Preparing to resume podcasting

The mid-season break for SF Crossing the Gulf will soon be coming to an end, and in recognition of that, I have done what I should have done long ago. Look above, way above, at the top of the website! It’s a link to a new page, titled of course ‘SF Crossing the Gulf‘. I’ve added information and links for all Season One episodes, the links for the first half of Season Two, and a list of upcoming works.

We resume 5 June 2013. Hope you’ll read up, tune in, and enjoy!

Adelaide Writers’ Week panel and other updates

Remember I mentioned that our panels at the Adelaide Writers’ Week were being televised? Well here is the first of mine where I discuss Redemption in Indigo with Dr Amy Matthews:

ABC Big Ideas Karen Lord: Redemption in Indigo

(Correction – Oxford was after teaching physics, not before.)

We also have a mini review of The Best of All Possible Worlds from Eric Brown at the Guardian (UK).

Finally, I now have a Wikipedia page thanks to participants in the Global Women Wikipedia Write-in!

SF Crossing the Gulf, Episode 12: Till We Have Faces

This week’s episode of SF Crossing the Gulf focuses on one of my favourite books: TIll We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis. I discovered it late, less than a decade ago, and it is often overlooked when readers talk about his books. I strongly believe it should not be overlooked. If you have any leanings towards reworked myth, many-layered stories and strong, complex female protagonists, this is a book you should read. And when you have read it, check out my discussion with Karen Burnham.

SF Crossing the Gulf, Episode 11: Star Maker

Very belatedly, I give you a link to episode 11 of SF Crossing the Gulf in which we discuss some classic sci-fi: Star Maker, by Olaf Stapledon. This proved to be a rich and profound work, and it felt as if we had barely skimmed the surface after more than an hour. However, if we can inspire you to pick it up and read it for yourself, our job is done!

SF Crossing the Gulf, Season 2, Episode 9

We’re back!

Welcome to Episode 9 of  SF Crossing the Gulf, a podcast where I discuss selected SF novels and short fiction with Karen Burnham. Thanks to SF Signal for hosting the podcast and doing up our spiffy new icon!

We briefly tell you what to expect for this season, then we dive into Children of God by Mary Doria Russell.

SF Crossing the Gulf

Whirlpool Galaxy and Companion. Credit: NASA, ESA

The last episode of my podcast series with Karen Burnham went up on SF Signal last Thursday. I was at first slightly peeved that there was another cool thing to blog about that would have to wait until I got back from Toronto, but the delay ended up being profitable. Thanks to Cheryl Morgan and Karen Burnham, we now have a cleaner, better audio for Episode 6 (The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell).

All the podcasts can be accessed via the link http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/category/columns/sf-crossing-the-gulf/ but they show up in reverse chronological order, as tagged posts are wont to do. This gives me an excuse to list them here separately with relevant comments and links.

Episode 1: A Discussion of Ted Chiang’s “Exhalation” and Others

Click here for my post on this blog introducing the podcast in general and this episode in particular. I included library links for My Bones and My Flute and The Rainmaker’s Mistake.

Episode 2: Edgar Mittelholzer’s My Bones and My Flute

My deepest regret for this podcast was the challenge to readers trying to find a 1950’s, out-of-print book. But Mittelholzer is a key West Indian author and I could not imagine starting a discussion on Caribbean SF without him. You can read about the lengths I went to in order to secure a copy.

Episode 3: Discussion of Greg Egan’s “Crystal Nights” and Others

Running out of time for Ted Chiang during Episode 1 proved an advantage as we spent Episode 3 comparing and contrasting his work with Greg Egan’s.

Episode 4: Discussion of Erna Brodber’s The Rainmaker’s Mistake

Click here for a reading and interview with Erna Brodber, and links to other interviews, reviews and resources.

I was afraid this would be too challenging, but Karen took to it like a duck to water and shared with me some important insights into this literary work from the point of view of a non-West Indian and a genre reader.

Episode 5: Discussion of Greg Egan’s “The Planck Dive” and Others

I had to urge Karen not to be modest about the fact that she has spent over three years researching Egan’s fiction. With her knowledge of Egan’s entire fictional universe(s), she stopped me from making assumptions based on the snapshot of a single short story. We acknowledge that we’ve missed out some of Egan’s best work because we chose stories available for free on the internet. We hope to make up for this in the future.

Episode 6: Discussion of Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow

Oh, you have no idea the pangs this episode gave us. We loved the book, we were in awe of the author, and we spoke with fluid eloquence (relative to previous podcasts!) about our love and awe. But Karen was moving house and the change in the usual setup resulted in some distressingly poor audio. We actually decided, very sadly, to re-record the podcast, but bad weather (I cannot podcast during heavy rain and/or thunder!) and continuing tech issues made that impossible. Karen did her best to manually improve what we had. However, I am very happy to report that Cheryl Morgan recently performed some added cleanup and with their combined efforts we now have a fresh upload of a podcast that should be much easier to listen to.

Episode 7: Discussion of Curdella Forbes’s Ghosts

I thought Karen would find this easier and more enjoyable than The Rainmaker’s Mistake and I was wrong (though thankfully not badly wrong). I think there is more in there for the reader who knows West Indian history, culture and literature and gets the little hits of nostalgia and recognition at the right moments. Nevertheless, Karen was very appreciative of the author’s talent and put it into the slipstream category with The Rainmaker’s Mistake. Overall verdict on Caribbean SF? Readable, enjoyable, layered, literary and well worth the effort.

