Hugo Participation Trends

Yeah, I know I said I was just doing a post on the Hugo Study Committee Report and then I’d be done. However, this morning I listened to the new episode of The Coode Street Podcast in which Gary and Jonathan talk to Jo Walton about her book, An Informal History of the Hugos. A couple of things Jo said had me sit up and take notice, so I thought I would write about them.

The first point is an object lesson in how easy it is to think that something is traditional and has always been the way things were done. Jo, Gary and Jonathan were lamenting the lack of success that Iain M. Banks had in the Hugos. Jo noted that Banks had not had the advantage of the extra year of eligibility for works initially published outside the USA. That’s a rule I know well, and I was slightly surprised, so I checked the history. It was in 2002 that we added a rule giving works in English published outside the UK a shot at an extra year, but you needed a 3/4 vote in the Business Meeting. It wasn’t until 2014 that the extra year became automatic. So Jo was right, Banks did not get to use this feature of the Hugo rules. It is much more recent than I rememered.

Jo also mentioned that Hugo participation, in terms of numbers of voters, was increasing, and noted the effect of the Puppies on this. Given that it is my job to worry about bandwidth limits on the Hugo Awards website, I figured that the story wasn’t that simple, and I was right.

The following chart shows the total number of Hugo voters in the Final Ballot stage, the numbers that nominated in Novel, and the number of Final Ballots that express a preference in the Novel and Best Dramatic Presentation: Long categories. These are the categories that traditionally get the most interest. I stopped my historical digging at 2009 because that year’s data did not give separate participation data for each category.

The level of participation is almost 3 times what it was in 2009, but it has dropped significantly since the peak of 2015 when all fandom came together to repell the Puppy Incursion. What’s more it appears to be still dropping. That’s not altogether surprising, but it is something we need to be concerned about.

There are some interesting pieces of data as well. 2016 is notable in being a year (probably the only year) in which the number of voters participating in the nominating stage is higher than the number participating in the final ballot. That’s becaue a lot of people joined the 2015 Worldcon to join the fight against the Puppies, and were eligible to nominate in 2016, but having seen that the Puppies were mostly beaten they opted not to join again.

2017 is notable for being a year where a lot of people who particpated in the final ballot did not vote in the Novel category. That’s why I checked BDP: Long. Sure enough, I found that a lot more people participated in that than in Novel, which is also unusual. The obvious reason is that a significant number of voters were not native English speakers. While most Finns have very good English, reading six whole novels must have seemed a bit daunting. Movies were quite likely subtitle or translated.

Heather Child Interview

The interview that I did with Heather Child back in July is no longer available on the Ujima Listen Again system, so I have posted it to Salon Futura. In it Heather and I talk about her debut novel, Everything About You. This is a near-future science fiction novel which looks at what might happen if smart digital assistants know so much about you that they know you better than you do yourself. Have a listen.

The Popelei Naked Podcast

As promised, here is the link to my interview on Tamsin Clarke’s Naked Podcast. As you’ll see, it is Apple only at the moment. If, like me, you would rather sit in a nest of fire ants than install iTunes on a Windows PC, and you have no Apple device to listen on, that may be a problem. I’ll chase Tamsin about other formats.

If you can listen (and thankfully iTunes works fine on my iPad) you’ll see that we discussed getting naked in the sauna in Finland, and the process that strongly binary trans women like myself have to go through in order to get a body they are happy to be naked in.

Today on Ujima – Birthday, SF, Basketball, Nudity & Sex Work

Today was Ujima’s 10th birthday, and I was lucky enough to be presenting the first live show of the day. Thankfully I had a line-up that lived up to the occasion.

My first guest was Heather Child, a new addition to Bristol’s superb collection of science fiction and fantasy authors. Heather’s debut novel, Everything About You, is available from Orbit and is a fascinating exploration of how an AI in a smart device can get under its owner’s skin if it knows more about you than you can remember yourself.

