Airship II – Table of Contents

Yes folks, the Little Airship that Could is back for a second helping. Airship Shape and Bristol-Fashion is still selling steadily, five years after publication. So it is about time for Airship Shape and Bristol Fashion II : Planes, Trains and Automatons.

Once again the book is being edited by Joanne Hall and Roz Clarke. Today Jo posted the table of contents to her blog. The over reveal will be coming fairly soon, and we are expecting a launch at BristolCon.

The sharp-eyed will notice that I have a story in the book. I put some trains in for Kevin. There’s also something else… Kaiju!

I’m looking forward to you folks being able to read it.

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

Juliet on the Road

Today on her blog Juliet E. McKenna has announced several public appearances. The first is at The English Bookshop in Uppsala, Sweden on Saturday 14th September. She will be appearing alongside Steven Savile, Stephen Gallagher and R J Barker. It is quite a novelty for me to be asked to send books to Sweden for an author event. So if you happen to be in striking reach of Uppsala, do pop along and buy some. (Not that I’ll be asking Juliet to bring them back. Any leftovers will be going to Swecon, Åcon and Finncon next year.)

The next event in her diary is BristolCon Fringe on Monday September 16th, where she will be reading alongside Rosie Oliver. I will be on hand with books. So listen up:

If you want a hardcover copy of The Green Man’s Foe (or indeed The Green Man’s Heir) then please let me know, because I’m only planning to bring paperbacks.

After that Juliet and I will be at FantasyCon and BristolCon. I will have a dealer table at both events and will therefore have a bigger selection of books.

Also at BristolCon I expect to have something else, but that’s a subject for a whole new post…

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

Today on Ujima – LGBT+ History, Worldcon & Women’s Cricket

I was back in the Ujima studio today, and my first guest was friend and colleague, Dr. Jamie Lawson of the University of Bristol. Jamie has written a children’s book on LGBT+ history called Rainbow Revolutions. It is published tomorrow, and I’m very impressed with it. We had a great conversation about the use of the word “queer”, Section 28 and why people are worried it might come back, Ball Culture and the success of Pose, and so on.

Next up I dragged in Harriet Aston who roomed with me at Worldcon. It was her first big convention and understandably she was a bit overwhelmed, which makes her an ideal person to represent that first Worldcon experience. I was impressed that Harriet felt that she was swimming rather than drowning by day 4.

The rest of the show was devoted to women’s cricket and the triumph of Western Storm in the final year of the Kia Super League. I played my interview with Raf Nicholson, and passed on the latest news about the women’s part in the stupid new “The Hundred” series. It is possible that a new Western Storm might rise from the ashes of the KSL after all.

You can catch up on the show via the Listen Again service here.

The playlist for today’s show was as follows:

  • Gil Scott Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
  • Grace Jones – This Is
  • Thin Lizzy – The Boys Are Back In Town
  • Earth, Wind & Fire – September
  • Bob Dylan – Shelter from the Storm
  • Billie Holiday – Stormy Weather
  • The Impressions – We’re A Winner
  • Jim Steinman – The Storm

My next show will be on October 2nd and will feature an interview with Ellen Datlow that I recorded while we were in Ireland.

Posted in Art, Books, Conventions, Cricket, Feminism, Gender, History, Radio, Science Fiction | Leave a comment

News From Juliet

For the past year or so I have been party to a small publishing secret. Juliet McKenna has a secret identity as JM Alvey, a mild mannered writer of crime novels set in ancient Greece.

It’s not a very serious secret. Anyone who has turned up to an Alvey signing will have spotted who is writing the books, and if you checked out where Alvey’s website is hosted you might put two and two together. But in the wild and whacky world of publishing such subtefuge is often necessary to persuade bookstores to stock volumes by an author whose recent sales have been less that stellar.

Anyway, for a variety of reasons that Juliet doesn’t want to dwell upon, Mx Alvey’s career seems to have come to a premature end. Consequently she’s free to write about it, and if today’s social media is anything to go by that’s lead to an immediate increase in interest in the books. I know that Juliet has many fans out there, including some who would pay good money for a shopping list if she’d written it. I’m happy to add to getting the world out now that I can.

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Champions!

As trailed last week, I spent the weekend in Brighton watching the Finals Day of the Kia Super League. The weather was fine, the cricket was exciting, and best of all, WE WON!

