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Happy Watermaidens Day

For the most part, water maidens and snow maidens avoid each other. The single touch of a water maiden, after all, can melt even the coldest heart of any snow maiden, or turn her hands to clear water. The snow maidens, in their turn, can freeze a water maiden in her tracks, or worse, trap a water maiden beneath ice. That last, it is whispered, has happened to more than one unwary water maiden choosing cold oceans to explore the ice of Antarctica, or a glittering glacier, or even merely returning to her lake for a forgotten item. Some, after a few goblets of hot molten rubies, have even spoken of the long standing war between the two, marked by flurries of battle here and there, fights that have left lands glittering with melting ice, and covered rivers with rushing slush.

The fairy courts, of course, have forbidden such things, but the water maidens and the snow maidens have never been ones to pay too much attention to the decree fees of the fairy courts – even when they hear these decrees, which is not often.

And so, the water maidens and snow maidens keep their distance. Usually.

But every few years, a few snow maidens and water maidens do gather together to celebrate Water Maidens Day.

Not in only one place, of course – that is too much cold for any water maiden, even those who inhabit the icier regions of the world. And snow maidens cannot journey far from their clouds, or their snow; they die swift deaths if they do, and so they are unwilling to travel far to meet the water maidens.

Still, some of the more adventurous, the ones who do not wish to remain hidden in hills of snow, or beneath ice laden trees, and who find even a frost-lined fairy court far too warm for them, do venture out to half frozen, watery lakes and ponds, or deep bays by the sea, and call lightly to the water maidens.

Sometimes, this call is only a puff of wind, or a swirl of snow. The water maidens are always alert at this time of year, of course, watching carefully for ice and snow, or the rush of fairies seeking cold and warm sunlight to flavor their winter feasts. And if the water maidens do not respond to wind or snow – well. The snow maiden can always howl in the wind.

They are kin, in a way, the water maidens and the snow maidens. It is a call they cannot resist.

Eventually, the water maidens emerge, shivering.

They have only one remedy against the cold of the snow maidens: dance.

And so they do, the snow maidens dancing with them, for as icy as they are, as frozen their hearts, no snow maiden can resist the call of the dance.

So be cautious, when you travel today. If you see a melting icicle, or a sliver of ice across a puddle, or, in warmer regions, a cool pond or lake, be wary. Watch. That shimmer? That flicker of light that you cannot be sure you saw? That green sparkle on the ice?

You might be seeing a water maiden sip sunlight just before she slips back into the dance. Or a snow maiden adjusting the the ice on her dress.

Or the edges of a war.

After all, it is the Day of the Water Maidens.

And this year, the Snow Maidens intend to dance.

Water Maidens Day is the brainchild of poet, writer and scholar Nin Harris, whose story Your Right Arm. recently appeared in Clarkesworld. (Which means that if you're nominating for the Hugos this year, she's eligible for the Campbell.) I'm just borrowing it for fun.

World Fantasy Con 2016, Update

Good news:

The 2016 World Fantasy Con has updated its website with a disability and accessibility policy, found here. In other good news, the convention has arranged for ASL interpreters for some events, which is a great step forward and something I applaud.

Bad news:

1. There's no indication of whether or not WFC will be offering the pre-Feb 1st prices for those of us who were waiting to find out if the convention would be accessible before registering. That's a problem for me. As I said in my earlier post, I don't think it's fair that, after several years of accessibility problems, I should have to pay more than other members because I had to wait to find out if the con would be accessible.

2. This sentence:

"We have reserved the ADA ramp for the Sunday Banquet."

That's good, but doesn't mention the panels. Will they be on elevated stages (making it easier for hearing impaired members to lip read), and if so, will access ramps be provided to those stages?

3. The accessibility policy stresses that the hotel is ADA compliant. That's great, but I cannot stress this strongly enough:

ADA compliance does not always mean accessible.

Which was absolutely true when I stayed at the Columbus Hyatt hotel for World Fantasy back in 2010. The hotel was (mostly) ADA compliant, except, oddly, in the mobility accessible rooms, which did not meet ADA standards despite supposedly being mobility accessible. But the rest of the hotel was technically compliant: I could, for instance, get into the hotel bar, which is all that ADA compliance requires.

However, the hotel bar had only one bar, at a height too high for wheelchair users. The bartenders couldn't see me, so I had to ask other people to order drinks for me. Far worse, however: the rest of the bar was mostly equipped with high tables and chairs. Nobody could see me, and I couldn't join in. I was effectively cut out from conversations.

