-Friday 5pm: Newcon Press Dark Currents launch
Launch of the new anthology Dark Currents, which has fiction by a number of awesome people like Tricia Sullivan, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Lavie Tidhar, Neil Williamson, Sophia McDougall, … (and my story “The Bleeding Man”). A lot of contributors will be at the launch, so here’s your chance to get that anthology signed!
-Friday 6pm: What is I?
We all think we know who and what we are, but the more science delves into the nature of ‘I’ the more ‘I’ seems to disappear. Is consciousness just a figment of our brains, and if so, where does that leave us?
-Saturday 11am: Non-Anglophone SF
What is the SF scene like outside English-speaking countries? Do they have their own thriving scene, or is it dominated by Anglophone SF from outside? Why does non-anglophone SF have such a small weight in the UK and US markets – is it down to the difficulty and cost of translations, or is there some other reason for this? Are the problems unique to SF, or present in all genres? And what can we do to change it?
-Saturday 9pm-10pm: Book Signing
I’ll have a few copies of Obsidian and Blood and probably a few other anthologies. Feel free to drop by and chat!
-Sunday 1pm: Youth and Youthfulness in SF
Science fiction, in its dominant form, is an American invention, and stereotypically has the outward-looking optimism of a young country in its DNA. How can contemporary sf reflect the best of that tradition without over-simplifying its worlds? What is the role of writing YA and writing diversity in keeping sf new?
-Monday 11am: What TV shows would we like to see?
What shows would we like to see made but probably won’t be?
-Monday 2pm: “The data deluge and the end of science”
Are our data gathering abilities outstripping our methods for analysing the results? Are our models of causal links inadequate for complex systems? Is scientific advance going to stagnate because of this, or will new tools, such as Bayesian statistics and network theory, allow continued progress?
In between panels, I’ll be in the bar, as usual
OK, so this is the single best recipe for stir-fried broccoli I have seen anywhere. It’s simple, it’s fresh, and it brings out the taste of the vegetables wonderfully. It’s also the one recipe that makes the H crave broccoli (he hated broccoli when I steamed them, but now he’s practically begging me for some). I got it from Irene Kuo’s Key to Chinese Cooking, and made a few modifications (which basically amounted to varying the broth because Asian-style chicken broth can be freaking hard to find in France, and adding the stems into the recipe).
- 1 bunch broccoli (about 2 pounds)
- 3 tblsp oil
- 2 quarter-sized ginger pieces
- ¼ tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tblsp toasted sesame oil
- ½ cup chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water (well worth getting some stock, it enhances the flavour)
- Prepare the broccoli: break off the flowerets, and get them down to manageable size (ie, cut them up in bits you can grasp with chopsticks, but no more. You don’t want broccoli purée, and this is very much a recipe that benefits from having whole flowerets inasmuch as it’s feasible). Take the big stem, peel the hard skin off, and cut it into thin coin slices.
- In a wok on high heat, put the oil, and wait until hot. Add the ginger, press it down, and wait a few moments, until it becomes fragrant. Add the broccoli, stir very rapidly for 5 seconds, then turn the heat down to medium-high, and stir until the flowerets are a bright, shiny green.
- Add the salt and the sugar, stir rapidly, then add the stock.
- Cover, and cook on medium-high heat for 2:30 minutes.
- Uncover, and cook, stirring rapidly, until all the liquid is gone. Then dribble the sesame oil on top of the broccoli, give them a few tumbles with the spatula to distribute the oil equally across the broccoli.
- Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold (we like ours hot, usually with dishes that are heavy or with strong tastes, which covers pretty much 90% of Vietnamese dishes ).
And the much-delayed pictures (the H still holds the pictures hostage on his computer. I filched a few that looked pretty).
The first two are of the Ngũ Hành Sơn (mountains of the Five Elements), better known in English as Marble Mountain: it’s a major Buddhist temple complex near Đà Nẵng (centre of Vietnam), which has a slew of pagodas and shrines on moutaintops, as well as temples carved within caves that are truly impressive. Easily my favourite place (though not very favoured by Western tourists; the crowd was mostly local) of the trip: serene and unearthly, and with fabulous views over the surrounding countryside. Easy to see why they built the temples here.
And this is the tomb of Khải Định, the second-to-last emperor of the Nguyễn dynasty: Huế is surrounded by the mausoleums of all the emperors–they’re all in very different styles, and this one is a striking fusion of Eastern and Western (see the octogonal pavillion vs the crosses that line the terraces). Inside, it looks a lot like a Vietnamese Versailles, with lots of ornate ceramics on the walls, and it has a golden likeness of the Emperor (the actual body is somewhere under the palace) and a shrine to honour his memory.
