A Gaiman Scoop

I have just done a post for the SFX Awards over on SFAW. What I didn’t put in there was the other snippet of news that Dave & Barry of Geek Syndicate tweeted during the ceremony. According to them, Neil Gaiman has written an episode of Doctor Who, which will air in 14 months time. Neil came on Twitter shortly afterwards and said that he had given the SFX guys “a scoop”, which I think we can take as a confirmation. You may squee now.

Morning in Brisbane

It is a good job I leave my iPhone by my bed at night. This morning I switched it on to check Twitter and found that the Aurealis Award ceremony was in full swing in Brisbane. I got the announcements all re-tweeted over SF Awards Watch, so managed to look very professional. Watching the reaction was interesting. All of my friends were cheering for Jonathan Strahan (winning for Best Anthology for Eclipse 3) and Justin Ackroyd (the Peter McNamara Convernors’ Award), but the big reaction in the Twittersphere was for Greg Egan’s win in Best Collection (for Oceanic). That got SFAW a bunch of new followers who, I think, are Japanese. (Associated blog post here.)

I must say I’m very impressed with the show that Fantastic Queensland puts on. Unlike certain other awards I could mention, they are very much part of the 21st Century and keen to have what they are doing recognized around the world.

I was also very impressed with Scott Westerfeld (who won the YA prize for Leviathan) was kept up a running fashion commentary. It sounds like Trudi Canavan (winner of Best Fantasy Novel with Magician’s Apprentice) is going to be a contender for the Emerald City Best Dressed Award at this year’s Hugos. A note to the Aussie girls, however: you don’t all have to wear black. My dress for Melbourne is green and gold (though definitely not the right shades thereof).

Norton Awards

I’ve just been posting about this year’s Norton Award winners over at SFAW. They look like very good choices to me. Doug Dorst’s book is something that I’ve been wanting to get hold of for some time, and will hopefully finally do so at WFC. I’m also very happy for my friend Charlie. The Writers with Drinks series of readings is a wonderful thing that I have not got to nearly often enough. And I’m afraid that there is something wickedly delicious about io9 being rewarded for “extraordinary invention and creativity unhindered by the constraints of paltry reason.”

Gemmell Reaction

One of the best things about the new Gemmell Award is how Debbie Millier and her cohorts have managed to grab the attention of the mainstream media. Their inaugural presentation has garnered at least two mentions in the Guardian Book Blog. Earlier today I put up a post at SF Awards Watch in reaction to learning that the Gemmell drew in over 10,000 voters from 75 countries. I now learn from Sam Jordison that the actual total was only just shy of 11,000 voters. The Gemmell is a real popular vote award. If you have view on that, please comment over at SFAW.

Sam’s article, however, is all about the public respectability of fantasy. Eschewing the traditional fannish route of claiming that fantasy fans might be nerdy, but at least they are better that furries, he went instead for the international reach of the award. And he’s right, that is indeed admirable. Sam also noted:

Sceptics could suggest that fantasy is easier to translate since its readers aren’t so bothered about quality writing.

And I have to admit that I was worried that Sapkowski’s book might not win because the translation is so bad. The fact that he did win could be explained by lack of refinement by the readers, but it could also mean that the readers could see the fine book struggling to be seen beneath the leaden English. Or possibly they read the original Polish edition, or the Spanish or French translations.

The point about epic fantasy (and the Gemmell is an award for epic fantasy) is that it is a genre, much like romance or westerns or mysteries. If you get hung up on things like the predictable plot lines and silly character names you’ll never like any of it. But if, like Sapkowski, you take that generic structure and use it to make interesting points about macho attitudes, imperialism, terrorism and so forth then you can still produce something well worth reading.

Adelaide – Lazy Sunday

The con is now in full swing, but to be honest that’s not a lot of action. The number of people here appear to be quite low – probably not a lot more than were in Auckland. Many of the big name Australian authors are not here. And the con is mostly strolling along on the “she’ll be right” principle (which is Australian for “no further effort required”). We are having a fun time anyway.

Lunch yesterday was courtesy of the Central Market. Medge & Bean, Paul Ewins and I bought some bread, cheese and olives and ate them. Adelaide really is a very good place to eat.

In the afternoon I was on a panel about SF awards, and attended the GoH presentation for Steve and Catherine Scholz. Both were quite good events, and both had very small audiences – less than 20 in both cases, I think.

