gone from slim to zero
  • I can recognize a scapegoat strategy when I see one, and I know all too well that when one group of scapegoats has been exhausted another will have to be found. LGBT+ people are always high on the list of possible “others” to be denounced
  • And quite frankly, who would want to identify as British right now? The country is on a fast track to becoming an international pariah

I am reminded that Iain Banks destroyed his British passport in protest over the Iraq war. Goodness only knows what he’d be thinking right now if he were alive to see this.

Posted in Current Affairs | 1 Comment

In Which I Do Politics

Photo by Ella Marshall

Last night I did my thing at the Freedom of Mind Festival. You can see me on platform in the photo above. The location is Bristol’s City Hall. The panelists are, from left to right: Jenny Lacey (chair), Councillor Clare Campion-Smith (LibDem), Thangam Debbonaire MP (Lab), Councillor Fi Hance (Green), me (WEP) and Dr. Dominique Thompson who runs Bristol University’s student health service.

There are a couple of things worth noting about the line-up. Firstly there are no Conservatives involved. Gee, I can’t imagine why. Also, all of the panel are women. That, sadly, is also not much of a surprise. I’m doing a lot of work with organizations that deal with mental health issues these days, and the vast majority of the staff are women. Given that suicide is a significant cause of death of men in the UK, this is rather worrying. I’m very pleased that the festival had a specific event devoted to men’s mental health.

Naturally most of discussion was about general mental health issues and the lack of money for dealing with them. Local councils and the health service are both at the mercy of the government’s “austerity” program, which basically means requiring everyone to do more work for less money each year. No one was happy, but short of a major revolt among Conservative MPs there’s nothing that can be done until the next election in 2020.

My point was rather different. Firstly there are still things that are defined as mental health issues that are actually social ones. Technically being trans still marks me as being insane in the UK, because the World Health Organization takes forever to change its diagnoses. However, the USA has declassified trans people (sort of), and the UK government has stated that they don’t think we are mad either. Saying so “cured” several hundred thousand people of insanity overnight, so well done Nicky Morgan!

More importantly, however, there are many people who are suffering stress because of social conditions. Some of those are down to money (unemployment, homelessness, etc.), but many of them are due to prejudice. The work that my colleague, Berkeley Wilde, has done on LGBT+ heath needs has shown very clearly that the mental health of LGBT+ people does still suffer because of social prejudice. The situation is much worse for bisexuals and trans people than for gays and lesbians. Speaking out against such prejudice is something that politicians can do without having to spend any money at all. A less bigoted society is a happier, healthier society.

There are other areas where non-medical intervention can make a big difference too. There has been a lot of talk recently about social pressures on young women. Compulsory sex and relationship education in schools could do a lot to help with this, which is why Thangam made it her number one priority. Done properly it will do a lot for LGBT+ equality too.

Sadly our current government seems to be hell bent on making Britain a less friendly society. Currently we are being encouraged to be The Country That Hates Foreigners. We all know where that leads. When they have run out of one group of scapegoats, they’ll move on to the next.

Posted in Current Affairs, Health | 2 Comments

Dark Spires is Back in Print

Dark SpiresOne of the things that has occupied me over the summer is learning to do book layouts. Doing paper books at Wizard’s Tower just isn’t economic unless I do most of the work on book production myself. Obviously I needed a book to practice on, and I chose Dark Spires because it was my first book and currently out of print. It seemed a real shame to have a book that has so many great local writers in it, including Colin Harvey, that was a print book but is only available electronically. The proof copy arrived last week and I’m pretty pleased with it as a first attempt.

The book contains a variety of stories all inspired by the idea of Wessex. The authors include Liz Williams, Gareth L. Powell, Jo Hall, Roz Clarke, Eugene Byrne, Gay Haley and Colin Harvey himself.

