My Octocon Schedule

The lovely Irish people have been very kind to me this year. You can catch up on my interview with translator, Julia Meitov Hersey, and on the launch event for Juliet McKenna’s The Green Man’s Gift, via their Twitch stream. The convention itself is just a week away, and the programme for the weekend has been released. It is a hybrid event and I’m part of the online entertainment. Here’s what I will be doing.

Saturday, 15 October – 17:30

Found in Translation – There’s so much amazing SFF we would love to read but that wasn’t written in a language we know. Fortunately, translators can bring those stories to us by choosing just the right words to convey the nuances and flavour of the landscapes, characters, and dialogue of worlds beyond our experience. Our panel discusses the secrets behind the linguistic alchemy of translation. With Jean Bürlesk, Faranae (M) & Julia Meitov Hersey.

Sunday, 16 October – 10:00

Monarchy and Nepotism in Fact and Fiction – “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.” Divine right, heroic lineages, secret legacies and cronyism are all often used to explain why a character is important within a story, whether they – or the audience – know about their birthright or not. But considering we find it hard to tolerate these ideas in our own societies, what are the alternatives in fiction to the random lottery of inherited power, wealth and privilege? With Jean Bürlesk, Aliette de Bodard, Ian Moore & Gillian Polack. I am moderating.

Memberships, both virtual and in-person, are still available from the convention website. A virtual membership is only €20.

Octocon Presents (me)


I’m delighted to report that, on Tuesday September 20th, I will be participating in the Octocon Presents programme for 2022. This is a series of online events leading up this this year’s Irish National Science Fiction Convention. I will be talking to Julia Meitov Hersey, a translator who works with Russian language books. She is the translator for Ukrainian authors, Maryna and Serhiy Dyachenko, and the winner of last year’s Rosetta Award for SF&F translation. The show starts at 8:00pm Irish time which, miraculously giving how stupid my government is, is exactly the same as British time.

My FantasyCon Schedule

As promised, here’s what I will be up to at FantasyCon:

Saturday 17th, 11:00 – Angry Robot Room – Non-fiction Genre Writing – Reviews and Critiques (with John Dodd (m), Maura McHugh, Steven Poore, Kit Power)

Saturday 17th, 16:00 – Atlantis 1 – Writing in Collaboration (with Emily Inkpen (m), Gary Couzens, LR Lam)

Sunday 18th, 10:00 – Atlantis 2 – Writing Older Characters – What happens when the chosen one grows up (with Jen Williams, Gabriela Houston, Liz Willams, WP Wiles)

If you are wondering about the writing in collaboration one, I’m told that the panel will encompass many different ways in which that happens and I’ll be talking about sensitivity reading.

I think this is the first time I’ve ever been put on an old person panel, though it looks like everyone else on it is younger than me (and in some cases a lot younger).

Hopefully I will see some of you there.

Westercon Updates

Westercon #74 starts tomorrow, and as always there are a few programme updates. In particular I’ve stepped in to moderate the Gulf Futurism panel because Cristina has been dragged away for other things. I know very little about SF&F from the Arab world, but I have some excellent panelists to talk to. Also I’m going to be interviewing Stark Holborn for the SF Westerns panel, because none of the other ornery varmints wanted to be on that panel.

Kevin tells me that membership sales are closed now, because the registration staff are to busy at-con. However, if anyone is desperate for a virtual membership, I’m sure I can sort that for you. The virtual program schedule is here, and anything listed here as being in the Blue Room is also being streamed.

Airship Nebula Ahoy!

The 2022 Nebula Conference starts tomorrow, with the award ceremony on Saturday evening (US time). Thankfully I don’t have to be up for that, but I am on programme.

Indie Publishing for LGBTQ+ Authors
Sat, May 21, 2022 6:00 AM to 7:00 AM
Indie publishing is a new frontier for many authors, but what does breaking into this space look like for members of the LGBTQ+ community? Join us for a discussion of ideas, advice, and the personal experiences of independently published queer authors.
With Maya MacGregor / M Evan MacGriogair, Sienna Tristen & Sarah Loch (M)

I hope to see some of you there.

My Eastercon Schedule

Just a couple of days to go now. The full programme for Eastercon has been released. I will be in the Dealers’ Room for most of the convention, but I am doing two panels (and moderating both of them). Here’s the details:

Publishing in the Pandemic
Saturday 16th; 10:30; Bleriot
The Covid-19 pandemic proved tough for publishing. Paper shortages, distribution issues, and alterations to working patterns all brought massive change to the industry. The panel discusses the good and bad, and what might last. With Tiffani Angus, Francesca Barbini, Marcus Gipps & Joanne Hall.

