Salon Futura Website Updates

In search of something constructive to do today, I decided to write some code. There are now some helpful indexes on the Salon Futura website. I’m particularly pleased about having automated the author index for book reviews. Of course it is sorted by first name, because computers are silly like that and getting it do to it right would be a whole lot more work. But it is an awful lot better than having no index at all.

Now that’s done, I can work on porting over all of the reviews from this site, and eventually adding all of the reviews from Emerald City as well.

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February: Women in SF&F in Bristol

Normally in February I am rushing around the country doing LGBT History stuff. Next year, however, I will also be doing a panel on Women in SF&F at Foyles in Bristol (assuming that no apocalyptic events have destroyed Cabot Circus in the meantime, as tends to happen with great frequency in books by local writers). This event is the brainchild of Kate Macdonald from Handheld Press, and is going to be part of the Bristol Women’s Literature Festival. I am hugely honoured to be asked to feature alongside three brilliant local writers: Liz Williams, Emma Newman and Emma Geen.

It is a paid event, which I’m making no apologies for because the number of times I have turned up for a sold out free event and fewer than half the number of people who have booked have turned up is ridculous. You can get a ticket, and learn more about the event, here.

I am very much hoping that Ian Whates will manage to get some copies of Liz’s new novel, Comet Weather, to us for sale.

Posted in Feminism, Science Fiction, Where's Cheryl? | Leave a comment

Election Week

It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that we have a General Election happening here in the UK. I’m over 60 years old and I have no hesitation in saying that it is the most important General Election of my lifetime. If the Tories are still in power on Friday the consequences for anyone who isn’t a moderately well-off straight, cis, able-bodied person of English descent will be quite terrible. They will be particularly bad for people of colour, people who moved here from Europe and their families, and for trans people. They have, of course, been terrible for the very poor, for disabled people, and for anyone associated with the Windrush generation, for some time.

I’m delighted to see so much discussion of tactical voting happening on social media. I hope it works. Personally, however, there is little I can do. For most of my life in the UK I have lived in constituencies where it would take a political earthquake of immense proportions to unseat the incumbent Tory. I have comforted myself with the thought that having so many Tory voters in one place is a good thing for the rest of the country.

In my current constituency, the sitting MP, who is Brexit Party in all but name, got 60% of the vote at the last election. The next best performance was by Labour who got 26.5%. It is probable that some of those Tory voters will follow the lead of John Major and Michael Heseltine and vote for the LibDems, but I can’t see half of them doing so. I normally vote Green, but will be voting Labour this time just in case.

The opinion polls have all been uniformly depressing and point to a significant Tory majority. I am hoping that they are as wrong as the rest of the mainstream media coverage of the election. But even if we do end up with a coalition government led by Labour the prospects for trans folk don’t look good. Diane Abbot and Dawn Butler have been very supportive, but John McDonnell has made it clear that he expects Labour to roll back trans rights. I think the best we can hope for is that they will have far too many other things to be doing before starting on us.

This certainly isn’t the sort of situation I expected myself to be in at this point in my life. But then again when I began the transition process I didn’t expect to live much longer anyway. To have survived for 22 years has exceeded my wildest expectations. So I’m going to try to keep busy and not worry too much about things. I will trust those of you who have a more useful vote to do the right thing. And I plan to thoroughly enjoy the holiday, because it will probably be the last one I get to spend in this country.

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New Diversity Trust Newsletter

My colleagues at The Diversity Trust have put together another newletter highlighting our work over the past few months. you can read or download it here (PDF).

The contents include a report from one of our happy training clients. (I was so pleased to be able to deliver trans awareness training in Taunton.) There’s also a great little article on pronouns by my colleague, Aaron. And my 15 minutes of fame being featured in BBC Online has been turned into an article too. Any excuse to re-use one of those fabulous Lou Abercrombie photos, eh?

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Hugo Eligibility Update

Well this is embarrassing. When I did my Hugo Eligibility Post last week I completely forgot one of the stories I had published this year. That story was “The Poet’s Daughter” in Rainbow Bouquet from Manifold Press. I have updated my original post to take account of that.

Not that I expect to get anywhere near the final ballot for either of them, but if you are going to do an eligibility post you might as well get it right.

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Cheese Tasting in Bath

Yesterday evening I was at Toppings bookstore in Bath for an event that was both a book signing and a cheese tasting. The excuse for that was Ned Palmer’s A Cheesemonger’s History of The British Isles which is, as the title suggests, a history of Britain told through its cheeses. As you might guess, the combination of cheese and history was irresitable to me.

