New Salon Futura Interview – Rhonda Garcia

Lex Talionis - Rhonda GarciaIn the spirit of the Afrofuturism season at The Watershed, I have busied myself to finish editing the full version of my Ujima Radio interview with Rhonda Garcia. She’s a writer from Trinidad whose debut novel, Lex Talionis, is available from Dragonwell Publishing and the usual outlets. I’ve read the book, and found it a nice piece of fast-paced space opera adventure, though with a content warning for extreme sexual abuse which Rhonda and I discuss (in theory, not in detail) during the podcast. It is well worth looking at, unless you are the sort of person likely to be very upset by such things.

I have an interview with Tobias Buckell that I need to get sorted, after which I think I will have the full set of Caribbean SF&F authors with novels out. Clearly more people need to write books. For those of you who may not have listened to the others, you can find them as follows:

And here’s the audio player for Rhonda:

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Panel Wrap & Reading List #dystopias #cheltlitfest

Well that was fun. Huge thanks to Ken MacLeod, Chris Priest and Jane Rogers for being fine panelists, and to Adam Roberts without whose kindness I would not have been there. My apologies to anyone who was hoping to see Adam and/or Brian Aldiss, neither of whom were able to attend. Also thanks to the audience. We couldn’t see you for most of the hour, but when the lights when up at the end for audience questions we were delighted to find the tent packed.

Here’s my introduction to the panel:

The original meaning of the term “dystopia” is the opposite of “utopia”. It may have been coined by John Stuart Mill for a parliamentary speech in 1868. Utopia, of course, derives from Thomas More’s novel of that name (1516), although people have been imagining ideal societies at least as far back as the Greeks. Other early writers also tried their hand at the genre, for example Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World (1666). Even Shakespeare, in The Tempest (1623), has Gonzalo postulate the creation of an ideal society (in a speech he cribbed from the French essayist, Montaigne).

Looking back, however, these early utopias can seem distinctly unattractive. More’s ideal society has slavery, and doubtless the likes of Jeremy Clarkson would be unhappy with the feminist aspects of Cavendish’s imagined world. The Victorians were keen on writing utopias, but pretty much since the First World War our imaginings have become much darker. We have written dystopias instead. Famous examples include 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale.

Margaret Atwood, in her essay “Dire Cartographies”, suggests that utopia and dystopia are like yin and yang, each containing the seed of the other. This is made explicit in Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, which features two rival societies, one based on Libertarian Capitalist principles, and one based on Anarchist Socialist principles.

The critic Frederic Jameson has suggested that writing dystopias is a better way to address the world’s problems. Creating an ideal society from scratch is hard, but in a dystopia we can focus on one aspect of society that disturbs us and think about how to fix it .

But perhaps the word “dystopia” itself is changing. These days publishers appear keen to slap the label, “dystopia”, on almost any work of science fiction, especially if it is written for a YA or mainstream audience. I have even seen the term applied to A Game of Thrones.

There’s no question that books marketed as dystopian are hugely popular, especially amongst young people. But are they depressed about the state of the world? Do they desperately want to change it? Or are they just victims of marketing Newspeak?

We have with us today three fine exponents of science fiction literature, so I’d like to start by asking them to talk about their recent work, tell us if they think it is dystopian, and if it is why they chose to write that sort of book.

Actually only Jane’s book (the Clarke-winning Testament of Jessie Lamb) is remotely dystopian, but Ken and Chris know their science fiction inside out and were able to talk about other books they had written, and a wide range of other books.

The obvious question we had to tackle was why dystopias are so popular in the YA market right now. We looked at a variety of possible explanations, including this one:

Personally I think that wanting to save the world is a natural part of being a teenager, and I was struck reading Jane’s book that world saving is so much harder these days that it seemed when I was a kid. Maybe that’s just perspective, but the teens in Jane’s book seemed to understand that complexity of the world far better than I remember my generation doing. That in turn might lead to a desire to read about worlds that are more easily fixed.

