Thursday, May 30, 2013

Another WisCon report to check out

This year at WisCon, I had the pleasure of seeing Aqueductista Kiini Ibura Salaam graced by the Tiptree tiara. Kath took numerous photos of Kiini wearing the tiara, but my camera made a really poor showing this year, and not one of the photos Kath took of her were even remotely clear enough to post. (Which is why I'm posting the photo of her we've been using on her author's page on Aqueduct's site.)

As you probably already know, many of us present on Sunday night at the official presentation of the Tiptree Award were moved by Kiini speech. Kiini did not read from a prepared speech, but after WisCon she took the kernel of her speech and expanded it into a short essay that has been posted on SF Signal here: Surely most women who are writers have at one time or another found themselves beaten down by the doubt that almost always accompanies discouragement. It is a commonplace that the world (often in the form of friends and relatives) assume that writing that hasn't won significant recognition simply drains time from all those things women are supposed to be doing with their time (chiefly nurturing and caring for others). I know I had some pretty grim moments, particularly in the late 1980s, myself, even in comparison with the skepticism I naturally encountered when I decided not to finish my doctorate in history so that I could write novels I had no reason to believe anyone would ever care about. I still sometimes wonder how I managed to keep writing when it seemed the entire world was telling me that I was wrong to think doing so would ever matter to anyone besides myself. So many of us have been there (or are, at this moment, suffering that negative pressure.) Kiini's words both acknowledge and challenge the crushing power of such doubt. 

Kiini has also written a con report-- on her second WisCon, this one attended with her daughter, and as the co-winner of this year's Tiptree Award. I of course adore her observations on hugging at WisCon and have to admit I experienced a moment of frisson at her description of her reading (which I myself attended): "As part of the Kindred Reading Series with my fab New York peeps–Alaya Dawn Johnson, K Tempest Bradford, Jennifer Brissett, and Daniel José Older–and I read the first half of “Bio-Anger,” a science fiction horror story from my collection. I actually traumatized myself while reading it and found myself getting shaky-voiced and emotional as the story progressed."Anyway, you can read her entire con report here:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A con report to check out

WisCon 37 was Lesley Wheeler's first experience of a science fiction con of any kind. (You remember Lesley, right? She's the Aqueduct Press author of The Receptionist and Other Tales, which has been honor-listed by last year's Tiptree Award jury?) I had the pleasure of meeting her in person there for the first time, ever. On Friday night at WisCon, she moderated a panel on feminist speculative poetry that was brilliant; Lesley's co-panelists were Amal El-Mohtar, Shira Lipkin, and Sofia Sanatar. (I wish, wish, wish I'd taken detailed notes. I'm hoping, though, to write a little about this in another post.) Everyone I know who attended thought so, too. And then on   Monday morning, at Michelangelo's, she read from The Receptionist and Other Tales. She was clever in her selection, such that she left us all gasping from the final rapier-light-but-but-deadly strike of her wit.

Anyway, I wanted to point you to her post, In which the modernism scholar attends her first con. (And then writes her first con report!) It has a link, by the way, to the delightful "Rhymes with poetess" inspired by her experience attending academic conferences, as well as this lovely sentence: "I have never attended such a FEMINIST feminist conference: safe spaces for every identity plus constant access to chocolate conceived as a basic human right."

And while I'm on the subject of Lesley Wheeler and her delightful work, I might as well share with you a newspaper reviewby Moira Richards  that came out the day I arrived in Madison, from the Cape Times, May 24, 2013:
A feminist spec-fic fantasy in which a dastardly college dean, who will quash the budget of any campus colleague rash enough to attempt a thwarting of his sexual predations, is served his just desserts. So too, after nudging from Yoda and the (re)discovery of her own powers, is the reluctant hero of the novella.

Lesley Wheeler narrates her tale in 33 10-standza vantos, every one crafted in the plaited terza rim form that is as seductive of the senses as ouma's koeksusters. And, albeit in a different sort of way, just as sweet.

You have to read The Receptionist once through to root the hero on, as you boo the villain; a second time just to savour the metaphors; and a third to marvel at the craft with which the poet finesses the form in the service of her content.

