The advent of DragonCon.
This year will mark my fifteenth visit to DragonCon, my fourteenth year as a member of the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company, and my seventh time as one of the writers whose scripts ARTC will be performing. If any of you, dear readers, find yourselves at DragonCon this year, please be sure to check out our shows on Friday and Sunday nights. Friday’s is the one for which I have writer credit: “The Dead-Watcher,” on a triple bill with Elisabeth Allen’s new sci-fi script “A.L.I.C.E.” and an excerpt from our ongoing series “Mercury: A Podcast of Hope,” August 31 at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Marquis Imperial Ballroom.
I have the DragonCon app on my iPad and have already drafted a schedule of all the panels I’m dying to take in. One special source of excitement: author Naomi Novik, whose Uprooted I love and whose Spinning Silver I’m currently devouring, will be there! Now if Brandon Sanderson would just come back…
At the moment I’m making my way through not only Spinning Silver, but also Becky Chambers’ A Closed and Common Orbit and Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation, and I’ve just started N.K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate. All of these works tick off most of my “Like” boxes: engaging and descriptive prose, vivid female characters with distinctive personalities, and well-told stories in which I can invest both my mind and my heart. I’m pretty sure I’ll have much more to say about these books in future posts.
Female authors triumph at the Hugo Awards.
I have spent many an hour of many a day of many a year browsing Goodreads and similar sites in search of high-quality fantasy and science fiction both by and about women. The good books are out there, in greater numbers than ever, yet they don’t get talked about nearly as much as they should, which of course gives rise to myths such as “Women don’t write epic fantasy.” I recommend female-authored books as often and as loudly as I can, doing my heart to counteract such nonsense as this, even as I keep seeing signs I may be fighting a losing battle. Here, for instance, is Goodreads’ list of the 50 Best Fantasy Books. Of course Tolkien’s and Lewis’s work turn up there, along with titles by Stephen King, Richard Adams, and Peter S. Beagle. Yet most of the more recent books on the list were also written by men. Brian Staveley, Brian McClelland, Anthony Ryan, Peter V. Brett, and Brent Weeks make the list, along with such bound-to-be-there names as Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch, and Patrick Rothfuss. Yet Lois McMaster Bujold’s splendid The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls are nowhere to be found. No mention of Barbara Hambly, or Patricia McKillip, or Juliet Marillier, or Kate Elliott, or Elizabeth Bear. What exactly makes these authors’ work less deserving?
Then I see the list of 2018 Hugo Award Winners, and I feel a little better.
One of the few recent female writers included on Goodreads’ Best-Of list is N.K. Jemisin, whose The Fifth Season, the first book in the Broken Earth Trilogy, won the Hugo for Best Novel in 2016. She followed that up the next year with a victory for the second volume, The Obelisk Gate, and now, with her victory for the concluding book, The Stone Sky, she becomes the first author ever to win three consecutive Best Novel Hugos. (In her acceptance speech she has a few choice words to say to anyone who might attribute her triumphs to political correctness.) Women scored big in other categories as well, including Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Related Work, and Graphic Story. Rebecca Roanhorse’s win of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer is particularly satisfying when one remembers that Campbell himself held no very high opinion of women’s ability to write quality SFF. The award may bear his name, but history has proven him wrong.
We still need to work on talking up the best books by and about women, and mentioning Elliott and Bujold in the same breath as Rothfuss and Lynch. But victories like those at the Hugos give me hope that we’ll get there eventually.