Chaz Does a Crater School Podcast


With only a couple of weeks to go before the release of the first Crater School book, publicity is happening. Fortunately for me, Chaz Brenchley is part of a fine writerly podcast called Writers Drinking Coffee. In the latest episode he talks a bit about the inspiration for the Crater School books, and reads from Three Twins at the Crater School. If you want to know what is going on in the scene we used for the cover, listen in to Chaz because he will tell you. You’ll also get to find out a bit more about the Martian fauna, and what the dastardly Russians are up to.

Into The Sun

Another year, another outbreak of fannish outrage over the Hugo Finalists. This one affects me personally, because it is about an attempt to have one of the finalists thrown off the ballot. Hence a blog post.

Many years ago, when I first started getting to be a Finalist, fans were outraged. I was the Wrong Sort of Fan. Emerald City was the Wrong Sort of Fanzine. It published book reviews! It was published electronically rather than on paper! The Horror!!!

So certain persons got their knickers in a twist and demanded that the Hugo Administrators of the day exclude me from the ballot. The Hugo Administrators did nothing of the sort. The voters had put me on the final ballot, so it was my right to be there.

Of course we didn’t have social media in those days, so the experience wasn’t so intense for me as it is these days. No one was likely to doxx or SWAT me. But when I won my first Hugo, fans on the Worldcon committee posted a rant denouncing me to the convention website. Kudos to Con Chair, Deb Geisler, for ordering it to be taken down.

Anyway, the point is that once a work gets onto the final ballot, it stays there, regardless of how much some fans might hate it. If you don’t like a work, you vote it below No Award. That’s what we did with the Puppies. It is a tried and tested, and well-known procedure.

It is worth noting that some of the Puppy works that were allowed on the Final Ballot were a good deal more offensive than the Natalie Luhrs piece.

It is also worth noting that many of the people complaining about Luhrs being on the ballot have been around fandom a long time and are well aware of how the Hugos work. They know that the Hugo Administrators can’t remove her without discrediting the entire process.

One response to that is to argue that, while the work cannot be removed by DC3, Luhrs herself should withdraw it. That brings us to a short history lesson.

Back in 1986 Worldcon awarded Best Professional Editor to the late Judy-Lynn Del Rey. She was a fascinating person. Check her out.

At the Hugo ceremony, Judy-Lynn’s husband, Lester, declined to accept the award on the grounds that Judy would not have wanted to win just because she’d died. Worldcon fandom does have a very bad habit of only recognising people’s achievements posthumously. But the award stood.

Since then, Worldcons have always asked Finalists to confirm their willingness to be on the ballot before announcing it. Even so, you can withdraw if you want. A couple of people did, having realised that they had been made use of by the Puppies.

However, there is a big difference between withdrawing in protest because you feel that the contest has been unfairly influenced, and withdrawing because you have been bullied into it by a social media campaign. I’m sure that back in my day there were people who hope that if they were nasty enough to me then I would go away. That wasn’t acceptable then, and it is not acceptable now.

Of course, the whole thing is being framed as an issue under the Code of Conduct. This is depressingly familiar. We are all now very used to the tone-policing line of argument which holds that polite racism is perfectly acceptable, but merely calling someone a racist is an unforgivable offence.

Exactly the same sort of thing happens in trans rights discourse. It is apparently OK for people to tell the most outrageous porkies about trans people, and to call for us to be eliminated, but calling someone transphobic is the worst possible insult ever #ClutchPearls #AttackOfTheVapours

However, Codes of Conduct are tricky things. A legal case about an alleged CoC violation was brought against the 2018 Worldcon. That case is still ongoing. It is not clear how it will be decided, but either way it is likely to cost that Worldcon an eye-watering sum of money.

That is money that could, and should, have been passed on to successor Worldcons, and been used to support other fannish projects.

Which brings us back to the Natalie Luhrs case. The people attacking her should know that, by WSFS rules, she can’t be removed from that ballot. Nevertheless, by invoking the CoC, they seem to be using the potential threat of a massively damaging lawsuit to frighten DC3 into doing what they want.

This would put DC3 in a very difficult position. If they kick Luhrs off the ballot in contravention of WSFS rules then they destroy public confidence in the Hugos. If they don’t then they risk a protracted and very expensive lawsuit.

