Category: con presence

A quick debrief of our London trip

- 0 comments

So…

We have survived the London trip. We stayed in a small flat near Notting Hill, which was very conveniently placed (but very small); and tried to organise so that we actually went places (as opposed to staying in the flat while the snakelet napped). We got to the London Zoo (aquariums are wonderful things when you’re an 11-month-old), Hyde Park, and Marylebone High Street. I also made it to Nine Worlds (briefly), Fantasy in the Court (even more briefly), and Worldcon (extensively).

Nine Worlds sounded lovely for the six or so hours that I was there: a familiar haunt at the Radisson Edwardian hotel, a very diverse programming and crowd, and great panels (the food in SFF panel was awesome fun, and also I want to buy all of Sarah McIntyre’s books. Her jampires–vampires who eat jam–sound fabulous). I can’t really say much about Fantasy in the Court, because I was there really briefly, maybe 30 minutes or so on my way back to said Notting Hill flat (but many thanks to Lavie Tidhar who lent me his mobile phone to text a panicked H).

Worldcon… the actual con was fantastic. Great venue with lots of food places, hotels that weren’t too far away (I heard horror stories about the Ibis styles–the double rooms were apparently horrible, but we got an apartment for 4, which was basically three times larger than the one we had in Notting Hill. Greatly depended what you’d picked), great programming, and the fan village space, which gathered various bid tents, a bar, and a playing space for young children, among other things. I think it’s the first time that’s been done? Anyway, a great idea. I got to catch up with many friends (though there were people I managed to entirely miss :( ), was on fantastic panels, had a lovely signing (there was a queue!) and a lovely reading to a packed room.  The Hugo Awards ceremony was fantastic (aka OMG I got to stand within speaking distance of Peter Davison and David Tennant–even managed to talk to David Benioff for a few minutes before I fully realised who it was I was talking to). I’m sorry I failed to win a Hugo; but it was a well-deserved win for Mary, and overall I’m very happy with the results (*so* happy for John Chu, and also for Kameron Hurley’s double trick).

What wasn’t so great was doing said con with the snakelet. We had hoped to leave him in childcare for his afternoon nap, which would have freed us both to go to the con–it didn’t quite work, partly because childcare didn’t have a dark space for babies to sleep, and partly because the snakelet was in a really clingy mode of “I don’t recognise this place, I want my mommy and daddy”. When you factor in the distance from our hotel to the actual con (a good 20 minutes each way), you can guess what followed: namely, epic sessions of juggling between the H, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and her son, and me to watch over the baby’s naps (including but not limited to: rushing out of meals, bringing takeaway to the room for both of us, skipping lunch altogether). And because I was working the con and the H was not, basically the H didn’t get much of a chance to attend… Much as I love snakelet, I think that next worldcon is going to result in us dropping off snakelet at grandparents and leaving without him.

All that aside, though, it was a great experience. Bring on the next UK con :p

(oh yeah, we seem to have con crud, too. Not a surprise entirely, but an unpleasant welcome gift)

UK, here we come!

- 0 comments

UK, here we come!

We’re at the frantic packing stage, aka “how can we have so much stuff?” (answer: the snakelet collects it).
A reminder of where I’ll be at:
Sunday 10th August (aka “drop-in”): Nine Worlds, schedule here
Thursday 14th August to Sunday 17th August (we’re here Monday but probably running to catch a train back to Paris): Worldcon, schedule here (brief plug: come to my reading on Saturday morning and get an exclusive excerpt from the novel aka post-apocalyptic Paris with magicians).

As Kate Elliott says, I go to cons to meet people, so please don’t hesitate to introduce yourself and/or ask me to sign things. I’ll be glad to talk if not on my way to a panel or other obligation.

Final Worldcon schedule

- 0 comments

So, I got my final Worldcon schedule, and I’m going to be busy (in a pretty awesome way). As a reminder (taking a leaf from Kate Elliott’s book), I go to cons to meet people, so don’t be shy if you see me and want to talk. I’m also quite happy signing stuff and/or talking outside of panels (provided I’m not running on my way to elsewhere, of course!).

