My #IWD2018 Ujima Show

A day early for International Women’s Day, I devoted most of my show yesterday to feminist issues. However, I started out in Australia by welcoming film critic, Tara Judah, to talk about Sweet Country.

Tara is from Melbourne originally, so we had a lot to talk about. However, we did our best to keep the discussion to matters of race relations in Australia. Things continue to be pretty bad there, and I very much hope that this film shines a necessary spotlight on the situation.

After the news I started playing the interviews that I had picked up at the International Women’s Day event put on by Bristol on Saturday. They included comments from Penny Gane, Eleanor Vowles, Leonie Thomas, Rosa Taggert, Sian Webb and Elizabeth Small of Ra Cultural Consultancy.

Normally I would tell you to go to the Listen Again feature for all of this, but for some reason only 10 minutes of the first hour recorded. It is still worth it for a few minutes of Tara who is an amazing guest, but the IWD interviews are not there. Thankfully I still have the originals, and I hope to post them as a podcast at some point.

The second hour kicked off with more IWD interviews featuring No More Taboo, Sandra Gordon and Alex Raikes. The singers that Alex refers to are Pitch Fight, the Bristol University a capella group, whom you can find more about here.

The African Queens project that I talked about with Sandra is a project photographic Bristol women of color cosplaying famous women from African history. It was done for Black History Month last year. You can find out more about it here.

Finally I was joined in the studio by a couple of people I met on Saturday. Charlotte Murray is a young student who was interested in finding out more about radio, to I invited her into the studio. Jane Duffus is the editor of The Women Who Built Bristol, a fabulous collection of stories about the famous, and not so famous, women from the city’s history. If you are interested in buying the book, please order it through Bristol Women’s Voice because if you do all of the proceeds go to the charity.

Thankfully the second hour recorded correctly, and you can listen to it here.

The music for the show was as follows:

  • Walking the Dog – Jackie Shane
  • Natural Woman – Aretha Franklin
  • Make me Feel – Janelle Monae
  • Independent Woman – Destiny’s Child
  • Our Day Will Come – Amy Winehouse
  • We Are Family – Sister Sledge
  • Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
  • It’s Raining Men – Weather Girls

Sadly I had to cut off Janelle after a minute or so because I did not want to bleep out the swears. Once I have a copy of the clean radio mix I will be playing that song regularly.

Queering Localities, Day 2

Friday was pretty full on, including having to deliver my own paper, but I had a really great time and learned lots. Here are some highlights from day 2 of the conference.

Louise Pawley from Brighton told us about an amazing protest against Section 28. It was a year that the Tory party was having its annual conference on the south coast. One day the Brighton queer community gathered on the beach and gazed out to sea. At the exact time the tide was due to turn they lit torches and turned around to face the building where the conference was being held, symbolizing the tide turning against homophobia. I have no idea how many of the politicians saw this, but it was a magnificent gesture.

My own session included American historian, Susan Ferentinos, who told us all about a range of LGBT+ exhibitions that have been staged in the heart of Red State territory. It is good to know that even in the most conservative parts of the USA people still find ways to celebrate queer culture.

My thanks go to my colleague, Julian Warren, who expertly co-presented with me. It was a pleasure to tell the conference about several of the great LGBT+ history projects we have done in Bristol. It is also, as always, a pleasure to share a platform with Surat-Shaan Knan who was there talking about his Rainbow Pilgrims project.

Probably my favorite paper of the day was Jenny Marsden introducing us to the remarkable photographic archive of the trans community in Cape Town in the 1950s and 60s. Everyone was taken with the idea of the “salon crawl” where visitors would sample all of the various hairdressing salons where the queer community of District 6 worked and hung out.