Which brings me back to my article in the latest Salon Futura, where I suggest that running a Worldcon is now too complicated to be left to a one-off group of enthusiastic volunteers.

Either way, this affair risks doing a huge amount of damage to Worldcon, the Hugos and fandom in general. And given the people involved I have to assume that some of them know exactly what they are doing.

Cheryl’s Laws of Fandom

Every year, without fail, the announcement of the Hugo finalists is followed by outrage from various corners of fandom who think that there is something fundamentally wrong with the Awards, and the process, and the “Hugo Committee” who allegedly make all of the decisions. One of the most common complaints is that the finalists are once again The Usual Suspects.

Quite often they are, of course. People like NK Jemisin, Martha Wells, John Scalzi and Mary Robinette Kowal are very popular, and justifiably so. In other cases the charge is less justified. I saw Cora Buhlert defending herself on Twitter against a charge of being one of The Usual Suspects by pointing out that this is only her second nomination. Fan Writer has been won by a different person for each of the last 13 years, and none of this year’s finalists have ever won. Before that it was won by Dave Langford for 18 years on the trot (1989-2007). That’s quite a change.

Of course there are legitimate concerns. While other parts of the ballot have begun to show pleasing diversty, the fan categories have remained largely white, which does suggest that the voters are not casting their nets very widely. It is something that we should look to change.

But Cora also linked to a thread by Seanan McGuire in which Seanan noted that she got her first nomination in 2010, and in 2011 was immediately attacked as one of The Usual Suspects. At which point is occured to me that this was a form of Cheryl’s Second Law of Fandom in action.

Cheryl’s what? Well, back in 2008 I took a stab at explaining fannish outrage by channelling Isaac Asimov. My Three Laws of Fandom weren’t exactly intended to be taken seriously, but they do represent the odd ways in which fannish discourse tends to happen. Indeed, the advent of social media has made them all the more obvious. So I thought it was about time I re-posted them for the youngsters to see. Here they are:

  1. Never accept accident or incompetence as an explanation when a bizarre and complex conspiracy can also be advanced to explain the known facts.
  2. One data point indicates a dangerous trend that must be resisted; two data points indicate a sacred and holy tradition that must be preserved.
  3. If a tree falls in Central Park, New York, is seen to fall by 100 New Yorkers, is captured on film by CNN and the video of the fall is broadcast around the world, but I wasn’t there to see it, then it didn’t fall.

The thing with Hugo nominations is a sort of Reverse Second Law, in that you are new with one nomination, but one of The Usual Suspects with two.

Hugo Follow-Up

No, not an analysis of the ballot. Patience, dear reader. Just a few things I didn’t know yesterday.

First up I posted on Twitter this morning that there are 9 trans people on the ballot in 8 different categories. I speculated that there might be more, and I’ve since found another one so we are up to 10 in 8. I’m not going to name them, because frankly these days it isn’t safe being openly trans. But you may know some of them, and hopefully one or two will actually win.

Second, I have done a book list of the finalists (including the initial volume in Series finalists) on Bookshop.org. I wasn’t able to include all of them, because they aren’t all available, but if you are, in the UK, are interested in buying, and would like to help both independent bookstores and Wizard’s Tower, you can find the list here.

And finally, there is a useful list of where to find various of the finalists online over on File 770. The link to CoNZealand Fringe is to our YouTube Channel rather than our website. Apparently Mike is having a sulk and refusing to link to our actual site because one of our people has blocked him on Twitter. This is making me feel quite nostalgic for the days when I was allegedly the most hated person in fandom.

Life Beyond Us

Life Beyond Us
Into hard (biological) SF? Fancy an anthology with top name writers produced in collaboration with the European Astrobiology Institute? That’s your serious speculation on alien life right there. The only catch is that it is currently on Kickstarter, so it needs pledges in order to happen. But look, it will include stories by Mary Robinette Kowal, Peter Watts, Premee Mohamed, Gregory Benford, Tobias S. Buckell, Julie E. Czerneda, Malka Older, Stephen Baxter, Bogi Takács and many more. And it is co-edited by my good friend Julie Nováková. The title is Life Beyond Us, and you can back it here.