Palmer’s basic idea is to tell the history of British cheese as it was influenced by events in history. Cheese has a long and honourable place in the human story. The earliest evidence for cheese in the UK is at Durrington Walls, the Neolithic settlement used by the people building Stonehenge. The Romans brought their Italian cheeses to Britain because an ounce of cheese a day was part of the standard rations for a legionary. An entire legion needed a lot of cheese. From then on cheese-making in Britain was affected by a variety of historical events from the Black Death through to the Industrial Revolution and WWII.

Palmer has the gift of making history interesting for a general audience through the use of great little stories. As someone who gives a lot of history talks, I appreciate his skill in doing this. My favorite story of the night concerns the great 10th Century Welsh king, Hywel Dda (Hywel the Good), who is noted as a law giver. In ancient Welsh law divorce was legal and on the occasion of a divorce Hywel’s law code states that the wife should receive all of the cheese owned by the family. The assumption is that she was responsible for making it, and the text of the law gives some insight into the methods used.

Some of the stories are cutting edge archaeology too. When Palmer was talking about feeding the Roman Army I was reminded of this recent episode of Alice Roberts’ Digging for Britain where archaeologists from the University of Newcastle are excavating what they believe to be an Iron Age village that got rich from proving food to the Roman soldiers. That segment begins about 41 minutes in. There’s no specific mention of cheese, but they had cows and sheep so I’m pretty sure cheese was being made.

Of course there was cheese to eat too, and it helped that Palmer featured two of my favorite cheeses: Gorwydd Caerphilly and Stichelton. The cheeses were all provided by the Fine Cheese Company, which is where I buy cheese for special occasions. The Stichelton was Palmer’s choice for the 18th Century because Stilton was very much a thing back then. I had no idea that Daniel Defoe was responsible for starting the Stilton craze. Nor did I know that Stichelton is basically Olde English for Stilton. (They can’t call it Stilton because the official definition of Stilton requires it to be made from pasteurised milk.)

Palmer was unable to source the goat’s cheese he had written about in the book because the woman who made it has died. Artisan cheese-making can be like that. I still miss Llanboidy. I didn’t get the name of the substitute he had in, but it was very good. And I learned that you can always tell goat’s cheese because it is white, as compared to the ivory of sheep’s cheese and the darker colours of cow’s cheese.

You can’t do a cheese tasting in Somerset without a cheddar. Palmer chose Westcombe because it is made on the same farm that was once home to the legendary Edith Cannon who, by the age of 21, had already established a reputation as one of the best cheese-makers in Victorian England.

There’s an issue with cheddar in that the hard, crumbly, and very strong cheese that I grew up on is not the same thing that Cannon used to make. Westcombe is quite mild and softer. Much of this is a result of rationing in WWII. The Milk Marketing Board needed to ensure that cheese rations could be fairly distributed, and they encouraged the creation of hard cheeses to make this easier. Many great artisan cheeses were probably lost in the process.

Thankfully these days cheese-making is blooming in the UK. Palmer’s final example was Renegade Monk, a cheese that was recommended to me by Rosie at The Bristol Cheesemonger. It too is a Somerset cheese, but it is totally unlike cheddar. It is a lightly blue washed rind cheese that is soft and pungent with rambunctious taste. I got definite hints of aniseed towards the end. It is an aquired taste, but I’m delighted that such innovative cheese-making is happening in Somerset.

Posted in Books, Food | 2 Comments

Today on Ujima: The Deep, Interculture & Trans Women in Sport

That was my final Women’s Outlook show for 2019. This is what we talked about.

First up I re-ran my interview with Rivers Solomon from last year. We talked mainly about The Deep, and it is published in the UK tomrrow. I’m sure there are a lot of listeners who might buy it but who have forgotten about the interview by now. If anyone wants to see my review of the book, you can find it here.

My first studio guest was Lisa Whitehouse from Interculture. She’s currently crowdfunding for money to run three series of courses that are aimed at bringing various cultural groups in Bristol together so that they can get to understand each other better. Lisa and I spent quite a bit of time talking about whiteness and how we, as white people who work a lot with BME communities, can avoid making everything all about us.

Next in the studio was Sammy Walker, a young trans woman who has been a key part of this year’s Rainbow Laces campaign. She’s a very good soccer player, but is currently playing for Bristol Panthers, an inclusive LGBT team with mainly male players, because she doesn’t want to have to deal with all the politics around trans women in sport. The conversation expanded from football to trans women in sport in general.

