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While I was away

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I'm back, more or less, but only in the physical sense: I'm mildly feverish and very fatigued. But just to note a few things that happened while I was away:

1. Upgraded, edited by Neil Clarke, popped up for preorder everywhere, and also started collecting its first (favorable) reviews. The anthology includes my story "Memories and Wire," AND short stories by Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, Ken Liu, Rachel Swirsky, Genevieve Valentine, and E. Lily Yu. It should be available in September.

2. Uncanny Magazine met not only its initial Kickstarter goals, but also its stretch goals, meaning that we have a full year ahead filled with fantastic fiction – including at least one little poem by me.

3. I continued to blog for Tor.com, covering the Green Knowe books by Lucy M. Boston. I bring this up largely because this month included the first book, in about five years of blogging for Tor.com, that broke me.

Last Dublin morning

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It is cold - even by normal standards; people in Dublin are hurrying by in coats, August or not. The seagulls look damp. Well, seagulls always look damp, but you know what I mean. Duolingo has just informed me that their free language program for Irish Gaelic has just become available. Great timing, Duolingo.

I'm packing up to leave: Hurricane Cristobal has kindly enough not aimed for Florida; the Iceland volcano hasn't exploded. Yet.

I do feel cheated on Ireland - I should have arranged to spend more time here, and I barely saw any of it - but the same thing could be said about virtually every point on this trip, really (except for the London ExCel center - I think I saw enough of that). Another trip, another time. So I will get to know you later, Ireland. Because yes, I do plan to return. (Also to Bath.)

And also yes, I know I owe plenty of blog posts - but as anyone who has chatted with me over the last few days can confirm, coherency is not my strong point at the moment, so that will have to wait just a little bit.

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Bath

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Bath was lovely, though I admit that I was initially in no mood to appreciate it. I arrived dizzy and exhausted, and the hotel I was staying at - a Hilton - lived thoroughly down to expectations. If you don't use a wheelchair, I thoroughly agree with everyone on TripAdvisor that you should stay at any of Bath's other hotels, and if you do use a wheelchair, you should also probably stay - or at least look at - other hotels. But it did have a bed, which was the important thing.

I was so tired and out of it that I didn't realize just why the seagulls just outside seemed so incredibly loud - the wnidows were open. The next day I still felt a bit dizzy, a feeling that did not improve when I looked at the Hilton's room service options. Or by seagulls. So I decided to try my luck outside the hotel.

Which is more or less how I ended up at the Assembly Rooms, drinking cappuccino.

I know. I know. It's the ENTIRELY WRONG DRINK for the Bath Assembly Rooms. I could almost hear Jane Austen's ghost sniffing, but, see, Jane Austen never had cappuccino, and plus, I had already had a lot of tea. So cappuccino instead.

So that was not Jane Austen like. Neither, frankly, were my muttered comments about Bath's inexplicable curb cuts. (On one side of the street, but not the other.) But the rest was lovely. I didn't manage to see everything, or even half of everything - and I may have spent just a little too much time sipping hot drinks and watching the rain. But I also looked at stained glass, and Roman baths, and swans.

Also, Laura Place.

Someday I would like to go back, and see all the many bits I missed. Just maybe not at that hotel.

Trains and Bath and seagulls and stuff

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Have more or less successfully survived Loncon3. Lots to post about, but that should be done in a more organized fashion, so that will be coming later.

(Also, yes, while that was probably the longest trek from the ExCel area to Greenwich in history, I did finally make it to Greenwich, and, no, Google did not lie: Greenwich DID have a Marks and Spencer with more than tolerable sandwiches which you can eat right in front of the Cutty Sark. I approve of this.)

My original plan was to leave London Monday morning and trek out to Bath, spending the afternoon looking at Bath and then the following day doing one of the little tourist bus trips out to Glastonbury and Wells. That did not happen, but for a very good reason: [personal profile] kate_nepveu and her husband Chad kidnapped me for a lovely high tea near Green Park, complete with all of the Proper little finger sandwiches and scones and little cakes including something that is apparently called Battenberg cake that I loved if Kate, alas, didn't.

I had a few awful moments of thinking that I wouldn't make it - I woke up a bit dizzy, then got better, then got very dizzy again, but after I stayed prone for a couple hours I felt better and by the time Kate and Chad showed up I was slightly light headed but otherwise fine.

Getting there was...entertaining. We started with the DLR (fine). Then the Jubilee line (less fine.)

