Nonfiction End of Year Review, Award Eligibility


A while ago some nice people suggested Boucher, Backbone and Blake – the legacy of Blakes 7 might be Hugo-eligible under a few categories. There’s Best Related Work, there’s Best Fan Writer, etc. THIS IS VERY KIND. THANK YOU.


I really feel Best Related Work needs to go to the report, editorial and companion essays by Brian J. White, Tobias Buckell, Justina Ireland, Mikki Kendall, Nisi Shawl, Troy Wiggins, Cecily Kane and N.K. Jemisin that together comprise “#BlackSpecFic: A Fireside Fiction Company special report”.

This collaborative project calls attention to a foundational issue in SFFnal publishing, representing the best traditions of critical, self-reflective and progressive work this award exists to recognise. Academically and practically, it is a necessary investigative report. The very model of its presentation is exciting and polyvocal, and it’d be great to see the award recognise this digital mixed-media format. Several great writers and thinkers made substantive contributions to the project. Others offered valuable reactions after the fact. The report and associated documents attracted international media attention, gave rise to editorial shifts on major SFF publications’ boards, and hopefully will spur further inclusive developments.

We should not let the memory of this work fade or its sharp, timely conclusions be overlooked. The report needs acted on, in a continuous praxis, and I believe it should also be recognised. This would show that we all feel the horrible inequalities it frankly delineates are a blight on the field, and that we are collectively serious about redressing them in the interests of both fairness and richer art. It would not definitively do so: only continuous work to dismantle systemic racism will accomplish this. But recognising the report as the most important piece of genre-related writing/the Best Related Work this year seems to me simply a just acknowledgement of a fait accompli.

As for me, I’d be happy to be considered for fan writer (though really I also think it’s past time for Abigail Nussbaum and/or Maureen K Speller to be acknowledged in that or some other capacity, but frogtea.gif).



2016 In Review Part One  (my part: 270)
Yonderland (2276)

Age of Adeline (in the publishing queue, 2236)



“Control the Computer, Control the Ship”, B7 and tech SFRA paper (promised to Foundation) (4kish atm)
“From ‘Shalom Aleichem’ to ‘Live Long and Prosper’: Engaging with Post-War American Jewish Identity via Star Trek: The Original Series“: forthcoming in “Set Phasers to Teach” (6666 with all notes)
Piece on P&P&Z (still homeless, 2980)
Piece on Love&Friendship (still homeless, 4315)





King John (2866)
Funny Girl (1426)

Sasha Regan’s All Male HMS Pinafore (1143)




Rereading (4,600, out with an anthology, waiting to hear back)



281965 words, broken down in the end of year fic meme on my lj


Personal story planning, correspondence, essays and private-lj blogging:

TOTAL (minus the substantial last category): 370,830 words this year, ‘published’ in one form or another

Bit less fiction than last year, and I really suspect less nonfic, but then moving was hideous and drawn out, mental health’s been bad and this year was draining all-’round.

Boucher, Backbone and Blake – the legacy of Blakes 7


This essay was occasioned by the death, on April 13th of this year, of the actor Gareth Thomas. Thomas was most famous for playing Roj Blake, the eponymous protagonist of the landmark BBC science fiction series Blakes 7. While the essay contains elegiac elements, it’s grown into a longer piece on Thomas in a broader sense, Blakes 7, Blake as a character, television and fandom history, and the status of protagonists and politics in genre television today. I hope that scope doesn’t make the piece feel inadequate in its partial function as a tribute: personally, I think context makes it more of one. I hope, conversely, that an obituary isn’t all the piece is. An obituary, like a funeral, is for people who already care about the person in question and who want or need such a thing, whereas I hope a good deal of this discussion is relevant even if you don’t have that relationship with this actor and this particular text; I hope that it works if you’re simply interested in the mechanics of telling good and ethical stories on television. And of course I hope that if you don’t already love the things I love, you can be convinced of their merit. What is criticism, when embarked on as praise, but a small and understandable piece of selfishness—a little, affectionate tyranny?

Full article here.


News from Nowhere by William Morris, radio drama and novel


BBC Radio 4 recently dramatized William Morris’s 1890s Utopian novel News from Nowhere as part of their Dangerous Visions season, which advertises itself as a series of “dramas that explore contemporary takes on future dystopias.” It’s odd to find the unabashedly sanguine News under this heading, but if the producers wanted to stage it for a change of pace or because they particularly wanted to work with this text, fine. I’m for abandoning an over-arching structure in a case such as this (i.e. a series of loosely-thematically-connected, discrete pieces) when it isn’t doing good work. In fact, if the series’ “contemporary takes” framing is what gave us the topical Boaty McBoatface joke in this play’s introduction, destined to wither faster than the speed of meme, I feel they could even have broken with that structure a bit more dramatically.

I was not expecting great triumphs from the Dangerous Visions series to begin with. Maureen Kincaid Speller, the editor of this section/a local seller of hot takes and pies, pointed out elsewhere that “the BBC’s latest Dangerous Visions season [is] very male, very white, and the big-ticket dramas are mostly adaptations of things that have been done before. I really wouldn’t mind a lengthy chat with the programme planners about all the stuff they’re missing out.” Paul Kincaid, referring to the important 1967 short story collection edited by Harlan Ellison of the same name, observed, “wouldn’t it be interesting if they dramatised some of the stories that were actually in Dangerous Visions? Still 50-odd years out of date, but more up to date than most of what they’re offering. From the BBC you’d never guess that there were actually one or two science fiction writers out there [now], and some of them were actually female. But then, that might actually be dangerous, and despite the title that is clearly not the BBC’s intent.”

