Best Dressed at the Hugos

It is very difficult doing this when you are not actually at the ceremony, so huge thanks to Susan de Guardiola for taking pictures for me. All of the photos below are hers except where mentioned.

Even so I am missing things. In particular I wish I had a picture of the amazing makeup that Julia Rios was rocking. There were doubtless many spectacular outfits in the audience that I have missed.

Having said all that, this was a spectacular year. Having a master costumer as con chair doubtless helped a bit. Here’s Kevin Roche rocking an outfit previously worn by James Tiberius Kirk.

Johan Anglemark had a much more traditional male outfit, but if you look closely you’ll see that he’s wearing a Moomin tie to represent Swedish language fiction. (Photo by Fia Karlsson)

Zoe Quinn is always very elegant. Most photos don’t show shoes well, and I know there were some spectacular pairs around. At least we have Zoe’s. She has some great tatoos as well. (So does Sarah Gailey, but I don’t have a good photo.)

Sarah Felix proved the point that if you have some really great jewelry then you need something very plain to set it off.

One of the best ways to get noticed at an event is to wear a solid block of a bright color. The Queen is an expert at that technique. Seanan McGuire was the most noticeable in bright orange, but this photo of her with Kate Secor (green) and Sarah Kuhn (pink) gives us a lovely rainbow (albeit not in the right order).

Mosty these photos tend to be of women, but Dominic Rowney proves that men don’t have to be boring.

Ada Palmer always has wonderful historical outfits, but my eye here was drawn to Lauren Schiller. I love the dress, and I love the Ascot-style hat, but I’m not sure that they go together.

There being a lot of trans people around, we got a fair amount of messing with gender expectations. Non-binary people like JY Yang can wear whatever they like.

And here’s KM Szpara coming at it from the other direction. (Love that skirt!)

By far the most noticeable outfit of the night was that worn by Tehani Farr who I believe was at the convention as part of the Mexicanx Initiative. You couldn’t miss those horns.

The thing that got everyone talking was Nora Jemisin’s caponcho, which was entirely appropriate for the star of the show. (Photo by Tor-dot-Com)

But my personal favorite of the night was worn by SB Divya.

In addition to being a Hugo-finalist writer (in Novella last year) and a Hugo-finalist editor this year wth EscapePod, she also has degrees in Computational Neuroscience and Signal Processing. And she has great dress sense. I’m very impressed.

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Hugo Night

It has been a long night here in the UK. I went to bed at 9:00pm and had my alarm on for 3:00am so that I could help out with the Hugo Award ceremony coverage. I did manage to get a bit more sleep after it finished, but that’s not really a good way to run a night.

Thankfully the ceremony went off pretty much without a hitch. The only major problem that we have is that, shortly after the ceremony finished, the video coverage was blocked, allegedly because of a complaint by BBC Studios. I say “allegedly” because we source these clips from the companies that make the finalists and the chances of an actual human from the BBC doing something in the middle of the night (UK time) or late on Sunday (US time) are pretty low. I spoke to the BBC’s intellectual property department this morning and they confirmed that this was probably the result of a software system being run by YouTube. The BBC is a large company with offices on both sides of the Atlantic so it may take a little while to sort this out, but I expect the video to be available again soon.

As to the results, I was very happy. There are way too many of my friends on the ballot for me to be pleased about every winner, but the results were great. I have a few special shout outs to make.

Firstly huge congratulations to my friend Mur Lafferty. Some of you may remember that Mur used to be part of the ceremony coverage team. These days she has more important things to do. Mur works incredibly hard and I’m delighted to see her finally win a Hugo.

Secondly, as you probably know, I adore Murderbot. I first read Martha Wells with The Death of the Necromancer back in 1998 thanks to a recommendation by Roz Kaveney. I loved it. I also loved what she has done in creating a genuinely alien rae with the Raksura series. And I am delighted that she’s finally been a big hit with Murderbot. It just goes to show that careers can follow all sorts of trajectories.

Finally, of course, there’s The Big One. Hugo history was made this year.

Speaking personally, I can’t remember a better constructed trilogy. OK, maybe The Lord of the Rings, but not a lot else. Nora thoroughly deserves this. I’m also reminded that I’ve been hugely impressed with her since The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Scarily she keeps getting better.

