Hugo Nominating Period Opens

We are barely a month since the last lot of Hugo Awards were handed out, and it is nominating time again already. Hopefully we are back to the traditional calendar for Worldcon now, and that sort of thing won’t happen again for a while.

Anyway, you can now nominate. If you are not yet a WSFS member for 2022, you have until the end of January to buy at least a Supporting Membership to Chicon 8.

And if you are a WSFS member, voting details can be found here.

As with last year, Salon Futura is eligible in the Fanzine category, and I’m eligible in Fan Writer. Rather more importantly, Salon Futura contains lots of reviews of wonderful stuff that you might want to consider when it comes to filling in your nominating ballot. The nominating stage of the process will end on March 15th, and Finalists are likely to be announced sometime in April.

If y’all don’t get Ryka Aoki on the ballot this year I shall be deeply disappointed in you.

New Salon Futura


The December issue was a little late up due to the holidays, but it did go live on January 1st which is not too bad. In it you will find:

Book reviews

  • Beyond the Hallowed Sky by Ken MacLeod
  • The Anthropocene Unconscious by Mark Bould
  • The Memory Theater by Karin Tidbeck
  • The Necropolis Empire by Tim Pratt

TV and Movie reviews

  • The Green Knight
  • Supergirl Season 7
  • Hawkeye
  • Titans Season 3

And to cap it all off one of those very long Worldcon reviews. All the controversy, all the time. And just who was responsible for selling the Hugo Awards to Raytheon (if indeed that happened)?

You can read it all here.

Another Year, Eh?

Well, that was 2021. And from the look of things we can expect more of the same in 2022. A surprising amount of good things happened to me despite the pandemic. I’m not going to complain, but equally I’m not looking forward with any confidence. In the last 7 days over 1 million people in the UK have contracted COVID. That’s more than 1% of the population. Thankfully for a lot of people it will be very mild because they are vaccinated, but hospital admission rates are rising rapidly.

I should be going to get food some time next week, but actual shopping seems pretty dangerous so I have signed up for the “click and collect” service from Tesco, which means I just have to drive up to a collection point in the car park, grab my stuff, and leave again. I am fully vaccinated, but as a trans person in the UK I can’t trust the NHS to take care of me the way they would anyone else, so it is maximum isolation for me.

As far as 2022 goes, I’m just planning on doing the day jobs, and making books. Hopefully I will also get a chance to do some good trans history. Here’s hoping that you folks have things to do that make you happy as well.

If you were expecting a new Salon Futura, it is mostly done, and will be finished this evening, but there’s no point in putting it live then because you folks all have better things to be doing than reading my fanzine. It will appear tomorrow.

That Time of Year

Hunker down, little cultists, it is that time of year. In the dark of winter, all sorts of strange creatures are abroad. Some pull sleighs through the sky, others are, well, less wholesome. Here for your entertainment, from Mr Ogham Waite and his Amphibian Jazz Band, is that well loved seasonal ditty, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Fishmen.”

Happy Solstice!


As usual, my holiday card this year is by my talented friend, Dru Marland. This picture is titled, “Fox on Pickle Hill”, and Juliet McKenna fans will note that I picked it specifically because it features some of the chalk figures from the Wiltshire landscape. These also play a key role in The Green Man’s Challenge.

This particular image is currently unavailable as a card from Dru’s shop. I’m guessing that she has run out of stock. But it does feature in her 2022 Wildlife Calendar which looks an excellent thing to have.

May you all have a very happy holiday season, and in the Northern Hemisphere enjoy the return of shorter and warmer days. (Sorry Aussie pals, but you are thumping us at cricket so we need something to cheer us up.)

Those of you who celebrate the Solstice will be able to follow the sunset alignment at Maeshowe in Orkney via the broadcast below. It starts at 15:00 today.

Buy Me for Christmas


If you missed my HistFest talk on trans Romans first time around, you have a second chance. It will be available for a number of days over the holiday period. What’s more, for the ridiculously low sum of £8.68 (that’s £7.50 plus EventBrite fees) you get not just me, but five other great history talks by actual, genuine historians too. That has to be better than watching Christmas movies, right? If you would like to purchase access, you can do so here.

By the way, I don’t get a cut of this. I was paid a flat fee for creating the talk. But if you do watch my bit that will help encourage the lovely HistFest folks to commission more trans-related material, which would be a very good thing.

