Three Twins in Paper

Three Twins at the Crater School
Pre-orders for paper editions of Three Twins at the Crater School are now available in a variety of places, incuding Amazon stores around the world and Waterstones. I expect other stores to follow in due course. I got a proof copy of the paperback in the mail today and it looks lovely, though not as lovely as the hardcover which I expect to arrive next week.

As usual, all of the links to places where you can pre-order the book are on the Wizard’s Tower website.

Oh, and Juliet announced today that she’s sent Green Man #4 off to the editor. More on that soon.

The SAGE Encyclopedia of Trans Studies


I’m in another book. It is a massive, two-volume encyclopedia, and my contribution is very small, but I am in it. I have a small section on trans people in the ancient world.

I won’t be getting a copy of the book, because this is academic publishing and even with my author discount it would be a ridiculous amount of money. But books like this are not intended to be purchased by humans. They are aimed primarily at academic libraries. If you happen to work in such a place, then do please consider buying this book because every university should have one. Purchase details are here, and I can probably get you a discount.

March Salon Futura

This one went live at the end of March. There didn’t seem much point in doing lots of PR for it during the holidays, but hopefully people are back online again. Here’s what you can find covered in #28.

  • Ten Low by Stark Holborn
  • WandaVision
  • In Veritas by CJ Lavigne
  • Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard
  • Gendering Time, Timing Gender by PM Biswas
  • The Last Days of Pompeii by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

There’s also an article titled, “Is WSFS Fit for Purpose?”, and a look back on two newly released books I did sensitivity reads for: The Fall of Koli by Mike Carey, and SisterSong by Lucy Holland. You can find all of that lot here.

Coronavirus – Day #370

Oh look, a year has gone by. Are we still deep in the shit? Why yes, so we are.

The good news is that all of the major COVID in the UK are still falling. Trowbridge is officially “suppressed”, but this does no mean zero COVID. There could be at least 10 cases in town.

More worryingly, the UK is still registering over 2000 new cases a day, and the media is talking about how the virus has been beaten and everything is going “back to normal”. Bozo is talking breezily about people being able to go on summer holidays abroad. We don’t really know how the vaccine will change things, but some sort of third wave seems inevitable.

Of course the likelihood of anyone from the UK being able to travel internationally in the near future is not very high. Bozo will doubtless blame this on the EU. The people who voted for Brexit still don’t understand that “taking back control” of our borders does not mean taking control of everyone else’s borders as well, and the freedom of movement whose ending they cheered so loudly included their freedom of movement as well.

Thoughts on Extreme E

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I have a strong interest in motor racing. You mainly see comments on Formula 1, but there are other race series out there, and this year a new one has been unveiled.

Extreme E is an off-road series for electric cars, with the additional concept that the purpose of the series is not just entertainment and development of electric vehicle technology, but also raising awareness of climate change. In view of the latter, the races all take place in remote parts of the world where the effects of climate change can be seen, and the series has a philosophy of minimal carbon footprint and “race without a trace” — that is they tidy up after themselves. The commitment to the environment has attracted interest from some of the top names in the sport — Sir Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button, Carlos Sainz Sr., Sebastien Loeb — and there is a fascinating mix of drivers from different disciplines.

Unlike slick operations such as Formula 1, Extreme E is very much a seat-of-the-pants job at the moment. The team behind the series is still learning a lot about how to stage an entertaining race, and they are deliberately self-hobbled by their decision to minimise the at-venue presence. The inaugural race over the weekend was interesting, but showed up some of the cracks, not least in the TV coverage.

From a driving point of view, Extreme E is just what it says on the tin. The Al-Ula circuit in Saudi Arabia is a stretch of rocky desert that eschews even the dirt roads in the region. At one point the cars crest a blind ridge and drop 100 metres at a 45 degree angle. I certainly shouldn’t be let anywhere near roads like that, and I have huge respect for anyone who can actually drive it without crashing, let alone do so at speed.

Because the series is brand new, so is the car. The Odyssey 21 is an electric sports SUV designed specifically for the series by Spark Racing, the same people who build the Formula E cars. Inevitably with a brand new car there are teething problems, and the biggest issue with the Odyssey appears to be the power steering. Accoring to the good folks at Inside Electric, the teams basically have a choice of settings: you either run with full power steering and risk it breaking while you are out on track, or you run a lower setting and have to do a lot of the steering yourself, which on a track like this is seriously hard work. Failure of the power steering was apparrently why Sir Lewis Hamilton’s X44 team did so poorly in the final.