See, the London Underground will tell you that the Jubilee line at the Green Park station is wheelchair accessible. It is -- but only from ONE of the train cars at ONE location, where the platform has been raised up to be level with the train and then tapers off with slightly steep ramps back to the rest of the platform. The rest of the platform is a solid FOOT down from the train, not something my wheelchair can handle. FORTUNATELY, Chad looked down the car and saw the raised platform and sent me there, allowing me to escape just as the doors were closing.

And then we had to get through the Green Park Tube station, which I can report has not improved in twenty years. So you can see that all of the little cakes were Medically Necessary, as was the delightful conversation.

They also turned out to be medically necessary for another reason: Paddington Station.

Getting to Paddington Station was fine - I rolled into a little cab and we rolled around London and then the cab driver waved down disability access for me. This got a little confusing - I can't actually buy my tickets at a kiosk (like THANKS CHASE BANK) but we got me to the main ticket station. Where the access person took off telling me I was in helpful hands.

Here I encountered the hands down least helpful person yet in the UK, I told him I needed to get to Bath Spa. He sold me a ticket (at, I later found, NOT the cheapest price for the train I was on) but failed to tell me a) what train I could get on (I ended up guessing, correctly, Bristol, but seriously....) what platform the train was on. And then this:

"Where can I request disability assistance?" (National Rail's webpage said I needed it at Paddington and Bath - this is correct.)

"You don't need it for this train."

That was a lie.

My access person had left so a helpful Brit helped me roll my suitcase to the information booth and said he would help me on the train. I still wasn't sure if I could GET on the 7 o'clock train - the electronic board suggested not - so I rolled up to the desk to request information assistance, who chose that moment to tell me that yes, I DID need ramp assistance.

So off I headed to the access area, slightly worried because the train was scheduled to leave in 20 minutes at this point, but telling myself and access that I could just take the next train. Another wheelchair user happened to be requesting access to the same train. We were told that it was on platform one (good) and it was coach C (way way way way down the platform, less good) and the access people were all running around so since time was running out the wheelchair user took me down to Coach C on platform one, followed by the helpful Brit with my bag --

-- it was the wrong train, and the helpful Brit had already taken off.

We had five minutes to reach coach C (way way way way way down) on the other platform, and no access people in sight.

I offered to take the next train. I had underestimated the helpfulness of other Brits; the other wheelchair user was in an electric, so he offered to take my suitcase (it's wheeled) and we rushed. I never ever want to push my manual that quickly, that distance, again. At the station end of the platform we explained the situation and were allowed through Secret Inaccessible doors and then sped down that way. At that point I started having breathing problems. My suitcase went on ahead of me; a porter saw me and started running with me down the platform. The ramp was set up and the train left while we were still getting ourselves into place.

That took awhile because I was still having breathing issues and palpitations. After that, I got my head down and pretty much stayed there until Swindon, which is to say if you are looking for a lovely description of a train ride from London to Bath you need to look elsewhere.

The Bath train station was a lot less exciting, but at that point the only thing I wanted was a bed. Any bed. See why the high tea was so helpful? I had no need for dinner.

I have more to say on Bath (which is lovely) and seagulls and other things, but for now, time for the next train.

To answer the other question

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"Have you ever gone to a con that got the disability things right?"

Actually, yes - Gen Con and Megacon. So, yes, it can be done.
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"Will you be blogging about the disability issues at this con?"

.....maybe.

Buckingham Palace

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Ever since I was a small, small child, I have wanted to go inside Buckingham Palace. So when this trip came up, and I realized that I would actually be in London during the only two months out of the year that the palace is open, this immediately leapt to the top of my must do list.

For most people, getting into Buckingham Palace works like this: you buy your tickets online or there, stand in line, and then go through the tour.

And then there's wheelchair users.

The process for wheelchair users involves several international phone calls, a fragile and tempremental computer system, calls to Chase Bank (ok, this part was just me) and a Special Reservation.

Then you have to get there, a process complicated by the fact that buses don't stop by Buckingham Palace.

I made it to Westminster Abbey by very mundane bus - I know, not royal, but cheap - and then took a cab - it's not that far, but I figured that if Catherine Duchess of Cambridge rode from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace I could too. (Also it is slightly uphill). The cab actually can't drop you off that close, so this meant more bump bump and working through crowds.

The wheelchair entrance is nowhere near the main tourist entrance, so, bump bump bump.

