History is repeating in Ferguson – Here, have some sources.

anti-Negro propagandaIn May of 1919, W. E. B. Du Bois published an essay called, “Returning Soldiers.”

We return from the slavery of uniform which the world’s madness demanded us to don to the freedom of civil garb. We stand again to look America squarely in the face and call a spade a spade. We sing: This country of ours, despite all its better souls have done and dreamed, is yet a shameful land….

We return.

We return from fighting.

We return fighting.

He wrote it because of the racially motivated riots that swept the country in the summer of 1919, which became known as The Red Summer. These were cases of whites attacking blacks, while claiming to be protecting themselves.  They would fabricate stories of white women being attacked, or attack thirteen year old boys.

I know about this and the Atlanta Race Riot and Brownsville Affair of 1906, and the Chicago Race Riot of 1919, and The Colfax massacre and the Hamburg Massacre of 1876 and scores of other cases, because I was doing research for a book. Not because it was taught in schools.

And this history of our country should be taught, because we’re repeating it right now in Ferguson. Anyone who says that this situation is unprecedented isn’t paying attention.

How to watch the Retro Hugos tonight, + my WorldCon schedule

A peek at my Retro Hugos dress and shoe. Ready for 1939? #LonConTonight at 8:00pm in London, I’ll be hosting the Retro Hugos with Robert Shearman. There’s an opening number. A 12 piece band. Sound effects. And a dress based on one from 1939.

You can watch the entire thing streaming at

I am spending most of today in rehearsal until my hair and makeup team arrives. La!

Meanwhile, at the rest of WorldCon, here’s where to find me.


10:00 – 11:00, Panel: The Deeper the Roots, the Stronger the Tree, Capital Suite 9 (ExCeL), with: Abigail Sutherland (M), Zen Cho, Mary Robinette Kowal, Adam Roberts, Kari Sperring
13:30 – 14:30, Autographing 8 – Mary Robinette Kowal, Autographing Space (ExCeL) – Please note: this is opposite the Regency Dance, so I am planning on leaving early so I can head over there.

18:00 – 19:00, Panel: Writing Costume and Clothing in Fiction, London Suite 2 (ExCeL), with: Mary Robinette Kowal (M), Aurora Celeste, Gail Carriger


08:00, SFWA Meeting ?

13:00 – 13:30, Reading: Mary Robinette Kowal, London Suite 1 (ExCeL)

18:00 – 19:00, Panel: Full Spectrum Fantasy, Capital Suite 8+11 (ExCeL), with: Max Gladstone, Jennifer Stevenson, Keffy R. M. Kehrli, Amal El-Mohtar, Mary Robinette Kowal


16:00 – 17:00, Literary Beer, The Bar (ExCeL)

20:00, Hugo Awards

And now I’m off to rehearse.

My Favorite Bit: E. Catherine Tobler talks about RINGS OF ANUBIS

My Favorite Bit icon

E. Catherine Tobler is joining us today with her novel The Rings of Anubis. Here’s the publisher’s description.

As the nineteenth century turns into the twentieth, the world looks to a future of revolutionary science and extraordinary machines. Archaeologist Eleanor Folley looks back to Egypt’s ancient mysteries and her mother’s inexplicable, haunting disappearance. Agent Virgil Mallory, a man with ghosts and monsters of his own, brings evidence of a crime, taking them both on a thrilling adventure that carries them from Paris to Egypt, and from the present to the ancient past. Uncovering the truth exposes a dangerous game of life, death, and uncanny powers!

What’s E. Catherine’s favorite bit?



As I write this, there is a great discussion about how game developer Ubisoft couldn’t possibly include playable women in the newest Assassin’s Creed. “It’s double the animations, double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets,” said Ubisoft creative director Alex Amancio. “It’s not like we could cut our main character, so the only logical option, the only option we had was to cut the female avatar.” ( “The history of the American Revolution is the history of men,” said Ubisoft’s Creative Director Alex Hutchinson in 2012.

And it seems not much is changing. More and more, it feels like women are being excised from stories, games, and history. We are told on a daily basis that our contributions don’t matter, told that wars are the concerns and history of men, not women. “Let me point out that women never affected the world directly,” Isaac Asimov said in his youth (

Eleanor Folley would beg to differ.

