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MIRcon 2014

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December 6th-December 8th

Will be attending MIRcon Uranik in Montcada i Reixac (near Barcelona), Spain.

Among many other activities, I will deliver a speech–the jury is still out on whether said speech will be in Spanish… (I speak Spanish fluently, I’m just not sure I can do that in front of a large audience). I don’t do this speech thing very often, so this is your chance!

Schedule and details forthcoming.

RIP Jay Lake

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Not exactly a surprise, but… darn.

I’m not quite sure what to say, other than he leaves a big, gaping hole in the world. He could light up a room like no one else; and he was always generous and honest–chronicling the daily life with the cancer that ultimately killed him. My thoughts go out to his family and friends: he will be much missed. Rest in peace, Jay.

How to spend a holiday with a baby

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Make a plan for visits. On the day before, when the baby isn’t sleeping because they’re not used to this new environment, and crying all the time because they don’t like the local high chair (or the local food, you’re not sure which), take a long look at your program and divide by two.

On the day itself, take a long look at your program and divide by two again.

As the day progresses and as the baby gets increasingly cranky through lack of sleep (it turns out that you have been handed the model of baby that doesn’t sleep in the car, in the baby carrier or in the stroller unless they’re extremely tired), cancel activities.

Realise you’ve only done half the morning program. Be happy that you managed one visit in the day!

Also, if returning by car to your home city on a very busy weekend: learn the trick of nursing the baby wedged between the car seat and the luggage in the back seat, with the car stopped just behind the exit to the motorway and your husband growing increasingly impatient as the minutes pile up and the baby still won’t let go of you. Additional tricks: be prepared to maintain your position right by the baby’s car seat and rub their tummy to keep them comforted and amused while stuck in traffic, while simultaneously trying to rehydrate yourself and keep your sugar levels up.

Aka: London should be *so* much fun.

(it wasn’t all doom and gloom though: we did convince the snakelet that a restaurant was a good stopping point, and managed to spend 2 hours gorging on awesome French food, though my side of it looked a bit bereft of interesting desserts due to lactose intolerance. Aka: the French do put crème fraîche and milk in everything, don’t they…).

Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day

So apparently it’s Mother’s Day here, and the snakelet and the H teamed up to give me a gift: a Dumpling Cube. Apparently, it’s a mini dumpling press. Does four dumplings at the same time (my critical self points out that there’s some loss of dough involved, but the time gain is quite possibly worth it), and comes with its own pastry cutter. Will report once I’ve tested it :)

Series review: Real Humans and Borgen

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Series review: Real Humans and Borgen

A little gem from Sweden and one from Denmark:

-Real Humans (Äkta människor), season 1, is set in the near future, at a time when humanoid robots (hubots) have become ubiquitous, fulfilling every job from caretaker for the aged to construction workers or sex toys. The storyline follows several linked individuals: the children of David Eischer are a group of hubots upgraded to have free will, and on the run from the authorities with plans of their own; the Engman family is the recipient of a new hubot, and its members struggle to adjust their attitude to it, from the mother who insists on treating her like a human being to the son who falls in love with her; and their neighbour Roger who, abandoned by his wife for her hubot lover, joins an anti-hubot movement… 

This was a really interesting character-focused thriller, with a nuanced examination of various characters. There were a few stumbles (near the ending, I thought a few too many new-ish motivations came to the fore a little too quickly), but it’s still masterful. The examination of what people do to hubots, and the questions on the nature of free will, are really great; and I loved that the series, in the end, doesn’t take positions but encourages you, the viewer, to decide where you are standing. Also loved that the two competing groups trying to transform/preserve society–the children of David Eischer and the government officials in pursuit of them–are shown as equally ruthless. And, finally, it’s quite nice to see a balanced cast, where everyone has their own contributions to make (in some series I have the feeling there’s, say, three main characters and everyone is playing second fiddle to them to the point of being almost flattened out of existence); and a cast with very strong female roles (the heart of the Engman family is Inger, the fierce lawyer wife–we never even learn what it is that her husband does). Bonus points for the queer pastor who is just awesome.