Also brand new is the battery, which has been developed by Williams Engineering (who also build an F1 car). I missed the first Qualifying session on Saturday because it started at 7:00am UK time, and when I watched the second session several drivers were commenting that they were running reduced power. The Sky commentary team had no idea what this was about, but again the folks at Inside Electric have been doing the work. Given the heat of the desert venue, the Williams engineers found that the batteries were not cooling down as quickly as they had expected, and consequently they could not be fully charged between the two qualifying sessions.

I shouldn’t be too hard on the Sky team, because they were not at the circuit. Commentating on something happening thousands of miles away is not easy. But I’m sure that if Ted Kravitz had been with the Sky team he would have wanted to find out what was going on, and would have found a way to get the information.

This sort of thing is important to the TV coverage because for much of the time there isn’t anything interesting going on. There are some fabulous camera shots from drones, and from inside the cars, but watching a driver wrestle with a steering wheel is never going to be as exciting as wheel-to-wheel racing. More about that later. For now I’ll just note that the commentators need to find interesting things to talk about.

They had them too, because Extreme E is the first series to insist on gender parity in the drivers. Each team has one male driver and one female driver (no place for non-binary drivers yet) and they drive equal numbers of laps, with the drivers changing places half-way through. What we (and by “we” I particularly mean female fans) wanted to know was how well the women were doing compared to the men. The commentators didn’t seem interested in that. Indeed, they often forgot the names of the women drivers, or referred to “the Button car” even when Jenson’s teammate, Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, was driving. I know that Jenson owns the team, but that’s a bit poor.

One thing that did catch the attention of the commentators was the performance of Catie Munnings for the Andretti United team during Qualifying 1. She got a puncture in her right-rear early on in the lap, but still managed to bring the car home with a respectable time. It was an astonishing feat of driving.

What we didn’t get were lap time splits. The timing screens only reported the joint time of the team. However, Matt Warwick of the BBC has been digging. He reports that Catie had a faster time than her teammate, Timmy Hansen, during the final. Also Christine Giampaoli Zonca of the Hispano Suiza team regularly out-paced her partner, Bristol’s Oliver Bennett.

What Warwick didn’t report was how the times recorded by Rosberg Extreme Racing’s Molly Taylor compared to the men in the other teams. Molly regularly beats male drivers back home in Australia, which is why she’s the national rally champion. She and Johan Kristoffersson were clearly the class of the field at the weekend. I’m sure she must have out-paced most of the men, in identical machinery.

You will have noticed that I mentioned two local drivers. Jenson Button is from Frome and Ollie Bennett from Bristol. There is a third West Country driver in the series: Bath’s Jamie Chadwick. Sadly she didn’t get to drive at all. In Quali 1 her teammate at Veloce, Stéphane Sarrazin, hit a large lump of desert grass and rolled the car. It was by no means the worst crash of the weekend, but by some freak accident it bent the roll cage on the car. That’s not something that the team could repair in a tent in the desert, so for safety reasons the Veloce team had to withdraw from the race with Jamie never having got to drive.

Qualifying was interesting, and included a couple of spectacular crashes, but it was Sunday’s races that most fans would have been looking forward to. The qualifying, and a couple of semi-finals, sorted the nine teams into three groups, who then raced for position within that group. (I am not going to call anything “The Crazy Race” unless Dick Dastardly and Muttley actually compete in it.)

The bottom three cars were actually only two because the Veloce team had withdrawn. That left the two other teams that had experienced crashes in Qualifying. It had become obvious in the semi-finals that serious racing would be impossible save for the long straight at the start. The cars were throwing up so much sand that visibility was zero for a car trying to follow close enough to pass. Kyle Leduc in the team entered by IndyCar mogul, Chip Ganassi, proved this conclusively by trying to overtake Claudia Hürtgen in the ABT Cupra car. He had no idea where she was on the road, and slammed into the back of the other car, ending the race for both of them.

The other races all settled down into the male drivers having a short race from the start to the first corner, and the two who didn’t get there first backing off to make sure they had enough visibilty to get to the end. This does not make for exciting racing. It also meant that the women drivers were under orders to bring the car home safety and not take any risks, because they had a 30 second cushion on the car behind.