Chris raised the issue that dystopias often get written in times of austerity, pointing in particular to John Wyndham and his cohort from post-WWII Britain who produced a style of SF that was more or less unknown in the much more affluent USA. Ken quoted Laurie Penny opining that kids today gravitate towards dystopias because they believe that they are living in one.

Special thanks to Jane for introducing Octavia Butler to the conversation, and for noting that People of Color writing SF are often painfully aware that they are the aliens in the standard narrative. I’ve made a point of including some books by non-white writers in the reading list.

The audience quickly picked up on the fact that much of what is marketed as dystopian fiction would be better described as post-apocalyptic. I noted that some post-apocalyptic work is better understood as “return to nature” utopian fiction (After London by Richard Jefferies being an early example). Ken defined a dystopia as a story in which, “An oppressive system takes on a heroic individual…and wins”. For more thoughts on categorization, see the SF Encyclopedia.

We were asked if dystopias were primarily aimed at capitalism, to which the answer is a very definite no. 1984 was in part inspired by We, a novel by Russian writer, Yevgeny Zamiatin. We were also asked if any books were written from the point of view of a supporter of the dystopia rather than the heroic rebel. Someone gave me a suggestion during the signing, but I’m afraid I have forgotten it. However, it did occur to me that Sheri Tepper’s The Gate to Women’s Country appears to advocate what many would regard as an oppressive dystopia.

There are a lot more books we could have talked about. Here’s a (very incomplete) reading list of dystopian and post-apocalyptic literature. Enjoy.

  • The Begum’s Fortune – Jules Verne
  • When the Sleeper Awakes – H.G. Wells
  • Swastika Night – Murray Constantine (Katharine Burdekin)
  • We – Yevgeny Zamiatin
  • 1984 – George Orwell
  • The Time Machine – H.G. Wells
  • The Machine Stops – E M Forster
  • Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  • The Dispossessed – Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Space Merchants – Frederik Pohl and C M Kornbluth
  • Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
  • A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
  • Make Room! Make Room! – Harry Harrison
  • Stand on Zanzibar – John Brunner
  • The Sheep Look Up – John Brunner
  • Shockwave Rider – John Brunner
  • Nova Express – William S. Burroughs
  • The Holdfast Chronicles series – Suzy McKee Charnas
  • The Gate to Women’s Country – Sheri S. Tepper
  • The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  • The Last Man – Mary Shelley
  • Earth Abides – George Stewart
  • The City Not Long After – Pat Murphy
  • I Am Legend – Richard Matheson
  • Station 11 – Emily St. John Mandel
  • The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
  • The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
  • The Stand – Stephen King
  • The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  • Riddley Walker – Russell Hoban
  • After London – Richard Jefferies
  • The Parable of the Sower & The Parable of the Talents – Octavia Butler
  • Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz – Walter M. Miller
  • The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
  • Noughts & Crosses series – Malorie Blackman
  • Childhood’s End – Arthur C. Clarke
  • Chaos Walking series – Patrick Ness
  • Uglies series – Scott Westerfeld
  • Orleans – Sherri L. Smith
  • Dust Lands series – Moira Young
  • Divergent series – Veronica Roth
  • Mortal Engines series – Phillip Reeve
  • Oryx & Crake series – Margaret Atwood
  • The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf – Ambelin Kwaymullina

Other suggestions are welcome. And please remember that we’ve already acknowledged that the category is blurry, so by no means everyone (including myself) will regard all of the above as dystopian.

Posted in Books, Science Fiction | 4 Comments

The Watershed Does Fun Palaces

Last weekend was Fun Palaces weekend across the country. (Follow that link if you don’t know what that means, because the concept is a bit nebulous.) The Bristol event took place in the Watershed and was science fiction themed. I missed the Saturday event, which was also part of the Afrofuturism season, because I was in Cheltenham, but I went along on Sunday because there were events being run by BristolCon.

