Where you can find me at LonConLonCon is next weekend! This is the World Science Fiction Convention for 2014, and I will be there and doing all sorts of things. Come say hi!
Rewriting Gender Defaults
Thursday 18:00 - 19:00, Capital Suite 9 (ExCeL)
Several recent novels, including Ann Leckie's "Ancillary Justice", Kim Stanley Robinson's "2312", Kim Westwood's "The Courier's New Bicycle", Deb Taber's "A Necessary Ill" and Kameron Hurley's "God's War", have tried to imagine futures with increased gender diversity, or changed gender defaults. This panel will discuss how writers in English approach the technical aspects of challenging and disrupting gender binaries: how do issues such as narrative voice or structure affect our impressions of the worlds created? What are the strengths and weaknesses of different choices?
Roz J Kaveney (M), Alex Dally MacFarlane, Julia Rios, Geoff Ryman, Mary Talbot
An Anthology of One's Own
Friday 11:00 - 12:00, Capital Suite 6 (ExCeL)
Thanks in large part to the efforts of publishers like Aqueduct and Twelfth Planet Press, and the increasing use of crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, we are in the middle of a small wave of feminist SF anthologies -- including the Twelve Planets series and the Lightspeed Women Destroy X special issues, and with Alex Dally MacFarlane's Mammoth Book of SF by Women and the VanderMeer giant anthology of Feminist SF still to come. Such anthologies are part of a tradition stretching back at least to Pamela Sargent's Women of Wonder anthologies in the 1970s. How have they helped to shape contemporary understanding of SF? To what extent have they been successful at rewriting the narratives of SF history (and breaking what are often cycles of discovery and elision)? And have they left any blind spots of their own?
Julia Rios (M), Jeanne Gomoll, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Ann Vandermeer
Kaleidoscope Book Launch!
13:30 - 14:30 in the Book Launch area of the Library
Come hang out with me, Alisa, and some of the Kaleidoscope authors. We'll have some biscuits/cookies to nibble on, and we'll be handing out Kaleidoscope stickers!
The Trouble With Teens
Friday 16:30 - 18:00, Capital Suite 15 (ExCeL)
What are some of the big obstacles associated with writing a teen-centric story within an adult-centric world? What dangers lay in wait for the unprepared first time YA writer? What do young adult readers expect to see in their stories and how will you know if you’ve gone off target in the writing process?
Julia Rios (M), Suzanne van Rooyen, Amy McCulloch, Eric Senabre, Janet Edwards
Friday 20:00 - 21:00, Capital Suite 7+12 (ExCeL)
The "Bechdel test" for female representation in films is now widely known. To pass it a film should contain two named female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. In recent years, similar tests have been proposed for other under-represented groups, including the Mako Mori test for characters of colour, and the Russo test for queer characters. What are the strengths and weaknesses of such tests? How do they affect our viewing choices? And what does the popularity of such tests say about how popular media are being received and discussed?
Kate Heartfield (M), Kate Elliott, Jed Hartman, Julia Rios, JY Yang
The variant tests mentioned in the description can be found by following links from this article (which LonCon does not necessarily endorse, but it's a convenient single link, and may provide some starting points for discussion, even if to disagree with it!): http://www.overthinkingit.com/2013/08/28/bechdel-test-bechdel-tests/
Strange Horizons Party!
10:00 - 12:00 in Party Area A
Come hang out with me and Niall Harrison and Abigail Nussbaum and lots of other Strange Horizons people! We'll have some brunchy type snacks (pastries, perhaps!), and we'd love to see you.
Truth in Trash
Saturday 12:00 - 13:30, Capital Suite 10 (ExCeL)
We all have different definitions of trash. The lurid spectacle of American Horror Story, the crudity of Misfits, or the cheapness of Sharknado are all types of 'trashiness' -- but there is often more to it than meets the eye. This panel will discuss the wit and invention of trashy TV, question what gets classed as trash and what doesn't, and explore how trash can quite often make space for diverse or marginalised stories that more highbrow entertainment can't or won't touch.
Julia Rios (M), Emma England, Kim Newman, Anne C. Perry, Nick Lowe
Hugo Reception and Ceremony
The Hugo Ceremony will be starting at 8pm, and I'll be there with the Strange Horizons and Skiffy and Fanty Show nominees. So very exciting!