Hugo Finalist (Again)


Somewhat to my surprise, I find my name on the Hugo Award ballot again this year. I am one of the team that is a finalist in Best Related Work for the ConZealand Fringe programme of events.

I’d like to thank and congratulate the rest of the team: Claire, Adri, C, Alasdair, Marguerite and Cassie. I note that Claire, Adri, Alasdair and Marguerite are all on the ballot in other categories as well, so they are very much worth checking out. Also Iori Kusano, who was on the panel that I curated and chaired for CZ Fringe, is on the Related Work ballot for her work running a similar Fringe programme for FIYAHCON. Having all of this virtual convention work on the ballot makes me very happy.

I should also thank Kelly Buehler, co-chair of CoNZealand, for her support of our work. It would have been great to integrate more closely with the main convention, but as with so many things to do with CoNZealand, time was against us.

Finally I should thank Mike Glyer, because there’s nothing quite like being denounced on File 770 to bring you to the attention of fandom at large.

Update: Duh! I should also thank everyone who nominated us. You can tell that it is 10 years since I’ve had to do this, can’t you. One the plus side, no one has yet come into my social media to complain about how I am the Wrong Sort of Fan, possibly because this is not a fan category.

The rest of the ballot for Related Work is very strong. I don’t expect us to win. There are lots of other interesting things on the ballot that I’d like to talk about, but that will have to wait for the next Salon Futura. Here’s the full list of finalists for Related Work.

And yes, I did notice that DisCon 3 has decided not to use the official Hugo Award logo. Thumbing their noses at WSFS seems to have become a habit for them. And they did manage to mis-spell Beowulf, though it is correct on the press release.

Dyslexic-Friendly Books

The lovely people at Books on the Hill have a Kickstarter campaign running to produce a line of dyslexic-friendly books. Because of who they are, most of the initial titles will be SF/F/H. Thanks to a modest early target (to produce just 3 books) they are funded already, but there are stretch goals for another 5 books so there’s definite value in joining the campaign. You can get the full details from the campaign website. Go ye forth and pledge!

Coronavirus – Day #376

Today there has been great celebration in England, because non-essential shops, restaurants and pubs have re-opened, sort of. Pubs and restaurants can only serve people sitting outside, and it snowed in many parts of the country today, but at least they are open. My hairdresser sent me a text this morning saying that they could take bookings again. I phoned after lunch and the earliest appointment they had was in early May.

So has Bozo “saved summer”? Well maybe. There were over 3,500 new cases of COVID-19 registered today. Thirteen people died from it in the last 24 hours. That is by no means zero COVID. The government is banking on the fact that a sigificant proportion of the population has now had at least a first vaccine jab. The assumption is that this will slow the rate of infection, and reduce the serverity of cases for people who do catch the virus. If that doesn’t work, we could be back in full Lockdown fairly quickly.

Thankfully I don’t need to go out much. Once a week to Tesco is still mostly all that I need. It does, however, make me more confident about just popping out for a walk. I’ve signed up to do the sponsored walk for One25 again in May, which means that for a month I will have to average 4 miles a day. Right now I am so unfit from a year of hardly leaving home that I’m struggling to manage two, so it is just as well that I have a few weeks to get in training.

Three Twins in Paper

Three Twins at the Crater School
Pre-orders for paper editions of Three Twins at the Crater School are now available in a variety of places, incuding Amazon stores around the world and Waterstones. I expect other stores to follow in due course. I got a proof copy of the paperback in the mail today and it looks lovely, though not as lovely as the hardcover which I expect to arrive next week.

As usual, all of the links to places where you can pre-order the book are on the Wizard’s Tower website.

Oh, and Juliet announced today that she’s sent Green Man #4 off to the editor. More on that soon.

The SAGE Encyclopedia of Trans Studies


I’m in another book. It is a massive, two-volume encyclopedia, and my contribution is very small, but I am in it. I have a small section on trans people in the ancient world.

I won’t be getting a copy of the book, because this is academic publishing and even with my author discount it would be a ridiculous amount of money. But books like this are not intended to be purchased by humans. They are aimed primarily at academic libraries. If you happen to work in such a place, then do please consider buying this book because every university should have one. Purchase details are here, and I can probably get you a discount.