That's leaving out some other fun stuff - the way, for instance, that the floors with suites, where the parties were, had no disabled bathrooms whatsoever, or the inexplicable placing of the handbars in the second floor public bathroom - far from the toilet and largely useless for wheelchair users.

Now, can World Fantasy do anything about this sort of thing? Probably not. And to be fair here, the issues I'm mentioning are not really that unusual in U.S. hotels, and these are minor issues compared to the problems I've encountered with other World Fantasy cons. And apart from the weirdness with the bathroom doors and the shower heads in the mobility accessible rooms, these were all things that could be worked around. But I mention them in the hopes of explaining why the words "ADA compliance" are not always going to be enough - and, I guess, to explain why I'm going on and on about this. Because I haven't just encountered issues at previous World Fantasy cons, I've encountered issues at this hotel.

4. My emails to info at worldfantasy2106.org have still not been answered.

Still, this counts as progress, and I'm very grateful and encouraged to see at least some response to this.

And in the meantime, for proof that I am still writing about other things, my discussion of The Lion King, with bonus snarky comparison to Hamlet, is now up at Tor.com.

Clowns: The Unlikely Coulrophobia Remix

And now, in much happier news, I'm delighted to announce that I've received my authors' copies of Clowns: The Unlikely Coulrophobia Remix, and that this anthology is available at last on Amazon Kindle.

I've always loved Unlikely Story's little themed issues on unlikely subjects, and I'm both thrilled and, to be honest, kinda creeped out at the collection here.

Though I should add that my own story is loosely based on a real life incident. Involving a clown. So perhaps these stories are not so unlikely after all.

Choices, and World Fantasy Convention 2016

First, a bit of background. The World Fantasy Convention is a gathering of writers, artists, editors, other pros and fans that I try to get to every year. It moves from city to city, which means that although it has an overall board running things, it's run by a different group each year.

One thing, however, stays the same: World Fantasy offers tiered registration prices, depending upon when you register. This year, those who registered up until January 31st, 2016, paid $150.00. Between February 1 and April 14, 2016, the price is $225.00 - an increase of $75. After April 14, 2016, the price jumps again to $275.00. The price at the door is $300. World Fantasy also caps attendance, so those who wait to register may not be able to attend. Membership is non refundable although memberships can be transferred.

I've always registered early, partly to take advantage of the price, I'll admit, but also to ensure I'll even be able to attend - past World Fantasy cons have sold out early.

I've also had major accessibility issues at three out of the last five World Fantasy conventions. I was not even able to attend the fourth WFC, after I was informed - by the hotel - that I would not be able to get to parts of that convention. Including - and I'm not making this up - Registration. The fifth was fine, leading me to hope that yes, WFC was finally committed to having accessible cons.

Unfortunately, the very next year, more problems.

This led to my new policy of only attending conventions with accessibility policies.

As I type, the 2016 World Fantasy Convention does not have an accessibility policy on its website.

Prices went up yesterday.

On Sunday, January 31st, I commented on this on Twitter, and got the usual "Wow that sucks" retweets and so on. I sent yet another email out to WFC.

And on Sunday, the convention spoke to a few people in a locked Facebook group. Screencaps were obtained. Jason Sanford has the screencaps, and his comments, here.

I went on an epic Twitter rant about this, which was Storified here, along with some other links discussing this.

I don't want to repeat everything I said on Twitter - it's exhausting - except to add one more thing: I do appreciate that the World Fantasy Con volunteers are short on time. I appreciate it, because I've spent so much time on this stuff that could have been spent on other things.

But I did want to respond to a comment that I did not see until after my Twitter rant, from Morgan Feldstein, not to pick on this person in particular (I don't think we've met) but because the comment encapsulates so many things I've heard about accessibility.

Quoting two sentences:

"It's certainly not a moral wrong for a conference to accept reservation payments before posting harassment and accessibility policies. You are not obliged to make your reservation until they are, but you are not entitled to block other persons who wish to do so from registering prior to the policies being posted."

Let's start here.

First, I am not in any way, shape or form attempting to block other people from registering for World Fantasy Con. I am not organizing a boycott. I have not asked other people not to go. I have not asked World Fantasy to close its registration system.

