April newsletter: SFWA Southeast reading series kicks off April 24; lots of award news including Hugo, Tiptree, Gemmell, and Wellman updates; and! in May: Mary Robinette Kowal and Marie Brennan visit Quail Ridge Books

Vol 5 No 3. Tuesday, April 21, 2015: No, you didn’t miss a newsletter in March; I did. We didn’t have too much going on in terms of readings, and then all of a sudden, every time I thought I was about ready to send out the newsletter, another huge piece of news would roll in, or a new event would come across the wire, and here we are mid-April with all kinds of fantastic things coming right up! Let’s start with what’s on the immediately upcoming EVENTS calendar:

sfwa-southeast-2015-04-08-page001-vertical-logo The Voyage of the Basilisk (Memoir by Lady Trent, #3)

  • April 24 (Friday) 7 pm — The SFWA Southeast Reading Series presents a panel on science fiction and technology with authors Mark Van Name, Mur Lafferty, Richard Dansky, Jay Posey, Justin Achilli, and (via Skype) Tiffany Trent, moderated by M. David Blake, hosted by Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at The Edge, on the first floor of Duke University’s Bostock Library. Free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided. [Facebook]
  • April 25 (Saturday) 2 pm — Flyleaf Books hosts the book release party for Samantha Bryant’s “menopausal superhero novel” Going Through the Change.
  • April 25-26 (Saturday and Sunday) — Chapel Hill’s Storybook Farm hosts The 4th Annual Festival of Legends: Spirit Animals. “The Festival of Legends is a celebration of the mythic arts and the magic of life itself. It is a playground for the imagination – for children as well as adults – and an escape from the mundane world. It is a journey to the romantic by-gone eras that never were, and an exploration of the fantastical realms that have always been. The natives are magicians and musicians, acrobats and comedians, artists and crafters, proud knights and fairytale creatures. Step into the Festival of Legends, and step into a place of wonder.”
  • May 15-17 (Friday to Sunday) — Durham Central Park hosts Read Local Book Festival & Exhibitor Fair. “This weekend-long event takes place May 15-17, 2015 and will feature a kick-off Cookbook Rodeo, writing workshops, author dinners, a daytime exhibition in Durham Central Park, children’s activities, local celebrities reading outside their comfort zones, a lightning reading open mic event, and much more. Come celebrate reading local with us!” A buffet of authors dinner with Mur Lafferty, Monica Byrne, James Maxey, and Clay and Susan Griffith is set for May 16th.
  • May 18 (Monday) 7 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Mary Robinette Kowal & Marie Brennan – Historical Fantasy Reigns.

Let’s take a closer look at the first and last bullets in that list. On the first, it’s a big deal to be launching the third regional SFWA reading series (after the Pacific Northwest and Southern California series) and Jaym Gates has put together a fantastic panel of authors to kick things off. On the second, any time Kowal comes “home” to Raleigh is cause for excitement, and we’re in for an extra special treat this time as her frequent co-book-tour-partner Brennan is making the trip as well. In between, we’ve got an exciting local book launch, the annual Festival of Legends, and a new local book festival. Not too shabby, eh? Read the rest of this entry »


The Hardest Part: Piper Kessler on Frequency

On Thursday, April 23, 2015, Motorco will screen three seasons of the immensely popular lesbian sci-fi original series Frequency, which features cast, crew, and settings from the Triangle area. Fans will be treated to scenes and storylines from the first three seasons, including unreleased episodes from the current season (three) and exclusive content from the upcoming fourth season. The event will be emceed by Tracey and Matthew Coppedge of The Lowdown Show. Produced by KV Works, Frequency boasts over four and a half million views on YouTube worldwide and was an Official Selection at the Los Angeles Web Series Festival and Miami Web Fest. The series is written by Durham’s Piper Kessler, produced by Monique Velasquez, and stars Meredith Sause (“Foodie”) and Lisa Gagnon (“Disengaged”), along with Tony Hughes, Kat Froelich, and Jenn Evans.

The (free, $5 suggested donation) screening begins at 6:42, although doors open at 6. Q&A, series trivia, and general good times are expected. Cast and crew will be on hand to meet and greet, including Kessler, who here writes about “The Hardest Part” of putting this all together.

frequency-timthumb

By Piper Kessler:

When folks tell you the hardest thing they’ve ever done rarely does it fall under what is truly difficult. I’m sure people would think producing an original sci-fi series with lesbian main characters in a state not known for it’s love of “the gays” is a hard undertaking. Nah. I’ve lived in North Carolina all my life. I’ve heard, well, they’re the good kind of Lesbian, Gay, Black, Mexican Yep, fill in the blank with an other of your choosing. Hard times are given to strangers, not the odd uncle, sister and beer drinking buddy. Cause my buddy? Well, he’s different. Read the rest of this entry »


Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, March 2015: remembering Terry Pratchett, covering The Kitschies, and new books from Kazuo Ishiguro, Tom McCarthy, Antonia Honeywell, Paul McAuley, and not Adam Roberts

From the Other Side, March 2015
By Paul Kincaid

[Editor’s Note: From the Other Side is Paul Kincaid’s monthly column on books and news from the other side of the Atlantic.]

