Nine Worlds Schedule: Now with Extra Me!

Nine Worlds 2015 logoThe Nine Worlds Schedule is now up! And it’s freakin’ amazing! So freakin’ amazing that I can’t remotely take it all in!

But what I can now tell you is that it now contains TWICE as much me as anticipated! Yes!

NOT ONLY, can you attend my paper – which is the third of three papers included in ‘Rebellion, Outsiders and Group Dynamics’, 3:15pm-4:30pm Friday – but you can also catch me on Saturday, 10am-11:15am, where I will be on the ‘Being a Geek in Academia’ panel – OMG!

OK, on the (very considerable) off-chance that my sheer presence is not enough to tempt you, here are some exciting details:

‘Rebellion, Outsiders and Group Dynamics’, 3:15pm-4:30pm, Friday

Across these three talks, the speakers explore various ideas of difference and how those differences colour of perceptions of groups outside our own. The first will look at representations of physical and mental disability in the Vorkosigan series and how the series’ protagonist defies the standard template of science-fiction heroes. The second talk will focus on the seminal Judge Dredd story America, and look at gendered attitudes towards and forms of rebellion and interaction with the overwhelmingly white and male authorities of 2000AD. Finally, the series will conclude with a discussion of relationship between “self” and “other” in Battlestar Galactica.

‘Being a Geek in Academia’, 10am-11:15am, Saturday

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a geek in the world of academia? Considering how to apply your skills to your passions and use them to build a reputation and standing? This panel will explore various ideas of how one becomes a geek in academia, combining your skills and your passions, and what makes all the stress and struggle worthwhile.


Nine Worlds and Me!


I may or may not have green hair again for August. We shall see!

So, I have been accepted to give a paper for Nine World’s Academic track – I’m so excited! I’ll be giving a paper on ‘Battlestar Galactica and the Master/Slave Dialectic: Relating Selves to Others’, which is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.

It’s all a bit intimidating now that it’s real, but I’ll try to do a good job!

For those not in the know, Nine Worlds Geekfest is the best, most inclusive convention I’ve ever been to.

As a geek, it’s great, because it has umpteen million tracks, covering specific fandoms like Doctor Who and A Song of Ice and Fire, as well as Podcasting, Academia, LARP, Social Gaming, Fanfic, Creative Writing, Race and Culture, LGBTQAI + Fandom, Geek Feminism, Young Adult, All the Books, and SO MUCH MORE. Along with kickass evening entertainment, like FRIGGIN’ KNIGHTMARE LIVE and the now traditional Whedon Sing-A-Long, which I have been to every year (see the video of the first impromptu Doctor Horrible act-out here).

As someone who has been marginalised, it’s great, because everyone who is there is there because they want to enjoy a safe environment where no one feels marginalised. As well as having specific tracks to discuss issues faced (by, e.g., women, LGBTQAI people, and people of colour) they also have highly diverse panels for their other tracks. They have an excellent and well-publicised anti-harassment policy (which I have seen in action, being handled with great sensitivity). They also have clear accessibility information and have made an evident effort to ensure that all events are as accessible as possible. I’ve never seen so many disabled people at a con before, looking relaxed and like they’re having fun. Same for LGBTAI folks and women. More present. More relaxed. More fun.

I also appreciate how trans/gender-queer/agender/non-binary friendly they are. Last year all loo signs in the con area were changed to ‘with urinal’ and ‘without urinal’ rather than ‘men’ and ‘women’. Along with tags you could pick up at registration to indicate your prefered pronouns.

It’s also family friendly, and I enjoyed seeing a great many young geeks and their parents being able to enjoy the con.

It’s still a problem going to general SF&F/fandom events that you will have to deal with bigoted/sexist/racist/transphobic people. I experienced this at a local meet-up I attended. Most people were lovely, but I still ended up being shouted at by an older white man aggressively defending his sexist views. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the energy to endure that shit when I want to be geeking out anymore. At Nine Worlds? I simply haven’t had that problem. I once had a heated debate with another feminist, but that’s as confrontational as it’s gotten for me. And I never met anyone who wouldn’t let you drop out of the conversation or change topic if it was stressing you out.

I can’t recommend Nine Worlds enough, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the academic track. My profile is not up on the Guests pageit’s almost like I’m a real person.



I wrote a poem today


I went to tea
with my heroes today,
Eagerly awaiting
what they would say.