I will have copies available at BristolCon at a convention special price of £8. It will be £10 from the piranhas in due course. I’ll see if I can rig up a way of pre-ordering it so that no one misses out on the con price. If you are in the US, I’ll be sorting something out for you. Collect from BASFA should be an option.

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The Politics of Mental Health

There is a really great thing going on in Bristol over the coming week. It is called the Freedom of Mind Festival, and it is a week-long series of events examining mental health issues from different angles. There’s a launch party which will raise funds for Off the Record (and therefore helps keep my amazing friend Henry in a job). There are workshops and films and art events. Nathan Filer will be dropping by for an event on the Thursday. And there will be a discussion panel at City Hall on Monday where local politicians will be asked what they are doing about mental health. One of the people asking awkward questions will be me.

This all comes out of the work I have been doing on the West of England “LGBT Manifesto”. There’s a whole bunch of us involved in that, and mental heath provision is going to be a major plank of what we are asking for. It also comes out of all the trans awareness training work I am currently doing for Bristol Mental Health. We had a planning meeting for that today and they were really positive and keen to get as many staff as possible trained. I will of course be armed with this fine survey done by my colleagues at The Diversity Trust on the health needs of LGBT people in the Bristol area. And as I have an MP on the panel with me I might just mention the Trans Equality Inquiry and the lack of action thereon.

There are, of course, many other social groups as well as LGBT folks who have major mental health issues. But given that up until very recently trans people were deemed insane simply for being trans I think we have a special stake in this and I’m delighted to be involved in the event.

Posted in Gender, Health | Leave a comment

My BristolCon Schedule

A first draft (hopefully one which survives contact with the enemy) of the BristolCon programme has gone online. Here’s what I am up to.

9:50 (Room 2) – the usual welcome to the con thing that I do for Room 2 because we have not yet managed to clone Jo.

12:00 (Room 2) – SF&F On the Margins – The pros and cons of small press, indie and self-publishing for writers have been well explored over the past decade, but what benefits, if any, does the increased ease of access to publishing hold for readers and for the culture of speculative fiction? What exciting projects or changes in SF&F have come about through these marginal routes to market? With Sammy Smith (M), Joanne Hall, Cheryl Morgan, Adrian Faulkner, Jason Whittle.

I’m looking forward to this one. I may bring along one or two small press books to wave at people, including this one which I got in the post today:

I’ll also be talking about a brand new Wizard’s Tower venture which for now is known only as the Sekrit Projekt.

17:00 (Room 1) – It Takes A Village – From first draft to a table in Waterstones (we wish!) there can be a lot of people involved in producing a book. With representatives from all along the production line, we follow the journey of a book as it passes from one pair of hands to another, taking a close look at the roles of everyone involved and their working relationships. With Cheryl Morgan (M), Sammy Smith, Roz Clarke, Edward Cox, Nick Hembery.

Clearly Sammy and I are doing the publisher double-act this year. I shall mainly be moderating, but I’ll also wave books about and sing the praises of people like Ben Baldwin and Sophie E. Tallis who make my books look pretty.

Talking of books, when I am not in the bar (I’m sure that I must owe Ken MacLeod a drink or two from somewhere) I shall be in the Dealers’ Room because I will have stuff. I’m sharing a table with Pete Sutton, and on it you will be able to find the following.

Shadow Histories of the River Kingdom — the new Juliet E. McKenna book which we are putting the finishing touches to at the moment. Juliet will be at the con and I’m sure she’ll be happy to sign copies.

Something else from Wizard’s Tower that I’ll be telling you about later this week.

The existing Wizard’s Tower books: Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion, Winter Song and Damage Time.

And if all goes according to plan, Fantastically Horny, the anthology that Pete and his colleagues at Far Horizons are producing, and which contains my story, “Camelot Girls Gone Wild”. I shall be rather schizophrenic, being both author and publisher.

Which reminds me, there’s the open mic reading event on Friday night. I should think of something for that, though I doubt that I can better last year.

It is going to be a busy weekend.