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Fringe Tomorrow

The August BristolCon Fringe event will take place tomorrow evening. The readers are Ellen Crosháin and John Hawkes-Reed. As usual we will be in the Gryphon on Colston Street from 7:30pm. I will be hosting, though how awake I will be after having been up half the night helping with the Hugo Award ceremony coverage is another matter.

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Hugos Tonight

The 2018 Hugo Award winners will be announced tonight, California time, which means in the early hours of Monday morning for me. However, I will be up and online to help Kevin and Susan de Guardiola with the text-based coverage of the event. Full details of how to follow that are available here.

The convention has said that they will be providing live streaming of the ceremony. However, there is no link up as yet. Also, as we discovered in Helsinki, the tech can go wrong on the night. As and when I get details of where to watch I will let you know.

Update: Here’s the live video feed. I’m off to bed now. See you in a few hours.

Posted in Awards, Conventions, Science Fiction | 1 Comment

Yesterday at the Circus

I didn’t get around to posting about the WSFS Business Meeting last night because there was some absorbing cricket going on. Western Storm fell agonisingly short of topping the league, but they are through to Finals Day. I’ll be there to follow the action.

The other reason I wasn’t paying much attention is that, for the first time in ages, the meeting was mostly quiet and routine.

All of the motions passed on from Helsinki were ratified quickly. That includes the official naming of the YA Award as the Lodestar.

The one potentially contentious new motion — the one about remote participation in the Business meeting — was referred to a committee very quickly. The other motions up for consideration were mostly passed swiftly. The only significant debate was around the exact cut-off point for the runners-up list of people who got close to being Hugo finalists. That probably only happened because it was the last motion and the Business Meeting regulars were bored with the lack of action.

There is still a contentious motion to be discussed. It is the one about redefining the division between Professional and Fan in the Artist categories of the Hugos. This one has been postponed to today so as not to clash with a meeting of the Association of Science Fiction Artists.

Possibly the biggest news of the day was that the Business Meeting was not chaired by a man for the first time in 60 years. Tim Illingworth, who is the official Chair for this year, recused himself during the debate on the YA Award because he was on the committee that set up that award. His place was taken by his deputy, Jesi Lipp, who uses they/them pronouns. Jesi will also be the main Chair for next year’s Business Meeting in Dublin.

Site Selection voting has concluded and, while the results are not official until ratified by today’s Business Meeting, there is very little doubt as both elections are uncontested. Congratulations are therefore in order for Layton, Utah, which will host next year’s NASFiC, and to Wellington, New Zealand, which will host the 2020 Worldcon.

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The Green Man’s Heir at #Worldcon76

Hello Worldcon 76! If you would like a paper copy of The Green Man’s Heir, you can find it at the Cargo Cult table, or at the Larry Smith Books table, both in the Dealers’ Room.

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Chengdu in 2023

Here’s an exciting piece of news from Worldcon. A group of Chinese fans are bidding for what would be the first ever Chinese Worldcon. They are currently aiming for 2023 which, according to the Worldcon bids list, already has bids for Nice (France) and New Orleans (USA). Neither of those have been hugely active, whereas Chinese fandom has been working very hard to be visible at Worldcons.

Chengdu has already been the site of four international conventions, and next year will host the first ever AsiaCon. Those people who have been to Chengdu conventions have spoken highly of them, though of course running a Worldcon is another matter entirely because of the weight of expectations.

File 770 has more on the Chengdu bid here, and Samovar has a report on the 2017 Chengdu convention here.

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The Circus is Back in Town

Worldcon is happening in San José, and that means that the WSFS Business Meeting is back in session. The admirable Alex Acks has been reporting as usual. Here’s what went down during the Preliminary Meeting.

Understanding all of that probably needs reference to the Agenda, but for those of you whose eyes glazed over after the first paragraph or two I will attempt to summarise the key points.

Consitutional Amendments can’t be debated during the Prelminary Meeting, but changes to the Standing Rules can. This year there was particular concern that people needed to be given more notice about issues likely to be brought up. Also the Business Meeting staff need more time to get the increasingly full agenda written up and printed.

Consequently motions A1 and A2 were passed. A1 requires amendments to Constitutional Amendments to be submitted in advance, while A2 makes the deadline for submitting business 30 days rather than 14. Both of these rules can be suspended in the case of an emergency.

