Friday Flail of Yay

I am sleeping so badly this week. And I know part of it’s down to ridic anxiety with the world at large. Not even mental health related anxiety, since I really don’t think it’s irrational to be anxious given the daily news of what’s going on. As my dear friend Deb Stanish put it on the Twitters “… And yes, it’s a cliche, but it’s the biggest truth I know: Be a light in the darkness. So have a piece of #%@&^ pie.” I assume she means fucking pie and not shit pie, cause no-one wants shit pie. And also the pie is pecan or cherry or even apple and not bloody pumpkin pie, the monster of pies. Not the good sort of monster. The bad sort. ANYWAY, in that spirit, I’m going to try and do a regular blog post on Fridays of Yayful Things I’ve done or seen during the previous week.

1)  My YouTube gaming channel – I started making gaming vids. For it is most yayful and fun and I love talking about gaming but don’t really get a chance to do it all that much. My gaming friends are people what I game with and only game with, and that’s less about gaming chat and more about loot and killing stuff to get more loot. So, yes, this is me nattering away as I play some games. At the moment it’s a playthrough of Skyrim Special Edition, Dota 2 games where I’m trying to improve (I suck, but so much less than I used to; I now feel merely medicorely bad rather than stupendously bad), and classic DOS games from my childhood (also taking requests!). Please do take a look and subscribe if that’s your sort of thing!

2) Verity! talks animated Power of the Daleks – This week’s Verity! is a discussion of the brand new Power animation, and it was awesomely fun, and gosh, I bloody love Power of the Daleks. It’s such a good story. Top quality Who, and I hope more people get the chance to enjoy it now as the animated version is vastly more accessible than the audio or the recon.

3) Michelle Yeoh is a new Trek captain – So, despite not being a Trek fan, ahem, I am quite looking forward to the new Trek show. I’m not sold on the new movies, and having grown up in the Golden Age of Star Trek, I really miss having it on the telly. And the first bit of casting news out of the box is AMAZING. Michelle Yeoh. And then it turns out she’s playing a captain in the new show. I’ve also read that the star isn’t the captain this time but another character (who’s also a woman) which is fine. I care not. Michelle Yeoh. Who is AMAZING. Who is far, far better than we deserve tbh, and she’s going to be there, captaining. And don’t forget female captains are still relatively rare in the Trekverse. There’s only ever been a handful onscreen. And this is sufficiently good casting news that no matter what other nonsense comes out before we get to see the actual show, I am going to be totally rooting for it. Michelle Yeoh, people.

4) Margaret Hamilton, she who led the team that coded the software that got Apollo 11 to the Moon, has been awarded the USA’s Presidential Medal of Freedon.

5) This picture (it’s actually a few weeks old, but it is my favourite one I’ve taken of my local loch…those are starlings, I *think*):


Despite it being actually freezing, I’m still going out running. Yesterday the loch was frozen over, and the poor local birdlife seemed rather put out at their home being suddenly solid. Also robins have arrived! From somewhere! I hadn’t seen any until this week, and now it’s impossible not to spot a few every day. If pretty rural Scottish scenery and swans, so many swans, are your thing, that’s what my Instagram is entirely composed of.

6) We’ve recorded new Down and Safe! So if you’re missing your fix of tasteful Blake’s 7 commentary a new episode will be with you this Thursday coming.

7) My sister, niece and nephew are doing a Jingle Jog for Parkinson’s UK. Nephew is but a year old so Quite The Challenge for him, but I’ve been assured he will be walking the whole way. If you can spare a pound or two for a good cause, please do consider sponsoring her.

8) There’s been a stupendous archeological discovery in Egypt, a new city! Over 5000 years old! Amazing stuff.

9) Though not QUITE as amazing as the NASA report released about the electromagnetic propulsion drive, which could be capable of taking us to Mars within 70 days. To sum up “it works, but it shouldn’t”. Which is awesome. And totally not giving me Event Horizon vibes. If I was in charge of stuff, we would be building a GIANT ONE anyway, and seeing what happens. Nothing could possibly go wrong. Probably.

10) I’m trying to talk myself out of buying this even though it would clearly be a very sensible practical purchase.

Ten is a very good round number. I shall stop there, and wish ye all a happy weekend!



Worldcon 2013

I went to Worldcon in Texas in the United States and I did not get shot or die of heat.

I admit it’s probably fairly unlikely either of those things was actually going to happen and I may have been worrying about them far too much but still, I count it as a win. (Also, I still think Texas probably has about a billion guns, but, in fairness, I didn’t actually see any more there than I have in any other US state I’ve visited.)

Possibly I was getting used to the heat by the end, or it was getting cooler, because when we went to see the Alamo, it was mostly lovely being outside, and San Antonio was very pretty and surprisingly green. Or maybe we were just in a park. I’m not sure.

Texas seems to have a slighty weird idea about how history should be presented: very, um, non-objectively.

The Texan declaration of independence is pretty awesome though. I managed to get about halfway through the thing before I was cruelly dragged away and, man, were those people angry. Angry at the State. Angry at the Church. Angry about the attacks on what they considered their civil liberties (some of which I am yay about – trial by jury, freedom of religion; some of which I am whatev, dudes – right to bear arms.) It’s fascinating stuff, and reads as remarkably modern to me, in its language. I would’ve bought a pretty copy of it from the wee shop, but I was sure it would get crushed on the trip back.

And the San Antonio Riverwalk is incredibly tourist-y, yes, but also gorgeous. Even if I did spend the entire time being vaguely terrified I was about to fall into the river. NO BARRIERS. V scary. There were ducks though. Lots of ducks.

