Eastercon Schedule

I’ll be in Manchester this weekend at Eastercon (aka the British National Science Fiction Convention), enjoying all the sciffy related goodness, and being on some panels, which are:

Little-Known British SF TV Shows of the 1950s to 1970s

Saturday 17:30 – 18:30, Room 6 (Hilton Deansgate)

You might think you really know your early TV, but every week seems to bring up something new. Did you know for example that the first ever SF TV was from the BBC in 1938 – an adaptation of Karel Čapek’s R.U.R.? They probably won’t go back that far, but this erudite audience will hopefully unearth some gems.

The Definition of an Editor

Monday 11:30 – 12:30, Room 6 (Hilton Deansgate)

“An editor, without respect to genre, publication medium, market potential or previous training, is an individual who can establish a monopoly position within the minds of a sufficiently large body of contributors so that this position becomes the standard of excellence for that genre.” So wrote Algis Budrys in December 1976. Certainly SF has had a tradition of editors in that mould, from John W. Campbell onwards, but is that tradition alive today, and should it be? To what extent do we want our editors to define the field on their terms, and to what extent do we want them to recognise and bring to their fullest potential the terms being set by writers (or readers)? Is there a difference between our expectations of editors of short fiction, non fiction, and novels?

The whole programme is online and available for your perusal over here.


Hugo Nomination Recs: Best Fancast

The Best Fancast category in the Hugo Awards is the newest category of the awards; 2016 will only be the fifth year it’s been contested. It’s also the category that, IIRC, gets the least number of nominations and least number of votes. And this saddens me, cause it’s also one of the most important categories to me: podcasts are my main form of fannish interaction these days, both as a podcaster and a listener, and as a mode of fannish discussion, they are amazing.

We may not have jetpacks, but we can chat with friends all round the world, and then broadcast that conversation to thousands of listeners. It’s like convention panels whenever you like, tailored to your interests. Panels that can have half dozen people in a long, involved sprawling conversation of over on hour, or a single host delivering a short, sharp, on-point opinion in less than five minutes.

I’m a regular on two podcasts, and I’ve guested on dozens more, and I love them. And I want the Fancast category in the Hugos to be as awesome as it can be. To be hard fought and exciting, and to show off all the hard work, dedication, and talent of the podcast community. For more people to vote in it, and discuss it, and flail and complain when their favourites don’t make it, and delight when they do.

So, please, if you are a Hugo voter this year and you’ve not nominated five podcasts in the Best Fancast category, I encourage you to go out and take a look at what’s catering to your interests. Listen to a couple of episodes, find what delights you, and nominate.

The nominees from the previous years are a keen place to start, but there’s so much more. Every year, I find myself with more podcasts I want to nominate than I’m allowed to. So, minus the ‘casts that have already been nominated, these are the ones on my list this year. I think they’re all wonderful, and you should give them a listen if they sound like your sort of thing (heavy on the Doctor Who here, cause that’s my sort of thing):

Women at Warp – My go to Star Trek podcast. Every episode is a delight. It’s a winning combo of utterly loving Trek while cheerfully discussing its problems. I listened to an ep about Ferengi because I love them so. FERENGI. (I do not like Ferengi, except Quark, obv.)

Total Party Kill – This is how I always imagined Dungeons and Dragons would be. It is the best.

Radio Free Skaro – In many ways *the* Doctor Who podcast, and that is mostly because they’re super good at what they do (and a little bit they’ve been at it for so many years).

Cornell Collective –  Cosy yet lively discussions involving authors, comickers (that’s a word, right?) and people from the world of Doctor Who. Ideally listened to with a nice cup of tea.

The Audio Guide to Babylon 5 – Smashing, in-depth B5 discussions as the hosts go through the whole series episode by episode.

Two Minute Time Lord – podcasts can be super short too! I disagree with Chip over so much Doctor Who, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a top quality ‘cast.

The High Council – Fan commentaries on Doctor Who episodes, as lolarious and geektastic as they should be.




Star Wars, everything Star Wars, nananana Star Wars….

This was meant to be a totally proper and intelligent and thoughtful post about podcasts and the Hugo fancast category. Alas, that will have to wait till the morn as I am utterly knackered (no sympathy, if you were so inclined, it’s wholly my own fault) and I think a super early night is in order.