Lucy the Brave
and Susan the fair –
Daenerys, Khaleesi
Unburnt, was there.

Susan to the
Khaleesi said:
“Your brother, I hear
you burnt his head.”

Queen Lucy frowned,
“A little harsh, I think.
We forgave our brother
such terrible things”

Daeserys shrugged.
“I killed him not,
but Drogo’s crown,
he found it hot.”

Cersei snorted.
“The crown was yours!”
“I know, but still–”
“Male poison pours…”

Rapunzel frowns
“I don’t agree
My prince, he risked
his life for me.”

“And then what?”
she said, “He takes you to bed
That nary you worry
your fine little head.”

“The head from whence
your locks did flow,”
she sighs, “They cut
off mine, you know.”

Alanna the Lioness
raises her mane
“I cut off my own,
and I’d do it again!”

“I believe the point,”
said Susan, thinking,
“Is that you did it for you,
and not for your king.”

“King,” Susan laughs,
High king,” she says.
“But not a high queen,”
adds the Lioness.

“Not even a queen,
not anymore”
Susan replies
eyes to the floor.

“A queen, but a girl
forever,” Lucy says,
“Forever alone
And forever unwed.”

who had sat quiet, immobile,
Pours her own tea,
then addresses the table:

“Ladies, when you say ‘queen’
I think twice
What really you mean
Is Sacrifice.”

Missing Monarchs Photoshoot!

My author-copy of Missing Monarchs arrived – Eeeeeeeeeeeeee! Quite obviously only one thing to do: PHOTOSHOOT!

Me, posing with my copy of Missing MonarchsMe, posing with my copy of Missing MonarchsMe, posing with my copy of Missing MonarchsMe, posing with my copy of Missing MonarchsFor those not in the know, Missing Monarchs is the Fox Spirit Books anthology in which my story, ‘The Runaway King’ was published earlier this year.

It’s super awesome because it contains ME, but also because it contains stories by cool people such as Lou Morgan, Jo Thomas, Chloe Yates, Geraldine Clark Hellery and more!

You can buy this as a Kindle ebook, or as a paperback.

Go Fund Me – update

Me holding my BA certificate shortly after graduating.

Me holding my BA certificate shortly after graduating.

I can’t believe how amazing the Internet is. Within three hours of putting up my Go Fund Me I had met my initial target of raising £600 to get me to the end of the month. I’d also received just over £60 from very kind souls who directly donated using the tip jar to the right (—>). I then increased the goal to the £3,000 I would need to see me through to the end of my PhD, and within a day you wonderful people have got me to £945 – a third of the way there!

For more on what happened yesterday to make this so urgent, see yesterday’s post.

I’m overwhelmed by the kind and generous people who have already donated. It’s not only a relief, but a real motivator – I’m working on behalf of those who have donated to fund me, now. It’s amazing to know that you guys have faith in me – working in a vacuum can be so disheartening.

If I don’t receive any more I will still be incredibly grateful to those who have already donated, but if you can help me to the target of £3,000 it would mean I could focus almost entirely on my PhD for the next four months until completion. I wouldn’t need to spend time and energy and worry looking for further work. That would make such a difference.

That said, if you would prefer to get something in return for money, I am still accepting work – £3,000 is a bare minimum of what I need, and that’s based on the commitments to proofreading and copy-editing I have already made coming through. Full details of my rates and how to hire me are available on the Proofreading and Copy Editing page of my website.

I will also be thanking anyone who donates in the acknowledgements section of my PhD, and if you’d like a digital copy of my thesis I will be happy to send it to you. You can use the contact form of this blog, or DM me your details on Twitter.

Thank you again to everyone who has already donated.

Go Fund Me – please

Me graduating from my BA.

Me graduating from my BA.

I need help. Due to my long boughts of sickness and other complications over the last few years, I have run out of money. Not just a little: completely. This morning my bank rang and I’m unexpectedly over the overdraft limit by £47.24. I need to tell them how I’m going to get under than limit by the end of next week. And even if I do that, I don’t know where next month’s rent will come from.

I need £600 by the end of the month.

I really hope that things will pick up for me soon, but the truth is that I don’t know that they will. I don’t know how I get to the 30th of May 2015, which is my final submission date for my PhD.

I’m applying for work, but I’m not having any luck. I need help. So I’ve set up a Go Fund Me page. If you can, please donate whatever you can. If you can’t do that, please share this to people who can.