That sounds about right to me. And if I don't know what the words"ouma's koeksusters" denotes (OR connotes), well, I'm ready to take a chance and assume they're (that is a plural, right?) genuinely "seductive of the senses."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Eleanor Arnason's Big Mama Stories

Don't we just really need more tricksters in our lives? For that reason and more, I'm pleased to announce Aqueduct Press's publication of a new collection of stories from Eleanor Arnason, Big Mama Stories, five edgy, satirical tales of wily tricksters for the 21st century. In “Big Green Mama Falls in Love,” Big Green Mama duplicates herself and discovers just how life-threatening a Big-Mama-sized case of love can be while the skwork learn that one cannot train a microbe to be patriotic. In “Big Red Mama in Time and Morris, Minnesota,” Big Red Mama gets pissed-off when she discovers the Cretaceous has been invaded by an obnoxious human who has stolen a time-machine—and decides that some information probably shouldn’t be free, particularly since as a group, humans underestimated the damage they did and rarely took responsibility for anything. On the basis of these stories, the one thing you can say for sure is that Big Mamas' lives are never dull.

We launched this book at WisCon, where Eleanor read the opening of one of these tall tales. And now it's available through Aqueduct's site in both trade paper and e-book editions. In a couple of weeks it will be available elsewhere. I promise you, Eleanor's at her wittiest in these tales.

Home again, from WisCon 37

I wanted to post from WisCon, to bring you photos and reports (however brief), but it turned out, as has usually been the case over the last few WisCons, that my every brain-functioning moment was jammed full with engagement. I love nothing more than engagement, whether it's with tests, ideas, or live conversations, but for me, engagement has a downside (though one I can easily live with): I can't adequately report on it (much less reflect on it) while it's in progress. (Pace the twitter coverage of this year's WisCon.) Hence, my regretted silence here. I hope to offer up some reports and reflections in the days to come, but I can't promise. (Because of all those books Aqueduct launched at WisCon, I've come home to a mountain of work.) The photo of me, by the way, is from one of the Aqueduct Press readings held at Michelangelo's, around the corner from the Madison Concourse.

In the meantime, let me point you to a post by Jeff VanderMeer for Ominvoracious, which I think as a complement to my post of May 10, Last Night at the Seattle Public Library: Translation as an Act of Love: Ursula K. Le Guin and Squaring the Circle. As he often does for his Omnivoracious posts, Jeff contacted Ursula to supplement his review. Really, it's all about the beauty and the love.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ebook Edition of Nancy Jane Moore's Conscientious Inconsistencies

Conscientious Inconsistencies
Nancy Jane Moore's collection, Conscientious Inconsistencies, which was originally published in a now out-of-print limited hardcover edition by PS Publishing, is now available as an ebook from Book View Cafe.

The ebook includes the original introduction by Timmi Duchamp and the cover is based on the original cover painting by Edward Miller. You can see more of Miller's art on the Les Edwards website.

An excerpt from one of the stories in the collection, "Three O'Clock in the Morning," is on the Book View Cafe blog.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Seattle Science Festival

Here's a press release from the Seattle Science Festival (June 6-16), which will be offering a program of interest to anyone even slightly geeky:

I would like to take this opportunity to invite you and your organization to the second annual Seattle Science Festival. This year, the region’s largest celebration of science will take place June 6-16, 2013 to celebrate the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to our community’s culture and to its continued growth and prosperity. The Seattle Science Festival will consist of the following components:

·         Science EXPO Day, Saturday, June 8, will feature exciting, engaging events all day long throughout the grounds of Seattle Center. Over 15,000 students, parents, scientists, educators and other community members are anticipated to take part in this FREE event. Science EXPO Day will showcase over 150 hands-on activities and demonstrations; it will also feature live science performances on the EXPO Day Stage. FREE BUS PARKING IS AVAILABLE ON SCIENCE EXPO DAY! Contact Jordan Adams at for more details.

·         Signature Programs, June 6-16, will provide events developed by our program collaborators specifically for the Seattle Science Festival. Signature Programs include behind-the-scenes tours, science adventures, field trip opportunities for classrooms, workshops, screenings of science-themed films, a Cool Jobs Series at the Seattle Public Library on June 9-Computer Science, June 12-Green & Clean Technology, and June 13-Biomedical Science, plus many other events held at venues all over the Puget Sound region.