Because each race takes place in a very different environment, this may not be a problem for other races. Alternatively the management may decide to make the series more of a time trial challenge. The series is young, and they have time to adjust. I’m sure they’ll be spending the month that it will take for the ship that carries the cars around the world to get to Senegal thinking hard about this.

However, as well as the actual racing, I do hope that they think a bit about the TV coverage. It wasn’t only covering the racing where they fell down. The stated purpose of Extreme E is to draw attention to climate change. Wherever they go, the drivers get to see and help with local conservation efforts (Jamie Chadwick posted pictures of her working on beach clean-up to Twitter). Also the ship carries a science team with a fully equipped laboratory. What were thet doing? We don’t know. The TV coverage relied only on pre-recorded material supplied by the Extreme E management. There was no reporting on the environmental issues from the venue.

If I had a hotline to Alejandro Agag, I would be telling him to get an science reporter out there with the teams, and ask her to do live coverage of each venue. I’d want to see what the drivers were up to off-track. I’d want to talk to the team crews about setting up and tearing down the paddock area. I’d want to talk to the science team and local conservationists about the local wildlife and the specific threats that each venue faces from climate change. This is your message, guys, get it out there.

Thank You, Relampeio

As best as I can gather from social media, you folks are spending the holiday weekend either at Eastercon, at Norwescon, or at both. (Or possibly you are on Facebook complaining about how much you hate online conventions.) I’m not at any of these, mainly because I’m on call for jury service at the moment and this weekend is one time that I know I can get a bunch of work done without having to worry about being called away. However, I did make an exception for Relampeio, because when you get invited to be a guest at a convention in Brazil you obviously say yes.

As a result, last night I spent a couple of hours online with some fabulous people, and had a great conversation. We did a panel titled, Dissident Bodies in Science Fiction, which covered all sorts of ways in which a body can be viewed as less than human, or as inhuman.

With me on the panel were Samuel Muca, who is a podcaster, literary critic and eco-Socialist activist. He’s also blind. Thiago Ambrósio Lage is a lecturer in biotechnology, a writer, and proudly gay. And Járede Oliver is a lecturer in Social Anthropology. We had a great chat, and it is available for reply on YouTube.

The introduction and farewell are in Portuguese, but the rest of the panel is in English. I understand that that was live translation going on, but we were backstage in StreamYard so we didn’t get to see any of that.

And if you enjoyed that, why not check out the rest of the Relampeio feed, which includes events with Chen Qiufan and Nisi Shawl, plus one this evening with Amal El-Mohtar.

Three Twins Cover Reveal


Today on social media I unveiled the cover for the first of Chaz Brenchley’s Crater School books. Three Twins at the Crater School introduces us to the eponymous school, and some of its staff and pupils. We also get to meet some of the Martian fauna which, as you can see from the cover, look pretty scary.

I have put the book out for pre-orders, and hopefully the links will be available tmomorrow, but Kobo are on vacation for Easter and you can never tell how long it will take Amazon to do anything. I will tweet as soon as links are availalble. In the meantime here is the promo blurb and some reactions from early readers. (eARCs are available.)

Mars, the Red Planet, farthest flung outpost of the British Empire. Under the benevolent reign of the Empress Eternal, commerce and culture are flourishing along the banks of the great canals, and around the shores of the crater lakes. But this brave new world is not as safe as it might seem. The Russians, unhappy that Venus has proved far less hospitable, covet Britain’s colony. And the Martian creatures, while not as intelligent and malevolent as HG Wells had predicted, are certainly dangerous to the unwary.

What, then, of the young girls of the Martian colony? Their brothers might be sent to Earth for education at Eton and Oxbridge, but girls are made of sterner stuff. Be it unreasonable parents, Russian spies, or the deadly Martian wildlife, no challenge is beyond the resourceful girls of the Crater School.

