Yes, I’ll be in Spokane next month! Here’s my schedule:

The Alien Among Us: The Fiction of C.J. Cherryh

Saturday 11:00 – 11:45, Conference Theater 110 (CC)

C.J. Cherryh has long been a master of creating alien societies (and often at showing how we can be the aliens). The panel explores her fiction and her influence on the field.

Chip Hitchcock (M), Jack Campbell , Ann Leckie, Jo Walton

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The New Space Opera

Saturday 15:00 – 15:45, 302AB (CC)

We’ve come a long way since the days when “space opera” was a derogatory term. Many of SFs best writers over the last 20 years have written space opera. What’s made the difference?

Rich Horton (M), Jeffrey A. Carver, Ann Leckie, Charles Stross , Doug Farren

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Hugo Awards Ceremony

Saturday 20:00 – 22:30, INB Performing Arts Center (CC)

The Hugo award ceremony will be livestreamed.

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Autographing – Anaea Lay, Ann Leckie, Bud Sparhawk

Sunday 10:00 – 10:45, Exhibit Hall B (CC)

Anaea Lay, Ann Leckie, Bud Sparhawk

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Reading – Ann Leckie

Sunday 12:00 – 12:45, Bays 111C (CC)

I don’t know what I will read for this! Maybe the opening of Ancillary Mercy? Maybe the beginning of a recent piece of short fiction? I dunno.

I plan to carry some Awn Elming pins and, yes, some Translator Dlique pins! If you want one, ask me, I’ll be happy to give them to anyone who wants them until I run out. Oh, and I’ll have ribbons, too.

See you there!

Or, actually, “the winners are.”

So! There were fifty-two entries. Or, technically, fifty-two entrants. Several of those included more than one proposed concluding line. A few of those were actually from different people in the same household or at least sharing the same email address.

I hadn’t said anything about multiple entries, so I let that stand. I stripped the lines of their identifying information and handed them over to my panel of distinguished judges. Those judges were: Margo-Lea Hurwicz, Anna Schwind, and Rachel Swirsky.

After much deliberation, they gave me their decisions. Competition was fierce! I personally laughed out loud several times while reading the entries.

There were a few common themes in the entries. A couple of the winners are instances of these, in each case the one the judges thought the best example of its type. But all the entries were fabulous, and I want to thank everyone for entering. Reading the entries was great fun, and the judges had fun, and I hope you’ve all had fun. In fact, I hope I can do something like this again some time.

So! To the results of the judging.

First place goes to Genevieve B:

There once was a duck who was God,
Who said, “It’s exceedingly odd.
I fly when I wish
and I swim like a fish,
But my quacking’s dogmatically flawed.

Genevieve will be getting a 3oz packet of Benefit tea, an infuser, and Lieutenant Peepsarwat to keep her company while she drinks it.

Second place goes to Lord Peter Wolohan. Who actually sent two proposed last lines. And as it happened, the judges told me they wanted to award four instead of three because they couldn’t bring themselves to cut the fourth one. And I said “Sure!” because, you know, why not? And then when I went to match the lines to the authors, I discovered that two of them were by Lord Peter. Who is only getting one bag of tea–he has chosen EtrepaBo. And his lines tie for second place. They are:

But drinking tea with this bill is a sod.

and

I’m a deity, demonstratum est quod.

Third place goes to enemyofperfect, who made us all giggle with their entry:

And my cock’s more a corkscrew than rod.

Enemyofperfect is not a tea drinker! However, I do actually have a not-tea blend at Adagio, I just haven’t made it public until now. I was trying to come up with some kind of Orsian Not Tea thing. In the end I decided that if you want to have some Orsian Not Tea, you probably want some of that iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk in it. But this mate blend I made up is actually really nice. It’s mate with some chocolate (and I think some hazelnut, because it’s based on Adagio’s mocha mate blend) and peppercorns for a little spicy kick. So I’ll be sending enemyofperfect a 3oz packet of Not Orsian Tea.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE

I had read through all the entries. And I was determined to leave the decisions entirely up to the judges. But there were two that I thought really ought to get some kind of special notice. And since it was my contest, I decided to declare two Honorable Mentions.

The first goes to Clare for:

Yet I cannot compete with the Raad.

Quite a lot of entrants went to some (very much appreciated) effort to tie the last line in with the books and/or the universe. See, for instance, third place above. But this one in particular did so in very explicit fashion, even trying really hard to get “Radchaai” in there. I felt this deserved some extra appreciation.