Hugos Happened

Last night, while I was asleep. There ceremony was delayed by a couple of hours, apparently due to an electrical fire in the hall where it was due to take place.

Anyway, the full results, including all of the usual statistics, are available here. Let’s take a quick tour through the numbers.

In Novel, Network Effect by led throughout, proving that Nora Jemisin is not invincible. I see the Mexican Gothic was only 8 nominations short of reaching the final ballot.

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo eventually won after a titanic battle with Come Tumbling Down. I do love Seanan, but Empress was magnificent and I’m delighted to see it win. There were a whole bunch of great books in the also rans too. It was a very tough year.

In Novellette Isabel Fall’s “Helicopter Story” got the most first preferences but finished 5th, which is the sort of thing I had expected. I hope that Fall is hearted by seeing how many people loved her story. I liked Sarah Pinsker’s winning story, so I’m not unduly upset.

As usual, I found the short stories fairly forgettable.

Series was dominated by Murderbot.

I did not win Related Work. In fact CoNZealand Fringe came last. I am not surprised, though I am sad for my fellow finalists. We did manage to finish ahead of No Award, which I hope will upset Mike Glyer. I’m and surprised and delighted to see that we almost topped the nominations, losing out narrowly to FIYAHCON after the EPH thing, which is definitely worth celebrating. I’m also delighted that Beowulf won because it is an amazing piece of work.

I’m afraid I know almost nothing about graphic novels this year.

Dramatic Presentation: Long was won fairly easily by The Old Guard, so yay for Amazons. I see that Season 2 of The Mandalorian had enough nominations to make the ballot but, “As two episodes of The Mandalorian also qualified for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, the administrators removed the full Season 2 from the ballot for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.” Because you can’t be a finalist twice for the same piece of work.

Not that this helped the helmeted one, because The Good Place won DP: Short very easily. Those of you who failed to vote for She-Ra are terrible people and will doubtless suffer horribly in lives to come.

Ellen Datlow won Editor: Short (again), but it was a tough tussle with Lafferty & Divya. Lee Harris was unlucky not to make the final ballot.

Editor: Long was an exciting three-way fight between Navah Wolfe, Sheila E Gilbert and Diana M Pho, which Pho eventually won despite having finished 3rd in the first round. This is the voting system showing its power. Poor Lee Harris was the first runner-up in the nominations again. Vote for him next year, folks.

It has definitely been Rovina Cai’s year. She won the World Fantasy Award for Artist last month, and added the Hugo yesterday. I must say that I love the work she has done for Nicola Griffith’s Spear (out next April), but I really wanted Maurizio Manzieri to win. The work he has done for Aliette de Bodard is amazing.

Uncanny has finally been unseated in Semiprozine after four consecutive wins. Well done FIYAH, and hopefully this makes up for FIYAHCON not winning Related Work.

Fanzine was a close run thing between Journey Planet and nerds of a feather, which the latter finally won. I’m all in favour of seeing new names on the list of winners (and very happy for my pal Adri). I see that Salon Futura featured on the long list. 20 of you lovely people nominated me, though I seem to have lost a lot of votes in the EPH system, so next year please get your enemies to vote for me as well as your friends. Not that I actually need any more Hugos, but the SF Award Database people have decided that this year doesn’t count as a real finalist credit, so now I’m offically annoyed enough to want another one in my own name.

Gary and Jonathan have finally won Fancast for Coode Street. I’m delighted for them both, particularly Jonathan as he’s been a finalist 17 times before without a win.

Fan Writer was also very tight, with Elsa Sjunneson and Cora Buhlert being neck and neck through several rounds. I’m sure that Cora will win one day. She easily topped the nominations.

Fan Artist saw another first time winner in Sara Felix, who led throughout. The Long List notes that Tithi Luadthong was removed from the final ballot as he, “informed the Administrators that he had produced no eligible art in 2020.” Hopefully he’ll get another chance because honesty like that should be rewarded.

I know nothing about video games, but Hades seems to be a very popular winner having crushed the oppostion.

Ursula Vernon dominated the Lodestar, which is unsurprsing as she’s already a fan favourite.

And finally the Astounding was a close race between Micaiah Johnson and Eily Tesh, which Tesh finally won.

New Compass eBooks


Those of you who have ebook editions of Juliet McKenna’s Adabreshin Compass books should be getting notifications of new editions that are available. The main reason for this is to incorporate the fabulous new map of the Aldabreshin Archipelago that Oisín McGann did for us for the paper editions. Enjoy.