I’m not sure how successful the weekend was. Turnout seemed to be quite poor, but I suspect that was largely a result of the events being free, and so many different groups being involved in the organization. The only people in a position to exercise overall direction were the Watershed folks, and they didn’t have much budget due to it being a free event.

Still, Jo, Roz & the crew got their program done, and hopefully they’ll get some good entries for their short story competition. In the final session Jo handed out some writing prompts. Oddly enough, the two I picked fit very closely to the story I’m hoping to write for Accessing the Future. Of course that story is nothing to do with Bristol.

Talking of Bristol, Edson Burton shared with me this fine illustration of Spaceport Bristol done by Ðrojan for the Saturday event.

Spaceport Bristol

In the evening the Afrofuturism season got going again with the short film, Afronauts, followed by George Clinton: Tales of Dr Funkenstein. We all got the funk. Edson and I will be talking Afrofuturism from Noon on Wednesday on the Ujima Women’s Outlook show.

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First Time at Cheltenham

I spent Saturday in Cheltenham getting my first taste of a major literary festival from the inside. Here are a few thoughts from the point of view of someone who is far more used to large science fiction conventions.

Cheltenham itself seems very nice. The railway station is quite a way out of town, but there is a lovely footpath most of the way into the town center which appears to be at least part-based on an old branch line. I’m not sure that I’d want to use it after dark, but during the day it is very pleasant. The town, once you get there, looks very expensive, perhaps even more so than Bath. I was told that the charity shops there are a good place to shop for designer clothes, so I may have to go back.

The festival covers two large Georgian squares and some of the civic buildings in between. The venues are mostly tent-based, but they are big, serious tents that are probably proof against anything but the most serious weather. They could have done with a few large signs with maps of the layout, but mostly it was easy to navigate. I suspect that the lack of signage to what they called the Authors’ House and what I’d call the green room was deliberate.

The organization was excellent. Everything ran to time. There were helpful staff to make sure that we got to where we needed to be, when we needed to be there. They even did sound checks. Of course it is easier to do that if the programming is fairly light. Venues were not run back-to-back, but instead had hour or more gaps in between sessions so they could be turned round without any crush.

The idea of taking panelists off to do signings immediately after their panels worked fairly well, though the Waterstones tent, where the signings took place, got very crowded at times. Margaret Atwood, bless her, had a queue stretching half way to Bristol. They could perhaps have done signings in the venues, given that they were empty for quite a while after each event, but that would mean moving the books and providing someone to sell them, and anyway people like Atwood needed far longer than an hour to sign.

Inevitably many of the people appearing at the event were celebrities. We were a very bookish crowd in comparison. I was rather looking forward to being able to strut in and thumb my nose at the lobster & Bolly crowd, given that I was on program too, but Caitlin Moran had gone by the time I arrived. The only person I noticed who might have been offended by my presence was Jenni Murray from Woman’s Hour.

All in all, it was a very pleasant experience. I’d certainly go back if asked, though I suspect that’s not hugely likely. I’ll write more about the panel itself shortly.

Posted in Conventions | 2 Comments

Cheltenham Reminder #cheltlitfest #dystopias

Tomorrow from 5:30 to 6:30 I shall be chairing a panel at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature. It will feature Ken MacLeod, Chris Priest and Jane Rogers, and the title is: What is the Lure of Dystopia. Here’s the blurb:

Welcome to the world of the dystopia: of government and society gone nightmarishly wrong. From 1984 to The Handmaid’s Tale, this image has been a gripping cautionary force. Ken MacLeod (Descent), author Chris Priest (Adjacent) and Jane Rogers (The Testament of Jessie Lamb) join chair Cheryl Morgan to explore fiction’s greatest nightmare visions and their enduring appeal.

