The Doctor’s Monsters

•October 28, 2012 • Leave a Comment

It’s been crazy busy here – as you may be able to tell from the lack of updates. (And I still have at least three very exciting pieces of news to share over the next month or so…) But I should definitely record the publication of my book The Doctor’s Monsters: Meanings of the Monstrous in Doctor Who. I’ve just updated my page about the book, including the first reviews I’ve seen. Needless to say, I’m terribly proud of it and hope that anyone who buys it finds it enjoyable and stimulating. You can order it from Amazon UK here.

I hope to be doing a few blogposts/online chats and the like over the next few weeks to promote the book (and please get in touch if you’re interested in me doing one for your site.) I’ll flag these up here as they happen…

News, pt 1

•October 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Well, I admit it’s taken me a bit longer than I was hoping, but here’s the first couple of bits of news I have:

Parabolas cover1) I will have an essay in a forthcoming volume from Wesleyan University Press, Parabolas of Science Fiction, edited by Brian Attebery and Veronica Hollinger, due to be published in May 2013. The book takes off from Brian’s well-known idea that sf (and other generic forms) tend to follow a “parabola” of expectations and plotting. My own chapter is about the idea that there are some stories that break the frame of generic expectations in some way – and yes, this does give me the chance to talk about Joanna Russ’s Hope Mirrlees homage “The Zanzibar Cat” again… The other contributors are an extremely distinguished group: Jane Donawerth, Terry Dowling, L. Timmel Duchamp, Rachel Haywood Ferreira, Pawel Frelik, David M. Higgins, Amy J. Ransom, John Rieder, Nicholas Ruddick, Gary K. Wolfe, and Lisa Yaszek. The book can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK and US.

2) I will be one of the tutors at the forthcoming Science Fiction Foundation Masterclass in Liverpool in July 2013, along with Nick Lowe and Catherynne M. Valente. Very much looking forward to this: I’ve hugely enjoyed the couple of sf teaching gigs I’ve done over the year, and I’m already thinking about reading lists and the like. Details on how to apply are here.

On (collectively) winning a Hugo Award

•September 29, 2012 • 1 Comment

ImageI have a number of pieces of news over the next week, so I’m going to spread them out into individual posts over the next few days.  The first is the most belated: at the start of the month (as noted earlier) I attended Chicon 7, the World Sf convention in Chicago. In particular, I attended the Hugo Award ceremony on the Sunday night, and was surprised and delighted when the SF Encyclopedia won the Hugo for Best Related Work. Since my fellow editors John Clute, David Langford, and Peter Nicholls couldn’t be there, I wound up accepting on behalf of the SFE team. Unfortunately (and, now, famously – it was a story on CNN at one point) the video stream of the awards was cut about fifteen minutes before our award was announced. But ustream – the company responsible – have now reposted the whole thing here. You can see the SFE’s category, and my speech, from 1.49.45.


A couple of specific things to say. First, as I mentioned in my speech, the SFE is a huge collective effort, and one in which I’m very much a junior partner. I’m sure John, David, and Peter would agree that credit should be shared with everyone who’s contributed to it over the years, and especially everyone listed here. Secondly – in case it’s not clear from the video – John Scalzi did a superb job of hosting the awards, and thoroughly deserved all the plaudits he got. (See, for instance, 42.20-46.10 in the ustream video.) Thirdly, the Hugo base this year – designed by Deb Kosiba – is absolutely beautiful, a perfect complement for the rocket sculpture. (You can see Deb’s thoughts about the design from about 39.20 in the ustream video.) The picture opposite is not my trophy, sadly – apparently mine is still winging its way across the Atlantic. Lastly – since it’s the first occasion it’s happened to me – I thought I should record that winning a Hugo is one of those occasions when all cliches are true. It is an honour to be nominated; you don’t expect to win; the time does pass in a flash; you wake up the next morning and don’t quite believe it.

Richard Man’s photographs of the event can be found here; he even achieved the near impossible and got a picture of me that I’m happy with.

Right, now, back to the Encyclopedia…


•August 13, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I’ll be attending Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention, which is taking place in Chicago from August 30 to September 3. I’ll be representing the SF Encyclopedia team at the Hugo Awards, and I’ll also be doing a few panels. At least at the moment, my schedule looks like this. Am omitting detailed panel descriptions because, as I understand it, they’re not yet finalised.

Thursday August 30th, 9.00-10.30pm, Dusable: The Exploration of Gender Roles in SF. With Deidre, Lilian Cauldwell, Nick Mamatas, Paco Ruiz.

Friday August 31st, 9.00am-10.30am, Gold Coast: British SF Television: Why are Their Programs So Good? With Ann Morris, Nicki Lynch, Ryan K. Johnson.

Friday August 31st, 7.00pm-8.30pm, Wrigley: C. L. Moore. With Kenneth Hite, Lawrence Person, Sofia Samatar, Stephen Haffner.

Saturday Sep 1st, 3.00-4.30pm, Wrigley: Best new SF&F Authors of the 21st Century. With Barbara Bengels, Elizabeth Bear, Gary K Wolfe.

Sunday, Sep 2nd, 3.00-4.30pm, McCormick: Fandom’s Blind Spots. With Amber Clark, Catherine Lundoff, Gene Armstrong, Saladin Ahmed, Tim Susman.