The Saturday Panel Lives

After some hard work by the programming team, the “What Do We Look for in a Fanzine?” panel has been re-constituted as a fully-online event. It will be in Harris at 10:00am EST (15:00 UK). The description for it is as follows:

Everyone on this panel writes fanzines. What that means has changed over the years, but they are all passionate about them. The panel will talk about what excites them, what delights them, and what makes them nominate something for a Hugo.

The panelists are: Erin Underwood, Guy Herbert Lillian, Jaroslav Olša, Jr., Joe Sherry and Sarah Gulde; and the moderator is me.

Tune in tomorrow.

Coronavirus – Day #623

Omicron has arrived in the UK. How do I know that? Well the peak number of daily new cases last winter was over 70,000. The last three days have all exceeded that, with today being a whopping 88,000. And this time there is pretty much nothing being done to stop it, save for the government exhorting us all to get vaccinated.

The good news is that I had my booster on Monday. It was a Pfizer, whereas the previous two had been AstraZenica. Other than a sore arm and feeling a bit tired I’ve had no side effects. The theory is that if I catch the Rona then I’ll survive it. In practice, given my medical history and the likelihood of my being discriminated against in a hospital, my chances are not good. I’ll be isolating as much as I can.

I do need to do one more food shop before the holidays, but that will be tomorrow and hopefully it will be good for three weeks.

The other good news is that hospitalisations are around a quarter of what they were last winter. That’s because vaccines work. Most of the new cases are less serious. How things will pan out when the number of new cases is well over 100,000 a day and climbing remains to be seen.

There is a parliamentary by election tomorrow. Despite the utterly awful record of the current government, the expectation is that the Tories will win, because the other two major parties are far too busy fighting each other. We may get rid of Bozo soon, but only because Tory MPs are bleating about loosing their Freedumb by being asked to wear a mask, or show evidence of vaccination before going to a football match. Whoever replaces him is likely to be worse, because there isn’t anyone better in the running for the job.

Happy Holidays from Plague Island.

Worldcon Starts Tomorrow

Well that crept up on me. It is all too easy to miss the excitement when you don’t have to travel to the convention. But Worldcon does start tomorrow, and I have panels. The schedule that I was given is as follows:

  • Wednesday 15th 16:00, Kress Room: Fanzines and Meta Fandom
  • Thursday 16th 10:00, Kress Room: Planning and Running a Virtual Fan Event
  • Saturday 18th 10:00, Calvert Room: What Do We Look for in a Fanzine?

Those time are for Washington DC. For UK times add 5 hours.

The first two of those are definite. The Saturday one may not happen for me because it has not been scheduled as a virtual event. I don’t know how that managed to fall through the cracks, but watch this space.

Of course I will also be online on Saturday night because I have a Hugo to lose. I shall be sad for my CoNZealand Fringe pals, but Related Work is a very tough field this year.

By the way, I see that Twitter is busy discussing accessibility issues again this year. This is not good, obviously, but it is hard to see what can be done.

Worldcon facility contracts are a big deal and are generally signed soon after a Worldcon wins site selection. If the facility isn’t accessible at the point, there’s very little you can do.

So we should only be picking sites that are accessible. And people do ask questions about this at bidder presentation sessions, but there are lots of other things that people care about in terms of site selection. In any case, the bidders have probably taken the facility’s world about it being accessible, and haven’t sent a team of experts to inspect it.

OK, so maybe all bidders should be more responsible and ensure that their facilities are accessible before they start. But finding a local facility that is the right size and affordable is really hard, and fan groups are unlikely to decide not to bid if their accessibility isn’t up to scratch.

Besides which, they don’t have to care, in that they are only in this for one year, and if they screw up it doesn’t matter because it will be Worldcon that gets the bad rap, not the people who failed to run it well enough.

The bottom line is that accessibility is never going to be done right except by good fortune, or because we have a group of people who are responsible for running Worldcon year after year and see such issues as important.

On Female Masculinity

Last week I recorded an an interview with my Radical Feminist pal, Finn Mackay. Finn has written a book with the intriguing title of Female Masculinities and the Gender Wars. The lovely people at Bristol Ideas wanted to do a feature on it, and I got asked to host.

Finn and I talked about an awful lot of stuff. It is an absolute delight to be able to have a deep and nuanced conversation about feminism and gender without some idiot fauxminist yelling “Penis!” at us. Hopefully the conversation will be illuminating for people who have hitherto only been exposed to the nonsense in the media.