I know that not many of you are likely to be at Cheltenham, but if there’s any chance of you being there please do come along. It isn’t often that such a major festival has clear SF&F programming and we need to support them when they do.

Hopefully there will be some back channel action for those of you who can’t attend. The hastags are #cheltlitfest for the Festival, and #dystopias for the panel. I’ll be tagging everything with both.

If you want to suggest questions for me to ask the panel, please do so below (or tweet me tomorrow). Here are a few themes we’ll try to cover:

  • What is dystopian fiction? How is it different from post-Apocalyptic fiction?
  • Are certain types of dystopian themes popular in certain time periods?
  • Are modern dystopias anti-left, anti-right or something else?
  • Are dystopias written by straight-white folks different from those by non-straight-white folks?
  • If we enjoy reading/writing dystopias, what does this say about us?
  • Does dystopian fiction do harm or good?
  • Why do publishers appear to use “dystopia” rather than “science fiction”?

And if you can’t make it there tomorrow but can do Friday 10th, you could go along and see A Celebration of Sci Fi and Fantasy, featuring Ben Aaronovitch, Joe Abercrombie, Mitch Benn, Sarah Pinborough and journalist David Barnett.

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My BristolCon Schedule

The program for BristolCon is now live (a whole 3 weeks before the convention, y’all). This is what I’m doing:

10:00 – 10:45 Music in my Writing: Music might be even harder to write about than Sex or Death, and yet it’s a really important part of the process for most writers. Many authors write to music or put together soundtracks of their own books. How does music seep into and influence our work? With Tricia Sullivan (Mod), Gunnar Roxen, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Kim Lakin-Smith.

19:00 – 19:45 Steampunk and the Class System: Does steampunk ignore what goes on below stairs? Is it all top hats and parasols, or should we be looking more at the dark underbelly of industrialisation and Empire? With Robert Harkess, Scott Lewis, Roz Clarke, Adrian Tchaikovsky.

I’m very pleased that JCG is on the music panel with me, because I can thank him for introducing me to some fine Arabic music. As to the steampunk panel, I guess I should read this before the convention.

There’s lots of other good stuff going on too. Check it out here.

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Launching the Mothershed

Last night saw the first event of the Afrofuturism season at the Watershed. The main item was a screening of Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise, a rare film about the amazing jazz musician, Sun Ra. The film was preceded by a short discussion involving Edson Burton, the curator of the Watershed events, and two guests from across the pond: Ytasha Womack and Floyd Webb. Sadly they were only able to attend by Skype, and the sound quality wasn’t always great, but I was very happy to get to hear Ytasha at last. I highly recommend her book, Afrofuturism, and am still distraught that it just missed out on being a finalist for Best Related Work this year. I know a lot less about Webb because he works mainly in film, but he certainly knew his black SF.

Sadly I had to leave to catch a train part way through the film. I also missed out on the dance party that was staged after the film by some of my colleagues from Ujima Radio. I’ll also miss out on Courttia Newland’s flash fiction workshop because I’ll be in Cheltenham tomorrow. However, I hope to be at BristolCon’s Fun Palace events on Sunday, and I see that there’s a film about George Clinton in the evening. Also, next Wednesday Edson will be in my studio to talk about Afrofuturism. I can guarantee that there will be plenty of that funky stuff.

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New Dimension 6

Issue 3 of Dimension 6, the Australia short fiction magazine, has just been published. It includes stories by Cat Sparks and Robert Hood, both of whom were on my post-Worldcon radio show.

You can download copies of issue #3 for free here.

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The Last Farewell

My Mum’s funeral takes place today. I won’t be there. There are many reasons for this, but prominent amongst them is who I am

While Mum was supportive of my transition, she was also careful who she told, because not everyone reacts well to such things. There may be people at the funeral who don’t know, and to whom my presence will come as a shock. There will also be people there who do know and are disturbed by me. The possibility of drama is non-zero, and I’d prefer to avoid that if I can.

