The obligatory award eligibility post

First, let’s get the easy stuff out of the way. I had just one story of my own published in 2018, ‘To Rain Upon One City’ in Resist Fascism (psst, have you seen this gorgeous cover by Geneva B?) It’s eligible for the short story categories of the Locus, Hugo, and Ditmar awards. I was deeply honoured that my editors Bart Leib and Kay Holt saw fit to open the anthology with my far-future, Jewish refugee jiu-jitsu story of community and kindness.

Mother of Invention has already garnered some great reviews and nominations, including being listed on the 2018 Locus Recommended Reading List and being shortlisted for an Aurealis Award (additional congratulations are in order for Lee Cope, whose story ‘A Robot Like Me’ is shortlisted in the best YA short story category). Reviews are up at Tor.com, Books and Publishing, and elsewhere.

Things get a little more involved for Mother of Invention eligibility, so I’ve included more detail below, including voting eligibility and deadlines. Thank you to anyone who considers voting for my writing and editing work, and for getting through this labyrinth.

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Mother of all updates

At long last, Mother of Invention is on sale! You can pick up a paperback or ebook from Twelfth Planet Press directly, or via Amazon. If you’d like an idea of what Tansy and I were trying to do with this anthology, Tor.com very kindly reprinted the introduction. Also on Tor.com, Tansy and I waxed lyrical about books that give voice to artificial intelligence. This is the first book that has my name on the cover and I’m quite proud of it, so I’d love it if you had a look. Also, check out the gorgeous cover by the amazingly talented Likhain.

As for my own fiction, I have a story forthcoming in a Crossed Genres micro-anthology, Resist Fascism. This story is about building community through kindness and jiujitsu (Jew-jitsu, if you will). The Kickstarter has just a couple of days to go, so now’s the time to hit that BACK THIS PROJECT button. I also have another story slated for publication next year, in [embargo].

Lastly, I’ll be at Conflux this year. I’ll be chairing a talk by Lyss Wickramasinghe on “Funding a writing career the alternate way”, reprising my Continuum presentation on convict women, and running a panel on “Play to write: what tabletop and video games can teach writers of fiction”. Hope to see you there!

Recently, and soon

Re-interred convict and early white settler graves in the Jewish section of Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart; many of the stars represent child and infant deaths.

I’ve had a busy few months year, editing Mother of Invention (it’s with the printer now!), writing, and taking on the gothest side gig ever: doing admin and proofreading gravestones for a monumental stonemason.

Belated writing news… My Ecopunk story, “Trivalent”, was shortlisted for a Ditmar Award, and my Defying Doomsday short, “Two Somebodies Go Hunting”, has been shortlisted for a Norma K. Hemming Award.

I just got back from the US, where among other things, I pre-launched Mother of Invention at WisCon (my livetweets are here; I had a fantastic time on the two panels I was on, plus the others I attended and elsewhere). While I was there, Strange Horizons interviewed me about my writing and editing work, and it was great fun to chat to them about what keeps me writing.

Next on the horizon is Continuum. I’m programmed as follows:

  • At 5pm on Friday, I’m running a panel on Assumed Knowledge in Fandom, about gatekeeping and unintentional barriers that stop people from enjoying geeky pastimes.
  • At 2pm on Sunday, it’s the Mother of Invention pre-launch party (come along for excitement, cupcakes, and other goodies)!
  • At 11am on Monday, I’m giving a ‘Deep Dive’ presentation on convict women (yes, the picture is a teaser from my slideshow!). Here’s my abstract:

    Abandoned wenches and rebellious hussies: convict women in Van Diemen’s Land
    In the Australian education system and more broadly, the history of male convicts dominates the discourse around transportation of criminals to Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries. Little is generally known of the thousands of women who were transported to Australia during the era. In this presentation, I will attempt to shed some light onto their lives, focusing on the female factories and the assignment system in use in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). I will outline the crimes for which women were transported, what their sea voyages and arrivals were like, before examining the work women did in and out of the factories. Some were horribly mistreated; rape was common, whereas survival sex work led all female convicts to be perceived as prostitutes. Pregnancies were punished with internment in the factories, the resulting children were placed in orphanages at young ages. Some women kept their heads down and gained a ticket of leave as soon as possible; others were recalcitrant and seemed to prefer life inside the factory to outside (and each other to men). I will also aim to contextualise these histories within the history of prison reformation, different attitudes to morality among different social classes, and colonisation.

Augmented reality: spec fic from my Hasidic childhood

At Continuum 13, I was on a panel about speculative fiction from our childhoods. We were each asked to speak for a few minutes, so I thought I’d reproduce my talk here (I went a little off-script, but this is the guts of it). It was pretty personal and fun to write, and it seemed to be well received.

I could talk about my memories of my dad reading us The Hobbit, and how proud I was when I read Lord of the Rings all by myself. I could talk about Star Wars, and how I wrote Princess Leia fanfiction before I knew that was a thing. But really, ours was a pretty typical geeky household in a lot of ways. Magic swords and spaceships were normal for us. So instead, I’d like to focus on the context in which our geekdom occurred.

Unlike most, if not all, of you, I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home — specifically, a Lubavitch Hasidic household, and I went to an all-girls’ school of the same denomination. For many people outside that world, their perception is of a closed community involving men in black coats and subservient women.

The truth, as always, is a bit more complicated than that. If I had to summarise the driving force of my upbringing, it wouldn’t be isolation, even though that was a factor. My school offered a comprehensive secular education and encouraged university studies, and my parents never censored our reading (although they limited our access to TV and cinema).

No, the focus of Hasidism is not isolation. It’s a deeply spiritual belief system that seeks holiness in all things. To make the world better by uplifting the mundane into the sacred. It’s what my sister describes as an “augmented reality” — a lens that allows you to see a “spark of Godliness” in everything, if you hold the secret combinations of words and actions to unlock them. Continue reading

It? Is? June?

The passage of time never fails to take me by surprise. So here we are, it’s June, and I’m announcing my next big thing: Mother of Invention: a speculative fiction anthology of diverse, challenging stories about gender and artificial intelligence. I’ll be co-editing this Twelfth Planet Press anthology with Tansy Rayner Roberts. We’ve just launched a Kickstarter to fund the project, so please check out the goodies we have on offer and tell your friends.

In other news, I’m very excited to announce that my Far-North Queensland guerrilla scientist story, “Trivalent”, is forthcoming in Ticonderoga Publications’ Ecopunk anthology. I’m really proud of this story, and I’m in excellent company in this table of contents.

Also from Ticonderoga, my Tasmanian Jewish-ish steampunk “Beyond the Factory Wall” is reprinted in The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2015. Available soon.

I’ve also got con adventures aplenty this year. I live-tweeted (of course) GX Australia — my first gaming/pop culture convention. Next, I’ll be at Continuum in Melbourne, where I’ll be on a couple of panels and will be passing the ‘best new talent’ baton at the Ditmar Awards. After that, there’s the NSW Writers’ Centre Speculative Fiction Festival here in Sydney, WorldCon in Helsinki, Conflux (Canberra) if I can manage it, and last but not least, GenreCon in Brisbane.