Worldcon #77 – Day -1

Hello Dublin, thank you for having us!

I am safely arrived at my apartment for the week. It is a lovely little Air BnB near the Castle. The travel all went more or less according to plan, despite the best attempts of the West Country weather to have everyone phoning Mr. Noah to ask if he still has that big boat. I haven’t got to the convention centre yet, but I know how to get there and have bought a ticket for the Luas (the city tram network).

Dublin is teeming with fannish persons. When I arrived a flight from Helsinki had just disgored a legion of Finns. I knew three of my fellow passengers on my flight, and several others were clearly fans from their dress and hair color. I ran into John Picacio while I was out shopping for supplies.

The other thing I have been doing today is making sure that The Green Man’s Foe is available online tomorrow. Amazon and Kobo should go live at midnight. B&N and Google may take a little longer. And of course the ebooks will bbe available through the Wizard’s Tower shop.

Book Review – Gods of Jade and Shadow

The folks at Jo Fletcher Books are doing some great work at the moment, picking up the UK rights for US books that everyone is talking about but that the larger UK publishers don’t want. Am I susprised that an imprint run by a woman is picking up hot books by WoC writers that aren’t selling elsewhere? I don’t think I am.

Anyway, enough of the publishing industry gossip, you want to know about the book. Mayan gods in 1920s Mexico. From a Mexican writer. Need I say more? Of course not. Gods of Jade and Shadow is the latest from Silvia Moreno-Garcia. It is well worth a look. My review is here.

Book Review – The Undoing of Arlo Knott

The last couple of weeks have seen me in Bristol to do events with local author, Heather Child. I hosted a launch event for her new novel, The Undoing of Arlo Knott, and then interviewed her on my radio show. Obviously I needed to read the book, so I have done a review. I’m really impressed with the path that Heather is crafting for herself in the field. It is light years away from the sort of space opera that Gareth Powell is writing these days, but it is nevertheless very thoughtful science fiction. Also Orbit have outdone themselves on the promotional materials. You can find the review here.

Reviews Come In

Reviews for The Green Man’s Foe are starting to come in. There is a rather spoilery, but very enthusiastic, one up on The Monday Review. Michele is less spoilery, but no less enthusiastic, on Goodreads, where you can also find comments from KJ Charles and Jacey Bedford.

Meanwhile Juliet informs me that The Green Man’s Heir now has 125 reviews on Amazon UK, with an average rating of 4.5 stars.

I am so very happy for her.

Today on Ujima – Mexican Food, Poetry, Fiction & Renewables

Today I was in the studio at Ujima with lots of studio guests.

First up I welcomed Graham from My Burrito, a fabulous Mexican eatery in Bristol. We had a great chat about the glories of Mexican food. I was hungry by the end of it, as were Ben, my engineer, and Keziah, the studio manager. You probably will be too.

Next in the hot seat was Tom Denbigh, Bristol’s first LGBT+ Poet Laureate. I met Tom at an event that was part of Bristol Pride and loved the poem he read so I knew I had to get him on the radio. Sadly Ofcom rules about swearing on air rather limited what he could read. It’s about time the regulations caught up with everyday speech.

Guest three was Heather Child, who was no problem to interview as I had already done it last week at her book launch. We talked again about The Undoing of Arlo Knott and the various places where you can find out more about the book.

Finally I was joined by Jon Turney from Zero West to talk about local renewable energy projects.

Much of the music I played was inspired by my time doing the live coverage of Bristol Pride. The full playlist was:

  • Boney M – By the Rivers of Babylon
  • Pointer Sisters – Fire
  • Shea Freedom – Woman’s World
  • Nina – Calm Before the Storm
  • Jackson 5 – I Want You Back
  • Eddy Grant – Baby Come Back
  • Chi-Lites – Give More Power to the People
  • Boney M – Brown Girl in the Ring

You can listen to the whole show for the next few weeks via the Ujima Listen Again service.

Thinking Beyond – Transversal Transfeminisms

As you might have guessed, that is the title of an academic conference. It is a bit of a mouthful, but basically it was a feminist conference about trans issues. It look place at the University of Roehampton in London last week, and I was one of the speakers.

You can find the full schedule for the day here. Sadly UIrika Dahl was unable to attend due to illness, but the rest of the conference went ahead as planned.

