April BSFA London Meeting: Sharyn November interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn

On Wednesday 25th April 2012, Sharyn November (Senior Editor for Viking Children’s Books and Editorial Director of Firebird Books, visiting thanks to this last weekend’s Diana Wynne Jones memorial) will be interviewed by Professor Farah Mendlesohn (Academic, critic and editor).

ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRY (No entry fee or tickets. Non-members welcome.)

The discussion will commence at 7.00 pm, but the room is open from 6.00 (and fans in the ground floor bar from 5ish).

There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

Location: Cellar Bar, The Melton Mowbray Public House. 18 Holborn, London EC1N 2LE . Map is here. Nearest Tube: Chancery Lane (Central line)

FUTURE EVENTS:
23rd May* – CJ LINES interviewed by Tony Keen
27th June – TANITH LEE interviewed by Nadia van der Westhuizen
25th July 2012 – Roz Kaveney (interviewer TBC)

* Note that this is a month with five Wednesdays. The meeting will be on the fourth, not the last, Wednesday of the month

New Reflections

If you enjoyed the excerpt from the interview with Diana Wynne Jones which appeared in Vector #268, then you may be interested to know that the volume in which the full interview appears, Reflections, will be published in the next few weeks from David Fickling Books.

Early copies may be available this weekend at the celebration of DWJ’s life and works being held this Sunday, 22 April at 2pm, at St. George’s in Brandon Hill, Bristol. Details of how to get to the venue are available here.

BSFA Awards Winners

Congratulations to all those who won the BSFA Awards for work produced in 2011!

Best Non-Fiction: The SF Encyclopedia, third edition (beta), edited by John Clute, Peter Nicholls, David Langford and Graham Sleight.
Best Artwork: Cover of Ian Whates’s The Noise Revealed by Dominic Harman (Solaris)
Best Short Fiction: “The Copenhagen Interpretation” by Paul Cornell (Asimov’s, July)
Best Novel published in Britain: The Islanders by Christopher Priest (Gollancz)

At Eastercon, as well as four other conventions held that same weekend, the Hugo shortlists were announced. The BSFA Award winners for best non-fiction and best short fiction both made that ballot, so their fans will have another opportunity to vote for them, should they wish!

Gollancz did extremely well this year, since they host/publish The SF Encyclopedia as well as The Islanders.

P.S. Please see the BSFA’s apology for the way the awards ceremony worked out.

2012 BSFA Lecture at Eastercon

The 2012 BSFA Lecture at Eastercon will be given by Dr Marc Morris, and is entitled ‘Regime Change in England, 1066′. It draws on his recently-published book The Norman Conquest. The lecture will be given at 2.30 on Saturday April 7th, in the Commonwealth Hall of the Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Heathrow. The lecture is open to any members of Eastercon (if you’re not already a member, I’m afraid membership is now closed).

Marc is a mediaeval historian and broadcaster.  He presented the television series Castle in 2003, and wrote the accompanying book (a new edition comes out in May 2012).  He is also the author of The Bigod Earls of Norfolk in the Thirteenth Century, and A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain.  His new book, published on March 29, is a history of The Norman Conquest.  Copies will be available to purchase at Eastercon. He also appeared in the most recent episode of Time Team.

The BSFA lecture is intended as a companion to the George Hay Lecture presented at the Eastercon by the Science Fiction Foundation. Where the Hay Lecture invites scientists, the BSFA Lecture invites academics from the arts and humanities (with a particular bias towards history), because we recognise that science fiction fans aren’t only interested in science.  The lecturers are given a remit to speak “on a subject that is likely to be of interest to science fiction fans” – i.e. on whatever they want!  This is the fourth BSFA Lecture.

Spirit, Part 1: Take One

I started Gwyneth Jones’ Spirit at the wrong time, or at least in the wrong headspace. The plot was a Lego patchwork of interlinked episodes, and it didn’t seem to have enough momentum to take me much of anywhere plot-wise, even as it spanned a barely-known universe in its events. I hadn’t read any of Jones’ other Aleutian novels, had no greater context thus far into which to slot it. I didn’t feel lost, but it wasn’t a universe to which I had any existing commitment.

It didn’t help that I knew there was a rape scene coming, somewhere in its expansive, multi-volumesque middle. With that looming, somewhere, I read more and more episodically, which did nothing to help the volume’s flow. Doom, gloom, and stuckness overwhelmed the characters and I, seeing no hope for them and fearing what I knew was coming, went adrift. I stopped reading.

Despite that unpromising beginning, I always meant to go back to it. My intentions were good. The SFX blurb promised me a take on The Count of Monte Cristo, a novel I remembered fondly and whose plot I’d happily revisit. Nearly halfway through the book, I was barely halfway through the lavishly extensive blurb on the back of the book when I failed to keep reading.

It really is quite a blurb. As Martin Lewis observed in his discussion of the novel last week, it synopsizes up to page 255 out of 472 pages. At the time, however, it was a token framework for me, a checklist of events which the plot had gotten around to, rather than any real roadmap of structure. (Which raises the question: is it still really a spoiler once it’s mentioned in the blurb?) It really was the wrong time and headspace for me to be reading the novel.

Fortunately, Martin suggested I have another go at the novel this March, complete the task I set myself last year when I undertook to write – or host writing on – the eleven best science fiction novels by women from the first decade of this millennium.

I’m glad he did. The second time around, the book was good.

Advanced voting for the BSFA Awards closes today

If you’re not attending Eastercon this year, then today, Monday 2 April, is the last day to vote on the BSFA Awards, by email or online form.  If you’re attending Eastercon, you can vote on site by paper ballot up until noon on the day of the ceremony, i.e. Sunday, 8 April. Both BSFA members and Eastercon members can vote at the convention.

The newest BSFA mailing is starting to arrive, and along with it, the BSFA Awards booklet, which will hopefully help you make up your mind as to what to vote for in the Awards’ four categories.

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