Next up was Emma from Bristol Flyers, the local basketball club. They will be running a summer camp for girls with a view to ramping up the quality of their female teams and entering them into the national leagues. Basketball is in an interesting position in the UK. It has the third largest level of participation of any sport, but very little government funding. That’s a shame. I might find the NBA rather dull to watch, but away from the top flight the sport is a lot of fun and very cheap and easy to play.

The first hour of the show is available on Listen Again here. The Ujima website is currently being renovated so you might see it say that there are 0 minutes to play, or that there’s an issue with Flash, but if you just click on the download link it should play fine.

I kicked off the second hour with a fair amount of giggling as Tamsin Clarke and I discussed the Naked Podcast. I very much enjoyed being a guest on the show, but of course I’m very relaxed about getting naked with groups of women because I have spent so much time in saunas in Finland. We also discussed Latin American football, and Tamsin’s next theatre project.

Finally we got to the serious politics discussion of the day. In Parliament today they have been discussing further regulation of sex work. There was a big demonstration outside, of sex workers protesting about losing their livelihood. In the studio I had Angelica from the Bristol Sex Workers Collective and Amy from One25, a charity that works with street sex workers in the city. We talked about the different ways in which women can end up in the sex trade, and the best ways to help them survive and get out. I hope our politicians will listen.

The second hour of the show is available on Listen Again here. As with hour 1, you need to click on the download link.

The music for this week’s show was as follows:

  • Americans – Janelle Monae
  • Every Breath You Take – The Police
  • Sweet Georgia Brown – Brother Bones and His Shadows
  • Jam – Michael Jackson
  • Totally Nude – Talking Heads
  • Strip – Adam Ant
  • Lady Marmalade – Patti Labelle
  • Backstreet Luv – Curved Air

As you can see, most of the songs were chosen to fit with the subject under discussion. The Janelle Monae song, however, was chosen specifically because it is July 4th today. Happy Independence Day, America. Here’s hoping you keep that precious freedom.

Clothes Off for Feminism

Today I went into Bristol to see my friend Tamsin Clarke of the Popelei Theatre Company. As well as doing great theatre, Tamsin hosts a feminist podcast that addresses body issues. Because bodies are such an issue for women there’s a lot to talk about. Tamsin came up with the idea of recording the interviews with her and the interviewee both naked, presumably because that way all of the body issues are out in the open.

This is not a problem for me. I spend a lot of time in Finland and am therefore very used to sitting in a sauna with a bunch of other women, totally naked, chatting about all and sundry. The big difference was that this was not a general chat, but an interview about my body, which is inevitably an intreview about being trans.

The podcast won’t be out for a few weeks yet, and when it does come out it may well have a content warning because there is discussion of surgery. There’s also discussion of sex, and there’s swearing. It is not a radio thing.

Goodness only knows what the trans-exclusionary mob will make of all this. There’s me “penetrating” a feminist podcast. And not only that, but doing it in a woman’s home (Tamsin lives on a boat currently moored in Bristol) and doing it naked. Doubtless I will be accused of forcing myself on poor Tamsin, and of waving my political willy* in her face. So before there are comments let me state categorically that I was invited to be on the podcast. Also Tamsin and I spent an hour or so on Monday talking through it and making sure that we were both comfortable with what we were going to do.

Anyway, that’s another thing I have now done that I never thought I would ever do. And before anyone asks, I am so not doing a naked interview on TV. Not unless someone offers me enough money to buy immigration to the USA.

* A Political Willy is one that doesn’t actually exist except in the minds of people whose political phliosophy holds that anyone with a Y chromosome is forever male, in possession of a penis, and a violent rapist.

Up On the Aqueduct

It is that time of year when the Aqueduct Press blog blossoms with posts from Aquedistas talking about things that they have enjoyed reading, seeing and hearing over the past year. Today it is my turn. Obviously I can’t talk much about fiction because of the Tiptree judging, but I still managed to go on rather a lot. You can read my post here.

Stephanie Saulter in the Salon

As the Ujima show in which they featured is now unavailable through Listen Again, I have started posting my Worldcon interviews on Salon Futura. The first one is up now and features Stephanie Saulter.