Below is where you can find me:

Autographing
Thursday 15:00 – 16:30, Autographing Space (ExCeL)
I will have signed postcards featuring the On a Red Station, Drifting artwork, and possibly a few other books: notably, I’m working on a POD edition of On a Red Station, but am not at all sure I’d have those with me.

Universal Language: Good or Bad?
Thursday 18:00 – 19:00, Capital Suite 14 (ExCeL)
Is a universal language possible? How might that be achieved and would achieving it necessitate destroying our own languages and way of thinking? Would we want to create one in addition to our own languages and if so, should it be spoken or signed?
Michael Burianyk (M), Dr. Bettina Beinhoff, Aliette de Bodard, Anna Feruglio Dal Dan, Jesi Pershing

Feeding the Imagination: Food in SF/F
Friday 11:00 – 12:00, Capital Suite 3 (ExCeL)
The food in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is described in such detail that cookbooks have been published in response. What other genre works have focused heavily on food to develop the world and characters? What does food say about an invented society? Are stories that lack an exploration of the diet of their characters lacking something?
Shana Worthen (M) , Aliette de Bodard, Gillian Polack, Jo Walton , Fran Wilde

Content and Form: Writing SF/F in non-Western Modes
Friday 13:30 – 15:00, Capital Suite 8 (ExCeL)
Sofia Samatar recently suggested that SF genre writers and readers have “a tendency to focus on content rather than form”, even or especially when engaging with marginalised perspectives. Does our genre inevitably tend towards the form and structure of western, English-language stories, regardless of what cultural tradition(s) are reflected in the content? How can a non-western or non-Anglophone writer engage with science fiction and fantasy while also operating outside of the conventions of western-style storytelling? Is it possible for western writers to engage with non-western traditions in an authentic way and produce a story that a wider audience will recognize as science fiction or fantasy? What are some of the different forms offered by non-western cultures that need to be told?
Amal El-Mohtar (M), Aliette de Bodard, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, JY Yang, Nick Wood

Kaffeeklatsch
Friday 17:00 – 18:00, London Suite 5 (ExCeL)

Reading
Saturday 10:00 – 10:30, London Suite 1 (ExCeL)
I haven’t made a firm decision on what I’m reading, but it’s likely to be an excerpt from the novel aka fantasy set in sideways version of Belle Epoque Paris–your chance to find out more ^^

Always Outside, Looking In?
Saturday 15:00 – 16:30, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)
How do writers from non-Anglophone countries relate to so-called “traditional SF”, and the expectations of Anglophone publishers and readers? What are the processes and considerations behind writing in a language that is not your first, or in seeing your work translated into English? While it’s often assumed that non-Anglophone writers all want to see their work reach the English audience, are there any circumstances under which a writer might choose not to? In a 2013 interview on the World SF blog, UAE writer Noura al-Noman said about one of her novels: “The whole idea behind ‘Ajwan’ was to provide Arabic content for teens … The subject matter [sci-fi] made Arabic seem more approachable to them … I am going to wait a bit before I publish it in English.”
Thomas Olde Heuvelt (M), Jesús Cañadas, Aliette de Bodard, Ju Honisch , Floris M. Kleijne

Environmentalism in Anime
Sunday 10:00 – 11:00, Capital Suite 2 (ExCeL)
Images of environmental destruction — or the complete replacement of nature with metal and concrete mega-cities — are common in anime. But there is also a tradition of anime and manga that preserves and honours nature: think of MuShiShi, or Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Where else are ecologically-aware narratives found, and what is their focus? Is the environmentalism of anime primarily one of nostalgia and conservationism, or technological conquest?
Anushia Kandasivam (M), Adrian (Ade) Brown, Aliette de Bodard, Ian Murphy

Sunday evening, from 6pm onwards: Hugo Reception, Hugo Awards and Hugo Losers’ Ceremony.
I am ready to deliver on my promise to bring a snakelet in a suit onstage, should I (against all odds) find myself in a position to give an acceptance speech.