What I HAVE asked for, repeatedly, is some form of public statement from World Fantasy Con about their accessibility policy. And I have done this because of repeatedly running into accessibility concerns at previous World Fantasy Cons.

And because last year, I paid the same price as other members, and didn't get the same access to the convention. I had to stay on ground level while my fellow panelists got to go up on the stage.

That's they moral wrong: I'm paying the same, but I'm not getting the same access.

(And a small note, from what I can tell, no one in the original Facebook discussion group was attempting to block anyone from registering either - they just wanted to know if the early bird price would be extended, especially for wheelchair users who were waiting for find out if the event was even accessible before registering.)

Moving on, we have this:

"You chose to sign the pledges and adhere to their terms..... If you choose to register late for the World Fantasy Convention in order to keep a promise to the pledge organizers, any associated financial burdens are yours to bear and yours alone."

This statement, of course, is in response to Jason Sanford, but it's also in response to others who have not registered yet for World Fantasy because of a lack of accessibility and/or harassment policies.

1. First, not everyone talking about this signed the pledges.

I didn't.

2. I didn't choose to register late for the World Fantasy Convention in order to keep a promise to the pledge organizers. I haven't promised John Scalzi and Mary Robinette Kowal anything at all.

3. I haven't registered yet for World Fantasy Con because I use a wheelchair and I don't know if the convention will be accessible. "Held in an ADA facility" isn't enough; I've had accessibility issues in ADA facilities.

Others have reported harassment issues at previous WFCs. Hopefully, this won't be happening at this year's WFC (fingers crossed) but I can understand why those who have felt harassed at previous WFCs want to know what this year's harassment policy will be.

4. Absolutely, the associated financial burdens are mine to bear and mine alone. THAT IS PRECISELY THE PROBLEM. After causing me various accessibility issues over the past five years, World Fantasy Con is now going to charge me at least another $75 because SOMEONE ELSE failed to a) answer my emails or b) put a note up on the webpage stating that the con organizers are and will be addressing accessibility concerns.

5. I don't think it's particularly unreasonable to want to make sure you can do an event before paying for it.

6. The words "choose" and "chose" and "choice" are interesting here.

Because I didn't choose to get sick or need a wheelchair.

Cat Play

My short story, Cat Play, popped up at Metaphorosis today, just in time for the weekend.

It's fantasy, but it's set in a very real place - the apartment complex and the coffee place mentioned in the story are based on places here in Winter Garden. I like the thought that strange things happen here as well.

Enjoy!

End of year publication round-up post

Ah, yes, the hellish annual ritual of looking back at this year's publications.

Fiction:

Four short stories this year.

The Fox Bride, up at Daily Science Fiction, and also in a podcast over at Podcastle.

Inhabiting Your Skin, which appeared in both Apex Publications and The Mary Sue.

Sometimes Heron managed to survive a tangled history to see life in Lackington's at last.

The Dollmaker's Rage, also up at Daily Science Fiction.

And four flash fiction pieces:

The shortest was, I think, The Petals, up at Daily Science Fiction.

Also in Daily Science Fiction, The Forge.

But it wasn't all Daily Science Fiction! The other two flash pieces appeared elsewhere:

The Knot, Pantheon Magazine. (This was also the only non-speculative story I published all year; it's very rare for me to even write something non-spec these days, let alone publish it).

Sea Dreams, appearing in Something Rich and Strange, an anthology published to benefit Doctors Without Borders.

And nine or eleven (depending on how you count them) poems:

After the Dance, Uncanny Magazine

Understand, Polu Texni

Three limericks, over at Stone Telling. Also, the first (and probably the last) time I managed to work the word "dinoflagellates" into a poem, with bonus points for keeping it scientifically accurate.

The Binding, Eye to the Telescope. (Appears midway through the page.)

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Dragon, Tor.com. My hands down personal favorite of the year.

a note found beneath a moonstone, inkscrawl.

Kore, Through the Gate.

The Thirteenth Child, Uncanny Magazine.

Briars, Polu Texni.

So, a so-so year for fiction, but a pretty decent year for poetry. And dragons.

My most popular work this year, however, seems to have been not fiction, or poetry, but the Disney Read-Watch posts over at Tor.com. We're about halfway through the series now, with rants coming up about Captain John Smith (a solid candidate for Worst Person in History or at least 1607), Disney's all time worst animated film, and a few other things.