I’m OK with this. For years I expected that I’d be told that I wasn’t welcome at the funeral, and I’ve had time to get used to the idea. The situation now is more difficult. There will be people who think I have a duty to attend, no matter what, as well as people who think I have a duty to stay away. I’ll upset someone either way, but at least by not being there I’ll avoid the possibility of having my day ruined.

This does not mean that I won’t be marking the day. I’m not entirely sure what the service will be like, but I’m posting a few things that are close to what will happen. Sorry about the ads., but that’s YouTube for you. I’ll be doing other things to remember Mum in due course.

If I can help somebody – Mahalia Jackson

When I am dead, my dearest – Christina Rossetti

We’ll keep a welcome – Sir Harry Secombe & Morriston Choir

Posted in Personal | 9 Comments

October is Science Fiction Month in Bristol

You should all know about BristolCon by now, but that’s only a small part of the SF-related action that is taking place in Bristol this month.

First up, this coming weekend, we have Bristol’s Fun Palaces event. This is a national project co-directed by Stella Duffy that aims to create a “laboratory of fun” in every town. The Bristol Fun Palace will be science fiction themed. Jo and the crew from BristolCon have been busily helping with the organization. Details of the Sunday events that they are involved with are available on the Bristolcon wesbite. On the Watershed website you can also find details of what is happening on Saturday. Assuming that I’m not totally exhausted after Cheltenham, I hope to be at some of the Sunday events.

If you clicked through to that Watershed link you will see that the place has been renamed Mothershed for the month. That, as you might guess, is because it is also home to an Afrofuturism season, curated by Edson Burton. That kicks off tomorrow with a film about Sun Ra. Apparently there will also be a short introduction beforehand that will feature a Skype appearance by Ytasha Womack. And afterwards the Mothershed will enter party mode courtesy of my colleagues at Ujima Radio. I’ll have Edson on my show next week to talk about some of the other events he has lined up, and about Afrofuturism in general.

I am so proud of Bristol.

Update: And there’s more! On Sunday October 12th, 1:00pm to 4:00pm, the M-Shed is hosting Supercomics Sunday, organized by the Bristol Festival of Literature. The guests are Laura Howell (Beano, Toxic), Tom Plant (Beano), Cavan Scott (Beano, Doctor Who), Rob Williams (2000 AD, Doctor Who, Marvel Comics), Huw Powell (Spacejackers). There will be a pirate workshop, and it is free to attend. Awesome! Details here.

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Some Kickstarter Recommendations

Because I’ve been distracted for the past few months I have not been keeping up to date with the various crowdfunding projects going on. I want to remedy that now. Here are three that I think are worth backing.

First up is Temporally Out Of Order, a themed anthology to be edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray. It is a launch project for a new publishing house, and they have a bunch of fine authors lined up to contribute, including Laura Anne Gilman and Seanan McGuire. I noticed it because one of the stretch goals will be to add a story by my good friend Juliet E. McKenna. She writes about the genesis of her story here. If you fancy the sound of the anthology, and in particular if you want Juliet’s story to be included, go here and back it.

Next we have my good friends at Clarkesworld who have an amazing project going to add stories translated from Chinese to the magazine. They’ve already hit their target for the Chinese stories, but their first stretch goal is to establish a fund to pay for stories translated from other languages. This is a fabulous project, so please do back it.

Finally, a project that I’ve known about for what seems like years, and which is finally happening. Sarah Savage, one of the stars of My Transsexual Summer, has written a book for kids called Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl? Fox & Lewis have done a great video for Sarah, so I’ll just leave it to her to explain what the book is all about. Have a listen, then go back it here, please.

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Julian Quaye Catalog

The AviatorThe artist Guest of Honor at BristolCon this year is Julian Quaye, who describes his work as “steampunk meets Beatrix Potter”, and which I have been known to describe as “steampunk furries”. I first encountered him when he had an exhibition at Harvey’s Cellars, and I’m delighted that the BristolCon folks chose him as a guest.