And Honorable Mention number two, comes from writer Kate Orman, best known for her Doctor Who novels. It was the most meta of all the entries, I felt, and one of the several that made my family look at me funny when I laughed at it:

But my penis – (That’s quite enough. — Mod)

I realized I wanted to send something to my two honorable mentions. I pondered sending a bag of dicks, and while that seemed clever, I wasn’t certain it was really the right choice. Then I discovered I could send them a bag of ducks.

I ordered a bag just to be sure they were what they said they were. And I am here to tell you that they are, indeed, very tiny duck-shaped gummies, and also really really delicious. They’re made of fruit juice, fruit puree, and pectin and my goodness they’re very fruity flavored. So, Clare and Kate, I will be mailing you your bag of ducks in the next day or two. The tea and infusers (and squooshy lieutenant) will be going out just as soon as the tea actually gets here.

Thanks again to everyone who entered–I had so much fun doing this, and reading all of your entries.

Like the title says. I was poking around Adagio Tea, and discovered that they now sell single sample tins of fandom blends. They’re a little pricey at $4 each–the site says they make about five cups, obviously this depends on how much you use, but that’s eighty cents a cup. Compare that to the per cup prices on their other, high end teas. Pretty steep. (Haha, steep.)

But! For just four bucks you can try a little bit of a blend that sounds interesting, instead of ending up with a three ounce bag* of something you really don’t like. So, say, if you were wary of the lapsang in EtrepaBo, you could try just a little bit.

This is an even cooler development than their selling boxes of ten sample tins at once. I did buy some, and gave them out to people, and then Adagio ran out of tins (they said they hadn’t expected the sample tin thing to be so popular) and I was sad, and now they’re back, and even better. You can buy ten samples of one blend, for $20. Or you can buy one tin for $4.

And there are quite a lot of fandom blends beyond mine that you might want to check out!

*Three ounces is a lot of tea. You know what’s even more? A freaking pound of tea. A couple years ago I ran across a tin of Republic of Tea Rosepetal Black. I don’t know what moved me to buy it, I didn’t think I’d like flowery tea, let alone with roses. I was probably just curious. But oh my goodness it was lovely. And then I went to the website and discovered I couldn’t buy more until spring–it was seasonal and when they ran out, it was gone till the next year. So when it came around again, I bought a pound of the stuff. It’s been two years and I think I may have gotten through half of it. Granted, I have so many other teas right now (they’re all research!) that I don’t drink it every day, or even necessarily every week. Still. One pound is a lot of tea.

Want an ebook copy of Ancillary Sword? You can buy one now for just $4.99. In the US, anyway. I don’t know if there’s a similar price cut for the UK, although it looks like there might be.

Also I think this price is available all through the rest of July.

So! You can get your $4.99 ebook of Ancillary Sword from Kobo, or from Barnes and Noble, or from Amazon.

For some reason, when I try to go directly to the Nook version on the Barnes and Noble site it’s giving me an error. Hoping they get that cleared up.

So, if you’ve only read the sample in the Hugo packet and want the rest, or if you borrowed AS from the library (yay, libraries!) and want your own copy, now’s a good time to grab the ebook of Ancillary Sword.

(Also, don’t forget that Ancillary Mercy is available for pre-order. Even, yes, at Amazon this year.)

So, the whole “peas in guacamole” thing, I just find it…I don’t know. First off, you know, if someone finds that guacamole with peas in it tastes good, they should eat that and enjoy the heck out of it. Why not?

Why not. I gather I’m only seeing the edges of this, apparently actual news outlets are reporting on the vast and deep internet rage over someone suggesting we try adding peas to guacamole. Seriously? Why?

So, I suppose (perhaps I’m wrong but that won’t stop me from blogging) that it’s a question of peas “not belonging” in guacamole. So here’s my question–why not?

This is something I’ve kind of pondered over the last several years. Sometimes I’ll come across recipes or dishes that are described as “authentic.” Like, real authentic Indian food, or real authentic Mexican food or…yeah.

But what does that mean? What makes a dish or a recipe “authentic”? How about, oh, pizza. Real, authentic pizza, what would that be? Would it be the pizza margherita allegedly invented in Naples in the 1890s? Or would it be the duodecim pizze wikipedia tells us is mentioned in a Latin text at the end of the tenth century? Surely those pizze didn’t have tomato sauce on them! So, like, is real authentic pizza a flatbread with maybe some cheese on it?

