Well And Truly Launched

Photo by Donna Bond

BristolCon happened, and Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion II is now well and truly launched. Above you can see most of the crew posing at the launch event, and below there is a close up of the magnificent cake that the convention provided for us.

As is usual with conventions, not everything went entirely smoothly, but a great deal of frantic paddling ensured that it was almost all OK on the day. I will have more to say about the convention in the November issue of Salon Futura. For now all I really want to talk about is the fact that I sold 74 books on the day. I sold 50 at Worldcon, which was great, but 74 in one day at a much smaller convention is spectacular.

Of course I still want to sell more. Airship II won’t earn out just yet. I doubled everyone’s advances on the basis of how well the first book sold, and I’m pretty confident that there will be royalties eventually, but in the meantime you folks need to buy copies.

The book is in all of the major stores. You can find links here. Google will follow in due course. They are just a bit of a pain to deal with.

Paperback copies are available from Amazon, and from all good bookstores. Just quote the ISBN (978-1-908039-91-0) and ask them to order it. The hardcover isn’t available yet because Andy Bigwood is snowed under at work and hasn’t had time to do the cover for me, but we’ll get there eventually.

Bay Area people, I’ll be working with Kevin to get both this book and The Green Man’s Foe to you for next time he’s at BASFA. Look at for an email about orders on the BASFA mailing list. Or just get Borderlands to order it for you.

Australians, I know you are still sore about the rugby, but you can get Wizard’s Tower books in your country now, either from Amazon or from bookstores. We print in Australia so they only cost an arm, not an arm and a leg.

Why should you buy this one? Well there’s a whole load of reasons, but my favourite one is that we have three stories in it by trans women. Bogi, I’ll be sending you a copy to look over for the next Transcendent anthology.

Åcon – Part 1

Hello from the Åland Islands. I’m not exactly on holiday, because email chases me everywhere. Also I have two programme items at the con and I have the charity walk for One25 to finish. But I am doing my best to have some downtime.

Thus far there has been a lot of travel, including the now-legendary boat trip from Turku to Mariehamn. I have also done my first programme thing, which was chatting with this year’s Guest of Honour, Amal El-Mohtar, about steampunk. But mostly I see to have been walking, sleeping and eating.

One interesting development this year is that Silja Lines now have a selection of beers brewed especially for sale on the ferries. I have picked up a couple of porters to try. Also dinner this evening was at Dino’s (Achipelacon attendees may remember it as the place with portraits of dead rock stars) in part because they are one of the few places that stocks Stallhagen’s Baltic Porter.

I don’t have a lot more to add at this point except to say that This is How You Lose the Time War is brilliant and there will be a review posted soon.

Introducing Airship 2

This year I am trying to devote a bit more time to Wizard’s Tower. We have the new Juliet McKenna novel due very soon now, and I have another project I am hoping very much will happen. Anthologies have been a bit complicated due to Jo & Roz being engaged in a protracted house moving process. That, however, is finally sorting itself out, and we have decided to do a second steampunk book.

Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion 2: Rail, Sea and Sky, as the subtitle suggests, will have a theme of transport. Brunel’s original vision for Bristol was to be a transit interchange where rail passengers from London could transfer onto luxury liners to cross the Atlantic. Since his time, Bristol has become famous for aircraft manufacture. And because this is steampunk there is no reason why Bristol could not become a major spaceport with aetherflyers leaving for the British colonies on the Moon, Mars and Venus.

Adventure can come in many ways. Trains can be robbed by masked automata; ships can be menaced by a giant kraken; airships can be hijacked by foreign agents; and aetherflyers can be raided by Venusian pirates. As with Airship 1, we are hoping that contributors will take the opportunity to interrogate Victorian society and question the conservative values for which it has become notorious.

We have got a lot of the old gang back together for book two. Jo and Roz will be editing it again, Andy Bigwood is hopefully doing the cover, and we have confirmed stories from Ken Shinn, Ian Millsted, Pete Sutton, Scott Lewis, John Hawkes-Reed, Andy Bigwood, Roz Clarke, Deborah Walker, Piotr Świetlik, Jonathan L Howard, Stephen Blake and, er, me. What can I say? I had a totally batshit idea; Jo & Roz liked it.