Hopefully many of you will be coming to BristolCon and will be able to see Julian’s work in person. However, for those of you in far flung places (and I’m thinking in particular of you, Otto & Paula), there is a way to see more of his work, and buy prints.

If you go here you will find a magazine on Issuu that contains many of Julian’s latest works, and a price list for prints (or originals if you can afford such things) at the back. This is all part of a story Julian is working on, featuring the many characters he has created. Hopefully he will tell us more about it at the con.

Posted in Art, Conventions | 1 Comment

Robots Rescued

You’ve probably already seen this on Twitter, but Angry Robot announced today that they have been bought out by an American entrepreneur (and science fiction fan) who is setting up a new publishing company. It all sounds very promising. Obviously I’m delighted that the likes of Kameron Hurley and Madeline Ashby will now get their contracts fulfilled, but also I have known Marc Gascoigne for longer than anyone in the business except Kim Newman, and I am very, very happy that he and his staff still have jobs.

Posted in Publishing | 1 Comment

Margaret Atwood in Bath

This evening I attended an event in Bath organized by Toppings. It was a reading by Margaret Atwood who is on tour promoting the paperback release of Madaddam and her new short story collection, The Stone Mattress.

Atwood began by reading from one of the stories in The Stone Mattress, which was hilarious. She said later on Twitter that she’d not read from that story before. If you go to one of her future events, ask her to read from it again.

The bits she read from Madaddam all involved Toby trying to communicate with the Crakers. Well, the Crakers might have rabbit genes, but I have cat genes and I’m always tempted to swat them about a bit. If the Crakers are the future of monkey-kind, I suspect I shall have no qualms about eating them.

Then again, they are very funny.

I had a brief chat with Atwood about the Cheltenham dystopias panel while I was getting my books signed. As it happens, she has an essay in In Other Worlds on the subject of utopian and dystopian fiction, which I had already read, so that’s her input to the panel sorted. (She is in Cheltenham on Saturday, but only very briefly for her own appearance.)

On learning that I blogged about books, Atwood recommend that I read Chuck Wendig (who of course I know of) and Titou Le Coq (who appears to blog only in French, but I can make an effort at understanding that).

If you happen to be reading this, Margaret, I recommend that you try Kameron Hurley, Aliette de Bodard, N.K. Jemisin and Madeline Ashby.

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Get Your Tentacles Ready, Ladies

She Walks in Shadows, the all-woman Lovecraft anthology that crowdfunded successfully earlier this year, will have an open submissions period in November. Story length is up to 4,000 words with a pay rate of 6 cents (CA$) a word. For further details, see here.

Given that I have what I think is a good idea for this book, I had better get on and write the story. (And yes, the submission guidelines do say that trans women are welcome.)

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Brighton*Transformed Published

One of the things I had to miss this week was the launch of Brighton*Transformed, the history of trans people in the city that was produced by many of the same people that are behind Trans Pride. The book is now available, and my copy is on order. Here’s some blurb:

Trans identities are often neglected, re-written or even erased from formal histories. Brighton Trans*formed features, in their own words, the rich variety of Trans lives in Brighton & Hove today; it preserves previously untold stories for future generations, and is a much-needed exploration into the diversity of gender expression within the city.

You can learn more about the book, and order it, here.

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New Gwyneth Jones Novel

How did I not know about this? Worse still, how has it been allowed to happen?

Anyway, Gwyneth Jones has a new novel out. It is book 6 in the Bold as Love series, and it is called The Grasshopper’s Child. It appears from the Amazon page that Gwyneth has self-published it, I’m guessing because no one would publish it for her. If so that’s a dreadful state of affairs.

Anyway, sometimes you have to buy things from the piranhas because that’s the only way you can get them. So I did. You should too.

