As you may have noticed, the Hugo Award nominating period has opened for this year. Consequently everyone is making eligibility posts. I wasn’t too fussed about that until I discovered that Jim Fitzpatrick is designing this year’s trophy base. As he is one of my favorite artists, I can’t wait to see what it looks like. And obviously I would love to have one.
Unfortunately I haven’t done much award-worthy in the past year. I have been too busy doing trans stuff. Technically I am eligible for Fan Writer, but I have done so little that it would be wrong to nominate me. And anyway, I have one of those already.
I do have one published short story from last year. It is called “A Piece of the Puzzle” and it appeared in the anthology, The Hotwells Horror, which a bunch of us put together to celebrate the life of the late David J Rodger. The story is set in Prohibition-era New York and features a young woman called Sonia Greene who has ambitions to be a writer. All of the profits from the sale of the book go to the mental health charity, MIND, so you would be doing a good thing by buying a copy.
It also occurs to me that my keynote speech from Worlding SF is a Related Work of sorts. You can watch the whole thing for free here.
Most importantly, however, The Green Man’s Heir is an eligible novel. Competition in the Hugos is fierce, but I would love to see Juliet appear in the also-ran list. And if you happen to be a member of the British Fantasy Society, you know what you need to do.
It is ridiculously hard to get people into the studio in the first week of January, because most of them won’t even look at their email until that Monday. So I was happy to have a bunch of interviews pre-recorded that I could run for this week’s radio show. It was good for Ben too because we have moved studios. While the new desk has all of the same controls, they are in different places, and that takes a bit of getting used to. It is like switching from a left-hand-drive to a right-hand-drive car.
The first hour of the show had an interview with Tade Thompson that I recorded at FantasyCon, and one with Joy Francis from an organisation called Words of Colour, which was recorded when she was in Bristol to give a talk in December.
In the second hour I have the interview I did with Maria Dahvana Headley when she was in Oxford. This is pretty much solid feminist ranting from both of us. And finally there is an interview with Joanne Harris that I recorded at FantasyCon.
The show is available through the Ujima Listen Again service here. The raw interviews were all longer than I had time for in the show, particularly the one with Maria. I’m planning to post longer versions on Salon Futura once the Listen Again links have expired.
The play list for this week’s show was:
Janelle Monáe – I’m Afraid
Angélique Kidjo – Once in a Lifetime
Des’ree – You gotta be
The O Jays – Love Train
Janelle Monáe – Heroes
Bruce Springsteen – Badlands
Bat for Lashes – Seal Jubilee
Camel – La Princess Perdue
The February show will, of course, be an LGBT History Month special.
This is quick heads up that Cat Rambo and I will once again be offering the Writing & Gender course this spring. It is one of many fabulous courses that Cat has scheduled, but it is the only one with me co-teaching it, which is why I am mentioning it here. The course will take place on April 28th. I’ll remind you again nearer the time, but if you want to be sure of a place book now. A full list of all Cat’s courses (some co-taught by amazing people such as Seanan McGuire and Rachel Swirsky) is available here.
Yes, no sooner have I got the New Year out of the way than it is time to think about February. And in the UK February means LGBT History Month. As usual, OutStories Bristol will be partnering with M Shed to put on a day of talks. It is on Saturday, Feb. 16th. There’s more information about that here. The full list of talks will be available soon. I’m very excited about some of them. Especially the one about the non-binary character in a mediaeval romance.
Meanwhile my calendar is filling up with other engagements. On February 2nd I will be at Taunton Library talking about the Spartans. And then there’s this:
Yes, the Amazon Horde is back in the saddle for 2019, and we are going to Cardiff. I get to give a talk in the Senedd Building. It’s the first thing I have done in my life that I wish my mum and dad could be there to see.
And finally at the end of March I will be in Belfast for the Outing the Past conference where I will be going into some detail on some of the research that came out of the Amazons paper. Actual Latin analysis! Thank goodness for Liz Gloyn who is so much better at this stuff than I am. And Margaux Spruyt who understands horses.
