BICS, When It Changed and Cinema Futura

I'm very much looking forward to going along to the Birmingham International Comics Show this weekend. It's one of my favourite conventions, with a party on the Friday night that's basically all my friends from British comics in one of those enormous ancient bars that looks like a beached galleon, all brass railings and wooden rises. I'll be on the 'Seventy Years of Marvel Comics' panel on the Saturday, signing at various times, and generally around. Howard Chaykin, Mark Buckingham, Andy Diggle and many others will enliven the proceedings, and Garry Leach will be painting a cover live. The panels are all held in a purpose-built lecture theatre in the round, which really makes a difference. You can find all the details here.

It's just as well I'm finding fun, because Sunday was the last day of the English cricket season, that terrible moment when the shadows grow long and the inexorable spin into the long darkness of winter begins. I know this looks like a handsome autumn so far, but it'll all be slush and rain and cold before you know it. And some people actually like this time of year! Hmmph. I'm managing my comics pages in the morning, and novel revision or short story writing in the afternoon, and I'm now largely over post-convention snuffles. Caroline's now working full time at her theological college, so I've largely got the day to myself again. Which is, you know, a mixture of good and bad. I haven't yet finished that astonishing coffee that Rhonda from FenCon gave me, which is like being slapped awake by a blueberry dressed in silk. Or something.

Two announcements should be made. Firstly, When It Changed, a new anthology from Comma Press, which I have a story in, is out on October 22nd. It's edited by the esteemed Geoff Ryman, and the idea is that SF writers are paired up with scientists, and write about that person's specialist subject, said scientist then providing an introduction to the story. I was matched with a chap called Rob Appleby, who works on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. I was also lucky enough to get Michael Moorcock's approval (and he's keen to stress that such approval is needed), to use his character Jerry Cornelius. I share the book with people like Gwyneth Jones, Ken MacLeod, Justina Robson and Liz Williams, and there's a launch on October 24th at the Friends' Meeting House in Manchester. I'm thoroughly excited by the whole boiling. You can check it out here.

I'm also featured in Cinema Futura, coming out from PS Publishing in September next year, which is a collection of essays about SF and fantasy movies, one writer per movie. I'll be writing about 2010, and I share book space with folk like Brian Stableford, Christopher Priest, Ian McDonald and Alastair Reynolds. The full list is on editor Mark Morris' blog here.

Until I see you in Birmingham or elsewhere, Cheerio!

Bristolcon and Post-FenCon

Well, FenCon was excellent. It's one of those conventions run by a gang of mates who've been together forever, but they're interested in outreach, in attracting an audience, so it wasn't like a couple of those I've been to where you feel like you're at someone else's yearly general meeting and it's all a bit grim. They're keen that new attendees feel it's their party too. I made a lot of new friends (Alan J. Porter, Warren Buff, Carla Ulbrich, Keith DeCandido, hello). Guest of Honour Lois McMaster Bujold was delightful, popping along to other people's panels, with loads of questions about comics, because her Miles Vorkosigan saga has just started to be adapted in a French anthology. I really enjoyed being Toastmaster, because it gave me a chance to present, to interact with an audience and improvise. I don't think I've ever been exposed to that much filk music before. It's a slightly unusual mix for a convention: SF; music; science (with NASA guys up from Houston); media. And they take it all equally seriously. It works. And they've got a record number of pre-registrations for next year, so the party's going to be even bigger next time out. I may well pop back just for the fun of it.

Tomorrow is Bristolcon, the world's smallest convention. (I suppose the vanishing point for that would be, say, Corey Doctorow stepping into a cardboard box and declaring it to be BoxCon, with just him, but then he'd have to do at least one panel and take audience questions.) It runs from 2.45pm to 5.45pm, during which they'll fit in five panels. Which means we'll be talking faster than me Keith DeCandido on the 'two men yell about comics like they're on speed' panel at FenCon. (And okay, there are social events in the evening.) It's actually smaller than both MicroCon and PicoCon (and PicoCon is bigger than MicroCon, so what's that about?) I'm looking forward to it, assuming I can get my health together, because...

I came back from FenCon with a Post Convention Condition of some kind. It's just a big rude cold, but for a while there I thought I'd lost the Swine Flu lottery. This is actually a recognised syndrome in fandom. It's traditionally called Con Crud. We get together once a year, and shove right up close in con suites, sweating over mayo dips. Not enough time to share immunities, plenty of time to hothouse a virus. This is, after all, what happened to the American Legion. It was their convention that led to the naming of Legionaire's Disease. I wonder if SF fandom will ever get a disease named for us? (Pause for twenty minutes of self-hating humour from Doctor Who fans.) Maybe I'm just allergic to filk. There's a Robert Palmer song in there somewhere.

So last night, I propped myself up and stumbled sweating through the crowds at the reception on the first night of Caroline's first term at theological college, or Vicar School as I'm sure a BBC3 documentary series would have it. I wonder if it'll be just her this morning, with everyone else in bed with the snuffles? I'm so proud of her, to have finally started on her life's ambition. It looks like an interesting course: I quite fancy sneaking in the back of some of the lectures.