Or tip me. The tip jar is right over there in the sidebar. If you want to reward me for the work I do here on this site, you can just tip me. I do a lot fo work for free and I want it to be available for free, but the truth is that 7,000 people have watched my Existentialism and the Terminator video and none of them tipped me. And I really don’t want anyone to feel bad about that – I’m poor, I get it, not everyone can give. But if you can and you found something here that you value, I’d be super grateful if you would.

The advantage of the tip jar is that it goes straight to me. The disadvantage is that it won’t appear on the Go Fund Me progress bar. The Go Fund Me funds can take a week to transfer. But if I knew they were coming I could at least have something to tell the bank. Either way is a big help.


Check it out: Rhubosphere Web Portal

A screencap of my website.

Hey, hey, hey! Wanna see what I get up to on the rest of the web?

I would like to cordially invite you to enjoy my website, where you will find:

For instance: did you know I had a YouTube channel? At the moment it mostly consists of a bunch of fanvids and random videos I’ve made showing people my vegetables, experimenting with my equipment, and getting drunk alone. But next year I plan to launch an introduction to philosophy webseries and other cool stuff. (And maybe learn to make better fanvids…)

Anyway, check it out, and remember, if you get kicks out of what I do and want to reward me, there’s a tip jar over over in the sidebar that would very much welcome your contribution.

Everybody wave your hands like excitable children in celebration!

Ryan Styles being excitable on Whose Line is it Anyway?Your excellent taste in reading my posts has been validated! Speculative Fiction 2012: The Best Online Reviews, Essays, and Commentary is out, starring ME. Oh, and I guess 49 other people like Elizabeth Bear, Niall Harrison, Joe Abercrombie, Kate Elliott, Aidan Moher, Christopher Priest, Adam Roberts, Sam Sykes, Kameron Hurley, and Lavie Tidhar, who I guess you might have heard of. But pffft!

Anyway, this is the first time anyone has paid me for my non-fiction and I’m super-excited about it. Probably more excited than all those better known authors and bloggers, and pretty excited just to be in their company, quite frankly.

I encourage you all to go buy it and see all our awesome thoughts: officially the most awesome thoughts about speculative fiction in 2012 on these here internets.

My UK lovelies can get it from Amazon for £8.99.

My fabulous US readers can get it from Amazon US for $11.99.

And I assume non-UK or US-ians can buy it fom the same sites with exciting shipping?

MORE AWESOME STILL is where all the proceeds from sales are going to: . Room to Read is a brilliant organisation promoting literacy and gender equality in education around the world. They work with communities and governements to promote reading both within school and without. They’re totally rad and it’s a great cause and it’s all about BOOKS.

So, you should buy our book so that kids have books. And because it’s full of really interesting reviews, essays, and commentary. And because one of those essays is by ME. Mainly that last one. But mainly the other ones too. And because my essay is about who wrote the first science fiction story, and it’s not who you might think.


Teenage Wasteland 2: The Legend of Catherine of Gawthwate Continues!

So, people seemed to enjoy reading my horrifically bad early writings, last week. Favourites including my unique spelling of the word accent ‘exuent’ and Sir Richard’s horse, Belinda. For kicks and giggles, and so you can find out what happens to Belinda, I have decided to put the rest of the story up, too. Not all at once – 3,000 words is a lot to read in one sitting, especially when it’s complete rubbish. But over the next few weeks you will get the rest of the story, and be in a position to judge just how legendary Catherine of Gawthwate was.

Incidentally, there was some speculation that ‘exuent’ was the product of inaccurate spell-checker suggested word selection. Not so! As you will see as the tale continues, there is plenty more in the way of creative spelling that very clearly has not been through a spell-checker. I was writing this on a very old computer, with a very old version of Word Perfect. I don’t remember if there was a spell-checker (it’s entirely possible that there was) but if so, I may well not have realised it. I remember that all the menu options were accessible via function keys and then a series of other letters once you had the menu open. If there was a spell-checker it may have been several years before I found it.

If you didn’t read the first part, get yourself over here and catch-up!

Part two:

After this, between the fighting, there was a most romantic courtship which lasted 5 months, then they were married. Catherine wore a most beautiful wedding dress, encrusted with jet, diamonds and rubies, it was made of pure silk and the vale of the most beautiful lace.

