The Bells Are Tolling

The latest book from Wizard’s Tower, Aleksandar Žiljak’s fantasy collection, As the Distant Bells Toll, is now available in the usual places. Ebooks went live in stores on Friday and the paperback was available from Monday. There will be a hardcover in due course, but I’m taking my time with the paper because I want to make sure that the quality of the illustrations is OK. Aleksandar is a fabulous artist and each story in the book is accompanied by a beautiful illustration.

Purchase links can be found here.

And we have our first review, here (thanks Womble!).

Eurocon – Day 2

Well, that’s a wrap. Many thanks to Fox, Igor and the crew, and special thanks to Nela for the beautiful artwork.

We used Zoom for my panel today, which was much better all round. Thanks to Aleksander and Mihaela for their input, and to everyone who tuned in to listen. Once again, the purchase links are: for Aleksandar’s book, and for Kontakt. Croatia has some great writers, and I’m honoured to be able to help bring them to an English-speaking audience.

The ESFS Awards took place last night after I had blogged. The Irish had a great evening, winning both the adult and YA fiction awards, the art award and the fanzine award, plus a few others as well. Good Omens won the dramatic presentation category. The full list of winners can be found here.

Many of the panels were pre-recorded, and the live ones were all recorded. I understand that there are plans to make them available, at least to registered members, at a later date. This is a real bonus of online conventions. There are several good panels that I missed because of scheduling clashes.

Next year’s Eurocon will be in Fiuggi near Rome. I very much hope I make that in person, partly because they have promised a focus on food, and partly because I will undoubtledly spend a few days in Rome peering at the archaeology as part of the trip.

Futuricon set new standards in brevity for the closing ceremonies. I think that my feed may have cut out slightly early, Fox, but I believe it was supposed to go a bit like this…

“David, press the button…”

Eurocon – Day 1

More like day 1.5 actually as the con started yesterday afternoon, but today isn’t over yet.

Anyway, the con is a lot of fun thus far. There have been the inevitable technical glitches. Some of them are down to using Jitsi for some of the tech. If anyone suggests that you use this platform for an online event, just say no. It doesn’t always work when you connect, and the picture quality is often poor. I don’t like the interface either.

Having said that, the ConCom is working hard at keeping us entertained, the chat on Discord is good, and the programming is very interesting.

I did my queer animals talk. It seemed to go down well, despite a few glitches. Something else to bear in mind for online events is that the latest versions of PowerPoint seem to break screen-sharing when in display mode. If you drop back to edit mode you’ll be fine. It also works fine if someone else is doing the screen sharing and you are just talking. I’ve also seen display mode refuse to work with older projectors, so it isn’t just a screen-sharing issue. If someone knows of a hidden setting in PowerPoint that can fix this, please let me know.

Tomorrow I will be joining up with Aleksandar Žiljak and Mihaela Perković to talk about Croatian fiction in English translation, both that which is available now and that which will be forthcoming next year.

Eurocon Schedule

The full schedule for this year’s Eurocon, known as Futuricon, has been published. I’m sad to be missing a trip to Croatia, but I’m absolutely delighted to be doing two panels. Here they are:

Saturday, October 3rd – 15:40
Worldbuilding with sex and gender
Otherwise known as my weird animals talk

Sunday, October 4th – 12:15
The Wizard’s Tower panel
The title in the schedule is in Croatian, but the panel will be in English. I’ll be talking with Aleksandar Žiljak about his new book, As the Distant Bells Toll, which will be published on Friday. Also on the panel is Mihaela Marija Perković. I’ll be talking to her about an anthology of feminist SF titled Empress of the Housework which will be forthcoming from Wizard’s Tower next year.

The website says that times will be displayed in your local timezones, so I’m assuming that the above times are BST, not CEST.

Membership is not free, but it is only €10 and you can buy one here.

As the Distant Bells Toll – Pre-Orders Open

Those of you who watched the Translation and/or Eastern Europe panels at FutureCon yesterday will know that the latest book from Wizard’s Tower, a fantasy collection by the great Croatian writer, Aleksandar Žiljak, is due any day now. Pre-orders were live on B&N and Kobo yesterday, but it always takes longer on Amazon. I’m now pleased to report that we are live everywhere. You can find the links to the stores here.

Please note that this is not quite the final cover. Ben Baldwin and Aleksandar are still discussing a few fine details. But in the meantime you can enjoy some of the fine internal art. Aleksandar has provided illustrations for each story, and this one for his biography.