Worldcon draft programme

- 0 comments

So this isn’t definitive by any means, but I’ve been allowed to share my draft Worldcon programme, and it looks great!

Thursday 18:00 – 19:00: Universal Language: Good or Bad? (ooooh… I’ve seldom been on a panel about languages, actually, despite my, hum, experience, I guess? This should be really great).

Friday 11:00 – 12:00 Feeding the Imagination: Food in SF/F (I need not explain why I’m particularly happy to geek out about food for an entire panel ^^)

Friday 13:30 – 15:00: Content and Form: Writing SF/F in non-Western Modes (aka a panel Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and I have been discussing for a while. Very happy to see it on the programme. It should be awesome!).

Saturday 15:00 – 16:30: Always Outside, Looking In? (aka non-Anglophone SF. There’s a pretty good variety of people on this with varying experiences of being published in English, which should make for fascinating conversation)

Sunday 10:00 – 11:00: Environmentalism in Anime (should be really fun. Never had that kind of conversations about anime)

Finncon 2013 report

- 3 comments

So… as people might have noticed, I was Guest of Honour at Finncon 2013 in Helsinki. This was my first stint as a GoH, and all I can say is wow. This set a really high bar for GoH gigs.

Helsinki Harbour

The H and I flew into Helsinki on Wednesday afternoon (after a brief negotiation session with the airline, who for some reason had decided I was too far along in my pregnancy to fly and dubiously eyed my gynecologist’s certificate that I could fly). After resting in the hotel, we headed to Harald, a Viking restaurant complete with plastic helmets, where we met the con people and the other guests of the convention (Peter Watts, Caitlin Sweet, Finnish author J. Pekka Mäkelä, academic Stefan Eckman, Cheryl Morgan and Swedish authors Mats Strandberg and Sara B Elfgren), and had lots and lots of food, complete with Viking roleplaying game in which many speeches were made and some rotting shark meat was consumed (by Peter, who drew the short straw on this one, but who got to be initiated as a Viking with a nifty certificate).

Thursday was the day of the press conference at the Helsinki Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, where I saw hard copies of my Finnish short story collection, Perhonen ja Jaguaari (The Butterfly and the Jaguar), met my publishers (Osuuskumman is a publishing cooperative, which means many members!), and had a lovely interview about World SF. This was followed by a cruise around the Helsinki archipelago (wonderful landscapes), a quick shopping trip to find the Moomin shop (which resulted in the acquisition of an apron), and an evening spent at a sauna. I couldn’t do the sauna thing, sadly, but it looked like an experience–after finishing in the sauna, participants took a dip in the nearby (icy) sea and emerged much reinvigorated, and about ready to try the wonderful buffet of Finnish delicacies (courtesy of Hanna and Maya), which included moose meatballs, Karelian cake (pastry and rice. I was in love), cranberry fizzy drink (which actually tasted like berry and not like sugar), fresh mushroom pie, and a variety of barbecued food (the stuffed mushrooms wrapped in bacon were a big hit, very nicely juicy and tasty).

Then it was time for the con proper, which lasted over three days. The Cable Factory is actually a series of rooms spread around a courtyard, which made for interesting going-arounds (you had to go in and out of buildings); the dealers’ room was *huge* and stuffed with entirely too many books (I resisted temptation, but the H succumbed). All in all, it was a very busy event, and I’m sorry I had to miss on some of it (naps were my best friends, and panels can be pretty draining!). I was joined at the hip to Tom Crosshill, for some odd reason; we did a short story workshop together (my first teaching experience!), an GoH interview, and a bunch of panels. The English-language track was very interesting: we went to a hilarious panel about TV series that never were with Cailtin Sweet and Karin Tidbeck, and attended  Peter Watts’ GoH talk about researching Blindsight full of interesting science tidbits, and I got to catch up with Karin Tidbeck and Nene Ormes (who has such beautiful covers for her Swedish urban fantasy series that I wish I could actually read the language!). At least it looks like Mats and Sara’s book, The Circle, is available in English; I’ve bookmarked it for future checking-out.