My search for “authentic” pizza here completely ignores or dismisses all the more recent varieties of the dish, many of them regional, many of them changing over time. And what seems authentic to me may strike you as a travesty–in fact, I’d bet my idea of authentic pizza would almost certainly do that. I grew up in St Louis, and St Louis style pizza is very likely one of those things you don’t really appreciate unless you’ve grown up with it, or at least eaten it for years. True fact–authentic St Louis style pizza uses provel cheese. You’ve probably never even heard of it unless you’re a St. Louisan, and that’s because provel is made in Wisconsin, and pretty much only for St Louis.

If you wanted to have authentic St Louis style pizza, your best bet would be to come to St Louis and get yourself some Imos. If you couldn’t do that, you’d want to learn to make a really really thin crust and lay your hands on some provel. Oh, and cut the pizza into squares. I swear it makes it taste different. And it would totally be worth trying! Other styles of pizza just aren’t the same.

But is it authentic pizza? Well, like I said, what does that even mean? And if I say something like, “Back in the early nineties I was in the UK and saw, more than once, that sweet corn was an available pizza topping,” you might be saying “Well, duh, Ann, that’s one of those things you put on pizza!” But my reaction was basically that’s not right. Does US pizza somehow have some kind of authenticity advantage over UK pizza? Or the other way around? Or is everything but focaccia with some parmesan grated onto it an adulteration of the real thing?

The thing is, “authentic” food is just the food that particular people ate at a particular place and time, and mostly (particularly when we’re talking about the “peasant” foods that are sometimes valorized as particularly hearty and “authentic”) were made of the things that were easily available. If the same cooks were somewhere else, at a different time, they’d have chosen the things that were easily available there instead. Thinking about it this way, the closer I look at “authentic” the more it disappears into meaningless nothing.

Guacamole isn’t much different. Do you know how many recipes there are for guacamole? And if your great uncle puts peas in his, and serves it that way every Superbowl Sunday through your childhood, that would be a real thing, with its own authenticity.

Authentic is a label we put on things, to freeze them, to declare this one style or this one set of ingredients to be the “true” ones from which all others are deviations. How helpful is that, really? What does it mean when “authentic” food is all external, something other? What does it mean when we talk about “authentic” Italian food being one particular thing, Neapolitan pizza margherita, say, and other versions being fake and wrong–when quite a lot of the provel-laden St Louis Style pizza I ate in my childhood was made by Italian immigrants? Did they lose their authentic Italian-ness somehow, when they came here? Are they only “authentic” so long as they’re peasants with wood-fired clay ovens, and not restauranteurs using the technology and ingredients available to them in present-day St Louis? When I start thinking about it from this angle, I become really uncomfortable with the whole idea of authenticity.

I totally understand wanting to taste (or learn how to make) the kinds of foods that were historically available and aren’t so much today, or are available in other places than where you live, or wanting to try the results of particular cooking techniques. Trying to reproduce historic recipes? I’m totally down with that. I spent longer than was probably reasonable attempting to make a reasonable facsimile of the palak paneer I’ve had at a local Indian restaurant.* I more than understand that. But I’ve come to really side-eye the idea that any kind of food is more “authentic” than another. And when I see an odd variant of something I’m familiar with, my reaction these days is more “Oh, I wonder if that’s good!” than “Ewww, sweet corn doesn’t belong on pizza, that’s just wrong.”

Which brings me back to the peas in the guacamole. Hey, if it doesn’t sound good to you, fine, but it’s hardly a travesty. Why does it seem like a travesty to so many people? It might be worth thinking about.

_________

*The secret is cream. Regular whole milk won’t quite do the trick. This is something to keep in mind generally when trying to imitate restaurant dishes–you probably need to use real butter and real cream for pretty much everything.

Today is the first day of July, which means yesterday was the 30th of June and the “finish the duck limerick” entry period is over. Judging will now begin!

It might take a while. I got a whole raft of fabulous entries, and I don’t envy my distinguished panel of judges the job of picking out the three best. I really enjoyed reading your last lines a lot, and laughed out loud several times.

At any rate, I have turned the entries over to the judges. I can’t say when we’ll have results, but I’m looking forward to seeing them!

In the meantime, have an actual, honest-to-goodness poem on the assigned topic, “Tell me in verse, citizen, how God is like a duck.”

Seriously, absolutely no apology necessary for that!

So, I think the whole Jurassic World screenwriting process went something like this:

Writer 1: I think we’ve got a really cool opportunity here to really dig into the relationship between Chris Pratt and the raptors. I mean, the raptors were really the star of the first movie and they have so much personality we could…

Writer 2: Dude. Dude, you’re overthinking this. It’s dinosaurs. Nobody cares what the actors say, they’ll be watching the dinosaurs. Cut and paste the big scenes from the first movie, make sure there are lots of dinosaurs. In between the actors can just say some random shit.