Fingers crossed that both writing and publications go a bit better for me in 2016. I should get back to doing what I can to make that happen.

Briars

My little poem, Briars, popped up at Polu Texni today.

Enjoy!

The Thirteenth Child

While I was up at Saratoga Springs, my latest poem, The Thirteenth Child popped up at Uncanny Magazine, along with fiction from Elizabeth Bear and Ursula Vernon, another poem from Sonya Taaffe, and articles by Aidan Moher, Annalee Flower Horne and Natalie Luhrs.

"The Thirteenth Child" is loosely based on "The Twelve Brothers," a story of a king and queen who decide to kill all but one of their children. When the princess learns of this, she runs off to the woods, where, as they say, hijinks ensue: transformations, ravens, and a time without laughter.
Enjoy!

New accessibility and disability policy

Some conventions – the 2014 World Fantasy Convention in DC, for instance – have worked to ensure that disabled members have full access to the convention.

Others have not.

Thanks to far too many examples of the latter, I have decided not to attend conventions that do not offer an accessibility statement on the convention website, and/or a written statement to me guaranteeing disability access, and offering specifics about that disability access.

I will also no longer be attending conventions that do not provide access ramps to stages.

I am, granted, only a very small voice in fandom, but I'm a very small voice that can no longer use my money and time to support conventions that cannot take the time to ensure that I can fully participate in the con.
So.

I spent most of last week up in Saratoga Springs, NY, for the 2015 World Fantasy Convention. As those of you who follow me on Twitter know, it was….interesting.

I was scheduled to be on two panels, one Friday and one Saturday, and one reading on Friday – my very first World Fantasy panels/reading. I rolled up to my 1 PM Friday panel on Epic Fantasy properly caffeinated and chatted briefly with various people as we waited for the doors to open. The doors opened, people poured out, I rolled in and headed towards the stage –

And felt my heart sink.

The panel had a stage for the panelists.

That stage did not have a ramp.

I use a wheelchair.

I had a brief discussion with an Ops person, who had not been advised that I use a wheelchair, and with Stephen Donaldson, the panel moderator. (Brief largely because the panel was already running a bit late.) Transferring and/or lifting me up to the stage seemed unsafe, so we agreed that I would stay on the ground level, beneath the rest of the panelists. A microphone was handed down to me.

Panelists Darrell Schweitzer, David Hartwell, Sarah Avery and Stephen Donaldson all did their best to accommodate me, and include me in the discussion, but I was uncomfortable.

I informed the Ops person that I also had a panel the following day, Saturday, and would need a ramp to the stage. I then cried, shot off a few irritated tweets on the subject, took some deep breaths, and thought about exploring the dealer's room for a bit before going to get ready for my reading, but then decided to go and make sure that someone else other than Program Ops was aware of the ramp situation, to make sure it got fixed, and rolled over to Registration. The woman there sent me back to Program Ops, where three people informed me that they would not be able to have a ramp for the stage on Saturday. I rolled back to Registration, but started crying again before I could get there. Fortunately, I ran into a friend who helped me get back to my room before I had a huge, public breakdown.

The next day, my fellow panelists Meg Turville-Heitz, Shauna Roberts, Kelly Robson, and Rosemary Smith all joined me on the floor beneath the stage.

I am grateful to all of my fellow panelists for doing what they could under the circumstances, but it would have been much easier for me if the stages had had ramps.

Other aspects of this year's World Fantasy were, if not exactly inaccessible, not exactly wheelchair friendly, either. For instance, the hotel lobby was on two levels. Access to hotel rooms was on the upper level; access to Registration, the hotel bar and restaurant was on the lower level. The two levels were connected by stairs, and a very much off to the side access ramp. I could manage the lower part of the access ramp without too many problems, but the upper part was pretty steep and difficult for me. The bathroom at the lower lobby level was technically "accessible" – my petite sized wheelchair could get in – but larger mobility scooters had problems. The bathroom just outside the dealers' room was not accessible, forcing users to either return through a hallway and two lobbies to the bathroom at the lower lobby level, or go through a hallway to the attached City Center – where the bathrooms were often locked up. The con suite was at the far end from all of this, down a very long, carpeted hallway not near elevators, as were the party suites. As a result, I visited each of those exactly once.

But what upset me more than those issues were the responses to my tweets, a good one third of which pretty much expressed, "Again?"