Again.

Western Storm are now the only team to have won the KLS title twice. And because the league is being discontinued, we get to keep the trophy forever.

There will be much more coverage of the event in my radio show on Wednesday. It will include some good news about the future of women’s cricket in the West Country. I promise not to play The Wurzels, even though “Combine Harvester” is the official team song. But I might have a few storm-related songs.

Posted in Cricket, Radio | Leave a comment

Farewell, KSL

This weekend I am off down to Brighton for the Finals of the Kia Super League, the UK’s premier competition in women’s cricket. The KSL has been hugely successful in the 4 years that it has run, but this will be the final year of the competition. This is an act of wanton vandalism by the England & Wales Cricket Board.

Let me explain. Back in 2003 the ECB invented T20 cricket, a form of the game that was fast, exciting, and about the same length, time-wise, as the average baseball game. They did not take it very seriously, and promoted it badly. Then, in 2008, India created the Indian Premier League. They poured money into it, they encouraged the best players in the world to take part, they promoted it brilliantly, and it very quickly became the premier competition in world cricket.

The ECB reacted badly to this. The IPL season, while fairly short, does overlap with the start of the English domestic season, which is very long as it includes a contest for 4-day games. They didn’t like English players going out to India to play. But it soon became obvious that if you wanted to be a top-class T20 player you had to go to the IPL and compete against the best in the world.

Having lost that fight, the ECB are trying a new tactic. They have invented a radically new form of cricket called The Hundred. It is slightly shorter than T20, and has some very different rules including overs that are 10 balls long rather than 6. There is no economic justification for this. It exists solely to try to create a new form of cricket in which England would be the home of the premier tournament rather than India (even if that’s because no one else in the world plays it).

One of the problems of having multiple different formats of a sport is that players need to be able to function easily within that format. Think of tennis, for example, where some players are specalists at singles and others specialists at doubles. In rugby some players are specialists in the 15-a-side games, and others are specalists in Sevens. In cricket we have seen even the best players having difficulty adjusting their game when moving from the very fast-paced T20 to the longer formats, especially 5-day test matches. Other countries are unlikley to adopt the Hundred format because they want their players to be good in the formats that are used for international games. Meanwhile English players will be acquiring skills in a format that is not used outside England.

The men will at least still play T20. But that means that the already overcrowded English season becomes even more crowded. There will be 4 major tournaments rather than 3.

But for the women the only major tournament is the KSL. That will be discontinued, and England’s top women will only play a format of the game that is played nowhere else in the world.

Futhermore, The Hundred will be played by only 8 teams. That in itself is not a problem. One of the reasons why the English T20 tournament hasn’t been a success is that having all 18 English counties contest it makes for a very long season. The KSL only has 6 teams. But the choice of teams is important. London has been given 2 teams, and one of the knock-on effects of that is that there is no team in the South-West. There’s nothing in Somerset; nothing in Bristol. And most importantly the most successful team in the KSL, Western Storm, will be destroyed.

I’m kind of used to stupid decisions being made by the old men who run sporting bodies, but this is extraordinary. Words fail me.

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Salon Futura Returns

I promised after Worldcon that I would do my bit to revive interest in the Fanzine category of the Hugos by actually publishing a fanzine. Technically, of course, this blog is eligble as a fanzine, but it doesn’t look like one so people tend to forget. Also I haven’t made a big fuss about wanting nominations. But now I am moving all of the SF&F content over to Salon Futura, where it will look like a fanzine. I’ll be interested to see what effect that has.

For the current issue I haven’t had a lot of time, but I’ve moved over all of the book reviews and audio that I did in August, plus I have added a Worldcon report and an editorial. That will give you a good idea of what future issues will look like. Future issues will follow a similar pattern, but with all new material.

Oh, and I also plan to move a whole lot of existing reviews and audio to that site, and make the material more easily indexable.

If there is anything else you wanted to know, it is probably in the Editorial, so why not pop over and take a look at Salon Futura #10.

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Reflections on Belfast

I have been to Belfast three times this year, most recently for TitanCon. Each time I have been I have seen more evidence of increasing sectarian activity.