March Salon Futura

This one went live at the end of March. There didn’t seem much point in doing lots of PR for it during the holidays, but hopefully people are back online again. Here’s what you can find covered in #28.

  • Ten Low by Stark Holborn
  • WandaVision
  • In Veritas by CJ Lavigne
  • Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard
  • Gendering Time, Timing Gender by PM Biswas
  • The Last Days of Pompeii by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

There’s also an article titled, “Is WSFS Fit for Purpose?”, and a look back on two newly released books I did sensitivity reads for: The Fall of Koli by Mike Carey, and SisterSong by Lucy Holland. You can find all of that lot here.

Coronavirus – Day #370

Oh look, a year has gone by. Are we still deep in the shit? Why yes, so we are.

The good news is that all of the major COVID in the UK are still falling. Trowbridge is officially “suppressed”, but this does no mean zero COVID. There could be at least 10 cases in town.

More worryingly, the UK is still registering over 2000 new cases a day, and the media is talking about how the virus has been beaten and everything is going “back to normal”. Bozo is talking breezily about people being able to go on summer holidays abroad. We don’t really know how the vaccine will change things, but some sort of third wave seems inevitable.

Of course the likelihood of anyone from the UK being able to travel internationally in the near future is not very high. Bozo will doubtless blame this on the EU. The people who voted for Brexit still don’t understand that “taking back control” of our borders does not mean taking control of everyone else’s borders as well, and the freedom of movement whose ending they cheered so loudly included their freedom of movement as well.

Thoughts on Extreme E

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I have a strong interest in motor racing. You mainly see comments on Formula 1, but there are other race series out there, and this year a new one has been unveiled.

Extreme E is an off-road series for electric cars, with the additional concept that the purpose of the series is not just entertainment and development of electric vehicle technology, but also raising awareness of climate change. In view of the latter, the races all take place in remote parts of the world where the effects of climate change can be seen, and the series has a philosophy of minimal carbon footprint and “race without a trace” — that is they tidy up after themselves. The commitment to the environment has attracted interest from some of the top names in the sport — Sir Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button, Carlos Sainz Sr., Sebastien Loeb — and there is a fascinating mix of drivers from different disciplines.

Unlike slick operations such as Formula 1, Extreme E is very much a seat-of-the-pants job at the moment. The team behind the series is still learning a lot about how to stage an entertaining race, and they are deliberately self-hobbled by their decision to minimise the at-venue presence. The inaugural race over the weekend was interesting, but showed up some of the cracks, not least in the TV coverage.

From a driving point of view, Extreme E is just what it says on the tin. The Al-Ula circuit in Saudi Arabia is a stretch of rocky desert that eschews even the dirt roads in the region. At one point the cars crest a blind ridge and drop 100 metres at a 45 degree angle. I certainly shouldn’t be let anywhere near roads like that, and I have huge respect for anyone who can actually drive it without crashing, let alone do so at speed.

Because the series is brand new, so is the car. The Odyssey 21 is an electric sports SUV designed specifically for the series by Spark Racing, the same people who build the Formula E cars. Inevitably with a brand new car there are teething problems, and the biggest issue with the Odyssey appears to be the power steering. Accoring to the good folks at Inside Electric, the teams basically have a choice of settings: you either run with full power steering and risk it breaking while you are out on track, or you run a lower setting and have to do a lot of the steering yourself, which on a track like this is seriously hard work. Failure of the power steering was apparrently why Sir Lewis Hamilton’s X44 team did so poorly in the final.

Also brand new is the battery, which has been developed by Williams Engineering (who also build an F1 car). I missed the first Qualifying session on Saturday because it started at 7:00am UK time, and when I watched the second session several drivers were commenting that they were running reduced power. The Sky commentary team had no idea what this was about, but again the folks at Inside Electric have been doing the work. Given the heat of the desert venue, the Williams engineers found that the batteries were not cooling down as quickly as they had expected, and consequently they could not be fully charged between the two qualifying sessions.

I shouldn’t be too hard on the Sky team, because they were not at the circuit. Commentating on something happening thousands of miles away is not easy. But I’m sure that if Ted Kravitz had been with the Sky team he would have wanted to find out what was going on, and would have found a way to get the information.