News for the Summer of 2014!Goodness, it's been quite a year! I'm a double Hugo nominee this year: once for Strange Horizons, which is up in the best semiprozine category, and once for The Skiffy and Fanty Show, which is up in the best fancast category. This is super exciting and a tremendous honor! I'll be attending WorldCon in London in August so I can party with Shaun, Paul, and Mike from the Skiffy and Fanty crew, Niall Harrison (the Strange Horizons editor-in-chief), and all the other fabulous Hugo nominees across all the categories. The fancast nominees alone would make for an excellent party!
To add to the WorldCon excitement, Kaleidoscope: diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories will come out in early August in North America and Europe, and my co-editor, Alisa Krasnostein, will also be at WorldCon, so we're planning to have a launch party there! Kaleidoscope has been a giant focus for me this past year, and I couldn't be happier with the way the book turned out. There are twenty amazing stories by super talented authors, and I can't wait to share it with the world.
After WorldCon, Moss and I will have no time to be sad about the fun being over because we'll be too busy getting married in Scotland, and then walking the Coast to Coast Path across Northern England. We'll be doing the walk with our friend Sumana, and you won't see us online much (if at all) for the rest of August, but we'll be sure to post some pictures when we get back. In the meantime, here are the engagement photos that C. S. E. Cooney and Patty Templeton took for us! It is excellent to be friends with brilliant writers who are also brilliantly creative in other ways (speaking of which, Patty's debut novel just came out, and I highly recommend it!).
I've also been busy co-editing another anthology called In Other Words with Saira Ali of Kitabiyat Press. That one should be out before too long. It collects flash fiction and poetry by people of color with all profits going to support Con or Bust.
Other than that, I've attended Arisia, Boskone, the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, and Readercon so far this year, and each of them was wonderful. I failed to post my schedules here, but I did record some panels and interviews! The Skiffy and Fanty Show did interviews at ICFA with Sofia Samatar, David Edison, Fran Wilde, Cecilia Tan and Mary Anne Mohanraj, and Usman Malik. Meanwhile over on the Outer Alliance Podcast, you can listen to the Unheard Voices of SF and QUILTBAG YA panels from Arisia. At Readercon, I recorded the amazing panel all about butts, so look out for that and my WorldCon schedule in the next news post!
So Much News!
Okay, first, I can't believe I haven't mentioned this before now, but I'm a Hugo nominee! Strange Horizons is up in the Semiprozine category, and I'm one of the nominees! This means I get to go to WorldCon in San Antonio and collect my rocket-shaped nominee pin. I cannot express how exciting that is! I am panning to bring an animatronic cat purse with me, because Science Fiction Awards Ceremonies Are Serious Business.
Next, I have a ton of new stuff out, including an interview with Rose Lemberg in Strange Horizons, several Skiffy and Fanty Show episodes (including three non-Torture Cinema ones about The Hugo Awards, Teaching SF with David Annandale, and Artificial Intelligence with Mary Robinette Kowal), an essay in Queers Dig Time Lords, and an audio version of "Oracle Gretel" on PodCastle.
Finally, this weekend is WisCon in Madison, Wisconsin! I'll be there all weekend, and you can catch me at all the program items related to Queers Dig Time Lords and The Outer Alliance! I'll also be part of the Open Secrets poetry reading on Saturday afternoon, and I'm co-hosting two parties! One on Friday night for Queers Dig Time Lords and The Outer Alliance, and one on Sunday afternoon for Strange Horizons. Do come say hello if you're there!
I'll also be making an exciting announcement at WisCon, but more on that next time!
First months of 2013
The beginning of 2013 has flown by for me. Partly it's because I was sick for most of January, so that whole month feels like a blur of sniffling and huddling under quilts. I did, however, spend a fabulous weekend at Arisia. I was on 13 program items, which is really a lot! You can hear one of them on Outer Alliance Podcast #28, and you can see panel notes for a few others on my journal.
This month, I attended Boskone, where I was on a much more manageable 6 panels. I've been posting some notes for those under the Boskone tag on my journal. There are still a couple more to come, and then also Outer Alliance Podcast #29, which is a recording of the Boskone QUILTBAG panel. I met wonderful people at both conventions, so despite my month of illness, 2013 is off to a pretty great start.
I am also utterly delighted to discover that I've made the Galactic Suburbia Award shortlist for the second year in a row. This award calls attention to wonderful people and projects, so it's a real honor to be part of it. Full details here.