The hotels that Kevin and I stayed in were right in the city center close to the Europa. They were also just a short walk away from a notoriously Protestant area which was festooned with flags. The Union Jacks and Ulster flags are expected. The flags of the British Parachute Regiment are a particular political protest related to a criminal trial of a soldier. The Donald Trump MAGA flag was a reminder that nothing in this world happens in isolation any more.

Back in the days of the Troubles, the American-Irish community was known to have raised funds for the IRA. Now it seems like we have Americans providing funds for the other side of the dispute as well.

Belfast is a lovely city that has blossomed since the Good Friday Agreement. It would be a tragedy to see it collapse into sectarian warfare again. Unfortuantely that seems to be what some people, including some people in the current UK Cabinet, are hell-bent on making happen.

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The ESFS Awards

The annual European Science Fiction Society Awards were presented as part of the closing ceremony of TitanCon yesterday. Congratulations are due to Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf for getting through the entire suite of awards in under 20 minutes, and to Peadar O’Guilin who shouldered most of the burden of hosting the event as Pat Cadigan has Con Crud.

The full list of award winners, as per Awards Administrator Carol Connolly, is as follows:

European Grand Master : Ian McDonald (United Kingdom)

HALL OF FAME
Best Author : Charles Stross (United Kingdom)
Best Artist Nicolas FRUCTUS (France)
Best Magazine : WINDUMANOTH (Spain)
Best Publisher : Future Fiction (Italy)
Best Promoter : Petra Bulić (Croatia)
Best Translator : Mihai-Dan Pavelescu (Romania)

The ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS:
Best Work of Fiction : The Spire Trilogy, by Laurent GENEFORT (France)
Best Work of Art : Daniel Egneus’ Cover for Neil Gaiman (Sweden)
Best Fanzine : Find a Lumberjack/НайдиЛесоруба (Russia)
Best Internet Publication, other than a fanzine : ORIGEN CUÁNTICO (Spain)
Best Dramatic Presentation : Game of Thrones (Croatia, Iceland, Malta, Spain, United Kingdom)
Best Work For Children : Begone the Raggedy Witches by Celine Kiernan (Ireland)

The CHRYSALIS AWARDS
Croatia : Dalen Belić
France : Floriane SOULAS
Ireland : Sarah Davis Goff
Italy : Franci Conforti
Russia : Andrey Kokoulin / Андрей Кокоулин
Spain : MAR GOIZUETA
Sweden : Gunilla Jonsson and Michael Petersén
Ukraine : Svitlana Taratorina

And the official website is here.

Obviously I am absolutely delighted for Ian and Charlie, both of whom I know well I am equally delighted for Petra Bulić and Francesco Verso. Petra has been busy in Croatian fandom, and internationally, as long as I can remember. Some of you may remember her from the Zagreb in 1999 Worldcon bid. Francesco is the person behind Future Fiction. As well as being a tireless champion of fiction in translation, he is also enormously kind. He helped out both Alisa Krasnostein and I by giving Twelfth Planet and Wizard’s Tower space on his table at Eurocon and Worldcon respectively.

The illustration above is one of the covers that Daniel Egneus did for Neil Gaiman. George presumably has rather a lot of awards for A Game of Thrones, but it is nice to be able to give out an ESFS Award that is the work of multiple European countries.

The Chrysalis Awards are encouragement awards for fans just starting out on their careers. I hope to hear a lot more from them in future.

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TitanCon – Day 3

It has been another quiet and relxing day at Eurocon. Francesco and I sold some more books. I did the panel on The Matrix. Kevin and I did our Kaffelklatsch, to which only 2 people turned up. There were closing ceremonies.

Some lovely people won awards, but I’ll save it until tomorrow to write about that because it is late.

Next year’s Eurocon will be in Rijeka, Croatia. It will be in early October. The only announced Guest of Honour thus far is Adrian Tchaikovsky. They will also have a Ghost of Honour, Robert Whitehead, who invented the torpedo.

Site selection for 2021 was won by Fiuggi in Italy. The bid for Romania was withdrawn at the last minute, apparently due to a dispute having broken out between some of the organisers. Fiuggi has a whole bunch of announced guests, including Ian McDonald, Lavie Tidhar and Rachel Cordasco. As Francesco is involved in the organisation, I expect there to be a heavy emphasis on translation.