This sort of thing is important to the TV coverage because for much of the time there isn’t anything interesting going on. There are some fabulous camera shots from drones, and from inside the cars, but watching a driver wrestle with a steering wheel is never going to be as exciting as wheel-to-wheel racing. More about that later. For now I’ll just note that the commentators need to find interesting things to talk about.

They had them too, because Extreme E is the first series to insist on gender parity in the drivers. Each team has one male driver and one female driver (no place for non-binary drivers yet) and they drive equal numbers of laps, with the drivers changing places half-way through. What we (and by “we” I particularly mean female fans) wanted to know was how well the women were doing compared to the men. The commentators didn’t seem interested in that. Indeed, they often forgot the names of the women drivers, or referred to “the Button car” even when Jenson’s teammate, Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, was driving. I know that Jenson owns the team, but that’s a bit poor.

One thing that did catch the attention of the commentators was the performance of Catie Munnings for the Andretti United team during Qualifying 1. She got a puncture in her right-rear early on in the lap, but still managed to bring the car home with a respectable time. It was an astonishing feat of driving.

What we didn’t get were lap time splits. The timing screens only reported the joint time of the team. However, Matt Warwick of the BBC has been digging. He reports that Catie had a faster time than her teammate, Timmy Hansen, during the final. Also Christine Giampaoli Zonca of the Hispano Suiza team regularly out-paced her partner, Bristol’s Oliver Bennett.

What Warwick didn’t report was how the times recorded by Rosberg Extreme Racing’s Molly Taylor compared to the men in the other teams. Molly regularly beats male drivers back home in Australia, which is why she’s the national rally champion. She and Johan Kristoffersson were clearly the class of the field at the weekend. I’m sure she must have out-paced most of the men, in identical machinery.

You will have noticed that I mentioned two local drivers. Jenson Button is from Frome and Ollie Bennett from Bristol. There is a third West Country driver in the series: Bath’s Jamie Chadwick. Sadly she didn’t get to drive at all. In Quali 1 her teammate at Veloce, Stéphane Sarrazin, hit a large lump of desert grass and rolled the car. It was by no means the worst crash of the weekend, but by some freak accident it bent the roll cage on the car. That’s not something that the team could repair in a tent in the desert, so for safety reasons the Veloce team had to withdraw from the race with Jamie never having got to drive.

Qualifying was interesting, and included a couple of spectacular crashes, but it was Sunday’s races that most fans would have been looking forward to. The qualifying, and a couple of semi-finals, sorted the nine teams into three groups, who then raced for position within that group. (I am not going to call anything “The Crazy Race” unless Dick Dastardly and Muttley actually compete in it.)

The bottom three cars were actually only two because the Veloce team had withdrawn. That left the two other teams that had experienced crashes in Qualifying. It had become obvious in the semi-finals that serious racing would be impossible save for the long straight at the start. The cars were throwing up so much sand that visibility was zero for a car trying to follow close enough to pass. Kyle Leduc in the team entered by IndyCar mogul, Chip Ganassi, proved this conclusively by trying to overtake Claudia Hürtgen in the ABT Cupra car. He had no idea where she was on the road, and slammed into the back of the other car, ending the race for both of them.

The other races all settled down into the male drivers having a short race from the start to the first corner, and the two who didn’t get there first backing off to make sure they had enough visibilty to get to the end. This does not make for exciting racing. It also meant that the women drivers were under orders to bring the car home safety and not take any risks, because they had a 30 second cushion on the car behind.

Because each race takes place in a very different environment, this may not be a problem for other races. Alternatively the management may decide to make the series more of a time trial challenge. The series is young, and they have time to adjust. I’m sure they’ll be spending the month that it will take for the ship that carries the cars around the world to get to Senegal thinking hard about this.

However, as well as the actual racing, I do hope that they think a bit about the TV coverage. It wasn’t only covering the racing where they fell down. The stated purpose of Extreme E is to draw attention to climate change. Wherever they go, the drivers get to see and help with local conservation efforts (Jamie Chadwick posted pictures of her working on beach clean-up to Twitter). Also the ship carries a science team with a fully equipped laboratory. What were thet doing? We don’t know. The TV coverage relied only on pre-recorded material supplied by the Extreme E management. There was no reporting on the environmental issues from the venue.

