Worldcon #77 – Day 2

Well that was eventful.

I was fortunate enough to be able to sleep in a bit this morning because the first thing I had to do was be at the convention centre for 11:00pm as Juliet McKenna was doing a signing. That went very well. We sold a whole bunch of books, both The Green Man’s Heir and The Green Man’s Foe. We were very happy.

Immediately after that I was moderating a panel on promoting translations. I was very pleased with that. I had a very knowledgeable panel, including Neil Clarke and Francesco Verso who are doing far more to promote translations than I am. We had an interesting discussion on how awards might help, what sort of awards were needed, and why the proposal for a Best Translated Novel Hugo is a bad idea.

While we were doing that, the Friday Business Meeting was in progress. While they rarely do Objection to Consideration any more, they can ask for a motion to be deferred for a year to allow more discussion to take place, and that’s what happened to the translation Hugo proposal. I do hope that the people who put it forward will listen to people in the translation community over the next 12 months rather than stubbornly bring back the same flawed proposal in Wellington.

During the panel, Julie Nováková said that she’d like someone to revive the SF&F Translation Awards (or something like them). The charitable organisation that we set up for them has been disbanded, but the website still exists and I’d be happy to talk to anyone who wants to take this on.

After the panel and a quick lunch I headed down to the other venue to check out the tech situation for tomorrow. I have to give my robotics talk in one of the Odeon rooms at The Point and I needed to make sure everything would work. These rooms are effectively overflow programming space, which is great because the con is much bigger than anyone initially expected. However, they are actually in an Odeon. The rooms are part of a multi-screen cinema. This means that the seating is great, but there isn’t much of it. Screen 4, where I will be, only seats about 80 people. What’s more, there is a queueing system. You can’t go and wait outside the room. If you don’t go through the official queueing process then you may not get in. Please bear this in mind if you are coming to listen to me tomorrow.

While I was at The Point I had a look around the Art Show which is very impressive. There are a lot of really good artists in there, the show itself is very big, and the large amount of natural lighting it gets is ideal. I have finally got to see some of Emma Newman’s art in the canvas, so to speak, and it is very pretty.

Unfortunately I also managed to lose my phone while I was down at The Point. I put this down to being very tired by that point and not thinking straight. Fortunately I was able to cadge favours of friends (thanks to Kevin & Andy and to Alan) and get the deivice disconnnected, and I didn’t have anything irreplaceable on it anyway, but it does mean that no one can phone me right now. I will go and talk to the phone company tomorrow, but I may not be able to get a new phone with my old number until I arrive in Belfast next week. If any of you are in the habit of contacting me on WhatsApp please bear this in mind.

Back at the Convention Centre, I inhaled a sandwich and headed off to moderate a panel marking the 50th anniversary of The Left Hand of Darkness. I was pleased with that, so thanks again to a great group of panelists. We all agreed that the book is very relevant, even if part of modern society are less hidebound in their attitudes to sex and gender than poor Genly Ai.

During the panel Nick Hubble mentioned Genly’s suspicion that the Gethenians were genetically engineered from baseline humans sometime far in the past. Genly thinks this was an experiment of some sort, but we only have his word for it and the details appear to be lost in the mists of Hainish history. I would love to see someone write a novel that tells the story of how the Gethenians came to be. Obviously there would be copyright issues, not to mention the jaw-dropping terror of trying to write a novel in one of Le Guin’s worlds, put I’m putting the idea out there just in case.

That was me done for the day. Thankfully I don’t have to go to the Business Meeting tomorrow to fight the translation Hugo proposal, so I have time to see about the phone situation. Over lunch I am being interviewed by Scott Edelman for his Eating the Fantastic podcast. Then it is off to The Point to give the Prehistory of Robotics talk.

We may have a solution to the issue of internet access for the Hugo Award Ceremony coverage, but there’s no guarantee that it will work. I must say that I am deeply disappointed at how successive Worldcons continue to not care in the slightest whether we are able to do this coverage. Despite Josh Beatty trying really hard for us, the Award Ceremony Director simply doesn’t have enough clout to make this happen. We have to get made an official part of the convention staff, with someone on the committee who can fight to get us what we need from the outset. I think WSFS Division is the only logical place for us, because we are an official WSFS function. I shall probably rant about this again after the convention.

Interview – Regina Wang

This is the other interview that I promised you from Ã…con 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.

Congratulations, Neil!