The Future Happens This Week

Yes folks, FutureCon is upon us. It starts on Thursday and continues on a leisurely schedule through to Sunday. There not a lot of panels, but they are all very interesting. And they are all free to watch. You can find the full list on YouTube.

From my point of view, all of the most exciting stuff happens on Thursday. I have my panel at 16:00 (UK time), and the evening panel features Aleksandar Žiljak whose book, As the Distant Bells Toll, is due out from Wizard’s Tower next month.

Don’t forget to sign up for the Discord channel. The link to do is is on the convention’s home page, near the bottom.

Introducing FutureCon

While we might all be stuck at home wishing that we could sit in a bar with our friends, one of the benefits of the new virtual world in which we find ourselves is that travel is instantaneous and free. This means that we can have conventions that are genuinely global, and very cheap or free to attend.

Into this space comes FutureCon. It is being organised primarily by folks in Brazil, but with a lot of help from Francesco Verso in Italy, and also a bunch more people around the world. It will take place from September 17th-20th, and will be free to all on YouTube. All of the programming will be in English. Confirmed guests include Ann Vandermeer, Aliette de Bodard, Chen Qiufan, Ian McDonald, Lavie Tidhar and Nisi Shawl. But more importantly there will be speakers from over 20 different countries including Argentina, Croatia, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey & Uganda.

Oh, and there will be me, talking about translations, obviously. Also Wizard’s Tower author, Aleksandar Žiljak, will be joining in from Croatia. Both he and I will be talking about the new collection that we will be launching at the Eurocon in October.

This is a brand new thing, and I’m very excited about it. Hopefully it will grow over the years and will help forge a truly international SF&F community.

Francesco can read in many different langauges, and he said something today in a launch meeting for the event that really struck a chord. I’m paraphrasing slightly, but the gist was, “the quality of science fiction is evenly distributed around the world, but it is unevenly visible.” I hope that FutureCon can be an important step along the road to changing that.

If you would like to help, there are three things you can do. The first is to donate some money to help with their running costs. You can do that here. Second, subscribe to their YouTube channel. Apparently you need 100 subscribers to be allowed to have a custom URL, which would be useful. And finally tell all of your friends, especially friends who, for whatever reason, might not be able to attend big, international conventions.

Guesting on Coode Street

As many of you will doubtless know, Gary and Jonathan have been doing a daily series of short interviews throughout the pandemic, each one featuring someone from the SF&F community. Recently it was my turn and, as has become traditional, I spent a good deal more than my alloted 10 minutes chatting. That’s not hard with Gary, of course. We’ve known each other for years and obviously have a lot of similar interests.

What the interview did prove is that my advaned age is leading to me do that thing where I confuse people’s names. So profuse apologies to David Barnett; Paul Barnett is someone entirely different.

Anyway, I wittered on about a bunch of things including flooding, the importance of trying to pronounce people’s names correctly, doing sensitivity reading and, of course, the wonderful Juliet E McKenna. You can find the podcast here.

Coronavirus – Day #148

It is still rather warm and muggy in the UK, but I have purchased a fan and am now able to put in a decent work day without feeling like the need for a nap every hour or so.

Talking of work, eARCs for The Green Man’s Silence are now available on request. And I’ve made good progress with the layouts for the paper versions so I should be able to get those into the distributor’s catalogue (and thence into stores) fairly soon.

While everyone in England appears to be desperate for rain, Scotland has too much of it. There was a nasty train crash up near Aberdeen today that appears to have been the result of a landslide caused by heavy rain.

In other news, the UK’s GDP in the period April-June was 20.4% lower than in January-March. That’s the biggest economic slump on record, and is on top of a 2.2% drop from the previous quarter. The fall is much worse than other major Western economies such as the USA, Germany and France. There are already signs of recovery thanks to the easing of Lockdown in June, but with the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to rise steadily again it seems unlikely that will be maintained. The really scary thing is that we are likely to already be facing a major economic disaster when Brexit finally starts to bite in January. I have never been so glad to be old, and largely dependent on foreign income.

The Green Man’s Silence on B&N

I’m delighted to report that The Green Man’s Silence is now available for pre-order on Barnes & Noble. Here’s the full list of options.

