WHERE I WILL BE WHEN

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Summer events are afoot. Here are the places I will be and when I will be in them:

NINE WORLDS
12th-14th August

FRIDAY:

Ready, Steady, FLASH!
Bouzy, 6:45pm – 7:45pm (Entertainment)

Everyone loves a good story. But sometimes, inspiration doesn’t strike. Join host Lee Harris and his victims… *ahem* motley crew of professional authors as they attempt to write four pieces of flash fiction. The catch? They don’t know the theme of their stories until a second before they have to start writing them, and they only have five minutes in which to write each one! You, the audience, get to decide the winner!

dear god please someone sneak me some beer for this one, it sounds terrifying

Followed by: BAR

SATURDAY:

Genre Fun-Time Room 101
Epernay, 5:00pm – 6:00pm (Living Words)
Matt Blakstad, Stark Holborn, Jason Arnopp, Anne Perry, Bex Levene, Edward Cox
Come one! Come all! See our passionate panelists voraciously compete to declare their choice of the Most Hated Cliche Of All Time – the biggest laugh sees the panelists pet peeve or authorial nightmare consigned to the dark, dank, despicable, dire depths of Room 101! (All cliches will be fished out and washed off and given a good hug after, we don’t hold with cruelty to innocent plot devices)

Re-envisioning history as genre
Mouton Cadet, 6:45pm – 7:45pm (Living Words)

Angus Watson, Tom Lloyd, Daniel Godfrey, Stark Holborn, Aliya Whiteley
HISTORY. We can’t escape it and we can’t go back and fiddle with it, or not yet anyway – so how do we use it to reshape our understanding of the world, other worlds, and completely strange and different places? How has it affected plots, characters, visions of the future? Or are we in fact changing it?

Moral issues in speculative fiction
Bordeaux, 8:30pm – 9:30pm (Living Words)

Jen Williams, Matt Blakstad, Mark de Jager, Al Robertson, Stark Holborn, Lisa Tuttle
When you’re dealing with a sentient and newly murderous AI, or the revelation that the people behind the Wall are… well, actually people too, what happens to your morality? Moral quandaries can arise from the most unexpected places and some of the very best speculative fiction is driven by them. So, how do you do right, or wrong, when the world around you has shifted the goalposts? Hero or villain? Renegade or Paragon? And is the line between them a brick wall or a chalk mark?

That’s right, you get me for three panels in a row. Which will most definitely be followed by:

BAR.

Come say howdy. Whether I’ll be able to make conversation by then will be a different matter, but I’ll grunt in a good-natured fashion at you, all the same. After that, I will *likely* be at BristolCon in the autumn, depending on whether the mountain passes are clear, where my herd have got to, and whether I hit pay dirt…

FantasyCon 2015

giphy (1)I’m going to be there. Doing this.

Room: Suite 2
7.00pm Wanted, Dead or Alive: The Weird Western
The Western has been described as ‘like peanut butter: rarely served on its own, but seems to go with everything.’ Recently the genre has seen something of a revitalisation within the SFF domain. How are the tropes of cowboy-lore being dusted down and given new spurs with horror, fantasy and sci-fi influences? Is it more than just horses and guns and can it become an enduring sub-genre? Our panel of gun-totin’ varmints hits the trail to wrangle some answers to the enduring mythology of the wild and weird West.

Moderator: Anne Perry
Panellists: Guy Adams, Ben Galley, Stark Holborn, Benedict J Jones, Arianne ‘Tex’ Thompson

As you were.

Fall 2015 Events & Humdingers

bannerGood gravy, is is BristolCon time again already? Seems only two winks ago that we were badgering the bar staff of the hotel to serve us whiskey at 3am after a right grand ol’ day. I’ll be there, front n’ centre, trying to keep my words straight at the following times:

Room 1, 10.00-10.45am

Lost Cities and Abandoned Places
Lost and abandoned places are an endless source of fascination, from Atlantis to Pripyat. The panelists discuss their favourite lost and abandoned places in fiction and move on to consider lost real-world places, including those we have lost in our lifetime, and how they could inspire future works of fiction.

with Stark Holborn (Mod), Anne Lyle, Huw Powell, Jaine Fenn and Pete Sutton

Room 1, 12.00-12.45

More Human than Human
After the recent rush of AI-tastic SF (Ancillary Justice, Her, Ex Machina) the panel talk about all things AI. Is assigning human characteristics to domestic appliances a step too far? What are the dangers inherent in AI, and what are the benefits?

with Robert Harkess (Mod), Adrian Tchaikovsky, Gareth L. Powell, Myfanwy Rodman and Stark Holborn

All good, honest root-tootin’ fun. Come say howdy, I’ll no doubt be in the bar.

While I’m at it, I might as well mention that I’ll also be at FantasyCon this year, talking Westerns (what else) with some delightful folk. More on that later.

Saddle the other mule! Yet More Summer Happenings

Now it’s a well known fact that I’m about as crooked as a Virginia fence when it comes to leaving the cabin and setting foot in the city, but there are so many hootenannies on during August that I’m dusting off my hat, pulling on my best bib an’ tucker and getting me ready for a right old hog-tying time.

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August 

6th Fantasy in the Court, London, 6-9pm

First up, those fine folk at Goldsboro Books & Hodderscape are hosting a shindig in Cecil Court. The line-up includes so many mighty names from the genre community that I’ll be quakin’ in my britches, but it sure promises to be a good ‘un. Tickets are five bucks from Goldsboro.