Because, unfortunately, this is not the first disability/accessibility problem I have had with conventions, or the first time a convention has failed to have a ramp that allows me to access the stage. At least in this case it wasn't a Disability in Science Fiction panel that, incredibly enough, lacked a ramp, but against that, in this case, the conrunners were aware I was coming, were aware that I use a wheelchair, had spoken to me prior to the convention and had assured me that the convention would be fully accessible, and put me on panels with stages but no ramp.

To address a few other issues that have been brought up to me:

1. As of this writing, I have not received an apology from World Fantasy, although I did receive some personal apologies (and a shot of whiskey) from con volunteers.

2. Lifting me up to the stage in my wheelchair or having me transfer from the wheelchair to climb a few steps is not a solution. It's unsafe.

3. My understanding is that adding a ramp to the stage would have cost World Fantasy $800. I understand that this is a significant amount of money, but I would also argue that this is the sort of cost that, like badges, ice cream socials, and the like, should be included in the convention's initial budget.

I have also been informed that part of the $800 cost was because this was a last minute request, suggesting that arranging for ramps is best done early on, if only for financial reasons.

4. Many convention rooms do not have space for a stage and a ramp leading up to the stage. Rooms of this size, however, generally don't need a stage. As someone who has been both a panelist and audience member in these smaller rooms, a table is fine.

5. Although I may have been the only wheelchair user on programming (I'm not entirely certain about that), I was not the only disabled member of the convention – Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, the guest of honor, uses crutches, for instance. I saw other members were using various assistive devices, including canes and mobility scooters. I saw only one other person in a manual wheelchair, and no one in a standard powerchair.

Having said that, World Fantasy does seem to have fewer wheelchair users than other events with similar sized groups held in wheelchair accessible/friendly venues.

6. Apart from that, convention attendees/panelists can find themselves in unexpected need of a wheelchair or other device (for instance, after a back injury or broken bone) and that it might be useful for convention staff to consider this while planning a convention.

7. As a result of all this, I spent yet another con mostly discussing disability issues, instead of books and movies. I don't like this.

8. I am, however, extremely grateful to the number of people at the convention who offered/gave emotional and physical support. This is too many to list, but again, thanks.

9. A few people have said that I handled the situation gracefully.

I only wish I could accept the compliment.

My apologies to everyone who witnessed my many less graceful moments.

Reign, season two

I have suffered for your sins, my readers. I watched the second season of Reign, a show very very loosely based on the life of Mary Queen of Scots, and one of the most gloriously terrible television shows ever to hit our screens.

Here's what you missed:

1. Lola taking a bath. This, as it turned out, was a major plot point. Not making this up.

2. A return to the entire Lola taking a bath plot, as an even MORE major plot point this time, complete with SCANDAL and CHARACTER DECEPTIONS and TERRIBLE COSTUMES.

3. Fraternal twin ghosts who initially seemed OUT FOR BLOOD and later turned out to be OUT FOR A SNOWBALL FIGHT.

4. Characters rather understandably deciding that rather than pay attention to, say, the deadly fights between Catholics and Protestants and various extras constantly dying around them, they should go off and read a sex journal and frolic in a fountain. And then going and doing just this.

5. Catherine d'Medici getting her feet poked at by birds, and later forced to spend an entire scene inside a metal tank sealed around her neck like yes, I am also not making this up.

6. Also, Catherine d'Medici getting oral sex from a ghost. No. Really.

7. The arrival of King Antoine of Navarre (someone the show seemed to occasionally confuse with his son, Henri of Navarre, later Henri IV of France, because this is not really the sort of show that cares about those sorts of differences) who initially, alas, didn't seem to stand out much among all of the other characters, so the show had him throw an orgy and then threaten people which meant that he still didn't stand out that much among all of the other characters.

8. Francis going ahead and becoming king and then being just terrible at kinging.

9. Mary, Queen of Scots becoming a passionate defender of religious tolerance and Protestants.

I know, I know.

THIS SHOW.

10. A character getting sacrificed to cure another character's ear infection, and by "sacrificed," I mean "gently killed with poison and given a nice sad death scene while another person happily noted that this was saving the sacrificed person a lot of grief," like, THIS SHOW.

11. Another character covering her chest with blood and then having sex with a random servant during a siege like you know, everyone has their own ways to celebrate what might be their last moments on the planet, or, in this case, possibly the show.