And then:

1. Talk to a cop.

2. Talk to a Palace person.

3. Palace person verifies you.

4. Palace person makes several Important Calls by Radio.

5. A Special Golf Cart is radioed over.

6. You roll into the Golf Cart and get Strapped In.

7. That big elaborate entrance in all the photos? You get driven through that and into the inner corridor.

8. More Elaborate Radios to let everyone know you have arrived.

9. You are then wanded and searched (I assume this happens on the regular tour as well.)

10. If you use a mobility scooter, at this stage you are put on a special Buckingham Palace wheelchair.

11. Everyone else is offered a royal Choice of Ramps: the steep ramp (eek) and the not steep ramp, which can be reached only after gravel.

12. Lift one awaits.

13. Lift one requires FOUR separate people to operate: the person on the ground, the person in the upstairs hallway (actually the statue hall or something like that - I was so in awe at the proceedure that I forgot the name) and two people to operate the lift.

(Most of you, incidentally, would look at the lift and say - but it's just one button! - You would have a point, but that is not Buckingham Palace.)

14. After lift one you roll over to the full Hall of Statues, where you wait to be escorted for the next step.

15. At this point everyone realized that I still didn't have a paper ticket.

16. The Hall of Statues is technically the end of the tour, which doesn't really matter at this point because now you are getting wheeled down to the Secret Accessibility Room. This requires one person with you, one person to lift the rope to give you access to the door, one person to open the door, and three people inside the room.

17. Even people with tickets must wait at this point.

18. This is a beautifully decorated little side room with priceless furniture and paintings and also a bathroom that Michelle Obama may or may not have used. There was some confusion on this point, but it was supposed to make the American feel welcome so yay!

19. I used it though! That should count.

20. Now it is time for Lift Two. This ALSO takes four separate people, and wheelchair users can only go up one by one. Before you go up you get a little sticker that authorizes you to use the lift. Each sticker has a little number (this is why wheelchair users have to register in advance - space is limited).

21. Radios talk.

22. Once you are Cleared for Lift Two, you go through a Special Door, up the elevator (I have no idea if Michelle Obama ever used this one) then wait to be allowed through the ropes. Then you are pushed through the Painting Gallery (or whatever) to the beginning of the tour.

23. This process, everyone, is a solid 45 minutes.

24. And I haven't gotten to the part where I discuss leaving.

25. Most of the actual tour is amazing. This year Buckingham Palace is also doing the year of the children or something so there was a huge section devoted to pictures of various princes and princesses and their toys which, honestly, was boring. But the rest was just sensory overkill: I would describe it, but painting after painting after silk hanging after painting after silk hanging....There is an amazing, but amazing, picture of Salome holding the head of John the Baptist which I am pretty sure I haven't seen a reproduction of before, and I honestly got a bit lost looking at it; she had a "and what are YOU going to do about this?" combined with a bit ofa "holy )(*^**" look: I'm describing it terribly, but what I can say is that I felt a fierce sense of greed and it's possibly just as well that Buckingham Palace has those elaborate security proceedures. I also got a bit lost looking at the Lawrence painting of Queen Caroline and Princess Charlotte.

Then I had to leave.

If getting in was a procedure, getting out was even more of one. You have to wait, you see, for Lift Two to be ready. Which takes radio time. That got me back down, and I went out and looked over at the gardens but decided not to try them - rain was coming and I was a bit dizzy. Then I went to Lift One.

The Lift One people weren't answering their radios.

I expect that sort of thing doesn't happen to the Queen.

I indulged in another taxi afterwards. To continue the royal mood, after all.

And now, to Worldcon. I suspect blogging will be light for the next few days.

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Worldcon/Loncon 3 day 0

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Getting here was definitely An Adventure. The Docklands Light Railway is accessible, but finding the lift to get to the accessible part took the combined efforts of seven helpful tourists going round and round and round. And then things got REALLY interesting.

Eventually, however, I did reach the hotel, my extremely elaborate bathroom, and Worldcon, and a Sylvia! We got our badges - FYI, in the unlikely event you are at Worldcon and reading this and not Twitter, the programme participant ribbons aren't here yet, but should be here this afternoon - and then pretty much immediately ditched the entire convention for the cable car ride and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Guardians of the Galaxy, btw, is a really fun film. I want a little Groot. Can I have one?

We did a touch more conventioning afterwards in the sense that we had dinner with some other attendees, before I had to collapse again.

London: the continuing story

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So Sunday was not a great day: by noon, I felt that if I heard the phrases "this lift is not in service" or "diversion" once more I was going to cry. This was entirely apart from the growing problem of trying to get to a disabled bathroom (see lift thing). I gave up, had a hellish time getting back to the hotel ("diversion"!), napped, tried again, got dizzy, and really gave up. The entertaining part was stealing WiFi from all of the wheelchair inaccessible Starbucks. A photo essay is coming once I am back home.