The rest of the meeting was devoted to setting time limits for debate tomorrow, but the Preliminary Meeting can also kill off motions entirely, which is why it is important to be there.

Motion D3, which is all about providing guidance to Hugo Administrators as to how they count nominations in Graphic Story, was “Postponed Indefinitely”, which essentially means it was killed off. There is a problem as to how nominations for comics are counted, in that some people may nominate an individual issue, whereas others may nominate the entire series. However, it was the sense of the Meeting that the proposals to fix this were poorly thought-out and should not be debated this year.

A similar fate befell motion D4 which was about redefining the Fancast category in the Hugos. This was expected, because the people who propsed the motion clearly had no idea how the word “podcast” is commonly understood.

I don’t think that many people will be upset at these two motions not being considered.

That does still leave several Constitutional Amendments to be debated tomorrow. The most interesting is D1, which opens the door to remote participation in the Business Meeting. It does not require it, but it does remove language which would prohibit it. If it can be made to work, this would be a very interesting innovation.

Motion D2 is an uncontentious fix proposed by the ever-watchful Nit-Picking & Fly-Specking Committee, whose job it is to clean up any typoes and bugs that creep into the Constitution.

D5 is all about redefining the distinction between Professional and Fan Artists. That may get contentious, but there are no easy answers here.

D6 is to change the Graphic Story Hugo category to “Graphic Story or Comic”, because apparently some people think that comics are not graphic stories.

D7 fixes an issue with the number of people listed in the runners-up listings for the Hugos. A side effect of the new counting system brought in to foil the Puppies was to reduce the number of people listed. This motion would fix that.

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Yesterday on Ujima – Films, Muslim Women & Hugos

I ended up doing a bonus show yesterday. As I had to go into Bristol for the TV appearance, and I have nothing else urgent on that day, I figured I might as well spend some time in the studio. That meant putting together a show at short notice.

The easiest way to do that is with phone interviews, though it does mean using Skype which can mean very variable quality. I badly need an alternative means of doing phone interviews, especially as the latest versions of Skype actively prevent the use of third party call recorders. (Why anyone would produce a digital phone system and now allow call recording is a mystery to me.)

Anyway, there were people I could interview. In the first hour I talked to Jake Smith of Tusko Films. Jake was the directory for Talking LGBT+ Bristol, the film about the city’s LGBT+ community that we made for Bristol Pride. I figured that if Jake and I were going to be on TV for 3 minutes in the evening, we should have a longer chat about the film as well.

I also recorded an interview with Rivers Solomon because there has been some really exciting news about their next novel project. Getting to write a novel with clipping has to be a dream come true.

The Listen Again system appears to have been fixed, so you can listen to the first hour of the show here.

I did manage to arrange one live interview. On Tuesday there was a flash mob demonstration in the city protesting Boris Johnson’s appalling comments about Muslim women. I was very pleased to have Sahar from Muslim Engagement & Development (MEND) to explain about the different types of headgear that Muslim women wear, and why they wear them. She was joined in the studio by Lisa from Stand Up to Racism.

I had half an hour to fill so I rambled on a bit about the women’s cricket, and about this year’s Hugo finalists. You can listen to the second half of the show here.

While the show is available on Listen Again I won’t put it up on the podcast. But once it has fallen off those interviews will appear there (and in the case of Rivers on Salon Futura). I will try to get an old interview or two up on the podcast in the meantime. And if anyone would like to become a patron of the podcast I would be very grateful. We only need 8 more people at $1/month to cover costs.

If you would like to know more about the Jimi Hendrix album that I was playing tracks from, you can find some details here.

The full playlist for yesterday’s show is as follows:

  • Jimi Hendrix – Jungle
  • Jimi Hendrix – Woodstock
  • clipping – The Deep
  • Bootsy Collins – May the Force be With You
  • Bob Marley – Get Up, Stand Up
  • Santana – Riders on the Storm
  • Janelle Monae – Sally Ride
  • Jimi Hendrix – Georgia Blues
Posted in Awards, Books, Conventions, Cricket, Current Affairs, Gender, Movies, Music, Radio, Science Fiction | Leave a comment

Catch Me On The Beeb

It is always an honour to be asked to represent the trans community on TV. This time, it was an appearance on Points West to discuss the making of the Talking LGBT+ Bristol film. I was on with Jake Smith of Tusko Films, and Daryn Carter of Bristol Pride. We got interviewed by Alex Lovell, which would have made my mum very happy had she been alive to see it.

