World Literature Today Recommends

The latest issue of World Literature Today includes an International Speculative Fiction Reading List. And a very impressive list it is too. The novels include works by Leena Krohn, Ursula K Le Guin, Liu Cixin, Ken Liu, Carmen Maria Machado, Nnedi Okorafor, Helen Oyeyemi, Sofia Samatar, Johanna Sinisalo, Karin Tidbeck, Élisabeth Vonarburg & Zoran Živković. The anthology list contains Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History (ed. Rose Fox & Daniel José Older) and Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology (ed. Ann & Jeff VanderMeer). It also contains Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers (ed. Casey Plett & Cat Fitzpatrick). There are lots of other books on there as well, so why not take a look and check some of them out.

Posted in Science Fiction, Translations | Leave a comment

Translating the Hugos

With Worldcon being only a couple of months away, fannish social media is inevitably starting to buzz with proposals for adding new Hugo Award categories. Old time fans are doubtless muttering into their beer in disgust, using phrases like “giving out rockets like candy” and “devaluing the Award”. Fandom at large will, I think, continue to ignore such misgivings, because fans like giving people awards. If they can think of new excuses for doing so, they will go for it.

That out of the way, therefore, let’s take a look at this year’s favorite for a new category: a translated fiction award (or perhaps several).

Much of the talk that I have seen online about this focuses on the fact that the national awards in most European countries have categories for translated works. British Awards do not (which people often forget). The Hugos do not either. The argument is that if the French, the Germans, the Spanish, the Finns and so on can have awards for translated fiction then so should “we”. And by “we” people tend to mean “Americans”.

Of course there are good reasons why some sets of awards include translation categories and others do not. In English-speaking countries the proportion of published works that are translated from other languages is, very famously, only around 3%. (Actually I think it is a bit higher these days, but 3% is the figure that everyone knows.) In contrast, if you live in a non-English-speaking country, you may find that the proportion of translated works published locally is 50% or higher. Many of those translated books will be by internationally famous writers such as George RR Martin, or Stephen King, or Margaret Atwood.

In such an environment it is entirely understandable that the local awards would have separate categories for books written in the local language and books published in translation. The translated books are very common; and may be selling very well. You want to make sure that your local writers get a look in as well.

In the English-speaking world, because translations are such a small part of the market, there has never been any need to protect local writers by putting translations into a separate category. There are, of course, arguments such as whether books written by Americans should be eligible for British awards, and they happen for similar reasons. But translations are left to fend for themselves alongside books written in English.

So that’s why there are no translation categories in British national awards. The Hugos are different matter, because they are not the American national awards.

Yes, I know that lots of people think that they are. I still remember 2005 when a British publisher expressed their annoyance to me about being expected to take note of an American convention, giving out American awards, that had been so rude as to locate itself in Scotland for a year. But let’s remind ourselves what the eligibility criteria for the Hugos are:

  1. A work is eligible when it is first published, regardless of language and place of publication;
  2. A work is eligible again on first publication in English if all previous publication has been in languages other than English;
  3. A work is eligible again on first publication in the USA if all previous publication has been outside of the USA.

The reason for this somewhat complex set of rules is not, as is often claimed, to give special privileges to American fans, but a recognition that the majority of Hugo voters are American. The objective is to give a second or third chance to a work in the year in which it comes to the attention of that majority of voters. Should we move to a situation where that special treatment is no longer necessary then presumably the rules will be changed. People have, in the past, argued (unsuccessfully) for suspending the system in years when Worldcon is held outside of the USA.

Why is this important? Well, remember the whole fuss over the YA Award and why it is Not A Hugo? The objection was that the same work should not be able to win two separate Hugos in the same year. A YA novel would be eligible for the Novel Hugo (or Novella depending on length) as well as a YA Hugo. The solution adopted, which is exactly the same as was used by SFWA for the Nebulas, was to make the YA Award a separate category. So Not A Hugo (or Not A Nebula).

Obviously the same argument can be applied to awards for translated fiction. If there is a category for Translated Novel then any book eligible for it would also be eligible for Novel. It could win both. Three Body Problem presumably would have done so.