If I had a hotline to Alejandro Agag, I would be telling him to get an science reporter out there with the teams, and ask her to do live coverage of each venue. I’d want to see what the drivers were up to off-track. I’d want to talk to the team crews about setting up and tearing down the paddock area. I’d want to talk to the science team and local conservationists about the local wildlife and the specific threats that each venue faces from climate change. This is your message, guys, get it out there.

Thank You, Relampeio

As best as I can gather from social media, you folks are spending the holiday weekend either at Eastercon, at Norwescon, or at both. (Or possibly you are on Facebook complaining about how much you hate online conventions.) I’m not at any of these, mainly because I’m on call for jury service at the moment and this weekend is one time that I know I can get a bunch of work done without having to worry about being called away. However, I did make an exception for Relampeio, because when you get invited to be a guest at a convention in Brazil you obviously say yes.

As a result, last night I spent a couple of hours online with some fabulous people, and had a great conversation. We did a panel titled, Dissident Bodies in Science Fiction, which covered all sorts of ways in which a body can be viewed as less than human, or as inhuman.

With me on the panel were Samuel Muca, who is a podcaster, literary critic and eco-Socialist activist. He’s also blind. Thiago Ambrósio Lage is a lecturer in biotechnology, a writer, and proudly gay. And Járede Oliver is a lecturer in Social Anthropology. We had a great chat, and it is available for reply on YouTube.

The introduction and farewell are in Portuguese, but the rest of the panel is in English. I understand that that was live translation going on, but we were backstage in StreamYard so we didn’t get to see any of that.

And if you enjoyed that, why not check out the rest of the Relampeio feed, which includes events with Chen Qiufan and Nisi Shawl, plus one this evening with Amal El-Mohtar.

Three Twins Cover Reveal


Today on social media I unveiled the cover for the first of Chaz Brenchley’s Crater School books. Three Twins at the Crater School introduces us to the eponymous school, and some of its staff and pupils. We also get to meet some of the Martian fauna which, as you can see from the cover, look pretty scary.

I have put the book out for pre-orders, and hopefully the links will be available tmomorrow, but Kobo are on vacation for Easter and you can never tell how long it will take Amazon to do anything. I will tweet as soon as links are availalble. In the meantime here is the promo blurb and some reactions from early readers. (eARCs are available.)

Mars, the Red Planet, farthest flung outpost of the British Empire. Under the benevolent reign of the Empress Eternal, commerce and culture are flourishing along the banks of the great canals, and around the shores of the crater lakes. But this brave new world is not as safe as it might seem. The Russians, unhappy that Venus has proved far less hospitable, covet Britain’s colony. And the Martian creatures, while not as intelligent and malevolent as HG Wells had predicted, are certainly dangerous to the unwary.

What, then, of the young girls of the Martian colony? Their brothers might be sent to Earth for education at Eton and Oxbridge, but girls are made of sterner stuff. Be it unreasonable parents, Russian spies, or the deadly Martian wildlife, no challenge is beyond the resourceful girls of the Crater School.

“For every fan of The Chalet School”
Farah Mendlesohn

“A rollicking good read from start to finish!”
Ellen Klages

“I wish I were a Crater School girl”
Marie Brennan

“Splendidly full of peril and charm”
Gillian Polack

“Brenchley had me at ‘British girls’ school on Mars’”
Jennifer Stevenson

“I sincerely hope there will be further instalments”
Marissa Doyle

“This is a one-sitting page-turner!”
Sherwood Smith

“Highly recommended”
Juliet E. McKenna

“Twins we will never forget and cool Mars creatures.”
Miranda and Talia, age 9

Queering Medusa

At long last the final piece of my LGBT+ History Month tour has dropped into place. This is the video interview I did with Dan Vo for the National Galleries Scotland exhibition on Ray Harryhausen. The basic idea is that each of Dan’s interviewees would pick a Harryhausen creature and explain how it connected to queer history. My choice was Medusa, and the edited interview is now available to view.