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Book Review – Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft CountryOld Howard has been in the news a lot of late. Everything from his ugly representation as the World Fantasy Award to the bizarre devotion that he seems to inspire in the people who run the World Fantasy Convention has been picked apart. It is kind of like if the Hugo was a bust of Heinlein, and 25% of programming at all Worldcons was about Heinlein, and Heinlein was someone whose work was only tangentially regarded as SF. Weird, one might say. But neither gibbous nor squamous.

Various attempts have been made to re-assess Lovecraft and his legacy in fiction. Jonathan L. Howard’s Carter & Lovecraft is one such. So is The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle, which I have sat on my Kindle waiting to be read. The other well known one is Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff, which I have read recently and can therefore review.

It isn’t a book that is easy to review if you happen to be white and British, because you are a fair way away from the things Matt is writing about. But I did enjoy the book, and there are enough positive reviews about by more knowledgeable people whose opinions I trust to suggest that Matt has once again delivered a fine novel. If you are interested in my verdict, you can find it here.

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Introducing the Pop Queer-ies

A few weeks ago I did an email interview for a new podcast based in Toronto. Being a stupidly busy feline I then mostly forgot about it. I figured it would go online eventually. Then, a couple of days ago, I noticed that the podcast had a Twitter feed. Checking their website, I discovered that they had not only published my interview, but there had been four other episodes since. Whoa!

The hard-working young ladies responsible for all of this nerdly goodness are Justine and Gwen. They are very knowledgeable about a whole range of stuff I know little about (or, in the case of video games, nothing about). And their hearts are in the right places (metaphorically speaking, I have no idea whether they are Time Lords).

My interview was part of Episode 5, which was all about trans woman in comics. You can read it here, and listen to parts of it here. Much more interestingly, there is also an interview with Rachel Pollack, which you can listen to here.

There are lots more shows available here, including an episode devoted to the Suicide Squad movie that I ought to listen to before I see Rob Williams next. (I decided not to see it in the cinema because there were so many bad reviews of it.)

Ah, so many podcasts, so little time.

Posted in Comics, Gender, Podcasts | Leave a comment

River Kingdom Cover Reveal

River Kingdom cover
As announced last month, Wizard’s Tower will shortly be launching a brand new book by Juliet E. McKenna. This fabulous cover is by Ben Baldwin. I’ll be announcing details of how to pre-order the book soon. In the meantime, here’s some blurb.

Imaginary friends should be a comfort when other consolations fail. But what if these longed-for companions think different? What if they’re none too pleased to be summoned? What if untamed magic can spawn creatures from daydreams or nightmares? Could something eerie half-glimpsed in a shadow actually be there?

Shadow Histories of the River Kingdom introduces a brand new fantasy setting from acclaimed author Juliet E McKenna. This volume brings together stories previously available in a range of publications, not all easily found, as well as some new material.

Welcome to the River Kingdom, where shadows can be all too solid and dangerous.

And here’s the full wrap-around.


The book has a really great map by Sophie E. Tallis as well. Sadly we can’t do color, fold-out interiors, but something else interesting may happen.

Posted in Art, Books | 3 Comments

More Awards

FantasyCon has been taking place in Scarborough this weekend. Many of my friends were there, and at least two lots of awards were given out.

The Gemmells are traditionally a white guy sort of award, but Larry Correia did not win despite being shortlisted. Both the Legend (Best Fantasy Novel) and Morningstar (Best Fantasy Debut) were won by writers from the South West. Mark Lawrence took the Legend with The Liar’s Key and Pete Newman took the Morningstar with The Vagrant. I understand that Pete’s trophy is a statue of a guy wielding a couple of swords. I shudder to think what Latimer will say about having to clean that.

