Later this month I will be at Bristolcon (26 October)! I will be wandering around, perhaps near/in the bar, and I will also be on a panel about SPAAACE and other forms of science (but really, it’s all about SPAAACE for me).
How Science Got Its Groove Back – Programme Room 2 (Summit Suite) – 17:00–17:45
Recently, both on TV and in real life we have seen resurgence in the kind of popular science that feels like it’s been missing for years. Is it all down to that Cox chappie? We’ve been inspired by the antics of Commander Chris Hadfield and his magic flannel, Felix Baumgardener’s breathtaking freefall from the edge of space, and the final flights of the shuttle fleet. How is science inspiring current and future generations? And how is this influencing SF?
With Peter Sutton (M), Cavan Scott, Rosie Oliver, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Dave Bradley
I look forward to seeing some of you there.
Today I can also be found guest-posting on Liz Bourke’s Sleeps With Monsters column at Tor.com: Writing Families in the Future.
It’s about families in science fiction: how narrowly normative they are, how there are some (very few) awesome examples of variety, how I would like that variety to replace the norm.
Go read! Then go create more families in the future!
The new issue of Shimmer is here, with my story “Out They Come” in it!
It’s a story about anger and vomiting up foxes. I talked a little more about its origins in this interview with Shimmer, where I mention the image that inspired it:
A marginalia in a medieval manuscript, which I found here. It demanded a story. Indeed, it demanded two. If you want to read another story about vomiting foxes, read its sister-story, Brooke Bolander’s “Her Words Like Hunting Vixens Spring”: gestated by the same marginalia, but afterwards gone in different directions.
To buy the new issue of Shimmer in print or ebook, and read short snippets of all the stories, click click. My snippet is as follows:
She speaks so little, out they come: foxes. One after the other, falling like russet tears. They land on all fours and shake the saliva from their fur and bare their teeth, sharper than knives. She wants to say to the village, “I’m not sorry, I hate you all, you deserve this.”
They are her strength, come to fight.
A good A Softer World today:
Everyone needs terrible houses in their life. (The bonus is that sometimes the Belgian houses are actually pretty cool. Then there’s this.)
I went into London today to submit my MA thesis.
Then I celebrated with a friend at a great place on the Strand where I had white port and tapas.
Strange Horizons are running their annual fundraiser to raise money for the next year’s content.
I am a huge fan of Strange Horizons. They published my story “Feed Me the Bones of Our Saints” last year, which remains one of my favourites of the stories I’ve written. They also publish a lot of awesome stories by other writers. Here’s an introductory list of reasons why supporting Strange Horizons will ensure the continued publication of some really interesting, fun, diverse science fiction and fantasy stories:
Lavie Tidhar, “The Long Road to the Deep North” (2013)
Nghi Vo, “Tiger Stripes” (2012)
Amal El-Mohtar, “And Their Lips Rang With The Sun” (2009)
Vandana Singh, “Somadeva: A Sky River Sutra” (2010)
Toh EnJoe, “A to Z Theory” (2013)
Karin Tidbeck, “I Have Placed My Sickness Upon You” (2013)
Helen Keeble, “In Stone” (2007)
Alberto Yáñez, “Recognizing Gabe: un cuento de hadas” (2012)
They also publish poetry (I especially love the poems by Rose Lemberg: “In the Third Cycle”, “Between the Mountain and the Moon” and “The Three Immigrations”), reviews (need I remind you of “a chivalrous knight of archaic dimensions”), columns (my favourite is the Movements column by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz)…
I want Strange Horizons to keep publishing for a long time to come. More information about their fundraiser, including the prize draw for all donors, can be found here.
I got an email today from a NASA employee saying that he and several other people working at NASA and elsewhere have an informal science fiction reading group that looks for stories that could inspire NASA and other agencies. He said they’re reading my story “Found”.
I’ve loved space exploration since I was a child. I remember the first time I saw footage from the Voyager mission and just being unspeakably awed. We did that. We people. We sent a thing there. I have a big book from a now-out-of-date BBC documentary series called Planets which I will never throw away because watching that series filled me with wonder. More recently, I found Wonders of the Solar System and I now rewatch it often because Professor Brian Cox’s enthusiasm for space does things to me. I have a friend who works on the Cassini mission and gives phenomenal talks at UK sff conventions and I’ve been to two of her talks now and I intend to go to more. I am writing a story about Enceladus because of her. I have another friend who does things with infrared that I’ll admit to not fully understanding, but his talk at Nine Worlds was really interesting, and he gave me an inflatable universe. (I believe they’re both planning to be at Worldcon 2014. Just sayin’.) If there is ever a chance for me to go into space, even in one of those Virgin planes that only goes up a little way, and I can afford it, I will do it. I hope humans go to Mars in my lifetime. I want to walk on another world.
In short: I love space, I’m endlessly fascinated and awed by space exploration.
Though “Found” isn’t set in our solar system’s asteroid belt, I tried to base it in what current space science I know about our solar system’s asteroids (alongside a dose of the “fiction” part). I tried to put some of my love of space in it. That some people at NASA think it merits discussion, that it provokes interesting questions about future asteroid missions and habitation —
Not sure there are words to convey how happy that makes me.