In Rings of Anubis, I set out to have an active protagonist, whose gender didn’t get in the way of whatever she wanted to do. Eleanor Folley knows quite well that what she likes best (archaeology, exploration, and adventure) has set her at odds with how a staid, 19th-century society believes she should behave. Every day, she tells society to go hang itself.

Eleanor Folley was not a lady–leastwise not a lady polite society would acknowledge as one of its own. She was reminded of this as the cloaked riders came out of the desert and she trained her revolvers on them. Her arms were steady, her stance the same, even if she looked like she belonged in the circus Mallory had mentioned. Wrapped in nightclothes and bed linens, her hair all aflunters, the circus could be the only proper society for her.

The horses were something out of a nightmare for Eleanor, the familiar sound of creatures bound in clockwork. Metal hooves struck the ground with a ceaseless fury. Eleanor concentrated on one target, but noted the rider carried only a spear. She looked at another to see he had but a sling. While the men held their weapons aloft, they made no move to use them.

She eased her fingers off the triggers and pointed her revolvers to the sky, walking slowly backward as the riders closed around them. Mallory did the same, and they now stood with backs braced together. Auberon and Cleo traced a circle around them, keeping the mechanical horses at bay with raised rifles.

Eleanor Folley isn’t about to let the world tell her she will never affect it directly without having something loud to say about that. Eleanor Folley isn’t about to think war is solely the realm of men–the history of men. She might be wrapped in nightclothes, she may have lost her boots, but by gum, she will not be overrun by her nightmares.

In Rings of Anubis, Eleanor sets out to uncover the truth of what happened the day her mother disappeared during an archaeological dig. Along the way, she discovers the life and history of Queen Hatshepsut, one of the most powerful women Egypt has ever known, and dares to believe that her mother may be connected to the queen and the great dark god Anubis.

History is not the realm of men alone. We need to dispel the world of this notion, and that’s why this is my favorite bit of Rings of Anubis.







E. Catherine Tobler’s fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and her first novel, Rings of Anubis, is now available. Follow her on Twitter @ECthetwit or her website,

My Favorite Bit: Julia Rios talks about KALEIDOSCOPE

My Favorite Bit iconJulia Rios is joining us today with her new anthology, Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Sicence Fiction and Fantasy Stories. Here’s the publisher’s description.

What do a disabled superhero, a time-traveling Chinese-American figure skater, and a transgender animal shifter have in common? They’re all stars of Kaleidoscope stories!

Kaleidoscope collects fun, edgy, meditative, and hopeful YA science fiction and fantasy with diverse leads. These twenty original stories tell of scary futures, magical adventures, and the joys and heartbreaks of teenage life.

Featuring New York Times bestselling and award winning authors along with newer voices:

Garth Nix, Sofia Samatar, William Alexander, Karen Healey, E.C. Myers, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Ken Liu, Vylar Kaftan, Sean Williams, Amal El-Mohtar, Jim C. Hines, Faith Mudge, John Chu, Alena McNamara, Tim Susman, Gabriela Lee, Dirk Flinthart, Holly Kench, Sean Eads, and Shveta Thakrar

What’s Julia’s favorite bit?



Asking an editor to choose a favorite story from an anthology is sort of like asking parents to choose favorite children. They’re all brilliant, and brilliantly diverse, so comparing them to each other isn’t really fair. Given that, I had to go to a more meta level to find my Favorite Bit.

One of the joys of seeing how this book came together was discovering all the different forms a story might take. In addition to the expected straight up narratives, Kaleidoscope stories come in the shape of diaries (“Vanilla” by Dirk Flinthart), transcripts of police reports and phone calls (“The Lovely Duckling” by Tim Susman), and my personal favorite non-standard format: the research paper homework assignment.

Photo of Sofia Samatar’s story in Kaleidoscope Transcript: Walkdog / Sofia Samatar 1. Brief Description What is Walkdog? Well Mrs. Patterson you probably know better than me. However, I am writing this paper and not you, because I need the grade as you know very well, so here is what I know.  Walkdog contrary to it’s name is not a dog. It is more like a beaver or large rat. It lives mostly in sewers, but also creeks and rivers. It is nocturnel and believed to eat fish and also, excuse me, excrament.