There are people who will not like this. There are people who, seeing a proposal for a Translated Novel category, will introduce an amendment that will remove the eligibility of translated works in the novel category. Some of these people are likely to try to remove the foreign language and translated eligibility options from *all* Hugo categories. Some people will think that is a price worth paying in order to get a Translated Novel category. Personally I think that losing the international and multi-cultural aspect of the Hugos would be a tragedy, especially now that we are starting to see a lot more non-US Worldcons.

Now of course there is no reason why the same solution cannot be adopted. We could create a WSFS Award for Translated Novel that was Not A Hugo. We’d call it the Ansible, obviously. But people seem to get very upset when awards are deemed Not A Hugo, so let’s look at other possibilities.

The question that we should ask before trying to create any new category of Hugo is: What are we trying to achieve?

Obviously we are not introducing a translation category to protect people who write in English. Presumably what we are intending to do is to bring more attention to people who don’t write in English. And perhaps we also wish to promote the general idea of translation.

How about this for an idea? Instead of an award for a translated novel, we instead have an award for services to translation. The sort of works/people who might be eligible include:

  • A translator for a body of work;
  • A publisher for publishing translations;
  • A magazine for publishing translations;
  • An anthology that contains a number of translated stories;
  • A non-fiction book or documentary about translated fiction;
  • An organisation such as StoryCom that promotes translated fiction;
  • A blog, fanzine or fancast devoted to translated fiction; or
  • The committee of a Worldcon held in a non-English-speaking country.

One of the benefits of this is that it would widen the number of works that are eligible. A Translated Novel award might not have enough eligible works to make a viable category.

One obvious downside is that people would complain that they are being asked to choose between apples and oranges, much as they do every year in the case of the Related Work category.

I’m by no means wedded to this idea. My main concern is that we keep the international aspect of the Hugos. If we can have them do more work to promote translations while retaining that feature I will be happy.

Mostly, however, I just want people to think carefully about proposing new Hugo categories. You can’t just add a new Hugo because it would be nice to give more people awards. The category has to work, it has to perform the function that you want it to perform, and you have to get your proposal past the Business Meeting. These things are not always easy.

Posted in Awards, Science Fiction, Translations | 8 Comments

Fringe Tonight – Stark Holborn & Tom Toner

Bristol people, it is Fringe day once more! Tonight we will be treated to a mixture of Western fantasy and space opera. Stark Holborn, the Fastest Pen in the West, and creator of the fabulous Nunslinger, will be treating us to more frontier adventures, and/or leaving us for the vultures. Tom Toner, author of The Promise of the Child and The Weight of the World, will be jetting in from the farthest reaches of the galaxy, or possibly from Bath. As usual I will be on hand to keep the show moving and to put our two readers to the question.

7:30pm start at the Gryphon as usual. Full details here.

Posted in Readings, Science Fiction | Leave a comment

Diversity Trust Social Impact Report

Those of you following my Twitter feed will know that I have been doing a lot of work for The Diversity Trust over the past year. Of course my colleagues have been very busy too. If you would like to know more about our work, we have just issued a Social Impact Report for 2017-18. You can read it here.

Posted in Feminism | Leave a comment

Immigrants R Us?

Last week I had the honour of attending a launch event for an appearance of the Rainbow Pilgrims travelling exhibit at Bristol University Students’ Union. The project is being headed by my good friend Shaan Knan, and once again he’s done a great job.

As part of the event we were treated to talks about how refugees and asylum seekers are treated in the UK today, and it is a clear indication of how much of a police state the country has become. The first talk opened with a quote from Tony Benn to the effect that the way the government treats refugees is an indication of how they would treat the rest of us if they thought they could get away with it. Well listen.

They are not allowed to work. They are not allowed to study. They are often interned, and if not have to register on a regular basis at a location specifically chosen to be hard to get to. They are at the mercy of bureaucrats who can brazenly give them incorrect instructions knowing that this won’t be accepted as an excuse and the refugee will be punished for doing the wrong thing. Some asylum staff have a policy of never approving a claim, despite that fact that this results in lots of expensive law suits which the government is more likely than not to lose.