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TitanCon – Day 2

I spent much of today behind Francesco Verso’s dealer table. I’m pleased to see we are selling books. They are not moving in huge quantities, despite us being the only new book dealer at the convention. That’s partly because we have a really awful location, but mainly I think because a lot of the people at TitanCon were also in Dublin and have no room left in their luggage. Certainly that’s what several people told me today.

I did an interview with Ellen Datlow, which will appear on the radio show and Salon Futura in due course.

I also did my one panel for the day. This was on Writing Vulnerable Men. I was moderating, so I didn’t have a huge amount of input, but I hope we managed to establish the idea that, while men are often written as vulnerable in various ways, this is usually done along gender-stereotyped lines; they are not generally portrayed as vulnerable in the same way that women are portrayed as vulnerable.

Things got a little tetchy between the two panelists at one point and I elected not to take sides despite having firm opinions on the issue. At the time it was better to acknowledge a difference of opinion and move on. What I will say here is that it is never “unrealistic” to write about certain types of people if people of that type exist in the real world. It doesn’t matter if they are a small minority, they are still real.

This evening I attended a launch event for Distaff, an anthology of science fiction by women authors, including BristolCon’s Rosie Oliver. I’m always happy to support women’s writing, particularly in a field where the prejudices of the publishing industry can make it hard for them to thrive.

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TitanCon – Day 1

In theory TitanCon is a 4-day convention. It started today and contines through to Sunday evening. However, the programming on Sunday consists entirely of a coach trip to Game of Thrones filming locations followed by a mediaeval banquet. Practically speaking, therefore, at least from my point of view, it is a 3-day convention followed by going out to dinner with a large group of friends.

Today was all about getting settled in. I did have one panel on small presses, but there was also getting registered and getting set up in the Dealers’ Room. My own books might be sold out, but I have a small number of Twelfth Planet books that I offered to take from Dublin to Belfast, and that I need to sell so that I don’t have to take them home and then to Glasgow for FantasyCon. Franceso Verso is once again giving me space on his table, and here we have more time to chat.

A lot of people have come from Dublin to Belfast, including a significant number of Americans. Goodness only knows what Ben Yalow will make of the ESFS Business Meeting. I’m kind of sad that he won’t get to experience Dave Lally chairing it.

Because I talk a lot about translations on panels, people occasionally give me books. Today I was given a copy of East of a Known Galaxy, an anthology of Romanian science fiction translated into English. My thanks are due to Darius Hupov who is the host of The Galactic Imaginarium, a science fiction podcast based in Romania.

Eurocon is very much a multi-cultural experience. Also today I got to chat with a French fan about translations from French to English, and to a couple of Estonian fans about my visit to their country this summer. I shared a dealer table with an Italian, and was on a panel with a publisher from Portugal. That sort of thing ought to happen at Worldcon, but it doesn’t. Eurocon is where that sort of inter-cultural mixing is commonplace.

Posted in Books, Conventions, Podcasts | 2 Comments

Off With Their Heads!

Tyrion

On Tuesday I found time to visit the Game of Thrones exhibition here in Belfast. If you are into costuming it is well worth it as they have costumes from most of the leading characters in the series.

However, because making waxwork busts of all the actors would have quite expensive, the costumes are all shown on headless dummies. It seemed to me very appropriate for the show that all of the characters had their heads chopped off.

There are several photo opportunities for visitors too. You can have yourself green-screened onto riding or petting a dragon. You can sit on the Iron Throne. And for all of Team Arya, you can have your photo taken wielding Needle.

Here’s a few photos.

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Whither Fanzine?

This year’s Hugo Administrator, Nicholas Whyte, has written a lengthy blog post looking at some of the interesting features of this year’s voting. The thing that sticks out to me most obviously from the post is his comments on the Fanzine category.

The lack of enthusiasm for Best Fanzine is notable. We were surprisingly close to not giving a Best Fanzine award in both 2019 Hugos and 1944 Retro Hugos this year. The total first preference votes for Best Fanzine finalists other than No Award in both cases was 26.9% of the total number of votes cast overall (833/3097 and 224/834).

The threshold is 25%, so with 59 fewer votes for 2019 or 16 fewer votes for 1944 we would have had to No Award the category. Best Fanzine was also the category with the best percentage for No Award in the final runoff for both 2019 and 1944. (84.4% in 2019, 81.7% in 1944.)