I'm still managing six pages of comics and 1000 words of Wild Cards every day, mind you. That's my minimum requirement for facing myself in the mirror without feeling unemployed. Ah, and talking of which...

That's Adi Granov's fabulous cover for issue two of Black Widow: A Deadly Origin, coming to you from me, Tom Raney and John Paul Leon this autumn.

And finally, a few months before I'll start really raving about it (it's out next March), here's the cover to Chicks Dig Time Lords, an anthology of articles by female writers (and at least one man, unfortunately) about Doctor Who and its fandom. It's co-edited by my old friend Tara O'Shea, and it promises to be excellent.

It's already available on Amazon UK: you can find it here

I think it might cause quite a stir in the mainstream British media. Anyhow, that's me for today. I shall leave you, coughing and spluttering, and hope to see some of you tomorrow. But don't get too close. Cheerio.

Hugo Short Form Poll: My Incompetence Continues

I've just started up the poll again, because Chris Roberson mentioned Fringe, and that should have been on there too. (Torchwood will be up for Long Form this year, Being Human starts next year.) Does anyone want to suggest any more titles I should include, like that fine new series Wafer Thin Mint?

Hugo Short Form Poll

About the poll opposite: I really should have mentioned Flash Forward as well. If you want to vote for that, please mention it in the Comments. Ta!


This Thursday, I'm flying off to Dallas for FenCon, which promises, if their guest liaison prior to the event is anything to go by, to be highly enjoyable. Never before have I been asked what sort of cookies I'd like. I mean, by a convention. My life isn't that sparse and loveless. I'm actually getting on the plane back on the Sunday night, before work life won't let me do more than a long weekend. I'm going to be Toastmaster at the event, which basically lets me MC the masquerade and things like that, which makes me happy, in that it brings me one step closer to my life's ambition of being Kermit the Frog. I'm on the following panels:

Friday, 3pm: Meet me. This will be empty apart from me. It'll continue in the bar, but not until after -
Friday, 6pm: Just A Minute. Yes, I'm hosting again. With guests Keith R.A. DeCandido, Alan Porter, Tom Smith and Shanna Swendson.
Friday, 7pm: Opening Ceremonies.
Friday, 8pm: Orac Party. I don't know what the 'Orac' bit means. Perhaps it's standing around clutching glasses of wine being bitchy and overtly dogmatic. So like any other SF convention party, then. Except in the UK, where we'd be clutching real ale.
Friday, 9pm: Doctor Who panel. That's the proper time for one, really, so it'll be full of laughter and goodwill. For some reason, that's not the case for Who panels at SF events in the morning.
Saturday, 11am: A panel about Endings. Interesting.
Saturday, 1pm: Autographs only for Friends of the Fen. They really should bring this convention to Norfolk.
Saturday, 3pm: Reading. I'll be reading from my short stories, and maybe a bit from the novel in progress.
Sunday, noon: Star Trek vs. Doctor Who. Two much-loved long-running SF shows. But... which is better? There's only one way to find out...
Sunday, 2pm: Me and Keith DeCandido talk about writing comics.
Sunday, 3pm: 70 Years of Marvel Comics.

Quite a classy haul, I think. But what I'm most looking forward to is discovering what seems to be a chunky outpost of 'does a bit of everything' fandom, who have the good taste to have selected Lois McMaster Bujold as their Guest of Honour. I hope I'll get to see a bit of Dallas at the same time.

In other news, the first collection of Gail Simone's Secret Six, Unhinged, is out, and I'm proud to have written the introduction, so do look out for that.

And finally, I was saddened to hear of the passing away of Keith Floyd, the TV chef who lived in my home town for many years. I only met him once or twice, and knew his partner only a little better, but I do recall a pleasant day spent playing cricket with him, for the town's Sunday side (effectively the third best team). I was managing the side, which basically meant trying to get eleven people to show up. Keith opened the batting, and was the only man I've ever seen 'lapped' as he ran between the wickets, his partner having run three to his one. The other team were so enchanted by him they let him get away with it. He'd once played in the same charity side as Ian Botham, so that gave us all something to say at dinner parties. He brought along an enthusiastic crowd of friends, a brilliant lunch hamper, several bottles of wine and a lot of charming anecdotes, and was as sweet that day as you'd expect him to be from what you see on TV. It was a pleasure to share a town with him.

Until next time, Cheerio.

Vampire State This Week

Just to let you know that the Marvel collected edition of the final volume of Captain Britain and MI-13, Vampire State, will be in your comic shops on Thursday. The Panini edition, reversing the recent trend, won't be with us for a few weeks.

Meanwhile, boss of Marvel Joe Quesada is about to tell the world all the details of the Marvel/Disney deal. The folk at Comic Book Resources have set a ticking clock countdown to when it all goes public. You can see it all here.

And I have only five whole working days before I'm off to Fencon (where I'm honoured to be toastmaster) and I have to pack them with work. So until next time, Cheerio.