I was about to try to flee London altogether for about anywhere else on Monday (France sounds lovely) but as I wrote here, I was determined not to let the London buses totally defeat me. Plus, I had exactly three things that I'd really wanted to do: the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and Platform 9 3/4. AND I had plans to meet up with fellow writer Fabio Fernandes at some point, and the meet up plans did not say "France."

So, after resting for a long while, off I went to the Tower of London.

I can't take the Tube, so, buses. This has its good points - you see a lot along the way - and its bad points: bus transfers, and the way the bus sounds an emergency alarm when you try to get on or off it. Having said that, Orange County bus systems could learn one thing from London buses: wheelchair users aren't strapped in, which saves everybody time.

Anyway: Tower of London!

It had been twenty years since I'd been there, almost long enough to feel as if I were visiting it for the first time. Which, as I soon realized as I went BUMP BUMP BUMP BUMP and then BUMP BUMP over it, was actually fairly accurate - seeing the Tower by wheelchair is a very different experience.

Since wheelchair users can't access about 60 percent of the Tower, I got a discount. Then BUMP BUMP.

The Tower is currently - celebrating? Remembering? I can't think of the right word - World War I - with a display of metal poppies filling the moat area and various World War I costumed figures wandering around. This was moving, and fascinating, and also, BUMP BUMP.

And bump.

Thanks to that I spent a lot more time listening to World War I stuff than I probably ordinarily would have - it provided nice resting points.

I was tempted to stay below, but a chorus of protests insisted that I get pushed up to the upper levels, so BUMP BUMP past the lines for the crown jewels and BUMP BUMP (you might sense a theme here) As I noted on Twitter afterwards, you don't really realize how big that Tower is until you bump your way through it.

Alas, the Chapel was closed for artistic renovations, but, in an attempt to slow down the bumps, I took pictures, pretended to commune with Anne Boleyn's ghost, and completely missed the approaching crowds. A yeoman warder DID, however, and spotting me and another wheelchair user told us that since two wheelchair users were currently in the only other accessible indoor area, we would instead go to the Crown Jewels.

I am sworn to secrecy on this next bit, except to say, SECRET ENTRANCE. THAT felt like a castle.

It also meant that I got to see the Crown Jewels after all. I must say that the most impressive part of this, for me, wasn't the crowns, but the gilt plate created for the later banquets. So that was cool. And afterwards, another yeoman whispered a great secret to me: that if I headed over to St. Katherine's Docks and followed his very specific instructions, there was a lift.

At this point I did not have any great faith in lifts, but I am glad I did this: that was probably my favorite area of London so far, even if I didn't actually find the lift.

Then it was back to the hotel to collapse a bit and regain my humanity before meeting with Fabio. We chatted. We stopped for dinner. We kept chatting. A chainsaw flew up in the air.

"Uh-"

Said chainsaw was from a juggler clad only in purple shorts, standing up on a ladder, juggling that and three other objects. Oddly NONE of that except for the chainsaw caught my attention.

The epic experience that was doing Buckingham Palace by wheelchair - and I do mean epic - deserves a separate entry. But for now, I think it's time for the next major challenge: me and my suitcase making it on and off the Docklands Light Railway. (And making it to the Docklands Light Railway, for that matter.) Wish us luck.

London: Accessibility and disgruntlement

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I still maintain that my decision to do London by bus was not an inherently bad one. The hotel`s myriad other issues aside (questionable WiFi, the ramp, the fact that yesterday someone outside with me tried calling in to get the ramp, which didn't work - although the hotel did at least fix the shower drain, which helped immensely) - the hotel is at least, as Google maps promised, next to a bus station with a lot of buses, and close to another bus station with more buses. Also the tourist buses stop right in front of the hotel, although since the regular buses are free for me I`m using those instead.

Unfortunately, my cheerful "Yay bus!" ran into a few unexpected difficulties: 1, a major cycling event that put several London buses on what is called "diversion" although it is not exactly diverting, 2) various anti-war marches, 3) my belated realization that the words "Aldwych" and "Russell Square" mean different things to different buses, which in the case of Aldwych is particularly exciting since Aldwych is spread out over a hill.

The result of this was an exciting adventure All Over the West End as various people tried, unsuccessfully for the most part, to get me at least close to Trafalgar Square to meet up with Fran Wilde and others. I saw lots and lots and lots of things that are not on the tourist route at all - Liverpool Station, in particular (yes, I know that is not near Trafalgar; that is sort of the point). Also later Westminster Station where I can now say wih pride that i have not just seen, but used, the staff bathroom.

