Aurora Award ballot – Canada’s Ditmars?
Shirley Jackson Award shortlist
ALEX: Iron Man 3; Oblivion; Cloud Atlas
ALISA: The Adventures of Alyx, Joanna Russ
TANSY: A Song of Ice & Fire update, Flower and Weed by Margo Lanagan
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I also attended Sean Williams’ presentation on his PhD work – about MT/demat/”beam me up Scotty” technology and how it’s been presented in SF literature for the last 140 or so years, and that was awesome, even though it meant sitting on the floor behind Sean because the room was so full (and getting a hand up from Scott Westerfeld, and I didn’t know it was him because he wasn’t wearing a name badge NO FAIR). And I went to the Ditmars ceremony which was awesome because Deb Biancotti ran it like a drill sergeant, and because I got to applaud a lot of friends getting very nice shiny awards.
And there was also a rather large amount of talking.
Because reading one blog post about a NatCon weekend is just not enough. The official website, with info about Ditmar and other award winners, is here. (Also, the opening ceremony video is online, too.)
Tansy has several posts about different aspects of the con: first there was discussion of the craft and the programme; then there was all that food (cocktails, cupcakes, trifle oh my!); and then the Night of the Squeaking Octopus (aka awards night).
Ben has a great post about being inspired about writing and about how awesome he found the fan community to be in general (awww).
DarkMatter Fanzine has a good round-up of the awards night, including some of the Kirstyn&Mondy banter that really set the mood.
Alisa also succumbed to the con-report-in-parts bug, beginning by smugly showing off the books she bought but also exclaiming over how social and fun the con was as a whole (this is a theme…). In part 2 she goes into great detail about the preparation for Twelfth Planet Press hour, which saw mountains of cupcakes consumed (a few even managed to be photographed), while the third post is mostly devoted to the podcast undertaken by nine of the Twelve Planets authors at Embiggen Books, as well as some crafty things (and annoying news about Kaaron Warren’s Through Splintered Walls). Kirstyn has posted said podcast over here, for your listening pleasure. (Other podcasts recorded at Continuum is episode 309 of Boxcutters, a debate that All SF TV is rubbish; Galactic Suburbia 61; and a Writer and the Critic ep that I’m sure will be up sometime soon…)
Terri, the whiz behind the cupcake extravaganza, has a short post about her experience at the Con wherein she coins the acronym WWTD (What Would Tehani Do?) to describe her method of how to sell Twelfth Planet Press books… and then goes into even more detail about the creation of those cupcakes (the photo on the left, c/o Cat Sparks, is too good not to feature again). What an effort!
Mark, a NatCon newbie, blogged basically on a daily basis: Day 1 (panels! lots of panels!); Day 2 (more panels! including Galactic Suburbia!); awards (a list, and recounting the less than sterling start to the evening for Mondy…); Day 3 (more panels, and some time at the bar); and Day 4 (more panels, and generally being happy with the con). If you want a good feel for the programming at this con – which I thought was very good – this is a really good wrap of one person’s attendance.
Sean the Bookonaut, another NatCon newbie and one that many took great pleasure in meeting (not that we didn’t enjoy meeting Mark, too!), had quite the experience in getting home, but starts off with recounting Thursday… and then Friday, complete with discussion of panels and nude cyclists. ETA: And Saturday, now, too: panels, and Embiggen Books, and being a one-man audience to various people.
Jason managed to keep his con report to just one post, talking about launching his novella Salvage, going to the podcast and Embiggen Books, and the Ditmar/Chronos Awards as well.
Alan too kept his report to one post. He discusses panels he was on, including one on religion in world-building, and the experience of launching Felicity Dowker’s Bread and Circuses, among other things.
Ian, redoubtable awards-night co-MC, has a post that mostly focusses on his probably-not-food-poisoning experience pre-awards, and the glory of winning both a Chronos and a Ditmar (and well deserved too).
Russell discusses some highlights, which included doing a reading from his own fairy-tale retelling, and attending/being on various panels.
Sue mentions an orange scarf she started courtesy of the free yarn strewn around, as well as attending the launch of ASIM 56 and Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear, among other things.
Kathleen used the con as an opportunity for one of her awesome Dalek pictures – Lady Churchill’s Dalek Wristlet – as well as other snippets of drawing and crocheted octopi. Plus winning two awards.