That leaves us at least 3 spaces for additional stories. We may take more if we get a lot of great submissions. We can only afford to pay £50 per story, so it is nowhere near professional rates, but this series is all about encouraging new writing so who knows what we’ll discover.

For full details of the submission guidelines, deadlines, etc., see the Wizard’s Tower website.

Yesterday on Ujima – Art, Books, Steampunk

It was a busy Women’s Outlook show on Ujima yesterday. It started with a full studio as three artists came to tell me all about this year’s North Bristol Arts Trail. SF&F readers will be most interested in the work of Lou Gray who is a set designer, costume maker and puppet maker. I’m very sad that I’ll be out of town the weekend of the Trail because I would love to see her work.

For the second segment I welcomed Rebecca Lloyd, whom some of you may remember was a World Fantasy nominee last year for her collection, Mercy and Other Stories. Her latest book is Oothngbart, which is one of those delightfully uncategorizable novels. Hopefully the interview will give you some idea of the flavor of the book. I’ll try to get a review soon, because it is a lovely story.

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

Next up were Kate and Tina, two fabulous ladies who are setting up the Bristol Steampunk Museum. They are looking for all sorts of fun steampunk things to exhibit and sell. They plan to have an online shop as well, so steampunk fans around the world will be able to order from them. The major interest from my point of view is that they also want to host readings of steampunk stories, and I happen to have an entire anthology full of them. I may end up buying some clothing and jewelry too.

Finally I had a pre-recorded interview with Tade Thompson about his newly released novel, Rosewater (which I warmly recommend) and other forthcoming work. We also discussed the newly-formed African Speculative Fiction Society, and there was brief mention of Piracity.

There’s a lot more of that Tade interview. Some of it has been badly mangled by the Internet, but I hope to be able to post a much longer version on Salon Futura in due course.

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

The playlist for yesterday’s show was as follows:

  • Get Up, Stand Up – Bob Marley
  • Expression – Salt ‘n’ Pepa
  • You Gotta Be – Des’ree
  • Working Day ‘n’ Night – Michael Jackson
  • Night Train – James Brown
  • The Ascent – Ren Stedman
  • Automatic – Pointer Sisters
  • Loving the Alien – David Bowie

I’d like to draw your attention in particular to the new Ren Stedman single. It is a charity record. All proceeds are donated to Hesten Lodge Activity & Wellbeing Centre to raise the money to build a sensory room for adults with severe learning disabilities. You can buy it for as little as £1 here.

Airships Over America

Thanks to Kevin, and to Dave Clark of Cargo Cult Books, copies of Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion are on sale this weekend at BayCon, a large annual convention held in San José, California. Kevin tweeted this photo to show us what good company we are in.

Any other US bookstore who are interested in stocking the book, just ask. I can have the books printed and shipped within the USA.

Airship Ball Recordings

Queenie GreenThe recordings of the readings from the Airship Ball are now available on the BristolCon podbean account. This is the event that we ran to celebrate the launch of Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion.

It was a very fine event that featured music from Cauda Pavonis and a great number of fine costumes. The picture to the left shows Heike Harding-Reyland dressed as one of the fern people from Deborah Walker’s story, “The Lesser Men Have No Language”.

The recordings highlight three stories from the book.

First up John Hawkes-Reed talks about how to hack a steam-powered war elephant of the type featured in his story, “Miss Butler and the Handlander Process”. The sound quality is a bit poor, and John had a bunch of pictures on his laptop which obviously don’t come out very well in audio. However, the script for the whole presentation, including the pictures, is available to be read here (PDF).

Next up we have Deborah Walker’s dramatization of Jo Hall’s story, “Brass & Bone”. The cast is as follows:

  • The narrator: Joanne Hall
  • The Unfortunate Mrs. Angela Porter: Myfanwy Rodman
  • The Dastardly Mr. Howard Porter: Ken Shinn
  • Dr. Charles: Désirée Fischer

I must say that Ken is very good at being dastardly. 😉

The final recording is of Pete Sutton’s story, “Artifice Perdu”, which I believe Pete dramatized himself. The cast is as follows:

  • The narrator: Peter Sutton
  • Mr. John Loughborough Pearson: Duncan
  • Mr. George Merryweather: Scott Lewis
  • A sailor: Claire Hutt
  • A rude labourer: Ken Shinn

At the end there’s the embarrassing bit in which Jo & Roz present me with some lovely cheese as a thank you present for publishing the book. I have eaten the cheese. It was as good as I expected.