"Seeds" is a Pushcart Prize nominee!Just found out the delightful news that Niteblade chose "Seeds" as one of their three Pushcart nominated poems for this year. This is a wonderful honor, and I'm in fabulous company, too. My co-nominees from Niteblade include Lisa Bradley, Sara Cleto, and Brittany Warman, excellent poets all! I'm also excited to see K. V. Taylor nominated in the fiction category. So wonderful to see friends get some well-deserved recognition.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I need to go down to my local coffee shop and get a celebratory cupcake!
New Poem and PodcastWhile I was away at WorldCon (which was wonderful and overwhelming), two new things went out into the world. My poem "Seeds" about Persephone appeared in the September issue of Niteblade, and the August edition of the Broadly Speaking Podcast went up. I was a guest on Broadly Speaking this time, participating in a lovely conversation about interstitial fiction. Larissa Niec was the moderator, and Catherine Lundoff and Kristen McDermott were my co-panelists.
WorldCon!August has been a very big month for new stuff. I had a story in Daily Science Fiction, an interview in Stone Telling, a poem in Jabberwocky, and I was a guest twice on The Skiffy and Fanty Show (once to discuss movie sequels and such with the awesome Stina Leicht, and once as part of the Torture Cinema series with hosts Shaun and Paul).
Now I'm off to Chicago for the World Sicience Fiction Convention this weekend. If you're attending, here's where you can find me:
*Thursday: 3-4pm -- Volunteering at the London 2014 bid desk
*Friday 9:00-10:30am -- Writing Gender Roles in Science fiction (in Columbus IJ with Anne Lyle, Catherine Lundoff, Joan D. Vinge, and Victor Raymond)
*Friday 2-3pm -- Volunteering at the London 2014 bid desk
*Saturday 3:00-4:30pm -- Kaffeeklastch, though I may ask my group if they would like to end a half hour early because...
*Saturday 4:00-6:00pm -- Strange Horizons tea party (in the State Suite, co-hosted by Brit Mandelo, Jed Hartman, and Niall Harrison)
*Saturday 6:00pm-7:30pm -- Feminism in Fantasy (in Crystal C with Joan D. Vinge, Sandy Lindow, Sarah Hans, and Valerie Estelle Frankel)
*Monday 11:00am -- Reading (in DuSable)
Do say hello if you see me!
Tips for Moderating Panels at ConventionsBecause Readercon is coming up soon, my friend Claire asked for advice on moderating panels at conventions. It turns out I've done enough research and had enough experience that I actually had a lot to say on the subject. Claire asked if I'd post my notes publicly, so here they are:
1) Remember first and foremost that your job on any panel is to keep the audience entertained and engaged. If things go off topic, but people are interested in that tangent, it's okay to follow the tangent for a bit. If things are going exactly according to plan, but people seem unengaged, it's time to change things up somehow. Never stay for too too long on one subject (or one tiny aspect of a larger subject, anyway).
2) People have most likely come to this panel for one of two reasons. The first is that they know and like one or more of the panelists, and would like to hear them speak. The second is that they like the look of the panel description as it appears in the program. Knowing these two things, consider it your task to make sure that all the panelists get chances to speak more than a tiny amount, and to address the subject matter described in the panel in at least three different ways--there is nothing quite so disappointing as arriving at a panel where the description sounds very exciting, only to have the moderator undercut it ("I know the description says this is about contemporary fantasy fairy tale retellings, but everyone's totally sick of those. Let's focus on aliens in space opera fairy tales instead.").
3) To make things go smoothly, it helps if you have done some prep-work. If you've been provided a list of e-mail addresses for your fellow panelists, you might want to send a message in advance with a brief explanation of your game plan. Something along the lines of:
"I'm going to introduce the panel by name and tell the audience that we will have a discussion for x minutes before we open up to audience questions for the last y minutes of the panel. Then I'll read the official description and ask each of you to introduce yourselves in a brief way. I will spend the remainder of the first x minutes asking you all some questions, and making sure everyone has a chance to speak. If there's anything you particularly hope to talk about in this discussion, please let me know."
Of course, you would also want to add salutations and pleasantries. You might also end the message by asking if that plan sounds all right, and welcoming their suggestions for changes to the overall plan. In practice, I have never had anyone ask me to change my plan, but people seem to like the idea that they do have input. I have sometimes gotten good suggestions for things to talk about, too.
If you have not been provided a list a of e-mails you can either skip this step, or you can try asking the event organizers for contact info if you feel like doing that.