At the party at Worldcon I was asked if the book would be available for pre-order from the Wizard’s Tower store. The answer is no. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly the additionl e-commerce software needed to do pre-orders is quite expensive, and we are unlikely to do enough business to justify buying it. Secondly sales through the Wizard’s Tower store do not register in publishing industry sales reports. Pre-orders are apparently really important to the bean counters at big publishers who decide which authors they will allow editors to buy from. So to keep Juliet’s name in front of people who can sell far more books for her than I can I want all of the Green Man pre-orders to go through major stores.

Talking of selling large numbers of books, Amazon has decided to put The Green Man’s Foe on sale in the UK for the whole of August. So if you haven’t read book #2 in the series yet, you can pick it up early and get it read before the new one drops.

And given that all this is going on, we have put The Green Man’s Heir on sale in the UK at £1.77 (which is the new £1.99 since VAT on ebooks was zero-rated), just in case there’s anyone out there who doesn’t have a copy.

Green Man News

I’m delighted to report that The Green Man’s Silence is now available for pre-order on Amazon and Kobo. Barnes & Noble should follow suit very soon. Here are some links:

But that’s not all. Amazon has decided to put The Green Man’s Foe on sale in the UK for the whole of August. So if you haven’t read book #2 in the series yet, you can pick it up early and get it read before the new one drops.

And given that all this is going on, we have put The Green Man’s Heir on sale in the UK at £1.77 (which is the new £1.99 since VAT on ebooks was zero-rated), just in case there’s anyone out there who doesn’t have a copy.

CoNZealand – Day 2

First up, we had a very successful party. Huge thanks to all who attended, and to Kristen and her team running the CoNZealand parties.

A lot of yesterday was taken up with preparing for the party, but I did get some time to see programme. The Representing the Other panel was very good, and led to some very lively discussion on Discord afterwards. I also watched the Conventions in the Age of COVID-19 panel, and the The Future is Female panel.

The big event last night was the Retro Hugo and Sir Julius Vogel Awards panel. Unfortunately there were major bandwidth issues with the stream and I bailed early on so as to reduce the load. Kevin stuck with it so as to be able to tweet from the official Hugo Awards feed.

This year’s Retro Hugo Award trophy is gorgeous. You can find out more about it here.

The results of the 1945 Retros can be found here. I was very pleased with the recognition for Margaret Brundage and Leigh Brackett. There has been anger expressed about the awards going to Campbell and Lovecraft, but results like this are inevitable with the Retros because most people don’t take an interest in them. According to the official statistics, only 120 people participated at the Nominations stage, and only 521 in the final ballot. If Worldcons can’t drum up more interest in the Retros then they should stop doing them (they are optional, after all).

The Green Man’s Silence Cover

For those of you who were not at Worldcon (and missed a great party), here is the cover for The Green Man’s Silence. Juliet read briefly from the book at the party, but it is still in edit so it won’t be out immediately. I’ll be opening pre-orders shortly, but it won’t be out until September.

In the meantime, enjoy Ben Baldwin’s beautiful artwork.

Getting to the Wizard’s Tower Party

Now that I have had a chance to attend a party at CoNZealand, I know a lot more about how they will work. If you are planning to attend, here are some pointers.

The easiest way to find the party is through Grenadine. If you select the Schedule tab and then Thursday you will find us right at the top of the list. The title is “Parties: 30 July, party band #2”. It is at the top of the list because it starts at 7:00am on Thursday in New Zealand, even though it is still Wednesday for most of us.

If you click on that programme item you will find a Zoom link button. Go through the usual process of starting a Zoom event.

That will take you to a main room where the friendly CoNZealand party staff will direct you to the party you want to join. There are three other parties happening at the same time, so you need to get to the right one.

Zoom’s features for this sort of thing are not great, but CoNZealand has come up with a clever trick to help get people into party rooms quickly. Each party is assigned a number. You need to edit your name in Zoom to put that number in front of your name. We are party #1 (obviously). So if your name is “Kevin Standlee”, you would edit that to “1 Kevin Standlee”. Once you have done that, the party staff can press a magic button and you will be teleported into the Wizard’s Tower party room. You can edit your name back to normal once you have arrived.

As a reminder, the rough schedule (in UK times) is as follows:

  • 20:15 – Tate Hallaway (Lyda Morehouse) reads and does Q&A
  • 21:15 – Juliet McKenna reads and does Q&A, plus we reveal the cover of The Green Man’s Silence
  • 22:15 – I read from a forthcoming collection by Croatian author, Aleksandar Žiljak, which we wll be launching at the Eurocon in Rijeka in October

See you all soon.