Which leads to the next point. I had actually anticipated that most of my issues with the wheelchair would be at all of the old buildings and museums. As it turns out, not so - with the exception of the British Museum's "oh, yes, that lift HAS been broken for some time" and its cheerful disdain of letting anyone know about this - and my little tour through the kitchens of the National Gallery (which resulted in my choking at the crowds and deciding that under the circumstances, really, just being in the same room with a Van Gogh was enough - although I did get to see my Renoir dancer, which was the main point. Then small children fell on me so I explored the kitchen again.) those buildings have been somewhat manageable.

The restaurants and stores, however, have not been, with stairs. And stairs. And then stairs. I took pictures, including pictures of stores and restaurants that have successfully made disability accommmodations, and those will be forthcoming so you can see what I mean.

Fortunately, I have gotten to hang out with some awesome people, study Catherine Parr's portrait, and today I am meeting with others. And after all, I am in London, and I am not going to let these buses totally defeat me.

London

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So, after missing my initial flight, dealing with a flight delay out of Orlando, temporarily losing my wheelchair in Dublin (that was fun), and going through Secret Back Alleyways Through Paddington Station (that actually was entertaining. Like spy stuff.) This is usually the part where I complain about Heathrow, and, trust me, there are several things I could say about Heathrow, none kind, but in comparison I feel that Heathrow's ongoing "Hi! How can we get you to hate this country as quickly as possible" is mild in comparison. Also Heathrow did push me all the way to Heathrow Express, so that was kind.

Unfortunately, the advertised as disabled friendly hotel where I am staying is not quite as disabled friendly as advertised. To get in and out I have to wait for the porters to bring me a little temporary ramp, not kept in the lobby. This also means that they have to realize I'm there, which so far means waiting outside hopefully for another guest to enter the hotel to alert them that I need the ramp. The main hotel restaurant is not at all disabled accessible, and the bathroom - but this should be a cheery post.

It's perhaps not surprising that I have had four separate people come up to me and ask, in excited voices some equivalent of "you are really doing this? Where? How? Does the bathroom actually work for a wheelchair?" All of them know wheelchair users.

My other favorite comment of the past two days: "All the Americans I've met are so friendly which is strange because you always seem to be shooting each other." Yay, USA!

All right. One last visit to the unlit disabled bathroom, and then I am off to See Stuff.

Loncon 3 schedule

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It's been brought to my attention that I haven't posted my official Loncon 3 schedule. This is true, mostly because for the most part I was trying to AVOID having an official Loncon 3 schedule. That flopped, if, I'm pleased to say, not too badly. So, the official Loncon3 schedule, in between arriving at some point Wednesday and leaving at some point Monday:

Chivalrous Critics of Fannish Dimensions
Saturday 20:00 - 21:00, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)

What makes a good epic fantasy? Does quality of prose matter, or is insisting on literary rigor killjoy and elitist? Is it possible to 'overthink' your experience of reading epic fantasy - or is it patronising to the sub-genre to suggest it should be given an easier ride than other types of writing? What are some of the primary critiques of epic fantasy and how can they be used to improve the genre moving forward?

Myke Cole (M), Liz Bourke, Nic Clarke, Justin Landon, Mari Ness

(I am tempted to show up with some sort of mash-up of The Belgariad and Finnegan's Wake, but perhaps not. I mean, to do that, I'd have to look at Finnegan's Wake again.)

I'm also on as an emergency back up add her to the panel thing, so it's possible this might get extended. I will also probably be making some sort of appearance at one or all the following: the Friday night SFWA reception (given the nature of these sorts of things, the chances that I will be lingering at this event are slim, slim indeed); the Saturday morning 10 am 12 am Strange Horizons Brunch, Fan Village, Tent A; one or more of Strolling with the Stars, assuming accessibility isn't an issue (I'll be Rolling with the Stars, but I feel that counts); and the, or at least a bar during the Hugos, to place large imaginary bets on the Hugos.

Also, my hotel room, for multiple naps.
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Not that anybody has asked, but: "Hey, what it is like to get solicited for a major upcoming project?"

It goes like this:

1. Email comes in. You read it. It's a request - an actual request - for a poem. You figure the people sending you the email just wanted to cheer you up because you had a crappy day, but, you know, poem! After a couple of reassuring emails you agree, because this is going to be a nice, fun little webzine, right? No pressure. You cheer up.

