Yeah, this is the time of year when people ask for money. Mostly, you know, because it’s the end(ish) of the year, and in the US donations to certain kinds of non-profit groups are tax deductible.

Anyway. Worldbuilders. Which is Patrick Rothfuss’ annual drive for donations to Heifer International. I’m a fan of Heifer International as well, as it happens, and so I very happily agreed to sign some books as part of Worldbuilders fundraising efforts.

So! For thirty bucks, you could get yourself a signed, first edition copy of Ancillary Sword. And help send goats or chicks or cows or bees or…and training so folks have a source of milk or eggs or honey or whatever that they can either use themselves or sell. They pass on the training they receive to other families, as well as some livestock or seeds or whatever it was they got. Check it out!

So, Worldbuilders. If you’re interested in a signed, first edition copy of Ancillary Sword, you can get that here, and also help a good cause.

The first part of “She Commands Me And I Obey” is now live!

I’m going to briefly say that this story is sort-of dedicated to my mother. In the last eight or so years of her life, she became an enormous Blues fan. The hockey team, not the music. She regularly bought season tickets and took various grandkids with her to the games. And this was, of course, during the first several years I was working on Ancillary Justice.

But it’s only sort-of dedicated, because my mother would not have particularly appreciated or enjoyed some aspects of the story, and I suspect she’d have been unamused at a dedication to her being put at the top of it. So I haven’t. But I’ll say here that I partly wrote it for her, and I also thank her for bringing me to the hockey game so often.

If you can, and haven’t already, please consider donating to Strange Horizons so part two can be unlocked ASAP. If you can’t, or already have, or have decided against it for whatever reason, do please tweet or blog–about She Commands, or about some other SH story you love, or just about SH.

And never fear being left hanging. Now the first part is up, I am determined the second will be, eventually. For now, let’s see how the fund drive goes.

So, Strange Horizons. It’s been running since 2000. It is, I think, one of the longest running internet venues for short science fiction and fantasy. And not just fiction, but also poetry, essays, and reviews!

They’ve run some amazing stories–I’d be hard-pressed to narrow it down to just a few, but recent events suggest I point out that World Fantasy Award winning writer Sofia Samatar’s Hugo and Nebula nominated story “Selkie Stories Are for Losers” appeared at SH.

That’s just the merest beginning. And it’s all available for free.

Strange Horizons not only pays writers, they pay SFWA pro rates. They do this by asking for donations once a year. And right now, we’re most of the way through the annual SH fund drive. And they’ve raised just a touch more than half of their goal.

Now, like last year, they’re offering a special bonus issue. Bits of that issue become available as more money is raised. We’ve already seen some pieces of it–most recently an interview with Iain Banks and Cassandra Khaw’s review of Apocalypse Now Now and Kill Baxter by Charlie Human.

Next up? Is part one of a story called “She Commands Me And I Obey.” It’s by…me! And not only is it set in the Ancillary-verse, I actually wrote it while I was working on Ancillary Justice. You can see a preview of the fab illustration by Tory Hoke over at i09. And yes, AJ fans, elements of that illustration might look familiar, and might suggest why I felt I needed to write that story before finishing AJ.

So, if you’re able to, please consider donating to Strange Horizons, and help them continue to bring us amazing fiction, poetry, and essays. If you’re in the US, I’m given to understand a donation would be tax-deductible, by the way. And whether you’re able to contribute financially or not, if you find something at Strange Horizons that really resonates with you, or that you really love, let people know! Tweet, blog, whatever. Money isn’t the only way to support the venues that you love. But support is essential.

So, several times in the past few months I’ve been asked if there was any chance of Ancillary Justice making it to the movies–or TV. And mostly I’ve replied that, wow, that would be awesome!

Which, actually, was mostly a kind of evasive answer, because stuff was maybe brewing behind the scenes but you don’t talk about that kind of stuff until it’s real. But now it’s real. Ish. And I am told that I can now blog about it!

Basically, Ancillary Justice has been optioned for TV. Now, “optioned” doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is going to actually happen–things get optioned and then never made, quite frequently.

So who has this option, you ask? It’s production company Fabrik and Fox Television Studios. They have previously worked together on THE KILLNG for four seasons on AMC and Netflix, and they started their relationship with BURN NOTICE, which ran for seven Seasons on USA.

Fabrik is currently in production on BOSCH, Amazon’s first ever hour-long drama pilot based on Michael Connelly’s best-selling Harry Bosch book series

Fox TV Studios is the studio behind THE AMERICANS for FX, and WHITE COLLAR, GRACELAND, and COMPLICATIONS at USA, among others.

Now. Like I said, this doesn’t mean there’ll ever actually be any Ancillary Justice on television. But it does mean there could be, and lately it seems like there’s been quite a lot of science fictional television turning up. So, who can say?

I am also aware, of course, that bringing AJ to any sort of screen (not counting your eReader screen, of course!) would be…an interestingly difficult project. I made sure to have a conversation with the folks at Fabrik about my specific concerns–namely, the approach to gender, and the issue of whitewashing (as in, I do not want to see the book whitewashed, I would like to namedrop LeGuin and mention her Earthsea experience here, thank you). I was very pleased with their response. And in fact, if I had been the least bit unhappy with how that conversation came out, I would not be writing this blog post now.

The fact remains that even with all the best intentions in the world, there’s a lot of leeway to really misstep badly in trying to bring AJ to any kind of visual medium. On the other hand, there is quite a lot of potential for a really good team to do something really cool, that may or may not be what I was trying to do with the book, but that is still something new and marvelous. And actually, I think the best adaptations work that way. It’s an exciting thought.