One of the most eagerly awaited fantasy novels of the year is Black Leopard, Red Wolf. Written by Booker Prize winner, Jamaican Marlon James, it comes with an effusive blurb from Neil Gaiman. Gary Wolfe waxes lyrical about it in the most recent Coode Street episode. Both men say that it is unlike any epic fantasy they have read.
It is very exciting, therefore, to discover that James will be giving this year’s J.R.R. Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature at Pembroke College in Oxford. The date is February 26th, which is just a couple of days before the book is officially launched in the UK. Full details are available here.
I have an ARC of the book, and I have rarely seen such care put into a review copy. It looks gorgeous. And given what my friends are saying, I can’t wait to read it. I will also be at the lecture. If you are interested in fantasy fiction and can get there easily, I suggest you book a ticket now. Last year’s lecture with VE Schwab sold out in days.
Doesn’t time fly! It was 20 years ago this month that Juliet McKenna burst onto the fantasy scene with The Thief’s Gamble. Given the auspicious anniversary, Juliet and I thought that it would be a good idea to have presents, for you folks.
From now until the end of January, the five volumes of the original Tales of Einarinn are on sale. The prices are US$2.99, £2.35 and €2.99. Apologies to European readers, but Amazon won’t let us sell for less than that at their standard royalty rate. I see that Google are already discounting the price of some of the books, so you might try them.
But that’s not all. You can also buy a fabulous onmibus edition that contains all five novels and the short story collection, A Few Further Tales of Einarinn. And until the end of January it is priced at just $9.99/£7.99. That’s live in Barnes & Noble and Kobo now. Google will doubtless catch up at some point. It is not on Amazon, because their website kept crashing when I tried to upload the file (insert rant about the bloated nature of the Kindle file format here). But if you need a Kindle version you can buy it from the Wizard’s Tower Bookstore.
Yes, the bookstore has re-opened after a couple of years stuck in limbo due to VAT issues. Thankfully that’s all sorted now, although it we do end up with a No Deal Brexit, which is looking increasingly likely, it will have to close again.
Of course I’d like you to buy everything from the Wizard’s Tower bookstore, because Juliet gets more money that way, but I appreciate that you may need to pay in your local currency.
That’s today’s Wizard’s Tower news. There will be more later in the month.
Update: Corrected to 20th anniversary. Guess who can’t count.
One of the highlights of my visit to Graz — indeed the one thing I desperately wanted to do before getting there — was visiting the Armoury. They have an incredible amount of mediaeval and early modern armour and weaponry on show. There’s enough kit, I was assured, to outfit an army of 5,000 men.
Quite a bit of it is unused. The large collection of infantry sabres in one of the pictures below was ordered for the Napoleonic Wars, but Napoleon conquered Austria so quickly that the blacksmith hadn’t finished them by the time the war was over.
The prize item in the collection is the horse armour. It was sold to the museum for two pints of beer by a nobleman who had no more use for it. Decades later it is worth millions.
If you want to visit the Armoury, it is best to go in summer. In the winter it is open only for tours on a select few days. I happened to get lucky in not only picking the right day, but also getting a personal guided tour. Thanks Cristoph, that was awesome!
My main interest in Vienna was the Kunsthistorisches Museum. I only had a few hours and of course I spent most of my time looking at ancient stuff. Frankly there was so much bling on show in the Hapsburg displays that it was rather overwhelming. I loved the automata though, and kudos to the museum for having tablet computers with film of each one working available.
Anyway, here are some photos. If you share my obsession with ancient history you’ll enjoy some of these. The gallery plugin I am using doesn’t allow for much descriptive text so do ask if you are interested in anything.
When Kevin and I were in Canada for the Moving Trans History Forward conference this year, one of the people we met was Charles Ledbetter. It used to be the case that I was pretty much the only person talking about trans characters in speculative fiction, but now there are at least three people doing PhDs in the subject, all of them trans identified. Charles is one of them.
A unique feature of Charles’ research is that they are looking, not at works that get wide distribution (which up until recently meant works written by cis people, for cis people), but at works published by independent presses, in fanzines, and self-pubished material. Charles rightly surmised that they would find much earlier examples of trans-authored works this way. Consequently, even though they are based at the University of Tübingen in Germany, Charles is spending time in Victoria going through the archives looking for material.