·         Opening Night at the Paramount Theatre, June 6, 8 – 10 PM Beyond Infinity? The Search for Understanding at the Limits of Space and Time. Featuring Brian Greene, Sean Carroll, Adam Frank and the West Coast premiere of Icarus at the Edge of Time, and music by Philip Glass, conducted by Marcus Tsutakawa and performed by the Garfield High School Orchestra. Avoid service charges by purchasing tickets IN PERSON at the Paramount Theatre Box Office at 911 Pine Street, Seattle, or for 10 or more tickets, contact their Group Sales Manager at (206) 315-8054. 

·         Closing Night at the Seattle Repertory Theatre, June 15, 7:30 – 9:30 PM Our 11th Hour: Straight Talk on Climate Change from People Who Know. Featuring Kevin E. Trenberth, Richard Alley, Andrew Revkin and a performance of Seattle Opera’s Heron and the Salmon Girl. Buy tickets at

These high profile events will present some of the greatest scientific and creative minds of our time and weave together science, music, art and philosophy for two inspiring, thought-provoking and engaging evenings.

How can you get involved?

·         Sign up for the Seattle Science Festival E-Newsletter
·         Coordinate a group of students to bring to a Seattle Science Festival event
·         Become a Seattle Science Festival Ambassador and help spread the word
·         Sign up to be a Seattle Science Festival volunteer by May 22

Visit to learn more about how you can get involved and I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tanith Lee's Space Is Just a Starry Night

I'm pleased to announce that Aqueduct Press has taken delivery of Tanith Lee's new collection, Space Is Just a Starry Night. The tales in Space Is Just a Starry Night range across genres, as elegant as the field of stars spanning a clear dark sky. A lone survivor of plague receives a mysterious visitor; a prison planet tortures political prisoners by methodically manipulating their memories; a young woman uncovers the ghastly truth about the cryogenically preserved ancestor who’s been thawed; a ship's officer struggles with his suspicions about a shy drab woman taking passage aboard a ship of sun-worshipers—Tanith Lee explores these and other scenarios in her ever intense sensual prose.

Tanith Lee's work has long been noted for its masterful beauty and sensuality.'s list of 101 Weird writers slotted her in at #10, observing that “Whatever her subject, Lee's vision is intense and feverish; like many of her characters, she seems to navigate the waters of unseen worlds. And it’s difficult to resist the call of that spell; there's something haunting about these visions.”

And here's the first review:

Lee’s powerful science fiction collection assembles 12 tales published between 1979 and 2011, plus two originals. All of them showcase her strong, entertaining, and often gorgeous writing. “The Beautiful Biting Machine” packs an irresistible wallop as it describes a sensuous sideshow at the Nightfair, a sort of giant carnival of dark desires. The werewolf myth takes on a deep space element in “Moon Wolf,” in which Lee's prose is lovely: “The ocean came in, sigh on sigh, quintessential sea, to solace the onyx shore, under the solar light that did not glare any more but was smooth as the taste of cream.” The intriguing “With a Flaming Sword” puts an unusual spin on the story of Adam and Eve (in a manner that might fluster Biblical literalists). “Written in Water” also tackles creation myths, with a far grimmer outcome. This is a solid grouping of stories that deserves a broad audience. —Publishers Weekly July 06, 2013

"Once worlds have ended, and the curtains of space closed upon them, where does their genius go? Their great music and art, their architecture, literature, and thought, their beauty—all held till then in vessels of physical form, or the records of machines, or simply in the memory of humankind. Is everything obliterated merely, rinsed away and lost?"   —from “Within the Ghost”

You can purchase the book now, in trade paperback as well as e-book editions, in advance of the official release date, directly from Aqueduct Press. Eventually, of course, it will be available in all the usual places. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Last night at the Seattle Public Library

Good things happened last night in the auditorium of Seattle's Public Library. Ursula Le Guin, who came up from Portland, Mariano Martin Rodriguez, who flew to the US from Brussels, author Gheorghe Sasarman's daughter, who flew to the US from Munich, and his nephew who came down from British Columbia, all joined forces with University Bookstore and the Seattle Public Library to launch Sasarman's Squaring the Circle: A Pseudotreatise of Urbogony, into the anglophone world. Misha Stone opened for the Seattle Public Library with a brief introduction, then presented Sasarman's daughter, Anna, who read his letter to the audience in fluent English, detailing a bit of the book's history dating from the mid-1970s (and its vicissitudes under the insanities of the infamous Ceausescu regime) and the importance to him of its finally achieving an English-language publication.

