What with Worldcon, followed by a holiday in Tasmania and then plunging straight back to fieldwork and reports the moment I returned, I managed to get way, way behind in my blogging. I never really reported on Worldcon at all.
Suffice it to say that one of the best things about the con was catching up with folk. Writers, readers, people in the industry, my editors...all people who mean a lot to me. It was fabulous to meet people I only knew through the internet - and to find out I like them just as much in real life as I did in the cyber world.
I'm sure there were a ton of people at the con that I didn't get to see and should have - and I ask your pardon if I marched on by when we passed in the hall or something; sometimes I forget what people look like when I only see them once every couple of years.
One of the people I always love seeing again is Cheryl Morgan. I have learned a great deal from her and I always enjoy her sharp mind and her intelligent, no-nonsense way of looking at things. Even when she reviews my books. Or maybe, especially when she reviews my books. I like knowing that I am getting an honest opinion.
Anyway, I want to mention Salon Futura, in its own words: "an online magazine devoted to the discussion of science fiction, fantasy and other forms of speculative literature, available for free online."* Cheryl is the editor of Salon Futura. She's also the owner of its publisher, Wizard's Tower Press. She's the non-fiction editor for Clarkesworld Magazine, a winner of three well-deserved Hugo Awards in three different categories: Best Fanzine, Best Fan Writer and Best Semiprozine. Pretty impressive.
Read Salon Futura. There are two issues out now and there are some wonderful articles there by a variety of people - on, for example, or what constitutes YA, and podcasts (one on writing LGBT characters) and there are interviews: China Mieville, Lauren Beukes, Jay Lake, Pat Cardigan.
In the first issue of Salon Futura, Cheryl wrote an article about writing in the real world, even if the story is placed in an entirely different one, and one of the books she drew attention to was The Last Stormlord. Among other things, she says:
"The Last Stormlord is a book about a culture whose advanced technology (sorry, “magic”) is capable of controlling the weather and bringing rain to a parched landscape. This technology is reliant on certain individuals whose genetic make-up allows them to exercise weather control powers. When the supply of appropriately skilled youngsters begins to dry up, the future of the culture is threatened.
"The politics doesn’t stop there: possession of weather-controlling technology has brought significant wealth to the dominant culture. But there are barbarians at the gates, people who live hard lives in the desert and scorn the soft city dwellers. Furthermore, when water becomes short, the ruling classes have difficult choices to make about whether to ration supplies fairly and cause suffering all round, or to deliberately withdraw supplies from country areas to keep the city folks (including themselves) happy.
"The Last Stormlord is a book about a technologically advanced culture moving into an era of resource shortages. There are plenty of parallels there with our world."
One of the really interesting comments from that same article: "My colleague at Salon Futura, Sam Jordison, has been following both the Hugo Awards and the Booker Prize for The Guardian. He tells me that he is much more likely to find a book apparently addressing the issues of the day in the list of Hugo winners than in the list of Booker winners." Food for thought there.
Salon Futura has something for everyone.
*It pays its contributors, and is supported by donations, advertising and buying books through the site.