It is, to put it mildly, a totally inhumane system. And for LGBT asylum seekers it is even worse. Despite government protestations to the contrary, they are still required to undergo deeply personal and humiliating questioning, often requiring pictorial evidence, of their sexuality and/or gender identity.

I suspect that the way we now treat disabled people is equally horrific.

With all of this in mind I was interested to see that the latest episode of the Charlie Jane Anders and Analee Newitz podcast, Our Opinions Are Correct, focused on the portrayal of refugees in science fiction. The special guest for this episode is Mexican poet and performer, Baruch Porras-Hernandez. He started talking about how some immigrants are very keen to fit in and “pass”, if you will, for members of the dominant culture, while others are proud of who they are and insist on keeping their own language and culture.

I listened to this on Saturday morning, with Kate O’Donnell’s theatre production, You’ve Changed, still fresh in my mind. I was struck by how what Porras-Hernandez was saying paralleled the discussion that Kate and I had after the show.

Back in olden times when Kate began transition (2003), and even more so when I did (1994) the accepted advice was that you must fit in. You must become undetectable as a member of the gender into which you were transitioning. Anything else would risk ostracization and possibly violence. The whole ethos of Kate’s show is that she’s proud of who she is; and doesn’t want to hide away.

Now of course there is no right way to be trans, or to be an immigrant. Some people naturally fit in to the world they are joining, others will always stick out like a sore thumb. No one should have to “pass”, but no one should be punished for wanting to do so. However, I do think this parallel is an interesting way of understanding the trans experience. I’d be interested to know if anyone else finds it useful or illuminating.

Posted in Current Affairs, Gender | 2 Comments

A Note on Crowdfunder

One of the many disturbing things occupying my time at the moment is an anti-trans lobby group that has written an “advice” booklet for schools on how to “support” trans children. I use scare quotes advisedly there because their advice is deeply damaging and, far from supporting trans children, is likely to lead to worsening mental health. Following the “advice” would also lead to schools breaching the Equality Act.

Essentially the booklet encourages teachers to practice conversion therapy on trans children. That would be bad enough if they were trained to do such a thing, because the vast majority of the relevant health care bodies have disavowed such treatment. But of course teachers are not trained counsellors, and could do considerable damage to vulnerable youngsters.

Anyway, the group resposible for this awful document has been raising money to print copies and send them to all schools. They are doing so on Crowdfunder. Despite having received an enormous number of complaints about the project, Crowdfunder is allowing the project to continue. Apparently dishonestly raising money with the intention to harm children and encourage schools to break the law is not against their terms and conditions.

Well, you know, freeze peach and all that. But we are free to do things too, and in my case that means never using Crowdfunder again. If you have a project that you want to fund, please consider using a different platform because I won’t back anything on Crowdfunder, and I suspect that a lot of other people will have taken the same decision.

Posted in Current Affairs, Gender | Leave a comment

Today on Ujima – Trans, Music, Suffragettes & Coercive Control

Today’s show started with a first for me, a live phone-in. Ben has only done one before so he did very well getting it sorted eventually. I’m very glad he did because I had a great chat with Kate O’Donnell about her show which is coming up on Friday. Tom Marshman was in the studio with us providing cover when the phone wasn’t working, and talking about his own part in the evening.

My second guest today was the amazing local singer, Ruth Royall. She has an absolutely fabulous voice, does her own production and plays a lot of the music on her recordings, and is basically just hugely talented. I got to play a brand new song that has never been heard on radio before.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

The second hour failed to record, which is annoying, because you will miss the great chat I had with Lucienne Boyce about the special day we are putting on at M Shed to celebrate 100 years of votes for (some) women. The good news is that you can still come along to the event. You can find out more on Farcebook, or download the programme here.

I will be playing hostess in the Studio Room all day, much as I do for LGBT History Month events. I’m also on the final panel which is pretty high-powered. It has belatedly occured to me that I need a costume, or at the very least a sash.

