Today I did my thing with Dan Vo for the Queer Britain Lockdown Hunt. It was a lot of fun. I covered a range of queer history books ranging from the 20th Century back to the 2nd. I also mentioned four science fiction and fantasy books. They were:
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner
Friday by Robert A. Heinlein
Triton by Samuel R Delany
Obviously there’s a huge amount of queer SF&F that I could have mentioned, and I tweeted about several others, but those four had interesting stories. To find out why I chose them, you’ll need to watch the show.
Those of you who have been following the Queer Britain Lockdown Hunt on Twitter will know that each Friday Dan Vo has been getting people to search out particular items of significance in queer history. We’ve done badges, we’ve done postcards, we’ve done t-shirts and fliers. But tomorrow the object will be books.
As you can imagine, that’s right up my street. Dan has kindly invited me to join him at 3:00pm to chat about books. I’ll be showcasing some science fiction novels of significance, and also some books from much further back in time that are important to queer history.
Dan also has several other guests through the day, including the fabulous Diana Souhami who has written several books on the lives of famous lesbians. The full details are in the tweet below.
OK, I forgot last week because I was so busy with the One25 Fundraiser, but Lockdown Reading is back this week. This time around we have Rocks and Shoals, another of Juliet E McKenna’s Quartering the Compass stories. You can get it, and all of the other free stories, here.
It is a big week for local history on Bristol. A new series of David Olusoga’s popular A House Through Time starts tonight, and this time he’s come home to look at a house built by a wealthy slave trader.
In addition to that the lovely people at the Bristol Radical History Group have published a new book. Mostly I wouldn’t bother telling you about such things, but this one should be of interest. Angela Carter’s ‘Provincial Bohemia’ is an examination of the radical counterculture communities that flourished in Bristol and Bath when Carter lived in the region between 1961 and 1976. Author Stephen E Hunt hopes that the book will shed light on Carter’s influences during these formative years. The book even has a rave recommendation from Eugene Byrne. You can buy it direct from the lovely people at Tangent Books.
Oh, wait, it is Thursday! I’m supposed to give you a free story. Well, here we go. This one is mine. It has trains, it has a kaiju. I really enjoyed writing it. I hope you like it to. Here’s the blurb:
The British Empire is being blackmailed by mad scientists. Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston needs a new and efficient means of defending the country, and he turns to the great engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, for help. Which is how a survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade and a young Welsh artilleryman end up crewing Britain’s latest and most terrifying piece of military hardware: a train.
Yes, it does appear to be Thursday again, so there’s a new short story available for free at Wizard’s Tower. Distant Thunder is the second in Juliet McKenna’s Quartering the Compass which looks at the adventures of one of the minor characters from the Aldabreshin Compass books.
You can find the full list of Lockdown Reading stories here. Please also consider buying a copy of Colinthology as all proceeds from sale of the book go to help Bristol hospitals.
This is beginning to feel entirely like normal. I attended a meeting (albeit by Zoom) for a couple of hours in the morning. I listened to my radio show. I did some Day Job work. And I attended a feminist book club in the evening (I have persuaded them to read The Calculating Stars. Result!)
Of course I am entirely unhappy about all this work because all I wanted to do today was sit and read Network Effect, the new Murderbot novel. Fortunately there have been meal breaks. I’m about half way through and absolutely loving it.
Apparently the government is talking about relaxing the lockdown constraints. I’m considering going to Tesco tomorrow so I can get some shopping done before the stores are full of sick people.
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.
Thursday means Lockdown Reading day. Today we have a new story from Juliet McKenna. Fire in the Night takes place after the events of Southern Fire, the first book in the Aldabreshin Compass series. There are two more short stories that follow on from this one. We’ll put them both out if Lockdown lasts that long. Juliet talks about the genesis of the stories here.
I am reminded that Southern Fire came out in 2003. It featured a black lead character, and is set in a majority-black society, long before such things happened. Tor, who did the US edition, even put the hero, Daish Kheda, on the cover, which of course meant that the book sank without trace. Thankfully things are better these days.
Over at Newcon Press, Ian Whates has put together an amazing charity anthology to raise money for the NHS. It contains 53 stories from a range of top flight British authors including Mike Carey, Peter Hamilton, Frances Hardinge, Paul Cornell, Tade Thompson, Juliet McKenna, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Stephen Baxter. It is available only as an ebook, and you can get it for the ridiculously low price of £5.99. Go ye forth and buy.
Mike Carey has a new science fiction trilogy underway, and book 1 was officially published yesterday. Normally I would be jumping at this and reviewing it immediately, but I can’t because, as Mike mentioned in the launch event last night, I had a small hand in creating the book. There are a couple of trans people in it, and I helped out with a few details of their characterisation and story arcs. Advising other people about trans issues is, after all, something that I do professionally.
Of course there’s a lot more to the book than just those characters. Indeed, of all the reviews I have seen so far, only one has even mentioned their existence. And in my humble opinion the rest of the book is amazing. Koli’s voice does take a little getting used to, but once you are into the rhythm of it reading becomes very easy. The whole thing about murderous trees is fabulous. The weird place names will probably mean more if you are British and have a vague idea of what the original names were, but if you are not they will just sound like fantasy names.