2. Time passes. You don't think much about it because of myriad and massive computer issues and a few other things. And then the Kickstarter announcement pops up on Twitter. You click.

3. You see the freaking list of solicited authors" and squeak, because this list includes Paul Cornell, Mary Robinette Kowal, Jim Hines, Rachel Swirsky, Scott Lynch (!!!!), E. Lily Yu, Ken Liu, Sofia Samatar, Amal El-Mohtar, several other amazing names and --

Neil Gaiman.

(For the record NONE of this was in the initial email.)

Did we say no pressure? Right.

NO PRESSURE.

3. You realize that you really really really want to read everybody else in this.

Uncanny Magazine!

So, er, go pledge! For everyone else in this.

#

Speaking of projects that you should be funding, I'm VERY pleased to note that An Alphabet of Embers, Rose Lemberg's upcoming anthology of Unclassiables, has funded, which also means that the companion book, Spelling the Hours, which is a really cool little thing containing poems about women scientists, has also funded.

What hasn't funded yet, though, is the second stretch goal, which includes music from The Banjo Apocalypse Crinoline Troubadours, which sounds totally awesome.

Plus, the initial books just sound really cool.

(Full disclosure: I submitted something for Spelling the Hours, but to be honest, given the other people submitting to this project, I don't actually expect to be in it since Rose has such an amazing wealth of talent eager to work with her to choose from. Which right there says everything you need to know about her editing skills (i.e., excellent.) However, I AM in one of the incentive books, Here We Cross, so if you've always wanted a copy of that, this is an excellent opportunity.)

#

And since this has turned into a pimp out worthy projects post, Clarkesworld Magazine is very close to publishing three more stories every four months thanks to Patreon support; they only need a couple hundred more dollars in pledging to make that goal. I'm an obvious fan of Clarkesworld, not just because they've published me twice, but because they continue to publish outstanding fiction every single month, forming a large part of the stories I nominate for the Hugo and Nebula awards, so I highly recommend this, if you can. And you can always buy Clarkesworld directly from various online retailers as well.

(Though, full disclosure again: this is a bit of an incentive for me as well, since it might get me over my current "AUUGH I CAN'T WRITE SCIENCE FICTION" if I know people like a zine that I've published science fiction in to support it through Patreon. But mostly, you should be supporting Clarkesworld since they are publishing such groundbreaking work.)

#

(I have to write a poem for a zine that also solicited a poem from Neil Gaiman. NO PRESSURE.)

(ok maybe pressure)

Survival

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My little flash story, Survival, popped up at Goldfish Grimm over the weekend, along with a short interview with me.

In other survival stories, I left the house today thinking, oooh, the sun is still shining. I won't get wet. YAY ME.

Ten minutes later I was soaked completely through, and I do mean completely (well, my butt was kinda covered by the trike, but still.) We're talking every inch of clothing totally plastered to you soaked. Water dripping from my nose soaked. Having to stop because I can't ride the trike in heavy rain soaked (the rain gets on my glasses.)

During all of this?

Sun.

Still.

Shining.

Ok, that didn't last too long - the clouds swept in - but Florida. Where you can be in the sun, and still be wet.

But I now have my bananas, which was the main point of going against Florida's weather, so all good.

Beans and Lies

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Beans and Lies just went up at Daily Science Fiction. It's very short, I promise. And it's - almost - a fairy tale. Kinda.

Death and Death Again

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My short story, Death and Death Again, just went live up at Nightmare Magazine.

Since I've been yelled about not warning people about this sort of thing before, warning: this story is pure, unadulterated horror. Like horror movie style horror. Not one of my usual indulgences, but sometimes fear and terror just has to crawl out.

There's also an interview here where I chat about my inability to come up with character names. This has actually reached the point of being a pretty bad joke, but in this case, it happened not because I couldn't figure out the right names (the usual problem) but because I was writing in a fit of pure irritation, and quite honestly reached the end before realizing that I'd done it again. Ah well.

Anyway, enjoy!

Apparently, this does need to be said

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My comment policy:

1. I welcome disagreement and dialogue. Anonymous comments are disabled because the spam from those was just getting too overwhelming to deal with, but generally people are more than welcome to disagree/comment using LJ accounts, Facebook, Twitter and so on.

Tor.com does moderate comments on my posts, but as far as I'm aware the only comments that have been deleted were things like people trying to sell rip off designer shoes. Years back there was a small issue with one commentator, not because of any disagreements, but because Tor.com does not allow commentators (or, for that matter, me) to promote their own works repeatedly on the site. Otherwise, the only comments I have reported to Tor.com were on the Song of Ice and Fire thread when I spotted spoilers.