The final segment of the show featured Charlotte Gage of Bristol Zero Tolerance talking about a form of domestic abuse known as Coercive Control. Basically this is where one person in a domestic set-up tries to completely control the behaviour of another. There are various levels to it, but it can get very serious and anyone who is being victimised in this way can now seek help.

The playlist for the show was as follows:

  • I Am What I Am – Amanda Lear
  • Any Other Way – Jackie Shane
  • 4U – Ruth Royall
  • Heart on Fire – Ruth Royall
  • Wind in My Sails – Ruth Royall
  • Sister Suffragette – Glynis Johns
  • March of the Women – Ethel Smyth, perfomed by Plymouth Choir feat. Eiddwen Harrhy
  • No Man’s Woman – Sinead O’Connor
  • I Hate Myself for Loving You – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
Posted in Feminism, Gender, History, Music, Radio, Theatre | Leave a comment

All Change at Trinity

Next week is rather busy as far as trans-related events in Bristol goes.

On Monday Jack Halberstam will be at the Arnolfini presenting “A quick and quirky guide to gender variability.” My colleague Yaz previewed that event on yesterday’s Women’s Outlook, which you can listen to here.

On Thursday the fabulous Surat Shaan Knan will be in town to launch a residency of his Rainbow Pilgrims exhibition at Bristol University. (That event is sold out.)

And on Friday Kate O’Donnell presenting her one-woman show, You’ve Changed at the Trinity Centre. The write up for the show is as follows:

When there’s no rule book, you just have to write your own… It’s fourteen years since Kate transitioned and a lot has changed. However, where gender is concerned, are we still stuck in the dark ages?

Through song, dance, hard-won wisdom and hilarity You’ve Changed shines a light on the ins and outs and ups and downs of transitioning. Challenging the idea that “genitals equal gender” Kate literally bares all; getting her own out on the proverbial table. She’s changed: that’s clear, but have you?

As the show involves nudity, it is a 16+ event.

The event is being staged by my friend Tom Marshman through his Beacons, Ikons and Dykons series. Tom will be doing a short introductory performance before Kate. And afterwards he has asked me to chair a Q&A discussion about issues raised by the show. Goodness only knows where that is going to go.

Anyway, I have it on the best authority (CN Lester) that Kate’s show is amazing, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing it.

Posted in Gender, Theatre | Leave a comment

Clothes Off for Feminism

Today I went into Bristol to see my friend Tamsin Clarke of the Popelei Theatre Company. As well as doing great theatre, Tamsin hosts a feminist podcast that addresses body issues. Because bodies are such an issue for women there’s a lot to talk about. Tamsin came up with the idea of recording the interviews with her and the interviewee both naked, presumably because that way all of the body issues are out in the open.

This is not a problem for me. I spend a lot of time in Finland and am therefore very used to sitting in a sauna with a bunch of other women, totally naked, chatting about all and sundry. The big difference was that this was not a general chat, but an interview about my body, which is inevitably an intreview about being trans.

The podcast won’t be out for a few weeks yet, and when it does come out it may well have a content warning because there is discussion of surgery. There’s also discussion of sex, and there’s swearing. It is not a radio thing.

Goodness only knows what the trans-exclusionary mob will make of all this. There’s me “penetrating” a feminist podcast. And not only that, but doing it in a woman’s home (Tamsin lives on a boat currently moored in Bristol) and doing it naked. Doubtless I will be accused of forcing myself on poor Tamsin, and of waving my political willy* in her face. So before there are comments let me state categorically that I was invited to be on the podcast. Also Tamsin and I spent an hour or so on Monday talking through it and making sure that we were both comfortable with what we were going to do.

Anyway, that’s another thing I have now done that I never thought I would ever do. And before anyone asks, I am so not doing a naked interview on TV. Not unless someone offers me enough money to buy immigration to the USA.

* A Political Willy is one that doesn’t actually exist except in the minds of people whose political phliosophy holds that anyone with a Y chromosome is forever male, in possession of a penis, and a violent rapist.

