Six years ago, I handed GigaNotoSaurus editorial duties over to Rashida J. Smith. And what an amazing job she did! She published a lot of awesome stories, and GNS was a finalist for the Hugo for best semiprozine.
So, my next book comes out at the end of February. But I have a box of advance reading copies, and I am in the mood to give presents. So!
Beginning today, December 4, until December 11, I’m raffling off three copies of The Raven Tower! It works like this: click the link above, and provide your email address and answer the question. (It’s a very simple question.) When the raffle closes I’ll randomly choose three winners. If you win, you’ll need to provide me with a snail mail address so I can send you the book. I’ll send books anywhere the USPS lets me. Good luck!
(I will not keep any of your information, or give it to anyone else. One entry per person, please.)
So, there’s this band. They’re called Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate. They’re a London rock band, and they’ve got science fictiony sensibilities–like, check out their 2016 album When The Kill Code Fails.
So, their newest release is Out of Mind, and one of the tracks is called “When I Was A Ship” and yes, they do mean that ship.
This song was inspired by Ann Leckie’s Ancillary series. The main character had once been a warship, whose artificial mind had been distributed within the ship, and also within many ancillaries – prisoners who have had their minds wiped. The ship itself and all of the other ancillaries was destroyed, leaving just one fragment of the mind left in one body.
So, like, that’s a thing that happened.
You can hear “When I Was A Ship” on Spotify. You can also purchase it at Bandcamp, along with When The Kill Code Fails and their other albums. I’ve been listening to WtKCF for the past few days and really enjoying it.
Hello! Been a while!
I’ve been pretty busy–revisions and then copyedits for The Raven Tower. (Which btw you can pre-order from the bookstore of your choice!) And travel. I went places. I’m just back and recovering from ICON in Tel Aviv, which was a lovely convention full of lovely people! I had a wonderful time. I am still somewhat jetlagged, but that’s the price for all the fun.
But you don’t have to go all the way to Israel to see me! If you’re in St Louis, you can come to The Novel Neighbor tomorrow evening–that would be Tuesday, October 2, at 7pm–to hear me in conversation with Tillie Walden, whose lovely webcomic-turned-book On A Sunbeam will be out and of course for sale.
Not familiar with Ms Walden? Well, she’s one of the youngest people ever to win an Eisner Award. Seriously, you should check out her work. And you should totally come down to The Novel Neighbor on Tuesday evening.
The Novel Neighbor is at 7905 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, MO 63119, and the event is from 7pm-8:30pm. See you there!
So, back when Ancillary Justice was essentially sweeping that year’s SF awards, there was some talk from certain quarters about it not really being all that, people only claimed to like it because Politics and SJWs and PC points and Affirmative Action and nobody was really reading the book and if they were they didn’t really enjoy it, they just claimed they did so they could seem cool and woke.
My feelings were so hurt that I wept bitter, miserable tears every time I drove to the bank with my royalty checks. I mean, those people must be right, it’s totally typical for non-fans who don’t actually like a book to write fanfic or draw fan art, totally boringly normal for students to choose to write papers about a book that just isn’t really very good or interesting, and for professors to use that boringly not-very-good book in their courses, and for that book to continue to sell steadily five years after it came out. I totally did not laugh out loud whenever I came across such assertions, because they were absolutely not ridiculous Sour Grape Vineyards tended by folks who, for the most part, hadn’t even read the book.
Now I am sorry–but not surprised–to see some folks making similar assertions about N.K. Jemisin’s historic (and entirely deserved) Hugo Threepeat. Most of them haven’t read the books in question.
But some of them have. Some of them have indeed read the books and not understood why so many people are so excited by them.
Now, Nora doesn’t need me to defend her, and she doesn’t need lessons from me about the best way to dry a tear-soaked award-dusting cloth, or the best brands of chocolate ice cream to fortify yourself for that arduous trip to the bank. Actually, she could probably give me some pointers.
But I have some thoughts about the idea that, because you (generic you) didn’t like a work, that must mean folks who say they did like it are Lying Liars Who Lie to Look Cool.
So, in order to believe this, one has to believe that A) one’s own taste is infallible and objective and thus universally shared and B) people who openly don’t share your taste are characterless sheep who will do anything to seem cool.
But the fact is, one doesn’t like or dislike things without context. We are all of us judging things from our own point of view, not some disembodied perfectly objective nowhere. It’s really easy to assume that our context is The Context–to not even see that there’s a context at all, it’s just How Things Are. But you are always seeing things from the perspective of your experiences, your biases, your expectations of how things work. Those may not match other people’s.
Of course, if you’re in a certain category–if you’re a guy, if you’re White, if you’re straight, if you’re cis–our society is set up to make that invisible, to encourage you in the assumption that the way you see things is objective and right, and not just a product of that very society. Nearly all of the readily available entertainment is catering to you, nearly all of it accepts and reinforces the status quo. If you’ve never questioned that, it can seem utterly baffling that people can claim to enjoy things that you see no value in. You’ll maybe think it makes sense to assume that such people are only pretending to like those things, or only like them for reasons you consider unworthy. It might not ever occur to you that some folks are just reading from a different context–sometimes slightly different, sometimes radically different, but even a small difference can be enough to make a work seem strange or bafflingly flat.