I’ve tweeted about this last week, but I wanted to do a proper blog post as well. Neil Clarke, of Clarkesworld Magazine, is to be one of the recipients of the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award at this year’s SFWA Nebula Conference. The Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award is given by SFWA for distinguished contributions to the science fiction and fantasy community, and his many years of editing Clarkesworld certainly qualifies Neil for that. Not only has he massively raised the profile of short fiction, he has also done wonderful things for SF in translation. I’m very pleased for him.

This year’s other Solstice recipient is Nisi Shawl who, as well as being a wonderful writer, has done great work through the Carl Brandon Society. I don’t know her as well as I know Neil, but she is a very worthy recipient.

Clarkesworld Does Translated Books

As you may know, Clarkesworld magazine has been publishing translated fiction as a regular part of the magazine for some time. Neil has now decided to ramp that up by publishing printed books of translated fiction. The first of those will be A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight, a short fiction collection from the wonderful Xia Jia. There is a Kickstarter campaign running to fund the book. I’m definitely signing up for this one, and I hope that it leads to many more books of translated fiction in the future.

Clarkesworld News – Award and Bristol Appearance

I don’t have the time to keep up with my former colleagues at Clarkesworld as much as I would like these days, but I do keep an eye open for what they are doing. Today I’m delighted to report that the 2018 Small Press Award, given by the Washington Science Fiction Association, has gone to Suzanne Palmer’s “The Secret Life of Bots”. The story did win the Hugo for Novelette as well, but that news tended to get lost in the excitement around Nora Jemisin’s historic hat trick. This time around the glory is all Suzanne’s.

Also another former non-fiction editor of Clarkesworld, Jason Heller, will be appearing in Bristol in October. He’s going to be at Bristol Library on the evening of Monday, October 22nd, to promote his new book, Strange Stars. This is about the symbiosis between pop music and science fiction in the 1970s. It makes a perfect start to BristolCon week. Tickets are available here.

Books from Worldcon

I only actually bought one book in Finland. That was a copy of Gender Identity and Sexuality in Current Fantasy and Science Fiction to give to Kevin as a birthday present. However, I still came away with quite a few books.

First up is Giants at the End of the World, an anthology of Finnish Weird fiction edited by Johanna Sinisalo and Toni Jerrman. I think this one was given away free to all attending members. I can’t see any way to buy it just now, but it does have ISBNs for ebook editions so hopefully it will be available soon. It includes short fiction by a variety of excellent writers including Sinisalo herself, Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, Maria Turtschaninoff, Emmi Itäranta and Anne Leinonen. There is also the first chapter of Summerland, the forthcoming (next year) novel from Hannu Rajaniemi.

The authors featured in that book have either had novels published in English, or have at least featured in one issue of the Finnish Weird magazine that Jerrman put together to help promote the Worldcon. However, as Sinisalo notes in her introduction, that is only the tip of the iceberg. To get a better idea of what is going on in Finland you need Never Stop, an anthology edited by Emmi Itäranta that features only writers previously unavailable in translation. This one is available to buy, though apparently only as an ebook rather than the paper edition I picked up at the launch party.

At the same event the publishers, Osuuskumma, were also promoting The Self Inflicted Relative, an anthology of 33 drabbles (100 word stories) by Finnish writers in English. It is also available as an ebook.

The other country that was heavily promoting translated fiction at the convention was China. At a party put on by Storycom, the organisation that has worked with Clarkesworld to bring Chinese SF to the English-speaking world, I was given a copy of Touchable Unreality. This is a beautiful anthology in both Chinese and English. All of the stories have been in Clarkesworld, and right now the book is only published in China. Neil talks about it here.

China is, of course, a huge country, and Storycom is by no means the only company publishing SF. I also spoke with a representative of Douban Read, the publishing arm of a massive Chinese social media company. Apparently they have been publishing a lot of science fiction, and are keen to make some of it available to the English-speaking market. I was given a small book containing two stories: “The Khazar Key” by Zhu Yiye and “Teartide” by Wu Fugang. Given the enormous population of China, there must be many more great writers there waiting to be discovered.

Finally in the translated fiction arena I was given a copy of the Worldcon 75 special edition of Parsek, the Croatian fanzine produced by the folks who put on SFerakon. It is entirely in English and includes both fiction and non-fiction. The fiction contributors include Aleksandar Žiljak who was a guest of honor at this year’s Eurocon, and my friend Milena Benini.