Full review here.


Steven Universe Review


You may well have heard about Steven Universe (and if you’re aware of the show, you might also be interested in some criticism about it—fingers crossed!). In certain circles (people active on Tumblr and other major media fandom platforms, USians with young children, etc.), this American Cartoon Network show, technically on the cusp of its third season, has been talked up ad nauseum. But outside of the aforementioned circles, the program is far less Universally known (that’s a truly awful pun, and I’m not particularly sorry). Whether or not you’re saturated with Steven, it still merits discussion by virtue of being simultaneously one of the best children’s programs and one of the best science fiction programs of its generation.

Full review here.

The Strange Horizons Book Club: The Girl in the Road


I edited this.

Welcome to this month’s book club! On the fourth Monday of each month, we post a round-table discussion about a speculative work (or work of interest to readers of SF), and we invite you to join us for further conversation in the comments. December’s book will be Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam, and other forthcoming discussions are listed here.

This month’s book is The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne, joint winner (with Jo Walton’s My Real Children) of this year’s James Tiptree, Jr. Award. From the blurb: “In a world where global power has shifted east and revolution is brewing, two women embark on vastly different journeys—each harrowing and urgent and wholly unexpected.” From the Tiptree jury’s comments: “Through the eyes of two narrators linked by a single act of violence, the reader is brought to confront shifting ideas of gender, class, and human agency and dignity.”

Read full article here.

Urinetown (West End Production)


The musical Urinetown made its long-awaited London premiere a decade after it took its Tonys in New York, running for ten months between March 2014 and January 2015. I saw it in London with that production’s final cast. When compared the runs of juggernaut shows like Les Mis and Mamma Mia ten months may sound like a bomb, but it’s actually a fairly good showing for a musical of this type—long enough, for example, to make Urinetown Olivier-eligible.

Outside of Fringe offerings, there’s not a glut of science-fiction theatre (Wikipedia only acknowledges twenty science fiction musicals—though that said, how good’s a list I had to add Urinetown to myself?). What little there is is often treated as theatre, rather than as both theatre and SFF, which I feel is an oversight. In its SFFnal capacity, Urinetown has a lot to offer. It’s thoroughgoing catastrophe-and-social-effects, political-commentary-on-our-own-world sci-fi. The musical’s environmentalism and its critique of corporate power and governmental collusion with same are largely sharp and necessary contributions.

Full review here.


Links, August 14


Mythago Wood: A True Fantasy Masterwork
on considering reading George R.R. Martin
Once Upon a Time review – Marina Warner’s scholarly history of the fairytale
Ombria in Shadow
All of the Books – recommended reading
Winter’s Kitchen
Such Sights To Show You: Women in the Works of Clive Barker
Dagon’s Bargain
Sunshine (novel)
Fred Saberhagen
Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany
Mira Corpora, by Jeff Jackson
‘I’ve spent parts of today re-reading Julie Phillips’ James Tiptree, Jr. The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon (I’m up to the 1950s so far, pre-Tiptree). It remains an incredibly interesting read, but also a very discomfiting one, because Phillips is very committed to the idea of Sheldon as a “woman writer”.’
10 SF/F Books That Have Stuck With Me by Gail Carriger
Anita Nair, Idris: Keeper of the Light
Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall
On Being Undone by a Light Breeze, by Vajra Chandrasekera
Things We Found During the Autopsy by Kuzhali Manickavel
The Madonna and the Starship by James Morrow
Obscure Cities
Frankenstein and the Vampyre: A Dark and Stormy Night
Barriers & Cages: SFF utopia

The Country of Ice Cream Star
In the ruins of a future America, fifteen-year-old Ice Cream Star and her people survive by scavenging in the detritus of an abandoned civilization. Theirs is a world of children – by the time they reach twenty, each of them will die from a disease they call posies.
When her brother sickens, Ice Cream sets out on the trail of a cure, led by a stranger whose intentions remain unclear. It’s a quest that will lead her to love and heartbreak, to captivity and to a nation’s throne, and ultimately into a war that threatens to doom everyone she loves.

Bernardine Evaristo, The Emperor’s Babe
Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales
weird world fiction syllabus
Sleeps With Monsters: The Mystic Marriage by Heather Rose Jones
David Mitchell offers clues to new novel The Bone Clocks – interactive
10 Science Fiction And Fantasy Stories That Editors Are Tired Of Seeing
Strange Horizons Book Club: Tigerman
Call and Response by Paul Kincaid: Reviewed by Liz Bourke
Top Ten Most Common Short Story Names Clarkesworld Sees
Archive of Edwardian-era Writer of Horror, Sci-fi Donated to UCR: ‘Hodgson was one of the most important writers of weird fiction of the early 20th century, acknowledged by H.P. Lovecraft as a seminal influence on his own horror fiction, said Latham, a scholar of science fiction studies. “His novels ‘The House on the Borderland’ and ‘The Night Land’ are masterpieces of macabre atmosphere and dreamy inventiveness, works that once read can never be forgotten,” Latham said.’

Shirley Jackson’s dark powers are back at work from beyond the grave: “Garlic in Fiction, a new collection from the late master of shocking but subtle horror, is due next year. I’ll be watching out for it, and so should you”

The Strange Horizons Book Club: Fire in the Unnameable Country
The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer: PASTORAL AS UNCANNY
Nine Worlds Book List
Nine Worlds: The ‘Just Don’t’ list from Writing the Other workshop
The Mermaid’s Wish – recording now online!

Over-sensitive male feminists who can’t take a joke? I’ve blogged about the day the #BaenAwardStories hashtag died.
I have read the Clarke Award shortlist and