Progress! The new Salon Futura is now online, so you can read some of the things I have been writing over the past week. I have also done a couple of online meetings, and got thoroughly depressed about the state of the world, and the USA in particular. Hang in there, American friends!
Tomorrow I get to edit together a new radio show, which means I need to talk about what is happening across the pond. That won’t be fun, but it is very necessary. Now more than ever we need to stand up in support of our PoC friends, in particular Black Americans.
Here in the UK the weekly rolling average number of deaths from C-19 has been more or less flat for about a week now. That’s after it had been falling steadily for over 5 weeks. So of course Bozo has picked this time to tell everyone that it is perfectly safe now. I’ve been seeing pictures of packed beaches on social media. I’ve also been seeing photos of large-scale demonstrations in support of our friends in the USA. I shall be relived, but very surprised, if we don’t see a sharp rise in the number of C-19 cases very soon.
Today’s show began with an hour-long chat with Dr. Donna Drucker who has recently written a great little book on the history of contraception. Our conversation goes all the way from herbal rememdies to cybersex.
It’s Thursday, and that means it is time for another free short story from Wizard’s Tower. This one is Bright, Bright City Lights by Lyda Morehouse. It is a story set in Lyda’s home city of St. Paul, which she has particular affection for as we discussed in her interview for the new Salon Futura. It also has some resonance with the new NK Jemisin novel, The City We Became, which I reviewed here. And, given that it is a story about left-wing politics, it is very much speaking to the present day, even though it was first published in 2010 and is inspired by an event that happened in 2002.
You can find the full list of free Lockdown Reading stories here.
42 is the answer to the question, “how many days in 6 weeks?”. So that’s how long I have been in self-isolation. I did go out twice to get food, but other than that haven’t left home. I’m not missing the outside world much, though having a garden I could sit in would be nice.
Today was spent primarily at a conference for women Classicists (and allies). I gave a short talk which seemed to be well received. And I learned a lot, particularly about doing online teaching. I have felt for some time that you can’t simply replace a classroom lecture with an online one, and it was good to have that confirmed, and to get some tips for doing online teaching better.
It was an interesting experience spending the best part of 7 hours in an online conference. I thought it went very well, though getting people into breakout rooms in Zoom continues to be an unnecesarily complex process.
I also recorded another interview for the new Salon Futura, and I’ve put a loaf in the bread machine. I think that will do for the day. I’m pleased to see that I appear to have just enough flour for one more loaf. Hopefully it will be possible to buy it again next time I go to Tesco.
I don’t know much about what happened in the rest of the world today, though I gather that the government opened a website for testing essential workers for the virus, and it collapsed after a few hours. That is entirley typical.
Today was a day for me to be visible, so I went out.
Well actually that wasn’t the reason. I was starting to run out of fresh food, and today was forecast to be fine weather. If I was going to have to queue to get into a grocery store I didn’t want to have to do so in the rain. So today had to be the day for the expedition.
I decided to try the big Tesco mid-afternoon. I figured it would not be too busy at that time on the Tuesday. Even so there must have been around 100 people in the store. However, it was all very smoothly marshalled. The staff were great, and everyone behaved themselves. This was a great relief after some of the stories I have been seeing on Twitter. And I only had to queue for about 10 minutes to get in.
Also the car started, which was a relief. That meant I was able to buy a lot more that I could carry.
There was plenty of food in the store. Certain things were close to unobtainable: flour, pasta and rice were all in short supply. And there are certain brands that Tesco are not stocking during the emergency. But I came away with almost everything I wanted. I even got some eggs, so there may be some baking experiments in the coming days. There was plenty of toilet paper. Not that I needed any. I don’t go through it that quickly and I have one pack of 9 in store.
Aside from that it has been a very busy day. There was all of the social media fuss over Trans Day of Visibility. There was the Unjust Cause cover reveal. And I’ve just put a new issue of Salon Futura online. I’ll talk more about this tomorrow, but if you are keen to read it you can find it here.
Oh, and I watched the first episode of Batwoman, which was very promising.
I was hoping to get lots done today. I did, just not all of the things I expected to get done. This isolation thing is turning out to be exceptionally busy.
In theory you were supposed to get a new issue of Salon Futura today. In practice it is not going to happen. And I’m certainly not planning to stay up all night making it happen. It will be there tomorrow, which is shaping up to be an even busier day than today.
In other news, I finished off editing this week’s radio show today, so that will be broadcast on Wednesday as scheduled. Many thanks to all of the people who agreed to be interviewed.
Also the hardcovers of Juliet McKenna’s Tales of Einarinn books should be available today. Amazon appears to be having issues getting them, or the paperbacks, on sale, but given the state of the world right now that could be for a whole variety of reasons. I’m happy to allow them a little slack.
In other news I’m pleased to see that the numbers of new virus cases and new deaths in the UK have been fairly flat for the past few days. That may be a sign that the restrictions on movement are starting to take effect. For a full-blown epidemic those numbers should get larger each day. Then again, I suspect that numbers of cases are being massively under-reported because people with mild symptoms don’t want to bother the over-stretched health services. Who knows?
I guess I should remind you that Salon Futura is eligible for the Best Fanzine category in the Hugos. Not that I need another Hugo, but I do want you all to vote in the Fanzine category. If I do get on the ballot I suspect it will increase interest in the category.
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.
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.)
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
I promised after Worldcon that I would do my bit to revive interest in the Fanzine category of the Hugos by actually publishing a fanzine. Technically, of course, this blog is eligble as a fanzine, but it doesn’t look like one so people tend to forget. Also I haven’t made a big fuss about wanting nominations. But now I am moving all of the SF&F content over to Salon Futura, where it will look like a fanzine. I’ll be interested to see what effect that has.
For the current issue I haven’t had a lot of time, but I’ve moved over all of the book reviews and audio that I did in August, plus I have added a Worldcon report and an editorial. That will give you a good idea of what future issues will look like. Future issues will follow a similar pattern, but with all new material.
Oh, and I also plan to move a whole lot of existing reviews and audio to that site, and make the material more easily indexable.
If there is anything else you wanted to know, it is probably in the Editorial, so why not pop over and take a look at Salon Futura #10.
I entirely forgot to make a post about last month’s radio show because I was in Finland when it aired. As I’m in the middle of prep for this month’s show, I have been reminded of this and need to do something about it, because there were some good interviews in the show.
One of them is with Regina Wang, which I plan to get online before Worldcon. The other is with Farah Mendlesohn and Cathy Butler, which is slightly more urgent because it is about an event that is taking place this coming weekend – the conference on Diana Wynne Jones that they are running in Bristol (and which I can’t go to because I am swamped with work).
Farah and Cathy are always good value for a chat, but there is no better subject to set them off on than Diana. I hope you enjoy the interview.