On Twitter Aidan Moher has been calling for more appreciation for video fanzines. (Booktube appears to be the name for such things.) People making them certainly deserve recognition, but they belong in the Fancast category which is for:

Any generally available non-professional audio or video periodical devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects

Aidan also suggests collapsing Fanzine and Fancast to create a single category of fan-created works. Much as I would like to see fewer Hugo categories, I can’t see that happening. Neither the podcast people nor fanzine fandom would be happy.

There is, of course, also the question of what we are judging. Abi Brady mischieviously suggested that we also collapse Best Novel and BDP: Long Form, which makes the point very neatly. The trouble is that on the Internet it is very easy to mix media. Most “newspapers” already include video and podcasts in their websites. When I started Salon Futura I deliberately set out to include all three formats: text, audio and video.

But that doesn’t solve the problem. What shall we do about Poor Little Fanzine? Well for starters you should all be nominating Rachel Cordasco’s magnificent Speculative Fiction in Translation. Hopefully we can also get a lot of folks doing fanzine reviews between now and the next nominating deadline. And finally, Salon Futura is still a thing. It is no longer semi-pro because I can’t afford to pay people. The website desperately needs a re-vamp. If I were to put all my book reviews and con reports on there, and maybe give it some sort of issue structure, it would most definitely be a fanzine. And then you would all have to rush around finding other fanzines to vote for, because no one wants me winning any more Hugos, do they?

(And yes, it would still include audio. You can’t expect me to pass up the chance to mess with the category police.)

Posted in Awards, Fandom | 5 Comments

Cancelling Campbell

In the wake of Jeannette Ng’s fantastic acceptance speech, lots of people on social media are asking whether John W Campbell’s name can be removed from the Best New Writer award.

The problem with this is that the award does not belong to WSFS. We merely administer it on behalf of Dell Magazines, who were the original publishers of Asimov’s and Analog. So WSFS cannot change the name of the award without risking them withdrawing funding for it.

The most obvious way forward is for people to write to Dell asking them to change the name of the award. Changing the name to the Dell Magazines Award for Best New Writer would solve multiple problems. It would get us away from any association with Campbell. It would give proper recognition to Dell for their sponsorship. And it would make it much less necessary for WSFS to keep having to explain why the award is Not a Hugo. So get writing, people, and please be polite about it.

Of course it is entirely possible that the senior management at Dell will refuse to do so. If they do the next step would be to bring a motion to the Business Meeting asking that we strike the Campbell from the list of awards, and replace it with a Hugo Award for Best New Writer that has exactly the same rules. That would doubtless make Dell unhappy, and be awkward for anyone involved with Asimov’s and Analog, but if the company refuses to budge we don’t have much choice.

There should be no additional burden on Worldcon for converting the Campbell to a Hugo, except the cost of one more trophy. All of the administration, including eligibility checking, is already done by the Hugo Administrators.

Updates: I have corrected the spelling of Jeannette’s name. Profuse apologies for the error.

Also, if you come here thinking that arguing about the meaning of the word “fascist” can somehow absolve Campbell of all of the awful things he did then I will a) laugh at you; and b) not approve your comment because I will assume you are trolling.

Posted in Awards | 2 Comments

The Race for 2023

There has been some discussion on Twitter today about potential future Worldcon sites. Washington DC has been awarded the 2021 convention. It is probably too late to do anything about 2022, for which Chicago is unopposed. That leaves us with 2023 as the next possible non-US Worldcon.

Prior to Dublin the extant bids for 2023 were Nice (France), Chengdu (China) and New Orleans (USA). The New Orleans bid has, I understand it, collapsed. However, some US fans were busily organising a bid for another city. Apparently they viewed this as essential to prevent yet another non-US Worldcon. I think they have settled on Memphis but it was a bit confused.

The Chengdu bid is controversial for two reasons, one of which is that it is very hard to get into China. Elizabeth Bear told me that she has been denied a visa because she is a writer. That could happen to a lot of us. My own view is that a Chinese Worldcon won’t happen without government approval, and if that approval exists then it should be possible to set up a system whereby visa applications can be expedited. This is China, after all. If bureaucrats are told to do something they will do it. It is only when they have no instructions that they are dangerous. I know this is rough on my Chinese friends, who very much want to extend the hospitality of their country to the world, but they need to show that they can get people to the convention.