I should also note that I'm not a moderator on that site and have very limited powers there (read, none) so if you do have an issue I'm really the last person involved with Tor.com that you should chat with. I don't even have the email addresses for the moderators. Or many (read, most) of the editors.

2. In twelve years, I have banned several Russian and Japanese LJ spam accounts, and one other user for non spam reasons, but that's it.

I didn't even ban the user who popped by to defend Roman Polanski although I was, admittedly, very tempted.

3. All that said:

If you come to this blog and tell me that the United States Constitution prohibits me from making moral judgements about historical people, I am going to get annoyed. If you further, in your comments, make any attempts whatsoever to defend pedophilia, stalking, stalking 14 year olds, or attempt to suggest that the stalker/pedophile in question was a tragic victim of the 14 year old, then EVEN IF THE FOURTEEN YEAR OLD IN QUESTION later grew up and murdered the stalker (in the 1940s), I AM GOING TO GET PISSED OFF. If you further suggest that I need to read more first hand, primary sources about this entire depressing story, and some excellent articles on this, then yes, I am going to get irritated, and the ban hammer will come up.

4. Thanks.

Disabled, with reservations

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In a little less than a month I head off to the United Kingdom and Ireland for WorldCon and Shamrockon. Since people have asked, I will also be in sorta the general area for Nine Worlds as well - in fact, I realized that I might even run into people at Heathrow arriving for Nine Worlds - and if people want to meet me for dinner that weekend that's awesome, but I wasn't planning on attending. Not because I have anything against Nine Worlds, which actually seems like more my sorta thing than the other two cons, but because at a certain point you hit Con Overload, and three cons in three weeks is absolutely that point for me. And although I initially thought about doing Nine Worlds and WorldCon, well...Shamrockon is in Ireland, where I've never been.

And like others, I will be in London between Nine Worlds and Worldcon. Let the hijinks ensue.

But this isn't about my con schedule, but rather about making reservations.

This isn't my first trip to the UK, or my first time making reservations there (although on one trip I just showed up at the train station and was lucky enough to find a cheap space in a Westminster boarding house sorta thing, which was fun).

But this is my first trip traveling via wheelchair, not to mention my first attempt to navigate Grade I and Grade II buildings - which historically can't be altered - some of which are transportation points, and others of which are hotels.

And, that, as it turns out, makes things interesting well before boarding a plane.

For instance:

1. While in London pre-Worldcon, I won't be using the London Underground much - even post the Olympics, many of the Tube stations are not wheelchair accessible. Fortunately for my budget, the London buses ARE fully accessible, and the bus system has a very helpful website where you can type in where you are starting from and where you want to end up and it will list all the buses for you. As it turned out, the buses pretty much cover everywhere I want to go, which solved that problem. (There's also special tourist buses, even better.) That's great, and meant that one of my main criteria for choosing a hotel was "Near Bus Station."

2. London hotel websites, however, assume that tourists are all going to want to use the Tube - so although they usually announce proudly how close to they are to a Tube station, few of them mention the bus stations. And if you go to the bus system website, it doesn't always tell you how far the hotel is from the bus.

3. Enter Google Street Maps, which have been, bluntly, a livesaver - not just for this reason, either, but you can type in the hotel address and see where the bus station is, on street view, and note any potential problems.

4. Google Street Maps are a godsend in another way: you can click on the little person on street view, look around, and see if the entrance to the hotel is, in fact, wheelchair accessible, since by "wheelchair accessible" the hotel sometimes means "you can use a wheelchair on the ground floor in the public rooms," not necessarily "you can get in."

5. And speaking of hotels in Bath, not London - I was initially cheered to see just how many hotels in Bath popped up when I searched for disabled accommodations in Bath.

Not surprisingly - most Bath hotels are in historic buildings that can only be accessed by two to four stairs - that turned out to be an overly optimistic search. As it turned out, Bath actually only has four hotels I could stay at. One is an absolutely gorgeous luxury hotel that is seriously beyond my budget, but where I am immediately heading to the instant I win the lottery. A second had only one disabled room which was already booked.

Which means that I am staying in a hotel that has been pretty universally described as "overpriced" in all of its internet reviews, who urge visitors to head to other, better value hotels. Having looked at the hotel's website I am already inclined to agree with the internet reviews, but the reviews also say that the hotel has a good sandwich place nearby, which is a plus, so there's that.