Photography by Henry Söderlund

There was also some great costuming going on; the T-Rex has got to be the most unforgettable costume I’ve ever seen (complete with sound effects!), but you also had Zelda, Harley Quinn, Iron Man (shown here in the Tardis!), … I had to miss on the parties due to major fatigue crashes, but I did manage to make the Dead Dog Party Sunday night, in which much fun was had (and many fajitas consumed). Overall, a really great experience–thanks to all organisers and the attendees, and I hope to make it to another Finncon where I actually try the sauna and eat the smoked fish (and party until the end of the night, though I realise that is unlikely to happen any time soon…)

Oh, and if you want more Finland in your conventions? The same team (or at least a team with a significant amount of overlap) is putting in a bid for Worldcon in Helsinki in 2015, which looks set to be a truly awesome convention (plus, come on, you know you’ve always wanted to try a sauna by the sea). If you’re involved in Worldcon site selection or want to be involved, can I suggest checking them out?

(other people can correct me on this, but it looks like you have to be at least a supporting member of LoneStarCon 3 to vote? The instructions here seem to indicate there’s an additional fee involved?)

Nebula Awards brief checking-in

- 0 comments

Having a lovely time at the Nebulas–had two interviews (one with Locus, and one with Juliette Wade and Jaym Gates), an autographing session that had a surprising number of people turn up (considering I had no books for sale at the moment), a lovely dinner with Sheila Williams in a grill place (yum salmon), and sort of managed to stay awake during the reception for the Nebula Awards nominees (sort of. I dozed off and they had to wake me up when they were about to make the announcements :p).

If I ever needed confirmation that pregnancy plus jetlag is a bad combination…

Today is the big day; I’m counting on adrenaline to keep me awake until the Awards ceremony (a nice idea in principle, but in reality I’m not really sure how much I have to spare). Off to have a shower, and to hunt down my breakfast.

Eastercon schedule

- 2 comments

Since it’s gone public on the website, here’s my Eastercon schedule as it looks now:

Saturday, 12 noon, Main: “Non Western SF and Fantasy”

Anglophone writers and books by westerners still dominate the bookshelves, but Japan, China and India (to take three examples) also have thriving sff traditions. The panel look at the trends outside the Anglophone and western worlds. Rochita Loenen-Ruiz moderates Aliette de Bodard, Stephane Marsan, Sarah Newton and Gillian Redfearn.

Saturday, 17:00, Rowan, “Motherhood in SF and Fantasy”

Where are the mothers in our depictions of future societies and fantasy worlds? Very often absent or ignored. Our panel looks at the depictions of motherhood and asks what more we can do. Terry Jackman moderates Aliette de Bodard, Chris Beckett, Mike Cobley and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz.

Saturday, 19:00, Conservatory, “Get-Together”

Meet authors and get books signed

Sunday, 11:00, Rowan, “Why is the Future Drawn so White?”

When the protagonist of Justine Larbalastier’s Liar was whitewashed in the cover art, both the author and the internet were outraged and the cover was eventually changed. Yet characters of colour are still all too often absent or elided. How can we work to challenge this and why does it happen? Caroline Hooton moderates Dev Agarwal, Aliette de Bodard, CE Murphy, Tajinder Singh Hayer and Stephanie Saulter.

Sunday, 13:00, Boardroom, “Advice for Writers: Setting”

Practical experience and observations on writing believable and detailed environments. Darren Nash moderates Chris Beckett, Aliette de Bodard, Simon Morden and Gaie Sebold.

