Interview – Regina Wang

This is the other interview that I promised you from Åcon X. Regina and I had a chat about her work promoting Chinese SF around the world. Here are links to some of the things we talked about.

Regina, Chen Quifan and Neil Clarke will all be at Worldcon in Dublin. Knowing Regina, she’s probably going to the Eurocon as well.

Chen Quifan is doing an event in London tonight.

Writing Historical Fiction Symposium

This is very much advance notice. I’ll be pushing it much more once I am back from Ireland. But in November (assuming that the UK has not descended into full scale civil war) I am going to be giving a workshop on “Writing Queer Characters from the Past” at a symposium on writing historical fiction at Bath Spa University. The date is Saturday, November 16th. The fee including lunch is £85, though there are concessions available for students. Full details here.

Tourism in Dublin

Some of you are in Ireland already, and many more are on the way. Obviously there is Worldcon to look forward to, and a fair amount of Irish history (particularly if you count yourself as part of the diaspora), but many of you will be interested in that thing that Ireland is justifiably famous for: alcohol.

I don’t know what the convention centre bars are like, but if they are rubbish I suspect that a lot of us will end up in the Porterhouse on Temple Bar. It happens to be just a short walk from my apartment, and as I recall it is the traditional Dead Dog location for Octocon. Anyway, they will have a good selection of microbrews.

Then there is the matter of whiskey. Are there distilleries? Yes, there are. Can you visit them? Of course. Here’s a quick guide.

First up, don’t bother with Jamesons. I understand that they don’t actualy make whiskey in Dublin any more, and in any case what’s the point in looking for whiskey that you can buy at home. Also Bushmills is in Ulster. Wait until you get to Belfast before asking for that. Thankfully Dublin has seen an explosion of craft distilleries in recent years.

The Tourist Information lady I talked to in Dublin back in February recommended Pearse Lyons and Teeling. My local whiskey shop in Bath added Liberties and Dingle. And there’s also Roe & Co, which I know nothing about. All of these places are right in the centre of Dublin in and around the Liberties district, so south of the river and west of the castle.

If visiting all of those places seems like a bit much, you should be able to get an overview of the field at the Irish Whiskey Museum. You can sample what’s available at the Dingle Whiskey Bar (at least I hope you can, they do have a connection to the Dingle distillery so they may be a teeny bit biased). And you can buy bottles to take home from the Celtic Whiskey Shop.

Most of these distilleries are quite young. I think they all have product available now, but it won’t have had much ageing.

That should keep you all busy during your trip. However, there’s one more place that I’d like to visit if I have the time. That is the Irish Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum. I don’t suppose it is entirely devoted to Horslips, and Thin Lizzy do deserve a place. I gather that there’s another Irish rock band that is quite famous too. Anyway, it seems like fun.

Reviews Come In

Reviews for The Green Man’s Foe are starting to come in. There is a rather spoilery, but very enthusiastic, one up on The Monday Review. Michele is less spoilery, but no less enthusiastic, on Goodreads, where you can also find comments from KJ Charles and Jacey Bedford.

Meanwhile Juliet informs me that The Green Man’s Heir now has 125 reviews on Amazon UK, with an average rating of 4.5 stars.

I am so very happy for her.

Today on Ujima – Mexican Food, Poetry, Fiction & Renewables

Today I was in the studio at Ujima with lots of studio guests.

First up I welcomed Graham from My Burrito, a fabulous Mexican eatery in Bristol. We had a great chat about the glories of Mexican food. I was hungry by the end of it, as were Ben, my engineer, and Keziah, the studio manager. You probably will be too.

Next in the hot seat was Tom Denbigh, Bristol’s first LGBT+ Poet Laureate. I met Tom at an event that was part of Bristol Pride and loved the poem he read so I knew I had to get him on the radio. Sadly Ofcom rules about swearing on air rather limited what he could read. It’s about time the regulations caught up with everyday speech.

Guest three was Heather Child, who was no problem to interview as I had already done it last week at her book launch. We talked again about The Undoing of Arlo Knott and the various places where you can find out more about the book.

Finally I was joined by Jon Turney from Zero West to talk about local renewable energy projects.