(This was apparently supposed to be some blood ritual meant to remind us that a) pagans, the people who live in the woods and chant a lot about blood, were on this show back in the first season, and b) give two characters some sort of soul bond which will allow them to feel each other's pain or whatever. I would be kinda interested in where this is going except that I'm pretty sure that, like the ghosts, it's going to end up going to either sex or snowball fights.)

12. The show's first gay couple, who turned out to be easily blackmailed priests. So that was nice.

13. Yet another love triangle for Mary Queen of Scots only less interesting for the most part since new Love Triangle Guy (called by the show Louis, Prince of Conde, something that I'm sure the ghost of the real Louis, Prince of Conde, has his ghost lawyers on top of right now since if ever a television show could be accused of libeling a French aristocrat, this show would be it) was very boring until a knife got brought out and even then.

(Love triangles, done right, can be awesome – as a recent episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. demonstrated, and Reign has managed decent love triangles before. This wasn't one of them, mostly because Mary had a number of other less boring love triangle options available.)

14. A rather unexpected touch of historical accuracy as Mary Queen of Scots kept making terrible decision after terrible decision after terrible decision. Actually this one makes the historical one look rather sensible, restrained, and in complete control of her emotions. Especially because with the historical one, I can at least explain it by "She thought Bothwell was one hot, sexy dude," which if not exactly borne out by the pictures we have of Bothwell, at least offers an explanation, whereas with the TV Mary I usually have no idea why she is doing anything that she's doing.

15. Catherine d'Medici strangling someone and banging said someone on the floor and NOBODY ELSE NOTICING THIS AT ALL. It's good to be queen.

16. A great moment when a brothel madam looked down at the attractive man kneeling before her, earnestly offering honorable marriage, and said, nah, I'm good. Thanks.

17. An amazing insistence by the show that prostitution is a solid road to wealth, success, and excellent champagne. Also, poisoning opportunities.

18. In a related scene, Kenna, celebrating that the three ladies in waiting are all now fallen women in one way or another which means they need to drink up. You go, Kenna, you go!

19. Toby Regbo, who plays Francis, learning to act, if not quite convince us that he is a king until the finale when he went into a SHRIEKING FORCE OF RAGE on a chained up prisoner in a dungeon along with a few other moments which if not exactly strictly kingly did convince me that Francis knows his way around a dungeon, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

A few of the other actors also leveled up, meaning that this is no longer a show where Megan Follows (Catherine d'Medici) acts, and everyone else is just sorta there. I am as surprised as you are. But for those tuning in for the bad acting: fear not. Leith is still on the show.

20. And, as I hoped, Elizabeth I of England showed up, looking nicely demented, quite possibly because despite a nice attempt to put a collar thing on her, her gown was not exactly like any of the gowns the historical Elizabeth wears in her various portraits, and when I say "not exactly like" I mean "not at all alike." This bodes well for the third season, although not that well – Elizabeth I seems to be interested in the boring Conde guy. Aim higher, Elizabeth! Much higher! Or at least more interesting.

One warning: For some unclear reason, Reign decided to throw a rape plot into all of this, and although I thought the rape itself was handled as well as rapes on television are ever handled (that is, not well), and wasn't, in my opinion, overly graphic, I thought the aftermath was handled rather less well, so if not very well handled rape storylines aren't your thing, I would recommend skipping the middle of the season, or the show altogether.

World Fantasy Convention

....is next week! I will be there. I will even, unusually enough, be doing things other than just hanging out at the bar and the dealer's room!

Said things:

1. Wednesday, Nov 5, 7-9 PM, Tor Books Kick-Off, Northshire Books, Saratoga Springs. Please note: a, this is the same evening my roommate arrives, so I'm not entirely sure when I will be rolling in, and b, this event is NOT at the convention, and is free and open to the public, so if you're not part of the convention, but do want to meet, say, Elizabeth Bear, L.E. Modesitt, Charlie Jane Anders (who I am NOT going to greet with "I can't believe you got to hang out with John Barrowman!" I SWEAR IT), Ilana Myer, Fran Wilde, Cat Valente, Scott Lynch, Tina Connolly and many more, this is your event.

Also, apparently, there will be beer.

(And also also, I think that attending this lets me out of the Tor Party that WFC typically has Friday/Saturday, which is a great party with free booze that is also far too noisy and crowded for me to handle these days.)

