Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dearest Tip

My writing influences are a collection of incredible people, mostly women and genderqueer, and I speak often on the impact James Tiptree, Jr. has had on me since I discovered them over six years.

Alice Sheldon is a difficult person to pin down, because she didn't want to be pinned down, labelled, put in a box. She struggled all her life with issues of gender, class, sexuality, and mental health. She was an incredibly interesting, intelligent, yet troubled person, whose legacy has a huge impact of the SSFnal world even today. She didn't want to just be known as the author who turned feminist speculative fiction and the idea of gendered writing on its head. She is many things to many people. But for me, if anyone questions the validity of women writing science fiction, I point them in the direction of James Tiptree, Jr.

Sheldon's legacy isn't without its problems. She had a problematic relationship with her gender presentation, sexuality, and women's rights of the day, her reactions to which are sad and infuriating in equal measure. In the end, the pain of not fitting in anywhere, the pain of her mental health problems she never received adequate help for, led to her taking her own life. Though she died when I was 14, a long time before I was introduced to her work, I miss her everyday, like some sort of ghost aunt.

I write about my thoughts on her relationship to gender, feminism, and sexuality in my essay which is included in "Letters to Tiptree", edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Alexandra Pierce, released by Twelfth Planet Press. This book of essays has been released to celebrate Sheldon's 100th birthday this month. There's been a variety of interesting excerpts, columns, and press for the release of the book.

For further reading:
"The Women You Didn't See: A Letter to Alice Sheldon" by Nicola Griffith at the LA Review of Books
"Letters to Tiptree" by Brit Mandelo at Tor.com
"Dear Dr Sheldon" by Gwyneth Jones
Galactica Suburbia Episode 125 - "James Tiptree, Jr." (audio)
"Where to start with the works of James Tiptree, Jr." by Brit Mandelo at Tor.com
"What James Tiptree, Jr. can teach us about the power of the SF community" by Leah Schnelbach at Tor.com
"The most secretive woman in the history of Science Fiction" by Ted Gioia at Conceptual Fiction

"Letters to Tiptree" by Twelfth Planet Press is now available for purchase in ebook and print formats through their website.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Cover Art Magic!

Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine Issue 61 is just about ready to launch for readers, and in advance I have received my contributors copy. Wow, I am blown away by the wonderful cover art by Shauna O'Meara!

I've had art done to accompany stories before, but this is the first time I've been honoured with cover art, which is for "Long's Confandabulous Clockwork Circus and Carnival, and Cats of Many Persuasions". Check this lovely out:

Cover of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine Issue 61:
Two young women stand on a river dock, watched over by the shadow of
a mysterious flute player. The woman on the left is North African with brown skin, facial tattoos, and tight braids,
and is holding a white cat. The woman on the right is Chinese , with long straight black hair, and is
holding a mechanical cat. They have mud splattered legs. Many cats float in the river. In the background,
black storm clouds cover a city.
I am so pleased the artist captured the look and spirit of not only the story, but of this particular scene (no spoilers!). The woman on the left is Chifwe, the animagus and reclamation specialist, holding her special albino cat. The woman on the right is Ba Luen, an engineer and daughter of Long's Circus, holding her steam-powered clockwork cat. The shadow of the flute player is Hotor, a master of music, shadow, and insects.

This scene is from a major confrontation in the story, so I don't want to give anything away. However, I am pleased at the inclusion of intricate detail and that the true essence of my characters remain intact. River City is a steampunk alt-world Northern Africa, possibly Egyptian, city, with a myriad of cultures, people, languages, religions, and magic, and is an intersection of trade routes. Such details as Chifwe's facial tattoos and outfit and Ba Luen's circus costume are all included, which really delights me. I'm really pleased the artist and ASIM made the effort to acknowledge the intersections of race and culture I attempted to imbue in my story.

Plus, in release serendipity, "Long's Confandabulous Circus" is the first story set in River City, and the second, "The Long Trip Home", was released in "Daughters of Frankenstein" earlier this month.

Now, is it just me, or does the clockwork cat look a little like Cat Iron Man?