Photo of Sofia Samatar’s story in Kaleidoscope Transcript: Walkdog / Sofia Samatar 1. Brief Description What is Walkdog? Well Mrs. Patterson you probably know better than me. However, I am writing this paper and not you, because I need the grade as you know very well, so here is what I know. Walkdog contrary to it’s name is not a dog. It is more like a beaver or large rat. It lives mostly in sewers, but also creeks and rivers. It is nocturnel and believed to eat fish and also, excuse me, excrament.

When Sofia Samatar turned in a paper by a student named Yolanda (complete with section headings, footnotes, and copious misspellings), I instantly fell in love. I thought, “Yes! This is a person who remembers being in school, being clever and lonely, and using homework as a dialogue with the teacher.” I was such a student, and I couldn’t help being drawn in by Yolanda’s voice because it felt so true. It turns out this is probably because Sofia was a bit like Yolanda and me when she was younger. Here’s a note she sent her teacher to excuse her paper’s tardiness back in her own school days:

Photo of a handwritten note from Sofia Samater to one of her teachers Transcript: MR. DIETZEL: As you no doubt expected, this paper comes with a written statement to excuse the heinous tardiness. My excuse is the fact that I change my topic in the middle of writing another (much, much worse) paper because I did not have enough to say on the subject to get the required number of words. This caused considerable and frantic plunging into literary sources to find another topic, and by the time I got it written and proofread by a peer, it was today. Also, over the weekend and on Monday, I was deathly ill. Please understand. Your Student, Sofia Samatar— No better at getting things done early than yourself. (teacher’s note in response)What can I say? ?

Photo of a handwritten note from Sofia Samater to one of her teachers
Transcript: MR. DIETZEL:
As you no doubt expected, this paper comes with a written statement to excuse the heinous tardiness. My excuse is the fact that I change my topic in the middle of writing another (much, much worse) paper because I did not have enough to say on the subject to get the required number of words. This caused considerable and frantic plunging into literary sources to find another topic, and by the time I got it written and proofread by a peer, it was today. Also, over the weekend and on Monday, I was deathly ill. Please understand.
Your Student,
Sofia Samatar—
No better at getting things done early than yourself.
(teacher’s note in response)What can I say? ?

Yolanda is not quite as clever and polished as young Sofia was. She makes a lot of grammatical and spelling errors, and she slips into personal stuff a lot more often than a student writing a research paper should. But there’s a kind of magic to this story because it makes the reader really believe in that research paper. This is something we found evident when we got our proofreader’s notes.

Our proofreader was wonderful. She caught all kinds of mistakes that slipped past both the authors and the editors. I feel just a little bit bad about not having thought to warn her in advance about what exactly she was going to see when she proofed Sofia’s story, though.

You see,our proofreader is a teacher.

Her notes on this story started by pointing out all the incorrect apostrophes and misspelled words, while noting that she thought this might be intentional. Somewhere along the way, though, she started looking at the story as a paper, and looking at it through a teacher’s grading lens. I don’t think Yolanda would have gotten a very good grade.

Screenshot of proofreader’s comment Transcript: Comment [36]: this footnote seems to have absolutely nothing to do with the ‘assignment’ – even with the ‘padding’ which constitutes the major part of it.

Screenshot of proofreader’s comment
Transcript: Comment [36]: this footnote seems to have absolutely nothing to do with the ‘assignment’ – even with the ‘padding’ which constitutes the major part of it.

While many of the stories in Kaleidoscope are likely to be crowd pleasers, I think “Walkdog” might be one of the more divisive ones in the anthology. People are likely to love it or hate. I fall on the love side of the divide because beyond the clever formatting is a funny, sweet, and heartbreaking story. But in addition to all of that, I will forever cherish the bits of ephemera associated with it.


The book on the publisher’s website:

The Kaleidoscope blog:


Julia Rios is a Hugo nominated fiction editor at the online magazine, Strange Horizons. She’s also the co-editor with Alisa Krasnostein of Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, and with Saira Ali of In Other Words, an anthology of poems and flash fiction by writers of color. When not editing, she writes, podcasts, and occasionally narrates audio stories and poems. She’s half-Mexican, but her (fairly dreadful) French is better than her Spanish.

Anyone know a hairdresser in London who can make my hair do this…?