Admittedly Flinthart’s post focusses primarily on the disaster that was his departure from Melbourne, and some food… but he looms large wherever he goes, so I think it counts.
Deb provides a reading list as a follow-up to a panel she was on (with Gillian Pollack, Trudi Canavan and Louise Cusack) called Writing Diverse Genders, Sexualities and Cultures. (She is also mentioned regarding the launch of Ishtar, a set of three novellas – one of which she wrote – which happened at Continuum.)
ETA: Jo writes about her experience over here, complete with winning a Ditmar and talking about books so much her voice packed it in afterwards. Also, Gillian Polack-with-one-l has posted numerous thoughts: here, talking about racism and suchlike; on stereotypes; on being a critic.
**I’m sure there are other posts out there that I haven’t linked to – please feel free to comment with the links!
I forgot to mention in my last post that I also went to a panel called Crafts in Space, at which Tansy, Trudi Canavan and Lyn McConchie led a discussion about what sort of crafts might be done in space/while exploring and settling new planets; how they might be done and why and all that sort of stuff. The discussion itself was fascinating, with Lyn explaining that you can use a thing called a beehive to keep your yarn in one place while knitting and therefore it won’t go everywhere in zero G, and Trudi explaining that you could use a loom in zero G. Tansy raised the question of whether you would craft if you could only do it on the holodeck and therefore not actually produce something tangible – although I suggested you could have a gallery on the holodeck where you could at least see it – and we ran through the possible scenarios of what sort of native stuff might be used to craft with. There was a lot of lusting over 3D printers or fabricators: the idea of endless stash, a la the endless ammunition in The Matrix, had several people go glassy-eyed. Along with the discussion was the atmosphere. Lyn was doing this amazing shell-patterned crocheted rug, and she explained that she uses yarn from thrifted ‘jerseys’ (heh, she is a Kiwi) and she knits these rugs for various emergency services in her hometown; she also admitted that on one long-haul flight, she ended up teaching several people how to crochet because they were dazzled by her fingers as she sat watching TV. This led to some speculation about what would happen if spaceships ended up with craft specialities, and the outcome of a meeting between the yarn-dying ship and the sock-knitting ship… Then there was Trudi with this amazing i-cord device, which turned out to be an automatic French knitter which reaaally took me back to childhood; Tansy was sewing together Dr Who hexagonals for her quilt; and half the rest of us were knitting, crocheting, or doing other crafty things. It led Tansy to the inspired idea of Crafty Klatsches for the next con… only to discover that last year’s Continuum already had that idea. Our final conclusion seemed to be that when they’re filling the colony ships, the administrators ought not just look for people of reproductive age: they also need grandmas, or the colony will be screwed.
The con itself was well run, and I think the programming was generally very good. I was a bit sad that the launch of Ishtar clashed with our recording Galactic Suburbia, but I understand that there are time restraints. Also, I got my copy of Ishtar, and I got all three authors to sign it! So stoked! I’ve just started reading it so watch out for some Assyrian loving coming on soon. Anyway, the panels that I attended were generally nicely balanced in terms of the people on it – like the book blogging one had two professional bloggers (they get paid to blog at least part of the time), two personal bloggers (me and Sean, whom I finally got to meet), and our moderator seemed to fall kinda in the middle. I mentioned this to Julia, the head programmer, and she said it was more luck than design but I don’t think that entirely works; so I’ll say GO JULIA for good programming. I didn’t always want to go to the panels that were on, and I actually think that means it was well designed: a con that entirely suits me is going to be dead dull for Tansy, for a start! The hotel was ok… I didn’t stay there so I have nothing to say on that side of things; people were disappointed about the bar closing at 11pm but presumably they had a restricted license that meant they had to.
I spent very little time with the guests, but they certainly seemed involved in the programming and con-life in general. Kelly Link hosted a session of Mafia today! – and I had an incidental chat with her about Game of Thrones, which was delightful.
Also, I said I wasn’t going to say much about the awards, but I do want to mention that The Writer and the Critic took out both the Chronos AND the Ditmar for Best Fan Production, and I was immensely pleased for them (I was sitting with the rest of Galactic Suburbia, and we gave them a standing ovation, but they didn’t notice). It was very well deserved indeed, and Mondy especially looked so stoked! Which was great because they were also hosting the awards ceremony, which may have been the greatest decision of the entire con. They have such great repartee – and this from a Mondy with food poisoning – that the entire thing ran smoothly and was as much entertainment as anything else. So, it was a highlight of the entire weekend. Also, The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood won Best Novel. I love you, fandom.