“For every fan of The Chalet School”
Farah Mendlesohn

“A rollicking good read from start to finish!”
Ellen Klages

“I wish I were a Crater School girl”
Marie Brennan

“Splendidly full of peril and charm”
Gillian Polack

“Brenchley had me at ‘British girls’ school on Mars’”
Jennifer Stevenson

“I sincerely hope there will be further instalments”
Marissa Doyle

“This is a one-sitting page-turner!”
Sherwood Smith

“Highly recommended”
Juliet E. McKenna

“Twins we will never forget and cool Mars creatures.”
Miranda and Talia, age 9

Queering Medusa

At long last the final piece of my LGBT+ History Month tour has dropped into place. This is the video interview I did with Dan Vo for the National Galleries Scotland exhibition on Ray Harryhausen. The basic idea is that each of Dan’s interviewees would pick a Harryhausen creature and explain how it connected to queer history. My choice was Medusa, and the edited interview is now available to view.

The most obvious thing about it is that I am still really bad at TV and should not be let anywhere near a camera, but at least I have a decent background. I’m pleased to have given a supporting role to Ifor the Dragon.

Also the story is good. There’s a lot in there about African history and Amazons. I also manage to reference Sandy Stone and Dorothea Smartt. If you want to know what they have to do with Medusa, you need to watch the interview.

What didn’t make it into the final cut was my plug for Liz Gloyn’s book, Tracking Classical Monsters in Popular Culture. I did try, Liz. If you want to know why I was plugging it, check out my review on Salon Futura.

My thanks once again to Dan, and to National Galleries Scotland, for inviting me to be part of this series. And now, without further ado, here is the show:

De Lint on McKenna

One of the first things I always do when I have a new Juliet McKenna book to publish is send a review copy off to Charles de Lint. He has been wonderfully supportive of the Green Man series in his column in Fantasy & Science Fiction. The Green Man’s Silence is no exception. You can find his review of the new book in his March/April 2021 column. Right after his review of the new Garth Nix. Am I a proud publisher? You bet! Thanks Charles.

He’s right, of course, the Green Man books are fabulous. Thousands of readers can’t be wrong. You can find purchase links here.

Vaccinated (Part 1)

Today I had my first COVID-19 shot. There wasn’t anything on offer locally, and I elected to drive to Bath Racecourse as that is mostly a simple driving route that I’m used to. It was a good place for a vaccination centre as there was plenty of room to set up the facility, and for people to park.

Before getting the jab you get a brief quiz on your medical history. The only things likely to rule you out is if you have had any other vaccinations recently, if you’ve had COVID recently, or if you are seriously allergic to some medications.

The jab itself was quick and painless.

I had the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, so I will need to go back for a second dose. That’s not until June.

As I had driven to the centre, I was asked to sit and rest for 15 minutes after the jab just in case I had an adverse reaction. I felt fine after that and was able to drive home. I’m still feeling OK 6 hours in, though people who have had the same vaccine tell me that the side effects kick in after about 8 hours. We shall see.

It’s That Day Again #IWD2021


Yes folks, once again we have arrived at that day in the year when some people spend all day on social media reminding the rest of the world that there is indeed an International Men’s Day and it is on November 19th, because apparently many men cannot let any day devoted to women go past without making it all about them.

Thankfully I am also seeing a lot of good stuff on social media this year. I would do a post of my own highlighting wonderful women, except I know so many. There are brilliant women authors, brilliant women human rights advocates, brilliant historians and people from history, brilliant sportswomen and so on. I wouldn’t know where to start, or when to stop.

So I’m just going to leave you with the little card above, which was made as part of this year’s festivities by the lovely people at A New Normal. My thanks to Laverne Cox for the inspirational quote.

Coronavirus – Day #337

Wow, it is a long time since I did one of these. Of course I was crazy busy during February, but to a large extent nothing much has changed. We are still in Lockdown and will be until April. Infection rates have been falling steadily for a couple of months, but are still scarily high. And locally they are not going down. Having had rates well below the national average over the winter, we are now well above the national average. If nothing else that shows that the Track & Trace system is not worth a dime, let alone the £22bn that the government spaffed away on it.

Meanwhile Bozo has ordered schools to re-open, and I’m already seeing claims that the infection rate is surging amongst young children.

We had a budget, apparently. It seems like no one is happy about it. And yet the supposed opposition party is doing such a bad job that the Tories now have a much bigger lead in the polls than they did when they won an 80 seat majority back in late 2019. It is almost as if refusing to challenge the government on any of its policies isn’t a vote winner. Who would have thought it?