I was nominated for a Hugo (with Deb Stanish, for Chicks Unravel Time, in Best Related Work) but we not win.  (Congrats to Writing Excuses, who did!) Naturally, I was consumed by anger and bitterness and immediately began writing out a revenge list and brainstorming for my supervillain name. It was an amazing looking Hugo, dammit! Easily one of the best! There’s a robot on it! And the robot is reading a book.

I did get a Hugo pin though, which is now in the care of miniature Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. (Who knew Character Options designed their action figures with the right sort of hands to hold Hugo pins?)

And Chicks Unravel Time did come second. Which is pretty awesome.  A huge thanks to everyone who voted for us, and to all our amazing contributors, my smashing co-editor Deb Stanish and Mad Norwegian Press for their hard work and talent and time. Twas a pleasure to make the book, and it’s ridiculous we even got nominated really. I wish I could write to ma wee eleven year old self, who’s just finished reading Dune and decided that she’d like a Hugo award in the same way that she thinks “I’d like a spaceship” and let her know, well, actually, that’s not quite as out there a dream as you think, small person.

There were some NASA people at the con, which was wonderful. I met an astronaut. I did not say “OMG, SPACE IS SO COOL” at her, despite very much wanting to. No, no, I was totally chilled and relaxed and instead said “Is space really as cool as it looks?” SHUSHT. ASTRONAUT. It’s a wonder I managed to say proper words.

Anyway, yes, space is just as cool as it looks. And Neil Armstrong was very shy. That is what I learned.

Also the guy whose job it is to stop us all dying from a major asteroid impact was there. He seemed pretty competent. So that’s good.

Loncon3 people win my special invisible party prize cause at the Hugo Losers’ Party, which they put on, there was free fizzy wine. That was magical. I love fizzy wine. Basically, if you wish to bribe me or trick me into anything, you should offer free fizzy wine, and maybe cake.

I was super nervous before the Hugo ceremony. There was a practice thing for in case you win so you know what to do and don’t, like, throw the impressively heavy bronze statue thingie at the audience or something. And turns out, I still get stage fright. WHO KNEW. So I spent from the practice to the actual ceremony feeling just a smidgen queasy about, say, freezing in front of several thousand people. So was quite glad when Paul Cornell’s MC speech turned out to be awfully funny, and I forgot about how nervous I was for practically the whole time until our category actually turned up.

There was a dress what I wore. It was sparkly. So were my shoes.

Glitter and Mayhem had a smashing launch party at a roller-skating…place thingie. I managed a full THREE SECONDS on the rink before I decided that I didn’t particularly want to break my ankle in a foreign country with a seriously dodgy healthcare system and maybe I’ll just go and lose gracefully at table football instead. Other people were amazingly good at the skating thing. I suspect some sort of dubious sorcery was involved.

I had some sort of magical gin and tonic. I can’t remember what it was called, only that it was the most delicious of all gin and tonics I’d ever had. I should find out what that was.

There were many lovely people there. Hello if you’re reading this! Yes, you, you were particularly lovely. Well done.

And there was an exhibition hall and there were many ways in which it was wonderous and good, but the most fantastic was the life-size Morbius at the Doctor Who bit. (I poked him! It was a very small and gentle poke and I’m sorry cause I’m almost certain I wasn’t supposed to do that, but omg, he was amazing and I wanted to check he was real.)

That seems like everything. By which I mean all the things I remembered when I sat down to write this, um, con report. Yeah. I like how I focus on the really important issues.

In conclusion, all Worldcons should have astronauts attending. They are awesome.

The First Man On The Moon

After hearing about the death of Neil Armstrong, I went to the NASA website to have a look at some pictures of the Apollo 11 spaceflight. They’re magical stuff, space pictures. And it still seems such a strange and wonderful thing that humanity put some people in a wee metal box, lit an enormous explosion under the box and flung it out into the deathly cold vacuum of space towards an object some four hundred thousand kilometres away. What a daft thing to do. How marvellous that it was done.

When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be an astronaut. I assume most kids do at some point. I’m not an astronaut, alas, though that’s alright cause I suspect I’d make a very poor one what with being afraid of heights, suffocation, small spaces and space food – but I never lost interest in space.

So here are some pictures that I like; my own small way to mark the passing of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon.

To space! The Apollo 11 about to take off.

That can’t possibly be safe. LOOK AT ALL THE FIRE. Imagine glancing in your rear view mirror and seeing that behind your car. NOT GOOD. In this case though, I assume this was what was wanted. There are people in that tiny little rocket, y’know.

This is a Neil Armstrong on the Moon. The flag is flying, but what if it had been a gentler breeze? That wouldn’t have looked so good. Or did they bring a great big fan with them just in case?

A Buzz Aldrin on the Moon! Next to some manner of wind experiment. Perhaps the sort of experiment that will provide the lunar winds for the flag to fly.

I always feel a bit sorry for Michael Collins, since he’s stuck up in space and he came all that way, but he never got to put his footprints on the Moon and IME no-one ever remembers him. It probably doesn’t help that the first Michael Collins one thinks of in the UK definitely didn’t go into space.

Footprint! Where no foot has trodden before! That’s pretty amazing. I like this photo a lot.

Before seeing this picture, I’d never thought about this part of the mission before. Back on Earth! Mission successfully completed! And then floating around in the freezing ocean until someone can be arsed to come and pick you up.

Nixon visiting our noble space explorers in quarantine. I assume this is because NASA watched Quatermass and knew damn well what happened to space travellers when you have dodgy quarantine procedures.

I bet Nixon is taunting them.

Armstrong left a gold olive leaf on the moon. That’s quite lovely.

I wonder, how many people did Neil Armstrong inspire?