Normally I am very critical of my TV appearances. This one wasn’t too bad, though of course I badly need to lose weight if I am going to be on TV a lot. At least I managed to smile a few times. And I said sensible things, I think.

If you have access to iPlayer, the programme will be available until 7:00pm tomorrow at this link. They delete shows very quickly because it is a daily programme. I’m on about 17 minutes in, after the story about fertilizer (Somerset, don’t you love it?).

I love the background that the Points West team made for the interview.

To watch the whole of the Talking LGBT+ Bristol film, go to Bristol 24/7.

My thanks once again to Bristol 24/7 for commissioning the project, to the Heritage Lottery Fund for their support, and the Tusko Films for doing such a great job on the production.

Posted in Current Affairs, Feminism, TV | Leave a comment

A Quick Note on Facebook

As of the start of August, Farcebook has no longer ben accepting cross-posting from third party applications such as WordPress and Twitter. Consequently none of the posts I write here will turn up in my Farcebook feed. I am totally cool about this. The only reason that I am still on Farcebook is because so many organisations I work with use it as their primary form of communication. If you don’t like Twitter, there is always Tumblr, though I never log in there so I have no idea if there is any interaction. Being an old fogey, I still use RSS feeds to keep up with a lot of things.

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After the Flood

Following yesterday’s excitment, things are returning slowly to normal here at Wizard’s Tower. The Green Man’s Heir is no longer on sales at 99p, and is no longer receiving special promotion from Amazon. However, the effects of that promotion linger on. As I type this, the book is still ranked #6 in all fiction sales on Amazon UK, and is still #1 in science fiction and fantasy. That is still leading to a pleasing level of sales, though obviously nowhere near yesterday’s flood.

As a publisher, what interests me is the long-term effect of all this. How long will the sales rank stay high enough to keep the book easily visible on the Amazon website? How many of yesterday’s thousands of purchases will result in reviews, or returns? What will the effect be on the sale of Juliet’s other books? Only time will tell, but I will be keeping an eye on the data. Other small press owners may well be interested.

In the meantime I’m just going to keep staring at that screenshot at the top of this post. There are no Hugos for Best Publisher, but I’ll happily take that instead.

Posted in Books, Publishing, Wizard's Tower | Leave a comment

Best Seller!

Much to the delight of Juliet and myself, The Green Man’s Heir has been selling very steadily ever since it was published. A couple of years back Kameron Hurley got a lot of notice for this blog post in which she explained that the average book sells 3000 copies in its lifetime. Given that Wizard’s Tower is a very small press, I’m not surprised that nothing we had published to date had reached that milestone. (Although of course we major in reprints and many of the books we published did sell that well in previous incarnations.)

The Green Man’s Heir was different. It was a brand new novel, something we had never done before, but from our best-selling writer, Juliet E. McKenna. I hoped it would do well, but didn’t have huge expectations. I was really pleased by how well it was selling. What I didn’t expect was what that would lead to.

Someone at Amazon clearly noticed that the book was doing very well, and that it was getting stellar reviews. They offered us the opportunity to be part of a promotion, though without giving much detail. I asked Juliet and she said yes, so we signed up and a week or so later we got an email saying that the book would be a “Daily Deal” at £0.99 on August 13th. Just the UK, one day only. Does that make a difference?

You bet it does. To start with there’s this, which I shall be proud of for the rest of my publishing career:

#1 in Fantasy

That, of course, is a result of numbers. Looking at the sales numbers, I am now confident the The Green Man’s Heir will sell 3000 copies today.

No, not that it will pass 3000 copies lifetime, it will sell over 3000 copies today, which will mean it is heading for 5000 copies lifetime.

The really interesting thing about this, however, is that the vast majority of the sales, both prior to today and during today, have been in the UK. US sales haven’t really taken off. The Daily Deal promotion is UK-only, but Amazon US have chosen to put the book on sale. Kevin reports that it is $4.16, down from a list price of $5.99. So why not get in on the act, America? Find out what thousands of British readers have been getting excited about.