2. Friday, Nov 6, 1 - 2 PM, "What Does Epic Fantasy Owe the the Literary Epic Tradition?" Also on this panel: Stephen Donaldson, Sarah Avery, David Hartwell, and Darrell Schweitzer. I'm a bit nervous about this one - not because of the topic or the panelists, but because at previous cons I've tended to be pretty sick by/on Friday afternoons, although I'm usually better by the evening. So my attendance at this one is not guaranteed.

Naturally....

3. Friday, November 6, 5:30 pm, Reading

So yay, my first reading ever at a World Fantasy Con, and beyond the major problem that I have no idea what to read, the slight problem that Friday, as said, often sick. That said, I've often been better by late afternoon/evening, so fingers crossed that I will make it to this reading and be slightly coherent during it.

(This reading will probably contain one brief excerpt from my forthcoming book/poem, and ... something else. Possibly a story, possibly an excerpt from another book length project, possibly, especially if I panic, limericks.)

4. Saturday, November 7, 1 pm, "Anthropology and Archaeology." Fortunately, the other panelists on this one - Meg Turville-Heitz, Shauna Roberts, Kelly Robson and Rosemary Smith DO know what they are talking about.

Otherwise, as usual, I'll be mostly at the bar - or, in this case, one of two bars. Based on the progress report sent out, the main bar is too small to hold us, so we are being divided into two bars. Partly separated, it seems, by upstate New York cold. Whee!

The Forge, and a return of The Fox Bride

Two publication tidbits today.

First, the latest in the ongoing series of flash fairy tales, The Forge popped up at Daily Science Fiction.

Second, if you liked The Fox Bride, which also popped up on Daily Science Fiction back in March, or missed it entirely back then, it's now available in a podcast over at Podcastle.org.

Kore

Issue 7 of Through the Gate is up! It includes my little poem, Kore, as well as work by Lev Mirov, Selena Bulfinch, and one of my favorite contemporary poets, Sonya Taaffe.

Enjoy!

Hugo Awards and other stuff

Worldcon was this weekend in Spokane, which meant smoke! Sad and Rabid Puppies! And an end to what I fear is just one chapter of the Hugo Award drama. If you missed the announcement, No Award won in the five categories with only Sad/Rabid Puppy nominations. Most of the Puppy nominees also lost in the other categories.

To put this in some perspective, in the 60 years prior to this, No Award won five times. It won five times last evening alone, although maybe "won" is the wrong word.

Some quick thoughts:

1. Once again, apparently the only way to reach the Hugo stage? Stairs. No ramp.

2. On a much happier note, SASQUAN did provide a sign language interpreter throughout the ceremony, something I hope future Hugo Award ceremonies will continue to do. My understanding is that a sign language interpreter was also at the business meetings, so yay.

3. Also, having an actual astronaut announce the winner of the Best Novel Award? And getting a Worldcon badge up to the International Space Station? TOTALLY RULES. Well done, Sasquan. Well done.

4. Speaking of Best Novel Award, I'm pleased to see that a novel originally written in Chinese won an award at a _World_con.

5. And yes, my neighbors really did break out into a noisy, unrelated block party, complete with booming music and some firecrackers, well after midnight while the Hugo Awards were going on. Late night parties on the weekends aren't all that unusual for them, but I like to think, in my head, that they were celebrating the Hugo Awards. Or at least the astronaut part of it. And yes, I did spend a not insignificant part of the pre and actual ceremony chatting on topics including spanking, cider, maple syrup and Arrow. These sorts of conversations just happen.

6. And now onto the Puppies:

During the ceremony, Twitter exploded with (expected) accusations about voting.

Over on Chaoshorizon, Brandon Kemper has run some initial analysis on the voting numbers, determining that of the 5950 people who voted on the Hugo, about 10% were Rabid Puppies, and about another 10% were Sad Puppies, for a 20% Puppy total, more or less, with considerable overlap.

Kemper also estimates that about 2500 voters voted No Award out of principle, and another 1000 voters ended up joining this group anyway, for a total of 3500 voters - or about 59% of the vote. I think Kemper's estimate of the number of voters who voted No Award out of principle is a bit high: the estimate is focused on the voting totals for Best Editor, categories that the Puppies swept, but categories that included some qualified people who might have been nominated/won in previous years, and one person, Mike Resnick, who has been nominated, frequently, in the past. But Best Editors are also relatively opaque categories, which in the past have tended to garner fewer nominations/votes (a typical voter comment is "Yeah, I have no idea what books X person even edited") and I think that opaqueness may have affected the vote here.

