Category: con presence

Finncon 2013 report

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 :)

Bristolcon schedule

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So, I’m attending Bristolcon next Saturday (where I’ll be catching up with lots of friends): here’s my schedule in case you’re interested. In between panels, I’ll be where the drinks are…

  • 10:00-10:45: Colonising the Solar system: Many recent science fiction books, including Blue Remembered Earth by Al Reynolds, andThe Quiet War by Paul McAuley, are set in a solar system colonized by mankind. What would it take to make this happen? Could we really adapt to live on the Moon or Mars? Will space exploration ever be economic? With Guy Haley (mod), Michael Dollin, Aliette de Bodard, Ben Jeapes, Dev Agarwal
  • 10:50-10:55: Reading. Not entirely sure what I’ll be reading with: either the forthcoming Immersion Press novella On a Red Station, Drifting, or the urban fantasy novel. Either way, something no one but very few people have seen before… 
  • 12:00-12:45: Kaffeklatsch. You can sign up in advance for it here
  • 13:00-13:45: The stress of space travel on family relationships: Returning to Earth to find yourself younger than your own grand-children isn’t just a headache for the greetings-card industry. The panel looks at depictions of the family and wonders, are all families in SF fiction dysfunctional? With Dev Agarwal (mod), Emma Newman, Aliette de Bodard, Gareth L Powell, Leigh Kennedy
  • 14:00-14:45: Book launch of Stephanie Burgis’s A Reckless Magic, followed by general signing (I’ll have copies of Obsidian and Blood on hand!)

Upcoming: SFF/BSFA mini-con

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Just a quick reminder I’ll be in London this weekend for the BSFA/SFF mini-con and AGM, as a guest of the Science Fiction Foundation (for which many many thanks to them!). Takes places from 10:00 to 16:30 at The Royal Astronomical Society, Burlington House, on Piccadilly, in London. W1J 0BQ. Halfway between Piccadilly Circus and Green Park stations, on the north side of the street. I’ll be there the entire time, and will participate in two features: one interview, and one panel on SF and Colonialism with Lavie Tidhar, Maureen Kincaid Speller and Sophia McDougall. The other guest of honour is astronomer Marek Kukula.

I, uh, don’t have much idea of what I’m up to, other than this engagement, having lunch on Sunday, and presumably wandering into Forbidden Planet at some point :)

ETA: I have the con schedule, thanks to Shana Worthen and Simon Bradshaw

10:00 am Welcome (SFF)
10:05 am BSFA Event
11 am Aliette de Bodard interview with Edward James
12 pm – 12:45 SFF AGM
12:45 pm – 1: 45 pm Lunch
1:45 pm – 2:30 pm BSFA AGM
2:30 pm – Marek Kukula talk
3:30 pm – SF & Colonialism panel with Aliette de Bodard, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Lavie Tidhar, and Sophia McDougall (moderator)
4:30 Concluding Remarks (BSFA)

ProspectArt in Bucharest meeting report

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So, I thought I’d report a bit on the Bucharest event, aka how I was made to feel like a rock star… The original plan was for me to get to the event at 17:00, read a bit from “Immersion”, and then answer some interview questions. Cristian Tamas, who had kindly set up the entire thing (originally, I asked him if he was game for a coffee…), offered to meet for the (original) coffee at 14:00 and have a little tour of Bucharest. I had no idea the “little tour” would involve being whisked around all the major tourist sights of the entire city while having fascinating commentary on the history of Romania and SFF in Romania. Wow. Neither did I expect a crowd of 10-15 people to actually show up to see me at the actual event; and even less the positively dithyrambic introduction of me and my works by Cristian (I had this strong urge to hide under a chair, lol).


Me, reading. Yes, I really made some funny faces while reading. Blame my theatre experience.

Things I learnt when reading: don’t start a 6000-word reading without a bottle of water nearby, it’s a mistake you’ll soon rue. Also, “Rồng” when pronounced English-style really is undistinguishable from “wrong”, which is a little problematic for actual comprehension… And, finally, it’s really hard to mix Vietnamese and English when talking, unless it’s for safe words like “phở” that I know very well… But it went well overall; at least no one ran away screaming :D

Among the attendees were Cristian Tamas, Eugen Lenghel, Marian Truta, Alexandru Mironov, Sorin Repanovici, and Jack Feinberg (sorry, didn’t get everyone’s names!). You can see the Romanian report on the meeting here.

Afterwards, we repaired to a nearby restaurant, where we ate nice Romanian cuisine (I’d been in Bucharest for two days but only managed to eat Italian, go figure), and continued to talk about anything from movies to video games. And Cristian very kindly got us back to our hotel afterwards. Overall, it was a really great experience, and it was really nice to talk to a science fiction community outside of the usual US/UK/French suspects (and I really felt embarrassed about all the fuss made around me, lol)

Also, it was really funny to see the H’s face when Cristian introduced him to everyone as “Monsieur de Bodard”. That was really priceless :) :)

(thanks to Eugen Lenghel for the pictures)

ProspectArt meeting in Bucharest

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I guess I should actually post about this: I’ll be in Bucharest May 17th-May 20th for personal reasons; but Cristian Tamas has very kindly offered me to take part in the SRSFF ProspectArt meeting on Friday May 18th, from 17:00. Location is the Calderon Cultural Center, 39, Jean-Louis Calderon Street, sector 2. I’ll be interviewed for a bit, and then read from one of my as-yet unpublished short stories (very probably “Immersion” or “The Two Sisters in Exile”, which barely anyone has seen yet!).

You can find more information about the event (in Romanian) here [1]. And for those of you who can make it, I look forward to seeing you there!

(and, hum, aside from this, if anybody has recommendations on what the H and I should see while in Bucharest, go ahead)


[1] I don’t speak a word of Romanian, but google translate tells me it says very blush-inducing things about me and my fiction…