Much of the music I played was inspired by my time doing the live coverage of Bristol Pride. The full playlist was:

  • Boney M – By the Rivers of Babylon
  • Pointer Sisters – Fire
  • Shea Freedom – Woman’s World
  • Nina – Calm Before the Storm
  • Jackson 5 – I Want You Back
  • Eddy Grant – Baby Come Back
  • Chi-Lites – Give More Power to the People
  • Boney M – Brown Girl in the Ring

You can listen to the whole show for the next few weeks via the Ujima Listen Again service.

Farah & Cathy on DWJ

I entirely forgot to make a post about last month’s radio show because I was in Finland when it aired. As I’m in the middle of prep for this month’s show, I have been reminded of this and need to do something about it, because there were some good interviews in the show.

One of them is with Regina Wang, which I plan to get online before Worldcon. The other is with Farah Mendlesohn and Cathy Butler, which is slightly more urgent because it is about an event that is taking place this coming weekend – the conference on Diana Wynne Jones that they are running in Bristol (and which I can’t go to because I am swamped with work).

Farah and Cathy are always good value for a chat, but there is no better subject to set them off on than Diana. I hope you enjoy the interview.

The OutStories Bristol AGM

Regular readers will know that each year at the OutStories Bristol AGM we have a lecture from a respected academic on some aspect of LGBT history. This year I am delighted to announce that our guest lecturer will be Professor Jennifer Ingleheart from the University of Durham. She will be talking about the Classical influences of the poet, AE Housman. The meeting is on October 5th, at the Wills Memorial Building, Bristol University. Full details are available on the OutStories Bristol website.

Thinking Beyond – Transversal Transfeminisms

As you might have guessed, that is the title of an academic conference. It is a bit of a mouthful, but basically it was a feminist conference about trans issues. It look place at the University of Roehampton in London last week, and I was one of the speakers.

You can find the full schedule for the day here. Sadly UIrika Dahl was unable to attend due to illness, but the rest of the conference went ahead as planned.

Because the conference was advertised online it came to the attention of the transphobe mob on Mumsnet, who unsurprisingly lost their collective shit about it. If you want to see the nonsense that they come up with, just Google the conference title. This had two main consequences. Firstly the trans student group that was going to be involved had to withdraw because they were concerned about their safety. (One of the haters’ favorite games is to take unflattering photos of trans people and post them online accompanied by a sea of insults and, if they can get it, doxing data.) The other was that for the first time in my life I attended an academic conference that had a security guard on duty at all times. Thanks Pavel, you were great.

Interestingly, of the 8 speakers, 6 were cisgender women. The claim that the haters speak for all women is really utter nonsense.

I won’t go through all of the talks because much of it is fairly niche stuff, but Erzsébet Barát’s description of life in Hungary under the government of Viktor Orbán was chilling, and could prove a forecast of what the UK will be like should Boris Johnson still be Prime Minister at the end of the year. Sadly there are always women who are prepared to go along with far-right regimes and preach a form of “feminism” that puts women’s lives firmly in the control of men.

The really bizarre thing about right-wing Hungarian “feminists” is that they describe their views as being in opposition to that awful neo-liberal capitalist form of feminism known as “intersectional feminism”. The capacity of the far right to re-define words to mean what they want never ceases to amaze me.

The other country I learned a lot about at the conference was India. My thanks are due to Sarah Newport (I’ve found your thesis, Sarah, and look forward to reading it), and also to Antonia Navarro Tejero who introduced me to a work of Indian feminist science fiction.

Manjula Padmanabhan is an Indian SF writer who is working on a trilogy of novels about a young person called Meiji. The first book, Escape, is set in a country in which all women have been exterminated. As the title suggests, Meiji, who was assigned female at birth, manages to escape, and book 2 is set on The Island of Lost Girls. This, of course, is the place where women survivors have fled to. But, as all Suzy McKee Charnas fans will know, that doesn’t mean it is a utopia.

Listening to Antonia talk about the books, it is clear that Padmanabhan is in conversation with Joanna Russ and Charnas. My guess is that she has read both The Female Man and The Holdfast Chronicles. What is interesting and different about her books is that there are a whole lot of trans people in them.