So the embuggeration won. We always knew it would, but even so … The first thing Terry Pratchett ever said to me was “Sorry.” I’d been organising the programme for a science fiction convention, and a publisher I’d never heard of contacted me to ask if we could invite one of his brand new authors as a guest. We didn’t know the author and our budget for guests was already allocated; so I said no. Terry Pratchett turned up anyway, and sought me out to apologise. If he’d known what his publisher was trying to do, he’d have stopped him. If we’d known what Terry Pratchett was going to become, we’d have said yes.

 

The last time I talked to him was probably at the 1999 Worldcon in Melbourne. Late one night my wife and I were crossing the lobby when Terry hailed us. He was conventioned out, needed a break, could we sit and talk? Of course, we found a nice quiet corner of the lobby and sat and talked for maybe half an hour about nothing in particular, shared anecdotes, memories, that sort of thing. Then a fan noticed him and began to hover and Terry became the professional once more. One of the things all the obituaries agree on: he was a very nice man. He never forgot how much he owed to his readers and fans, and he never failed to give them full measure. It was always a pleasure to spend time with him. He died, it is reported, with a cat curled up asleep beside him. That seems right.

And after that, the normal business of March seems somewhat lacking. Read the rest of this entry »


The Local Scene: Donna Glee Williams

[Editor’s Note: New column The Local Scene will introduce some of North Carolina’s fantastic roster of authors and their books, monthly on first Thursdays.]

North Carolina author Donna Glee Williams was born in Mexico, the “daughter of a Kentucky farm-girl and a Texas Aggie large-animal veterinarian.” Having grown up “mostly” in Maryland, she lives in “the hills” of North Carolina, adding that “the place I lived the longest and still call home is New Orleans.” By day she leads seminars on a variety of topics, with past jobs as a member of a schooner crew, a librarian, an environmental activist, a registered nurse, a teacher, and “a long stint as a professional student.”

She is incredibly widely published in fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, in print publications ranging from Bluegrass Unlimited to Inside Kung-Fu and still more online publications and journals, which you can sample from her links page. Her first speculative fiction short story “Limits” was published in Strange Horizons in 2007, and received an Honorable Mention in Gardner Dozois’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction for that year; in late 2011 it became the first of two of her stories to be published in audio by PodCastle, followed in August 2012 by “The Circle Harp“. (A short flash horror piece, “Dancing”, followed two weeks later in Pseudopod.)

DonnaGlee blue shirt 

In March 2014, Canadian publisher EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy published her first novel, The Braided Pathalso available in Kindle and Kobo ebook formats. The Braided Path grew out of “Limits” and continues the same characters and worlds as the short story, which according to Williams “owed a lot to the feather-editing of Jed Hartman at Strange Horizons”. It presents an allegorical secondary-world fantasy that to me can be described as standing somewhere in the midpoint of an imaginary line between Catherine M. Wilson’s When Women Were Warriors and Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria, perhaps with a dash of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Shaman or even more of Chris Beckett’s Dark Eden as well. Williams’ world is clearly not our own, centered on a pre-modern society of connected villages of rope-makers and other crafters, of storytelling and dreaming, set on a single path leading up- and down-slope. According to Williams, “The craft society of The Braided Path owes a lot to the time I’ve spent hanging out in villages in Spain, Italy, Israel, Turkey, India, and Pakistan,” adding in her acknowledgements in the book that “this tale was born on a long, sweaty, uphill walk one July” in the hills of North Georgia.

The Braided Path is also centered on a young widow, Len Rope-Maker, and two youths, Cam (her son) and Fox (his sweetheart), struggling to find their place and (if any) limitations, one drawn upslope and the other downslope to the sea. While a fantasy novel, their journeys are not beset on all sides by mythological or magical foes. As Williams describes it: “There are no vampires, zombies, werewolves, princes, swords, dragons, wizards, or any magic at all, really.” Instead, Cam and Fox must face the more ambiguous pulls of up and down, away from each other, while there is no denying the connection that also binds — or braids — them together. It’s a poignant story, and lyrically written, sentimental at times but not overly so. We were all young once, wondering about our own futures, in worlds of endless possibilities and directions. Even given a shared avocation of “Far-Walker”, there is still the choice of up or down, of leaving behind or staying in place, of binding or simply connecting, tethered in heart rather than to one physical place.

Williams’ next novel, Dreamers, is, like The Braided Path, “set in a world that isn’t this one, a desert land where policy is guided by the dreams of one isolated girl who is revered like a priestess but treated like a prisoner.  The story follows her journey towards finding her full and independent true Self.”