For the Retro Hugos ceremony, I’m wearing a dress based on one from 1939, the year of the first WorldCon. I want hair to match so… Do you know a hairdresser in London who would be available on Thursday 14 August to come to the con (ExCel, London Docklands) and put my hair up? Something like this?

1939 hair

I have chin length hair, but have human hair clip-in extensions that are a good match. And a bajillion bobby pins. I just am unlikely to be able to get away to have it done with the rehearsals. And yes, this is a paying gig.

EDITED TO ADD: Thanks for all the leads! I’ve booked the stylists for the evening. So Fancy!

Avoiding the paper-cut — Using language that matches the culture

I’m in the process of doing the language check on Of Noble Family, and have a little joke that I’m in the process of reworking. I thought that you’d like to see why I pay attention to language.

Jane worked the button free and felt a certain subtle shift in Vincent’s posture. “And attend to my husband’s needs, of course.”
He cleared his throat. “Is that safe?”
Jane undid another button. “His papers and correspondence? I shall endeavour to avoid a paper-cut at all costs.”

The problem is the paper cut. So far as I can tell, it’s not a concept in 1818. I suspect that this is because, with the way paper was made then, you didn’t have the sort of edges or paper to cause it. So… what to replace with? I started looking at the other things associated with correspondence in the day.

Slip with the pen-knife? No, that would actually be dangerous.

Burn with the sealing wax? Again. Dangerous and hence not funny

Something with the quill– Oh, oh, yes.

Jane worked the button free and felt a certain subtle shift in Vincent’s posture. “And attend to my husband’s needs, of course.”
He cleared his throat. “Is that safe?”
Jane undid another button. “His papers and correspondence? I shall be certain to take care when sharpening his quill.”

This is a better joke, and I got to it because I’m using language that reflects the culture. Doing so also forces me to really think about what is happening in the scene, and what the lives of people in the time would be like.

Just to be clear, because this always happens when I post one of these. When I do these vocabulary swaps, I don’t go for words that are meaningless to modern readers. If you think, “My! That’s authentic” it will pop you out the story every bit as much as an anachronism. But when writing in 1818, there are plenty of period appropriate synonyms that work for modern readers. And when there’s not a synonym? Well, that shows me a concept that doesn’t exist in the period yet. And maybe I should take another look at that section of the text.

Why I’m excited about UNCANNY MAGAZINE

The short form of this post is that you should go back Uncanny Magazine on Kickstarter.

The long form is that I’m seriously excited about Uncanny, a new magazine created by Lynne and Michael Thomas. For full disclosure, Lynne and Michael are some of my dearest friends, so I am not unbiased in my excitement about the magazine. Now, part of the reason that I adore them is because they are smart, love the SFF genre, and are darn good editors. Have you seen the Hugos at their house?

Point being that when Lynne and Michael said that they were starting a new magazine, I knew that it would be filled with the sort of fiction I like to read. It would also be a magazine that was run by people who are aware of and involved in the conversations that our industry is going through right now, which means not only good stories but essays that are relevant.

Doesn’t that sound nice? SFF stories from around the world, diverse voices, understanding of gender, disability, race — or, to put it another way, Kick ass SFF for the twenty-first century.

Also, a space unicorn.

Oh, and I have a story in the first year.

Check out some of the other contributors.

We plan to showcase original poetry by

… and essays by

Uncanny will also feature cover art by

The rewards are pretty cool as well. For instance… for $300, you get a guaranteed spot in one of my short story intensives. You know, the ones that sell out in less than a minute?

Now, please go back Uncanny on Kickstarter.

My Favorite Bit: Anna Kashina talks about THE GUILD OF ASSASSINS

My Favorite Bit iconAnna Kashina is joining us today with her novel The Guild of Assassins. Here’s the publisher’s description.

Kara has achieved something that no Majat has ever managed – freedom from the Guild!

But the Black Diamond assassin Mai has been called back to face his punishment for sparing her life. Determined to join his fight or share his punishment, Kara finds herself falling for Mai.

But is their relationship – and the force that makes their union all-powerful – a tool to defeat the overpowering forces of the Kaddim armies, or a distraction sure to cause the downfall of the Majat?

What’s Anna’s favorite bit?