Because the conference was advertised online it came to the attention of the transphobe mob on Mumsnet, who unsurprisingly lost their collective shit about it. If you want to see the nonsense that they come up with, just Google the conference title. This had two main consequences. Firstly the trans student group that was going to be involved had to withdraw because they were concerned about their safety. (One of the haters’ favorite games is to take unflattering photos of trans people and post them online accompanied by a sea of insults and, if they can get it, doxing data.) The other was that for the first time in my life I attended an academic conference that had a security guard on duty at all times. Thanks Pavel, you were great.

Interestingly, of the 8 speakers, 6 were cisgender women. The claim that the haters speak for all women is really utter nonsense.

I won’t go through all of the talks because much of it is fairly niche stuff, but Erzsébet Barát’s description of life in Hungary under the government of Viktor Orbán was chilling, and could prove a forecast of what the UK will be like should Boris Johnson still be Prime Minister at the end of the year. Sadly there are always women who are prepared to go along with far-right regimes and preach a form of “feminism” that puts women’s lives firmly in the control of men.

The really bizarre thing about right-wing Hungarian “feminists” is that they describe their views as being in opposition to that awful neo-liberal capitalist form of feminism known as “intersectional feminism”. The capacity of the far right to re-define words to mean what they want never ceases to amaze me.

The other country I learned a lot about at the conference was India. My thanks are due to Sarah Newport (I’ve found your thesis, Sarah, and look forward to reading it), and also to Antonia Navarro Tejero who introduced me to a work of Indian feminist science fiction.

Manjula Padmanabhan is an Indian SF writer who is working on a trilogy of novels about a young person called Meiji. The first book, Escape, is set in a country in which all women have been exterminated. As the title suggests, Meiji, who was assigned female at birth, manages to escape, and book 2 is set on The Island of Lost Girls. This, of course, is the place where women survivors have fled to. But, as all Suzy McKee Charnas fans will know, that doesn’t mean it is a utopia.

Listening to Antonia talk about the books, it is clear that Padmanabhan is in conversation with Joanna Russ and Charnas. My guess is that she has read both The Female Man and The Holdfast Chronicles. What is interesting and different about her books is that there are a whole lot of trans people in them.

Book 3 isn’t out yet, but I have bought the first two books to see what they are like. That wasn’t easy. Amazon appears to be deliberately hiding them. If you search for “The Island of Lost Girls” you won’t find Padmanabhan’s book even though that’s a full and almost-unique title. I had to search for “The Island of Lost Girls Manjula” to find it. And the two books aren’t linked either.

Anyway, I will read the books and report back. In the meantime, does anyone know anything about Manjula Padmanabhan? Mimi, Tasha, Aisha, Samit?

Book Review – Empress of Forever

With Worldcon season fast approaching, a reviewer’s mind tends to turn to chrome rockets. We know who is in the running this year, but what of the crop of hopefulls who will be wending their way to Wellington in 2020 (assuming they are able to make the trip)? Max Glastone, I suspect, will have at least two reasons to go. This is How You Lose the Time War (co-written with Amal E-l-Mohtar) will probably be in the Novella category, and Empress of Forever has a good shot at Novel.

There are many people who are capable of writing light-hearted, entertaining novels. There are also many people capable of writing very serious and thoughtful novels. Few people can do both in the same book. Terry Pratchett was a master at it. Cat Valente cracked it with Space Opera. And now Max has done the same with Empress of Forever. To find out more, check out my review.

The Green Man’s Foe at Worldcon & Eurocon

Worldcon is approaching fast, and The Green Man’s Foe is officially launching on August 15th, the first day of Worldcon. We should, barring disasters, have paper copies for sale at both Worldcon and Eurocon. One of my current tasks is to work out how many copies to have shipped to Ireland.

The convention sale prices for the book will be €10/£10 for the paperback and €15/£15 for the hardcover. They’ll probably be about 1:1 by then. If you want to pay in US$, talk to Kevin or myself.

If you want to be sure of getting copies, please email me and let me know how many and which format(s). If you want copies of The Green Man’s Heir as well, let me know.