If you happen to know of anything that would fit the type of work Charles is looking for, I’m sure they would love to know. Bogi Takács and I have both been corresponding with Charles, and Kevin has suggested a bunch of webcomics, but there’s bound to be more out there.
In November, to mark Trans Day of Remembrance, the folks at UVic asked Charles to give a public lecture. I have finally found time to watch it, and it is good stuff. (And I don’t just say that because I get cited.) I was particularly pleased to see the Transvengers comic mentioned. Hopefully some of you will find it interesting too.
Here are some more photos from my trip to Austria. These are all from the city of Graz, where the conference took place. They include the Schlossberg, the precipitous, fortified hill in the middle of the city.
Graz is 2 hours by train south of Vienna. Part of the reason for the time is that the railway has to wind through the foothills of the Alps. It is not far from the Slovenian border, and only a few hours from Zagreb by road. A lot of the big buildings in the city were built by Italian architects, which gives the city something of a Mediterranean feel. The courtyards are a particular feature of the old town.
Bristol University has many fine academics on its staff, but undoubtledly one of the best is Professor Ronald Hutton. Here he is giving a lecture on the origins and purposes of fairy stories.
In the Q&A I discoverd that “trow” is an Orkney/Shetland word for “troll”. Local opinion has it that the town where I live was originally called Tree-bridge (treow-brycg in Old English), or True-bridge. From now on I am going to assume it is actually Trollbridge, because that’s much more cool.
Thanks to John Reppion for the link to the lecture.
Today is St. Stephen’s Day, and therefore the perfect day to put up some of my pictures of Vienna, given that their main cathedral is named after him. Google has comprehensively broken their photo system, which means that the system I used to work for displaying photos here no longer works. I’m testing a new system. Fingers crossed.
More of the “that time of year” thing. This time it is the review of the year posts on the Aqueduct Press blog. The lovely folks at Aqueduct keep asking me to write these things, so I keep doing them. This year I was a bit late due to the Austria trip, but my contribution is up at last. You can find it here.
Yes, it is that time of year again. And so, as is traditional, here is a little ditty from the fabulous H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. Be careful out there, little cultists, you never know what you might summon.
I still have a few, mostly elderly, friends and relatives to whom I send cards. I always buy my cards from my friend Dru Marland. The design I chose for this year is shown above. So for everyone who isn’t getting a phsyical card, here’s your holiday greetings thing. May you have a fabulous end of the year celebration.
And if you fancy buying cards from Dru, you can do so here.
Happy Winter Solstice, everyone! Here in the Northern Hemisphere the days will be getting longer and it is time to welcome the green back into our lives. Down south it is summer, and hopefully not too parched, Australia.
What better way to celebrate than with the Green Man? In view of which Juliet and I have decided to put The Green Man’s Heir on sale for the rest of December. Thanks to an unlikely coincidence of exchange rates you should be able to find it for £0.99, $0.99 and €0.99, though some stores may adjust dynamically through the month. Prices in other currencies will be scaled accordingly.
Update: The sale is live on Amazon as well now.
Of course when I say that you can find it there’s always a catch. Kobo, Google and Barnes & Noble have already adjusted their prices as I requested. Amazon tell me that it could take up to three days to make the change.
However, if you are a Kindle user there are many free tools that help you convert epub books to mobi, so if you really can’t wait that’s always an option. If that sounds scary, Amazon will catch up before the month is over, and doubtless it will take them time to change back in January.
As most of you will know, I spent the first third of December in Austria. Part of it was tourism, of which much more later, but the main purpose of my trip was to attend the Worlding SF conference at the University of Graz.
I had an absolutely amazing time. Vienna and Graz are both beautiful cities in their own, very different, ways. I’ll have more to say about them in later posts. This post, however, is all about saying thank you. That’s thank you to the organisers, to the University, to my fellow keynote speakers (Mark Bould & Gerry Canavan), to all of the great presenters whose papers I heard, and to everyone who said such kind things about my keynote.
If you’d like to get some idea of the sorts of things that were discussed, Julia Grillmayr has an excellent report on her podcast, Superscience Me.