As I understand, there is a series 2 that recently aired in Sweden. The DVDs are coming out at the end of the month, and the H is already pestering me to buy them. That should tell you how much we’ve both enjoyed it.

-Borgen: I’d watched Season 1 of Borgen earlier, and was surprised to enjoy it much more than The Killing. I’m probably getting a little bored with crime dramas at the moment… We watched season 2 recently, where State Minister (Danish Prime Minister) Birgitte Nyborg struggles to keep her government together amidst political backstabbing and family crises. It’s still pretty good: I love the theme of the series, the troubled relation between the media and the politicians (not exclusive to Denmark, sadly!); and the necessity to make compromises that may not be the best moral choices in order to achieve one’s goal. In many ways, Birgitte’s trajectory mirrors that of Troels Hartmann in the Killing–an idealistic politician who discovers that she can’t always have what she wants–; though she is more experienced than Troy from the outset, and shown as a fierce negotiator and politician even before she accedes to the post. For all its desire to grapple with complex subjects ranging from depression to war crimes, it’s actually a pretty optimistic series about human nature; probably why I prefer it to The Killing, which comes to pretty much the opposite conclusion… (not sure how to feel about the double-parter about Denmark getting involved in a civil war in a fictitious African country which looks a hell of a lot like Sudan: on the one hand, true to what actually happens today: on the other hand, a few too many easy clichés, and I would have liked a little more examination of this interference and its cost. But minor stuff, altogether). Well worth watching.

(I could also easily have done without the French tag line of “A woman in the Spheres of Power”, which implies there is something special and unique about Birgitte. Am not sure it was the tag line in Denmark, because the series most certainly never treat Birgitte’s gender like it’s something special, and indeed a lot of her fellow politicians are also women).

Nebula Award post thoughts

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Nebula Award post thoughts

Uh. I would appear to be the owner of a brand-new Nebula Award for Best Novelette, for my Xuya space opera “The Waiting Stars”.

Copy-pasting my acceptance speech here:

I am honoured–and vaguely shocked–that I get a repeat performance at the Nebulas this year. Many thanks to everyone who voted for me and helped spread the word, and to my co-nominees, who all made this category such a difficult one to vote in! This story wouldn’t have come to pass without the fabulous Athena Andreadis and Kay Holt and their awesome anthology project of female-dominated space opera. I am indebted, as always, to Rochita Loenen-Ruiz for the friendship, to Ken Liu for being such a great first reader; to Sylvia, who kindly accepted to deliver this speech; and, as always, to my family for the support and love. Many thanks.

Many many thanks as well to everyone working behind the scenes to make the awards possible; and in particular to Steven H. Silver (who, among many other things, bugged me for my acceptance speech and is making sure I get the award mailed home). I am sorry I didn’t make it to San José this year–I would have loved to meet everyone, but the thought of a 12-hour international flight with the snakelet in my arms was…. a little too much? :p (I’m a little miffed as well–I didn’t actually realise the time difference was so important and assumed the Nebulas were happening in the middle of the night for me; in reality, they must have been handing the award about 30 minutes before I got up this morning–though to be fair, I got up early because the snakelet didn’t want to sleep anymore…).

And many congrats to the other winners–Ann Leckie, Vylar Kaftan, Rachel Swirsky, Alfonso Cuaron and Nalo Hopkinson, and Grand Master Samuel Delany. It is an awesome slate this year, and I am very proud to be part of it (am now crossing my fingers Ancillary Justice gets a well-deserved Hugo).

Anyway, this is me in a state of shock. I will go off and see why the snakelet is screaming his head off… #proudmom

(picture courtesy of Kennedy Brandt)

Helsinki in 2017

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Helsinki in 2017

I’ve just backed the Finnish bid for bringing the Worldcon to Helsinki in 2017. It’s an incredible team (I’ve been to Finncon as a Guest of Honour and it was an awesome experience complete with sauna, reindeer meatballs and island cruises). If you want more information about the bid, it’s here; and they would appreciate your support! (also, they have Moomin merchandise for the most generous among us :p).