I had a really bad coughing fit at the start of the interview with Sammy. I’ve just listed back to it and it isn’t too bad, but my apologies again to everyone for that, and thanks to Ben the engineer for his bottle of water.

The conversation with Sammy went on for about 45 minutes and I filled the rest of the time with a bit of Christmas music because it is that time of year. Here’s the full playlist:

  • The Deep – clipping
  • Americans – Janelle Monáe
  • Money – Jackie Shane
  • Unstoppable – Lianne la Havas
  • We Are Family – Sister Sledge
  • My Feet Keep Dancing – Chic
  • Run, Rudolph, Run – Chuck Berry
  • All I Want for Christmas is You – Maria Carey
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen & Sleigh Ride – The Ramsey Lewis Trio

You can listen to the whole show here.

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Hugo Eligibility Post

It is that time of year again, so what have I been up to in 2019?.

Firstly I have published two Short Stories. They are:

Secondly, as I have now published four issues, Salon Futura is eligible in Fanzine.

Thirdly, as I write most of Salon Futura myself, I am eligible in Fan Writer.

For those just catching up on all this, the main reason why I am tossing my hat into the fan awards ring again, despite having plenty of shiny rockets to keep me company, is that interest in the Fanzine category has been waning of late. I’m hoping to boost participation. If you have a fanzine and want people to nominate it, let me know and I will signal boost for you.

(This post was updated on Dec. 9th to add the second short story.)

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November Salon Futura

A new issue of Salon Futura went live yesterday. That’s four issues for the year now, so it is Hugo-eligibe for next year. Here’s the main contents:

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We Were Proud

Last week saw the 4th anniversary of Trans Pride South West (TPSW), our local celebration of trans pride which sprang from Sarah Savage’s visit to our LGBT History Month event in 2016. I’m not involved in the running of it, but I do get involved in various parts of it.

This year, for the first time, we had a march. That began with a gathering on College Green in front of City Hall, and that meant speeches. We had some political representation. Carla Denyer, the Green Party candidate for Bristol West, was there. She was accompanied by a bunch of young party members, and by Baroness Bennett, so the Greens really put some effort behind us. The Liberal Democrats sent along James Cox who had kindly stood down in Bristol West in order to give Carla a better chance of getting elected. Sadly there was no official representation from Bristol Labour, though Kaz Self from the TPSW committee did make a speech on their behalf. There was also a representative from the Women’s Equality Party, which was of course me. So yes, I did make a speech. No one laughed, except when I wanted them to, which I am taking as a win.

From there we marched up Baldwin Street towards the city centre. We had space in The Station, a former fire station on Silver Street for a Community Day. There were just under 200 people (and three dogs) on the march, which was very good for a cold and wet November morning. I was very pleased to count at least 16 people of colour among us.

The Community Day had a lot of stalls. I was representing OutStories Bristol. The photo above shows me at my stall along with Spencer from TPSW and Alex from the hate crime charity, SARI. The Diversity Trust also had a stall. The event was very well attended. Indeed, around 13:00 you could barely move in the room. I think the committee might need to look for a bigger venue next year.

I was somewhat worried that there might be some attempt by right-wing groups to disrupt the march, but everything went off very smoothly. Clearly the anti-trans fauxminists are easily put off by a little rain.

I had to rush off immediately after the event ended as I was giving a talk in Brighton on the Sunday, so I didn’t get to chat to people at thing were winding down, but I’m very happy with how things went and I’m looking forward to TPSW being bigger and better next year.

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Queer (Romans) in Brighton

Here’s something I am doing this weekend, which I didn’t tell you about earlier because by the time I got the details it had sold out. Which is very pleasing.

Anyway, immediately I finish at Trans Pride in Bristol on Saturday I will be on a train to Brighton. It is a mad schedule, but Sunday morning trains are crap and I need to go on Saturday to make sure I get there in time.

On the Sunday afternoon I will be at Brighton Museum for their monthly Queen in Brighton LGBTQ+ History Club. I will be talking about being trans and intersex in Ancient Rome. There will be gender reassignment surgery; there will be gossip about the Imperial Family; there will be stand up philosopher contests; and being the Romans it will all be a bit gruesome.

What have the Romans done for us? They invented the dick pic.

If you want to know more, and be sad that you can’t get a ticket, the booking page is here.