The final session of the day included three remarkable papers, starting with Anne Balay on the subject of queer truckers in the USA. Truck driving is an awful job, with truckers generally working 14 hour days almost every day of the year. With the advent of “spy in the cab” technology it has also become one of the most intensely micro-managed jobs in the world. As a result, white men have moved out of the business, leaving it to people of color, women and queers (and in many cases people who are all three). Anne learned to drive a truck and worked in the industry for a while to do her research. I’m looking forward to the book when it comes out.

Zhenzhong Mu told us all about the tradition of yue opera in China. Officially these performances are done by women, but there is a sizeable subculture of men who gather together for weekends to stage their own amateur performances in drag, and to have sex with each other, before going home to their wives and jobs.

Rebecca Jennings gave a paper about lesbian separatist communities in Australia and Wales in the 1970s. There was much talk of essentialist views of femininity, and some rather naive ideas about setting up self-sufficient communities far from civilization while remaining defiantly vegan and eschewing all modern technology. “No one told me about wallabies,” complained one European visitor to an Australian site. The cute little creatures would destroy crops and keep people awake with their enthusiastic nocturnal bounding. Goodness only knows what they would have done if the camp had been attacked by drop bears. Thankfully modern feminism is far more about bringing down the patriarchy rather than trying to leave it and setting up an equally authoritarian matriarchy.

My thanks to Justin Bengry and Alison Oram for putting on the conference, and to Katy Pettit for her flawless admin (and the cake).

Now I need to go write a bunch of emails to new friends I have made.

New Dimension 6

Issue #10 of Dimension 6, the free Australian short fiction magazine, is now available from download from their website. The contents of this issue are:

  • “The Other City” by Rjurik Davidson
  • “Glide” by Natalie Potts
  • “The Seven Voyages of Captain Cook” by Craig Cormick

Rjurik is probably the best known writer on the list, but I do like the description of the Natalie Potts story:

There are lots of species of Australian fauna that want to kill you. We just found one more.

I bet that whatever it is will be achingly cute as well.

You Eat Ants?

As well all know from Disney’s Jungle Book, bears are famously omnivorous. Personally I tend to side with Bagheera over Baloo, but that’s feline solidarity for you. However, there are other creatures that eat ants. Australians, for example.

Thanks to the excellent cheese magazine, Culture, I have discovered Anthill, which is a chèvre coated in lemon myrtle leaves and ants. It achieved a top 16 placing in last year’s World Cheese Awards. Also it retails for a whopping AU$350/kilo (around US$270/kilo at current rates). My congratulations to Kris Lloyd of Woodside Cheese Wrights. Thankfully it is so expensive that I don’t feel the need to try it.

The Emmys, Part Three

There are International Emmys. Who knew? Not me. It is starting to seem like every time I look at social media a new set of Emmys is being announced. I don’t mind, because the results keep getting better.

Why? Well to understand my excitement we need to travel back in time to June 1998. I am in Wellington, New Zealand for a convention. I’m there partly to promote the (as it was then) San Francisco in 2002 Worldcon bid, partly to see my old friend Neil Gaiman, and partly to meet the other Guest of Honor at the event, a chap called George R.R. Martin whose new novel, A Game of Thrones, I had got quite excited about. (Foolishly, at the end of my review of the book, I had written, “Get on with it, George, there are a large number of people out here who are on tenterhooks”.)

Anyway, there I am in an Indian restaurant in Wellington with George & Parris, Neil, and a lovely Australian couple called Medge & Bean. Also with us is a friend from Melbourne, Sean McMullen, whose writing I had been championing, and his daughter. Of the young lady I wrote:

Catherine is very sweet, but boy can she be hard work at times. For a nine-year-old, she is exceptionally bright, and she holds her own in fandom with ridiculous ease. The trouble is, we just don’t have her energy. How Sean copes I do not know.

Fast forward now to August 1999. I was doing an Australian special edition of Emerald City in honor of the Melbourne Worldcon. I wasn’t the only editor thinking that way, because one of the things I reviewed was an all-Australian edition of Interzone. Sean had a story in it, and so did Catherine. She might just have turned 11 by then, and she went on to charm the whole Bay Area crew that came to Melbourne where our Worldcon bid was being voted on. (It was a three-year cycle back then.) I commented:

If Sean’s daughter isn’t famous by the end of the next decade I’ll eat my keyboard.