Thank you for hosting my post. It feels so rewarding to be able to talk about my favorite bit, since in “The Guild of Assassins” my favorite bit is the entire book. Seriously.

Its prequel, “Blades of the Old Empire”, was originally written as a standalone, but one important plot point remained open: what will happen to Kara after she had become an outcast from her Guild? (I hope I am not giving any spoilers here, since this spoiler is already partially given in the cover blurb.) In addition, despite the way love interests resolve in the “Blades”, I kept thinking there was more to it. Which was why, despite thoroughly wrapping up all the major plot lines in the “Blades” I continued thinking about things that may or may not happen beyond the scope of the book.

Some of the scenes in “The Guild of Assassins” were written long before I finished its prequel. At certain points, when writing the “Blades” I simply had to follow up on some of the tensions by playing them out to the end and developing possible future interactions between certain characters, which absolutely had no place in the story. I was not sure this was actually going to happen in these character’s future, but I just had to see how it plays out, so I wrote those scenes down. Over time, they naturally fell into a certain order. By the time I finished the “Blades” I was surprised to realize that I have unintentionally created an outline and a backbone draft of its sequel, and that if I chose to use all of these scenes in a later novel, all I needed to do was to fill in what happened in between. At that time, I had no publication plans for these books, so I set them aside and tried to ignore the regret I felt when I thought about it.

When Angry Robot offered me a 2-book contract, my main thrill (after the initial one, of becoming a traditionally published agented author) was about the fact that I will actually get to write the book I had been dreaming about. I still was not sure how all the events in the book would work out, but I just could not wait to sit down and put it all on paper–and see. I was so inspired that I finished the first draft of “The Guild of Assassins” in less than a month, and even though I did considerably edit it afterwards, the frame of the story and many of the key scenes remained the same.

Writing “The Guild of Assassins” felt exactly like being in love. I wrote at every possible spare moment, words forming in my head as if they already existed somewhere and just waited to be written down. I think, with this novel, I have experienced the essence of why I always wanted to be a writer. Nothing compares to this feeling, when the world you imagined effortlessly falls into place, when the characters behave like real people, and you can spend all the time you need interacting with them while also being the one calling the shots.

As with the “Blades”, one of my favorite characters, the one that drove the story, was Mai. He is a joy to write about. In fact, he always acts on his own and all I have to do is write down what he does. When approaching a dialogue with Mai in it, I always felt curious at what he was going to say, and was often surprised at his responses and actions. For certain, none of it ever felt dull or predictable. He is at his best when driven to the limits, and he also has great chemistry with nearly everyone he encounters, positive or negative. One of my favorite chapters in the book is called “Diplomacy”, where Mai and Kyth talk behind closed doors and get to say everything they think about each other. Writing it was so much fun.

I saw some of the early reviewers describe “The Guild of Assassins” as purely character-driven. For me, this was definitely true. Watching the characters’ interactions, the way the chemistry develops between them, was my favorite bit.



Anna Kashina grew up in Russia and moved to the United States in 1994 after receiving her Ph.D. in cell biology from the Russian Academy of Sciences. She works as a biomedical researcher and combines career in science with her passion for writing. Anna’s interests in ballroom dancing, world mythologies and folklore feed her high-level interest in martial arts of the Majat warriors.

Guest post: What Happened After I Reported by Elise Matthesen

Last year, I hosted a guest post from Elise Matthesen about how to report harassment at a convention. It was useful and touched on an incident she had experienced by way of example.

This is a follow up, which I think provides a representative example of why so many women who experience harassment don’t report it. This happened to Elise at the “world’s leading feminist science fiction convention.” Leading means setting an example and a standard.

Now, here’s Elise. Please, listen to her. As a community, we have to do better.


Last year at WisCon 37, I told a Safety staffer that I had been treated by another attendee in a way that made me uncomfortable and that I believed to be sexual harassment.  One big reason I did was that I understood from another source that he had reportedly harassed at least one other person at a convention. I learned that she didn’t report him formally, for a lot of reasons that aren’t mine to say. I was in a position where I felt confident I could take the hit from standing up and telling the truth. So I did.

I didn’t expect, fourteen months later, to have to stand up and tell the truth about WisCon’s leadership as well.