The book will be available from Francesco Verso’s Future Fiction company in the Dealers’ Room. I’ll be on the stand as much as I can. While you are there I suggest you pick up a copy of his new anthology, World Science Fiction #1: Visions to Preserve the Biodiversity of the Future, which contains stories from authors from all over the world. He’s also having a launch party (Saturday, 17 August, 12:30-13:30, Warehouse 2 (WH2), first floor, Point Square) but I won’t be there as I’m being interviewed for Scott Edelman’s fabulous Eating the Fantastic podcast.

I will also carry some books around with me, so you may be able to get a copy at one of my programme items. Juliet may do the same. I don’t know as yet whether she will have a signing, but I don’t know if you are allowed to sell books at a signing.

Francesco and I will also be at Eurocon in Belfast so if you are only going to that convention you can pick up there book there. Be warned that we may try to sell you a pre-support for the Fiuggi Eurocon bid, which you will want to buy because a) it is near Rome, and b) the 2021 Worldcon will be in the USA which may be an unsafe destination for many of us.

And finally a reminder that you can pre-order the ebook from either Amazon or Kobo. Those links are for the UK stores, but the book is available internationally.

Congratulations, Juliet!

Here’s a piece of news I have been sitting on excitedly for a few days now. The Green Man’s Heir is a finalist in the Best Fantasy Novel category at the British Fantasy Awards. Naturally I think this is thoroughly deserved. Juliet is a great writer. She was a finalist in the BSFA Awards last year in the Non-Fiction category (for an essay in Gender Identity and Sexuality in Current Fantasy and Science Fiction, a book which won Non-Fiction in the BFS Awards), but this is her first major fiction nod since 2000 when The Thief’s Gamble placed 5th in the Locus Award for First Novel. This has been way too long in coming.

Congratulations are also due to Ben Baldwin whose magnificent cover has played a huge part in the book’s success. And to editor, Toby Selwyn, because everyone needs an editor and Toby certainly made the book better.

I am, of course, irrationally pleased that a book that draws its inspiration from a legend of the wild wood is up for the Robert Holdstock Award.

This is the first time that any book I have published has been up for a major award. I am absolutely delighted about it. It shows that even the smallest presses can produce great fiction. And more importantly it shows that the original premise of Wizard’s Tower — the idea that previously successful writers whose sales have taken a dip are not over the hill and can produce great work again if properly supported — is indeed correct. Mainstream publishers please take note.

Obviously I will be in Glasgow for FantasyCon. This will involve a certain amount of rearranging schedules because I was supposed to be elsewhere that weekend. But somehow I have to be at that award banquet.

The Green Man’s Foe – Open for Pre-Orders

Preparations for the publication of The Green Man’s Foe continue apace. I’m hoping to get proof copies of the paper editions later this week, but in the meantime you can pre-order the ebook editions via the following links:

Pre-orders aren’t a huge issue for me because I’m not going to be making any publisher decisions based on them. Nor do I expect to see the book in best seller charts, or indeed stocked in bookstores. However, they are very important for Juliet because mainstream publishers look at those figures and if they see a book they don’t know from an author they do then they ought to pay attention. And of course Amazon will take notice. Discoverability is everything on Amazon, and a large number of pre-orders will help the book hugely when it becomes available.

What does matter to me is how many copies to take to Ireland. I don’t want to run out early in Worldcon, and equally I don’t want to be stuck with a large pile of books to take home. So I’m looking into possible ways that I could allow people to buy the book for collection at Worldcon or Eurocon.

The Dublin Pride List

Earlier this year the Dublin Worldcon asked members to sumbit suggestions of good LGBT+ representation in SF&F as part of a project with Dublin Pride. That list has now been published and you can find it here (Google Docs spreadsheet). There’s a lot I could add (no Cat Valente!), but that’s my fault for being too busy to contribute. On the other hand there are books there I hadn’t heard of, which is an excellent indicator of the state of the field because years ago I could have named pretty much all of them very quickly.

Congratulations, Tade

The winner of the 2019 Arthur C Clark Award was announced last night. I am absolutely delighted that the prize went to Tade Thompson. I’ve been telling people about Rosewater for over 2 years, and of course it won the Nommo in 2017. It was also a Campbell Award finalist in 2017 (that’s the SF novel award, not the new writer one). Sometimes it can take a book a while to break into the big time.

The upside of this is that I have a couple of interviews with Tade in which he talks about the book.

This one is from 2017. The sound quality is a bit poor, but there’s more about Rosewater in it.