The masked ball last night was rather better attended, but it did prove the point that if you have a “masked ball” rather than a formal masquerade then hardly anyone will actually come in costume – a mask is seen as being quite sufficient. Sean Williams is an excellent DJ. Sadly, having been up since 5:30am, I was not really in a fit state to dance the night away. However, I did mange to give the French dress an outing, and I got some very kind comments.

This evening, all being well, I will be covering the Ditmar Awards live at SF Awards Watch.

Talking of the Ditmars, quite a bit of the discussion on the awards panel revolved around lack of participation. If you have less than 100 people voting it becomes much easier for people to stuff the ballot. There is, I’m afraid, no solution to this other than getting more people to attend the convention. The Australians have tried some creative solutions, including once trying to shame people into participating by adding a character of Best Fannish Cat. The idea was that people would be so outraged at the awards being trivialized that they would all want to get involved, but I don’t think it worked. Given that I’m now wondering how I could win an award for Best Fannish Cat, I can see why.

Adelaide In Progress

So far so good. I have kindly allowed Jonathan Strahan to laugh at me over the cricket, and I have been shopping.

I have, of course, done other stuff too. I have talked to Perry Middlemiss and Rose Mitchell about the Melbourne convention center, and I now have a much better idea of which bits of the vast building we are going to use. There will be more later when I have had a chance to look at maps. In the meantime, for the benefit of Stephen Boucher, I’d like to confirm that the distance from the door of the Hilton to the door of the convention center is precisely zero Standlee units. (You do have to choose the right doors, but it is seriously convenient.)

The other good news is that the one thing that was lacking on site – additional places to eat besides the hotel – is exactly what is is going to get built in the area over the next year. It is looking like being a very good site indeed.

I’ve also been talking costuming with Fan GoH, Steve Scholz. I’m now looking forward to both tonight’s masked ball and the masquerade in Melbourne next year.

And finally the good news is that the convention has promised me Internet access for the Ditmar Awards coverage, so we will be going out live tomorrow night over on SF Awards Watch.

I’m on a panel about awards this afternoon, so I need to get back to the con. See you later.

Lazy French Sunday

It is the last day of the con here in Epinal. The sun is shining brightly outside and the hotel lobby is full of people checking their email, sad creatures that we are. I appear to have failed to post anything at all on this blog yesterday, so here’s a pile of catch-up.

Yesterday I did some shopping and shot a pile of video interviews. The three US guests here have all had a wonderful time. I haven’t done an interview with Hal Duncan yet, but when I left him last night he was in the local Irish pub working his way through the various beers that they have so I’m pretty sure he’s happy too.

My friends at Bragelonne, one of the leading SF&F publishers in France, did a panel yesterday talking about their upcoming schedule. Stéphane Marsan talked rather too quickly for me to follow about their fantasy list. I did manage to note that James Barclay is very popular here. Tom Clegg is now handling the SF line and he made me very happy by announcing that they have a French translation of Brasyl in the works. The best audience reaction of the panel, however, was reserved for Isabelle Varange who edits their new Milady imprint. This mainly does urban fantasy and supernatural romance, but what got the audience excited was an announcement about a series of books featuring a sexy cyborg and her elf rock-star boyfriend. Go Justina!

The other panel I attended yesterday was devoted to the French-language podcast web site, Utopod. It is run by Lucas Moreno who lives in Switzerland but was born in Uruguay and who speaks Spanish, French and English fluently. He’ll be at Worldcon – look out for him. Podcasting is a fairly new idea in the Francophone world, and many of the audience had difficulty coming to grips with the idea that Utopod‘s output was available for free. They kept suggesting daft schemes by which they thought Lucas could monetize the web site, and he kept explaining why they would not work, and would just mean he had many fewer listeners. The phrase “Cory Doctorow” got used a lot.

The evening was given over to the Prix Imaginales, which I covered live for SF Awards Watch. The viewing numbers were not great, but we had people following the blog from France, Belgium, Switzerland, the UK and the USA, so I’m pretty happy. Huge thanks are due to Lionel Davoust who helped me organize the whole thing and provided helpful commentary on the French writers and publishers. You can see a picture of the trophy here. It is made of plastic so it is not quite as imposing as a Hugo, but it is undeniably cute.

After the ceremony we all headed off to Le Bagatelle for dinner where we discovered that green rhubarb is a local delicacy. And then, just in case we hadn’t had enough wine and green rhubarb liqueur, we fell into the nearby Irish pub. And that means I am all caught up here and can get on with doing SFAW posts and checking the video.