If you would like to take a listen, you can do so here.

New Salon Futura

I know, it has been up for a week now, but I forgot to tell you about it here. Issue #35 has the following reviews:

  • Deep Wheel Orcadia by Harry Josephine Giles
  • Spear by Nicola Griffith
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • Far from the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson
  • Black Widow
  • Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

There is also a lot of discussion of virtual conventions, and a preview of my Worldcon program schedule. You can find the issue here.

New Crater School Book on Pre-Order


The new Chaz Brenchey novel, Dust Up at the Crater School, is ready to go at last. The fabulous Ben Baldwin cover is above, and links to pre-order are available here. It is just Amazon and Kobo right now because the B&N website has been having a bit of a moment, but I have finally got the book uploaded so they should have it available soon.

Print copies will be a little longer coming because of the time of year, and the supply chain crisis. But the ebooks will be available on December 24th. That’s a significant date. Does it mean something? Why yes! Here’s the blurb:

Christmas is coming to the Crater School, so the girls must celebrate. So says the Earth calendar. But Mars does not respect school rules. Nor does the Red Planet have much respect for Earth weather. Why bother with a white Christmas when Martian weather can be far more dangerous?

Then again, perhaps this is for the best. The people most likely to arrive at the Crater School with snow on their boots are Russian spies.

Yes, we have a Christmas story for you. But before that we have the whole of the autumn term, so there’s plenty of time for our girls to get themselves into trouble. And they do, of course.

As you may have noticed, we have a front page quote from the inimitable Francis Spufford. He’s also provided a blurb for the book. Here it is:

Only in the laboratory of Chaz Brenchley could the British school story be lovingly sutured together with the Old Mars of the pulps, animated with the crackling static of a planetary dust storm, and sent lumbering down to the village. No – *skipping* down to the village, with a beret, and a paper bag full of bulls’-eyes, and a wholesome desire to excel at lacrosse.

Do keep an eye on the Wizard’s Tower Press Twitter feed (@WTPress) as I’ll be teasing a few things about the book over the next few weeks. Also Chaz has promised a few Christmas recipes from Mrs. Bailey, the school’s legendary cook.

Finally, if you read and enjoyed Three Twins, do please consider posting a review on Amazon. I’ve seen from Juliet and Tate what a massive difference getting to 50 reviews makes to sales. We currently have 36, so we don’t need many more.

Alternative Canada

This morning Kevin and I visited the McCord Museum. We chose it, of all the various cultural destiations in Montréal, because it has an exhibit devoted to the local indigenous people. There are, we were told, 11 different cultural groups native to the region we know as Quebec. They range from the Huron or Wendat people, who are related to other Iroquoian-speaking peoples from around the Great Lakes region, to the Inuit.

What you hope for from such exhibitions is to to learn fascinating things about these indigienous cultures. What you get, most of the time, is shameful tales about how badly they have been treated by Europeans. You get stories of massacres, of populations decimated by Western diseases, of broken treaties, of stolen children, of horrendous suicide rates among indigenous youth. Quebec is no exception.

I will note that the exhibition in the McCord was less despressing that the equivalent one in the museum in Hobart, Tasmania. There we were greeted with sorry photographs of the last known members of the native communties, dating from decades ago. There are over 1.6 million indigenous people living in Canada. Some 800 of them participated in the creation of the exhibition in the McCord. Some of them are on video venting their frustration at how badly they are treated, still.

The final room of the exhibition encourages visitors to make a meaningful connection to indigenous people, and to start on the journey of becoming an ally. The way that they talked about listening to people, and being respectful of difference, was very similar to the things we say in the Diversity Trust training about becoming an ally to trans people. There’s a lesson in that, I suspect.

Settling In

As is the way of things with convention trips to other time zones, Kevin and I are now more or less used to Canadian time (in my case helped by their clocks going back on Sunday morning), but it is now time to start adjusting to our home time zones again.

We are settling in to Montréal in other ways too. We are eating very well, and have found the local farmers’ market so that we can sample the native cheeses. This one was rather good. We are a little hobbled due to the absence of the excellent Scott Edelman, but we shall do our best to channel his enthusiasm for fine dining and find some where spectacular to eat. We are in Montréal, that should’t be hard.