•July 7, 2012 • Leave a Comment

As ever, I’ll be at Readercon – my favorite speculative fiction conference – in Boston this year. Next weekend, in fact! (It’s come round quickly.) Thanks to plaintive pleas to the program committee, my schedule won’t be quite as crazy as it was last year. I’ll be doing the following program items:

Thursday 12 July

8:00 PM   RI   No Longer Lonely in the Cloud: Digital Collaboration for Readers. Kathryn Cramer, Jim Freund, Erin Kissane (leader), John Edward Lawson, Graham Sleight. MORE Magazine has created a multi-city book club via group video call. Writers who used to hang out in cafes are now using Google+ hangouts as virtual coworking space. In2Books matches up kids with distant adult pen pals specifically for the purpose of discussing books. Kindles and Readmill let you share your marginalia with your friends. How are new concepts of socializing and togetherness affecting the ways we read, write, and talk about literature?

Friday 13 July

12:00 PM   F   Muzzling the Horse’s Mouth. Michael Dirda, David G. Hartwell, Veronica Schanoes (leader), Graham Sleight, Ruth Sternglantz.Conventions, zines, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook provide many venues for writers to shape the dialogue around their works. When it’s hard to avoid information about what a writer intended, how does that affect the critical reading experience? As readers and as critics, can we feel confident that we would have seen on our own what the writer has revealed to us? How do we differentiate and prioritize between our own insights and those shared by the author? Does the writer’s emphasis on some aspects of a work make it harder to see other aspects? And what happens when the critic’s desire to convey information about a work—such as an author’s stated intentions—comes into conflict with the critic’s desire to demonstrate a viable personal reading of the text?

5:00 PM   RI   Story Terminable and Interminable. Graham Sleight. How much do we want our stories to be about change, and how much do we want them to give us the same kind of experience each time? How much of an ending do we want our stories to have? Graham Sleight attempts to answer these questions in, um, under 50 minutes. He also intends to mention Star Trek, brands, churches, Gene Wolfe, Tony Kushner, James Tiptree Jr., the principles of stage magic, and the author he stole the title of the talk from.

Saturday 14 July

12:00 PM   ME   How We Edited the Third Edition of the Science Fiction Encyclopedia. John Clute, Graham Sleight. John Clute and Graham Sleight discuss the development of the SFE’s latest incarnation.

Sunday 15 July

2:00 PM   F   When All You Have Is a Hammer, Get a Sonic Screwdriver. Debra Doyle, Lila Garrott, Glenn Grant, Graham Sleight (leader), Jo Walton. In an SF Signal podcast episode discussing Readercon 22, Jeff Patterson suggested that our traditional critical vocabulary may be ill-suited or inadequate for discussing space opera or hard SF. Is this true of hard SF in specific, or is there a broader problem of adapting mainstream critical vocabulary, largely evolved to discuss realistic fiction, to the particular problems of SF or fantasy? What are the specific aspects of the fantastic that seem to require special critical tools? Are certain critical terms borrowed from the fan or writer’s workshop communities, like “worldbuilding,” useful ways of extending our critical vocabularies?

The full program is here.

Awards and such

•April 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Well, Eastercon has been and gone. Many splendid things happened there – I especially enjoyed moderating the Not the Clarke panel on Saturday. But I suppose I should particularly record two things.

On the Saturday evening, nominations for the Hugo Awards were announced. It was very flattering to hear that the SF Encyclopedia had been included in the nominations list for Best Related Work. David Langford and I were there on behalf of the editorial cadre, John Clute and Peter Nicholls being absent. Doubtless, David and I look suitably baffled in the many photos that were taken. I’m very much looking forward to being at Chicon 7, the Worldcon this summer at which the awards will be presented.

On the Sunday evening, the British Science Fiction Association presented its own awards. The SFE won in the category of Best Non-Fiction, and David and I attempted grateful speeches in response. I hope we managed to thank the many people who’ve contributed to the encyclopedia so far, but apologies to any we missed. The award itself was very splendid – see David’s picture above. For each category, a clutch of old sf paperbacks had been bolted together, with a plastic ray-gun mounted on top. (For comparison, see Paul Cornell’s short fiction award here.) Given my  infinite capacity for clumsiness, I’m very glad that the award is safely in David’s custody…

Olympus 2012

•April 1, 2012 • Leave a Comment


Next weekend, I’ll be at Olympus, the annual UK Eastercon – being held once more at Heathrow. I’ll be on various programme items, as follows:

Saturday, noon: The SF Gateway (with Shana Worthen, Darren Nash, Malcolm Edwards). Room 38.

Saturday, 4pm: The fantastic landscape (with Nina Allen, Jaine Fenn, and Paul McAuley). Royal A + C.

Saturday, 5.30pm: Not the Clarke Awards (with Kev McVeigh, Ruth O’Reilly, Andy Sawyer, Nicholas Whyte) Room 38.

Sunday, 10am: Discuss the Hugo nominees (with Liz Batty, Wendy Bradley, Mark Plummer, and Mike Scott). Room 41.

Sunday, 11am: 20-odd years of CGI (with Dev Agarwal, Raven Dane, Lapswood, and Tony Lee). Royal A + C.

Sunday, 7pm: Fantasy in our time (with Edward James, Andy Sawyer, and James Treadwell). Royal A + C.

I hope to see old and new friends there – do come up and say hi.


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