Ten years later Catherine was at Melbourne University studying for a joint degree in Film Studies and Law. She’d won something called the Melbourne National Scholarship which is a university study grant (all tuition fees paid) for student of outstanding academic achievement. I wasn’t surprised. I did not eat a keyboard.

Since graduating Catherine has racked up a host of credits on TV shows in a variety of roles, including Production Secretary on the SyFy mini-series of Childhood’s End. And now, drum roll please…

The 2016 Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting Award Winner is C.S. McMullen for her script, “Living Metal”.

Sir Peter Ustinov Award

The Emmys website says:

Each year, The Foundation administers the Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting Award. The competition is designed to motivate non-American novice writers under the age of 30, and offer them the recognition and encouragement that might lead to a successful career in television scriptwriting. Entrants are asked to create a completed half-hour to one-hour English-language television drama script.

The award winner receives $2,500, a trip to New York City, and an invitation to the International Emmy® Awards Gala in November.

I am well impressed. Congratulations on the award, Catherine. I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Typically studios queue up to produce the Ustinov-winning script, so I’m sure we’ll see “Living Metal” on our screens in the near future.

It’s Snapshot Week Down Under

The lovely people of the Australian speculative fiction community have this great little tradition of The Snapshot. Every few years they post a series of short interviews with the movers and shakers of the community, so the rest of the world can see what they are up to. The 2016 Snapshot is being published this week, and lots of interviews have appeared on their website.

Possibly the best way to browse the material is via their Twitter feed. The website has a sorted index, but the Twitter feed contains photos of most of the interviewees and is currently more up to date.

I note that not all of the interviewees are wholly Australian. This year, for example, they added Julia Rios on the strength of her work on Kaleidoscope for Twelfth Planet Press. It is vaguely possible that they will also include a mouthy Pom who happened to live in Melbourne for a couple of years.

Last Day for GUFF Ballot

Today is the final day of voting for this year’s GUFF ballot. There is only one candidate, Jukka Halme. However, it is important that people do vote because voting is the only way that GUFF gets any money. Without votes, there will be much less money for to send Jukka on his trip around Australia and New Zealand, and he might have to miss out on some places. This would be sad, because Jukka is a lovely person and I want all of my Aussie and Kiwi pals to meet him.

Oh, stop laughing. Wales haven’t played Australia or New Zealand in the World Cup yet, so I can’t be wanting revenge for anything. I’ll actually be cheering for the Wallabies on Saturday.

No, seriously, Jukka will be a great GUFF delegate. Plus he’ll be able to enthuse everyone Down Under about making the trip to Helsinki in 2017. Please vote. Details of how to do so can be found here.

Fury Road – Brief Thoughts

Wow. Two whole hours of solid stupid. As I said on Twitter last night, let no one now dare tell me that the plot of Jupiter Ascending makes no sense.

And this, remember, is someone who is a life-long fan of Formula 1. I like watching cars going round and round in circles.

I guess, though, that Mad Max is more for fans of stock cars and monster truck racing, where half the point is that the vehicles should look ridiculous and get destroyed during the race.

Of course it was funny. Furiosa was (mostly) tougher than Max. A small group of women managed to defeat an entire army of Gamergaters, sorry Warboys. Women deserve a chance at all roles in life, including idiot car chase movies.

As feminist science fiction, however, I found Fury Road wanting. I note that when it came to actually having a plan, as opposed to just running away, it was Max who came up with it. I wanted to see more leadership from the women. And I wanted a plot that you could actually believe in, because if the plot is nonsense all you have done is blow a few raspberries at the Patriarchy.

It will doubtless get on my Hugo ballot next year, if only to annoy the puppies. There will be films and TV that I will have enjoyed more.

