Buy Me for Christmas


If you missed my HistFest talk on trans Romans first time around, you have a second chance. It will be available for a number of days over the holiday period. What’s more, for the ridiculously low sum of £8.68 (that’s £7.50 plus EventBrite fees) you get not just me, but five other great history talks by actual, genuine historians too. That has to be better than watching Christmas movies, right? If you would like to purchase access, you can do so here.

By the way, I don’t get a cut of this. I was paid a flat fee for creating the talk. But if you do watch my bit that will help encourage the lovely HistFest folks to commission more trans-related material, which would be a very good thing.

Worldcon Starts Tomorrow

Well that crept up on me. It is all too easy to miss the excitement when you don’t have to travel to the convention. But Worldcon does start tomorrow, and I have panels. The schedule that I was given is as follows:

  • Wednesday 15th 16:00, Kress Room: Fanzines and Meta Fandom
  • Thursday 16th 10:00, Kress Room: Planning and Running a Virtual Fan Event
  • Saturday 18th 10:00, Calvert Room: What Do We Look for in a Fanzine?

Those time are for Washington DC. For UK times add 5 hours.

The first two of those are definite. The Saturday one may not happen for me because it has not been scheduled as a virtual event. I don’t know how that managed to fall through the cracks, but watch this space.

Of course I will also be online on Saturday night because I have a Hugo to lose. I shall be sad for my CoNZealand Fringe pals, but Related Work is a very tough field this year.

By the way, I see that Twitter is busy discussing accessibility issues again this year. This is not good, obviously, but it is hard to see what can be done.

Worldcon facility contracts are a big deal and are generally signed soon after a Worldcon wins site selection. If the facility isn’t accessible at the point, there’s very little you can do.

So we should only be picking sites that are accessible. And people do ask questions about this at bidder presentation sessions, but there are lots of other things that people care about in terms of site selection. In any case, the bidders have probably taken the facility’s world about it being accessible, and haven’t sent a team of experts to inspect it.

OK, so maybe all bidders should be more responsible and ensure that their facilities are accessible before they start. But finding a local facility that is the right size and affordable is really hard, and fan groups are unlikely to decide not to bid if their accessibility isn’t up to scratch.

Besides which, they don’t have to care, in that they are only in this for one year, and if they screw up it doesn’t matter because it will be Worldcon that gets the bad rap, not the people who failed to run it well enough.

The bottom line is that accessibility is never going to be done right except by good fortune, or because we have a group of people who are responsible for running Worldcon year after year and see such issues as important.

Alternative Canada

This morning Kevin and I visited the McCord Museum. We chose it, of all the various cultural destiations in Montréal, because it has an exhibit devoted to the local indigenous people. There are, we were told, 11 different cultural groups native to the region we know as Quebec. They range from the Huron or Wendat people, who are related to other Iroquoian-speaking peoples from around the Great Lakes region, to the Inuit.

What you hope for from such exhibitions is to to learn fascinating things about these indigienous cultures. What you get, most of the time, is shameful tales about how badly they have been treated by Europeans. You get stories of massacres, of populations decimated by Western diseases, of broken treaties, of stolen children, of horrendous suicide rates among indigenous youth. Quebec is no exception.

I will note that the exhibition in the McCord was less despressing that the equivalent one in the museum in Hobart, Tasmania. There we were greeted with sorry photographs of the last known members of the native communties, dating from decades ago. There are over 1.6 million indigenous people living in Canada. Some 800 of them participated in the creation of the exhibition in the McCord. Some of them are on video venting their frustration at how badly they are treated, still.

The final room of the exhibition encourages visitors to make a meaningful connection to indigenous people, and to start on the journey of becoming an ally. The way that they talked about listening to people, and being respectful of difference, was very similar to the things we say in the Diversity Trust training about becoming an ally to trans people. There’s a lesson in that, I suspect.

Settling In

As is the way of things with convention trips to other time zones, Kevin and I are now more or less used to Canadian time (in my case helped by their clocks going back on Sunday morning), but it is now time to start adjusting to our home time zones again.

We are settling in to Montréal in other ways too. We are eating very well, and have found the local farmers’ market so that we can sample the native cheeses. This one was rather good. We are a little hobbled due to the absence of the excellent Scott Edelman, but we shall do our best to channel his enthusiasm for fine dining and find some where spectacular to eat. We are in Montréal, that should’t be hard.

Another way in which we are getting acclimatised is that we are making like proper Canadians and going everywhere we can underground. This isn’t actually necessary. The weather has been fabulous — mostly in single digits but only very slightly negative overnght. But the underground routes are there for a reason and we are (re-)learning to use them. There’s no particular need for a coat.