Tomorrow I’ll be uploading the readings from the last BristolCon Fringe, which is even more embarrassing because it includes a piece of flash fiction by me. Don’t say I don’t give you plenty to laugh at.

Airships Over Bristol

While many of my friends were busy celebrating the first day of same-sex marriage (congratulations, Mary & Georgina!), the mad, impetuous fools of the BristolCon Foundation were throwing an Airship Ball. There was a Victorian Picnic (complete with cucumber sandwiches, with their crusts cut off). There were Dramatic Presentations of Strange Tales of Derring Do (freely adapted from originals in Airship Shaped and Bristol Fashion). There was Splendiferous Musical Entertainment by the very talented Cauda Pavonis. And of course there were elegant costumes of various types.

Jo has done a full report on the proceedings, which I recommend to you. She has numerous photos of the finery on display. I’m just going to present one of them here. This is Heike Harding-Reyland dressed as one of the fern people from Deborah Walker’s story, “The Lesser Men Have No Language”. I particularly like the baby fern person buds around the skirts. It is very Jeff VanderMeer.

Queenie Greenie

One thing that Jo doesn’t mention in her report is that she and Roz kindly presented me with a gift of cheese, chutney and chocolate truffles as a thank you for making the book happen. It was very sweet of them, and I shall enjoy it immensely. For those interested in such things, the cheeses are Black Bomber by the Snowdonia Cheese Company and Tomi Twym by Caws Cenarth. The former is a mature cheddar, and the latter a mature Caerffili flavored with sun-dried tomatoes, spices and white wine.

Finally, profuse apologies once again to the fine people of Cauda Pavonis because I had to leave before their set to catch a train home. I did hear them doing their sound check and can warmly recommend their music. Here’s a sample.

Today on Ujima: Media Diversity & Airships

I’m delighted to report that the Women’s Outlook show has been back on air today. That was a great relief to all concerned.

Today’s show was mainly about media diversity issues. That was specifically with respect to women, but we did also cover race issues and trans & intersex issues. A whole hour and a half was devoted to this, with a rotating list of guests in the studio:

  • Darryl Bullock, owner of The Spark
  • Christina Zaba from the National Union of Journalists
  • Mike Jempson from Mediawise
  • Tim Pemberton, Managing Editor of BBC Radio Bristol (who is black – yay Bristol!)
  • Paul Hassan, one of the Ujima Directors

Paulette hosted the first hour, and I did the final half hour of this bit. We covered a lot of different issues. Here are a few things worthy of note.

One of the best points made all show was when Christina noted that with access to education getting so much more expensive media diversity is likely to go down, not up.

I’m very pleased that Mediawise is producing a handbook on LGBTQI issues (I understand that Christine Burns is involved). Personally I’m prepared to allow journalists a fair amount of slack, and am happy to do education. (I have a lot of sympathy with this piece from today’s HuffPo, though I am sure that Piers Morgan, and even more so Caleb Hannan, knew exactly what they were doing). Of course it is often the people who think they are progressive who have the most to learn. Anyone care to tell me what Darryl got wrong?

I’m also very keen to learn more about The Bristol Cable. Their workshops look great.

Tim was very impressive. He’s very corporate, of course, but he knows the right things to say.

I got to mention things like the VIDA Count and the lack of SF&F by women in Waterstones.

For the final half hour I had Roz and Jo in the studio to talk about Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion. Fun was had.

Paulette’s not as keen on music as me, especially as we had so many high profile guests to talk to, but we did manage to get some in. Here’s the playlist.

  • Lady Gaga – Paparazzi
  • Michael Jackson – Leave Me Alone
  • Steely Dan – Barrytown
  • Don Henley – Dirty Laundry
  • Amanda Palmer – Leeds United (because I’m not allowed to play Map of Tasmania)
  • Led Zeppelin – Whole Lot of Love

You can listen to the show via our Listen Again feature. The first hour is here, and the second hour here.

