Scary Solstice, Everyone

Well this is cheerful. I’ve just spent a couple of hours listening to Neil Gaiman and friends telling scary stories on Radio 3, and now I’m trying to find one of the HPLHS carols that doesn’t sound horribly prescient. But maybe a little dark humour is what we need to get us through these dark times. So wherever you are, little cultists, hang up those elder signs. The world hasn’t ended yet, so enjoy it while you can.

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.

Lunch With Scott

One of the highlights of Worldcon for me this year was being interviewed by Scott Edelman for his podcast, Eating the Fantastic. Obviously having a long chat with Scott was fun, but the unique selling point of the podcast is that the interviews always take place over a lengthy and very good meal. The food that we had at Mr. Fox in Dublin was superb. So my heartfelt thanks to Scott and everyone who helps fund the podcast for paying for that.

The interview is now available online. You can find it on Scott’s blog, and doubtless on various podcast apps as well. It is more than 2 hours long, but hopefully there are ways you can take it in a bit at a time.

I’ve listened through the whole thing. There’s only one issue that I want to come back to right now, and that’s because it became the subject of a Twitter storm soon after Worldcon. In the interview I talk about the need for Worldcon to put more content online. Obviously there are issues with this, but there are many different ways in which it could be done, some of which address those issues. Sadly Twitter discussions tend to polarise very rapidly, with people assuming the absolute worst possible of any idea they attack. I do plan to write more about this issue in Salon Futura. Please wait for that before jumping in and telling me what an awful misogynist I am.

Thank You, Finncon

It has all be very quiet here recently because I have had an intense couple of weeks traveling around Europe. Some of you may have seen the firehose of a tweet stream. Since getting back I have a) been sick and b) been catching up or things I wasn’t doing while I was away. One of those things was getting The Green Man’s Foe ready for publication, which is kind of urgent.

There will be more reportage once I manage to get a bit of free time. But I did want to break the radio silence to say a huge THANK YOU!!! to everyone involved in Finncon 2019 for making my Guest of Honour stint there so pleasurable. I had a fabulous time. Thanks also to my fellow guests: Charlie Stross, Kersti Juva and Raine Koskimaa who were great company. And of course thanks to Fluff the Plush Cthulhu for not destroying the world during the convention.

The Finns might think that by making me a GoH they will have got rid of me, but they have chosen Mike Carey for one of their Guests of Honour in Tampere next year so I guess I have to go.

There will be a more detailed con report in due course. Promise. And it will have to happen before Worldcon.

Åcon – Part 2

I was having so much fun at Åcon that I didn’t get around to writing about it.

Well, that’s not strictly true, I did spend quite a bit of time publicising the charity walk for One25. Huge thanks once again to everyone who sponsored me. Last I heard, all of the various people participating had raised over £11,000 for the charity, and my personal total, including gift aid, was over £700.

I also spent quite a bit of time rehearsing the talk I was scheduled to give, which was about Janelle Monáe. I had decided to do something a bit different and role-play a far future version of myself. So the talk was given by a future historian looking back on the career of the time-traveling android rights activist, Cindi Mayweather. It took a bit of effort to put together a coherent narrative from the information provided in the various song lyrics, and someone else may have a different take on it, but that how historians work. From the reaction on Twitter, and from people thanking me in person, it seemed to have gone down well.

Most importantly, it seems to have led to more people planning to vote for Dirty Computer in the Hugos, because they now understand that Janelle is totally One Of Us.

While I was there I also grabbed a couple of interviews. One was with Amal El-Mohtar and aired on Wednesday’s radio show. The other was with Regina Wang and will air during the July show.

And after all that I still had enough time to enjoy myself greatly. And watch the football. And consume a fair amount of pizza and alcohol.

One thing that I do want to note is a late night event that I’d not paid proper attention to before because it was labeled as “karaoke”. No one wants me anywhere near a proper karaoke event. However, this event did not require any actual singing, because it was a William Shatner Karaoke event. That meant that everyone was expected to perform in the style of Shatner’s infamous “singing” career; so spoken word, hopelessly over-dramatic, and breath breaks in totally inappropriate places. If the audience laughs, that shows you are doing it right.

