A reminder: I'm looking for short, funny stories inspired by space opera for our annual Stocking Stuffer.
Deadline 29 October. 750 words strict max. £30. Details are all here.
The player characters are all affiliated with a group called The Rational Society, based out of Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts. Not an official University organization, the society developed partly as a reaction to the increasing acceptance of parapsychology as an academic subject, starting with Stanford’s experiments in 1911. The Rational Society, which includes faculty and staff as well as outsiders who share its views, operates on the basis that everything is explicable, even if the explanation is bizarre or outré.
The Rationalists Involved
Professor Dora Eaton (Rebecca Levene - @BexLevene), middle-aged Professor of Child Psychology at Miskatonic is an expat Englishwoman with some challenging views on childhood development.
Nelly Blythe (Kim Curran - @KimeCurran) is a local journalist known for going to extreme lengths in pursuit of a story. She recently had herself committed to an asylum to expose the unnecessary institutionalization of women, a rouse that she was very nearly unable to extract herself from.
“Reggie” Fermier (Scott Lynch - @ScottLynch78) in his guise as “The Great Roderick Royal” is a moderately well-known stage illusionist and slightly better-known debunker of mystics, psychics and other charlatans, which is what brought him to the Society.
Dr Bernard Chambers (Jonathan L Howard - @JonathanLHoward) of the University’s Chemistry department. A leader in his field, and aware of the peculiarities allowed by quantum theory; of them all, Bernard is probably the most likely to allow that explanations may come from outside that which is currently known.
One of the highlights of 2013’s inaugural Nine Worlds Geekfest convention was the Good vs Evil debate.
Full disclosure: I moderated the Good vs Evil debate – with the help of an Eye of Sauron talking toy – and the debate became so raucous that we got complaints from the Doctor Who panel going on next door. (Sorry, guys.) Good won out in the end, thanks to a not-at-all arbitrary point-scoring system which I instituted and maintained in secret. And explained to no one. (Which might suggest that, in fact, evil actually won the day. As you see, the debate rages on.)
In any event, the debate was popular enough that we’re doing more this year. And since we can’t do good versus evil again, we’ve moved along to two new and fruitful topics: science fiction versus fantasy, and dragons vs werewolves vs vampires vs warlocks.
And both will be moderated by a completely impartial, eminently* qualified** judge: me.
On Saturday we’ll be hosting the ultimate deathmatch smackdown between dragons, werewolves, vampires and warlocks. Each panellist will be arguing for their team: Elizabeth Bear will be counsel for dragons, Gail Carriger will be on deck for werewolves, Joanne Harris will be making the case for vampires, and Scott Lynch will be representing warlocks. Audio-visuals will be encouraged, as will funny voices and pantomime. You won’t want to miss it.
On Sunday we’ll decide the eternal debate between science fiction and fantasy. Blasters or bastard blades? Spaceships or sorcery? No middle ground will be tolerated (although, if anyone switches sides halfway through the debate… well, Her Honour will take the betrayal into consideration before rendering her verdict.) Daniel Polansky and Liz Bourke will be counsel for Fantasy, while Geoffrey Ryman and Zen Cho will be representing Science Fiction. As before, funny voices and sound effects will be encouraged.
Your completely impartial judge, jury and executioner will also be taking audience participation into account before rendering her verdicts. So, if you’ve got a horse in any of these races (or just like shouting about science fiction, werewolves, and mangled judicial processes) please come along!
*I have a lot of opinions about all these topics.
** I watch a lot of courtroom dramas.
Here's where we are - and how to find us - at the two big London conventions this summer.
We're there from Thursday night to Sunday night, doing the wild and crazy ALL OF THE BOOKS thing. Generally speaking, you can find us in the BOOKS room (County C&D), but we're also planning ahead and making sure that we can do lots of other activities (I'm desperate to steampunk-style a Nerf gun and Anne's off to gin tasting...)
As for actually being on programming, Anne will be chairing the following debated:
And I'm moderatin', Texas-style:
We are both on:
But, again, we'll be around all weekend - so please, please, please come, introduce yourselves and chat for a bit! If you're a morning person, the CoffeeKitsch is meant to be a chilled-out sort of thing, where we can all introduce ourselves properly and make new acquaintances (also, free coffee).
There will be tons of Jurassic London books on sale in the dealer room and the CoffeeKitsch is sponsored by The Kitschies.
Anne's on the following programming:
We're both at the Hugo Awards (look for: 'back row', 'dinosaur onesies', 'inappropriate giggling').
And, finally, we're teaming up with Justin (Staffer's Book Review), Ana and Thea (The Book Smugglers) for an informal blogger hangout on Saturday, 9 pm in the 'Fan Village'. This is not on the programme (or part of the official programming), we're just, you know, hangin'. Please come along!
If you spot us, please say hi! We look forward to meeting a lot of our online pen-pals in person.
Irregularity is about the tension between order and chaos in the 17th and 18th centuries. Men and women from all walks of life dedicated themselves to questioning, investigating, classifying and ordering the natural world.
These brave thinkers dedicated themselves and their lives to the idea that the world followed rules that human endeavour could uncover... but what if they were wrong?