For those of you who love maps, Mythen Rood is the small town of Mytholmroyd in the Calder Valley, not far from Hebden Bridge. English places names are remarkably bizarre at times.
Of course with us all stuck in isolation and animals starting to wander the streets of our cities, the whole setting of the books takes on a new significance. The books are set a couple of hundred years into the future, so sufficiently far for the current crisis to be merely a small part of what has happened to the world. Nevertheless, the books are set in a world that nature has reclaimed. Asked for a playlist for the book last night, Mike mentioned my favourite Talking Heads song. I think you will see why.
I needed to cook again today. I made a batch of curry that will do me for a few days, though some of it will go on hold over the weekend due to there being venison steaks in the fridge.
I’ve also put out a new free short story (see below), started on the next radio show, and done some Women’s Equality Party work. I’m mostly keeping up with the email, but I’m sure there’s stuff I need to answer.
This evening I attended Mike Carey’s virtual book launch for The Book of Koli, which is an absolutely wonderful read. I’m afraid I can’t review it, for reasons that Mike explained in the interview, but all of the reviews I have seen thus far have been very positive.
If there is an outside world, I’ve been too busy to notice.
It is Thursday, so that means another release in the Wizard’s Tower Lockdown Reading series. This one is by Roz Clarke, whom most of you will know as one of the editors of the Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion series, but she’s a great writer as well Answering Back is quite short, but I found it very amusing. Here’s what I wrote about it for the bookstore:
A short story by Roz Clarke in which the greatest mind of his generation (possibly of all time) discovers that in the real world people don’t always follow the scripts you have written for them. Feminist and funny (unless you are the sort of person who thinks that Victor von Doom is a great role model).
It also has what has become one of my favourite lines in fiction, but I can’t tell you what it is as there’s enough spoilery stuff for a very short story already.
You can download a free copy of the story via the Wizard’s Tower bookstore. And please consider buying a copy of Colinthology, which Roz helped edit and has a story in, because all proceeds from the sale of that one go to support hospitals in Bristol.
You can find the full list of Lockdown Reading titles here.
Today’s show mainly features small businesses talking about how they are coping with Lockdown.
I started with Tara from Talk to the Rainbow, a new psychotherapy service catering to members of marginalised communities. Understandably, they are in a lot of demand right now, but are having to learn to do therapy remotely.
Next up were Graham and Esmerelda from My Burrito, who seem to be doing OK on remote ordering, but are having a lot of trouble with Deliveroo. If you can order your food via a different delivery service then they, and many other restaurants, will be very grateful.
Finally I talked to Dan from Storysmith Books, who are finding that people’s interest in reading has not waned, and may even be increasing.
For the final segment of the show I had a chat with Kevin about this year’s Hugo finalists. We didn’t manage to cover all of the categories, but hopefully we will have generated some interest in the Awards. Plus it was a chance for me to point out how female-dominated they Hugos are these days.
I released another free short story in the Wizard’s Tower Lockdown Reading series today. This one is by me.
Yes, yes, I know. But I wanted to encourage people to buy the book it comes from. The Hotwells Horror is an anthology put together by a group of Bristol-area writers to honour the memory of David J Rodger. All of the proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated to Mind. That’s a charity that will be very busy right now. There are better stories than mine in the book, promise.
On the other hand, mine has tentacles. Well, not exactly, but it does have a few familiar faces from the Cthulhu Mythos. The story also features a young widow from New York called Sonia Greene. She has a passion for weird fiction, and a need for a husband. If you have a bad feeling about this, you are probably right.
Today has been Publication Day for Unjust Cause, which means that you can now buy the ebook from our store. Our authors make more money if you buy direct. Also we give you both the ePub and Mobi, DRM free. Please buy from us rather than that big river place if you can.
There is going to be a new free short story going up tomorrow. This one is by me. I don’t normally push my own fiction, but I have good reason this time. All will be explained tomorrow.
Because I was busy I missed the Hugo Finalists announcement last night. I gather from Twitter that most people are very pleased, which is a relief. Personally I’m pleased to note that there are at least 6 trans people on the ballot. I’m also really pleased to see that all of the nominees for Fan Writer are first-timers. That shows that the field is really healthy.
Of course the big question will be whether a man manages to win a fiction award this year. It won’t happen in Novel because all six finalists are women. Ted Chiang, of course, has an excellent chance of winning. I will laugh myself silly if the only man who wins is Yoon Ha Lee.
Aside from pushing the new book, and the radio show, today has been more day job. I have no idea what is happening in the outside world, but I’m assuming that if the PM had died I would have heard about it.
Tate/Lyda and I will be doing more PR over the coming days. It’s a NEW BOOK, people!
By the way, I have been asked whether it is necessary to have read Precinct 13 before you read this book. My own experience, having read Precinct 13 years ago and therefore having forgotten most of it, is that you’ll be fine. Obviously it helps to know some of the characters, but mostly you will pick it up as you go along.
In amongst all of the Green Man excitement, I have found time to release a new free short story as part of the Wizard’s Tower Lockdown Reading collection. This one is The Data Class by Ben Jeapes, a charming little tale of AIs who decide that their working conditions are less than ideal. It was originally published in Interzone, and then in Ben’s collection, Jeapes Japes. If you like this one, why not buy the whole book?