Finnish conventions are the best. Yes, I know I have said that before. It is still true.

Target Achieved

I’m delighted to report that I have now hit the £450 target that I set for raising money for One25. I still have around 21 miles to walk to meet the 125 miles requirement, but there are plenty of days left in May. So here’s what we are going to do.

I’m going to set a new target of 155 miles (that’s an average of 5 miles per day throughout the month). What I’d like you folks to do is get me to £600.

Can we do this? Sure we can.

Last Lap

Those of you who have been following my fundraising challenge for One25 will know that I am almost up to 100 miles. I expect to pass that milestone later today, and I’m hoping that I will have passed the target of 125 miles by the end of Sunday. The main reason for that is that I will be leaving for Åcon on Monday and I’m unsure how much time I’ll be able to get for walking while I’m away. (Obviously I have several hours to walk on the boat, but I can’t track that through GPS.)

The other thing I need to do it get the funding up to 100%. We are currently less than £50 short of the target, so I don’t need many of you to help, but I do need some people to step up, please.

The good news is that as of yesterday the campaign had raised £8,743 thanks to all of the people involved. That’s amazing news, and it is going to make a big difference to the lives of street sex workers in Bristol over the coming year.

Great show, people!

Story Sale

This one appears to be official now. At least one of my fellow authors has written about it. So I guess I can celebrate too. I am delighted that I will be having a story in Rainbow Bouquet, an anthology of queer love stories to be published on Valentine’s Day. The editor is Farah Mendlesohn, and one of my fellow authors is Sarah Ash, so I’m in excellent company already. Here’s the full ToC:

  • The Man of My Dreams by Harry Roberts
  • Proof of Evil by Ed Ahern
  • A Hatred of Wednesdays by Victoria-Melita Zammit
  • Ubytok — umu pribytok by Erin Horáková
  • The Poet’s Daughter by Cheryl Morgan
  • Duet for Piano, Four Hands by Sarah Ash
  • Stronger Than Death by Kathleen Jowitt
  • More than Starlight, More than Rain by Sean R. Robinson
  • O’Canada by Garrick Jones
  • Firebrand by MJ Logue

I can tell you that my story is not trans-themed. I also note that the publishers, Manifold Press, specialise in queer historical fantasy. No more clues.

Awards Eligibility Post

As you may have noticed, the Hugo Award nominating period has opened for this year. Consequently everyone is making eligibility posts. I wasn’t too fussed about that until I discovered that Jim Fitzpatrick is designing this year’s trophy base. As he is one of my favorite artists, I can’t wait to see what it looks like. And obviously I would love to have one.

Unfortunately I haven’t done much award-worthy in the past year. I have been too busy doing trans stuff. Technically I am eligible for Fan Writer, but I have done so little that it would be wrong to nominate me. And anyway, I have one of those already.

I do have one published short story from last year. It is called “A Piece of the Puzzle” and it appeared in the anthology, The Hotwells Horror, which a bunch of us put together to celebrate the life of the late David J Rodger. The story is set in Prohibition-era New York and features a young woman called Sonia Greene who has ambitions to be a writer. All of the profits from the sale of the book go to the mental health charity, MIND, so you would be doing a good thing by buying a copy.

It also occurs to me that my keynote speech from Worlding SF is a Related Work of sorts. You can watch the whole thing for free here.

Most importantly, however, The Green Man’s Heir is an eligible novel. Competition in the Hugos is fierce, but I would love to see Juliet appear in the also-ran list. And if you happen to be a member of the British Fantasy Society, you know what you need to do.

This Year’s Card

I still have a few, mostly elderly, friends and relatives to whom I send cards. I always buy my cards from my friend Dru Marland. The design I chose for this year is shown above. So for everyone who isn’t getting a phsyical card, here’s your holiday greetings thing. May you have a fabulous end of the year celebration.

And if you fancy buying cards from Dru, you can do so here.

No Eurocon or Finncon for Me

Earlier this year I was looking forward to spending much of July in Europe. I very much wanted to go to the Eurocon in France, and the fabulous Lauren Beukes is a GoH at Finncon this year. Sadly there is so much politics going on in the UK at the moment, with the release of the Gender Recognition Act consultation, that I simply can’t afford to be away, even for the odd weekend. In particular I absolutely have to be around for Bristol Pride on the 14th.