I also got given a sampler for one book written in English. It is Luminescent Threads, the latest non-fiction book from Twelfth Planet Press. Following in the footsteps of the hugely successful Letters to Tiptree, this book contains essays about the work of Octavia Butler. I’m pretty sure that I backed the Kickstarter, so I have effectively already bought the book.

I’m delighted to see all of this translated fiction about. If that’s what having a Worldcon in a non-English-speaking country means, may we have many more of them.

Update: Anne Leinonen has been in touch to inform me that both Never Stop and The Self Inflicted Relative are available in paperback from the Holvi store.

Clarkesworld Story Wins WSFA Award

cw_121_300The winner of this year’s Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press award was announced at Capclave over the weekend. This is an award for short fiction published by small presses, and I’m delighted to see that a story from Clarkesworld was the winner this year. I must admit that I wanted “The Haunting of Apollo A7LB” by Hannu Rajaniemi to win, because I adore that story. Stephanie Burgis had a story in the finalists too, which would have been a nice local win. But I am very pleased for Martin L. Shoemaker whose story, “Today I Am Paul”, was the eventual winner.

This also reminds me that the current issue for Clarkesworld, #121, is the 10th anniversary issue (once a month for 10 years). Having pushed out a magazine on a regular schedule for many years myself, I know how hard that is. My congratulations to Neil and the rest of the team for having stuck with it this long. Here’s to another 10 years, and continued growth of the revenue stream.

Clarkesworld Hits A Century

While I have been busy with other things, my friends at Clarkesworld have published their 100th issue. It looks like a really good one too. It includes fiction from Aliette de Bodard, Kij Johnson, Cat Valente and Jay Lake. It has the first of the translated Chinese stories that they ran the Kickstarter campaign for. And there’s an article that is Ken Liu interviewing Xia Jia. Cat Rambo talks about feminism in SF, and inevitably there is a Julie Dillon cover. Do go and check it out.

My warmest congratulations to Neil and the team. I remember how good it felt to get to 100 issues of Emerald City. I wish them many more wonderful issues.

Neil Clarke on Translations

The new issue of Clarkesworld is now available. It has some excellent content, including stories by Pat Cadigan, Ken Macleod, Robert Reed and Ken Liu. But I want to highlight something that Neil said in his editorial:

Along those lines, a reader asked me why we decided to go with a regular feature over a special issue or anthology. It’s a good question, particularly in light of how fashionable the latter has become in recent years. While I don’t think there is anything wrong with special issues, I’m not a big fan of the one-and-done model of promoting a cause. They might make a big splash and generate some warm fuzzies, but months later, it’s largely forgotten.

I want translations to become something normal. They shouldn’t stand out or be special because of where they originate. Regularly publishing stories from other parts of the world is the best way to do that. If something is important, make it part of who you are.

Much as I love some of the special issues and anthologies that have been created in recent months (and indeed may do something like that myself), I absolutely agree with Neil that one-offs are not enough. If we want lasting change, it has to be a central part of what we do.

Some Kickstarter Recommendations

Because I’ve been distracted for the past few months I have not been keeping up to date with the various crowdfunding projects going on. I want to remedy that now. Here are three that I think are worth backing.

First up is Temporally Out Of Order, a themed anthology to be edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray. It is a launch project for a new publishing house, and they have a bunch of fine authors lined up to contribute, including Laura Anne Gilman and Seanan McGuire. I noticed it because one of the stretch goals will be to add a story by my good friend Juliet E. McKenna. She writes about the genesis of her story here. If you fancy the sound of the anthology, and in particular if you want Juliet’s story to be included, go here and back it.

Next we have my good friends at Clarkesworld who have an amazing project going to add stories translated from Chinese to the magazine. They’ve already hit their target for the Chinese stories, but their first stretch goal is to establish a fund to pay for stories translated from other languages. This is a fabulous project, so please do back it.

Finally, a project that I’ve known about for what seems like years, and which is finally happening. Sarah Savage, one of the stars of My Transsexual Summer, has written a book for kids called Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl? Fox & Lewis have done a great video for Sarah, so I’ll just leave it to her to explain what the book is all about. Have a listen, then go back it here, please.

China Comes To Clarkesworld – #WITMonth

The new issue of Clarkesworld is now online. It includes “Spring Festival: Happiness, Anger, Love, Sorrow, Joy”, a story by Chinese writer, Xia Jia, whose work I highlighted recently. Also in this issue is “Patterns of a Murmuration, in Billions of Data Points”, a story by Jy Yang, who is from Singapore. The big news, however, is in Neil’s editorial:

I am pleased to announce that Clarkesworld has entered into an agreement with Storycom International Culture Communication Co., Ltd. to showcase a short story originally published in Chinese in every issue. Each month, an all-star team of professionals intricately familiar with Chinese short fiction will be recommending stories for this special feature and I’ll select which ones get translated and published in each issue.