Another way in which we are getting acclimatised is that we are making like proper Canadians and going everywhere we can underground. This isn’t actually necessary. The weather has been fabulous — mostly in single digits but only very slightly negative overnght. But the underground routes are there for a reason and we are (re-)learning to use them. There’s no particular need for a coat.

I say “re-learning” because of course we learned all this in 2009 when we were here for Worldcon. This morning our route to breakfast took us past the convention center, and the fabulous Embassy Suites where Sissy Pantelis and I spent a happy week luxuriating in a superb hotel room. I want to stay in that hotel again.

However, all too soon it will be time to head home. We’ve done departure tests (though it looks like you don’t actually need one for the UK until after you have arrived, because the UK government is really keen on people spreading COVID as widely as possible). I shall have to find an excuse to come back.

Travel in the Time of COVID

So, Canada.

For the first time in my life I drove to Heathrow rather than go by train. I didn’t see any point in exposing myself to a carriage full of maskless, coughing people. Thankfully the M4 was very quiet.

Due to the additional screening involved, Air Canada asked us to arrive 3 hours before scheduled departure. I did so. There was one person in the check-in queue before me. I was through in 10 minutes.

Terrorisation was also very quick. They are trialling a new security system in T2 which does not require you to remove electronics from hand baggage. I was lucky enough to be selected. Again it was all very quick. I was airside with 2.5 hours to spare.

T2 was fairly empty. My flight was no more than a third full. Had I wanted it, I could have stretched out in a 4-set of seats. Except that masks were manadatory and my super power of falling asleep in moving vehicles does not work as well when wearing a mask.

Fortunately the entertainment was good. I saw Black Widow, and now want to see it again on a bigger screen. I also re-watched Thor: Ragnarok, because why wouldn’t I? If I can’t sleep on the way back I shall put on Fury Road.

And now I am in Montréal where the food is so good I’m putting on weight just looking at it. I gather that it is not so good if you are gluten intolerant, but I’m very happy. There is a convention going on, which is a nice bonus as I’m getting to catch up with a bunch of friends, some of whom, such as John Picacio, I haven’t seen in 10 years.

My World Fantasy Schedule

I have passed my “fit to fly” test and think that I have all of the other bits of paperwork that the Canadian government requires, so I am expecting to be flying out to Montreal tomorrow. Assuming that all goes according to plan, I will be on program at World Fantasy. Here’s what I have been scheduled for.

Friday 5th – Noon: Covid-19 and the BookWorld – Effects and Consequences
We don’t have a good picture on the consequences of the Pandemic for our industry and our genre, but the effects are huge, and they’re continuing to unfold, and will likely continue to unfold for years, with massive effects on the stability of writing as a career, on small presses, on major publishers, on printers, supply chains, on bookstore chains and independents, marketing, ebooks and audiobooks, and the industry at large.
With Joshua Palmatier, Ashley Hisson, Deanna Sjolander & Julie E. Czerneda

Saturday 6th – Noon: Works in Translation
The world of fantasy has many languages and translation is an important part of making literature available to a larger audience. The panel will discuss the challenges of translating a work from one language to another.
With Jean-Louis Trudel, Mathieu Lauzon-Dicso, Eugenia Triantafyllou

The Covid panel is in person only, but the translation one is hybrid, meaning that at least one of the panel will be attending virtually. The panel should be visiable to anyone with a virtual membership.

Compass in Paper


This took rather longer than expected due to the pandemic and the need to get the map re-done, but finally we have Juliet McKenna’s Aldabreshin Compass series back in print. The image above is of the paperbacks, and showcases Ben Baldwin’s brilliant new covers. I don’t have all of the hardcovers yet, but UPS has promised they’ll be delivered tomorrow and that should be before I have to leave for BristolCon.

I’m particularly pleased to have this series back in print because it shows that fantasy writers have been aware of diversty issues for some time. The majority of the people we meet in these books are black, and the US edition of Southern Fire had a good picture of Daish Kheda on the cover. It was published in 2003. The culture of the Aldabreshin Archipelago is also fascinating. Men have multiple wives, but their role in society is limited to law and war. Economic power is firmly vested in the women who do all of the trading. Eunuchs are commonplace. And magic is viewed with deep suspicion, if not horror.

Thanks to the worldwide paper shortage, and my being off to Canada next week, I won’t be able to fulfill orders from the Wizard’s Tower store swiftly, but the books should all be orderable from bookstores as of today. I will be looking for links and updating the Wizard’s Tower main site accordingly.