Category: writing

Fiction Police

from Tom Gauld


My Time At Worldcon

(Be aware that there will be name-dropping…)

I had never been to a science fiction and fantasy convention before, and when I heard that the 2010 Worldcon was going to be held in Melbourne, I had to go.   

Several people at the convention said “Your first con?  And you chose a Worldcon?” in tones of disbelief.  I figured why not go for one of the biggest and best?  At least I was almost certain to enjoy myself, and, worst-case scenario, if I didn’t like the con, there is plenty of shopping and sightseeing to do in Melbourne. 

I had a wonderful time. 

I caught up with my friend Joanne Anderton, whose first novel should be published in 2011. 

Joanne Anderton & Me


 Jo introduced me to Ian Tregillis, with whom I had some fascinating conversations.  I will be tracking down a copy of his first novel, Bitter Seeds, when I return from Africa. 

Ian Tregillis

I also got lots of books signed by their authors, and was brave enough to ask if I could get my photo taken with my favourite ones.  

Me & Michael Pryor

  Michael Pryor was not originally scheduled to have a signing.  I wasn’t at all certain I could track down (stalk) him without knowing what he looked like, or even if I could randomly accost someone and ask them to sign my book.  Luckily a signing was arranged and Michael was very friendly, we chatted for a while about The Laws of Magic series.  I thought he really accentuated the humour in his books when I attended his reading, it is a pity the Laws of Magic series isn’t available as audiobooks. 

Me & Gail Carriger

 Gail Carriger’s third book, Blameless was released the week Worldcon began.  I carefully purchased a copy in Brisbane so I could read it on the plane to Melbourne and get it signed.  But Gail had been staying with family in Brisbane and had sneakily signed all the copies of her books in store! 

Thankfully I discovered the horror of a previously signed book before I left for Melbourne, and the second book was added to my growing  pile of luggage.  (A personalised autograph is much better than a generic one.  My brought with signature copies of Jo Beverley and Nalini Singh books don’t count.) 

Me & John Scalzi

 John Scalzi’s signing was the first one I went to, and he (unsurprisingly) had a very long line of people waiting.  I wasn’t brave enough to ask someone so famous (in the sci-fi and blogging world at least) if I could have my photo taken with him, so I just scurried away holding tight to my now signed copy of Android’s Dream. 

The next day, having partly overcome my “I can’t believe I’m talking to real actual writers who wrote books I love!!!!!” attitude, I summoned up the courage to ask him for a photo after his reading was done.  John very nicely agreed and said he often wonders if he ends up looking smug in these photos. 

The next morning, I was waiting outside the room where the first panel I was attending was going to start, and someone walked past and said “Hey, how’s it going?”  I just about forgot to say anything in reply when I realised John Scalzi had remembered me from the day before! 

Seanan McGuire & Me

Seanan McGuire was one of the bubbliest, cheerfulist people I met at Worldcon.  Being a published author with fans still seems to be new and exciting for her;  she happily posed with another fans’ toy before she cuddled in for the photo with me. (No really, our heads are touching.)

Seanan is also friends with Catherynne Valente, whose books I have not yet read, but I thought she was awesome and articulate on the panels I saw her on.

Melbourne Convention Centre At Night

 The first panel I attended on Sunday morning was about the early days of fandom in Australia and New Zealand.  I had met the moderator, Chris Nelson, on Thursday.  He is doing reasearch into early fan letters to sci-fi magazines and he asked if I would read aloud a letter that an eighteen year old New Zealand girl had sent eighty years ago.  Of course I agreed! 

(It would have been unusual to be female and passionate about science fiction in the 1920’s, I wonder who she was and what happened in the rest of her life.) 

Chris was very kind, he told everyone attending the panel (about ten people) that this was my first con and gave me a 1951 copy of Startling Stories. 

Startling Stories (from 1951)

On the final night of the convention, desperate for a proper meal with vegetables and conversation (previously I had been so tired I just crashed in my hotel room in the evening), I invited Ian Tregillis and Melinda Snodgrass to join me for dinner. 

I know this has little to do with the attraction of my conversation, but I find it highly amusing that Melinda had been invited to dinner with George R R Martin (famous author) and Patrick Neilsen Hayden (famous editor) but decided in favour of a quieter meal with Ian and I.  (Melinda knows them both very well, but I still find it funny!) 

I had a wonderful Worldcon.  I’m hoping that New Zealand’s bid to hold the Worldcon in 2020 is successful so I can attend again.


A gorgeous film about words and the multiple meanings they have.

Garrett Murry, of Manical Rage, has a creative way of venting his frustation at Photoshop’s apparently frequent crashes:

Check out more of his creative complaints.

A Favourite Poem

The Tyger by William Blake

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water’d heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

(I love the rhythm of the words in this poem, the way it makes the most sense when I let the words flow though me, and the beautiful, terrible images it conjures up.)

How Not To Use Powerpoint


from dweebist

I think Connie Willis writes nearly perfect Christmas stories – not too sentimental, not too cynical, a touch of romance and a lot of humour!

All Seated On The Ground is one of my favourites, about uncomunicative aliens, authority figures who don’t listen (this is a common theme), church choirs and christmas carols.

I’d always said that if and when the aliens actually landed, it would be a let-down. I mean, after War of the Worlds, Close Encounters, and E.T., there was no way they could live up to the image in the public’s mind, good or bad.

I’d also said that they would look nothing like the aliens of the movies, and that they would not have come to A) kill us, B) take over our planet and enslave us, C) save us from ourselves à la The Day the Earth Stood Still, or D) have sex with Earthwomen. I mean, I realize it’s hard to find someone nice, but would aliens really come thousands of light-years just to find a date? Plus, it seemed just as likely they’d be attracted to wart hogs. Or yucca. Or air-conditioning units.

I’ve also always thought A) and B) were highly unlikely since imperialist invader types would probably be too busy invading their next-door neighbors and being invaded by other invader types to have time to go after an out-of-the-way place like Earth, and as to C), I’m wary of people or aliens who say they’ve come to save you, as witness Reverend Thresher. And it seemed to me that aliens who were capable of building the spaceships necessary to cross all those light-years would necessarily have complex civilizations and therefore motives for coming more complicated than merely incinerating Washington or phoning home.

What had never occurred to me was that the aliens would arrive, and we still wouldn’t know what those motives were after almost nine months of talking to them.

Read the rest of this story here.

Books I have reviewed by Connie Willis: Uncharted Territory

Watch the pages of a book move and change as they illustrate the narrator’s words.  A beautiful animation of part of Maurice Gee’s Going West, made for the NZ Book Council.

Because some Regency romances really deserve to be made fun of:

A group of rogues enters to find the heroine looking innocent and sexy.

Rogue 1: We are a group of handsome, rouguish friends!

Rogue 2: Note how disgustingly wealthy we all are!

Rogue 3: We’re like a pack of wild, roguish, devastatingly handsome wolves!

Rogue 4: A pack made up entirely of alpha-males!

Rogue 5: This causes no problems in the group dynamic at all, believe it or not.

Rogue 6: We have terrible reputations as rakes and scoundrels!

Heroine: Why?

3: Because…. *suspenseful music plays for a second* we stay out all night gambling, drinking, and sleeping with loose women!

1: Not that we’re alcoholics. That would be unattractive. And we don’t lose any money at the gambling tables.

4: We do sleep with a lot of women, though.

Heroine: Everyone knows that reformed rakes make the best husbands, because they have the four qualities women desire most in a husband: sexual prowess, commitment issues, promiscuity, and a diverse selection of venereal diseases!

Read more!