Links of interest

Pulling some things out of the open tabs…


Marissa Lingen, On-ramps to various weird freeways:

So there was a Fourth Street panel where Max Gladstone wanted to talk about on-ramps to the weird: what accessibility we provide readers to works with a sense of alienation and dislocation, how we allow them to navigate works of science fiction and fantasy either without feeling uncomfortable or despite that discomfort, and what tools we can get from other genres in their on ramps–genres like magic realism and surrealism.

The Head of Donn Bó, The Tatooine Cycle. Star Wars as medieval Irish epic.

What was the reason for the Tragic Death of Cenn Obi and the Destruction of Da Thféider’s Hostel?

CBC News on the deciphering of the Antikythera mechanism:

After more than a decade’s efforts using cutting-edge scanning equipment, an international team of scientists has now read about 3,500 characters of explanatory text — a quarter of the original — in the innards of the 2,100-year-old remains.

They say it was a kind of philosopher’s guide to the galaxy, and perhaps the world’s oldest mechanical computer.

“Now we have texts that you can actually read as ancient Greek, what we had before was like something on the radio with a lot of static,” said team member Alexander Jones, a professor of the history of ancient science at New York University.

The Independent, Scientists recreate Greek skies to accurately date 2,500-year-old Sappho poem.

Vulture, The Korean Gothic Lesbian Revenge Thriller That’s Captivated Cannes.

AGENTS OF EMPIRE by Noel Malcolm

Noel Malcolm, Agents of Empire: Knights, Corsairs, Jesuits and Spies in the Sixteenth-Century Mediterranean World. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2016.

Malcolm, a historian who specialises in the history of the Balkans, has reconstructed the achievements (in the service of at least five crowns, counting the Papacy and Venice) of three generations of an Albanian family in the 1500s. From Venice to the borders of Poland, and the Vatican to Istanbul, the Brutis and their relatives the Brunis were at the heart of political, social, and military events across the Mediterranean.

It’s a really good book. I recommend it.

PALADINS OF THE STORM LORD, by Barbara Ann Wright

Barbara Ann Wright, Paladins of the Storm Lord. Bold Strokes Books, 2016.

I was extremely disappointed in Wright’s last outing, Thrall: Beyond Gold and Glory. That novel was, to put it mildly, an incoherent Norse-inspired mess – although better at a sentence level than many f/f fantasy romances in existence. Her first novel, Pyramid Waltz, showed a great deal of promise, and I will confess to Some Hopes of her continuing career: but structurally the later novels of her first series (For Want of a Fiend, A Kingdom Lost, The Fiend Queen) really didn’t stand up well.

However, Paladins of the Storm Lord marks the beginning of a new series from Wright. This novel shows something of an improvement, both structurally and in terms of worldbuilding. It mixes elements from fantasy and science fiction into a planetary opera a bit reminiscent of Darkover (without the faux-medieval sexism), with small-town politics and fights and interspecies romance. It’s fun and fast and entertaining: promising, in the best SF-equivalent-of-sword-and-sorcery way.

I’m really hoping that she manages to actually structure the rest of this series so that the narrative pays off in satisfying ways.

News, views, disillusions

I have finished my third week at a RealJob. The paycheque is nice, but I woke up this morning sick as a dog. Ah, well. It could be worse.

There’s a lot of news to catch up on. In my case, the most exciting piece is that, along with Mahvesh Murad, I’ll be editing Speculative Fiction 2016:

Call for Submissions: What You Need to Know

The Speculative Fiction series is a not-for-profit publication. All net proceeds will be going to charity.
The anthology seeks non-fiction reviews and essays (“works”) specific to some aspect of Speculative Fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, and everything and anything that falls under the broad genre umbrella), including but not limited to: books, movies, tv shows, games, comics, conventions, genre trends, and so on. No short stories or original fiction, please.
The works MUST have been originally published online during the calendar year 2016.
Any pieces chosen for the publication will be paid a flat fee of $10 per work (in lieu of payment, contributors may choose to donate their fee to charity in their name).
Nominations are accepted for works published by anyone online. (This includes bloggers, friends, bloggers who are friends, authors who blog, bloggers who are authors, alien life forms, cats, etc…)
People may submit their own work or someone else’s.
People may submit as many works as they like. (There is NO limit on submissions!)
Submitted works ideally should be between 800 and 1500 words (but that’s not mandatory, we may consider longer and shorter pieces).
While submitted works can be from anywhere in the world, although we do need an English translation for consideration.
Submissions are open through December 31 2016.

Submit your nominations here. Deadline is 31 December 2016.


There are some links hanging out in my tabs:

The Church’s Lingering Shadows On Sex Work In Ireland.

Jane Austen to Cassandra.

Lesbians of 1916 are the Rising’s “hidden history.”

Carrie Fisher interviews Daisy Ridley.

Wonder Woman, Amazons, armour and history: the best thing on Tumblr.

Poem: “Questions to Ask Yourself Before Giving Up.”

Database of Public Monuments in Roman Greece. Lovely searchable database.

Doctoratus in Philosophia

Yesterday I attended the commencements ceremony for my Ph.D. I wore a waistcoat and bowtie.

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The Ph.D. robes are red and yellow silk, and very swish. I had a great day, for the most part. My mother and my academic supervisor both attended the ceremony, and I had dinner with them and some other people, and then cocktails. TWO WHOLE COCKTAILS.

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There is a downside to attending a formal ceremony in gender-noncomforming formal garb, though. Perhaps more than one.

Ph.D. graduands must line up and process in to the Public Theatre. The line is alphabetical by last name, and a person goes down the line with a clipboard checking that one is in the right place. This exchange occurred when that person — by appearance a woman — got to me:

“Elizabeth Bourke?” said they.

“Yes,” I said.

“Nooooo,” they said.

“Yes,” said I.

“Nooo – Oh,” they said, and wandered off further down the line, causing the person next to me to remark, in commiserating fashion: “I expect you get that a lot.”

During the ceremony itself, when the pro-chancellor went to hand me the parchment, he said, “Mr. Bourke, congratulations -” and the professor sitting next to him pointed out his error, since the name on the paper was Elizabeth – “oh, I’m sorry. Ms. Bourke, congratulations.” Mic’d live to the whole hall.

It would’ve taken a lot more than that to put a damper on my enjoyment of the day, but, y’know, I could’ve lived without either. Although being contradicted when I answered to my own name was extremely irritating.

Still. I am DR. BOURKE now. For good. No one can take it back.