Sorry, let me rephrase that: DITMAR-WINNING Galactic Suburbia, episode 30 ( ) recorded live at Swacon36|Natcon50
Shirley Jackson nominees
PK Dick awards
SF Hall of Fame inductees
Tansy: The Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare, The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke, Fun Home & Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel, Tales of the Tower: the Wilful Eye edited by Isobelle Carmody & Nan McNab, especially “Catastrophic Disruption of the Head” by Margo Lanagan, Nightsiders (twelve planets 1) by Sue Isle.
Pet Subject: Indie Press: Alisa talks Ebooks!
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Well, it was brilliant, basically.
I went over on Wednesday, to get a head start on the fun. Tehani picked me up, which was lovely of her, and then I got to spend the afternoon with Kathryn. We had dinner with Alisa and Justina Robson, one of the Guests of Honour, which was a great privilege! I managed to get a good night’s sleep, which was a good thing… Thursday involved chasing down Kathryn’s artwork, which was cool, and then we had lunch with Justina and the other Guests of Honour – Ellen Datlow and Sean Williams – and a bunch of other Swanconners. Which was awesome. Then to the hotel, and starting the real business of the weekend: catching up with lots of people. Also hanging around the Twelfth Planet Press table. Thursday night was free; there was the Opening Ceremony, which I attended and it was good, and panels, which I didn’t attend and that was fine too. The con bag was awesome – four free books!
The con proper involved a number of panels that I was both on, and attended, including a megapodcast recording where we got to tell people what books they MUST read, and films watch, and I got to shock people by saying Lord of the Rings and The Fifth Element; and a recording of Galactic Suburbia too. I presented at the Edustream, which was good, and on a panel about religion in fantasy too. I attended a number of interesting ones: Grant’s presentation on Disney films was utterly enchanting, and the “Vikings are awesome” panel was far more informed than I expected! The best, though, was probably the panel that in theory was meant to be on “the crisis of the midlist, and the rise of the celebrity author.” It featured Justina and Ellen, and two Aussie contributors. It turned into a broader discussion, at least partly about how we figure out what to read – the place of podcasts, reviewers, etc, and how to know who to trust in those arenas. It was fun, becoming quite interactive towards the end.I also thoroughly enjoyed Jonathan Strahan interviewing guest Sean Williams. They have known each other for a very long time, and rather than the conversation being full of in-jokes it meant that Jonathan knew exactly the right questions to ask for it to become an interesting discussion for the audience. Also, Sean’s concertina-pack of his books’ covers was awesome.
Most of the time, though, was spent with people. The foyer of the hotel had a large cafe/bar with lovely couches and chairs and I spent a large amount of time sitting, chatting… generally doing the things that make cons brilliant. I made a few new friends, but really it was about catching up with existing friends. It’s hard having friends all over the country that you don’t get to see very often. Twitter and blogs and Skype make it feasible to actually call them friends… but spending physical time together really shows just how much those things are not really a substitute. I had breakfast, lunch, and what passed for dinner with friends all weekend, and spent many hours into the night with them too.
The evenings were, of course, very entertaining! Friday night had a celebration of the Twelve Planets, and I was particularly thrilled to see that Tansy’s Love and Romanpunk had come back from the printer… and, even more than that, it is dedicated to meeeee! I was gobsmacked and overwhelmed to discover this. (Also, Jonathan Strahan’s Year’s Best Fantasy and SF vol 5 is dedicated to me, Alisa, and Tansy, as the Coode St Feminist Advisory Council – which is very flattering indeed.) The evening also involved a cake made by the awesome Terri, surrounded by pink cupcakes to make it look like the Twelfth Planet Press logo. Saturday night was the masquerade, which I went along to for a little while to see the costumes and then retired to a room party to continue various conversations.