Posted in Academic, Gender, History, Where's Cheryl? | Leave a comment

Historical Fiction at Bath Spa

I spent yesterday at Bath Spa University (the beautiful Newton Park campus) at a conference on writing historical fiction. This is a brief report on the event.

First up I should note that this conference differs from the Historical Fiction Research Network conferences in that it is primarily for students of creative writing, and for working writers. I think I was the only speaker presenting as an historian as opposed to a writer, literary critic or publishing industry expert. Both conferences have value in their own way.

I knew that it was going to be an interesting day right from the start when the opening speaker, Alan Bilton from Swansea University, started talking about postmodernism and whether we can ever know what really happened in the past. We largely managed to avoid going down any Alt-Right rabbit holes, but it did lead to someone asking about authenticity, own voices and so on. And straight down another rabbit hole we went.

When these discussions start (and particularly when they start on social media) they tend to devolve into an argument with people on one side saying that writers should be allowed to write whatever characters they want, and people on the other saying that only people with lived experience of certain types of characters should be allowed to write those characters.

Repeat after me, please: All binaries are false.

As it happens, I’m a big fan of own voices work. If I’m going to read a book set in, say, Mexico City, I would much rather read one written by someone who has lived there (e.g. Silvia Moreno Garcia) than by someone whose knowledge of the city comes entirely from Wikipedia. (And yes, that is another false binary.) But this isn’t the entirety of the disucssion. When it was my turn to get up to speak I made the point that if only trans people were allowed to write trans characters then only around 1% of fiction would contain trans characters, and this would be a bad thing because we desperately need positive portrayals of trans people in fiction right now.

One of the ways around this is to employ a sensitivity reader. Of course that term is a red rag to the more conservative end of the industry, but it shouldn’t be. There was a good example to hand, because Alan had been talking about his forthcoming novel which happens to be set in Russia. He mentioned that he’d relied heavily on a Russian-born colleague for advice. That’s using a sensitivity reader. Most science fiction readers would applaud an author who had worked with actual astronauts, or actual astrophysicists, to get scientific details right. That too is using a sensitivity reader. It is no different from asking for help to make sure that you get Polynesian culture, or non-binary identity, right in your book. Except that if you are asking for help from someone from a marginalised group for help you should probably be paying them, rather than offering a few beers or a favour in return.

My talk, by the way, was a slightly rushed and less interactive version of my workshop on writing queer characters from history. A few folks on Twitter expressed interest in it. I’d be very happy to run it at other events in the future.

The final session of the conference was an industry panel featuring literary agent, Kate Horden; novelist and publisher Lorna Gray; and the historical fiction reviewer for The Times, Antonia Senior. It turned out that Antonia is related by marriage to Amal El-Mohtar and can therefore talk knowledgeably about the difference between the SF&F and historical fiction communities. I found myself nodding along to pretty much everything she said because every book critic has the same issues with too many books and the foolishness of the publishing industry. She had also read and reviewed Shadows of Athens, which made me very happy.

Because the attendees of the conference were almost all women, there was some interest in questions of author identity, use of initials and so on. If anyone wants to follow up on that, I warmly recommend Juliet McKenna’s essay, “The Myth of Meritocracy”, in Gender Identity and Sexuality in Fantasy and Science Fiction, the British Fantasy Award Winning book from Luna Press. Juliet goes through the entire pipeline of the publishing and bookselling industry and shows, with data and references, how it is stacked in favour of straight, white men at every turn.

If it were up to me I’d make that essay required reading on all creative writing syllabi.

There were other great sessions as well. I enjoyed discussing theoretical approaches to writing historical fiction with Melissa Addy (I hope you enjoy Guy Gavriel Kay, Melissa). I was delighted to meet British-based Serbian writer, Senja Andrejevic-Bullock, who had really interesting things to say regarding writing about recent wars when you are from a people who are regarded as the bad guys. I learned a lot about women at sea from Sarah Tanburn, and about the hidden meanings in Pieter Bruegel’s paintings from Lisa Koning. I even met someone who has written feminist science fiction. Hello Lania Knight!

Huge thanks to Celia Brayfield and Bea Hitchman for organising the event. I understand that there are plans to run the conference again next year, and it will be at the University of Gloucester. I’ll let you know when I have more details.

Posted in Conventions, Gender, History, Publishing, Writing | Leave a comment

Inventing the Future

Yesterday evening I was a guest panelist at an event in the Bristol Technology Festival. It was called Invented Futures, and it was all about how we use technology to, you guessed it, invent the future. Obviously I was there a the science fiction expert, but the rest of the crew covered a wide range of technological innovation.