Posted in Feminism, Podcasts | Leave a comment

Not One Fringe, But Two

BristolCon Fringe events are apparently like London buses: you wait all month for one, and then two come along at once.

Tomorrow, instead of watching the Royal Wedding or FA Cup Final, the better people of Bristol will be at the Hatchett to see Joanne Hall, Peter Newman, Lucy Hounsom, Brian McClellan and Micha Yongo. This is a joint even with our good friends Books on the Hill. Full details here.

And on Monday we’ll be back at the Gryphon for the monthly reading. For May we have our old friend Kevlin Henney, and newcomer Heather Child. Heather is a new addition to the Bristol area’s stellar line-up of speculative fiction writers with a debut novel, Everything About You, available from Orbit.

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Trans History and Activism

On Tuesday night I was in London participating in a panel on trans history and activism. It was part of a series run by a group called History Acts who bring together activists in various fields and historians who study those fields. I’d originally been approached to be an historian, but they got some actual academic historians for that. However, one of the activists had to cancel, and I was able to step into that role instead.

The historians were all people I knew: Kit Heyam, Catherine Baker and Clare Tebbutt. They all have some sort of queer connection. In fact almost everyone who does trans history well is queer in some way. This, we were told, made the event somewhat unusual for History Acts, in that the historians and activists were very much of the same mind.

The other activist was Morgan M Page who does this podcast and is all-round awesome. She and I take very different approaches, in that I do serious academic history and harrange academics, whereas she takes the history to a much more general audience.

It was a good event, and lots of us got to hang out afterwards, but the most interesting thing I got from it was another great lead from Clare. Several years ago I heard her speak about the work of Lennox Broster who worked with a lot of intersex patients in the 1930s. Assigning the sex of an intersex baby is often difficult, and Broster’s patients generally came to him complaining that they had been wrongly assigned. As he was an expert in such conditions, he could help them change their legal gender.

Broster’s work tended to get reported in the newspapers as cases of people who had “changed sex”. The coverage was sensationalised, but generally supportive of the patients and presented as a scientific miracle. But these were not the only patients that came forward.

On Tuesday Clare talked about the work of a sexologist called Norman Haire. In 1948 he published a book called Everyday Sex Problems. Chapter 2 is all about “changing sex”. Haire details some of the types of cases that Broster worked with, but goes on to add that other are other patients who approach doctors but do not have the same symptoms. Haire notes that no actual change of sex takes place in the case of intersex patients. They simply have their legal sex re-classified. He goes on to say:

It is important to stress this fact, because quite a number of people […] read such sensational articles and apply to surgeons to change their sex for them. From what they have read, they firmly believe that such a change is possible, and it is often difficult to convince them that they are mistaken.

I have recently had requests from four such patients, and they were bitterly disappointed when I told them that no doctor in the world could bring about the change of sex they so desired.”

Haire seems unaware of the work of Magnus Hirschfeld, and the more recent work of Harold Gillies and Michael Dillon. Dillon’s book, Self, in which he describes treatment that he had actually experienced, was published in 1946, but even then was hard to get hold of. However, Haire’s testimony shows that there were people whom we would now class as transsexuals in Britain in the 1940s in much greater numbers than we previously knew. And they existed despite the fact that the gender reassignments that had been carried out before then did not receive wide publicity.

Posted in Gender, History | Comments Off on Trans History and Activism

Åcon Happened

I have spent the weekend at one of my favorite conventions: Åcon, which is held in Mariehamn in the Åland islands, half way between Finland and Sweden. The weather was magnificent, and as far as I can see a good time was had by all.

Because of the location, Åcon is a perfect meeting place for Finnish and Swedish fandom. The ferry service from Turku to Stockholm stops off at Mariehamn roughly half way along the route. So the convention is always international. However, perhaps thanks to the Helsinki Worldcon, this year was more international than most. We had fans from Norway, Denmark, The Czech Republic, Poland and Wales (me), plus a Guest of Honour from Cornwall and her husband who is (I think) English. And to cap it all we had Eurovision on the Saturday night.