So, instead, enjoy two delicious Star Wars-y vids that have amused me in the past couple of days:

This is Darth Mail: Apprentice, a newly released Star Wars fan film, and it is pretty bloody awesome. It looks amazing, the directing, the choreography, the costumes, just gorgeous. Particular yay at the Togruta Jedi make-up, magnificent. As fan films go, this is top tier stuff. Even the acting is totally decent, and rather better than most of the blasted prequels, I thought. Plot is paper thin (though does fit seemlessly into canon as a prequel to The Phantom Menace), and there as a vehicle to show off the excellent costume and make-up work, and fight scenes, which is totally fine by me when it’s a short film and those aspects are this good. (Also, this started me on a kick of watching SW fan films and now I CAN’T STOP.)

Harrison Ford (and Chewbacca!) on Ellen. Cracked me up something rotten. I know Harrison Ford isn’t all that keen on the interviewing thing, but I do love his interviews. And YES, he SHOULD be the next James Bond! As a rule, an American James Bond is a terrible, terrible idea, but I’m totally prepared to accept Harrison Ford as the exception.

Award Nominables Post

I meant to do ages ago and forget, brilliantly, but here is this year’s post sharing what stuff I made last year that can be nominated for things, should you be so inclined:

Companion Piece edited by myself and Liz Barr, is eligible in the Best Related Work category of the Hugos. This is a book of Doctor Who essays by a whole host of amazing writers, and I’m extremely proud of all of them and the work everyone did on this volume. If you’re a Doctor Who fan, do check it out.

Verity!, that smashing podcast I do with five other fine people, is eligible in Best Fancast. All the episodes are available to listen to for free at our website.

Thank you kindly if you consider either of these works for nomination. And I believe the Hugo nomination deadline is the end of March. Which I’d better remember, since I’ve still got half my form to fill in.

A week of blogging, also cake

So while I was having my Death Flu, I was getting annoyed at everything, but mostly myself, because one of the things I wanted to do this year was keep a more regular blog, and I was failing miserably. Fast forward to this week and hurrah! I’ve posted every day. Sometimes it’s been in the very early morning of the *next* day, but those ones still count. And it’s been so nice to sit down and write about something for a little bit without feeling any pressure. It helps lift my mood, and it helps me with the Other Writing. It’s like a warm-up. Not to say I’d want to write complete gibberish and share it with the world, but I’ve been blogging for over a decade now (my old regular place was on Livejournal), and it comes much more easily than fiction. And I feel so much less self-conscious about it. So, yes, that. Feeling quite happy about that.

Also, cake! Well, cupcakes, which totally count. I would like to blame the Great British Bake-Off, but that would be a fib. I just really want to bake stuff. And my memories of earlier baking are…not fab. The enthusiasm was there; the skill rather less so. Anyway, I started off with the ONE recipe I know off-by-heart, which is for a dozen or so cupcakes.

And here is the delicious result:


I MADE THOSE. Also, I iced them. With premade icing because I’ve never iced anything before. (You can’t tell, CAN YOU??) I did not make the stars either, but I did get quite excited in the supermarket when I saw all the little doodahs you can get to throw on the top of cakes.

Anyway, they are delish. And in case you want my TOP SECRET totally Scottish recipe for cupcakes, here it is:

100g butter or margarine type stuff

100g caster sugar

100g self-raising flour

2 eggs

drop of vanilla essence

dram o whisky… (KIDDING. Do not put whisky in your cupcakes, for goodness sake.)

Chuck it all in a bowl, mix it up, pop into cases and stick in the oven at 180 degrees C; take em out before they burn. TA DA. A master baker is you!

I really am excessively proud about the cupcakes, shusht.


You shall not pass!

s151sml.pngI got this little fellow today – my first Series 15 Lego minifig. I call him Mormont (House Mormont’s bears right? My Game of Thrones knowledge is vague outside the Lannisters). And that is surely the most adorable of all possible maces that he’s wielding, yes?