See, most girls supposedly spend a lot of time thinking about their ideal wedding dress. I actually hadn’t. I mean, I knew I wanted it to be a princess dress, and obviously I wanted one of those very badly, but when I came to write this scene I realised I didn’t really know much about wedding dresses or what would make for a good description of one. My answer? BLING, apparently. I guess the jet was to make it stand out from all the other dresses encrusted with diamonds and rubies. I was so alternative.

The 8th most expensive wedding dress in the worldI asked the Internet if it had any photos of a wedding dress with jet, diamonds, and rubies on it, and the Internet’s respnse was something to the effect of ‘What? No! Nobody has ever worn a dress like that!’ I was kind of avaricious as a child, so I imagine I was pretty much thinking that the more expensive the better, hence all the bling. Catherine was probably wearing the fantasy equivalent of this (above), only with more jet. This dress is supposedly the 8th most expensive wedding dress in the world, worth 999,999 Yuan, or around £101,000, with 9,999 karats (about two kilograms) worth of jewels on it. It’s hideous, isn’t it?

The dress isn’t the only wonderful thing in this paragraph, though. It continues:

As she walked down the aisle she looked at her lover and thought of the first night they met and tear of happiness sprang to her eyes for this was the happiest moment of her life. Richard felt just the same as he remembered the romantic cements he’d made and the music of her voice as it answered.

Got to admire the single, beautiful tear of joy that recalls that really classy bit of flirtation I wrote at the feast in honour of Sir Richard’s trustworthy looks. Richard made some really romantic cements, that night.

The vicar cleared his throat ” Dearly beloved we are gathered hear today to witness the marriage of Lady Catherine Anne Heckles to Sir Richard Anthony Charles…” and so on and so on until ” Oh me oh my would you help me young lady I can never read the last bit, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.”

” It says, you may now kiss the bri…” Catherine got no farther for Richard knew what it said and gave most beautiful kiss.

The priest from The Princess Bride

‘Deawy bewoved…’

You have to understand that I thought I was very witty. See how I’m trying to smooth over the fact that haven’t a clue what people say at weddings by having the vicar be a bumbling fool. I totally wasn’t copying The Princess Bride. No. It can’t be that that was probably the only wedding I’d seen on film. Also, comedy is a great way to segway into a beautiful kiss. TruFax!

11 months passed to which were most blissful and then a baby boy was born, they named him Calith.

Wow. That was fast. 11 months is totally a reasonable amount of time for baby-making, though. And Calith is totally a name.

“Oh look at him Richard, he has your eyes and nose… we must have him christened as soon as possible.” Catherine said. (She was so exited with the new born child.)

Christening is the best way to express your excitement.

So it was that, as had been requested, the child was brought to be christened two days later.

I guess you hop to when Lady-Queen Catherine wants you to christen her child. No bedrest for Catherine – get that child prepped for God!

As the vicar searched through his book for the correct ceremony Calith began to cry, this wrinkly old man he had be placed before had not noticed him and his mother was out of view, so as Catherine soothed him she urged the vicar to be quick.

The vicar cleared his throat “Now, what did you say the Child’s name was, Caylith? No, no, no, no, it’s … Calith, isn’t it? Good.” And so it went

on quite well considering the vicar was way past the age of normal retirement.

Yup, bumbling vicar is comedy gold. I should do stand-up. Incidentally, I have no idea how you pronounce ‘Calith’ if you don’t say it so as to sound identical to ‘Caylith’. Also: creative line breaks for all! (this may actually be a formatting error from transferring Word Perfect files to Word, but pfft!)

“I do declare,” said the vicar “that this child shall be the answer to your dreams. He shall defeat Lord Colotus!!!”

All vicars are prophets in Gawthwate. The font doubles as a scrying bowl.

As the years went by Calith became a strong boy and a quick learner, but all the time Sir Ganathry grew to dislike the child, and despise his father.

Did you forget about Sir Ganathry? He was a named character, you should have been paying attention. Anyway, despite Calith’s obvious chosen-one good qualities, Ganathry really doesn’t like him. And he despises his father. Remember right at the beginning, with all that headshaking? That was set-up, that was. He never trusted Sir Richard. Because of reasons.

” Ganathry! Come hither at once! Hath thow no ears?” Catherine was furious. ” What right hath you to disobey my orders? I told you to stay with Calith. Why did you leave him with maid Jane? “

‘Maid Jane’ is totally a term of address in this world. It’s coming back to me now. I’m pretty sure this was a deliberate bit of world-building. FEEL the colour it adds.