Writer 1: Dude. Are you high?

Writer 2: Yes. Yes I am.

Writer 1: Cool.

Writer 2: So like I was saying. What you’re talking about–personality, relationships, that takes work. That takes thought. And I want to hit White Castle and besides nobody’s going to be watching anything but the dinosaurs. Here, you take some pages, I’ll take some pages, we’ll write some things down and be out of here in fifteen minutes.

Writer 1: Don’t we wanna at least avoid being really sexist or racist? I hear that’s kind of a thing lately.

Writer 2: That takes work! Dinosaurs! Just write some crap down!

Writer 1: Sounds legit to me. [opens laptop, begins to type] Lorem…ipsum….dolor….

Yeah, the dinosaurs were awesome and everything, but I’d say this is one you can safely wait for it to turn up on Netflix.

Or, more accurately, the limerick.

Those of you who have read Ancillary Sword may remember that at a certain point, Breq asks someone to tell her, in verse, how God is like a duck. And that person replies,

There once was a duck who was God,
Who said, “It’s exceedingly odd.
I fly when I wish
and I swim like a fish,

And she couldn’t get any further. Well, readers, neither could I. And it’s summer in this hemisphere of Earth, and I’ve got some tea to give away. So!

By June 30th, send me your proposed last line for the duck limerick to poem@annleckie.com. My panel of judges will choose three winners. First place will get: one genuine four inch high stuffed Lieutenant Peepsarwat!

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(All right, that’s actually a genuine stuffed purple Peep from Easter that I could not resist purchasing for precisely this occasion.) First place will also get one three ounce bag of an Imperial Radch themed tea from Adagio.

20150611_072841

Winner’s choice, though sometimes availability is weird so particular blends may be out of stock at the end of June. I am also throwing in a tea infuser, just in case you’re not set up to do loose leaf tea conveniently. (Loose leaf tea is quite convenient once you’ve got a pot and/or removable infuser.)

The plant and the cup aren’t included, they’re just in the picture to look pretty.

Second and third place will get one bag each of an Imperial Radch themed tea! Same conditions as above–winner’s choice, but obviously I can’t send you a blend that’s not available. Oh, and a tea infuser.

So fire up those rhyming engines! Start playing with what might scan. Ponder that deep, ageless philosophical question: How is God like a duck? And send me your conclusion by June 30 of this year.

Editing to add, what I should have remembered to say at first–I will send prizes anywhere. There are no geographical restrictions.

Sorry for the delay in posting–I’ve been back in St Louis since Sunday, but I’ve spent the last three days on jury duty, about which I will at the moment say nothing else.

Today I plan to lounge around drinking tea in my jammies!

So. Apologies again to the folks who came to the mass signing Friday night hoping to meet me. I wanted so badly to be there and there was just no physical way I could do it. For anyone who missed my previous post, the train in front of the train I was on hit a semi filled with seventy thousand pounds of bacon. I got into Chicago a good ten hours later than I was supposed to. Blame the bacon. (Someone suggested at breakfast the next morning that I pin a piece of bacon to my shirt, and that led me to discover that etsy has quite a lot of listings under “crocheted bacon.” Yes, that’s just a random piece of trivia.)

So, the Nebula Awards! Congratulations to all the winners, especially Jeff Vandermeer for Annihilation. I am completely unsurprised at the result, and wholeheartedly approve.

Yeah, I had a novel on the ballot. And I’m not saying that winning another Nebula wouldn’t have been awesome–sweet Mithras, it would have been. But because I won last year, I know exactly how awesome it feels to hear your book named, how shiny that block of lucite is when it’s got your name on it. So I’m sitting here vicariously enjoying Jeff’s win. I would admonish him to enjoy it, but I know that’s pointless, he already is.

It really was a wonderful ballot filled with awesome work by awesome writers. I’m so happy to have been there to hang with the folks I already knew, and meet a few who I didn’t know yet, and enjoy the evening. My only real regret is that Jeff Vandermeer was unable to be there so I couldn’t congratulate him in person.

Oh, and a big thanks to Nick Offerman (who I’m pretty sure doesn’t read my blog, but still) for taking time out during dinner to speak briefly with the 15yr old, who is a big fan and who’d been planning to be at the mass signing while I was signing books. I really appreciated that a lot. It was very generous of him, and he was kind and funny. Thank you, sir!

Congratulations again, everybody!