Also, I now own a totally modern, rather spiffy phone. And also a shiny new Instagram account, so I can be one of Those People With Phones. Except mostly I want to take snaps of Lego. And possibly baking. Baking and Lego. Everyone’s favourite things. More or less.

Top 10 Tips for Being a Doctor Who Companion

I just watched the latest edition of the Doctor Who Fan Show, Tops Tips for Being a Companion, which made me Slightly Irate. For there were a bunch of lazy jokes about old skool Who costumes, ankle-twisting, and screaming.


Andy Pandy must live!

As jokes go about old telly, these are bleh; as jokes go on the official BBC Doctor Who Fan Show on the Youtubes, wtf? Seriously. A massive portion of your audience are old skool fans. If you’re going to make jokes about classic Who, use a little imagination, don’t go for the same rubbish that’s been thrown at the show for decades, and which old skool fans are extremely likely to get a little bit of Fannish Rage about.

I will admit though, it was almost worth it for the very final moment, which was a shot of Tom Baker from that nineties classic Dimenions in Time and a dubious yet delightful impersonation of one of his lines from the presenter, Christel Dee (who is wonderful, and did my v favourite interview with Peter Capaldi.)

Anyway, yes, tips! Their tips mostly made me a little bit sad, so I thought I’d make my own.

1)  Wear whatever the hell you like – Doctor Who has featured companions from many times and many worlds and they’ve worn all sorts of things, from delightful sparkly catsuits, to personalised bomber jackets, to Andy Pandy outfits. And even when stuck in some seriously high heels, companions have always managed to run along at a good clip, battle bad guys, and save the universe. Also, miniskirts are extremely practical clothing, and you can run pretty damn fast in heels, if you really need to (I learned just how fast on a recent sprint through Heathrow).

2) Get Sarah Jane’s phone number – Sarah, in Sarah Jane Adventures, is basically the third Doctor, except she never gets anyone killed or has a crazy ex-boyfriend trying to destroy the world to get her attention, or has hubris and steals cool magic blue crystals from giant spiders. If worried, call her.

3) Read the TARDIS manual – Or, at the very least, find out which button works the doors.  In fact, read all the manuals. Manuals are useful for learning how stuff works. Don’t push buttons if you don’t know what they do. Especially red ones.

4) Remember, your Doctor may not be able to control the TARDIS – so, if you want to travel with THE BEST, by which I mean Troughton obv, you risk never getting home again. On the bright side, early Doctors have minimal cosmic angst, and didn’t blow up any planets.  SWINGS AND ROUNDABOUTS PEOPLE.

5) If your Doctor looks like Peter Cushing, you’re in the wrong continuity – I mean, I sometimes say the movies count, but I’m trolling. They don’t. Though maybe you do want to travel with Cushing!Doc, but just remember the hero here isn’t you, it’s Susie.

6) Be Scottish – Jamie, Amy, and Twelve are Scottish and awesome. Try to be like them. Or Seven, I suppose. If you must.

7) Fall in love with the Doctor if you like – WHY NOT? The Doctor falls in love with people ALL THE TIME.

8) If the Doctor’s prevaricating over whether you die, or the the universe blows up, it may be up to you to push the big red button; yeah, you’ll probably die, but you will have saved ALL OF EXISTENCE, so, y’know, nice one!  – See, The Time Monster. That’s where Jo saves the universe because the Doctor can’t. The Time Monster is aces.

9) If it’s the sixties or seventies, trust the very clever woman who rolls her eyes at the Doctor – There’ll be one about. She’ll be a scientist of some sort, and she’ll be ridic brilliant, and might very well save the day while the Doctor’s off gadding about on top of a beer factory or something (*cough*TheInvasion*cough*).

10) If the Time Lord’s name isn’t Romana, don’t trust them – As a rule, Time Lords are dicks. Even Romana when she was in some terrible, terrible books that we don’t talk about. But mostly, they’re bad news. Also, as a companion, they might wipe your memory and dump you back into a battlefield to die a horrible death! Yay! Many also have a personal vendetta against the Doctor, and they’re tots cool with using his friends against him, which means YOU. Oh noes!

Bonus 11) When the Doctor returns you home, make him go outside to check it isn’t accidently Aberdeen – no-one wants to accidently end up in Aberdeen. Trust me.