This one is from FantasyCon last year.

Book Review – The Poetic Edda

The nice people at Oxford University Press sent me a review copy of their new edtion of The Poetic Edda, as translated by Professor Carolyne Larrington. There’s not a huge amount I can say about the text, partly because the stories are so familiar, and partly because I’m in no position to comment on the quality of the translation, save to say that Prof. Larrington is an acknowledged expert in the field.

So instead I have chosen to focus in on a few small bits of the text where we have evidence for queer identities in Norse society. Naturally this involves Loki rather a lot. Again I’m not really in a position to talk authoritatively about translations, but I do have views on what we can and cannot say about ancient societies.

All of which means that the end result is less of a review and more of a short essay on queer Vikings. If you have been wondering about all this gender fluid stuff about Loki in comics, or in Rick Riordan’s books, I can point you at some of the evidence for that intepretation. If that is your cup of tea, you can find the review here.

Happy Solstice, McKenna Fans

When considering when to do a cover reveal for The Green Man’s Foe, Juliet and I decided that the Summer Solstice would be an ideal time. The Green Man, after all, is deeply connected to the natural world. And frankly, he’s going to need a bit of sunshine to help deal with this guy.

When you do a good job for someone, there’s a strong chance they’ll offer you more work or recommend you elsewhere. So Daniel Mackmain isn’t particularly surprised when his boss’s architect brother asks for his help on a historic house renovation in the Cotswolds.

Except Dan’s a dryad’s son, and he soon realises there’s a whole lot more going on. Ancient malice is stirring and it has made an alliance in the modern world. The Green Man expects Dan to put an end to this threat. Seeing the danger, Dan’s forced to agree. The problem is he’s alone in a place he doesn’t know, a hundred miles or more away from any allies of his own.

A modern fantasy rooted in the ancient myths and folklore of the British Isles.

It is, of course, another genius piece of art by Ben Baldwin. Juliet and Toby-the-Editor are just putting the final touches to the text. And when they are done I get to do the layouts. I’m still planning on having the book available at Worldcon. Once I have everything I need in my paws I will put the book up for pre-order.

Book Review – This is How You Lose the Time War

Last week I ran an interview with Amal El-Mohtar on my radio show. The main reason for talking to her was the fabulous new novella that she and Max Gladstone have coming out any day now. There has been a lot of excitement about this book, and having read it I can see why.

I should give thanks here to Jo Fletcher Books for sending me an ARC. I don’t often get them these days, and generally only when I specifically ask for them from people I know. And I only ask for books when I am pretty sure that I will love what I get.

If the review appeals, and you haven’t yet listened to the interview, you can find it via the link here for another week or two. After that I will put it on Salon Futura where it can stay for as long as I’m around to pay for the hosting. This digital world is so strange. On the one had we have access to vast quantities of stuff, and on the other much of that stuff will vanish in a puff of electrons once the creator is no longer paying for it to be available. Take backups, people, and give them to others for safekeeping.

Hmm, where did that come from? Too much thinking about time, I suspect.

Still, before I start getting maudlin, here’s the link to the review.

Book Review – The Light Brigade

Slowly but surely I am catching up with the book reviews. The latest is of Kameron Hurley’s very smart military SF novel, The Light Brigade. This is a book that is very much aware of its place the the history of space war novels. If you have read The Forever War and Starship Troopers you will pick up references.

It can’t have been an easy novel to write, with the lead character switching back and fore through time as the story progresses. My congratulations to Hurley and her editor for keeping it all together. If you want to learn more about the book, click here.

More Champagne for Juliet

Last March I happily announced that The Thief’s Gamble by Juliet E. McKenna had become the first book from Wizard’s Tower to reach 1,000 sales. I was really pleased by that. It had taken 6 years to get to that point.

Sales of that book are now fast closing in on 1,500, because Juliet’s stock has risen significantly among readers. That’s because of The Green Man’s Heir, which I can now happily announce has sold more than 10,000 copies.

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect that Wizard’s Tower would ever publish a book that was that popular. The additional good news is that I have just read the sequel, The Green Man’s Foe, and it is a real page-turner. Juliet is already posting snippets of it on her Twitter feed, and we’ll have more news about it later in the month. I am expecting to have the book available at Worldcon.