Reclaiming Ourselves: What Does It Mean To Reclaim Our Physical Bodies?
Sunday 17th; 10:30; Endeavour
Lockdown living meant seeing far fewer people face-to-face – which for some of us meant the opportunity to change how we dress, look, or otherwise engage with our bodies, relatively free from external judgement. (Plus, unable to get a haircut.) What can our responses to lockdown living tell us about our attitudes to our bodies and what we are ‘allowed’ to do with them? What about those of us who were already constrained in how we engaged with the physical world, eg through disability? With FD Lee, Stewart Hotston, Juliet E McKenna & Lee Swift.

A Weekend in Wales

Last weekend I finally managed to attend one of the writing retreats run by Jo Hall and Roz Clarke. It was held on what is basically a large farm near where Roz & Jo have their own farm. Details here.

The format of these retreats is very flexible, depending on who attends. Jo & Roz are very happy to do workshop type things if people want them, or they can do individual tuition, or they can just let us get on and write. This time turned out to be mostly the latter.

My own situation was that I had several story ideas that just needed time to turn into prose. I ended up writing two short stories, or at least producing first drafts thereof. Other attendees also seemed very busy and produced lots of words. I think we all went away happy.

I would have got more done had I not needed to spend part of Saturday in Carmarthen, but that was worthwhile too. That included a lovely run along the B4300 which follows the course of the River Tywi for much of its length. Sadly there are not many places to stop, and the one I did find had the view obscured by trees. (Sorry, Nicola).

The farm didn’t intrude much on us, though I will note that geese are indeed horrible (to everyone, but especially to large cats). Also the call of a peacock sounds very much like that of a cat in extreme pain.

Anyway, it was fun. Hopefully I can go again soon. Being away from the world for 4 days (wifi is very limited at the farm) was great.

One Night in Stratford #LGBTHM22

On Thursday evening I will once again be participating in the LGBT+ History Month event at the Shakepspeare’s Birthplace Trust in Stratford-on-Avon. Sadly I won’t be in Shakepeare’s birthplace this time, but a virtual event means that you folks can get to see me in action from all over the world.

The talk I’m doing for them is a short version of my “Girls on Stage” talk, focusing solely on the theatre of 16th and 17th Century England. So no Greeks or Kabuki in this one, but there is so much batshit genderqueer stuff in the plays of the period that there will be no trouble filling the time.

To give folks a flavour of what I’ll be talking about, I have done a blog post for the SBT website. You can find it here.

To book a free place for the entire programme, go here.

Girls On Stage: A Trailer #LGBTHM22

The fabulous Gigi from A New Normal asked me if I would mind doing a little chat for LGBT+ History Month. I suggested maybe a bit of a teaser to encourage people to attend my M Shed talk on cross-dressing in the theatre. So we did. Now it is online and you can watch it below.

And if that sparked your interest you can catch the whole talk here. It is on February 24th, and it starts at 7:00pm so it is convenient for some of you folks across the Pond too.

LGBT+ History Month is here

Yes, it is February again, which means I am going to be busy doing talks. There will be only two public ones this year, and both will feature my new theme for this year: crossdressing in the theatre. This was inspired by reading some great research on the boys who actually played women in Shakespeare’s plays. I hope that the Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust would pick up on it, and they did. I will be part of an Outing the Past event on February 17th. See here for details.

One of the things that delighted me about this is that, in researching the talk, I discovered that our Will was really quite conservative. Other plays written by his contemporaries were much more queer, including some actual trans material.

I’m doing a related talk for my friends at M Shed Museum in Bristol. It turns out that they have a fine collection of Japanese prints, including a number of portraits of kabuki actors. Also they wanted a much longer talk, so this one will visit ancient Greece, mediaeval China and Japan as well as Elizabethan/Victorian England. It is on February 24th, and you can book here.

M Shed also has a bunch of other talks that I have helped curate, including ones by my friends Andrew Foyle and Norena Shopland, and one by a Chinese queer activist, Qiuyan Chen. Check out the What’s On listing for details.

There are, of course, talks happening all over the country. This year some of the hubs are doing in person events again, but I suspect that quite a few will be virtual still. You can find a list of all the events here.

I’m doing a bunch of talks for private clients too. That doesn’t mean I’m getting big bucks, it means it is for a local or company LGBT+ group and they want to restrict access to members. This is mainly repeats, but I’ll possibly be doing one for Trans Day of Visibility in March that might turn into next year’s public talk.

New Locus – Contains Me

A new issue of Locus was published yesterday, and it is probably the one that people most look forward to each year because it is the one that contains the Recommended Reading List. As usual, I had a part in choosing the books in some of the categories. There are a lot of other people involved, and nothing gets on the list just because I say so. Equally there are books I recommended that didn’t make it. No one is going to think the final list is perfect, but it contains a lot of very good books and stories. You can find the full list here.

This issue also contains an article by me. This coincidence is an artefact of the December Worldcon. I generally write them something about the WSFS Business Meeting, so if you have the magazine you can read that too. Liza and the team have my deepest sympathy for having to do a Worldcon report and the Recommended Reading List in the same issue.

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.