Wales and Cornwall do not yet have their own Eurovision entries. We shall have to work on this. They are bound to be better than anything the BBC can come up with.

Emma Newman was fabulous, as she always is, and the convention got two writer guests in one because Pete is excellent value as well. The large stacks of their books all sold out so obviously they impressed the convention members.

I got to do two panels. The first was on novellas and featured Pete, Johan Jönsson, and Václav Pata. In it we roundly disagreed with just about everything in the panel description, and everything that Gary and Jonathan had said about novellas in the last Coode Street. Nevertheless we appeared to agree that we all liked reading novellas. Mostly I think we agreed that weird things happen in publising because publisher are weird. Václav made a good case for prefering novellas to novels because he’s a screenwriter and they are much easier to convert to a script.

My other panel was on audio and featured Emma and new Danish pal Sanna Bo. Emma terrified us by explaining just how much work, and how many skills, are required to narrate an audiobook. After that we mostly talked about making podcasts, which is so much less complicated. Of course Emma and Pete use a lot more technical tricks in making Tea & Jeopardy than most people use on podcasts, but that’s them, insanely talented people that they are. I explained about Ofcom rules for live radio, which led to some epic swearing because we can do so on convention panels without getting fined.

I believe that the panels were all recorded, so there may be podcasts of the discussion available at some point. Emma and I will have earned “explicit” tags.

Åcon has a lot of game-show type programming in the evening. Fia Karlsson ran The Match Game. Much to my surprise, she had not heard of Kevin doing so at Worldcons. Clearly the game appeals to fannish people.

I decided to pass on the chocolate tasting this year because I have a lot to do and needed time in my room, but Emma and Pete were suitably awed by Mercedes and her top quality wares. One of the problems with Åland is that there is just too much good food to be eaten.

There’s no news of the guest for next year yet, but Åcon will be happening again. As it is tied to the Ascension Day holiday it moves around in the calendar and next year will be right at the end of May. Hopefully I can make it.

Posted in Conventions, Finland | Comments Off on Åcon Happened

Introducing History Acts

I’ll be back from Finland late on the 14th, but am staying over an extra day because on the 15th there’s a very interesting event happening in town.

History Acts is an organisation that aims to develop links between historians and activists. It is a joint project of Birkbeck and Queen Mary colleges. The next meeting will focus on trans history, and there is a stellar panel including Kit Heyam, Catherine Baker, Morgan M. Page and Clare Tebbutt. Kit and Catherine are good friends whth whom I have collaborated before, and Clare has done some great research on trans lives in the UK in the 1930s. I’m very much looking forward to this. Hopefully I will see some of you there.

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Åland Bound

Tomorrow I will starting my journey to the Åland Islands for this year’s Åcon. I’m staying over in London tomorrow night as I have an early flight from Heathrow to Helsinki on Wednesday. Then, ridiculously early on Thursday, it is off to Tukru and the ferry to Mariehamn. Thankfully I’m not driving. I will doubtless activate my cat genes and sleep on the road.

This year’s Åcon Guest of Honour is Emma Newman, and the convention gets two writers for the price of one as Pete will be going too. It should be an excellent weekend.

And for those of you who are wondering about that little accent mark above the A, the name of the convention is pronounced (more or less) Awecon. Because it is awesome, obviously.

Posted in Conventions, Finland | 3 Comments

Green Men Can Fly

I don’t have a lot of time for doing Wizard’s Tower work right now, but I’m delighted to say that The Green Man’s Heir doesn’t seem to need my help. Copies are fair flying off the shelves. The latest rave review to appear is by Paul Weimer over at Skiffy & Fanty. And yesterday on Twitter the master of contemporary fantasy, Charles de Lint, described it as, “one of my favourite books so far this year”. Purchase links can be found here.

Posted in Books, Wizard's Tower | Comments Off on Green Men Can Fly


I spent Friday in Glastonbury where my boss at The Diversity Trust, Berkeley Wilde, was celebrating his handfasting to his partner, Duncan. They have been legally married for a few months, but being pagans it was important to them to have a proper handfasting ceremony at a significant time of the year. I was delighted to be asked to attend the ceremony.