4) On the day of the panel, be very clear from the start that you'll be taking questions at whichever time you intend to take them, and that you are the leader of the discussion. People will accept your authority if you lay it out up front. If you haven't explicitly stated it, and people start to overtake the conversation (panelists or audience members), it can be very difficult to wrestle the conversation into a meaningful shape. At 5 minutes before the panel is supposed to end, stop taking questions, tell everyone it's time to wrap up, and ask your panelists for any final remarks. End the panel on time (several minutes before the next panel is scheduled to begin) so that the next group can come in and get started promptly. This all sounds very authoritarian, but it you say it with clarity and good-naturedness, most likely no one will mind.
5) Have some specific questions in mind (and bonus points if you have one question specifically related to each panelist's work), but don't think of them as a list to get through. Use them as a guide to start the conversation, and then to bring it back on track if it starts to stall or wander too far. Be open and flexible about following the natural conversational path as long as that path is interesting and the audience is engaged. If you believe that every panelist has something interesting to say, and that your job is to help them have a chance to say it, you'll usually be right, and everyone will be pleased with the end result.
6) If one person is dominating the conversation, it's okay to stop them, even mid-sentence. Just make it seem like a natural segue, and bring the conversation specifically to a panelist who hasn't spoken as much. ("You've brought up an interesting point, Jane. Bob, since you also write science fantasy, I'm wondering what you think about Jane's observation. Do you agree that all fairy tales should feature aliens from now on?").
7) Have fun. If you have fun, chances are everyone else will too.
Bonus tip: If you've got microphones available, use them. Even if you don't think you need them, other people might benefit from the amplification. Some audience members might feel unable or unwilling to complain when they can't hear you, so it's better to err on the louder and clearer side.
P.S. If you're coming to Readercon, I hope to see you there! I'll be reading in the Mythic Poetry group reading at 11am on Friday, and then leading the Codex Writers group reading at noon on Friday. The Outer Alliance is also having a meetup Friday at 9pm in the lobby. Do say hello!
For My Birthday, I Made Myself a Chapbook
My Birthday is the 28th of May, and I love to make things, so I made myself a present. Specifically, I took a story I wrote earlier this year, commissioned Erik Amundsen to illustrate it, and tried my hand at bookbinding for the first time. Here are some pictures for you, and you can listen to me reading an excerpt of the story on this month's Broad Pod (there are several other interesting excerpts on this episode, including one by Catherine Lundoff, who co-hosted the Outer Alliance party with me at WisCon last month). My excerpt starts at about the 6:50 mark, and lasts for roughly 6 minutes.
Here's the back cover copy:
Gretel has lived for a very long time, and for most of that time, her life has sucked. This year is no exception. She's responsible for taking care of her brother (who happens to be an annoying cat now), she's hopelessly in love with her indifferent boss, and then there's that tendency to see the future whether she wants to or not...
If you want to buy a copy, I'll have some at Readercon and WorldCon, or you can order one directly from me (send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org). They're $10 if you buy directly from me, and $12 if you are ordering them and need one shipped within the United States. For international shipping, e-mail me, and we'll work something out. Each book is handbound with different colorful coverstock and endpapers.
New Broadly Speaking PodcastI hosted the April 2012 Broadly Speaking Podcast, and it is a really exciting one! The topic for April was Changelings and Transformation, and I had three guests with a variety of fantastic things to say.
First, this year's Tiptree Award winner, Andrea Hairston, talked to me about her book, Redwood and Wildfire, which features a diverse cast of characters trying to make their way in the entertainment world during the popular transition from theatre to film. I absolutely loved this book (which has so much blues music infused throughout, that it sank into my subconscious and I actually sang a blues song about my cat in my sleep... yes, really), and Andrea had lots of fascinating things to say about the history of film and about people of color who worked as performers in the early 20th century.
Next, Shira Lipkin talked to me about her Rhysling and Pushcart nominated poem, "The Changeling's Lament", which appeared in Stone Telling, and which has been noticed by something like 150,000 people! Shira talked about being genderqueer, and about the way that otherness is a big part of changeling stories.
Finally, Cat Rambo talked to me about her short fiction, especially "Clockwork Fairies", which is a steampunk story with a black heroine with a passion for mechanics in Victorian England. Cat also talked about the changeling trope in terms of Othering, and we ended up coming back to Andrea's story at the very end of our conversation--a nice way to bring the podcast full circle.
More news very soon! I should have a comprehensive WisCon schedule for anyone who wants to find me there, and I have a few more things in the works that will be unveiled soon, too. It's very hard not to just spill everything right this second, so I'm going to wander away from the keyboard before I get myself into trouble.