The other issue is personal safety. Clearly a lot of Americans are terrified of going to China. I know a lot of people who have been. That includes my boss, Berkeley. His husband, Duncan, has been working in China for several months, and Berkeley has spent a lot of time out there. Given that he’s never had any job other than Gay Activist, and this should be obvious from his social media activity, I don’t think that China is that dangerous for LGBT+ folks.

It is, however, potentially dangerous to Muslims given what is happening to the Uighurs at the moment. It is also extremely dangerous for anyone who has friends or family involved in the current protests in Hong Kong. That is a very good reason for not voting for China. Things may be different in two years time, but political change in China does not happen easily, and I can’t see their government backing off while neither the USA nor the UK has any interest in asking them to, and the EU desperately needs allies against the Trump-Russia axis.

That leaves us with Nice. It is a lovely city, just down the road from Monaco, and easily accessible by train from much of Europe. It may even be accessible by train from the UK if the Channel Tunnel hasn’t been blocked up Brexit fanatics by then. It also has excellent air links. It is not far from Spain (well, Catalonia) and very close to Italy, which makes it a good site for a European event.

The downside is that the Nice bid committee are largely new to Worldcon. As far as I can see they don’t have much involvement from the folks who run Imaginales and Utopiales either. They don’t have fans from other European countries helping them out. And I don’t know of any tradition of con-running in Nice. Organisationally, they seem to be a weaker bid than Chengdu.

We have two years to turn that around. I know a bunch of French fans, and I plan to talk to any I find at Eurocon this weekend. Being of generous spirit, I also hereby volunteer to take a short holiday on the French Riviera so that I can inspect the site. I may be nagging the Nordic, Croatian and Italian fans to help out too.

Finally I note that in these times of increasingly difficulty of international travel, and of burgeoning climate crisis, it is absolutely essential that we look at ways of making more of Worldcon accessible over the Internet so that people can participate without having to travel. The New Zealand convention is an excellent point at which to start. But that’s a big enough subject for a whole new post and I need to talk to Norm and Kelly first.

Posted in Conventions, Travel | 9 Comments

Worldcon #77 – Day 5

I woke up from not enough sleep to discover that social media was aflame with drama at the Hugo Losers’ Party. I’m still not entirely sure what went on, but Twitter is full of ranting by people who know nothing of the history of the event so I will try to get to the bottom of it before I post a con report.

The Hugo Losers’ Party has traditionally been the ugly duckling of Worldcon. For reasons lost in the midst of time it has normally been run by the up-coming Worldcon, which in this case would mean New Zealand. The up-coming Worldcons hated this, because it was a major expense and trouble when they had no money and were exhausted from the bid campaign. It was always a terrible party with a minimal budget and too-small room that was ferociously gate-kept by SMOFs who felt it was their duty to police who was worthy of entry.

Then the Puppies happened, and GRRM decided to throw a big party for the convention to give out his Alfie Awards to people who should have won Hugos but didn’t because we’d had to No Award most of the categories. Although the Puppies have been well and truly routed, George holding the party has become a tradition. This is an example of Cheryl’s Second Law of Fandom in action: anything that has happened twice is a Sacred and Holy Tradition that must be retained at all costs.

In the old days, Hugo Loser Party nonsense wasn’t a big deal. If some snooty SMOF decided that you weren’t worthy of your place on the ballot and wouldn’t let you in, you could just move on to one of the other parties that would probably have more and better food and booze. But George runs his parties at off-site locations and if you can’t get in, which happened to a bunch of finalists last night, you are left outside in your award ceremony finery feeling cold and wet and miserable, with no choice but to get a cab back to your hotel.

Quite why so many finalists were turned away isn’t clear. It isn’t the fault of the Dublin committee, because they have nothing to do with the party other than pass on invitations to the finalists. It probably isn’t the fault of the NZ people because these days I understand that organisation of the event is passed on to people who work for George. People on Twitter inevitably blamed George personally (and doubtless complained that he should be writing books rather than running parties). The fault may lie with the staff at the venue. It is all a bit murky.

What is clear is that a whole lot of people who were not Hugo finalists had got into the party long before the Hugo Ceremony finished. This is the publishing industry in action. If there is a swank party going, publishing people will find a way to get into it. And the fact that they did led to the venue being (allegedly) overcrowded and people being turned away.