I say “re-learning” because of course we learned all this in 2009 when we were here for Worldcon. This morning our route to breakfast took us past the convention center, and the fabulous Embassy Suites where Sissy Pantelis and I spent a happy week luxuriating in a superb hotel room. I want to stay in that hotel again.

However, all too soon it will be time to head home. We’ve done departure tests (though it looks like you don’t actually need one for the UK until after you have arrived, because the UK government is really keen on people spreading COVID as widely as possible). I shall have to find an excuse to come back.

My World Fantasy Schedule

I have passed my “fit to fly” test and think that I have all of the other bits of paperwork that the Canadian government requires, so I am expecting to be flying out to Montreal tomorrow. Assuming that all goes according to plan, I will be on program at World Fantasy. Here’s what I have been scheduled for.

Friday 5th – Noon: Covid-19 and the BookWorld – Effects and Consequences
We don’t have a good picture on the consequences of the Pandemic for our industry and our genre, but the effects are huge, and they’re continuing to unfold, and will likely continue to unfold for years, with massive effects on the stability of writing as a career, on small presses, on major publishers, on printers, supply chains, on bookstore chains and independents, marketing, ebooks and audiobooks, and the industry at large.
With Joshua Palmatier, Ashley Hisson, Deanna Sjolander & Julie E. Czerneda

Saturday 6th – Noon: Works in Translation
The world of fantasy has many languages and translation is an important part of making literature available to a larger audience. The panel will discuss the challenges of translating a work from one language to another.
With Jean-Louis Trudel, Mathieu Lauzon-Dicso, Eugenia Triantafyllou

The Covid panel is in person only, but the translation one is hybrid, meaning that at least one of the panel will be attending virtually. The panel should be visiable to anyone with a virtual membership.

BristolCon Programme

No sign of a government u-turn as yet, so here’s my schedule for BristolCon. First up I am on this:

Panel Room 2: 13:00 – We’ve been ret-conned again!

Does the body of work always belong to the author, or can it be removed from them and become a readership property? From film directors issuing recuts, reworkings, removing originals from print, to the issues of author bigotry the panel discusses who truly owns a work of fiction once it’s been published and who controls it’s authority

Cheryl Morgan, S. Naomi Scott, R B (Rosa) Watkinson, Justin Lee Anderson , Kevlin Henney (M)

And then I am moderating this:

Panel Room 1: 16:00 – Why is there no democracy in epic fantasy?

The genre is still in thrall to the lure of kings and queens and dynastic power, let alone the Chosen One who’s just plain better than you. Where is the voice of the people and the emergence of democracy?

Adrian Tchaikovsky, Juliet E McKenna, Kate Macdonald, Justin Lee Anderson , Cheryl Morgan (M)

Both panels look like being a lot of fun. The rest of the time I will be in the Dealers’ Room. See some of you there.

Green Men at BristolCon


Yes folks, BristolCon is fast approaching, and I will be in the Dealers’ Room with lots of lovely books for you to buy.

The book that will probably be most in demand is The Green Man’s Challenge. I should have enough paperbacks, but if you want a hardcover it would be best to reserve one. Equally if you want a copy of something else that is low on stock.

Anyway, the bookstore now sells paper books to UK customers. Mostly that means postage, but if you expect the pick up the book at a con then just select that delivery option instead. Please check any books that you want, because the website does have stock levels so it is easy to see if anything is in short supply.

Did I mention that you get a free copy of the ebook if you buy a paper book direct from us?

See (some of) you at BristolCon.

Kim Stanley Robinson in (Virtual) Bristol

It being October, BristolCon is not far away. However, to whet your appetite, there is another science fiction event taking place on Tuesday the 19th. As part of the Festival of the Future City, Bristol Ideas is doing an interview with Kim Stanley Robinson about his latest novel, The Ministry for the Future.

Stan will probably in the the UK at the time, but that’s because he’s been invited to speak at COP26. He had no idea what his schedule would be in advance, so the Bristol Ideas folks decided to pre-record the interview. And they kindly asked me to set the scene by giving an overview of Stan’s career.

That of course means that I was present for the pre-record, so I can promise you that Stan and interviewer, Andrew Kelly, put on a great show. If you are interested in practical political and economic ways to solve the climate change issue, you will probably find it fascinating too.

The event is free to attend. Further details are available here. And you will be able to watch it on YouTube.