This is actually the first time I have been to a formal handfasting. That’s partly because I haven’t been to a wedding for any sort in decades, and partly because I am a very independent neo-pagan and not part of any official group. However, I was very impressed with the ceremony and pleasantly surprised at how well I could fit it to my own rituals.

A great time was had by all, and I surprised myself by surviving the vegan banquet without eating any of the herbivores. Cat genes can be a pain at times.

Obviously no wedding is complete without a picture of the happy couple, so here they are.

Posted in Pagan, Personal | Comments Off on Handfasted

A Diana Wynne Jones Confernce in Bristol

Cathy Butler and Farah Mendlesohn will be running an academic conference dedicated to the work of Diana Wynne Jones next year in Bristol. The dates of 9-11 August have been chosen deliberately to allow people to attend both this conference and Worldcon in Dublin the following weekend. With the Eurocon in Belfast a week later I guess I need to take the whole of August 2019 as vacation.

For those not in the know, Bristol is a short hop across the sea from Dublin with frequent flights from the local airport. Or you can take the train to Holyhead and take the ferry.

Farah has been running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the deposit on the venue. That funded in less than a day, though there are still a few things left and there may be new rewards later, and you can still help out by ordering the ebook of the conference papers.

The conference will be at the Watershed. I’m not sure whether this means that there will be movies as well, but IMHO Watershed would be silly not to cash in on having a whole pile of DWJ experts on hand.

I haven’t told Jodi yet, but it makes a lot of sense to hold a BristolCon Fringe event on the 12th. That gives people a day to be tourists in Bristol and an additional SF event before heading to Ireland. We might event get an overseas reader or two, depending on who is in town.

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May the 4th


Please sign your name on the dotted line

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Yesterday on Ujima – Sculpture, Gender Stereotypes & Dirty Computer

Yesterday’s show was a bit thrown together due to my being in Oxford the night before, but I think I managed to make it work. That’s thanks in part to two great guests, and in part to the inimitable Janelle Monae.

My first guest was Harriet Aston who is a fellow member of a feminist SF discussion group based in Bristol. She’s a sculptor working mainly in industrial paper. She makes large figures that don’t yet move, but with enough magic might be persuaded to do so. We talked about how people view sculpture as compared to paintings, about theatre and the Greek Chorus, and about Harriet’s upcoming show at Centrespace. And because we are geeks we also talked about Catherynne M. Valente’s Space Opera, which is just as wonderful as everyone says it is.

You can listen to the first half of the show here.

In part two my guest was Natalie from TIGER (Teaching Individuals Gender Equality & Respect), a wonderful Bristol-based organisation that goes into schools and colleges teaching about gender stereotypes and how to resist them. TIGER has been running an art project with local young people that is going to be exhibited at Easton Community Centre for a month from the 19th. I will be one of the speakers at the launch event on the 18th. Natalie and I spent quite a bit of time talking about toxic masculinity and the need for a men’s movement to combat it. Obviously we also talked about those silly Trans Exclusionary people (who are neither Radical nor Feminist).

You can listen to the second hour of the show here.

The music for the show came entirely from Janelle Monae. I played the whole of (the clean version of) her new album, Dirty Computer. I make no apologies for that, it is all wonderful.

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V.E. Schwab’s Tolkien Lecture

Last night I was in Oxford to attend the J.R.R. Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature. This year’s lecture was given by V.E. (Victoria) Schwab. She’s not a writer that I am hugely familiar with, but she’s clearly hugely popular given how quickly the lecture filled up. I’m pleased to say that she provided a rousing defense of the need for diversity in fantasy literature. Also anyone with whom I can squee about the wonderfullness of K. Arsenault Rivera’s The Tiger’s Daughter is OK by me.

Of course many of you were unable to attend the lecture. But the folks at Pembroke College have been amazingly efficient and a video is now available online. It went up earlier today and I see that it already has almost 2000 views. That’s seriously impressive. If you’d like to watch, here it is.

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