The interviews with Tempest Bradford, Karen Lord and Nalo Hopkinson will follow in due course.

Incidentally, that podcast went up last night. I used it as an example during the podcasting course that Miranda and I did at the BBC Club. The course seemed to go very well, which I’m very pleased about.

Podcast Workshop in Bristol

On Thursday October 12th my Ujima colleague, Miranda Rae, and I will be running a Podcasting for Beginners workshop at the BBC offices. Here’s Miranda’s blurb:

Want to launch your own Podcast but not sure where to start? Or perhaps you have already started one but would like to improve it or develop it further? If either applies, this is the workshop for you! Podcaster, producers and broadcasters Miranda Rae (Radio 4, Radio 5, Sony Award Winner, Galaxy Radio, Ujima Radio) and Cheryl Morgan (Publisher, Critic, Hugo Award Winner) will guide you through a three hour crash course that will leave you with all the confidence and know how you need to get going with your very own podcast!

YOU WILL LEARN:
What makes a great podcasting story
How to conduct a good interview
How to get your Podcast out there
Branding your Podcast
Basic technical skills (Recording/Editing)
Recording a Skype Call
What equipment and software need to produce a Podcast

That’s 6:30pm to 9:30pm on Thursday, 12th October. A bargain at £30 per head. There’s a Facebook event with booking details here.

BristolCon Fringe – July Readings

Our July event began with our good friend, Justin Newland. He gave us excerpts from two separate works.

The first excerpt was from his published novel, The Genes of Isis. This is from a section later in the book where the Apocalypse is well in progress and our heroes have fled Egypt for sanctuary in Babylon.

Excerpt two is from the start of a work in progress, the novel set in Ming Dynasty China from which Justin read the prologue at the Open Mic.

Headlining July was a new name to most of us: Virginia Bergin. She is a Bristol-based writer of YA science fiction. Her third novel, Who Runs The World?, has recently been published by Macmillan. It is set in a world in which a virus has rendered human males all but extinct and the world is run by women. Naturally it is a far better place. Or is it?

The Q&A went on rather a lot because that’s what happens when I get to talk with someone about feminism. I certainly found the discussion with Virginia interesting, and I’m looking forward to reading her book. Hopefully she’ll be on my radio show in the autumn and we can dig into the issues a bit more deeply.

There was discussion of apocalypses and their attraction for readers, particularly teenagers. Given that the announcement that The Doctor would be regenerating as a woman had been made the previous day, we also discussed whether science fiction had been ruined forever and the world of Virginia’s novel was now inevitable. For reasons that will be obvious once you have listened to the podcasts, there was also some discussion of pornography.

In the announcements we congratulated Jo Hall, Roz Clarke and Pete Sutton for their places on the British Fantasy Awards short lists, and wished Emma & Pete Newman best of luck in the Clarke and Hugos.

We had a new voice recorder for this event. It has a better directional microphone and therefore should do a better job of eliminating background noise. Of course we do need to get used to it, which is why the sound on the first of Justin’s readings is a bit off. Hopefully we’ll be better in future.

The next Fringe meeting will be on August 21st. It will feature Lucy Hounsom and Dolly Garland.

Today on Ujima: Bookshops, Podcasts, Art for Health & Drag Queens

Despite the fact that England Women were playing South Africa in Bristol (of which more later) and it was a beautiful sunny day, I took myself off to the Ujima studios to do a show. I love you folks that much.

First up was my good friend Alistair Sims who runs Books on the Hill in Clevedon. We talked about bookselling, tea, and some of his personal projects. If you want to buy some of their specialty tea (which I highly recommend), you can do so here.

My second guest was Gwyneth Rees whom I met at the Sound Women event last week. She’s been getting into podcasting, and we talked about that. You can find her Woman of the Week podcast on iTunes. I suspect that you’ll be hearing more from Gwyneth in the near future.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

In the second hour I began with Joy Johnson who is an art therapist. I had no idea anything like this existed, but apparently it is quite common. Joy doesn’t have her own website, but this is the Art & Heath South-West site that I mentioned during the interview.