Episode 8: Season One Wrap Up

We made it to the end, and we finally found a graphic for the podcast! You may already know that Karen Burnham’s internet moniker is Spiral Galaxy. The photo shows the Whirlpool Galaxy interacting with its companion NGC 5195. We decided this interaction was a symbol of clear boundaries vs fuzzy boundaries, the linear vs the elliptical … which is a good way of differentiating between hard SF and Caribbean SF as well as different reader/critic approaches to understanding them. I won’t be changing my moniker to Elliptical Galaxy just yet, but it pleases me to think that there might be a curve and a swerve and a cycle to how I tell and read stories as well as a certain lack of defined boundaries that might be a challenge or a delight.

Whirlpool Galaxy and Companion. Credit: NASA, ESA

An interview and an invitation

Brad R. Torgersen, 2012 nominee for the Campbell Award, is interviewing the other Campbell nominees on his blog. So far he has an interview with Mur Lafferty and with yours truly. Go look!

The next episode of SF Crossing the Gulf will soon be released. Usually we warn listeners that we plan to be very spoilery and advise reading the book or stories in advance. This time we are discussing My Bones and My Flute by Edgar Mittelholzer, which is out of print but available at libraries (the link provided leads to WorldCat, one of the biggest if not the biggest library catalogue search engines). We’ll provide a summary of the novel before our discussion and fill in details as we go along, so in this case you will not need to have read the book in advance. Mittelholzer is a great start point for anyone new to Caribbean SF, so I invite all novices to come and listen. I also invite the Mittelholzer specialists, those who are more than well-acquainted with Caribbean literature, to listen and ensure that I don’t misrepresent him too badly. I’m looking forward to having a vigorous and illuminating discussion in the comment thread afterwards!

Post-Conference Post: ICFA’s delights

I LOVE the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts. Love it. I hate travelling to and from it, which is why I come to this blog post a little worn at the edges, possibly lacking in eloquence, but doggedly determined to let the world know that ICFA rocks.

I got there on a Tuesday evening in advance of the opening. I had a plan to pace myself: scheduled naps, cod liver oil capsules, B-Vitamin supplements and careful selection and timing of meals. I even slotted in two sessions of Zumba (thanks Karen Hellekson!) to compensate for the ridiculous amount of sitting I would be doing. It worked pretty well, I think, except that no-one is a match for the nonsense that is trying to make a connecting flight in Miami Airport. I arrived with a bruised knee; my departure resulted in sacroiliac pain.

Highlights of the conference included meals and conversations with … oh no, I can’t bring myself to list all the names. I’m going to forget someone, which isn’t fair and certainly will have more to do with the fried state of my brain at present than the importance of those conversations to me personally. But let me try …

Karen Burnham, Liza Groen Trombi and Francesca Myman of Locus Magazine. Karen gets a first-mention not only due to her name (ICFA was well-supplied with Karens, let me tell you), but because in addition to running the Locus Roundtable, she is my science and technology advisor for the sequel to The Best of All Possible Worlds, my sci-fi novel due in March 2013. Since Karen is an engineer at NASA as well as a book reviewer extraordinaire, I’m in good hands. Her husband Curtis Potterveld and their adorable baby Gavin are also excellent company! Also of Locus, and known for the Coode Street Podcast, is Gary K Wolfe. I had the pleasure of recording a podcast with him and co-caster Jonathan Strahan along with Nalo Hopkinson (always an honour!) and Ellen Klages. So much fun!

I met the VanderMeers at last! Jeff, I thought you’d be taller ;) We had a great lunch and chat and they put me completely at ease. I still feel very much the newbie, and they have been so supportive and kind. Another kindness I shall never forget is Guest of Honour Kelly Link’s conversation with me at the opening reception. This ICFA was my first time meeting Kelly and her little daughter Ursula (not so little! That child is going to grow tall!). I’d already met Gavin Grant at the 2010 Brooklyn Book Festival. Together they are the amazing Small Beer Press, the first publishers of Redemption in Indigo and my portal into this magic world of spec fic community. Without being too luvvie about it, I must say I’m huge fans of Gavin and Kelly and all the work they do. But hey, it’s hard not to gush a little at ICFA; you feel this immense fondness for all those people who understand and love and work hard at the same things you do.

A Tiptree gathering meant that I got to meet Karen Joy Fowler (another of the Karens). It thrills me that as a Small Beer Press author I get to be listed with people like her and Delia Sherman and Ted Chiang and Nancy Kress. Oh, Nancy I am so sorry about the one-legged squat, honest! I know it wasn’t the best etiquette, but they dared me!

I enjoyed a long conversation with Andrea Hairston, this year’s Tiptree winner and last year’s winner of the Distinguished Scholarship Award at ICFA. We discovered much to our amazement that a friend and former student of hers is one of my former students from when I taught secondary school physics in Barbados! The serendipity did not end there. While in conversation with Farah Mendlesohn, we discovered that the friend who I’d promised to visit on my next trip to the UK is chaplain at Anglia Ruskin, where Farah will be taking on head of department duties very soon!

So many good conversations and pleasant encounters: Charles Vess, Rachel Swirsky, my Crawford cousins Daryl Gregory and the newly-minted Genevieve Valentine, Siobhan Carroll, Theodora Goss (shared a reading slot with her; her story, and her delivery of it, was amazing), Andy and Sydney Duncan, Stacie Hanes, Mari Ness, Peter Straub, China Mièville, the brilliant Brit Mandelo, Dennis Danvers, Nancy Hightower … and all those whose names I have forgotten, whose name-tags I failed to read properly, especially those who gave me rich conversations on literature and folklore and pure, beautiful, creative silliness.