The book's Spanish translator, Marian Martin Rodriguez, spoke next, describing the book's happenstance survival through the diverse sorts of misfortunes that can befall books (and which often end in their eternal obscurity). He himself somehow came upon the French translation of some tales from  Squaring the Circle, and then found the Romanian original edition. Francisco Arellano, a Spanish publisher of speculative literature who had read the French translation of the book, which was nearly lost forever when its publisher went bankrupt shortly after the book was printed, wanted to publish the book in Spanish. When he told Mariano his wish, Mariano proposed to translate Squaring the Circle from the Romanian original. He then tracked down its author and undertook the Spanish translation with the author's blessing. When his Spanish translation was published, Mariano sent the book to Ursula, his favorite English-language author. It was a little like putting a message in a bottle, he said-- a gesture of hope with little certainty that she would actually one day read the book.

Next Ursula took the microphone. Many people send her their books, she said, and so as she usually does, after receiving the book, she paged through it, appreciating the beauty of its design, and sent Mariano a polite note thanking him. In most such cases, the audience was left to infer, that would be the end of the story. But the book persisted in remaining on her desk-- where, Ursula said, very few books ever stay for long. And so before long she picked it up and decided to try one of its tales. Its language appealed to her, and she tried another. Then she decided she wanted to translate what she was reading because, she said, it was only when she makes a translation into English that she feels she really understands the Spanish.

And here's the thing: Ursula loves making translations of work she likes because translating is very much like the part of writing that she loves best: revising and rewriting. The hard part of writing fiction, she said, is getting the first version of the story into words. But revising? "Revising is gravy." At this point I was swooning with pleasure, because that's exactly how I've come to feel about fiction writing, myself (even if I didn't start that way).

And then Ursula told the rest of the story, about translating the first few with the idea of getting them into English-language sf magazines, and then deciding (when that didn't look promising) to translate enough of the book's 36 tales for a book that a publisher like Aqueduct might want to publish. In the end, she translated 24. By this time she was in contact with Mariano, and eventually they together consulted the author on points they couldn't be certain of. And thus was born the English-language edition Aqueduct has published.

The next part of the program also delighted me. Ursula read the collection's second tale, "Arapabad" in her translation (in English), Mariano read it in his translation (in Spanish), and the author's nephew, Vlad, read the original tale (in Romanian). Ursula also read "Vavylon," and she and Mariano read the English and Spanish versions of "Kriegbour" (which Mariano dramatized as he read).

Next came  questions from the audience with answers from Ursula and Mariano, followed by their
signing books. Which took a long, long time, since many people had books for Ursula to sign. And not only books to sign-- as you can see from Misha's photograph, Ursula also signed a guitar last night.

I believe there will eventually be a podcast of the event available, made by the Seattle Public Library. As soon as I've heard anything about that, I'll let you all know. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Event alert!

On Thursday evening, Ursula Le Guin and Mariano Martin Rodriguez, translators of Gheorghe Sasarman's Squaring the Circle, will be celebrating its release at the Seattle Public Library. The event promises to be a bit off the beaten path of readings, because Ursula and Mariano will be discussing the translation process that brought the English version of the collection into existence as well as taking turns reading tales in English, Spanish, and the original Romanian.

Here's the SPL's press release:

Ursula K. Le Guin and Mariano Martin Rodriguez discuss 'Squaring the Circle' at The Seattle Public Library May 9

Ursula Le Guin
Acclaimed poet and author Ursula K. Le Guin and Mariano Martin Rodriguez will discuss translating Gheorghe Săsărman's "Squaring the Circle: A Pseudotreatise of Urbogony" from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, May 9 at The Seattle Public Library, Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 1, Microsoft Auditorium.

The program is free and open to the public. Registration is not required. Limited parking is available in the Central Library garage for $5 after 5 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.

"Squaring the Circle: A Pseudotreatise of Urbogony" is a collection of stories that explores imaginary societies and human nature through architectural descriptions of alien cities. The stories were originally published in Romanian in 1975.

Le Guin is an award-winning poet and author. She has received five Hugo awards, six Nebula awards and the PEN/Malamud Award for "excellence in a body of short fiction" in 2003. She lives in Portland, Ore.

This event is supported by The Seattle Public Library Foundation, author series sponsor Gary Kunis, and media sponsor The Seattle Times. It is presented in cooperation with University Book Store.  Books will be available for purchase and signing.