That team will include Liu Cixin, one of China’s best known science fiction writers, and Ken Liu, who should need no introduction to people here.

Neil told me about this at Worldcon, and I have been itching to tell you about it ever since. As per the editorial, there will be a Kickstarter starting soon to fund the translations. It is an amazing project, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing a regular supply of the best Chinese fiction being translated into English.

Eurocon – Invisible Women

My first panel today (at 10:00am! — huge thanks to Laura Ann Gilman for fetching me coffee) was on invisible women. We covered most of the usual topics that regular readers have doubtless seen here many times before. I was very pleased to make the acquaintance of Susan Connolly who did an awesome series of articles for Clarkesworld on the subject of women in the industry. You can find the final one here.

We didn’t recommend many people, but here are a few I remember:

December Magazines

Why look, it is the first of the month again. That means a whole lot of magazines becoming available, in particular the new Clarkesworld. And just look at that line-up: E. Lily Yu, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and Benjanun Sriduangkaew. Someone is doing a great job bringing diverse voices to market, eh?

Talking of Clarkesworld, while I was putting #87 in the store I discovered, to my shame, that in the rush of World Fantasy and Kevin being here I completely forgot about #86. Sorry Neil… Anyway, you can buy that one now too. It has a new Robert Reed story, which is always good news.

Finally I have issue #2 of The Dark, the new dark fiction magazine from Sean Wallace and Jack Fisher. Unlike Clarkesworld, The Dark is not available online at the same time as publication, so if you want it now you need to buy it.

And, of course, buying these magazines, rather than reading them for free, means that they have money to pay their writers, which is a very good thing.

Clarkesworld #85

Oh my, where do the days go? I am still trying to catch up on all of the things I should have done on the first of the month, but could not because I was in London. Of course it doesn’t help that my producer at Ujima is on vacation, and that BristolCon is less than three weeks away. Yeah, busy.

Anyway, one of the things I needed to do was get the new Clarkesworld into the store, because it is full of amazing goodness. The lead story is “The Symphony of Ice and Dust” by Julie Novakova. She’s a Czech writer, and her bio says that she has a lot of stories published in her native language. There’s no translator mentioned for this story. I don’t know if she has translated it herself, or written it directly in English, but either way I’m impressed and excited.

The other two new stories are “Bits” by Naomi Kritzer and “The Creature Recants” by Dale Bailey. The two reprint stories are “The Ki-anna” by Gwyneth Jones and “A Night at the Tarn House” by George R.R. Martin. Gardner is certainly pulling out all of the stops with regard to the big name reprints.

In non-fiction my good friend Karen Burnham (who works for NASA) talks about some of the complications of asteroid mining. Jeremy interviews the inimitable Lavie Tidhar. Daniel Abraham questions our motivations for what we do. And Neil’s editorial celebrates seven years of publishing, another Hugo win, and another Chesley.

I absolutely adore this month’s cover, “Neo Maya” by Mexican artist, Raúl Cruz.

And the issue is now in the store, so if you are not buying it on subscription, or via one of those fancy new app things they are doing, buy it now. I know it is free online, but someone has to pay the authors.

Clarkesworld #84

In all of the post-Worldcon confusion Neil forgot to send me the files for Clarkesworld #84, and I forgot to nag him. It has taken me a while to get the issue in store, but finally it is available.

Of course this does give me an opportunity to congratulate the team once again on another (IMHO) very deserved Hugo. I understand that the full video of the ceremony is now available on UStream. I much watch that as the feed cut off in the middle of the Clarkesworld acceptance speeches.

In issue #84 there is new fiction from Greg Mellor (“Mar Pacifico”), James Patrick Kelly (“The Promise of Space”) and Mark Bourne & Elizabeth Bourne (“One Flesh”). That final story is somewhat poignant because we learn from the author bios that Mark Bourne died before the story could be published. I don’t know if Gardner did this deliberately, but in the classic fiction section we have stories by Nancy Kress (“First Principle”) and her late husband, Charles Sheffield (“Out of Copyright”).

The audio versions of “Mar Pacifico” and “The Promise of Space” are already available.