UK readers, if you don’t have your copy yet, you can get it here.

US readers, the link for you is here.

Paper copies are available from both stores. If you are going to be at Worldcon you will be able to find the book in the Dealers’ Room on the Cargo Cult table.

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

Women’s Outlook Has a Podcast

With the Listen Again system having problems, I needed to find a new way to share the Women’s Outlook show with you. Fortunately there was a recording of the August 1st show, so I asked the station managemnt for permission to create a podcast feed and post parts of the show there. The downside of this is that I have to edit out the music and ads. The upside is that the material will stay there for as long as we pay to host the site. Management said go for it (thanks Miranda!), so we now have a podcast!

Podcast hosting is relatively inexpensive these days, but it still costs so I have added a patronage system to the site. Right now all I’m hoping to do is to get 9 people to pay $1/month because that covers the hosting costs. If we get more support we’ll have to think about what we might offer as rewards. Let me know if you have any ideas.

Right now all that I have up are the four interviews from August 1st. Yaz says they want to put some of their material up too, in in weeks where we don’t have a show I’ll start running the occasional interview from the archives. There’s some great stuff in my old shows.

Of course we have to have a Twitter feed to go with all this. I haven’t done a Facebook page yet, but will do so if there is sufficient demand.

While you can listen to the interviews I have put up by going to the podcast site (or by downloading the Podbean app to your phone or tablet), I can also embed the material here, so here goes.

First up we had Nik Jovčić-Sas playing his violin live in the studio, and talking about his LGBT+ activism. There were a few issues with sound balance along the way. It turns out it is very hard to balance sound between a backing track and the live mic when the live instrument is in the studio. I learn something about the technology each time we try something like this. Apologies to Nik for this, but I think we captured enough of his playing for you to hear how good he is.

My second guest was Helen, a newly qualfied recruit from Avon Fire & Rescue. She’s amazing: a single mother raising two daughters who has been an Olympic weight lifter and is now a firefighter. I think there’s a role for her in the next Wonder Woman movie.

Next up Molly and Helen from Women’s Adventure Expo encouraged us to get out of our comfort zines and have an adventure. I think I am a bit old for skiing to the North Pole, but I still love traveling and am looking forward to visiting Austria in December for the Worlding SF conference.

Finally the lovely Sharifa Whitney James from Bristol Ageing Better came to tell me what she’ll be doing to improve the lives of older LGBT+ folks in Bristol.

The playlist for the show, excluding Nik’s contributions which I didn’t need to edit out, was as follows:

  • Pointer Sisters – Fire
  • Fontella Bass – Rescue Me
  • Bat for Lashes – Travelling Woman
  • Minnie Ripperton – Adventures in Paradise
  • Blondie – Die Young, Stay Pretty
  • Little Feat – Old folks boogie
Posted in Feminism, Music, Radio, Travel | Leave a comment

Heather Child Interview

The interview that I did with Heather Child back in July is no longer available on the Ujima Listen Again system, so I have posted it to Salon Futura. In it Heather and I talk about her debut novel, Everything About You. This is a near-future science fiction novel which looks at what might happen if smart digital assistants know so much about you that they know you better than you do yourself. Have a listen.

Posted in Books, Podcasts, Radio, Science Fiction | Leave a comment

The Worldcon Runners’ Guide

The agenda for this year’s World Science Fiction Society Business Meeting was released last night. I’ll have more to say about this year’s business in due course, but I was surprised to see that I got a name check. Don’t worry, I don’t think I have done anything awful. I just happen to be one of the people responsible for updating the WSFS wesbites, and I got named in connection with a particular update that has just been made (because I did it).

The job in question was to upload a copy of the current version of the Worldcon Runners’ Guide.

“The what?” I hear you ask. After all, following the recent meltdown over programming at Worldcon 76, lots of people were asking on Twitter why there is no means of passing wisdom on from one Worldcon to the next. Well of course there is. It is just that people tend not to take any notice of it, or in some cases deliberately ignore it. But the Guide is also badly out of date, and work is in progress to update it.

As I understand that problem (and I haven’t been involved in the responsible committee so I may be wrong here), what happened in this. Back in the days when the Internet was a new and shiny thing, people came up with the bright idea of putting the Guide online as a wiki. However, they soon discovered that there was far more work involved in protecting it from spammers and trolls than might have been saved by having it editable online. So a bunch of people are in the process of editing it back down to an offline document, and hopefully updating it to include things like sections on diverse programming, use of the Grenadine programming software, and social media management.