” I had important business to attend to … lady Catherine.” Ganathry stammered in ripply.

Is Ganthry a face-hugger? Pretty sure that’s the only way to stammer in Ripley. Oh, wait, I get it, reply – he stammers in reply

” What business could be more important than Calith? ” She posed. ” Well? Anyway, I asked thee hither to inform you that due to this afternoon’s behaviour you are to be relieved of from nannying my son.This is Mary, she is the new nanny. You may now continue with other duties.”

What the hell was he doing nannying Calith in the first place? No wonder he was annoyed. Sir Ganathry is a knight, they are not known for their nannying services. They’re known for hitting things. Sometimes stabbing things. Why have you left your kid to this man’s care to bring up? Why didn’t you go with Mary in the first place?

Mary was 20, single, and she loved children. She instantly Knew how to deal with this fussy 9 year old child.

I’m not sure why we need to know that Mary is single. Is this plot relevant? I’m worried that this might be plot relevant. Are we meant to be shipping her with someone? If so, I’m not really sure who…

” Hello, I’m Mary … and you must be Calith. ” Mary said.

” Yes. But where’s Ganthry, he’s supposed looking after me? ” Calith was confused.

” He’s been relieved of thee and thee’s now in my care. Come I hear thee’s a good rider, I know not how to ride. Might thow teach me? ” Her voice was joyous and rang like a bell.

Well, she’s just a young Mary Poppins, isn’t she? I suppose this isn’t a bad way to deal with a fussy child – get him showing you something he’s good at.

” This is my horse Lightning, a-and this is Belinda. You can use her, she’s old and gentle, perfect for beginners.” Calith was liking his new nanny better and better every second, she didn’t shout at him, or boss him about, nor had he been left alone in the corner.

And so their friendship began.

Belinda’s here! I didn’t forget about her, but time has passed, and now she is old and gentle. And check out that dialogue – didn’t need to tell you that Calith was stammering in ripply, did I? A totally more subtle way to show his youth and nervousness. And Mary is clearly a much more suitable nanny than Ganathry, she hasn’t left him alone in a corner or anything! All it takes is a little kindness, Ganathry!

Early next morning Jane flung open the curtains and declared the beauty of the day and said that with such fine weather he should already be up. Unfortunately when she opened the curtains the light nearly blinded Calith.
” Jane!!” He said annoyed. ( As he had been left with her so often he called her Jane instead of Maid, or Maid Jane.)

Aren’t there any other maids in the castle? Also, if he’s left alone with Jane so much anyway, why couldn’t she be his nanny?

” Yes Master Calith? ” She asked.

” You nearly blinded me ? ” He said. ” And tiss far to early anyway.”

” I, but ‘ow could I let thee miss a morn like this? And anyway thee wanted to see the dawn chorus. ” She said gaily ” Sh. Listen.”

If you ever woke really early and heard the dawn chorus you would know just how they felt, it’s magic to hear all the birds singing together, it makes you feel like a great weight has been lifted off your shoulders, and you know that you’ll remember it for the rest of your life.

They sat their, just listening for a full hour, then it gradually died away. The two stood there for a while, speechless, then shook them selves and Jane said ” If ‘eared it once or a thousand times still get’s one in the
heart.” She sighed ” One ‘a natures wonder … oh Master Calith don’t thee forget breakfast is at 8 bells.” She then went off humming gaily to her self.

Guess who had recently woken up early to hear the dawn chorus? I actually have a distinct memory of writing this bit. I thought it was so rad. That’s writing from experience, my friends! And it’s completely plot relevant! No, it is not.

That day and for the year that followed Calith learnt all the skills he was going to need in battle – sword fighting, lances, archery and that
sort of thing – he learned fast and even became better than his teacher. By the age of 14 he became his fathers page and sometimes (though none new) sneaked his way into battle.

Another nice bit of ‘I have no idea what training in any of these things would involve, so I’m just going to say that it happened and move on!’ Also, Calith really must be a fast learner. Inside of a year he’s become better than his teacher in sword fighting, lances, archery (well, he gets that from Catherine) and ‘that sort of thing’. That’s umm, well. Well done, Calith. You terrifying superman. And he’s sneaking into battles – I’m sure that’s going to end well.

Tune in next week for more of The Legend of Calith Catherine of Gawthwate!