7th-9th Nine Worlds, Heathrow

Nine Worlds! Yeah! *shoots pistol with joy*. I goddam loved this whole affair last year. It was my first ever Con as an author, and it was great. I was on my first ever panel (complete with double whiskey at 2.30pm on a Saturday, thanks to my agent) and did my first ever reading, for which I am ever indebted to my pard John Hornor Jacobs for lending me his lush Arkansas vocals.

This year is just a daisy, panel-wise. I’ll be bandy-legging around all weekend, dashing between panels, propping up the bar and slurring good-natured obscenities, but I’ll also be moderating (ERMAGERD) at the following:

“IT’S ALIVE!” – Creating a Monster
Commonwealth West, 1:30pm – 2:45pm (All of the Books)

Rebecca Levene, David Monteith, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Jen Williams, Tom Fletcher

A good monster should scare you but leave you wanting more but with everything from Dr Who to Halo giving us new and exciting beasts, what does it take to create a truly memorable monster?

September

BristolCon, 26th September, Doubletree Hotel, Bristol

Any con where I can stagger all of a ten minute walk home at the end of the day is a damn good con in my book. It’s also run by damn lovely people, and features damn fine guests. I’ll be there, you know, generally malingering.

 

Saddle the Mule: Summer Events 2015

After a long winter tanning hides, brewing hooch and rounding up the llamas, me an’ Franklin are getting ready to venture out into civilisation again. There are some mighty fine events, readings, slurrings, snake-fights and conventions lined up, and these here are the ones I’m like to be at in the next few months, otherwise known as…

THINGS STARK WILL BE AT DURING SUMMER IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN:

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Tuesday 9th June

Speakeasy

Going to be visiting them classy folk at the June Speakeasy, over at Drink Shop Do with some fine folk including Frances Mensah Williams, Laura Barnett and Leigh Russell. Drinking from 7pm, reading from 8.

Some-time-end-of-June

SRFC

Many thanks to the swell Jen Williams & Den Patrick for asking me to do some slurring and cursing at June’s Super Relaxed Fantasy Club. Should be on the bill with my old pard Snorri Kristjansson.

7-9th August

Nine Worlds 2015

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I’ll be here, clogging up the bar, trying to start brawls, singing lurid songs of the old country.

There might be some others, but that’ll depend on how the bootlegging venture is doing without me (folk just don’t know how to run borders these days). Otherwise, I’ll be glad to see any of y’all at some of these. Come say howdy and share a beer of a plate of beans.

 

Stark reviews… The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

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A quick opener here. As some of y’all might know, I ain’t a great fan of space opera. I like my SF the way I like my coffee: dark, diurnal, gritty and filled with tortuous morality. But THE LONG WAY came so highly recommended that I didn’t see no good reason not to give it a crack. In fact, I were introduced to it by the esteemed Editor Perry, who is well-known as having mighty fine taste. *straightens hat* An’ I’ll tell you one thing, she weren’t wrong about this. THE LONG WAY were originally self-published as an e-book, but has now been picked up by them wond’rous varmints at Hodder, for release as a great handsome hardback in August 2015. THAT MAKES CHAMBERS FAMILY GODDAMIT. Anyhow, fans of Firefly should get themselves down for a copy quicker than a worm down a hen’s gullet. Y’all won’t be disappointed.

STARK REVIEWS!
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers.

A refreshing, joyous book that skips neatly around convention, and – with the flick of a page – sucks you utterly into its world, so much so that you become reluctant to leave the Wayfarer and its crew. Warm, welcoming and brimming with atmosphere, this is a lively and assured debut that isn’t afraid to put character before plot, and is a hundred times better for it.

The grand mysteries of the cosmos and the messy, complex workings of the heart (regardless of species) are woven together and treated with an even hand. In fact, the theme of equality runs through the book like a fuel line. Chambers never takes the easy way out by using genre tropes as a short cut or a crutch. The setting is vivid and wonderfully realised, yes, but it also provides a platform to explore realities that are all too often set aside in favour of sensation.

The presence of alien species obviously offers a great deal of opportunity to explore the idea of difference; but rather than merrily splicing individuals into easy dichotomies, Chambers doesn’t shy away from presenting characters who are themselves preoccupied with trying to navigate the murky depths of understanding, tolerance and acceptance. Multiple POVs in fairly short sections work hard to cover a lot of ground in this respect, although occasionally I felt myself longing for more time with certain characters, beyond what was absolutely necessary for the story (with the outwardly dislikable Corbin, for example). On rare occasions, the attribution of POV felt a little strained, but it’s a testimony to Chambers skill that the story is – almost always – able to encompass the viewpoints of a whole cast of characters with ease.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed spending time in the world that Chambers has created, with characters who I want to call up, and meet down the pub. Let’s hope that this isn’t the end for the crew of the Wayfarer. I’ll certainly be waiting on board, ready for adventure…

Get ahold of the ebook or preorder the hardback here.

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BristolCon Fringe Readin’

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Varmints, apologies for wireless silence over the past month, I’ve been in the wilds, holed up in the winter cabin, without so much as a cup-on-a-string for communication.

But now I’m back, in time for a fine ol’ gathering organised by them folk at BristolCon. On Monday 16th February at 7.30pm, I’m going to be at that notorious watering-hole, The Shakespeare Tavern along with fellow ne’er do well John Hawkes-Reed. I’ll be doing a reading, or a slurring, from NUNSLINGER, depending on when they put me on. I might even read me a deleted scene.

Come along and drink some whiskey. It’s what Monday nights are good for.