New Airship Review

A review of Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion has appeared on LibraryThing. It is by clfisha, who admits to knowing one of the authors very well. Here’s a brief snippet that made me very happy:

I was very taken with mechanical elephants and soul stealing in a story by John Hawkes-Reed, a tale that not only had great characters but also the best opening line, “I was hiding inside my father’s test elephant when they came looking for me.”

You can read the whole thing here.

Launch Day

Yesterday I was in Bristol for the official launch of Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion at Forbidden Planet. The folks in the store did us proud. They provided a really lovely display of books, and kindly had us sign all of their stock, which was a great experience for the various first-time writers who are in the book.

Thanks also to Andy Bigwood who provided some fine airship-related art for the display. And to the various steampunk fans from Bristol who turned up in full costume and made the day extra-special.

Various photos of the event have made their way online. Inevitably I am doing something embarrassing in all of them. Here are a few.

The crew #1

From left to right the various contributors are: Myfanwy Rodman, Steve Blake, Jonathan L. Howard, Pete Sutton, me (obscuring Ken Shinn & Ian Millsted), Roz Clarke, John Hawkes-Reed, Deborah Walker, Piotr Świetlik, Andy Bigwood. Only Christine Morgan (lives in Seattle) and Scott Lewis (at a friend’s wedding) were unable to attend.

Here’s another with a better view of Ken and part of Ian.

The crew #2

Finally here we are busily signing a huge pile of books. There’s a great view of Ian in this one. Also a great view of my back. All you authors who complain about wrist injuries from signings? Mostly you get seats. The wrist pain is nothing to the lower back problems.

Signing frenzy

I don’t know how many books we sold on the day yet, but I do know that a lot of the stock will be going to London, and from there some of it will be going to other FP stores around the country. All of the FP stock has been defaced, so if you want a copy that doesn’t have my scrawl in it you’ll need to get it from Tangent or from the piranhas.

New Airship Review

A new review of Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion has been posted at the CultDen website. I’m pleased to see that it is very positive. I particularly liked the last paragraph:

The book does capture the feel and history of Bristol very well, indeed some of the stories feature true historical characters, but this is not a book that should only be read by locals. Bristol is merely the setting, the strength of the writing should appeal to audiences anywhere. At the start I asked “is it any good?”. Well, yes it is, very good indeed. If you like Steampunk, you’ll love this. If you’ve never read Steampunk, you should give the book a go anyway, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

So why not give it a try? You can get it from our ebook store, from Tangent Books in Bristol, and from most major bookstores.

Airship Launch – March 8th, Bristol

There will be a launch event for Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion at the Bristol Forbidden Plant store on Saturday, March 8th from 1:00pm. Most of the contributors should be there to sign books. I do have apologies from Christine Morgan who lives in Seattle, and Scott Lewis has the sort of job that can take him away at a moment’s notice, but huge thanks are due to Stephen Blake and Deborah Walker for coming in from Penzance and London respectively.

Full details are available on the Forbidden Planet website. Right now it only mentions the hardcover for pre-order, but I’m assuming they’ll have paperbacks too.

You are, of course, all invited.

Independent Source for Paper Airships

Last week I promised you that you would be able to buy paper copies of Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion without feeding the piranhas. You should, of course, be able to order it from any decent bookshop. However, you can now also order the paperback from our good friends at Tangent Books.

Tangent is a small press based in Bristol and selling mainly local-themed books. They have some excellent material on Banksy, and are also the paper publisher for Adventure Rocketship.

Right now they only have the paperback in stock, because that’s all we have. A couple of cartons of the hardcovers are on order, and once we have them Tangent will put it on sale.

Negotiations are underway for an independent source for the book in the USA.

In Flight

Airship Shape & Bristol FashionI’ve been stupidly busy over the past couple of days and have therefore been a bad publisher. Thankfully a whole lot of stuff was set up in advance. You can now buy paper copies of Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion. Your best bet is currently The Book Depository, who are giving some nice discounts and free shipping.