In the meantime, a version of the existing material has been posted on the WSFS website. You can find it here. Please note that it has a bunch of formatting issues, and as I said it is out of date. If you want to be helpful, I’m sure that the people responsible for creating the new version would prefer you to wait until they have finished tidying it up before commenting. On the other hand, if you would like to offer your expertise and be part of the editing committee, they would probably be delighted to hear from you.

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The New Queen of Cricket

During the recently concluded and absolutely enthralling test match between England and India, there was much talk of how Virat Kohli has inherited Sachin Tendulkar’s mantle as the best cricketer in the world. But it isn’t just men’s cricket in which India is producing star performers. The Western Storm’s latest recruit is India’s Smriti Mandhana. She’s played five games thus far, and this is her record:

  • v Yorkshire Diamonds – 48 off 20 balls
  • v Surrey Stars – 37 off 21 balls
  • v Loughborough Lightning – 52 not out off 19 balls
  • v Southern Vipers – 43 not out off 27 balls
  • v Lancashire Thunder 102 off 61 balls

That’s an average of 94 runs per completed innings, and a strike rate of 190.54 — almost 2 runs per ball. Along the way she has hit 29 fours and 16 sixes.

That’s stunning. All I can say is that I hope that run of form continues all the way through to Finals Day.

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Dublin Wants YOU!

I have email from the programming team of the Dublin Worldcon. Due to restrictions caused by the GDPR legislation, they can’t get lists of programme particiants from other conventions and reach out to them. They have to wait for people to come to them. Therefore they are reaching out to the SF&F community and encouraging people to apply to be on programme.

You don’t have to be a published author to be on programme. And you defnitely don’t have to be an old, white man. If you think you have something interesting to say, please put your name forward.

You can find the application form here. And there is a Q&A about the process here.

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Today on Ujima – Slightly Delayed

Today’s show on Ujima was a bit frantic as we were doing some adventurous tech things. We had Nik Jovčić-Sas playing violin live in the studio, and an amazing lady firefighter on the phone. We then went on to talk about women having adventures, and about support for elderly LGBT+ people in Bristol.

This is obviously the point at which I would point you at the Listen Again pages, but something seems to be going badly wrong with the tech. It isn’t just my show that’s affected. However, my colleagues at the station are aware of the issue had have been making backup recordings.

So, I have a copy of the show, but it isn’t hosted at Ujima. That means I’m going to have to upload it to a podcast feed before you can listen to it. And before I can do that I will have to edit out the music that is under copyright.

Hopefully I will get that done at the weekend, if not before. Please bear with me.

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Lobsters for Emojis

When I was at Trans Pride in Brighton I was rather confused by some people in the parade apparently dressed as lobsters, and carrying plastic lobsters, and flags with lobsters on them. I mean, I’m very fond of lobsters, but why at Trans Pride?

Being a good investgative jouralist, I looked for them in Brunswick Gardens and, having found their stall, asked them what this was all about. It turns out that it is all the fault of Google, Apple and Facebook. Bear with me.

Of course most things bad in the world are the fault of Facebook these days, but lobsters are not bad, and why Apple and Google as well? Well, because they are all voting members of an IT industry body called Unicode which is responsible, among other things, for regulating emojis.

You may have noticed that there are a lot of flags missing from the set of emojis available on your phone or tablet. There is no Welsh flag, for example. Almost as importantly for me, there is no trans flag. That would be very useful. Apparently it is one of the most commonly requested new emojis. But Unicode says there is no need for one.

And yet, when a small group of people petitioned Unicode for a lobster emoji, apparently on the grounds that having to use a shrimp or a crab would be confusing, this was quickly granted.

As a result, the lobster has become a symbol for the campaign for a trans flag emoji. And this, as the petition points out, is rather apt, because lobsters are one of the select group of creatures that can become gynandromorphs. That is, you can find lobsters that are male on one side of their body and female on the other side. Biology is way more complicated than the average anti-trans activist would like to admit.

So if you see me using a lobster emoji on Twitter in future, you will know what it means.

Posted in Computers, Gender, Nature | 2 Comments