This anthology is published to coincide with Ships, Clocks and Stars, a major exhibition on the story of the quest for longitude at sea National Maritime Museum. The Museum has also our partner for the creation of Irregularity, including access to their archives for materials, imagery and inspiration.
The launch party is at the National Maritime Museum this evening, as part of their Dark and Stormy Late. Hope to see you there!
A huge, vast, immeasurable thank you to all of the contributors: writers, artists, proofreaders, fact-checkers, image-finders and launch-makers. This anthology had a vast army of irregulars (sorry) behind it, and it wouldn't have been possible without them.
Hardcover via National Maritime Museum
The 2014 Kitschies are now open for submissions - if you're a publisher-type, you can learn about what to do here.
This year's Red and Golden judges are a pretty spectacular lot: Kate Griffin (one of last year's judges), Adam Roberts, Frances Hardinge (both previous finalists for the Red Tentacle), Kim Curran and Glen Mehn. As always it is a nice range of academics, authors and readers, fantasy, SF, YA and more. Details here. There's a great line-up in the works for the Inky Tentacle as well, which will be announced later.
The prize also has a new Director: Glen Mehn. As well as being a wonderfully enthusiatic genre reader, Glen's a social entrepeneur by trade - his actual profession is making good ideas happen (which makes running The Kitschies a bit of a busman's holiday, I suspect). Glen's been a member of the prize's board for two years and has demonstrated that he is, appropriately enough, incredibly progressive, supremely intelligent and vastly entertaining. The prize is in great - the best - hands. Please wave a tentacle at him at @gmehn and, of course, @thekitschies.
Anne and I are both immensely proud of The Kitschies. Somehow, over the course of five years, it grew from a silly idea into a good one into a - miraculously - working one. We did a lot right (sometimes intentionally) and a lot wrong (and mostly learned from our mistakes), and, on the whole, we're really delighted with what the prize accomplished.
The very nature of the award is a progressive one - Anne and I always wanted it to become better every single year. And that means that, unlike our noble squid totem, we've had to learn to let go. Anne had to cease direct involvement with the award when she joined Hodder & Stoughton over two years ago and, after five years with the prize, it is my time to move on as well. Thank you to all the friends, judges, publishers, authors, bloggers, libraries, booksellers, sponsors and readers that got us this far. Like you, we can't wait to see what happens next.
Your quick reference to today's events:
The recipe for pulled pork that we're using is here. (Although we eschewed their rub for one of our own. Plus, lots of chipotle peppers. Yum.)
"Monsters and Mullets" - Anne's series of reviews of [other] [terrible] 80s fantasy movies.
See you at 4ish!
In the spirit of the Hugo Awards, we wanted our "Trolling the Hugos" session to have several thousand pages of incomprehensible rules. Except in this case, we're not doing something as trivial as deciding the year's "Best Novel". No no no... we're drinking.
Ana, Anne and I have never seen the infamous Troll duology, so we selected random things based on the movies' IMDB pages. Thea, who has actually seen the movies (bless her), vetted them for spoilers and gave us her blessing.
Each movie has sipping occasions (everyone sips) and drinking occasions (one person has to down their drink). For the sake of even-liveredness, we've divided the drinking occasions between us at random, and we're not entirely sure when they even take place in the movies.
(Please don't spoil this for us. The omnipresent threat of drink-downing is part of the fun.)
Here are the rules -
...just not how you might expect.
Ana and Thea (The Book Smugglers), Anne and I are all going to be watching Troll and Troll 2 this Sunday. From three different locations.
We are going to:
It'll kick off at 11 am Thea-time (EDT) and 4 pm Ana/Anne/Jared-time (BST).
Please join in (or mute us) for the mayhem.
Irregularity is another collaboration with the fantastic people at the National Maritime Museum. And, as the nice people at Tor.com say, "it promises to do for the Age of Reason what The Lowest Heaven did for the exploration of space". At least, so I hope.
The anthology contains fourteen absolutely amazing stories, the artwork of Gary Northfield and Howard Hardiman and the National Maritime Museum, an afterword from Sophie Waring and Richard Dunn, and other astoundingness. The stories came from a combination of stealthy recruitment (blackmail, mostly) and open submissions. They're all on the theme of humanity's Quixotic desire to bring order to the universe. And what results when (or if) the universe doesn't feel like cooperating.
The stories are by Nick Harkaway, Claire North, Rose Biggin, Kim Curran, Richard de Nooy, E. J. Swift, M. Suddain, Tiffani Angus, Archie Black, James Smythe, Henrietta Rose-Innes, Simon Guerrier, Roger Luckhurst and Adam Roberts. And they feature Isaac Newton, Ada Lovelace, John Harrison, Christopher Wren and Émilie du Chatelet, as well as time travel, monsters, evolution, robot dinosaurs, flowers, black holes and spiders (shudder).
Irregularity is out on 24 July as a paperback and an ebook. There's also the "Meridian Edition", which is limited to 100 copies and is a properly beautiful object: a combination of ultra-modern and 17th century book design. Sign up here to be notified as soon as it goes on sale.