More than a year after I reported, following an outcry when WisCon revealed that they had lost other reports of misconduct — and after the person in question had not only attended WisCon 38 but had been one of the volunteer hosts in the public convention hospitality suite —  WisCon appointed a subcommittee to investigate my report, along with others they had received about the same person, and to determine what action would best benefit WisCon.

That subcommittee made their statement on Friday, July 18.  Their decision seemed to focus on the rehabilitation of the person, and to understate the seriousness of the conduct. I found their decision inadequate and troubling, and could not understand how they had arrived at it. A week later, on Friday, July 24, I compared notes with Jacquelyn Gill, a member of that subcommittee. (I am incredibly grateful that she made a public statement about her experience on the committee, which allowed me to reach out to her.) We discovered to our mutual dismay that WisCon leadership never gave her all the details I had reported as evidence upon which she could make her decision. Instead, WisCon leadership gave her a version that watered down my account of the harassment, including downplaying the physical contact significantly enough to make the account grossly misleading.

I don’t know whether the relevant details were removed or summarized away from the report I made, or were never written down in the first place. As yet I have seen no evidence that the safety logbook itself contains them. I wonder whether the chairs at WisCon 37 were ever even given the details.

When the subcommittee was formed this year after WisCon 38, Debbie Notkin chaired it. While I can see the sense of having the Member Advocate – which was also Debbie — participating in the subcommittee, I was shocked to learn after the decision that the Member Advocate was also the chair of the subcommittee.  To my way of thinking, that was a clear conflict of interest which I would have balked at, had I been informed. Still, since she was present when I reported in detail, I can’t imagine why she didn’t see that the watered-down summarized version presented to the subcommittee was materially different than what I reported. Despite that knowledge, she allowed the subcommittee to base their decision on inadequate and frankly misleading information. And the subcommittee cooperated with that. The subcommittee performed no follow-up with me or the witnesses, or with other reporters and their witnesses.

What has happened here is beyond my comprehension.  People other than me will have to figure it out and do whatever needs to be done. I hear Ariel Franklin-Hudson has built improved systems for collecting information on incidents, and that’s needed, but what went wrong here is deeper than that.

A proper harassment investigation takes some thought and training, but it is well within the abilities of a good-faith WisCon committee to conduct one.  Experts who train people on harassment investigations emphasize the essential elements of an investigation:  (1) act promptly, (2) gather all existing written information and reports, (3) based on those, thoroughly interview the complaining witness, the accused, and any witnesses to the complained-of conduct, (4) ask those witnesses for other witnesses or evidence (like documents) that might help illuminate the situation; (5) document what you learn and maintain control and privacy of the documents, and (6) make a decision based on all of the information that you’ve gathered in a methodical and effective way.  WisCon, instead, lost reports of complaints, selectively interviewed only the accused, failed to conduct follow-up interviews with complainants and other witnesses, and failed to probe whether the reports on which they relied were complete or accurate.  In other words, in addition to disputing the result, I think that the process was haphazard.

I will not blame Debbie for everything that went horribly wrong, because this isn’t just one person. Debbie made a grave error of proper investigation and decision-making, but this is not just Debbie. This is the safety chairs who didn’t investigate further. This is the con-chairs who didn’t follow up and didn’t ever interview me and Lauren. This is the subcommittee members who didn’t push further and contact me and Lauren and Mikki. This is lots of people, some unwitting, some just preferring not to look at the ugly stuff, not to learn something that would require that they confront someone — or confront their principles.

This is a system. And it is fucking powerful and it is fucking broken. I’m not the only one who’s said so. I don’t like putting these details out here. But this is all I have left to do, at this point: stand up and tell the truth.

I would prefer that what this has cost all of us not be wasted. If you care about WisCon, rebuild it. I wish I knew how. I’m at my limits. But as Kameron Hurley said,

“There’s a future that needs building, but somebody who’s actually courageous and principled needs to take up the fucking spade and build it.

“Is it you?”

Happy 50th Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

If you wonder what a good marriage looks like, allow me to introduce you to my parents.

Mom and Dad met in ballroom dance class. I asked Mom once, what first caught her attention about Dad, and she said, “He was the best dancer.”  It’s something that they’ve continued doing, but if you spend any time with my folks, it’s very clear that this is not the only thing they have in common. I’ve heard both of them describe the other as “my best friend.”