Book 3 isn’t out yet, but I have bought the first two books to see what they are like. That wasn’t easy. Amazon appears to be deliberately hiding them. If you search for “The Island of Lost Girls” you won’t find Padmanabhan’s book even though that’s a full and almost-unique title. I had to search for “The Island of Lost Girls Manjula” to find it. And the two books aren’t linked either.

Anyway, I will read the books and report back. In the meantime, does anyone know anything about Manjula Padmanabhan? Mimi, Tasha, Aisha, Samit?

Finncon – The Report

With profuse apologies for taking so long, I have finally done a report from Finncon. Having done so I found to my horror that I hadn’t done a con report since 2015. I need more space in my time to write (and to edit audio).

Anyway, there is now a Finncon report. The tl;dr is that it was amazing and I had a wonderful time. But there’s a whole lot of stuff that went on, and you can read about it here.

ESFS Awards Finalists

Those of you who are attending the Eurocon in Belfast after Worldcon will get to see the ESFS Awards in action. They are a very different beast from the Hugos, necessarily so because the members of the convention are unlikely to be familiar with most of the finalists because they don’t speak the necessary languages. Instead the ESFS Awards work on a system of national delegations, thereby ensuring equal representation for each member country. The full rules are available here.

The finalists for this year’s ESFS Awards have been announced, as reported by Europa SF. I don’t have a vote, but I am familiar with some of the finalists. Here are a few quick comments.

In Best Author, most people will be familiar with Charlie Stross. That may not count in his favour as delegates tend to mark down people who write in English precisely because they are so much more likely to be translated. I’m hoping for a win for Maria Turtschaninoff who has written some amazingly good feminist fantasies. I’d be happy with a win by Aleksandar Žiljak as well because he has a story in the anthology of Croatian SF that I published.

In Best Artist I’d love my friend Ninni Aalto to win, but it is a tough field with a bunch of professional illustrators, some of whom undoubtedly work internationally.

In Best Publisher I’m rooting for my pals Pete Crowther (PS Publishing) and Francesco Verso (Future Fiction). Pete has a huge track record, while Francesco deserves recognition for his commitment to translations.

In Best Promoter I note that Petra Bulić has worked tirelessly for Croatian fandom for decades (who remembes the Zagreb in ’99 Worldcon bid?), but Toni Jerrman absolutely deserves all of the awards for Tähtivaeltaja.

The only one of the Translator finalists that I know personally is Marko Fančović. Fingers crossed for him.

In Work of Fiction I’d like to highlight Mats Strandberg’s Slutet. Lots of people at Åcon were enthusing about this book. It has a 4-star rating from over 100 reviews on Goodreads. Mats tells me that an English translation has been made because there’s interest from TV companies. It needs an English language publisher.

If you happen to be a member of a national delegation, please take note.

EuroCon Schedule

The programme for TitanCon, this year’s Eurocon, does not appear to be on their website yet, but it is on Grenadine so I guess it is public. Here’s what I am doing:

Small Press
22 Aug 2019, Thursday 16:00 – 17:00, Lagan A (Hilton Belfast)

Small Press publishers are the backbone of the SF&F industry. Our panel will be sharing experiences, insights and anecdotes. Pedro Cipriano (Editorial Divergência), Ms Cheryl Morgan (Wizard’s Tower Press) (M), Carole Parker ms

Writing Vulnerable Men
23 Aug 2019, Friday 17:00 – 18:00, Lagan A (Hilton Belfast)

A look at the presentation of non-stereotypical male characters in SF&F. Ms Cheryl Morgan (Wizard’s Tower Press) (M), Ian McDonald, Zoë Sumra

The Matrix – 20 years on
24 Aug 2019, Saturday 13:00 – 14:00, Lagan A (Hilton Belfast)

In 1999, cinema viewers across the world were asked “What is The Matrix?” Twenty years on, the question still remains. On its face a groundbreaking SFX blockbuster, it can be read as a transgender parable, a treatise on the Philosophy of Mind, an object lesson on the dangers of Sequelitis, and more. Ms Cheryl Morgan (Wizard’s Tower Press) (M), Dyrk Ashton (Paternus Books Media), Flickums (Royal London Group), RB Kelly

Yes, I am moderating all three of those. I am also moderating every panel I have been put on at Worldcon. Someone has obviously got a reputation.