That suggests that, despite current claims on Twitter that the voting was completely political and voters didn't even try to read the Sad and Rabid Puppy nominees, a good half - and perhaps more - of the voting members did. That theory is borne out by a win for Guardians of the Galaxy, which was on the Puppy slate. Had Hugo voters voted solely based on politics/sticking it to the Puppies, I think one of the non-Puppy films (Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Edge of Tomorrow) would have taken it. Edge of Tomorrow even killed Tom Cruise over and over, so it had a lot going for it, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier had Black Widow.

Voters liked Guardians of the Galaxy more, suggesting that Hugo voters did take voting seriously, did not just dismiss the Puppy ballots offhand, and chose things they liked.

6. Wired has an interesting interview with multiple Puppies here. It includes the phrase "faceless minions," used unironically.

Also, it discusses the hopefully-this-year-only Alfie Awards, which went to, among others, Annie Bellet and Marko Kloos - two writers who withdrew their names from consideration after getting nominated.

7. I am a little skeptical of current hopes that if everyone who voted this year nominates next year, we'll have a Puppy free/slate free ballot. Skeptical mostly because the list of recommendations that I see tend to vary wildly (as they should) and rarely if ever agree with me (also as they should). Almost none of the things I nominated made it to either the actual ballot or the alternative, Puppy free ballot (determined from the long list). This includes popular, widely read things - the AVClub, for instance, which I nominated for Best Related Work, and which is one of the 1000 most visited websites in the U.S. and one of the 3000 most visited websites world wide, was not on the long list at all. My guess is that more nominators are just going to result in a wider spread of works, not necessarily in eliminating future slates.

8. Something I did nominate, that made it to the long list but was probably cut out by the Puppy balloting (it didn't earn the needed 5% of the votes, but it might have without the Puppy ballot): When It Ends, He Catches Her, by Eugie Foster, who died tragically young last year. Still highly recommended.

9. And on a completely different note, while many of you were having fun at Worldcon, some of us were having fun at FakeCon. Warning: includes squirrels.

Sea Dreams

Cabinet des Fees just announced the release of the second issue of Scheherezade's Bequest, Something Rich and Strange: Tales From the Sea. It includes my little flash fiction piece, "Sea Dreams."

Proceeds benefit Doctors Without Borders. It can be purchased at Amazon or here.

Petals and Sometimes Heron

Accidental double publication day!

First up, a day early, The Petals, over at Daily Science Fiction, the latest in the ongoing series of flash fairy tales that I genuinely do hope to finish, with the framing story, at some point. (Glances at the Excel sheet tracking that series.) Whoops! Well, in the meantime, at least this one is out.

Second, issue 7 of Lackington's is out, with my story, Sometimes Heron.

Let's chat about this one for a bit. "Sometimes Heron" was written in 2008, when I was at the Mayo Clinic. Not a typo. I wrote it in bits and pieces. After a few rejections, it sold to a publication which closed down a few months later. A few more rejections, and it sold to a second publication - which also closed down a few months later.

By that time, to put it mildly, I felt a bit discouraged. On the one hand, I figured that the story couldn't be that awful, if editors were buying it (twice!). On the other hand, it seemed to be killing various publications, which seemed a bit unfair to said publications. I trunked it for a couple of years, and then started shooting it out here and there again.

I mention this mostly as an illustration of what the writing/publishing industry can be like. It's one reason why this can be a very depressing career - so much of writing/publishing is outside your control. I'm not just talking rejections/acceptances - though that's also outside your control - but things like this as well.

In any case, I'm very grateful that it's at last found a home at Lackington's, and I hope you enjoy both.

Proposed changes to Hugo Awards

Quite a lot of people just directed my attention to The Sasquan business meeting agenda, which will be discussing some proposed changes to the Hugo Awards. As a short fiction writer and a novel reader, I'm an interested party, sorta, I guess, but budget limitations mean that I won't be making it to Sasquan this year. So here are some initial, not necessarily well thought out thoughts.

Which I will cut for those of you whose eyes are already glazing over.Collapse )

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A note found beneath a moonstone

The latest issue of inkscrawl, one of my favorite poetry zines, just went up, with my poem A note found beneath a moonstone. Enjoy!

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