Finally I was delighted to welcome Donna La Mode who is part of the Drag Queen Story Time project. Donna and her friends will be at Bristol Pride on Saturday telling more stories. If you can’t make it there, the crowdfunding appear that we mention on the show is here. Every little helps.

You can listen to the second half of the show here.

The music for today’s show has a very summery theme.

  • In the Summertime – Mungo Jerry
  • Under the Boardwalk – The Drifters
  • Sun Is Shining – Bob Marley
  • Long Hot Summer – Dizzy Gillespie
  • Summertime – Sam & Dave
  • Farewell My Summer Love – Michael Jackson
  • Summer Night City – Abba
  • Hot Stuff – Donna Summer

June Fringe Podcasts

The good news on Fringe is that we are now very efficient. The June event was last Monday, and here we are with the podcast. Huge thanks to Tom Parker for being so quick with the editing.

The less good news is that the sound for June could be better. That’s partly because it was very hot (for the UK) and it was necessary to keep the air conditioning on. It’s also because we had a mishap with my microphone which mean that we had to record the evening on phones. A word of warning to anyone who has a Zoom mic: the on/off switch is very fragile and if you drop the mic you may end up with an expensive but useless piece of kit.

Anyway, our first reader for June was the multi-talented Kate Coe of Writing & Coe, and many other things. Kate read extracts from two very different stories: one set in a fantasy world with floating islands; and one an urban fantasy.

Our headline guest for June was Peter Newman. The third and final volume of his Vargant series, The Seven, has just been published. Pete read a short story set in that world which features my favorite character from the series, the goat.

Finally we did the Q&A. I asked Pete about goats and babies. I asked Kate about Salisbury and how islands float. We discussed tea, jeopardy and gaming; not to mention the important question of which animals actually care about the current state of human politics. Tom asked us for book recommendations.

The month Fringe will feature Virginia Bergin & Justin Newland, and a brand new microphone.

Janet Mock Interview

One of my favorite trans writers, Janet Mock, has a new book out. Surpassing Certainty picks up where Redefining Realness left off and takes her story from transition through to the point where she felt safe and confident enough to come out publicly as trans. Because she has a book to promote, she’s doing a lot of media work, and in particular there is an interview I have just listened to that I really liked. It is on a podcast called Politically Re-Active. To get to it you’ll need to navigate to Season 2, Episode 1, as there are not direct links.

Janet covers a lot of ground in the interview, but I was particularly struck by her description of how growing up trans in Hawaii was very different from doing so in the mainland USA because Hawaii has a thriving native trans culture that European missionaries failed to wipe out. Her thoughts on the Women’s March on Washington, and on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s comments about trans people, are also very illuminating.

May Fringe – Emma Newman & Piotr Świetlik

Huzzah, we are up to date!

Our first reader for May was local author and sometime radio show host, Piotr Świetlik. He read part of a science fiction story set in Pennsylvania (but not that Pennsylvania).

Our headline guest for May was Emma Newman. She read the first chapter of her novel, After Atlas, which is a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. This introduces us to the main character in the novel, Carlos Moreno. He is a detective, but also the son one of the passengers on the Atlas, the colony ship from Planetfall. This story takes place many years after the Atlas left Earth.

When introducing Emma, I mentioned some top secret news that I couldn’t divulge at the time. I can now reveal that Emma will be the Guest of Honour at Åcon 9 in Flnland next year. The piece I wrote about Emma can be found here.

Finally for May, Piotr and Emma are put to the question. Emma and I go off on a bit of a feminist rant and we more than earn our explicit tag on iTunes. Piotr explains where Pennsylvania is. There is some discussion of tea, jeopardy and mild peril.

Tom cheekily asks a question that Emma used on a guest during a recent Tea & Jeopardy episode: what science fiction trope would the panel most like to see the back of, and which one would they be happy to see more of?

Peter Newman reveals what he will be reading when he headlines Fringe in June.

The full schedule for the rest of 2017 is now fixed. You can find it here. And with any luck we’ll now have each month’s podcasts up shortly after the event.