What Exactly Constitutes a Terrorist Threat?

Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have seen me taking a renewed interest in the case of Monica Jones. She’s an American trans activist whose case I wrote about back in April. Recently Monica flew to Australia to do some research on AIDS as part of a college course she has been doing. As this Advocate article reveals, she was stopped at Sydney airport and deported because her name was on a no-fly list as someone as someone who might be considered a “possible threat” to Australia. Gosh, is she a terrorist? Well, I guess that depends…

You see, Monica is in trouble with the law back home in Arizona. She has been found guilty of “manifesting prostitution”, which basically means that a police officer saw her in the street and decided that she was soliciting. No other evidence than that is required for conviction. In other words, Monica was found guilty of walking while black and female. And for this she was put on a no-fly list and barred from entering Australia.

Oh, and she’ll fail her college course because she was unable to complete the research.

Just what are you afraid of, Australia?

Ah well, at least she didn’t have a Hugo in her luggage. And I’m not even going to start on the whole saga of a TV crew being tipped off about her being stopped and Aussie immigration then using that as part of their excuse for deporting her.

The point is that these days we are living in a “Your Papers, Please” society, and the less privilege you have, the more likely it is that you will suddenly find that your papers are not in order and you no longer have any rights.

The Australian Spec Fic Snapshot

Every few years our Australian friends get into a frenzy of interviewing, aiming to highlight as many of their fine writers as possible. It is a fine tradition started by Ben Peek and known as the The Australian Spec Fic Snapshot. Some information on this year’s edition can be found here.

Probably the best way to follow the whole thing is via the #2014Snapshot hashtag on Twitter. That will give you links to everything posted thus far. And there is a lot. This year they have even gone so far as to interview someone who only lived in Australia for two years. The results of that should be online some time tomorrow.

OK Australia, This Means War

Forget the cricket. That’s just sport, after all. And us Poms seem to rather enjoy losing (though we much prefer losing to West Indies). No, this is something much more serious: whisky.

Last week an Australian whisky was named the best single malt whisky in the world.

Huge congratulations to the Sullivan’s Cove company. I’d say I was looking forward to trying it, but since the Sydney Morning Herald trumpeted the news my friends in Australia tell me that bottles have vanished from the shelves (mostly to re-appear soon after on eBay).

By the way, SMH, I’m afraid I can no longer read the phrase, “puts Tasmania on the map”, without collapsing into giggles.

Scotland: I hope you will step up to the plate here. I entirely understand that jettisoning the embarrassing English people that you so foolishly annexed in 1603 is taking up a lot of your time, but surely this stain on your national honor cannot go unavenged? Being beaten by the Japanese is one thing, but by Australians, really?

Aurealis Awards Finalists

Still on the subject of awards, Australia’s juried Aurealis Awards have announced their finalists (PDF). We have a lot of the books in the store.

Congratulations first to Fablecroft who have several books up for prizes:

The Jo Anderton book is particularly recommended as it is up for Best Collection and stories from it are up for several other awards.

Twelfth Planet Press doesn’t have quite as many finalists, but they do love you because they have made all three books available as a cut-price bundle. The books are:

Individually the books are priced at a total of £11.49, but you can get them all at £7.99. Kirstyn’s book was all over the Locus Recommended Reading List. Bargain, as they say.

The Guardian Goes Down Under

I’ve been noting a lot of Australian political news on the Guardian website of late, presumably heralding a big push into that market. And now they have made a play for that culture that David Gower jokingly suggested that they don’t have. (Sledging, Lord Gower? Surely not!) Yes, there is a article in The Guardian about one of the finest aspects of Australian culture: their thriving science fiction, fantasy and horror scene. Jonathan Strahan is interviewed. As indeed is this mouthy, feminist called Cheryl Morgan. Should you wish to see what awful things I have said, go here.