The other option, of course, was to stay in cheaper, more modern Bristol - an option I used for most of my clients back when I worked in the travel industry. The issue with Bristol, however, was that its hotels with disabled accommodation were for the most part not near the train station I would be using to take to Bath. By the time I worked out the transportation costs, I realized that I was going to be spending almost as much in transportation as I would be saving in hotel costs, so although Bristol is really not that far away, it seemed easier to stick with Bath after all.

6. Buckingham Palace, which is open during July/August, and is wheelchair accessible.

Wheelchair accessible tickets, however, have to be booked separately - and can't, unlike regular tickets, be booked online. (Apparently there's only one elevator accessible for tourists, so this has to be scheduled. Also you go in via wheelchair accessible golf cart.) Instead, you have to make an international phone call - or alternatively, email, and have them call you, which was working great until Buckingham Palace's computer systems went down. You fail me, Windsors, you fail me.

(Technically I think this is a sorta independent group that "operates" tours of Buckingham Palace while the Windsors are out windsoring, but it's more fun to assume this, like so many other things, is all Prince Charles' fault.)

I may end up at Kensington Palace instead, also wheelchair accessible, which has tickets available at the door.

7. But at least it is wheelchair accessible: it's been mildly crushing to realize even things that sounded like they would be fully wheelchair accessible aren't. The Tower of London is one thing; the Cartoon Museum, though, was a bit of a surprise.

I find myself comparing previous trips, with the "what shall I do today?" the spontaneous wandering, the surety that I could find someplace in London where I could sleep - and reach - without worrying too much. Some of that remains: my London schedule, for instance, is fairly flexible up until Worldcon, though that's partly because some plans are still getting finalized. It's not all disabled issues, either - some of this is just meeting up with various people here and there in London (hilariously, mostly Americans from Florida so far - it says something that it seems easier to meet up with them in London than Winter Garden, but moving on.) But there's still a fundamental change from previous trips, and it has me a bit twitchy.

On the other hand, London! Also, Dublin! Castles! High tea! And getting to see many of you again! Awesomeness.

Available for purchase/preorder:

xmas me
Available for purchase today, the July issue of Nightmare Magazine, which includes my story "Death and Death Again." You can pick it up here. It's a little foray into pure, unadulterated horror.

And available for preorder today, Upgraded, an anthology of cyborg stories edited by Neil Clarke, containing my story, "Memories and Wire." You can preorder it here. The book should be available later this month; I'm really looking forward to seeing the other stories in it.

That both these pieces are appearing in the same month is a fun coincidence, given their somewhat similar themes and tinges of horror. Well, ok, in the first story, not tinges so much as outright horror.

(The other little story coming out this month from Daily Science Fiction is something else entirely, but more on that later.)

Various Things Which Do Not Make a Post

xmas me
Wow. Hadn't realized just how much time had gone by since I blogged here. Partly this has been illness; partly the complete lack of a blogging bug. But, still, a few random things from here and there:

1. A biography/history that for once, I don't have any real complaints about: Superman: The High Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero. Definitely on the popular side, with sex! Murder! (Ok, to be fair, insinuations and discussions of murder.) Flying accidents! Lawsuits! Quotes from basketball players! Gossipy little tidbits! A failure to completely get all the decisions made with Smallville! (We all feel you there, Mr. Tye, we all feel you.) Interviews with all of the (not murdered) still alive people involved with Superman! Analysis of why the dude is so popular. The book stops short of reviewing Man of Steel, since it went to print before the movie, but otherwise does a pretty thorough job of following Superman through newspapers, comic books, radio, television and film. Nothing deep here, but a fun pop culture history with more Superman gossip than you probably ever needed to know.

2. I'm not against the general idea of leaving politics out of Hugo voting, but if you really want me to seriously consider, say, your novelette for a major literary award, it might help if you did not spend the day spreading false allegations about a professional writers group that I happen to be a member of.

Just saying.

3. Speaking of the Hugos, I seem to have most of my plans in place for my upcoming trip to World Con and Shamrockon in August. This is my first trip to the UK in awhile, and my first trip ever to Ireland, so this should be interesting. Also I will be crossing the Irish Sea in a boat, which should be very interesting, so this is a general warning to those I'm meeting in Dublin that I don't expect to be overly coherent at first, especially if Macnamman mac Lir chooses to be unkind. Let us hope.

4. On a World Cup note, I was very sad to hear that today's headlines about the Biter From Uraguay did not, in fact, mean that the World Cup is now featuring teams of vampires biting each other between ball kicks. World Cup, you disappoint me. On the other hand, VAMOS COLOMBIA!

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