That’s all from me–tommorrow it’s back to novel brainstorming and cooking
Just a heads-up that the Intergalactic Medicine Show Awards Anthology is free on Kindle this weekend, and that it includes stories by Peter Beagle, Eugie Foster, James Maxey, Marie Brennan, Eric James Stone, Jason Sanford, and many many more awesome writers (and also my story “Horus Ascending”, about a sundered AI and a dying colony).
You can download it here (I can’t see every amazon country, but it looks like it’s free in France, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this promotion was valid in every amazon country).
Sorry for the radio silence, I wish I could say the week has been productive, but mostly I’ve been going on too little sleep, with very little coherence as a result…
To tide you over into the weekend, have an online story: “The Heartless Light of Stars” over at Daily Science Fiction, aka the Sài Gòn story, and last of my contribution to the Numbers Quartet (but there’ll still be Nebula Award nominee Nancy Fulda’s awesome “Godshift” to round off the sequence).
Meanwhile, I’ll be off to brainstorm more Jade in Chains, which has morphed into Thick Waters considering the way the story is developping (yeah, the whole “blood is thicker than water” thing, and a few other clever allusions in there. I’m going to need to research the history of the Seine a bit). It’s occurred to me, reading stuff over the week (two of Kameron Hurley’s awesome posts on Gender Equality, in addition to her novel God’s War, which messes with your head in all the right way, and one from Requires Only That You Hate on female strength in popular UF series), that one of the reasons I’m having trouble with this book is that I’m trying to fit in a typical UF narrative with, er, someone that’s not best suited to it? My MC’s main reaction to anything is unlikely to be ass-kicking, and she’s not very much the lonely vigilante type either. It occurs to me I need a new plot, or a new MC. Or both…
Aka bún tàu xào chả chiên cải bắc thảo (I think), or what to do with a Napa cabbage and some leftover chả chiên that’s a little past its use-by date… It’s got a nice sweet kick that balances the cabbage-y taste of the Napa very fittingly.
- 60g bean thread noodles
- ½ Napa cabbage, sliced
- 250g chả chiên/chả lụa, sliced
- 1 spring onion, sliced
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 1 cup chicken stock
- Put the noodles in cold water for 30 min.
- Meanwhile, wash and slice the cabbage, the chả chiên/chả lụa and the spring onion.
- Mix the hoisin sauce into the chicken stock.
- After 30 min have passed, drain the noodles, and cut them into quarters length-wise.
- In a wok on medium heat, put in a dash of oil, and fry the chả chiên/chả lụa for 1 minute, until warm.
- Then add the spring onion and the Napa cabbage, and fry quickly for 2 minutes.
- Add the noodles and the sauce. Mix so that everything is covered with sauce, and adjust heat to a vigorous simmer.
- Cover, and cook for 10 minutes (you’d think there’d be plenty of sauce left, but the truth is that the noodles will gobble it up, and nothing will be left by the time you take the cover off). Serve in a hot dish.
So, a long, long while ago, I wrote a story called “A Bitter Taste”, a pseudo-Hindu fantasy about war and destined victories (hint: it doesn’t quite turn out the way you’d think ). I subsequently sold it to an anthology called Scheherazade’s Facade, which was about characters who didn’t follow gender conventions (my story had a hermaphrodite). The TOC included awesome people such as Tanith Lee, Sarah Rees Brennan and Paolo Chikiamco. That was the good news. The bad news… well, the anthology never happened, because of the economic situation at the time, and I thought that was the last I’d hear from it.
I should have had more faith. Michael M Jones, the editor, never gave up on it; and he has found an agreement with Cecilia Tan of Circlet Press to publish it. The catch: we have to raise enough money to pay everyone involved: the costs for Circlet, Michael, the contributors and the cover artist (and I hope I’m not forgetting anyone at this stage). Michael is aiming for pro rates; and the prizes include anthologies from Circlet Press as well as more classical bits (like e-copies of the anthology, physical copies, bookmarks).
It’s already past the halfway point, but every little bit helps: if you want to donate, please go here. Thanks in advance!
< sarcasm >
I don’t usually post anything about politics on this blog, but I did want to point this out: if you’re one of the French presidential candidates, aka the ones who have been repeatedly bashing on immigration and foreigners and generally centering the debate on pretty hateful xenophobic stuff, you shouldn’t be surprised that some madman with a gun decides to start shooting minorities they don’t approve of.
< /sarcasm >
(on a not-sarcastic note, my heart goes out to the families of the dead, whether it’s the three soldiers or the schoolchildren and the teacher. It’s a truly devastating thing to go through a death of a loved one, especially without rhyme or reason. And I hope they catch whoever is behind all three shootings before they can make more victims. But I have absolutely no pity for the politicians who think fanning a climate of xenophobia is the way to win a presidential campaign)