For more information, call The Seattle Public Library at 206-386-4636 or Ask a Librarian.

For more information contact:

Andra Addison, communications director

Sunday, May 5, 2013

On discovering a "first sale" I somehow never knew about

For years I've had dreams in which I discover a cache of stories I've written and completely forgotten about, only to discover them with amazement and delight. What's just happened to me shares something of the feel of those dreams-- only with an unpleasant affect.

Thanks to Google Scholar, I just this afternoon learned-- 24 years after the fact-- that a story of mine was published without my permission or even knowledge in the minnesota review. Though this is not exactly catastrophic news, it's turned my stomach inside-out and is making my brain buzz with so much noise that I'm finding it difficult to concentrate on anything else. Perhaps the best way of putting it is to say that my sense of reality feels threatened. (I'm expecting that this rocky feeling will vanish soon, when I've processed this revision of my personal history.) What adds an extra little force to the punch is that this would have been my first sale (had my permission for publication been solicited by the journal).

 One part of me is trying to imagine the difference this sale would have made to me in 1989 (the year I made my first sale, "O's Story," to Susana Sturgis for her Crossing Press anthology Memories and Visions: Women's Fantasy and Science Fiction), when I had given up on marketing the Marq'ssan Cycle or indeed any of my novels and was trying to break into the short fiction market. When I didn't hear back from the minnesota review after ten months, I assumed they'd rejected the story, "Ms. Peach Makes a Run for Coffee," and next tried Interzone-- around the time the minnesota review published it. The story then received 19 rejections from a mix of literary and genre magazine, until Terra Incognita bought first serial rights to its publication in 1996. Some of the rejections were brutal, because the story was overtly political. It went through numerous line-edits over those years. So the version published by the minnesota review is slightly different from the one published in Terra Incognita. I have no idea why the editors published it without contacting me. But I do note that the contributors page omits my name-- presumably because they did not solicit a bio from me.

Another part of me is wondering whether I've been naive about this. I always tell writing students that reputable publications do not publish submissions without permission-- that they have little to fear from publications with an established reputation. I'd probably say that still--and yet, I wonder whether I ought to. This strangely improbable thing happened to me-- something I wouldn't have known about if Project MUSE hadn't archived old pre-internet issues and Google hadn't included that issue in its search. One part of me is sure there must be some benign explanation. Some mix up in paper work. An overworked assistant dropping the ball. Is that naive? I don't think so. As a publisher myself, I know enough about the nuts and bolts of publishing to imagine such a thing happening even with the best intentions.

 A third part of me worries about a question I can't answer and might need an attorney to instruct me on: did minnesota review's appropriation of my work rob me of my rights? Did I lose the rights to that story after they pirated it? I fervently hope not. I've had it posted on my website for free download for several years now-- not knowing that someone else had published it first. And it would seem the height of injustice that their violation of my copyright would result in my loss of ownership. (Which is not to say that even more egregious injustices don't often happen.) Ought I to remove "Ms. Peach" from my website?

And yet another part of me-- the part that is always producing sfnal thoughts-- is yearning to imagine an alternate history, in which I received an acceptance letter informing me of my first sale (likely prior to my sale of "O's Story"). Would it have made any difference to me? After all, I'd already written "The Forbidden Words of Margaret A." and "Sadness Ineffable, Desire Ineluctable" and was at the peak of my political activism and about to go on to write The Red Rose Rages (Bleeding)." Probably it wouldn't have substantially affected my writing or my self-confidence (except to make me interested in submitting to that journal again-- which I never did, simply because they couldn't be bothered to send me even a form rejection). So, no significantly divergent alternate history. But in a way, it feels as though two splits in the historical thread have suddenly converged. I suppose this is because something involving myself happened that I've only now become conscious of. As though where my own words have been can't have happened in real time unless I know about those places... which is just wrong, of course. People usually have to learn the hard way that once something's been out on the internet--say, posted to an obscure list-serv, it's to all intents and purposes there for good. And now it seems unaccepted submissions to pre-internet print publications may fall into the same category, too. (God knows I've learned that pre-internet letters to the editor, invidiously doctored by the editors, are now out and accessible on the internet.)  

(The image shown, by the way, is W. Gregory Stewart's illustration to "Ms. Peach Makes a Run for Copy" published in the first issue of Terra Incognita.)