Profuse apologies to anyone who was expecting to see me at one of those conventions, and to anyone who was hoping to buy a copy of The Green Man’s Heir from me.

Film Preview Night #LGBT247

Some of you may remember that the lovely people at Bristol 24/7 have been working on a film project about LGBT life in the city. I got asked to be it in, as did many of my friends. Tonight at the Arnolfini there will be a preview screening. I think there are still tickets left if you are interested. And if you can’t make it, the film will be screened a lot on Pride weekend.

Here’s a sneak peek.

I Get Royalties

It is always a pleasure to get royalties on a book you have been involved in. This time I am even more pleased, because I’m actually being paid for writing about trans characters in SF&F. My essay is part of a great book too: Gender Identity and Sexuality in Current Fantasy and Science Fiction, edited by Francesca Barbini. It includes Juliet McKenna’s BSFA Award nominated essay on the barriers for women and minorities in the publishing industry. Clearly other people have enjoyed the book (and I know that Luna Press sold out of the copies they had brought to Worldcon in Helsinki), so why not get a copy?


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.

In Mourning

The news broke last night that Ursula K Le Guin had died. Since then my social media streams have been full of very sad posts from distraught people. Yeah.

Many of my friends, of course, knew Le Guin well, and/or had consciously modeled their writing on hers. I only met her once. As I recall I was so terrified that I didn’t manage to say more than, “hello”.

One of the things about getting old is that you check obituaries for the age of the deceased. These days far too many of the people I see dying are younger than me. 88, however, is what we Brits call a “good innings”. And in this case it is very much a life well lived.

If I manage to reach that age I shall be delightedly astonished. However, even given all those extra years, I don’t expect to produce work as brilliant as Le Guin’s, nor do I expect to have anywhere near the profound influence on the world that she had.

That doesn’t mean that I will stop trying.

“You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.” — Ursula K Le Guin, The Dispossessed

Award Eligibility Post

It is that time of year again when I do an award eligibility post to make my author friends less self-conscious about doing their own.

I have very little eligible work this year.

Technically this blog is fan writing, but I’ve already won a Hugo for that.

I did have one story published: “Camelot Girls Gone Wild” in Fantastically Horny from Far Horizons. Few of you will have read that, and frankly I don’t expect to win any awards for comedy erotica about a gay satyr.

The one thing I have done that might be award-worthy is my essay on trans characters in SF&F in Gender Identity and Sexuality in Fantasy and Science Fiction from Luna Press. However, that’s just one essay in a book full of good stuff. If you are going to nominate this I’d prefer you nominated the whole book and gave the award to the editor, Francesca T Barbini.

The Hotwells Horror

Well, today seems to be a day for book announcements.

The Hotwells Horror is an anthology put together by my friend Pete Sutton in honor of local writer, David J Rodger who sadly took his own life in 2015. The book is named after one of David’s own stories and features contributions from a number of authors who knew David, including me.

There is a launch party planned for Saturday Jan. 13th. The venue hasn’t been confirmed yet. I have to be in Bath that afternoon, but as the event is scheduled to run until 19:00 I hope to make it to Bristol before the end.

All proceeds from sale of the book will be devoted to Mind, the mental health charity. This delights me as they have been very supportive of trans people over the past year.

In case anyone is interested, my story is set in New York in the 1920s and is told from the point of view of a Mrs. Sonia Greene. There may be hideous creatures from beyond the stars too.

And if you want to know a little bit more about David work, he did a reading at BristolCon Fringe back in 2014.

Solstice Card

Yes, it is that time of year again. And because I am still in the Northern Hemisphere today is the Winter Solstice and a wintery card is required. If you were among the small group of people to whom I still send paper cards (mostly ancient relatives who don’t do the Internet much) this is what you would have got in the mail. The art is, as always, by my very talented friend, Dru Marland. You can find her Etsy shop here.

Happy Solstice, everyone! Thanks for being here over the past circuit around the sun.