It is also clear that a whole lot of people who were Hugo finalists, many of them for the first time, had a really shitty experience.

I confess to being a little lacking in sympathy here. The year I won my first Hugo I had been blacklisted from programming at the convention because the head of Programming thought I wasn’t worthy of being on the ballot. And after I won a rant attacking me was posted on the convention’s website by convention staff. (Deb Geisler, who was the con chair, ordered it taken down as soon as she heard about it.) However, I too hate standing out in the cold and rain wearing party clothes so I can imagine what it must have been like.

I’ll have some more thoughts on how we fix this for subsequent years when I write the con report, but a core issue is that throwing a good party is really expensive and the number of finalists you have to cater for has been going up year-on-year.

Meanwhile there was still a day of convention to go. I sold the last copy of The Green Man’s Foe this afternoon so Wizard’s Tower officially sold out. That’s 45 paperbacks and 5 hardcovers in total. As I had an unexpected vacancy in my luggage I offered to take the remaining Twelfth Planet stock to Belfast with me to sell there. If you are going to be at Eurocon, do come to the Future Fiction table to see what I have.

The rest of the day was spent on things like wrangling luggage, saying goodbye to people I’m not going to see again for years, and listening to people say what a wonderful time they had at the convention.

I am now in Belfast. I will be here for a week. The next two days will be mainly sleep, work and tourism. The Eurocon starts on Thursday.

Posted in Awards, Conventions, Where's Cheryl?, Wizard's Tower | 2 Comments

Worldcon #77 – Day 4

Today was mostly a do nothing day. I didn’t have any panels, and I knew I needed to save my energy for a long evening covering the Hugo Award Ceremony.

I did spend some time in the morning shopping for whiskey, which was very successful. I then spent quite a bit of time just being off my feet. That allowed me to have a chat with Roz & Jo about Airship 2, which is progressing nicely.

To the great relief of all concerned, the Tech team in Dublin had managed to acquire a dedicated wifi connection for Kevin, Susan and I to use for the live coverage of the ceremony. Special thanks are due to Rick Kovalcik for doing all of the leg work on this.

Aside from some rather dodgy speech-to-text conversion software, the ceremony went off very well. The winners seemed very popular except in the Puppyverse. A few of them were even things I had voted first. The full results, with a link to The Numbers, are available here. Kevin and I have been busy getting the official Hugos website updated, so we are not at any of this evening’s parties.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to read those voting breakdowns.

Posted in Awards, Conventions, Whisky, Wizard's Tower | Leave a comment

Worldcon #77 – Day 3

This morning, after a bit of fruitless chasing of phone companies, I took myself off to The Point to meet Scott Edelman who was on a panel there. This is how I discovered that Dublin has a rule that the Green Room is only open to programme participants during the hour before their panels. I guess they are very short of space. Being me, I blagged my way in.

Once Scott’s panel was done we headed off to his restaurant of choice, Mr. Fox, and recorded a podcast for Eating the Fantastic. Scott will post details of what we ate along with the podcast, but he has released the above photo with me and the restaurant’s signature walnut whip confectionary. Scott’s ability to find superb restaurants is legendary in the SF&F community, and rightly so.

It was a very long lunch, but not alcoholic as I had to get back to The Point to give my talk on the Prehistory of Robotics. It seemed to go down well. I was also pleased to meet a long time friend, Paul Mason, whom I haven’t seen in decades as he’s been living in Japan.

The rest of the day was spent chatting to people back at the convention centre. I was very pleased to meet two talented young women who are starting to make a name for themselves in the business. The first was Molly Powell, who is the new editor at Jo Fletcher Books. She’s the person responsible for bringing This is How You Lose the Time War and Gods of Jade and Shadow to the UK. The other was Tamsyn Muir, author of Gideon the Ninth, which is by far the most talked about debut novel that I can remember. They are both lovely, and I look forward to watching their careers blossom.

I didn’t have enough energy left to go to the masquerade, so I came back to the apartment and crashed.

Tomorrow, I have nothing to do except the Hugos. Quite a lot of panels have had to turn people away, and I have taken a policy decision to give up my seat to newbies. I may go whiskey shopping.