In much less good news today I learned that the Loyalist Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland have denounced the Good Friday Agreement. That is, they are blaming the Catholics, and the South, for Bozo’s complete disaster of a Brexit agreement which saw a border created in the Irish Sea, something he had promised would never happen. It seems entirely in keeping with modern Britain that someone else is getting blamed for a government screw-up. But the outcome is likely to be renewed sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, which will please no one except a few die-hard survivors of The Troubles, and the Tory right wing who have always hated the fact that peace was declared.

Ah well, at least I still have work, which is getting me to talk to people, even if it is seriously interfering with my book-reading habit.

Crawford Award Announced

The winner and runners up of this year’s Crawford Award have been announced. I’m delighted to see that the winner is one of my favourite books of the year: The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo.

The Crawford doesn’t have a jury as such. Instead a group of people make recommendations to Gary K Wolfe and he decides on a winner based on what the group says, and on his own reading. What that means is that no one has to read every debut fantasy novel for the year. Many of them are very long. That way lies madness.

Usually I am one of the group of advisors, and that was the case this year. I have linked to my reviews of the winners and runners up below. I hope to catch up with the others soon. I have also provided links for UK readers to buy via Bookshop.org (they might work in the US as well). I have no idea why the Jennings isn’t available.

Winner: The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo (buy)

Runners up:

  • Night Roll, Michael DeLuca (buy)
  • Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel, Julian Jarboe (buy)
  • Flyaway, Kathleen Jennings
  • In Veritas, C.J. LaVigne (buy)
  • Beneath the Rising, Premee Mohamed (buy)

Purchases through Bookshop.org help to support independent bookstores and, if made via my links, Wizard’s Tower Press.

New From Academia Lunare

The lovely folks at Luna Press Publishing have a new project underway. It is the 5th in their Academia Lunare series of non-fiction collections. You may remember that book #3 in the series, Gender and Sexuality in Current Fantasy and Science Fiction, won a British Fantasy Award. Also book #4, The Ties That Bind: Love in Fantasy and Science Fiction, is a finalist for this year’s British Science Fiction Association Awards. What’s more, the books have achieved these honours despite both having essays by me in them.

So, book #5. It is titled, Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding in Fantasy & Science Fiction. As usual it has a stellar international cast of contributors, and me. You can find the full contents list and contributor bios here. My offering is titled, “Worldbuilding with Sex and Gender”. It is, of course, about queer animals, because if our natural world is full of outrageously queer behavior there is no reason why your invented world can’t be either.

Pre-orders will open sometime in the spring, and in the meantime Francesca will be doing the PR thing by releasing abstracts of the various essays to whet your appetites.

Also the CFP for book #6 in the series is now out. It will be titled, Not the Fellowship. Dragons Welcome. The idea is to write about one of the lesser characters from The Lord of the Rings. You can pick anyone except a member of the Fellowship of the Ring, including Smaug. I wonder how many proposals they’ll get arguing one way or the other about Tom Bombadill. Guess I’d better put my thinking cap on.

In Search of Trans Celts

On Friday I gave a talk for the lovely people at Aberration as part of their LGBTHM festival. They asked me to look for evidence of trans people among the Celtic inhabitants of Britain. This isn’t easy, and my talk was hedged around with caveats. I promised a blog post that would explain things in more detail. Here it is.

I need to start off by explaining what I mean by “Celtic”, because the Romans did not use that word to describe my ancestors. The people who lived in France were called Gauls, and the people who lived here were called Britons. Beyond that they often used local tribal names such as Brigantes, Silures and so on.

However, the Greeks used the word “Keltoi” to describe people who lived up the Danube, so north of the Balkans, including places like Hungary and Slovakia. The modern word “Celtic” is used to denote a group of Bronze/Iron Age tribal cultures that are united by a common language and culture. They spread all the way from Britain and Spain to Eastern Europe and possibly even China. Archaeologists will refer to Hallstatt Culture (named after a town in Austria) as a general term for these people. There are regions of Spain and Poland known as Galicia because the Romans knew them as home to Gauls.

This is all very simplistic, of course. The reality of the archeology is much more complex as we shall see. Also shared culture is not proof of shared ethnicity. The fact that we drive Japanese cars and watch anime does not prove that we are ethnically Japanese.