Octocon This Weekend

Ireland’s national SF&F convention will be taking place virtually again this year. It is free to attend, and there is a lot going on. Details are available here.

I am on two panels. They are as follows.

Saturday, 21:00 How Not to Code Your Non-Humans
Writers often use traits of neurodiverse, non-binary, queer or disabled people as blueprints for their aliens, robots and monsters, but don’t allow their humans to share these characteristics. How can we build both human and non-human characters to exhibit a wide range of identities without resorting to mere ambiguous coding or else to using racist, sexist or other bigoted stereotypes?
With: Faranae, Kat Dodd, Angeline B. Adams & S.L. Dove Cooper

Sunday, 15:00 Uncovering the Hidden Treasures of the Past
Science fiction as a genre looks to the future, but authors of the past can still have a lot to say to us even though their work may have fallen out of print and become a distant memory. Why have some writers and works been consigned to the vaults of history while others have remained on the shelves, and what would our panel most like to see restored from the archives?
With: Ian Moore, Michael Carroll, Cora Buhlert & Deirdre Thornton

I will also be available in the Wizard’s Tower Press channel of the convention’s Discord.

Juliet McKenna is doing a couple of panels on Saturday, and a reading on Sunday.

As far as the rest of the programme goes, I’m looking forward to the great Shelly Bond talking about editing comics, Gillian Polack’s talk on Food in Fantasy, and S.L. Dove Cooper on Asexuality in SF&F. The full schedule is available here.

Hopefully I will see some of you there.

Bristol on Saturday

It has been a long time. The last public event I did in Bristol was, I think, February 25 2020. I have done one in-person training course for the NHS there last summer, and of course a whole lot of virtual events, but this is very different.

What am I up to? Well, the Palace International Film Festival is taking place at St. Anne’s House in Brislington. It is a festival of queer cinema, and as part of the programme Tom Marshman and I will be Queer and Indecent. Well, that’s that it says on the website anyway. The longer version is, “As part of our Queer & Indecent Exhibition, join curator Kate Fahy as she talks to two local queer Bristol artists for a conversation about queer history, spaces and community.”

If you are able to attend, it is a 12:30 start. You may want to book a place as COVID security will mean a fairly limited attendance.

If you are in Bristol this weekend you may also want to check out the Queer Bristol Audio Tour put together by Anna Rutherford and collagues. If you go on the tour you might hear a familiar voice talking about Michael Dillon.

Clevedon Tomorrow

This is a reminder that Juliet McKenna and I will be in Clevedon tomorrow for their literary festival. Juliet is appearing on the Fantasy Fringe panel at 3:30pm, but the lovely people from Books on the Hill, who are organising that event, have a stall there all day, so I’ll be going over early to give them some books to sell.

Mind you, given that Clevedon is a seaside town, and the weather is forecast to be excellent, I might not be at the venue all day. A little bit of breathing in of sea air might be necessary.

Time and the Romans

My HistFest talk on transgender Romans is coming up next week. Many of you have already booked up for it, which is lovely, but inevitably a few of you have had issues with the timing. Well I have good news for you: it doesn’t matter. Sure, if you can’t be there on the night, you will miss the live Q&A. But you know where to find me, right? Other than that, if you buy a ticket, you will get a link that you can use any time in the next 7 days, because the HistFest people are lovely like that. So if you were planning to go to the pub, have a D&D night that you can’t cancel, or live in Australia and can’t be up in the middle of the night, it is OK. You can catch up on replay.

Tickets available here.

By the way, I’m not hassling you on my behalf. I get a fixed fee regardless of the audience size. But if we can get a really big attendance for this then HistFest will see value in doing other trans-related talks. And that will be a good thing.

On the Big Stage


Today it was announced that I will be doing a talk for HistFest (June 17th, 7:30pm UK time, booking details here). This is huge.

No, seriously. The sort of people who get on that platform are TV historians, eminent professors, or people with books coming out. Often they are all three. Recent events have featured Michael Wood, Alice Roberts, Olivette Otele, Sir Michael Palin, David Olusoga and Janina Ramirez. And they want me to talk about trans people. It feels kind of like being a finalist for the Best Novel Hugo without having actually written a book. I am so grateful to Rebecca Rideal for asking me to do this, and of course to all of the professional Classicists and Assyriologists who have helped me get the skills to make this possible.

Now all I have to do is perform, and thanks to years of experience with LGBT+ History Month I know I can do that. What I’m hoping some of you will do is buy a ticket. I want this to sell out, not for me, but to show people that LGBT+ history has a market.