The British Fantasy Awards use a jury for the final stage so the likelihood of a Puppy win was pretty low. What sort of people did the jurors think award-worthy? Gosh, mainly female-type persons and non-whit-type persons. Preferably persons who were both. Here are the winners:

  • Best anthology: The Doll Collection, ed. Ellen Datlow (Tor Books)
  • Best artist: Julie Dillon
  • Best collection: Ghost Summer: Stories, Tananarive Due (Prime Books)
  • Best comic/graphic novel: Bitch Planet, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, Robert Wilson IV and Cris Peter (Image Comics) (#2–5)
  • Best fantasy novel (the Robert Holdstock Award): Uprooted, Naomi Novik (Macmillan)
  • Best film/television production: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Peter Harness (BBC One)
  • Best horror novel (the August Derleth Award): Rawblood, Catriona Ward (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
  • Best independent press: Angry Robot (Marc Gascoigne)
  • Best magazine/periodical: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, ed. Scott H. Andrews (Firkin Press)
  • Best newcomer (the Sydney J. Bounds Award): Zen Cho, for Sorcerer to the Crown (Macmillan)
  • Best non-fiction: Letters to Tiptree, ed. Alexandra Pierce and Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Best novella: “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn”, Usman T. Malik (
  • Best short fiction: “Fabulous Beasts”, Priya Sharma (
  • The Special Award (the Karl Edward Wagner Award): The FantasyCon redshirts, past and present

Have I mentioned that I have an essay in Letters to Tiptree? And yet it is still winning awards, which shows you what a good book it is.

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ShoutOut Does Trans Pride

The nice folks at ShoutOut Radio did some promotion for Trans Pride South West in their Thursday show. Part of that involved using some of the material that I collected at Brighton’s Trans Pride. Those interviewed include Sarah Savage, Fox Fisher, Kate Adair and, of course, Ren Stedman. Kate makes mention of this little episode from my trip to Hay. Should you wish to listen to the show, you can find the podcast version here.

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The Emmys, Part Three

There are International Emmys. Who knew? Not me. It is starting to seem like every time I look at social media a new set of Emmys is being announced. I don’t mind, because the results keep getting better.

Why? Well to understand my excitement we need to travel back in time to June 1998. I am in Wellington, New Zealand for a convention. I’m there partly to promote the (as it was then) San Francisco in 2002 Worldcon bid, partly to see my old friend Neil Gaiman, and partly to meet the other Guest of Honor at the event, a chap called George R.R. Martin whose new novel, A Game of Thrones, I had got quite excited about. (Foolishly, at the end of my review of the book, I had written, “Get on with it, George, there are a large number of people out here who are on tenterhooks”.)

Anyway, there I am in an Indian restaurant in Wellington with George & Parris, Neil, and a lovely Australian couple called Medge & Bean. Also with us is a friend from Melbourne, Sean McMullen, whose writing I had been championing, and his daughter. Of the young lady I wrote:

Catherine is very sweet, but boy can she be hard work at times. For a nine-year-old, she is exceptionally bright, and she holds her own in fandom with ridiculous ease. The trouble is, we just don’t have her energy. How Sean copes I do not know.

Fast forward now to August 1999. I was doing an Australian special edition of Emerald City in honor of the Melbourne Worldcon. I wasn’t the only editor thinking that way, because one of the things I reviewed was an all-Australian edition of Interzone. Sean had a story in it, and so did Catherine. She might just have turned 11 by then, and she went on to charm the whole Bay Area crew that came to Melbourne where our Worldcon bid was being voted on. (It was a three-year cycle back then.) I commented:

If Sean’s daughter isn’t famous by the end of the next decade I’ll eat my keyboard.

Ten years later Catherine was at Melbourne University studying for a joint degree in Film Studies and Law. She’d won something called the Melbourne National Scholarship which is a university study grant (all tuition fees paid) for student of outstanding academic achievement. I wasn’t surprised. I did not eat a keyboard.

Since graduating Catherine has racked up a host of credits on TV shows in a variety of roles, including Production Secretary on the SyFy mini-series of Childhood’s End. And now, drum roll please…

The 2016 Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting Award Winner is C.S. McMullen for her script, “Living Metal”.

