My summer of cons


Hmmm… The Gherkin + rocket

This is the summer of cons! Here’s a brief, somewhat belated rundown on some of my doings at LonCon and Fantasycon.

These conventions are gatherings where readers and writers of the strange and speculative get together. There’s a lot of talk about books and films, with art and science exhibits as well. And lots of drinking.

LonCon 14-18 August I’ll be on the following panels:

Reimagining Families
Thursday 11:00 – 12:00, Capital Suite 2 (ExCeL)
“In a 2013 column for, Alex Dally MacFarlane called for a greater diversity in the way SF and fantasy represent families, pointing out that in the real world, “People of all sexualities and genders join together in twos, threes, or more. Family-strong friendships, auntie networks, global families… The ways we live together are endless.” Which stories centre non-normative family structures? What are the challenges of doing this in an SF context, and what are the advantages? How does representing a wider range of family types change the stories that are told?” Alice Hedenlund, Jed Hartman, Rosanne Rabinowitz, Laura Lam, Cherie Potts

Beyond the Force: Religion in the Future
Saturday 11:00 – 12:00, Capital Suite 14 (ExCeL)
“Writers working with futuristic settings often use present-day and historical religious forms to frame something new; Dan Simmons uses Catholicism in Hyperion, for example, and Kameron Hurley takes a similar approach to Islam in God’s War. How can this be done in a manner that respects religious traditions and believers, while still allowing the author creative license? To what extent do such works succeed at imagining how religions change over time? What are the advantages and disadvantages of extrapolation compared to inventing a new faith — and do common templates for such invention, such as science or the state, make sense given what we know about how humans respond to the spiritual?”
Simon Morden, Derwin Mak, Rosanne Rabinowitz, Elisabeth Vonarburg, Janice Gelb

For “Reimagining Families” I’ll probably say something about polyamory in F/SF. Beyond some of those 1970s classics, what do we find about differing family structures and choices? And for “Beyond the Force: Religion in the Future”, I’ll comment on the other side of the coin – heresy and dis-belief in the future. Maybe I’ll say something about Jewish mythology (there’s more to it than dybbuks and golems). And is there a difference between drawing on myths in fiction and portraying religions?

Pirate Programme
Who knows what could happen?

Mind Seed launch 
Sunday August 17, 5-7pm in the LonCon Fan Village. You can find us in the marquee labelled ‘Beijing in 2016′ on this map. There will be drink and a great bunch of people, and books!

And now for a musical interlude to get us in the mood, before I get on to Fantasycon.


So come September in the city of York…

Fantasycon 2014 5-7 September

I’ll be reading on  Friday 5 September 7.20-7.40
It’ll be a change to give a reading in the evening instead of the morning, and I look forward to the prospect of a well-lubricated audience… hopefully the likely suspects will have arrived by then.
I’ll post more information on this and other possible programme items closer to the time.

Mind Seed: the world turned sideways

Mind Seed, a science fiction amindseednthology edited by David Gullen and Gary Couzens, is now out. This anthology was put together by members of T-Party Writers in London, in memory of our member Denni Schnapp, who died in January 2013. The stories reflect Denni’s interest in hard SF, biology and ecology. The proceeds go to Next Generation Nepal, an anti-child trafficking charity.

My contribution, “Living in the Vertical World”, was inspired by images of vertical agriculture and gardening. I’d been posting photos on Facebook on the subject for some time. There is a world-turned-upside-down quality to them that provokes wonder – or is it the world turned sideways? As you’d expect, there are lots of arguments about whether vertical agriculture is viable. Some of the ‘visions’ do appear rather gimmicky and technocratic. But the general idea is fascinating, and some vertical schemes look very cool – for fictional purposes, anyway. This website has some great photos, both real and imaginary.

I was also following the cases where Monsanto patented seeds and prosecuted people for alleged patents violations if the wind happens to blow the wrong way, and I recently come across this article in Common Dreams about the state agricultural department prosecuting a local seed library in Pennsylvania.

And then I read about the world’s tallest squat, the Tour David in Caracas, Venezuela. And it all came together in my story.

Mind Seed will be launched at LonCon on Sunday August 17, 5-7pm in the LonCon Fan Village. You can find us in the marquee labelled ‘Beijing in 2016’ on this map. In the meantime, here’s the table of contents for Mind Seed.

Introduction – John Howroyd
Sex and the Single Hive Mind – Helen Callaghan
Evolution – Fox McGeever
Living in the Vertical World – Rosanne Rabinowitz
Darkchild – Ian Whates
Rockhopper – Martin Owton & Gary Couzens
Bird Songs at Eventide – Nina Allan
Alien Invaders – Markus Wolfson
The Three Brother Cities – Deborah Walker
Mind Seed – Denni Schnapp