Sunday, 19:00, Main, “BSFA Awards/Loncon 3 update”

Award Administrator Donna Scott and Master of Ceremonies Paul Cornell, assisted by our Guests of Honour, present the BSFA Awards for 2012. They then hand over to the LonCon 3 team for a presentation and update on next year’s UK Worldcon. (I’ll be presenting the James White Award at the beginning of the ceremony)

WFC con report

- 0 comments

So, WFC (among other things):
-Managed to look rather odd at the EPIC launch–when asked “what was the first epic fantasy book you read?”, my go-to answer ended up being “The Iliad and assorted (Asian) myths” (everyone else went for actual Western fantasy; I felt myself going scarlet)
-Hung out at parties and had great fun, though soon wished for less noise and less population density
-Got together with Amal El-Mohtar, Tempest Bradford, Julia Rios, Katie, Bek, and Jeannine for GymCon, aka learning all about gyms, squats, planks and weight-lifting. I can’t say I’ve come back determined to join my nearest gym as soon as possible, but I no longer feel as daunted by the prospect of going to the gym, and it’s certainly made me want to try some exercise
-Gatecrashed Jeff Vandermeer’s “Lost in Translation” panel with a decided lack of preparation (Agnes Cadieux, the missing panelist, had an emergency and couldn’t make it), but managed to make it through the hour
-Had a conversation with Ted Chiang at the massive autograph session and tried not to appear too fangirl/shy (I fear I failed at both)
-Had great Chinese food (and cháo/congee for breakfast!), including awesome dim sum (I have to say this makes me even more determined to get to Hong Kong or Singapore and find the best places there), and a hot pot/Chinese fondue at 3am
-Am possibly one of the few people who went to Toronto and brought back a pair of cooking chopsticks and 10 pairs of wooden eating ones (the H and I have tourist-quality chopsticks bought in Hà Nội, obviously not meant for daily eating, and the only ones I can find in Paris’ 13th District are short low-quality bamboo ones). Kind of regret I didn’t have time to look a bit deeper and that most stuff was closed on Sunday. (have no fear, I also brought back a huge pot of maple syrup and a big bag of maple sugar–had to get back typical souvenirs after all!).

All in all, it was a great con. I got to hang out with many great people, to meet old friends and make new ones (and sign books–Obsidian and Blood sold out within the dealers’ room, much to my delight). Can’t wait for Brighton to come around!

Reopening Day

- 0 comments

Just a quick post to say that I am back, having had a great WFC–more later, but major congratulations to friends Lavie Tidhar and Ken Liu for their World Fantasy Award wins (thrilled for Ken, who has done the hat trick of winning the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award in the same year with his “Paper Menagerie”, though for my money I still think “The Man Who Ended History: a Documentary” was a stronger and more thought-provoking tale).

That’s it for tonight; I shall get myself to bed…

My WFC schedule

- 2 comments

Here’s my World Fantasy Convention schedule: this time around, lots of readings… All of this is assuming that I make it to Toronto, of course–because at the moment, it looks like Sandy and I will be making landfall in Toronto at about the same time Wednesday evening… My flight goes through Montreal, so it looks like I can make it to Canada fine, but there’s a very high probability I might end up stuck in Montreal on Wednesday :(

  • Thursday 2:30pm-3:00pm: reading. Will be reading a longer portion from the novella On a Red Station, Drifting. Come if you like Vietnamese on space stations, food porn and strong female characters!
  • Friday 1pm-3pm: group reading for John Joseph Adams’ Epic anthology (aka sharing a TOC with Ursula Le Guin and Kate Elliott, squee!). Vice President Suite (room number 1073) in the Sheraton. The Epic authors present include Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Pat Rothfuss, and George R.R. Martin, so I’m assuming it shouldn’t be too hard to find… Will be reading about half of “As the Wheel Turns”, a story that’ll also be published on Lightspeed on Nov. 6th. Aka: reincarnations, Chinese philosophy and the power of choices to shape several lifetimes

Any other times will include my being in the bar–feel free to grab me and say hi, I don’t bite :)