Sir Peter Ustinov Award

The Emmys website says:

Each year, The Foundation administers the Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting Award. The competition is designed to motivate non-American novice writers under the age of 30, and offer them the recognition and encouragement that might lead to a successful career in television scriptwriting. Entrants are asked to create a completed half-hour to one-hour English-language television drama script.

The award winner receives $2,500, a trip to New York City, and an invitation to the International Emmy® Awards Gala in November.

I am well impressed. Congratulations on the award, Catherine. I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Typically studios queue up to produce the Ustinov-winning script, so I’m sure we’ll see “Living Metal” on our screens in the near future.

Posted in Australia, Awards, TV | 4 Comments

Happy Bi Visibility Day

By happy coincidence, Bi Visibility Day happened to fall in the week of Trans Pride South West. Therefore we are having a joint flag raising in Bristol today. I believe it is the first time that the Bi flag has ever been raised at City Hall. (And if it isn’t that shows you how visible the event has been in the past.)

Anyway, I’ll be off to the flag raising ceremony shortly. After that I’ll be attending the launch of a book called Purple Prose at Hydra Books. I expect to see a few people I know there. (Jacq Applebee did a launch event for the book at Parliament earlier in the week. Hydra is a similar venue, right?)

Many trans people do identify as bisexual, of course. Or pansexual, but let’s not get into that. It is also true that many trans people, including me, had sexual relationships with people of one gender before transition, and people of another gender after transition. Whether that makes them bi, I do not know. Given how much transphobia there is in gay and lesbian communities, I don’t want to go there. I’m happy to do my bit to support people who do identify as bi (or pan).

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County Cricket – Down to the Wire

County cricket and nail-biting excitement are not terms that are generally used together. The County Championship is old-fashioned cricket played the way God intended before she realized that T20 games could be a whole lot of fun. Matches are played over four days and often end in draws. It is enough to send your average American sports fan into a coma.

This year, however, is different. As we entered the final week of matches, three teams were in with a shot at the title. Excitingly the top two teams, Middlesex and Yorkshire, were due to play each other at the “Home of Cricket”, Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. Lord’s is the home ground of Middlesex, and Yorkshire are the defending champions. It was a perfect set up.

Except that there was a joker in the pack. Way out in Taunton, tiny Somerset had a game against a hapless and already relegated Nottinghamshire side. It looked like an easy win for the cider boys, and if the two titans of the game slugging it out in London fought each other to a draw, then the cheeky West Country lads could sneak off with the title.

Today was day 3 of the matches. There was much excitement during the day regarding matters of bonus points, but I will spare you the neepery and cut to the chase.

As expected, Somerset wrapped up a victory easily — with a day to spare, in fact. They missed out on only a single bonus point and so racked up a lot of points. They now sit happily on top of the table.

Meanwhile in London fortunes swung back and fore. Yorkshire currently have the upper hand, but there’s a whole day to play and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Middlesex could get a win. Sides have come back from worse positions before. A win for either side will net enough points for the title.

Or it could rain all day. Who knows?

We’ll find out tomorrow. The bookmakers have Yorkshire as firm favorites. They are they reigning champions. They know how to win. And there is enough playing time for them to get there. But Somerset have points in the bag. If Yorkshire slip up tomorrow, something momentous might happen.

In thinking of how to explain this to Americans, my first thought was to talk about the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs were founder members of Major League Baseball and have a history dating back to 1876. They haven’t won the World Series since 1908 (though this year they look to be hot favorites). But they have won, twice.

Somerset’s cricket club was founded in 1875. County cricket was started by Yorkshire and Gloucestershire in 1890, and Somerset was the third team to join the tournament in 1891. In all of that time they have never won the championship.

Tomorrow we could see a little bit of cricketing history being made.

Posted in Baseball, Cricket, Somerset | Comments Off on County Cricket – Down to the Wire