Nine Worlds is this weekend! I will be there! Here is where you can find me:
8:30pm-9:45pm – Britannia – Electric Spectra: a queer poetry gathering
A friendly evening poetry session in our cosy Queer Library. Grab a pint, bring some friends, and share some poems! (Rated 18+)
11:45am-1:00pm – Britannia – Why is the Future so Binary?
With the endless potential for reimagining the world that science fiction offers, why do so many imagined futures stick to heteronormative, binary conceptions of sexuality and gender? Come and discuss the implications of futuristic technology for queer, trans* and genderfluid characters, and share recommendations for work exploring these possibilities.
With Tori Truslow, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Jude Roberts and Cel West.
1:30pm-2:45pm – Britannia – New Goggles: Diversity in Steampunk
‘Anachrotech’ genres like Steampunk give writers, makers, and musicians a chance to tinker with the past, resulting in, at best, a way to reclaim and subvert popular historical narratives and tropes; at worst, a nostalgia that uncritically repeats those tropes. Let’s trade in those rose-tinted monocles for new goggles, and discuss the importance of queering and diversifying the genre.
With Zen Cho, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Maki Yamazaki and Sam Kelly.
5:00pm-6:15pm – Caravelle – Women’s Worlds: Feminist Utopias in Literature
A panel discussion about feminist utopias throughout literature. How have they changed as feminism has developed, how do we imagine what we do not have, and how close are we to that reality?
With Alex Dally MacFarlane, Cel West, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Tricia Sullivan and Alison Morton
10:00am-11:15am – Britannia – Better History = Better Fantasy: Writing Outside the Binary
Fantasy worlds based on historical periods often lack gay, trans* and other queer characters. Blaming this on our own world’s history is a mistake: history is full of people living outside normative sexualities and gender roles! Sappho (and the queer women who wrote about her), sworn virgins, monks and nuns, Two Spirit people, shamans, the Chevalier d’Éon, and many more! Come and discuss queer people in history – and how to research them to make your fantasy worlds better.
With Alex Dally MacFarlane, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Koel Mukherjee and Hel Gurney.
I have a new science fiction story, “Found”, in this month’s issue of Clarkesworld!
It’s one I started working on in 2008 – I had an early version workshopped at Wiscon that year, and owe Kelly Link my thanks for an insightful comment that changed how I saw the story and its protagonist. I also want to thank whoever it was in the workshop who suggested that ground spices and zero-G may not work well together. I tried rewriting it in 2010 and still couldn’t get it right, but earlier this year I started again, around the MA, and worked on it until I got a version that does what I want it to do. I hope readers agree!
It’s about spices, people living in asteroids, and dealing with the personal intersection of privilege with lack of privilege. And genderqueerness, because fuck binary futures.
I’m reading Crossing Borders: Love Between Women in Medieval French and Arabic Literatures by Sahar Amer for story research (a brief break from reading about Alexander legends in Armenia and the Caucasus for my MA thesis!) and she’s used a really interesting epigraph for one of the chapters that I thought others might want to read:
A willingness to descend into that alien territory split-space of enunciation may open the way to conceptualizing an international culture, based not on the exoticism or multi-culturalism of the diversity of cultures, but on the inscription and articulation of culture’s hybridity. (Homi K. Bhabha, Location of Culture)
Sahar Amer’s own words are also very interesting. I heartily recommend her article “Medieval Arab Lesbians and Lesbian-Like Women” (JSTOR access required – I found it hosted elsewhere online for free last year but that seems to have disappeared, so if anyone can’t get into JSTOR or any other academic resource, I’m happy to email the PDF), especially the quote about “the saffron massage” from the writing of the male poet Shihab al-Din Ahmad al-Tifashi, who says of scissoring: “This operation is dubbed “the saffron massage” because this is precisely how one grinds saffron on the cloth when dyeing it.”
Meanwhile, in Crossing Borders, she quotes the Anglo-Norman Etienne de Fougères on lesbian sex:
In twos they do their lowlife jousting
And they ride to it with all their might;
At the game of thigh-fencing
They pay most basely each other’s share.
Euphemisms for lesbian sex are the best ever.
"...the 33 stories that MacFarlane has gathered for this volume dazzle with the virtuosity of their contributors’ talents."
- Publishers Weekly: STARRED REVIEW
"Works from around the world, some in translation, provide an invaluable snapshot of this moment in the genre as well as some tremendously enjoyable reading."
- Publishers Weekly: Best Books of 2014
"The stories range widely in scope and form — from prose poems to metafiction — to capture a dynamic, forward-thinking genre that plays with history, myth and science."
- The Washington Post: Think science fiction is dominated by men? Think again.
"...ground-breaking and superbly conceived..."
- Nina Allan: Strange Horizons: 2014 In Review
Aliens: Recent Encounters
"...this [anthology] blew us away more than any other. Mostly because of the sheer volume of greatness contained in these 32 stories... These are classic stories of alien encounters, from some of the best science fiction writers working today."
- io9.com Best Books of 2013