And talking of buying things from the piranhas, Gail Simone’s run on Batgirl is currently on sale at Comixology. If you don’t have them already, go get them now while they are 99c an issue.

Posted in Books, Comics | 2 Comments

Me at Cheltenham

This year’s Cheltenham Festival of Literature begins on October 3rd, and I’m delighted to announce that I will be appearing there this year on Saturday 4th. No, it is nothing to do with Wizard’s Tower, and not directly to do with my story in The Girl at the End of the World. What I’m doing is chairing a science fiction panel discussion. Here’s the blurb:

Welcome to the world of the dystopia: of government and society gone nightmarishly wrong. From 1984 to The Handmaid’s Tale, this image has been a gripping cautionary force. Ken MacLeod (Descent), author Chris Priest (Adjacent) and Jane Rogers (The Testament of Jessie Lamb) join chair Cheryl Morgan to explore fiction’s greatest nightmare visions and their enduring appeal.

Needless to say, I am very much looking forward to this. I see that Margaret Atwood is doing an event earlier in the day and I hope she’ll pop along too. It would be great to have her in the audience. Francis Spufford may be around too, as he’s doing a panel on the future of Christianity. Sadly it is sold out already, because I would have liked to go to it.

If any of you happen to be in Cheltenham on that day, I’d love to see you there too.

Posted in Conventions, Where's Cheryl? | 1 Comment

Tricia Sullivan at BristolCon

For the benefit of those of you who do not keep an eye on the BristolCon website, I direct you to the fact that we’ll be doing it bit of local outreach this year. On the Friday evening before the convention we have a book launch taking place at Foyles. It is for Tricia Sullivan’s YA novel, Shadowboxer. Details here. If you are one of those people who comes to BristolCon on the Friday afternoon, or one of those people in Bristol who would not be seen dead at a science fiction convention, please do try to make it to Foyles. The event is free to attend, and you don’t need a BristolCon membership. Foyles is only around 10 minutes walk from the hotel.

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Today on Ujima – Ann Leckie, Art, Massage & Trauma

Well, that was… not up to my usual standard.

I’ve been getting very little sleep of late, and you need to have your wits about you to host a radio show. Even with the Ann Leckie interview being a pre-record, I managed to stuff up somewhat. I couldn’t even do basic arithmetic. Thankfully I have a bunch of great songs on hand for when I do mess up and need something to get me out of a jam. Also Valentin, my engineer, was heroic. Paulette and Frances provided valuable support, and our studio guests were wonderful.

Anyway, first up was my interview with Ann Leckie, recorded at Worldcon the day after she won the Hugo. Sadly it does not contain the conversation we had later about how to film Ancillary Justice and keep that sense of unease that the use of “she” creates in the reader. I do want to see that happen.

After Ann I talked to Suzie Rajah about Art on the Hill, one of the many fine local arts trails that happens each year in Bristol. Thankfully Suzie needed very little prompting from me.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

For the second hour Paulette joined me to interview two ladies: Nealey Conquest of Community Conscious, and Judy Ryde of Trauma Foundation South West. Nealey is a holistic massage practitioner, while Judy runs a charity that helps people who have suffered extreme trauma, such as refugees fleeing war zones.

You can listen to hour two here.

The playlist for today’s show was:

  • Just Like a Woman – Bob Dylan
  • Another Girl, Another Planet – The Only Ones
  • Electric Avenue – Eddy Grant
  • Running up That Hill – Kate Bush
  • Vincent – Don McLean
  • If I Can Help Somebody – Mahalia Jackson *
  • I Can make You Feel Good – Shalamar
  • Midas Touch – Midnight Star
  • Everybody Hurts – REM

* This is one of the songs that my mum asked to be played at her funeral. It was also a favorite of Dr. Martin Luther King. Mahalia Jackson is probably the finest gospel singer ever.

Posted in Art, Books, Current Affairs, Health, Radio | Leave a comment