April Fringe, the Legendary Open Mic

We are almost caught up on the Fringe podcasts now. Tom has edited the May readings and I’ll be able to put them live in early June once our upload allowance has reset. In the meantime here are the April readings, which feature the legendary BristolCon Fringe Open Mic. Because I had to catch a train down to Plymouth for work I could not stay for the whole event, so Tom got his first taste of hosting. He did a fine job. Also I got to read first.

In the first session we have the following:

Me, with part of my Amazons in Space story that I’m trying to write for the Space Marine Midwives anthology. This is a very rough first draft of the opening, which I had to cut down a bit to make it fit in 5 minutes. For those interested in the history, by Amazons are based on Scythian women warriors (who very much did exist). Enaree is a Scythian term for a non-binary person (probably assigned male at birth, possibly a eunuch).

Ian McConaghy with the opening of a science fiction novel set in near future Los Angeles.

Joanne Hall with a short story about monks, illuminated manuscripts and dragons. This one is apparently due to appear in an anthology soon. I’m looking forward to it.

Felicia Barker with a fantasy short story featuring some very famous fairies. I’ve not heard Felicia read before and I was impressed.

In session 2 we have:

Chloe Headdon with the opening of a YA fantasy novel. Chloe is someone else I’d not heard before, indeed this was her first ever public reading. Again I was impressed.

Steve Tanner with an extract from his fantasy novel, Blind Faith.

Suzanne McConaghy with part of a science fiction short story, “Partners in Crime”.

Justin Newland with short story that forms the prologue to fantasy novel set in China.

There is no Q&A in the open mic, because we want to make the experience as friendly as possible for the readers. Some of them are quite frightened enough without having myself or Tom thrust a microphone in their face and quiz them.

The June Fringe event will feature Pete Newman and Kate Coe.

March Fringe

Thanks to some great work by Tom Parker are very close to being caught up on the Fringe audio. Here we have the March readings.

For March our readings went all creepy and horrific, starting with local writer, Steph Minns. She read a story of a man (probably) coming to a sticky end on the narrow country roads of Darkest Somerset. Did he deserve it? Listen and make your own decision. Steph does a great Gollum voice.

Our headline guest for March was Paul Cornell, who should need no introduction. Paul treated us to a preview of his latest novel, Chalk (due for publication the following day). He read two excerpts, one of which introduces us to the landscape of the novel, and the other featuring an innovate form of divination based on pop singles. The book is set in the 1980s and Pauls’ publishers, Tor, have put together a great YouTube playlist to go with the book.

Finally for March we have the traditional Q&A session with our readers. I ask Steph and Paul about the dangers of the West Country landscape, adultery, who was the cutest member of Duran Duran and many other things. Did you know that the West Country is as full of supernatural horrors as Lovecraft’s New England? Given that I was born there, probably yes.

Paul plugs the Fairford Festival of Fiction, which has an amazing guest list. Sarah McIntyre! Emma Newman! Daleks! Some guy called Moffat. Tickets are still available. The date is June 3rd.

The April readings (including part of my Amazons in Space story) have been edited. I’ll post them for you next week.

February Fringe

This evening I will be off to Bristol for the May Fringe event featuring Emma Newman and Piotr Świetlik. Emma will be reading from her Clarke Award finalist novel, After Atlas, which is a fabulous book.

For those of you who can’t be there, I have the podcasts from February available. Sadly the audio quality is not great. I’m still learning the new venue. It is great to not have any background noise, but the speakers are up on the wall so it is hard to get a recording that focuses on the speaker rather than anything else going on in the room. Hopefully we’ll be getting some new tech soon that will allow us to record direct from the sound system.

Anyway, with profuse apologies to our readers for the poor quality, here’s what we have for you from February.

First up there is Gareth L. Powell. He read the whole of his short story, “Entropic Angel”, which is also the title of his new short fiction collection. It isn’t quite as sweary as an Ack-Ack Macaque book, but it does still get an explicit tag. Some of you may remember that the story was initially published by Wizard’s Tower Press in the anthology, Dark Spires.

