Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 37d - Postcards from Worldcon - transcript
(Originally aired 2019/08/24 - listen here)
I just spent the last two weeks in Ireland for the World Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention, popularly known as Worldcon. It’s an annual gathering of science fiction and fantasy fans, authors, artists, and industry professionals. The convention travels every year and in recent years has been making good on the claim that it truly represents the world. This year it was in Dublin Ireland, last year in San Jose California, the year before in Helsinki Finland, and next year it will be in Wellington New Zealand.
Some podcasters attending Worldcon made plans to record live shows as panel discussions. I wasn’t that organized, but I decided to send my listeners a set of audio postcards from a few of the attendees. Some of these were recorded with more ambient background noise than is ideal, for which I apologize. I asked people to introduce themselves, maybe talk about what they were enjoying about Worldcon, and give out a shout to something they currently love that involves queer women in science fiction, fantasy, or history.
First up, we have Adri Joy from London.
Adri Joy: Hi, this is Adri Joy, reporting from Dublin Worldcon 2019. I’m from London in the UK. I’m also a writer for the fanzine Nerds of a Feather Flock Together. I’m having my first Worldcon at the moment. I’m having the most amazing time. I’ve met so many wonderful people. I’ve had lots of experiences. I’m learning about when to turn up to panels and what’s going to be full and what’s going to be busy and queues and all of those adventures that I’m sure anyone else who’s been to a Worldcon will also recognize. But what I’ve found is that whatever I end up doing, even if it’s not what I expected, has been really really wonderful. And I have a book recommendation for you for the Lesbian Historic Motif Project Podcast. I recently read The Ascent to Godhood by JY Yang, who is a queer author based in Singapore. This is the fourth in their Tensorate series and it focuses on a relationship between two women, one of whom happens to be the empress of the Protectorate, and her rise to power, and one of whom is kind of her handmaiden turned spy turned lover, who finds out that the relationship is not really what they expected. And who ends up playing quite a dramatic role in the sort of later historic events that happen. It’s really inspired by Southeast Asia and Singapore and Malaysian culture. It’s super queer in all forms and it’s got two amazing women at the center. So, thank you!
HRJ: I was delighted to meet the three podcasters who host the Hugo-finalist show Be the Serpent, although I only got postcards from two of them. Here’s Freya Marske, from Australia with some favorite books.
Freya Marske: Hello, my name is Freya Marske. I’m a writer and podcaster from Australia. In terms of books that I have enjoyed recently that are about queer women, I want to shout out to Jeannelle Ferreira’s The Covert Captain, which is one of my favorite historical romances recently. And in terms of upcoming books, I am very very excited for Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth.
HRJ: There’s currently something of an explosion of SFF featuring queer characters and author Everina Maxwell is excited about that. Her novel Winter’s Orbit will be coming out from Tor in 2021.
Everina Maxwell: My name is Everina Maxwell. I’m a science fiction author and I think a really interesting thing about women in science fiction in particular is if you make a world where people are free to choose which of any gender identity they’re attracted to, maybe that choice means more, maybe that choice means less, but it gives a whole new perspective on it.
HRJ: Irish SFF reviewer and classical historian Liz Bourke was featured in a book appreciation show on this podcast a while ago. She has a few new book recommendations. I was delighted to be able to attend her wedding during the week before the convention.
Liz Bourke: Hello! My name is Liz Bourke. I review books for Tor.com and Locus. I am a queer woman and I just got married! And...my wife is wonderful! (You don’t have to put that in your podcast.) [laughter] And I read an awful lot of queer science fiction and fantasy and the really really great thing about the last couple of years is how much more of it there is! Heather herself writes really good stuff, but, I mean, the one that I most recently read that’s really blowing up in a big way is This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. It is a novella and it is the most fantastic, dramatic, over-the-top time-traveling epistolary romance--queer romance--that you never knew you needed. And what I’m looking forward to...oh, I’m looking forward to Arkady Martine’s A Desolation Called Peace. I am promised that there’s queer kissing in it. Queer kissing and politics and interrogation of colonialism, but also the queer kissing. So you know, I’m there.
HRJ: A second member of the Be the Serpent podcast team, Jennifer Mace, provided some cheerleading for a favorite historical figure.
Jennifer Mace: Hi, my name is Jennifer Mace and I am a podcaster and fantasy author, currently working on an f/f book involving Naples. And an interesting thing about f/f in science fiction and fantasy is...uh, let’s talk a little bit about the French spy Julie [d’Aubigny], who broke into a nunnery, made out with all of the nuns, and set it on fire on the way back out, who is frankly a role model for us all. And more people should read at least her Wikipedia article, because it is excellent. And I wish to be her when I grow up. [laughter] [echoing cheers of “Julie d’Aubigny!” from bystanders]
HRJ: Worldcon is a great place for meeting up with online friends in far-flung lands. This next postcard is from someone I’ve known a long time and see in person too rarely. I first met Sara Uckelman when she was a teenager and we were both in the Society for Creative Anachronism. Now she’s a university professor in England and has plunged enthusiastically into writing and reviewing SFF.
Sara Uckelman: Hello! I’m Sara Uckelman. This is my first Worldcon. So greetings from Worldcon from a Worldcon newbie! It has been a fabulous convention because I’ve gotten so many recommendations for books, for authors, for blogs, for podcasts, for people to follow on Twitter. What I have really enjoyed is seeing the diversity of queer women that are showing up in SFF, because it gives me a chance to see people that...maybe I didn’t know that there were women like me, because I didn’t know that there were...that women like me were a thing. And to see them reflected in literature and media is a really neat and exciting and kind of scary thing. But scary in a good way.
HRJ: Two years ago Worldcon was in Finland and the Finns had so much fun they are highly represented among the fans at Dublin. I met Katri when she came to my reading and she was kind enough to contribute a postcard.
Katri: Hi! I’m Katri. I’m from Finland. This is my second Worldcon. I really like that there’s more and more queer women in SFF in lots of different times and places. Also, I’m just really happy when there’s women interacting with each other and having relationships with one another--whether it’s romantic or not. Some of my favorite books...I’m really fond of the Alpennia books. And another I read recently was Alice Payne Arrives, which is time travel with lesbians and all kinds of adventures. I still need to read the second part, but it was really good.
HRJ: One of the things I really love about my online community is being able to introduce people to each other and see new friendships develop. I met @fromankyra through twitter several years ago, finally met her in person when Worldcon was in Helsinki, and have been delighted to introduce her to other SFF fans who have now become fast friends.
@fromankyra: Hi! I’m @fromankyra and I am an SFF fan and a fan of Heather’s books. I love just all the queer women that we’ve been having in SFF lately, and just how they’ve been in so many different places. The thing that comes to mind is This is How You Lose the Time War. But also...well, Floodtide, which is coming out in November. And it feels like we’re putting the queer women back from the places they’ve been erased. Back into those areas. And it just feels so comforting.
HRJ: I’ve strayed a bit from my historical mandate for this show, but in the realm of genre fiction featuring queer women, there’s a lot of overlap between historicals, fantasy, and science fiction, as I hope the recommendations have shown. Conventions are also a great place for me to pick up new interview subjects and I have a couple of people tentatively scheduled to do shows in the next year that I think you’ll find as interesting as I do. These have been your Dublin Worldcon audio postcards. Having a great time. Wish you were here.