One more thing. If you still can’t find us, Info Desk in Discord may be able to help, but in an emergency write something anywhere in Discord including @Parties and one of the party still should get pinged and come to help.

Worldcon Schedule

Here we are again. Well, here we are virtually. I am signed into the CoNZealand web presence and Discord sever. Other people are arriving from all over the world, so I am doing the British thing of complaining about our weather.

But what will I be up to at Worldcon? Well, I am not on any panels. Huge thanks to Kalin from Bulgaria for heroic attempts to get me into a translations panel, but I entirely understand that with a virtual con people can’t easily be added to a panel at the last minute.

However, I am running a party. Believe it or not Wizard’s Tower Press is 10 years old. Also we have stuff to promote. The party will be in Band #2 on Thursday, which is 7:00-10:00 in the morning on Thursday in New Zealand. That means it is 20:00-23:00 on Wednesday in the UK. For my own sanity I’m going to use UK times from now on. Apologies to people elsewhere.

There will be entertainment. Here’s the approximate schedule:

  • 20:15 – Tate Hallaway (Lyda Morehouse) will read and answer questions about her work, in particular Unjust Cause.
  • 21:15 – We will reveal the cover for The Green Man’s Silence. Juliet McKenna will read and answer questions.
  • 22:15 – I will introduce a new short story collection by Croatian writer, Aleksandar Žiljak, which we will be publishing in October with a launch at Eurocon in Virual Rijeka

There should be plenty of time for general chat as well.

Pre-orders for The Green Man’s Silence should go live sometime this week, after the cover reveal.

There will be more Worldcon news soon, but lots of stuff is still in the works so I can’t post yet.

Coronavirus – Day #127

There was no need to do any Day Job work today, so I have been able to get on with other things, including doing some planning for Wizard’s Tower’s presence at Worldcon and the cover reveal for The Green Man’s Silence.

Also the cricket was quite exciting.

Elsewhere Bozo has apparently announced that no announcement will be made on trans rights issues until the start of the next Parliamentary session in September. This does not surpise me. Announcing a hugely controversial new policy at the start of the summer recess and giving those affected the whole summer to campaign against it is so monumentally stupid that only this shambles of a government would ever have thought of it.

Of course this does mean that trans people in the UK have at least another 6 weeks to wait before we find out if we all have to start seeking political asylum elsewhere, which is not great for the mental health, but I will try to use the time constructively.

One of the other things I have done today is add a new section to this site about booking me for various types of speaking engagements. You can find it here. Let me know if there’s anything you think I should add.

Wizard’s Tower and BLM

Lots of organisations have been posting statements about how they intend to be better at supporting people of colour, and in particular Black people, in the future. Many of those, I suspect, will prove to be PR exercises, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that I haven’t yet said anything about Wizard’s Tower, so here we go.

None of the novels we publish are by people of colour. Nor, to my knowledge, are there any stories by people of colour in any of the anthologies that we publish. There are people of colour in the non-fiction parts of Adventure Rocketship, for which we have the ebook rights. I’m very pleased about that because the book is about the intersection between science fiction and music.

I would very much like to publish more work by people of colour, but when someone, anyone, comes to me and inquires about getting published my first reaction is always to ask them if they are sure, and can they not get a better deal with someone else. There are plenty of very talented people of colour out there, and they should be getting published by mainstream publishers, not having to resort to a tiny outfit like mine.

I will note that I have one anthology of translated fiction in publication, and have another two hopefully forthcoming this year. That’s something else that is a hard sell with bigger publishers, but I’m always happy to look at.

I try to do the LGBT+ stuff too. Lyda, of course, is a lesbian. Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion II has three stories by trans people in it. If you have books that bigger publishers won’t touch because of queer content, do come to me. Ditto any other marginalised theme.

It is embarassing not to have any writers of colour on our books. All I can say is that it is not by design. Given the way that publishing works, a whole bunch of the writers of colour who are being taken on by the big companies right now will get dropped after a couple of books. If that happens to you, do come to me for future projects, because rescuing mid-list writers who have been dumped is what Wizard’s Tower was set up to do. If you are not published yet, keep an eye on any anthology projects we might announce, but have ambition. You can crack professional markets. Go for it!