The only reference I could find regarding trans people in possibly-Celtic culture comes from Tacitus in his book, Germania. As far as the Romans were concerned, “Germany” was somewhat displaced east from our modern idea of the country. The people he was talking about were a tribe called the Nahanarvali, who were part of a larger confederation of tribes called the Lugii. Their home territory was in modern Poland, between the Oder and Vistula rivers. Tacitus wrote:

Among these last is shown a grove of immemorial sanctity. A priest in female attire has the charge of it. But the deities are described in Roman language as Castor and Pollux. Such, indeed, are the attributes of the divinity, the name being Alcis.

On the face of it, that’s pretty good. Sacred groves are things that we associate with Celts, and these people lived in an area where Hallstatt materials have been found. But were they Celts? And if so, would the same gods have been worshipped in Britain? Well, it is complicated.

Depending who you read the Lugii are described as Celtic, Germanic, or proto-Slavic. We do know that the Germanic tribe known as the Vandals lived to the north-east of Lugii territory, and that they gradually pushed westwards through the Roman era. But Tacitus says that the grove is very old, so hopefully that indicates a Celtic origin.

Then there’s the language. The Lugii sound like they are associated with the Celtic god Lugh (Irish) or Lleu (Welsh). There is an unrelated tribe with the same name in Scotland. But the name of the god, Alcis, suggests a Germanic root and an association with deer.

Also, sacred groves are not unique to Celts. I have turned up evidence of one in Sweden, and Cybele (the patron goddess of trans women) was worshipped in a sacred grove on Mount Ida in her home in Phrygia.

Then there is the nature of the gods. Tacitus says they are twin boys, and compares them to Castor & Pollux. But those gods are traditionally associated with horses, not deer. There is good evidence of a pair of twins associated with horses being worshipped by the locals in the Spanish Galicia during Roman times, but we’ve still got the wrong animal.

Of course none of this proves anything about the ancient Britons, so I turned to the Mabinogion to see what surviving Welsh legend might tell us. Somewhat to my surprise, I found something.

In the Fourth Branch, as a precursor to the tale of Blodeuwedd, we get a story about two sons of Dôn, Gwydion and Gilfaethwy. Gwydion goes on to have many other adventures, but Gilfaethwy is known only for his obsession with a young girl called Goewin. She’s not interested, and she’s a special virgin servant of King Math of Gwynedd so untouchable. Gwydion and Gilfaethwy therefore kick off a small war by stealing some pigs from a rival king, Pryderi of Dyfed. While Math is away dealing with the inevitable retaliation, Gilfaethwy is able to rape poor Goewin.

When Math gets home he finds out what the boys have done and is furious. He turns them first into deer (significant?), then into boar, and then into wolves. In each case one of the boys becomes a male of the species, and the other becomes a female, and they have children, whom Math adopts.

So what we have here is a tale of divine brothers who go through species and gender changes and produce offspring, which is all a bit reminiscent of Loki. Also the boys’ sister, Arianrhod, becomes the mother of Lleu.

At this point the story is so complicated that it is impossible to say anything concrete without sounding like Robert Graves or James George Frazer. You start to understand why they wrote the things that they did. My mind has been racing down rabbit holes ranging from Castor & Pollux and their sister Helen on the one hand, to Freyja and Freyr on the other. I could easily concoct a whole neo-pagan theology around this.

But I am a responsible historian, so I just have to say that we don’t know. It is all very mysterious.

In the meantime, if you have been sent here by the folks at Aberration, you can find a lot more about trans Romans in my academic writing. And the books that I mentioned on Friday are:

History Month Round-Up

Well, that’s over for another year. History Month is great fun, but exhausting.

A lot of people have been asking about recordings of my talks. There aren’t any. There are two reasons for this. The first is copyright. If you are giving a talk to a small audience then it is generally OK to use images that are of uncertain provenance. If you make something available for free online that’s very different, especially for places like museums and heritage properties. So we err on the side of caution.

Reason two is the transphobia that is rampant in the UK these days. At least one of the events I was involved with this year had people try to shut it down. A recording that is freely available online is a magnet for anti-trans trolls, and I’m not surprised that organisations don’t want to have to deal with that.

However, if you missed everything, then there is one recording that you can watch. The lovely people at A New Normal wanted to do an interview with me, so I sat down with Theo, their social media guru, and we recorded this.

There is one more video yet to come. Dan Vo has been doing some work with National Galleries Scotland on their Ray Harryhausen exhibition. There will be three videos, but there’s a lot of editing to be done and currently only the one with John Johnston is online. He’s talking fairly generally about Harryhausen, including the Sinbad films and Jason and the Argonauts. It is worth a watch.