Legend has it, that when Sadie Hawkins day rolled around, one of Mom’s co-workers said, “You better ask him to marry you, or he’ll get away.”

So she did.

Fifty years later, they’ve traveled through three continents, won rally races, raised two children and three grandchildren, hosted a long montage of parties, attended plays, concerts, gone to museums, celebrated the arts, gardened, restored antiques, and danced.

At my cousin’s wedding last month, I asked Dad if he and Mom were going to dance, and he said, “As long as we’re able.”

Here’s to many more years of dancing and laughter.

Why I’m spending today swapping out the dialect in my novel

My project today is replacing all the dialogue spoken by Antiguan characters in Of Noble Family with dialogue rewritten by Antiguan and Barbudan author Joanne Hillhouse.

Let me explain why I’m doing this.

I grew up in the American South — specifically the Piedmont of North Carolina and East Tennessee. The reason I’m being specific about this is that I grew up in a part of the US that has very clear regional differences. People talk about “the Southern accent” as if it’s a homogeneous thing, but it’s really, really not. Accent goes far beyond how the words are pronounced, or the cadences used, and very much into the word choices and sentence structures. Language reflects the culture of the people using it, precisely because we use it to express ourselves.

There are also very distinct class differences in the way English is spoken — this is true everywhere, but the American South is one of the places where it’s really clear. A Southerner will often try to scrub the “country” out of their voice to arrive at the “genteel” Southern accent so that people won’t think they’re uneducated. And then moving away, where that distinction isn’t recognized, requires scrubbing all trace of the South out in order to not be perceived as a “hick.”

Yet– when I go home, I’ll slide back into one when I’m in a store so I don’t seem like an outsider. It’s code-switching at it’s most basic.

So, when I decided to set a book with a lot of action in Antigua, I knew that I wanted to represent the Antiguan Creole English. I also knew, from having watched people mangle the Southern American English, that understanding the nuances was going to be really, really important and really, really hard.

Harder than making my books sound like Jane Austen?


Why? Because Jane Austen has been researched, and studied, and analyzed so there’s no shortage of material available. It’s taught in school in the US. I could grab a representative text and use that as my base. Even there, when I had characters who were speaking with an East London dialect, I asked a friend to “translate” it for me. But the primary text? No shortage of material and it’s material that I had been exposed to since a very young age.

Trying to find a representative text of Antiguan Creole English written by a native speaker in 1818? Welcome to colonialism.

The next best choice was to read a lot of work written by contemporary writers. (I recommend the works of Jamaica Kincaid, Joanne Hillhouse, and Marie-Elena John.) It was very clear to me that I could come up with something that a reader unfamiliar with the Caribbean would accept. And it was also clear that I would completely screw up the nuances.

So — I hired Joanne Hillhouse to translate the dialogue.

I’m swapping the dialogue out right now, and there are places that I’m also rewriting sections of the scenes because she’s also made suggestions about places where the communication would be through non-verbal dialog. Language is complex and not simply what is said, but also what is unsaid.

Dialect, likewise, isn’t just people talking funny. It’s a reflection of culture.

Edited to add: Joanne has blogged about the experience.

That military SF audio play I was working on? You can pre-order it now…

So I’ve been tweeting some things about how I was working on a military SF.

And how I was working on an audioplay.

And how I realized that Alan Tudyk would be voicing one of the characters…

But I haven’t been able to tell you what it was, until today.

There’s a game — a really good game — called Defense Grid. For the second edition of it, Defense Grid 2, I’ve written a “A Matter of Endurance” a new original audio story. It’s part of the pre-purchase awards. Basically, the more people pre-purchase the game, the more rewards unlock. My story? Tier 3.

It’s so good that I lost six hours the day that I play-tested it. Just saying…

And you can pre-order Defense Grid 2 here.

My Favorite Bit: Max Gladstone talks about FULL FATHOM FIVE

My Favorite Bit iconMax Gladstone is joining us today with his novel Full Fathom Five. Here’s the publisher’s description.

On the island of Kavekana, Kai builds gods to order, then hands them to others to maintain. Her creations aren’t conscious and lack their own wills and voices, but they accept sacrifices, and protect their worshippers from other gods—perfect vehicles for Craftsmen and Craftswomen operating in the divinely controlled Old World.