Sunday night… well, that saw the presentation of the WA awards, the Tin Ducks; and the national fan-voted awards, the Ditmars. It was preceded by a cocktail party thanks to Orbit and Gollancz, which was very pleasant indeed. I am an awards junkie, so it was a lot of fun to actually attend one with friends. Um, especially when many of the awards were won by said friends. I was so very pleased that Tansy won for Power and Majesty, and backing it up with the William Atheling for her Modern Women’s Guide to Dr Who was brilliant! Alisa’s Sprawl won best collection, which was well deserved, and Cat and Kirstyn sharing Best Short Story was great. I was really, really happy for Thoraiya Dyer winning Best New Talent and Best Novella. And, yes, Galactic Suburbia won the Tin Duck for best Fan Production and the Ditmar for Best Fan Production. And Kathryn, Alisa, Rachel, Tehani, Tansy and I won Best Achievement for Snapshot2010, which feels like it was a very long time ago but was heaps of fun! And… I won for Best Fan Writer, for my reviews, which I am still utterly and totally overwhelmed by. The perceptive among the audience will notice that all of those names are female. There was one male winner: Shaun Tan, for The Lost Thing for Best Artwork… and given that short film won an Oscar, we figure that’s fair enough. So the awards ceremony was one big barrel of awesome, and we retired to the bar to toast our celebrations. And try to ignore the fact it was our collective last night together.
I came home having had more sleep than I expected but less than was necessary; 4kg of books, only a few of which I bought – most are review copies or were freebies!; 4 awards (one physical trophy, since we split the others); a reading list a mile long, and instructions that I must watch Blake’s 7; and, most importantly of course, renewed friendships. Also immense respect for and gratitude to Alisa and the rest of her committee for running a brilliant con. The hotel choice was excellent – it was a lovely venue, and the fact that the hotel didn’t believe we’d all be there to eat and drink and therefore didn’t staff the bar well enough on the Friday was certainly not their responsibility! The programme was diverse and interesting and well organised, the guests seemed like they were good choices, and although I know some people had hitches of various sorts I, at least, had a completely trouble-free con.
And now I am home.
Diana Wynne Jones passed away.
Strange Horizons: dealing with the low numbers of female reviewers.
The Age on the poor numbers of women’s work being reviewed (in the literary “mainstream”), and coverage of a panel on the gender disparity, again in the mainstream.
Prometheus Awards nominees, from the Libertarian Futurist Society.
Authors, editors, and controversy: Running Press, Tricia Telep and Jessica Verday (links not necessarily linked to individuals).
Helen Merrick and Tess Williams had the chance to attend WisCon 20 in 1996. This book, which they co-edited, sprang directly from that experience. It’s a thick book – well over 400 pages – filled with fiction, poetry, and a variety of non-fiction pieces: some critical essays on authors or particular works, some collected correspondence, a few along the lines of memoirs. I haven’t read the whole lot yet, but the pieces I haven’t read are those that relate to work I’m unfamiliar with. So there are a couple relating to Lois McMaster Bujold, for example, which I’ll read when I’ve finally caught up with the world and read her stuff.
A complete review of the book would be… extensive, to say the least. But there are a few pieces that especially made me think. For a start, there were a few pieces of fiction that I didn’t really like. That’s an odd place to start a discussion of the collection, perhaps, but it was an important thing for me to realise and come to grips with. Part of me expects to always like everything in a particular set: all feminist SF, for example, or everything by Ursula le Guin… even everything SF, period. (This account for my dismay at not enjoying Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds as much as I had hoped, given my love of everything else he’s written.) So to discover that I didn’t like everything chosen by Merrick and Williams for inclusion was interesting, and gave me pause, and was ultimately quite useful in helping me think through my attitudes. There was much fiction I did like, of course, and one of those in particular was “Home by the Sea,” by Elisabeth Vonarburg. It’s a marvellous tale about struggling with identity, and family, and personal history, in the context of a vague environmental disaster. Kelley Eskridge’s “And Salome Danced” is also a brilliant piece, creepy and lush and subtle. Showing just how useful the internet has become in facilitating criticism, it’s followed by a essay comprising email correspondence from the Fem-SF list about that story, allowing for all sorts of interesting comparison and discussion.
As an anthology relating to WisCon, there are of course a couple of pieces relating to James Tiptree Jr, although – not unexpectedly – they’re neither straight biography nor criticism. There’s an excerpt from one of the cookbooks put out to raise money for the eponymous award, which is hilarious and sounds delicious and makes me want to buy the book, and Pat Murphy’s reminiscences about how the award got started. And Justine Larbalestier contributes an essay on “Alice James Raccoona Tiptree Davey Hastings Bradley Sheldon Jr”, and the stories told about that collection of identities, that makes me itch to go read the bio sitting on my shelf.