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Worldcon #77 – Day 2

Well that was eventful.

I was fortunate enough to be able to sleep in a bit this morning because the first thing I had to do was be at the convention centre for 11:00pm as Juliet McKenna was doing a signing. That went very well. We sold a whole bunch of books, both The Green Man’s Heir and The Green Man’s Foe. We were very happy.

Immediately after that I was moderating a panel on promoting translations. I was very pleased with that. I had a very knowledgeable panel, including Neil Clarke and Francesco Verso who are doing far more to promote translations than I am. We had an interesting discussion on how awards might help, what sort of awards were needed, and why the proposal for a Best Translated Novel Hugo is a bad idea.

While we were doing that, the Friday Business Meeting was in progress. While they rarely do Objection to Consideration any more, they can ask for a motion to be deferred for a year to allow more discussion to take place, and that’s what happened to the translation Hugo proposal. I do hope that the people who put it forward will listen to people in the translation community over the next 12 months rather than stubbornly bring back the same flawed proposal in Wellington.

During the panel, Julie Nováková said that she’d like someone to revive the SF&F Translation Awards (or something like them). The charitable organisation that we set up for them has been disbanded, but the website still exists and I’d be happy to talk to anyone who wants to take this on.

After the panel and a quick lunch I headed down to the other venue to check out the tech situation for tomorrow. I have to give my robotics talk in one of the Odeon rooms at The Point and I needed to make sure everything would work. These rooms are effectively overflow programming space, which is great because the con is much bigger than anyone initially expected. However, they are actually in an Odeon. The rooms are part of a multi-screen cinema. This means that the seating is great, but there isn’t much of it. Screen 4, where I will be, only seats about 80 people. What’s more, there is a queueing system. You can’t go and wait outside the room. If you don’t go through the official queueing process then you may not get in. Please bear this in mind if you are coming to listen to me tomorrow.

While I was at The Point I had a look around the Art Show which is very impressive. There are a lot of really good artists in there, the show itself is very big, and the large amount of natural lighting it gets is ideal. I have finally got to see some of Emma Newman’s art in the canvas, so to speak, and it is very pretty.

Unfortunately I also managed to lose my phone while I was down at The Point. I put this down to being very tired by that point and not thinking straight. Fortunately I was able to cadge favours of friends (thanks to Kevin & Andy and to Alan) and get the deivice disconnnected, and I didn’t have anything irreplaceable on it anyway, but it does mean that no one can phone me right now. I will go and talk to the phone company tomorrow, but I may not be able to get a new phone with my old number until I arrive in Belfast next week. If any of you are in the habit of contacting me on WhatsApp please bear this in mind.

Back at the Convention Centre, I inhaled a sandwich and headed off to moderate a panel marking the 50th anniversary of The Left Hand of Darkness. I was pleased with that, so thanks again to a great group of panelists. We all agreed that the book is very relevant, even if part of modern society are less hidebound in their attitudes to sex and gender than poor Genly Ai.

During the panel Nick Hubble mentioned Genly’s suspicion that the Gethenians were genetically engineered from baseline humans sometime far in the past. Genly thinks this was an experiment of some sort, but we only have his word for it and the details appear to be lost in the mists of Hainish history. I would love to see someone write a novel that tells the story of how the Gethenians came to be. Obviously there would be copyright issues, not to mention the jaw-dropping terror of trying to write a novel in one of Le Guin’s worlds, put I’m putting the idea out there just in case.

That was me done for the day. Thankfully I don’t have to go to the Business Meeting tomorrow to fight the translation Hugo proposal, so I have time to see about the phone situation. Over lunch I am being interviewed by Scott Edelman for his Eating the Fantastic podcast. Then it is off to The Point to give the Prehistory of Robotics talk.

We may have a solution to the issue of internet access for the Hugo Award Ceremony coverage, but there’s no guarantee that it will work. I must say that I am deeply disappointed at how successive Worldcons continue to not care in the slightest whether we are able to do this coverage. Despite Josh Beatty trying really hard for us, the Award Ceremony Director simply doesn’t have enough clout to make this happen. We have to get made an official part of the convention staff, with someone on the committee who can fight to get us what we need from the outset. I think WSFS Division is the only logical place for us, because we are an official WSFS function. I shall probably rant about this again after the convention.

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