The most obvious thing about it is that I am still really bad at TV and should not be let anywhere near a camera, but at least I have a decent background. I’m pleased to have given a supporting role to Ifor the Dragon.

Also the story is good. There’s a lot in there about African history and Amazons. I also manage to reference Sandy Stone and Dorothea Smartt. If you want to know what they have to do with Medusa, you need to watch the interview.

What didn’t make it into the final cut was my plug for Liz Gloyn’s book, Tracking Classical Monsters in Popular Culture. I did try, Liz. If you want to know why I was plugging it, check out my review on Salon Futura.

My thanks once again to Dan, and to National Galleries Scotland, for inviting me to be part of this series. And now, without further ado, here is the show:

De Lint on McKenna

One of the first things I always do when I have a new Juliet McKenna book to publish is send a review copy off to Charles de Lint. He has been wonderfully supportive of the Green Man series in his column in Fantasy & Science Fiction. The Green Man’s Silence is no exception. You can find his review of the new book in his March/April 2021 column. Right after his review of the new Garth Nix. Am I a proud publisher? You bet! Thanks Charles.

He’s right, of course, the Green Man books are fabulous. Thousands of readers can’t be wrong. You can find purchase links here.

Vaccinated (Part 1)

Today I had my first COVID-19 shot. There wasn’t anything on offer locally, and I elected to drive to Bath Racecourse as that is mostly a simple driving route that I’m used to. It was a good place for a vaccination centre as there was plenty of room to set up the facility, and for people to park.

Before getting the jab you get a brief quiz on your medical history. The only things likely to rule you out is if you have had any other vaccinations recently, if you’ve had COVID recently, or if you are seriously allergic to some medications.

The jab itself was quick and painless.

I had the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, so I will need to go back for a second dose. That’s not until June.

As I had driven to the centre, I was asked to sit and rest for 15 minutes after the jab just in case I had an adverse reaction. I felt fine after that and was able to drive home. I’m still feeling OK 6 hours in, though people who have had the same vaccine tell me that the side effects kick in after about 8 hours. We shall see.

It’s That Day Again #IWD2021


Yes folks, once again we have arrived at that day in the year when some people spend all day on social media reminding the rest of the world that there is indeed an International Men’s Day and it is on November 19th, because apparently many men cannot let any day devoted to women go past without making it all about them.

Thankfully I am also seeing a lot of good stuff on social media this year. I would do a post of my own highlighting wonderful women, except I know so many. There are brilliant women authors, brilliant women human rights advocates, brilliant historians and people from history, brilliant sportswomen and so on. I wouldn’t know where to start, or when to stop.

So I’m just going to leave you with the little card above, which was made as part of this year’s festivities by the lovely people at A New Normal. My thanks to Laverne Cox for the inspirational quote.

Coronavirus – Day #337

Wow, it is a long time since I did one of these. Of course I was crazy busy during February, but to a large extent nothing much has changed. We are still in Lockdown and will be until April. Infection rates have been falling steadily for a couple of months, but are still scarily high. And locally they are not going down. Having had rates well below the national average over the winter, we are now well above the national average. If nothing else that shows that the Track & Trace system is not worth a dime, let alone the £22bn that the government spaffed away on it.

Meanwhile Bozo has ordered schools to re-open, and I’m already seeing claims that the infection rate is surging amongst young children.

We had a budget, apparently. It seems like no one is happy about it. And yet the supposed opposition party is doing such a bad job that the Tories now have a much bigger lead in the polls than they did when they won an 80 seat majority back in late 2019. It is almost as if refusing to challenge the government on any of its policies isn’t a vote winner. Who would have thought it?

In much less good news today I learned that the Loyalist Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland have denounced the Good Friday Agreement. That is, they are blaming the Catholics, and the South, for Bozo’s complete disaster of a Brexit agreement which saw a border created in the Irish Sea, something he had promised would never happen. It seems entirely in keeping with modern Britain that someone else is getting blamed for a government screw-up. But the outcome is likely to be renewed sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, which will please no one except a few die-hard survivors of The Troubles, and the Tory right wing who have always hated the fact that peace was declared.

Ah well, at least I still have work, which is getting me to talk to people, even if it is seriously interfering with my book-reading habit.