In non-fiction an old friend of the magazine, Mark Cole, talks about science fiction on American radio. Jeremy’s interview is with the brilliant Ken Liu. And there is an Another Word column from Alethea Kontis about love at first sight. I believe, Princess, I truly do.

Neil’s editorial takes a sideways look at the state of digital publishing by imaging a TV series about a group of digital kids struggling to survive in the post-apocalyptic publishing world. Given that I’m now supposed to be one of the leaders of the old-time paper fanzine crowd, I’m disappointed not to be cast in the role of the evil boss of Paper Empire.

This issue’s cover is “Silent Oracle” by British artist, Matt Dixon. I sure hope he’s going to be exhibiting at Loncon 3.

August Clarkesworld

The latest issue of Clarkeworld is now available online. A brief flick through the stories suggests that they all have something of post-disaster feel to them. They are:

In addition there are the now traditional two reprint stories:

In the non-fiction, Christopher Mahon discusses the “dark roots” of myth and fantasy (interesting, but he needs to visit Finland, where the Forest is a place of safety). Jeremy interviews Holly Black, and Daniel muses on the subject of writing workshops. Neil’s editorial covers going back to Readercon, the scene last year of his near-fatal heart attack, the Upgraded anthology and the Year Four anthology.

Kate Baker, as ever, is on hand with an audio version of the lead story, with the others to follow through the month.

And there is a fabulous cover by Julie Dillon.

All of this is freely available online, but if you’d like to help support the magazine then you can buy it from the bookstore.

July Clarkesworld

I’m on my way to Finncon, but I need to tell you about the new Clarkesworld which is available online as usual, and also in the bookstore.

This issue contains a story by Vajra Chandrasekera, who I see lives in Colombo, Sri Lanka. I love it when the Internet makes the world smaller like this. The second story is by Sunny Moraine whose bio, I note, uses non-gendered pronouns. That’s someone else for me to take an interest in. The reprints include an Ian McDonald story, and the non-fiction includes an article by Genevieve Valentine.

On the subject of Clarkesworld, I see that Neil’s proposed cyborg anthology, Upgraded, is fully funded on Kickstarter, so it will now definitely happen. There is an amazing line-up of writers already committed to the project: Elizabeth Bear, Helena Bell, Tobias S. Buckell, Xia Jia, Yoon Ha Lee, Ken Liu, Chen Qiufan, Robert Reed, E. Catherine Tobler, Genevieve Valentine, Peter Watts & E. Lily Yu. What we need to do now is hit some of the stretch goals, because that means more stories and more money for the authors, both of which are very good things.

Finally the nominees for this year’s Chesley awards are out. Tor.com has the full lists, but I am mentioning them here because there are not one, not two, but three Clarkesworld covers nominated in Best Magazine Cover. That’s an amazing achievement. Well done, everybody.

Clarkesworld Update

Due to being in Canada at the start of the month, I managed to miss doing the magazines update. This is a belated attempt at catch-up. The new Clarkesworld is not that new any more, but you can still find it in the usual place. The highlights of this issue are a new story by the incredibly talented E. Lily Yu, and (Kevin please note) an article by Jason Heller on the history of locomotives in science fiction. Should you feel like supporting the magazine, you can buy this issue from my bookstore.

I should also note that Neil has just launched a new project: Upgraded: A Cyborg Anthology. This is on Kickstarter, and I know that many of you are deeply unhappy with Kickstarter right now. Goodness knows, I am. However, Neil launched this project before yesterday’s shit storm took off. If people decide that they no longer want to use Kickstarter for funding new projects, that’s fine, they could do with competition. But I’m not sure that it is helpful to try to punish Kickstarter by wrecking small projects already in process.

Anyway, Neil already has promises of stories from Elizabeth Bear, Tobias S. Buckell, Yoon Ha Lee, Ken Liu, Genevieve Valentine and E. Lily Yu, so it is looking fabulous already. And you can get the ebook for just $10. If you want to back the project, go here.

And Nebulas

I don’t have to give you a run-down here, because the good folks from Locus were on hand to do so. Here’s the list.

I am, of course, disappointed that The Drowning Girl didn’t win, but it is an interesting collection of winners. Also the Nebulas go 50:50 to men and women, and one of the winners is French, so we are doing quite well for diversity. (The Bradbury and Norton are Not Nebulas, of course.)

The best bit of news, however, is another win for Clarkesworld. That’s two this weekend. Thoraiya Dyer’s “The Wisdom of Ants” in the Aurealis Awards, and Aliette de Bodard’s “Immersion” in the Nebulas. Yay! 🙂