Aurealis Awards Winners

Australia’s juried awards were announced at a ceremony in Sydney today. Based on their Twitter feed, here are the winners.

  • Children’s Fiction (mainly words): Brotherband: The Hunters by John Flanagan (Random House Australia)
  • Children’s Fiction (mainly pictures): Little Elephants by Graeme Base (author and illustrator) (Viking Penguin)
  • YA Short Story: “The Wisdom of the Ants” by Thoraiya Dyer (Clarkesworld)
  • YA Novel: tie: Dead, Actually by Kaz Delaney (Allen & Unwin) and Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
  • Graphic novel: Blue by Pat Grant (author and illustrator) (Top Shelf Comix)
  • Collection: That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote by K. J. Bishop (self-published)
  • Anthology: The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year Volume 6 edited by Jonathan Strahan (Night Shade Books)
  • Horror Short Story: “Sky” by Kaaron Warren (Through Splintered Walls, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Horror Novel: Perfections by Kirstyn McDermott (Xoum)
  • Fantasy Short Story: “Bajazzle” by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Fantasy Novel: Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
  • Science Fiction Short Story: “Significant Dust” by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Science Fiction Novel: The Rook by Daniel O’Malley (Harper Collins)
  • Peter McNamara Convenors’ Award for Excellence: Kate Eltham
  • Kris Hembury Encouragement Award: Laura Goodin

Congratulations in particular to Margo Lanagan who picked up four awards on the night. I note that, as with the Ditmars the vast majority of winners are women. Goodness only knows what Alisa’s puppy will say on the next episode of Galactic Suburbia.

I am, of course, delighted to see another award win for Clarkesworld. If you’d like to help Neil and the crew with the expenses, you can buy that issue from my bookstore. And, of course, we have several of the award winners on sale. Here they are.

Ditmar Winners

The Ditmar Award winners were announced at the Australian Natcon yesterday evening. I can’t see an official announcement yet, but based on Twitter reports the winners are as follows:

  • Novel: Sea Hearts, Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
  • Novella or Novelette: “Sky”, Kaaron Warren (Through Splintered Walls)
  • Short Story: “The Wisdom of Ants”, Thoraiya Dyer (Clarkesworld 12/12)
  • Collected Work: Through Splintered Walls, Kaaron Warren (Twelfth Planet)
  • Artwork: Cover art, Kathleen Jennings, for Midnight and Moonshine (Ticonderoga)
  • Fan Writer: Tansy Rayner Roberts, for body of work including reviews in Not If You Were The Last Short Story On Earth
  • Fan Artist: Kathleen Jennings, for body of work including “The Dalek Game” and “The Tamsyn Webb Sketchbook”
  • Fan Publication: The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
  • New Talent: David McDonald
  • William Atheling Jr. Award for Criticism or Review: Tansy Rayner Roberts, for “Historically Authentic Sexism in Fantasy. Let’s Unpack That.” (Tor.com)

Also announced at the ceremony (but Not A Ditmar) were the following:

  • Norma K. Hemming Award: Sea Hearts, Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
  • Peter McNamara Lifetime Achievement Award: Nick Stathopoulos
  • A. Bertram Chandler Award for Outstanding Achievement: Russell B Farr

I’m delighted to see a Clarkesworld story winning the short fiction category. Also I note that Karen Warren’s double-winning collection is available in a bookstore near you.

I look forward to seeing long, angry articles from male fans complaining that the Ditmars are “broken”, and blaming it all on Alisa Krasnostein with her radical lesbian separatist politics. 😉

Update: Added the Chandler Award. See Sean the Bookonaut for a Storify record of the ceremony.

GUFF Deadline Approaches

James Shields reminds me that the deadline for voting in the current GUFF race is midnight on Monday. Details of the race are here, along with instructions on how to vote. Personally I’d love to see Mihaela win, but I know that Julie would make a great GUFF delegate too.

And remember, fan funds rely on the income from voting fees to help fund the travel. They need more people to vote.