Julia Scott-Stevenson from UWE is an expert in Virtual Reality. She’s involed in the i_Docs project (immersive documentaries), and she has also written a manifesto on how immersive experiences can be used for good.

Coral Manton from Bath Spa University works with computer games (and therefore has one of the best jobs in the world). She is also one of the people behind a fascinating project called Women Reclaiming AI, which seeks to create a digital assistant made by women (as opposed to an artificial woman made by men).

Pete Bennett from the University of Bristol has a variety of creative projects including Digitally Enhanced Lego, and making games for the gorillas at Bristol Zoo.

Also I shouldn’t forget our moderator, Maria Leonard, who is the brains behind Death.io, which helps people manage their departure in the digital world. (Did you know that you can leave your Farcebook account to a friend to manage after you die? I didn’t.)

I saw my job as talking about as many great books as possible, and it was slightly disturbing to realise that many of the people in the room only consumed science fiction through TV and movies. Consequently they were completely unaware of the changes that have happened in the field over the past decade. I asked the audience to guess how many of the fiction writing awards it this year’s Hugos had gone to women. It took quite a while for someone to twig that the correct answer was, “all of them”, and this despite the fact that the audience was majority female.

I mentioned as many books as I could. Even so, I couldn’t get in every one I wanted. So here is a reading list.

Books by Bristol writers that address issues with the current digital world:

  • Everything About You by Heather Child
  • After Atlas by Emma Newman
  • Infinite Detail by Tim Maughan

Books about AIs and artificial beings:

  • Autonomous by Analee Newitz
  • The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
  • Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
  • vN and iD by Madeline Ashby
  • Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M Valente
  • The Stone Canal by Ken MacLeod
  • Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross

Other books about digital worlds:

  • Singularity Sky by Charles Stross
  • Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
  • Lady of Mazes by Karl Schroeder
  • Queen City Jazz by Kathleen Ann Goonan

Julia recommended the anthology, Women Invent the Future.

If anyone has any additional suggestions please add them in comments. But let’s it keep it to fairly recent books, OK? There’s no need to suggest Asimov’s robot novels, or Do Androids Dream Electric Sheep.

Posted in Books, Computers, Science Fiction, Technology, Where's Cheryl? | Comments Off on Inventing the Future

Today on Ujima – Books, Theatre, Trans Pride & Tobias Buckell

My first guest on today’s radio show was Kate MacDonald of Handheld Press, a wonderful local publisher based in Bath. Kate will be familiar to people on the UK SF&F circuit as she was at FantasyCon and BristolCon. She doesn’t just publish SF&F, but when she does it is pretty spectacular. You will have heard me enthusing about her Vonda McIntyre reissue, and she has had great success with a Nicola Griffith book. On the show we talked about a book by Rose Maculey which inspired Brave New World. John Clute gets a starring role in the story of how Kate got to publish that one. And if we’d had more time we’d have talked about the new Sylvia Townsend Warner book, Of Cats and Elfins, which has a Greer Gilman introduction and a Neil Gaiman front cover blurb.

That was hard to top, but for the second section of the show I welcomed Nick Young from Creative Youth Network and two wonderful young actors who will be performing in The Edge, a play about the dangers of reality TV. The play is written by my friend Edson Burton, and will be staged at Colston Hall later this month. As the advertising says, it will be an immersive live performance. You’ll have to listen to the interview to find out just how clever they have been.

In part three I welcome Lowie Trevena, the new LGBT+ Affairs correspondent of Bristol 24/7 to talk about the upcoming Trans Pride South West. Lowie did a preview of the event for the paper yesterday, and we went a lot more into detail on that. We also talked about what it means to be a non-binary person, and how non-binary does not mean androgynous.

Finally I re-ran parts of my 2014 interview with Tobias Buckell to celebrate his win (along with Paulo Bacigalupi) in the World Fantasy Awards last weekend. Their book, The Tangled Lands, won the Best Collection catageory. In the 2014 piece Tobias and I talk about hurricanes in the Caribbean, climate change, and some interesting regional politics that allowed Tobias to create a unified Caribbean state for some of his work.

You can listen to the show here.