By the way, if you saw my talk at the University of Durham in February, this will be mostly the same material, but made a bit more accessible for a more general audience. However, there will be some new stuff about trans men in this talk.

WiFi SciFi Returns


In theory today is Hug Day in the UK, the day when we are finally allowed to hug other people. In practice, of course, COVID restrictions have been getting gradually looser for some time, and both the infection rate and death rate are now on an upward curve. Everyone is hoping that that the vaccination programme will mean that things don’t get out of hand again.

In the meantime, virtual events continue to be staged, and that includes a return for our very own WiFi SciFi. What’s more, we are full-on international now, with a whole bunch of guests from across the Atlantic. It should be fun. It will be on May 29th at 5:00pm, UK time. And it is free. Welcome, one and all. Full details of all the fabulous guests (and me) are available here.

The SAGE Encyclopedia of Trans Studies


I’m in another book. It is a massive, two-volume encyclopedia, and my contribution is very small, but I am in it. I have a small section on trans people in the ancient world.

I won’t be getting a copy of the book, because this is academic publishing and even with my author discount it would be a ridiculous amount of money. But books like this are not intended to be purchased by humans. They are aimed primarily at academic libraries. If you happen to work in such a place, then do please consider buying this book because every university should have one. Purchase details are here, and I can probably get you a discount.

LGBT History Month – Part 2


Once again I have been working with the wonderful Karen Garvey and her colleagues at Bristol’s M Shed museum. Our progrmme of events this year is designed to link in with the LGBT+ History Month theme: Body, Mind, Spirit. Due to the pandemic they are online Zoom events, but that means y’all can watch them. They are free, though you do need to click though to M Shed to book. Here’s what we have for you:

  • 4th February: Osman from LGBT+ Muslim charity Hidayah talks about Muslim views on queer relationships, historically and now. This will be great. Osman has promised me a bunch of Arabian Nights stories.
  • 10th February: I will be talking about Michael Dillon – trans pioneer, one of the key figures in 20th century trans history. I have quite a bit of new Dillon research to share.
  • 16th February: all the way from Seattle, the amazing Nicola Griffith will be in conversation with me about her novel Hild, and gender and sexuality in early medieval times. If you read and loved Hild, you need to watch this.
  • 24 February: a panel discussion on the history of gender in sport. Can we do hot political topics? Yes we can. This one is early morning so we can welcome my pal, Prof. Noah Riesman all the way from Melbourne.

LGBT History Month – Part I


February is fast approaching, and all this week I will be highlighting talks that I am going to be doing as part of that.

One that I’m really looking forward is one I have been invited to do by Strawberry Hill House. That’s the former home of Horace Walpole, who was probably gay and definitely a Gothic novelist. You may have heard of The Castle of Otranto. He was also an MP, an art historian, a prodigious writer of letters, and most importantly for my purposes a wealthly man-about-town in Georgian London.

That, naturally, brought him into contact with other famous people of the time, including Charlotte de Beaumont, Chevalière d’Eon. Before arriving in London she had been a diplomat, spy and cavalry officer in the service of Louis XV of France. Her time in London will involve more spying, a gender transition, significant quantities of wine, the Hellfire Club, the American Revolution, Marie Antoinette, the French Revolution, Prince George and William Blake, to name but a few.

It is going to be a lot of fun. Book here.

London Met Archives gets Unorthodox

Loki - Karl Johnsson
On December 5th the London Met Archives will be holding their 18th Annual LGBTQ+ Conference. There will be a lot of great content, including a panel discussion on queering museums led by the inimitable Dan Vo. And there will be me.

One of the themes of the conference is, “In what way faith, religion, and belief intersect with sexuality, transition(ing), identity and dissent?” In view of this I have offered a talk titled, “What Gender is God?” This will look at a range of religions, mainly around the ancient world, and how they have queered gender. Will there be Loki? Of course there will. And lots more besides. It should be fun.

To see the whole programme, and reserve a ticket for the entire event (£10), click here.

The image, by the way, is from volume #2 of Vei, the wonderful graphic novel in which Sara B Elfgren and Karl Johnsson give a new take on their traditional mythology.

LGBHTM 2021

Yes, I know it isn’t February yet, but there is a tradition of doing a launch event for LGBT History Month in November, and that month is almost upon us.

The being the Year of the Plague, there will be no flashy in-person show at some posh venue, but we will be (virtually) at the British Library. The online show is being produced by the inimitable Dan Vo, and I am delighted to report that I have a small speaking part. For more information, and to book a place at the event, click here.