Now, I’m sure that there are people somewhere at some time who have in fact claimed to like a thing they didn’t, just for cool points. People will on occasion do all kinds of ill-advised or bananapants things. But enough of them to show up on every SF award shortlist that year? Enough to vote for a historic, record-breaking three Hugos in a row? Really?
Stop and think about what you’re saying when you say this. Stop and think about who you’re not saying it about.
You might not have the context to see what a writer is doing. When you don’t have the context, so much is invisible. You can only see patterns that match what you already know.*
Of course, you’re not a helpless victim of your context–you can change it, by reading other things and listening to various conversations. Maybe you don’t want to do that work, which, ok? But maybe a lot of other folks have indeed been doing that, and their context, the position they’re reading stories from, has shifted over the last several years. It’s a thing that can happen.
Stop and think–you’ve gotten as far as “everyone must be kind of like me” and stepped over into “therefore they can’t really like what they say they like because I don’t like those things.” Try on “therefore they must really mean it when they say they like something, because I mean it when I say it.” It’s funny, isn’t it, that so many folks step into the one and not the other. Maybe ask yourself why that is.
This also applies to “pretentious” writing. “That writer is only trying to look smart! Readers who say they like it are only trying to look smarter that me, a genuine,honest person, who only likes down-to-earth plain solid storytelling.” Friend, your claims to be a better and more honest person because of your distaste for “pretentious” writing is pretension itself, and says far more about you than the work you criticize this way. You are exactly the sort of snob you decry, and you have just announced this to the world.
Like or don’t like. No worries. It’s not a contest, there’s no moral value attached to liking or not liking a thing. Hell, there are highly-regarded things I dislike, or don’t see the appeal of! There are things I love that lots of other folks don’t like at all. That’s life.
And sure, if you want to, talk about why you do or don’t like a thing. That’s super interesting, and thoughtful criticism is good for art.
But think twice before you sneer at what other folks like, think three times before you declare that no one could really like a thing so it must be political correctness, or pretension, or whatever. Consider the possibility that whatever it is is just not your thing. Consider the possibility that it might be all right if not everything is aimed at you. Consider that you might not actually be the center of the universe, and your opinions and tastes might not be the product of your utterly rational objective view of the world. Consider the possibility that a given work might not have been written just for you, but for a bunch of other people who’ve been waiting for it, maybe for a long time, and that might just possibly be okay.
*Kind of like the way some folks insist my Ancillary trilogy is obviously strongly influenced by Iain Banks (who I’d read very little of, and that after AJ was already under way) and very few critics bring up the influence of C.J. Cherryh (definitely there, deliberate, and there are several explicit hat tips to her work in the text). Those folks have read Banks, but they haven’t read Cherryh. They see something that isn’t there, and don’t see what is there, because they don’t have the same reading history I do. It’s interesting to me how many folks assume I must have the same reading history as they do. It’s interesting to me how sure they are of their conclusions.
Or, maybe not that recently, I am very behind.
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
Look, you should just read this. Rivers is nominated for the Campbell (Not a Hugo) this year on the strength of this book. It would have been an entirely worthy Best Novel finalist, quite frankly. I was late to it partly because I have lots of things to read and very little time to do it in, and also because I was aware that it would be a difficult read–as in, full of violence and death and heartbreak. That’s all true. This is a fabulous book.
Rosewater by Tade Thompson
Read this one, too!
Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless – people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumored healing powers.
I read an ARC of this, it’s out in September. Seriously, it’s excellent.
Langue[dot]doc 1305 by Gillian Polack
When a team of Australian scientists–and a lone historian–travel back to St-Guilhem-le-Désert in 1305 they discover being impartial, distant and objective just doesn’t work when you’re surrounded by the smells, dust and heat of a foreign land. They’re only human after all.
But by the time Artemisia is able to convince others that it’s time to worry, it’s already too late
I have to admit I’m mostly not a fan of time travel stories. For various reasons, but this one really worked for me, not least because Gillian is an actual historian.
Also, since I’m actually really, truly done with revisions on The Raven Tower, I decided to indulge myself and actually…re-read a book! Which I haven’t been able to do for a very long time, even though I used to read favorites over and over again, way back in the day. Anyway, I went back and read The Goblin Emperor again and it was just as good the second time, if not better.
Sorry, I haven’t been blogging at all lately! I’ve been doing lots of other things–revisions on The Raven Tower and a short story for an anthology, and more stuff that’s not worth mentioning here.
But! Worldcon approaches! And I will indeed be in San Jose. You can see the whole schedule here (though I’d check it a few times between now and the convention, I gather it might well need some updating in the next few days, for various reasons, and I’d like to give a shoutout to Mary Robinette Kowal and her fabulous team).