The Hardest Part: Robert Creekmore on Afiri

North Carolina author Robert Creekmore‘s initially self-published his first novel Afiri through Amazon.com last year, but quickly withdrew it from commercial publication when he discovered that he could not make it continually available for free. After considering his options, in late February he elected to simply make the novel available as a PDF download from his website. With readers from North Carolina to Saudi Arabia, the move has paid off in more ways than one. Creekmore describes the novel as “polemical, narrative driven, mid-twentieth century science fiction” and it is written in a style “specifically geared toward young adults with Aspergers and High Functioning Autism”. The author is a veteran special needs teacher, who himself has Aspergers, and along with themes of social relationships and autism/neurotypical interaction the book presents a story of oppressive theocracies and segregation. After short introductory chapters dealing with death and hospital bills, young and soon-to-be-homeless Aksel Lauht sets off for the Linville Gorge Wilderness to make it on his own. Before long, however, he stumbles into a star-spanning narrative of genetic engineering and artificial intelligence. Here, Creekmore writes about developing the greater science fictional allegory for his thoughts on our own peculiar species.

Afiribookcover

Afiri by Robert Creekmore; cover design by Juliana Creekmore

 

By Robert Creekmore:

“The hardest part” wasn’t writing, rather, it is being “me” in a tidal pool of “yous”. First off, there is certainly nothing wrong with being a “you”, rather I’d deem it desirable. The “yous” have an amazing ability: they can read the minds of other “yous”. Then there is “I”. “I” am abnormal, a closed looped mind in a world of clairvoyants. “I” am autistic and you’re probably not. My front row ticket to the Homo-Sapien show has taught me a great many things about the “yous”. The problem is, I have a tendency to be rather intense and talk at people about my ideas, which can give one an air of lunacy. Read the rest of this entry »


Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, February 2015: Iain Banks and Ken MacLeod’s Poems, E.J. Swift’s Tamaruq, Naomi Foyle’s Rook Song, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Signal to Noise, Jonathan Barnes’ Cannonbridge, and much more

From the Other Side, February 2015
By Paul Kincaid

[Editor’s Note: From the Other Side is Paul Kincaid’s monthly column on books and news from the other side of the Atlantic.]

Most poignant publication of the month has to be Poems by Iain Banks and Ken MacLeod (Little Brown). The book came out on 16th February, which would have been Banks’s 61st birthday, and also, incidentally, the 31st anniversary of the publication of The Wasp Factory. The book was planned before his death in 2013, and includes 50 poems that he wrote between 1973, when he was at university at Sterling, and 1981, which was the year he began writing The Wasp Factory and abruptly stopped writing poetry. There are a couple of familiar pieces in there, including both “Zakalwe’s Song” and “Slight Mechanical Destruction” which bookended Use of Weapons, and, of course, he used odd lines from his poetry as song lyrics in Espedair Street, but mostly this is stuff we’ve never seen before, and if they betray strong influence from T.S. Eliot and also from the songs he was listening to in the 70s, they are still good and in some cases very good poems. They are accompanied by 28 poems from Ken MacLeod, who began writing poetry at about the same time as Banks, but never stopped, so these cover a longer period of time and in some cases are even more accomplished.

When Poems came out, we also learned that Banks had hoped that MacLeod would write another Culture novel. Unfortunately, he died earlier than anticipated, so his notes for the novel were not far enough advanced to make the project possible.

What can you say after that? So, a moment’s silence … and then onwards.

Poems Rook Song (The Gaia Chronicles, #2) Read the rest of this entry »


Friday Quick Updates: Oak City Comics Show on Sunday, and Wake County Library’s “Let’s Talk Sci-Fi” series kicks off with Drake and Van Name discussing Heinlein

Saturday, February 28, 2015: A belated Saturday edition of “Friday Quick Updates” this weekend, ahead of several events today and tomorrow. First! Today Ultimate Comics hosts comics creator/author/illustrator Chris Giarrusso (G-Man Super JournalMini Marvels) for a day of signings and quick sketches:

This appearance is ahead of Giarrusso’s appearance at the Oak City Comic Show tomorrow (Sunday, March 1) at the Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown, with a fantastic lineup including Mick Foley, Tommy Lee Edwards, Dale Mettam, Richard Case, John Van Fleet, Daniel Way, Jeremy Whitley, Johndell Snead, Addy Miller, Amber Dawn Fox, and more. The show runs from 10 am to 5 pm, and admission is only $5 for adults and free for kids 10 and under, not to mention “the first 200 cosplayers get in for free!”

Sunday also marks the first event in Wake County Libraries’ month-long Let’s Talk Sci-Fi series, bringing pairs of fantastic local authors together to talk about classic works of science fiction: “Science Fiction & Fantasy authors discuss classic, iconic authors of the genres, including their body of work and influence. Take part in the discussion, share your thoughts and ask questions of the authors. Registration requested.” Events include: Read the rest of this entry »


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