Imaginales – Day 2 Wrap

First up I have discovered to my embarrassment that I have been mis-pronouncing the name of the convention for ages. The final ‘s’ of Imaginales is silent. I have been spending too much time with Latino people, I think, and my mind processes foreign languages as if they are Spanish.

Today has been amazing. Around lunch time the kids arrived. I guess school was out for the week. Admission to the con is free, so there are huge numbers of young people here. As with Finncon it will be hard to estimate how many, but certainly many hundreds. I suspect it will be several thousand by the end of the weekend.

Hal Duncan has arrived. As you may have seen him tweet, he was only on his second beer of the day when a 10-foot tall blue-skinned woman marched into the convention. It is true, I have video.

On the downside there have been a few schedule mistakes, one of which led to poor Bruce missing a reading this afternoon and a bunch of us having a small panic about where he was. These issues are, of course, fixable with good program ops people and sufficient staff. But if you have so many young people attending then finding new staff should be easy.

I have a photo of the own-label wine here. They have both red and white, only 9 Euros a bottle.

Tomorrow evening I will be live-blogging the awards ceremony over at SF Awards Watch. Huge thanks are due to Lionel Davoust who not only helped to arrange this with the tech crew, but also volunteered to help host the event. His English is excellent and of course he’ll be able to able to respond to any French people who chance along.

Not Dead

Urk, I’ve just realized that I haven’t posted anything here all day, and it is almost midnight in the UK already.

OK, so I have been busy doing other things. Today I’ve been editing an article for the next Clarkesworld, and doing the real world job, and helping run the Hugo Award logo contest, and working on plans for Internet coverage of Worldcon, and helping a UK event find some SF authors for a panel. There have also been several SF Awards Watch stories today. This one was particularly pleasing.

Sooner or later I hope to write something about this year’s IPL. It is a measure of how busy I am that I haven’t been blogging each Royals game the way I did last year.

But I do have one piece of actual content, so I guess I should get on and post it.

A Successful Event

Kevin and I are very pleased at how well the Nebulas live blogging event went last night. As I recall had 118 people check in during the show, and 53 watching for more than 1 minute. Those numbers have since gone up to 136 and 79, so clearly people are checking out what they missed today.

We are definitely planning to do more of these, in particular coverage of the Hugo ceremony at Worldcon. And there I can add the good news that Kij Johnson has volunteered to be our fashion correspondent for the evening, so we plan to have lots of photos of fabulous outfits as well as all the award news.

Before then, however, I want to explore how the technology can do other things, such as more general convention reportage, and live panel discussions.

Who Needs Sleep?

Last weekend I was in Montreal for a Worldcon committee meeting, on Tuesday I was back in the UK for the London Book Fair, and tomorrow I have to be in LA for the Nebulas – well, virtually anyway.

Details of our Nebulas coverage have been posted on SF Awards Watch, which is where the actual live coverage will take place. Basically we are just packaging the official SFWA tweets in an easily accessible format. But someone has to be online to host the show and approve comments, and as Kevin is traveling that means me. Yawn.

Catalog Neepery

One of the things that drives me crazy when doing things like SFAW is the lack of an easy way to direct people at books. Providing Amazon links is all very well, but I don’t like encouraging the creation of a monopoly retailer, and an ASIN only points to one edition of a book. So I was quite interested by Open Library, which provides a range of purchasing and borrowing options. Unfortunately it suffers from the same problem. Again there is a separate record for each edition of a book, and no means of linking those editions together as different instances of the same thing. One day someone will get this right, but it may not be soon.

Nnedi in The Guardian

The Guardian book blog has published an article about Nnedi Okorafor’s win in the Wole Soyinka Prize (something I wrote about on SFAW a few days ago). This is really a rather huge story, because the Wole Soyinka is the top prize for literature in all of Africa, and the book is a YA fantasy novel written by a woman. As Sam Jordison says, you can’t imagine the Booker Prize ever deigning to notice such a work. Africa, it seems is a little less stuffy.

Still, another good deed done. Now all I need to do is get hold of a copy of Zahra the Windseeker.

World Fantasy Awards Coverage

It turns out that the whole things would have been a bust anyway as there is no wi-fi access in the banquet room. Fabulous ace reporter, Gigi Gridley, will be texting the winners through to me as they are announced and I’ll be doing my best to pretend some sort of party atmosphere over at SFAW. You are welcome to join me from around 12:30pm Pacific Time onwards.

In the meantime, I have the finale of the Formula 1 season to watch.