Our second reader for February is another well-known local name, Pete Sutton. He read to us from his debut novel, Sick City Syndrome. It is more supernatural thriller than anything else (it has ghosts), but Pete managed to find a fairly science fictional bit to read for us.

Finally for February we had the Q&A. Gareth tells us more about what’s in the the short story collection, and Pete tells us more about what you can expect from his novel. We discover how “Entropic Angel” was inspired by pigeon poo, and we discuss whether science fiction is a better way of understanding the world today than so-called “realist” fiction.

Tom and I are managing to get caught up on the audio. Hopefully we’ll have March (with Paul Cornell) up soon. I have an incentive, because April is the open mic and therefore has me in it.

BristolCon Fringe November 2016

I have some more Fringe podcasts for you. We don’t have audio from September because I was Very Sick and no one else had any recording kit, so we move on the November, which was a Kristell Ink Special. Editor extraordinaire, Jo Hall, brought along two of her favorite acquisitions to delight us with their fantasy novels.

First up was author, podcaster, dyslexia activist and accidental political comedian, Joel Cornah. He read from The Sky Slayer, which is about pirates and curses and the like.

Our second reader for November was Jessica Rydill. Her Shamanworld series was part-released by Orbit several years ago, but it fell victim to the all too regular “you only get one chance to be the next JK Rowling” syndrome. Thankfully Kristell Ink has picked up the entire series so fans of the early books will get to find out what happens at the end. In the meantime here’s Jessica with a reading from the first book, Children of the Shaman.

At the end of the evening I put our two readers to the question. There is talk of giant penguins, Helsinki, nuclear power stations in France, the End of Civilisation As We Know It, and Jo’s plans to set up a resistance movement in the Welsh Marches.

The January podcasts are already done and hopefully I will have those for you next week. Huge thanks to Tom Parker for taking over the editing duties.

August Fringe Podcasts

Thanks to some magnificent work by Tom Parker we are rapidly getting caught up on the BristolCon Fringe podcasts. Right now we are limited more by our bandwidth limits on the Podbean account than anything else. We should be fully up to date in early April, which is good because the March reading last night was very good.

Our first reader for August was Jo Lindsay Walton. He treated us to a tale of time travel and that great conundrum of choronauts, the killing of Baby Hitler. Our heroes are a bunch of characters from what sounds like a Silicon Valley start-up. Or perhaps Seattle, because there is Starbucks.

Our second reader for August was Scott Lewis. He treated us to two story fragments. The first involves a hangover, fried breakfast, and airship maintenance. In the second an Anglo-Saxon missionary visits a part of the West Country that man was never meant to know.

The August Q&A developed into an interesting discussion regarding the various merits of description-driven fiction versus dialogue-driven fiction. We learned what Scott’s superpower is.

July Fringe Podcasts

Oh dear, we are behind, aren’t we. Guess whose fault that is? Yep, that would be the person who has been rushing around like an idiot for months on end.

Thankfully the new arrangements for Fringe include the fabulous Tom Parker learning how to do audio editing and processing the old recordings for me. Consequently we are looking to catch up on the podcasts, and can now bring you some tales of horror from last summer. For reasons as yet unexplained, both involved swimming in some way.

Our first Reader for July was Thomas David Parker himself. He treated us to a sweet tale of two lovers off for a day by a lake. Well, sort of. You all know what lives in lakes, don’t you. Things.

Our second reader for July as Tim Lebbon. There were no lakes in the novel fragment he read. Just a mostly dried out swimming pool. And Things. Lots of Things.

In the Q&A for July Tom revealed that he enjoys drowning his friends whereas Tim prefers biting their faces off. Charming fellows, aren’t they.

This is also a good time to remind you that the next Fringe event will be on Monday (March 20th). It will feature Paul Cornell reading from his shortly to be released novel, Chalk. Paul will be supported by local writer, Steph Minns. I should also remind you that we will be at our new venue of the Famous Royal Navy Volunteer (the Volley, as it is known locally). There’s plenty of room, and the beer is excellent. (I tried the Café Racer last month and it was very good.)