Here’s my schedule as of today:
Friday August 17, 2018
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Pronouns Matter — Gender Courtesy for Fans
San Jose Convention Center , 210C
Spend an hour talking about pronoun and identity variations, and why they matter to our fellow fans. How do we ask about pronouns? What possible pronouns are there? How can we make our fannish spaces more inclusive when we write, name, and interact with other fans?
Moderator Ann Leckie | Roni Gosch | Angela Lujan | Ellen Kuehnle | Rivers Solomon
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Kaffeeklatsch: Ann Leckie
San Jose Convention Center , 211B
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
San Jose Convention Center , Autographing
Ann Leckie | Fonda Lee | Shelley Adina | Nick Kanas | Carrie Patel | Stanley Schmidt | Gail Carriger
Saturday August 18, 2018
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Reading: Hugo Finalists – Best Novel
San Jose Convention Center , 211A
Listen to some of this year’s Hugo Novel finalists as they share their work.
Ann Leckie | John Scalzi | Mur Lafferty
So there it is, that’s where you can find me at Worldcon this year. And do please feel free to say hi if you see me around. I can’t promise I’ll have much time to stop and chat, if I’m on my way somewhere with a definite time attached (which can happen at a con), but I do want to see you! Also I plan to have badge ribbons for folks who are interested in that.
I’m looking forward to seeing you all!
I’ve been neglecting the blog, sorry! I’m head down in revisions for The Raven Tower.
But I’ll be some places in St Louis over the next couple of weeks! This coming Wednesday I’ll be at Left Bank Books–not for myself, but to chat with Chandler Klang-Smith, author of The Sky Is Yours. It’s a fascinating book, and I think it will be a great evening. I gather Left Bank is planning to do more SF-related evenings over the coming year, so you might want to keep an eye on that!
Chandler Klang-Smith: The Sky Is Yours
Left Bank Books and Archon present an SF STL event with Chandler Klang Smith, who will sign and discuss her new novel, The Sky Is Yours, with St. Louis science fiction author Ann Leckie!
Wednesday, April 18, 2017
Then next week I’ll be at Lindenwood University. Here’s the info:
I haven’t been blogging much lately–being busy will do that! I’ve turned in a book to my editors, and am waiting for the inevitable moment when I’ll have revisions to do, and in the meantime I’m working on another project, and I’ve been doing Stuff. Like, look at this shiny thing I made!
I took some lessons from Elise Matheson, who is a fabulous teacher.
Anyway! I’ve also managed to read some things!
I’m not sure I can do better than the description at Aqueduct Press: “Humans have been struggling to live on Frogmore for almost five centuries, adapting themselves to punishing gravity and the deadly mistflowers that dominate its ecology. Financier Inez Gauthier, patron of the arts and daughter of the general commanding the planet’s occupation forces, dreams of eliminating the mistflowers that make exploitation of the planet’s natural wealth so difficult and impede her father’s efforts to crush the native insurgency. Fascinated by the new art-form of waterdancing created by Solstice Balalzalar celebrating the planet’s indigenous lifeforms, Inez assumes that her patronage will be enough to sustain Solstice’s art even as she ruthlessly pursues windfall profits at the expense of all that has made waterdancing possible.”
The review at Strange Horizons suggests a theoretical subgenre called “realistic space opera” within which tWDW might fit, and that rings true to me. It’s about fateful events in the history of Frogmore, but it tells its story almost entirely in terms of the interactions and choices of individual characters. I found it compelling reading.
Which didn’t surprise me–some years ago I bought a copy of Alanya to Alanya in the dealers room at Wiscon, figuring it was a nice hefty book that might take me some time to read, and if I enjoyed it I’d buy the second volume the next year. Once I picked it up, though, I couldn’t put it down, and it only took me a few days to finish reading it. And then I really really wished I had the next book on hand, so next Wiscon I just bought the rest of them in a big stack, and read them in a couple of weeks.
The Waterdancer’s World isn’t so (literally) voluminous (or quite so viscerally upsetting, as the Marq’ssan books are in places, to me), and is maybe a more manageable introduction to Duchamp’s writing.
Y’all should be reading Silvia Moreno-Garcia, if you aren’t already. This particular book is a romance, set in a Not Quite France where some people are born with telekinetic ability–ladies never indulge it in public, of course. If you enjoy the Regency-ish Romances With Magic kind of thing, you’ll want to check this out. I enjoyed it a lot.
And then maybe check out Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s other work, because, seriously.
Hey, everybody, look at this awesome list of finalists for this year’s Nebula Awards!
It’s full of either stuff I’ve read and loved, or stuff I’m really looking forward to reading! Followers of this blog will recognize a few titles as things I’ve recommended in the recent past–like Fonda Lee’s Jade City, and J.Y. Yang’s Black Tides of Heaven. And Martha Wells’ All Systems Red!
Over at File 770, JJ has a list of the nominees with links to free, online excerpts or full copies of the finalists, so check that out for some great reading.
I couldn’t be happier with this group of finalists. Congratulations, all, and for those of you who are up there for the first time–How wonderful and exciting! Take a deep breath if you need it. You’re all awesome, and I am so delighted for you.