The playlist is as follows:

  • Pipe – Christina Aguilera & Lewis Hamilton
  • World in Union – Ladysmith Black Mambazo (feat. PJ Powers)
  • Screen Kiss – Thomas Dolby
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Gil Scott Heron
  • History – Shea Freedom
  • Sticks and Stones – Jackie Shane
  • Hurricane Season – Trombone Shorty
  • 007 – A Fantasy Bond Theme – Barry Adamson
Posted in Awards, Books, Gender, Music, Publishing, Radio, Science Fiction, Theatre | Comments Off on Today on Ujima – Books, Theatre, Trans Pride & Tobias Buckell

October Salon Futura

In case you missed the announcements last week, the October issue of Salon Futura is now available. You can read it here.

I have a guest article this time — an update of Kevin’s legendary article on designing convention badges, because this is one con-running lesson that people never seem to learn. There’s also my report on FantasyCon, and an audio interview with Ellen Datlow. But as usual the main content is book reviews and in this issue we have:

  • The Warrior Moon by K Arsenault Rivera
  • FranKissStein by Jeanette Winterson
  • The Pleasant Profession of Robert A Heinlein by Farah Mendlesohn
  • Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield
  • Shadows of Athens by JM Alvey
  • David Mogo, Godhunter, by Suyi Davies Okungbowa
  • Brightfall by Jamie Lee Moyer
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This Week in Bristol

I have a fairly busy week coming up. I have a radio show on Wednesday, which all of you can enjoy. That will include an interview with Kate MacDonald of Handheld Press and will look forward to Trans Pride South West. However, there are also two evening events that may be of interest to those of you who are local.

On Thursday night from 6:30pm I will be at the Framework Co-working centre at 35 King Street taking part in the 2019 Bristol Tech Festival. I will be on a panel called Invented Futures which will look emerging technology and the stories we tell about it. You can find more details about the event, and reserve a free ticket, here. I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow panelists, especially Coral Manton because I want to learn more about the Women Reclaiming AI project.

And on Friday night from 7:30pm at Foyles in Cabot Cirus there will be a science fiction event featuring three of our finest local authors: Peter F Hamilton, Emma Newman and Gareth L Powell. That’s £3 a ticket and you can get one here. I might have to skip that one, depending on how much I manage to get done on Friday durign the day and how tired I am by the end of it, but it should be great..

Posted in Radio, Science Fiction, Technology | Comments Off on This Week in Bristol

Congratulations, Olivette

If you follow UK news you may have seen that my friend, Professor Olivette Otele, has a new job. She has been given a new post at the University of Bristol and has been asked specifically to investigate the city and university’s connections to the slave trade. Here’s a BBC report.

Now obviously this is nowhere near as cool as making a documentary with Lupita Nyong’o. However, it is hugely important for the city. I’m sure that Ujima will be following Olivette’s work very closely.

In the meantime, because it is Black History Month, I have resurrected the radio show that Olivette and I did last year. I cut it into two parts for podcasting. You can listen to it here via the links below.

Posted in History, Podcasts, Radio | Comments Off on Congratulations, Olivette

Steampunks in Space

I have email from the UK’s National Space Centre. Later this month (23rd/24th) they will be having a steampunk convention at their museum in Leicester. It looks like a pretty full on two days of events. Sadly I don’t have the time to arrange to go and sell books, but hopefully some of you will have the opportunity to attend. For more details, click here.

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Happy Samhain

The holiday that we call Hallowe’en is something of a mash-up between the Celtic Samhain, the Catholic All Souls Eve, and the Aztec festival in honour of their goddess of death, Mictēcacihuātl. Being a Celt (whatever that means), I tend to stick to our version of things, and therefore it is my duty to warn you that tonight the walls between the world of mortals and the world of the sídhe are thinner than at any time of the year. If you wish to avoid being abducted, you should take care not to accept any mysterious invitations.

Here’s a little music to help you out. First up, Steeleye Span with “Thomas the Rhymer” (and I’m pleased to see that whoever put this on YouTube used the original Thomas Canty cover art from Ellen Kushner’s brilliant novel).

And secondly, here’s Horslips from The Book of Invasions with something a little more scary, “Ride to Hell”.

Stay safe, people.

Posted in Music, Pagan | Comments Off on Happy Samhain

Attention, Londoners!

It has come to my attention that you have a very special edition of Super Relaxed Fantasy Club coming up. Here’s the announcement.

Paul Cornell should need no introduction, and his Lychford novellas are a lot of fun.

Heather Child is a very talented Bristol-based author. You may have seen me enthusing about her novels, Everything About You and The Undoing of Arno Knott.

And finally, a new novel from Mike Carey! Colour me excited!

Be there if you can, it should be great.

Posted in Books, Readings | Comments Off on Attention, Londoners!