And if you want to see what all the fuss was about with respect to my keynote, you can watch the whole thing here. Inevitably it begins with film of me tweeting.
Mark and Gerry gave great speeches too. There was apparently an issue with the sound on the film of Mark’s talk, which the film crew are trying to fix, but Gerry’s talk and some other great videos are available here (Farcebook login required by the looks of it).
I’m spending a little time in Vienna on my way to the Worlding SF conference. After all, goodness only knows if I will ever be in Austria again, and I can’t come here and not see one of Europe’s greatest capitals.
It had snowed a little before I got here, as shown by the view from my hotel window above, but it has pretty much all melted by now. I got rained on a little today, but mostly the weather has been merely chilly.
Vienna has an excellent subway system which is color-coded so you can’t get lost. I have been using it all day for the princely sum of a €8 day pass.
I spent a lot of time just walking around and gawping because there is so much great architecture on display, but my main objective was to spent time in the Kunsthistorisches Museum because I am a sucker for an ancient history collection that I haven’t seen. In particular they have a unique statue of Isis that I wanted to see in person. Hopefully more on that in a later post.
The Museum also has a incredible amount of bling from the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was really quite overwhelming. And the Museum itself is an exhibit in its own right. I kept stopping looking in the displays and looking at the ceilings instead.
I didn’t get to see the Bruegel exhibition because it is so popular you have to book well in advance and be there at your appointed timeslot. I do like his work, but I only had one day here.
In among the historical stuff I also managed to find a cat cafe run by a lovely Japanese woman. And I have been managing to get by despite my almost total lack of German. People still ask me for directions, even here.
Tomorrow I will be heading south to Graz. There will be train photos for Kevin on Twitter.
You don’t get many men turning up at the Women’s Equality Party conference, but Jon Skeet is one who was there. What’s more he was very supportive of the LGBT group and our advocacy for trans people. That’s how I met him. We’ve chatted a bit on social media since. We are, after all, both coding geeks, so we have something in common there too.
Yesterday Jon mentioned that he was thinking of doing a Christmas fundraiser and he asked if there were any trans groups with a specific link to IT. I mentioned that Trans*Code could always do with a few quid to put on hack days. I didn’t think any more of it until this afternoon when Jon got in touch to say that the appeal was online, and he was hoping to raise £1000.
For context, that’s more than my entire budget for LGBT History Month in Bristol, and I don’t crowdfund that because I don’t think I could raise that much money.
We are now 6 hours in on Jon’s campaign and the total raised stands at £1820.
So it looks like one of the things I have to do next year is run a Trans*Code hack day in Bristol. Any young trans folks who are interested in programming, do get in touch. And if anyone knows of a company that would donate some office space on a Saturday, I’d be very grateful.
Details will be sorted out in due course. In the meantime, if people could share the campaign on social media that would be great. I’m sure we can find things to do with additional money.
I haven’t written anything about this year’s Trans Day of Remembrance before now, partly because I have been ridiculously busy, and partly because there has been a whole lot going on that I’m not at liberty to discuss in public yet. However, there is one thing that it is important that I get out there.
One of the problems with TDoR as an event for us is that the vast majority of the victims live outside of the UK. We need the event to center on those people, not on the relatively privileged white people attending the ceremony. Also my language skills are practically zero, which means that I tend to mangle the names of the departed. It isn’t very respectful.
This year I was pleased to have the assistance of my friend and colleague, Aaron. He’s a trans man from Texas, and he offered to read the names from the USA and Mexico. That took a significant chunk out of my work load, and got those names done right.
This year, as last, around half of the victims were Brazilian. I was absolutely delighted to have the assistance of a Brazilian trans woman, Andie, who is visiting Bristol, to read the list. That was especially kind of her given how personal this must be for her.
Andie is going to be in the UK for a few months. She’s here, among other things, to raise the profile of Brazilian trans people and their plight. If anyone out there is interested in talking to her (looking at you, Fox, Paris, Jane) do let me know and I can put you in touch.
The picture above is a selfie of Andie and myself that I took at the flag-raising ceremony outside Bristol City Hall.