My film (assuming that Dan can find something useable in the material we recorded) will be about Medusa, who is totally a feminist icon (and possibly a trans one too).

Finally while I am here, the Call for Papers for next year’s Historical Fictions Research Network conference is available. The theme is Communities, and we very much hope to be in person in London. Full details here.

The Final Week – #LGBTHM21

Only four more events to go, and then my life will return to normal. Here’s what you can enjoy in the coming week.

Wednesay 24th, 11:00am – The History of Gender in Sport
My final M Shed event. I’m just chairing this one. My panel: Sonja, Sammy, Verity and Noah, will be doing most of the talking. I’m certainly looking forward to hearing them. Free. Book here.

Wednesday 24th, 6:00pm – The Transitioned Empire: Trans Lives in Ancient Rome
I’m a bit proud of this one. This is the Annual Public Lecture of the Department of Classics and Ancient History of Durham University. Proper Classicists asking me to give a lecture. Way cool. And yes, that title is a pun on That Book. It is free. Book here.

Thursday 25th, 7:00pm – Queer: LGBTQ Writing from Ancient Times to Yesterday
This will have me in conversation with Frank Wynne, the editor of the aforementioned anthology. It is a great book, and having chatted to Frank on the phone I’m sure we’ll provide entertainment. The event is hosted by Bristol Libraries and is free. Book here.

Friday 26th, 7:00pm – Between the Lines
This is an event being staged by Aberration, a queer events group based in Aberystwyth. My talk is titled, “Trans People in Celtic Britain” and I’m on first. You do have to pay, but it is on a sliding scale and they’ll take £1 if that’s all you can afford. There are many other good things happening on the night. I have heard Jane Traies and Norena Shopland before and can promise they will be brilliant. Book here.

Talks This Week #LGBTHM21

LGBT+ History Month continues apace. Here’s what’s happening in public this week.

Tomorrow evening, I will be at the M Shed in Bristol in conversation with the wonderful Nicola Griffith. We’ll be talking about her novel, Hild, about sexuality in early mediaeval times, and about a whole lot of other things. You know, women warriors, Sutton Hoo, co-option of ancient history by the far right, and so on. This is a free talk, and you can book here.

On Wednesday evening I will be at Strawberry Hill House in South London where I will be talking about Charlotte de Beaumont, Chevalière d’Eon and being trans in the 18th century. This one you have to pay a small amount for, but it should be well worth it. I have had so much fun doing the research for this and could easily talk for two hours rather than one. The talk will have war, espionage, gender transition, ridiculous quantities of wine, two revolutions, the Hellfire Club, Rousseau, William Blake and so much more. You can book here.

Also I did a talk for a student group at Cambridge today. I’m doing one for a private client on Wednesday afternoon. And Thursday thru Saturday I’ll be helping run the Historical Fiction Research Network annual conference, and giving a paper about Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s hugely successful novel, The Last Days of Pompeii.

LGBT History Month – Part 5

First up I need to remind you that it is almost too late to sign up for my talk on Michael Dillon for the M Shed Museum in Bristol. This is going to include some of the latest research on Dillon.

The following day I’ll be participating in the seminar on trans rights for the lovely people at Bristol University Law School.

There’s also a new talk gone live. This one is on “Trans People in Celtic Britain” for the lovely folks at Aberration. Tickets are paid, but they are very cheap. I’ll be part of a line-up that includes the amazing Jane Traies and Norena Shopland. It is on Friday, February 26th from 7:00pm. Full details here.

As you may have seen from Twitter, I have been talking to Dan Vo about the movies of Ray Harryhausen. Sometime soon our little chat about Medusa will go live on the National Galleries Scotland website as part of their Harryhausen exhibition.

Also still to come are a podcast, and a talk on Trans Romans for an actual university Classics department.

New Salon Futura

Here’s a quick reminder that the January issue of Salon Futura went live last weekend. The books reviewed were as follows:

  • Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
  • The Four Profound Weaves by RB Lemberg
  • Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender
  • Seven of Infinities by Aliette de Bodard
  • Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

There’s also a bunch of TV reviews:

  • Agents of SHIELD – Season 7
  • Star Trek: Discovery – Season 3
  • His Dark Materials – Season 2
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks – Season 1