So, um, that’s my news! Remember–option. Option doesn’t mean anything’s actually happening. But the potential is there, and that’s tremendously cool!

So, it’s book day, and Ancillary Sword is officially out! Some folks did manage to score copies before today, which is totes fine with me, but today, well, today everyone ought to be able to find themselves a copy. Today it is officially released.

I had a fabulous time yesterday answering questions over at r/sciencefiction. A few questions appear to still be dribbling in, and I can’t promise I’ll get to them, but I’ll try. It was great fun, and a bunch of excellent questions.

The next two weeks are incredibly busy. If you’re in St Louis, you can find me at the University City Public Library tomorrow evening at 7pm, or at Left Bank Books on Monday the 13th (also 7pm), or at the Spencer Road Branch of the St. Charles Public Library on Thursday the 16th (7pm again!).

I’ll also be at Lit in the Lou this coming Saturday, October 11. I’m reading/signing/answering questions at 11am in the Main Tent, and on a panel, “Building Your SciFi/Fantasy World” at 1pm in the Writers Guild Tent 2.

So, there you go. I hope you enjoy Ancillary Sword, if you intend to read it. If not, well, here’s wishing you a wonderful day and that whatever book you are reading is marvelous.

It might be!

So, this pie is an altered version of Martha Stewart’s Rum Cream Pie recipe. For one thing, as one commenter noted, it’s a recipe that’s susceptible to any number of interesting variations. For another, of the three pies I made last week, this is the one that my entire family referred to as “the good pie.” (Lipton’s chocolate tea custard came in second, and the sweet tea pie came in under “No Award” here in the Leckie household, despite its popularity at the local singing.)

Here’s how I altered Martha’s recipe:

  • I used a pre-bought graham cracker crust
  • I did not add any vanilla
  • I used a half cup of sugar instead of a full cup
  • I omitted the rum from the custard
  • I replaced the rum in the whipped cream with a tablespoon of tea
  • I replaced the milk with very strong oolong tea
  • That last one is the essential alteration. I was a bit worried as to how that substitution would come out. Cooking is chemistry–in particular when you’re not just warming something up, but when things have to thicken, or when, say, dough or batter has to turn into bread or cake or whatever. This is why baking is much harder to improvise, and why often you can’t just halve or double a baking recipe.

    Anyway. Quiche is a sort of custard, and I knew from my quiche experiences that the amount of fat in the milk you use changes the texture of the custard fairly dramatically. I’ll be up front and tell you that while I often do make quiche with very thick powdered milk (I got my quiche recipe from Amy Dacyzn and her Cheapskate Gazette compilations) or sometimes a can of evaporated milk, and it’s perfectly cromulent, and while I have made quiche with whole milk and it is, again, perfectly cromulent, my ideal quiche is made with heavy cream. They all have different textures depending on what sort of milk I use.

    What this means is, using tea instead of whole milk might very well have serious implications for the custard in this pie, and I feared it might lead to Custard Fail.

    Readers, it did not. The custard was, however, noticeably thinner. It does mostly hold together in the pie, but if you’re making it yourself you might want to add a bit more cornstarch. Not a lot, understand. Just a bit. Leaving it as it is, there is still enough integrity to hold together when you slice the pie, it’s just not as firm as the recipe with milk.

    The flavor is also noticeably…thinner. Or maybe it’s the mouthfeel. But when I tasted the custard before the pie went into the fridge (it’s a pity to waste the stuff you can’t scrape out of the pan into the pie shell!) there was a noticeable taste of Republic of Tea’s Milk Oolong. Less so when, hours later, I topped that puppy with whipped cream and had a slice. Still. I think this is the best of the tea pies so far, and the very basic-ness of the recipe makes it amenable to nearly any sort of tea you like. I imagine this would be good with a very strong green tea, for instance, or an earl grey. Or something heavily jasmine, or really anything.

    Stirred custard can be a bit tricky, but if you follow Martha’s directions carefully (that step where you cook the milk/tea and sugar and cornstarch for about two minutes after it reaches the boil? Important. Don’t skip it. And for Mithras’ sake, stir constantly when she tells you to. Do. Not. Stop. Stirring. You might want to look up “tempering eggs” so you understand what’s up when she wants you to add the milk mixture “in a slow, steady stream” to the egg yolks, if you don’t already know about that, because that’s a moment of maximum potential for Custard Fail) you should come out fine. Its a skill worth having, and a pie that’s simple enough to hold up to any number of fun alterations. Like making it with your favorite tea instead of milk!

    Also, quite frankly, the idea that one might make custard with tea instead of milk opens up a number of interesting possibilities. Maybe people who can’t have milk have already figured this bit out, I don’t know, but what else could you make custard with? Would the acid in fruit juice mess things up too much, or would there be some way to balance that and have a lovely apple juice custard? Once you get to “replace the milk with any sort of other liquid” the possibilities are more or less endless, though they might not all be successful.

    Anyway! People of the internet, I give you, Ancillary Sword Pie:

    20141006_091239

    20141006_091247

    I probably didn’t whip the cream quite enough. I’m always leery of it turning into butter, which I know from experience can happen quite suddenly, and so I tend not to whip as long as I ought to. I guess I just need more practice.

    Delicious practice.

    (And yes, those are Swedish fish on the pie. For thematic reasons.)

    Of course, I had no ships in my fleet besides my own, Mercy of Kalr, but there were no other fleet captains stationed near Athoek, where I was bound, and the rank would give me an advantage over other captains I might meet.

    Tomorrow is book day! And we’re almost at the end of this paragraph, so let’s finish it off:

    Assuming, of course, those other captains were at all inclined to accept my authority.