A small tribute

•January 13, 2013 • Leave a Comment

As many of you will be aware, the suicide of internet activist Aaron Swartz a few days ago has been deeply felt by many people – see, for instance, Cory Doctorow and Lawrence Lessig‘s posts. As Lessig says, Swartz had been under threat of prosecution by the US Department of Justice for illicitly downloading a large number of articles from the academic journal database JSTOR; the Swartz family has stated that the threat to prosecute him so fiercely “contributed to his death“. As a tribute to Swartz, a number of academics have been posting their own papers online for free, using the Twitter hashtag #pdftribute.

I’m pretty sure I don’t count as a proper academic, but it seemed to me a good time to upload my talk from last year’s Readercon, “Story Terminable and Interminable“. Previous Readercon talks, “And so…” (2010) and “Excellent Foppery” (2009) are also on this site;  as the little badge at the bottom-right of this page says, all are Creative Commons licensed.

A quick post…

•December 9, 2012 • Leave a Comment

…to say that I have a review of the Library of America’s recent set of 50s sf novels in the Washington Post – see here.

Being Judgmental

•November 25, 2012 • 2 Comments

A couple of pieces of news to report here. Reviews have continued to come in for The Doctor’s Monsters – I was especially glad to see a brief notice in Doctor Who Magazine, which I’ve been reading since (embarrassed pause) issue no 3.

I also wanted to record that I’m a judge this year for the Shirley Jackson Awards for 2012. These are “for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.” Although I’ve not written much about horror fiction, I’ve read it pretty avidly for years – David Hartwell’s The Dark Descent may be my most-thumbed anthology. So it’s been a great pleasure to have an excuse to read extensively in the field. It’s a particular honour to do so for an award named for Shirley Jackson, who wrote so many classic works – not just “The Lottery“, but “The Summer People”, The Haunting of Hill House, We Have Always Lived in the Castle and many others. In the meantime, the Jackson Awards are a fine cause deserving of your support.

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.