Paperback (14% off)
Hardcover (27% off)

I hope to have it available through the fine, independent bookstore at Tangent Books in a day or two.

The books are currently available at our store. Other major ebook retailers will follow in due course.

Win A Copy of Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion

Today I’ll be in Bristol talking to the amazing CN Lester live on Ujima Radio’s Women’s Outlook show. To keep you amused while I’m offline, here’s news of a contest being run by Pete Sutton, one of the writers with a story in Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion. Pete is running a contest, the prize for which will be a hardcover edition of the book. Details here. Good luck!

February Fringe – Airships & Vikings

The February meeting of BristolCon Fringe takes place on Monday (17th). As usual I shall be hosting the event. We have three readers for February. One is Scott Lewis who has a story in Airship Shaped & Bristol Fashion.

Scott Lewis is a Bristol-based journalist, writer, photographer and casual adventurer who has only recently started dabbling in fiction, and will eventually manage his time sufficiently enough to get his first novel finished. Until then he intends to amuse himself by writing more short stories, chronic procrastination, rummaging around old book stores and libraries for obscure myths, legends, and folklore, and gallivanting off to far-flung parts of the world on ‘research trips’.

Update: Sadly Scott is unable to make it due to the flooding. We hope to re-schedule him for a later date.

Then there’s Jonathan Pinnock, whom I don’t think I have met before but who sounds very interesting. I don’t have a bio for him, but he has an impressive list of short fiction publications on his website. And he has written a novel called Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens, which is clearly the Right Stuff.

Finally we have our first Icelandic reader. A very warm welcome to Bristol, please, for Snorri Kristjansson, who says of himself:

I spend my days working with words, telling jokes on stage and occasionally teaching at Southbank International School.

Which is all very modest of him because he has a fine fantasy novel all about vikings available from Jo Fletcher Books. This is what they have to say:

The Swords of Good Men is a Viking fantasy novel. Our first novel of that ilk, in fact, and it’s awesome. It’s got a mad king determined to bring the White Christ to the masses, a mysterious and beautiful woman drawing the souls of dead warriors to her cause, a gentle blacksmith with dangerous blood and a young hero, who has a lot to learn about the cruelty of the world. And they’re all converging on Steinvik, a place where your enemies do not necessarily reside outside the walls… It’s fast, vicious and reminiscent of Joe Abercrombie…

Snorri read briefly from it at BristolCon last year, and I was very impressed.

Finally, of course, we will be selling copies of Airship Shaped & Bristol Fashion. You won’t be able to get them anywhere else until next week.

Bristolcon Fringe events take place take place in the back room of the Shakespeare Tavern, 68 Prince St. They start at 7:30pm, but many of us turn up early because the food is good. For more details of Fringe events, see here.

Airship In The House

Airship Shaped & Bristol FashionThis morning three large cartons of Airship Shaped & Bristol Fashion arrived at Jo Hall’s house in Bristol. Any contributors who live close to Jo can make arrangements with her to collect their copies. For other local people, we will have copies on sale at the Fringe event on Monday, which I shall blog about tomorrow.

There are no hardcovers yet, but I’m hopeful that we’ll have a proof of the hardcover for people to look at on Monday. If not it will definitely be at my LGBT Superheroes talk on the following Sunday.

The ebooks are ready and have been going out to reviewers. If you want one, let me know.

And if all goes well with and Amazon everything should go on sale late next week.

I’m still trying to find a venue for a proper launch event, but in the meantime the good folks at BristolCon are looking to do something a bit different. You are all invited to Bristol’s first Airship Ball. There will be food, celebration, cosplay, music and even actual writers performing parts of their work. Tickets here. Extra cheap if you buy a copy of the book.

Airship Ball

Blimp Hanger Porn

We Bay Area people are very proud of our blimp hanger at Moffett Field, but it is not the only blimp hanger in the world. Other countries have them too. The Zeppelin NT #4 has finished its stint as a tourist attraction in London, and is on its way west. The zeppelin has been bought by Airship Ventures and will eventually be based at our Moffett Field hanger. But right now it is visiting RAF Cardington in Bedfordshire where there are not one, but two blimp hangers. Ship Up, the Airship Ventures blog, has pictures. And here’s a site about the base.