Judith Merrill, to whom the anthology is dedicated, finishes the anthology, with an excerpt from her memoirs, and a reflection on the compiling of the same. She had been a Guest of Honour at the con, and died before the anthology was completed. It’s another bio that I really must get my hands on, because she sounds like a most amazing woman, especially in the context of her time but really for all time. I’ve read hardly any of her work, and I’ve tried looking for one of her novels (Shadow on the Hearth), but she seems to be totally out print, which is tragic.
What Merrick and Williams show in this book is how different sorts of writing can work together to give an impression of a community, all its different aspects and ways of relating and divergences. It’s my sort of book; good fiction, good criticism, humour and an attempt to understand the world, or bits of it anyway.
You can get us from iTunes or download us here!
While Alisa is away, Alex & Tansy play… in ANCIENT GREECE! We talk awards, the end of publishing as we know it, stressful feminist debates, Vonda McIntyre, Twitter fiction, Stargate, and whether there’s enough Greek & Roman mythology in modern fantasy.
Tansy wins WSFA Small Press Award for Siren Beat;
Last Drink Bird Head Award Winners;
John Joseph Adams takes over from Cat Rambo & Sean Wallace as editor of Fantasy Magazine;
Wiscon committee disappoints through inaction (also here); and then finally moves to disinvite Elizabeth Moon as GoH (warning, many of the comments on that one are pretty awful to wade through); also here and here;
Paul Collins on how the ebook revolution isn’t working so well ;
Cat Valente on tedium, evil, and why the term ‘PC’ is only used these days to hurt and silence people;
Peter M Ball explaining how white male privilege uses requests for civility to silence the legitimate anger of others;
What have we been reading/listening to?
Tansy: Death Most Definite, Trent Jamieson; Blameless, Gail Carriger, Bleed by Peter M Ball, “Twittering the Universe” by Mari Ness, Shine & “Clockwork Fairies” by Cat Rambo, Tor.com.
Alex: Silver Screen, Justina Robson; Sprawl; Deep Navigation, Alastair Reynolds; The Beginning Place, Ursula le Guin; abandoned Gwyneth Jones’ Escape Plans; listening to The 5th Race, ep 1 (Stargate SG1 fan podcast).
Classical mythology in modern fantasy. Can it still work? Do you have to get it ‘right’?
The Firebrand, Marion Zimmer Bradley
Medea, Cassandra, Electra by Kerry Greenwood
Olympic Games, Leslie What
Dan Simmons’ Ilium and Olympos
Gods Behaving Badly, Marie Phillips
Troy, Simon Brown
Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad and Jeanette Winterson’s Weight, also David Malouf’s Ransom – along the same lines as Lavinia by Ursula Le Guin
Robert Holdstock’s Celtika, Iron Grail, Broken Kings
Live from Aussiecon4, speaking from the entirely unsuburban wasteland of downtown Melbourne, Alisa, Alex and Tansy faced an audience of real people, and managed to keep their chatter to a 50 minute podcast. SHOCK. Some awards news, Worldcon gossip, what we are reading and our pet topic: female heroes in SF & Fantasy. You can download it from here or get it on iTunes.
What have we been reading/listening to?
Alex: Beastly Bride, ed. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling; Legends of Australian Fantasy, ed. Jonathan Strahan and Jack Dann; Secret Feminist Cabal, Helen Merrick;
Tansy: Shades of Milk & Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal; The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins; Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor
Alisa: Death Most Definite, Trent Jamieson.
Pet Subject: Female heroes in SF/F
As ever, please send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or to our Twitter account – @galacticsuburbs. We’d especially love to hear your response to our “live” episode, or your highlights from Aussiecon.
Over the next week we’ll be putting up a series of mini-eps from the convention, including our post-Ditmars round up, our post-Hugos round up, a omg-the-convention-is-over round up, and an interview between Alex and Phil & Kaja Foglio of Girl Genius fame. Was Jake Flinthart correct to accuse her of giggling? Find out!*
On a personal note (stolen from Tansy), thanks to everyone who came to the panel, or talked to us at the con about Galactic Suburbia. We were blown away by how many people have listened to us, bought books we recced, and wanted to say hi. Extra special mention to Celia, who apparently DID have an awesome Worldcon, and to the woman who recognised Alisa & me gossiping in the row behind her at the Hugos, because SHE KNEW WHAT OUR VOICES SOUNDED LIKE.
* the answer is yes