When Kai sees one of her creations dying and tries to save her, she’s grievously injured—then sidelined from the business entirely, her near-suicidal rescue attempt offered up as proof of her instability. But when Kai gets tired of hearing her boss, her coworkers, and her ex-boyfriend call her crazy, and starts digging into the reasons her creations die, she uncovers a conspiracy of silence and fear—which will crush her, if Kai can’t stop it first.

Full Fathom Five is the third novel set in Max Gladstone’s addictive and compelling fantasy world of Three Parts Dead
What’s Max’s favorite bit?



The Eternal Lightness of Frozen Yogurt

Frozen yogurt has overrun my home.

I have no objection to the stuff in abstract. I welcome our new tart overlords. A good FroYopurveyor equipped with egregious topping options (Little mochi balls! Diced kiwi! Walnuts! Marshmallow fluff!) will more surely slake my summer thirst than your average ice cream parlor.

But you can have too much of a good thing, and I think my neighborhood passed “too much” a year ago.

Used to be we had our local ice cream shop, which makes a great frozen yogurt in addition to their Oreo cake batter swirl. But storefronts change handsas rents jut skyward. The little photo shop on the corner has gone the way of all little photo shops; it’s a salon now. Even the local McDonalds shuttered.

And every second store that swooped in to occupy vacant real estate has specialized in FroYo.

My wife and I welcomed the second store’s opening, but we were perplexed when the third set out its shingle one block away. The fourth opened across the street from the third. And there they crouch, like tigers growling over the carcass of a deer. Morricone music plays. Specifically, this Morricone music.

One of the bestparts of writing my kind of fantasy—secondary world fantasy with a post-industrial setting rather than the High Medieval milieu—is that I get to engage more directly with the world in which I live. All my Craft books, from Three Parts Dead through to my latest, Full Fathom Five, examine modern life through the lens of magic: necromancers in pinstriped suits, gods with board meetings, young wizards struggling with student loans, etcetera.

So, in Full Fathom Five, I wrote about offshore banking, false gods, a society dealing with the aftershocks of radical global change—golem punching, financial wizardry, spies, and not-for-profit madness—refugee communities, opera, slam poetry and outsider religion—clashing gender and sexuality norms in a small nation fighting cultural assimilation—the political hazards of serving as a tourism and financial services hub—

And all that stuff was big and complicated and took me a long time to get close to right. I’m proud of the work I put in. But there’s a difference between the elements of which a writer’s proudest in a work—the products of sweat, the scenes that came together on the tenth draft in the eleventh hour—and the bits which sit fondest on the writer’s heart. My favorites are tiny beats and jokes: the Evangelion reference I’ve slid into every novel so far, the Shrike trying to get a tan, the arguments about fantasy novels inside a fantasy novel, the squid-priests…

And, well. The frozen yogurt shop.

It’s a tiny, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene halfway through the book. Kai, our lead, is walking to a Creepy Police Station to report a divine theft (sort of). Scanning the street, she notices that since she last passed this way a little corner store that sold antique maps has failed, relinquishing its place to aFroYo shop.

Kai never bought anything from the map store.She does, though, stop for frozen yogurt.

We all deserve our little indulgences, especially when they’re delicious.


Amazon / Powell’s / Barnes & Noble / Signed Preorders

First Five Chapters


Max Gladstone has sung in Carnegie Hall, been thrown from a horse in Mongolia and nominated for the John W Campbell Best New Writer Award. Tor Books published his most recent novel, FULL FATHOM FIVE, in July 2014. The first two books in the Craft sequence are THREE PARTS DEAD and TWO SERPENTS RISE.

Also, my father definitely does not own a DeLorean.

dad and me

I’m mean, sure, his mother’s maiden name was Walker which just happens to be the maiden name of Jane Austen’s mother. And yes, my parents live at Robin’s Roost, which is the old Walker farm that just happens to have been in our family since the mid-1800s, but that’s total coincidence.

Clearly, my family has a long history.

I mean, look at this picture of my Mom! It was taken in the mid-1950s, so clearly there’s no time-travelling happening. That would just be silly.

Mom and Grandma in the mid-fifties.