Links of interest

Pulling some things out of the open tabs…

Marissa Lingen, On-ramps to various weird freeways:

So there was a Fourth Street panel where Max Gladstone wanted to talk about on-ramps to the weird: what accessibility we provide readers to works with a sense of alienation and dislocation, how we allow them to navigate works of science fiction and fantasy either without feeling uncomfortable or despite that discomfort, and what tools we can get from other genres in their on ramps–genres like magic realism and surrealism.

The Head of Donn Bó, The Tatooine Cycle. Star Wars as medieval Irish epic.

What was the reason for the Tragic Death of Cenn Obi and the Destruction of Da Thféider’s Hostel?

CBC News on the deciphering of the Antikythera mechanism:

After more than a decade’s efforts using cutting-edge scanning equipment, an international team of scientists has now read about 3,500 characters of explanatory text — a quarter of the original — in the innards of the 2,100-year-old remains.

They say it was a kind of philosopher’s guide to the galaxy, and perhaps the world’s oldest mechanical computer.

“Now we have texts that you can actually read as ancient Greek, what we had before was like something on the radio with a lot of static,” said team member Alexander Jones, a professor of the history of ancient science at New York University.

The Independent, Scientists recreate Greek skies to accurately date 2,500-year-old Sappho poem.

Vulture, The Korean Gothic Lesbian Revenge Thriller That’s Captivated Cannes.

AGENTS OF EMPIRE by Noel Malcolm

Noel Malcolm, Agents of Empire: Knights, Corsairs, Jesuits and Spies in the Sixteenth-Century Mediterranean World. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2016.

Malcolm, a historian who specialises in the history of the Balkans, has reconstructed the achievements (in the service of at least five crowns, counting the Papacy and Venice) of three generations of an Albanian family in the 1500s. From Venice to the borders of Poland, and the Vatican to Istanbul, the Brutis and their relatives the Brunis were at the heart of political, social, and military events across the Mediterranean.

It’s a really good book. I recommend it.

News, views, disillusions

I have finished my third week at a RealJob. The paycheque is nice, but I woke up this morning sick as a dog. Ah, well. It could be worse.

There’s a lot of news to catch up on. In my case, the most exciting piece is that, along with Mahvesh Murad, I’ll be editing Speculative Fiction 2016:

Call for Submissions: What You Need to Know

The Speculative Fiction series is a not-for-profit publication. All net proceeds will be going to charity.
The anthology seeks non-fiction reviews and essays (“works”) specific to some aspect of Speculative Fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, and everything and anything that falls under the broad genre umbrella), including but not limited to: books, movies, tv shows, games, comics, conventions, genre trends, and so on. No short stories or original fiction, please.
The works MUST have been originally published online during the calendar year 2016.
Any pieces chosen for the publication will be paid a flat fee of $10 per work (in lieu of payment, contributors may choose to donate their fee to charity in their name).
Nominations are accepted for works published by anyone online. (This includes bloggers, friends, bloggers who are friends, authors who blog, bloggers who are authors, alien life forms, cats, etc…)
People may submit their own work or someone else’s.
People may submit as many works as they like. (There is NO limit on submissions!)
Submitted works ideally should be between 800 and 1500 words (but that’s not mandatory, we may consider longer and shorter pieces).
While submitted works can be from anywhere in the world, although we do need an English translation for consideration.
Submissions are open through December 31 2016.

Submit your nominations here. Deadline is 31 December 2016.

There are some links hanging out in my tabs:

The Church’s Lingering Shadows On Sex Work In Ireland.

Jane Austen to Cassandra.

Lesbians of 1916 are the Rising’s “hidden history.”

Carrie Fisher interviews Daisy Ridley.

Wonder Woman, Amazons, armour and history: the best thing on Tumblr.

Poem: “Questions to Ask Yourself Before Giving Up.”

Database of Public Monuments in Roman Greece. Lovely searchable database.

More books arrive

Six of these, half a dozen of the other...

Six of these, half a dozen of the other…

Here we have courtesy of Tor: Michael Swanwick, CHASING THE PHOENIX, David Weber, HELL’S FOUNDATIONS QUIVER, Jaime Lee Moyer, AGAINST A BRIGHTENING SKY, and Catherynne M. Valente’s RADIANCE. Courtesy of DAW, we have Jacey Bedford’s WINTERWOOD. And courtesy of Oxford University Press, Nicholas Walton’s GENOA LA SUPERBA: THE RISE AND FALL OF A MERCHANT PIRATE SUPERPOWER.

Review copies arrived

Terrible photography AND unimpressed cat, aren't you lucky?

Terrible photography AND unimpressed cat, aren’t you lucky?

Courtesy of Oxford University Press, that’s Ulf Schmidt’s SECRET SCIENCE: A CENTURY OF POISON WARFARE AND HUMAN EXPERIMENTATION. Courtesy of Talos Books, that’s Loren Rhoads’ KILL BY NUMBERS (I want to read this trilogy, I do, I NEED MORE TIME). And courtesy of Orbit Books, we have Ann Leckie’s amazing ANCILLARY MERCY.

Links of interest

At The Book Smugglers, Kate Elliott on COURT OF FIVES: Inspirations and Influences.

At, Caitlyn Paxson on Five Canadian Books to Look for in Fall 2015.

Two from Archaeology Magazine:

New Kingdom Mummies Re-Examined


Underwater Mesolithic Monolith Discovered in the Sicilian Channel.

At, again, Natalie Zutter on COURT OF FIVES and the Importance of Making Race Explicit in YA Fantasy.

At io9, Remains of “Warrior Princess” Found Buried Alongside Dagger and Sword.

At the Wellcome Library Blog, Monica H. Green on Speaking Of Trotula.

Two reviews from NPR:

Genevieve Valentine on A WOMAN IN ARABIA by Gertrude Bell,


Carmen Machado on PRODIGIES by Angélica Gorodischer.

And on BBC Radio 4, Late Night Women’s Hour: Reclaiming The Nerdverse, with Zen Cho, Naomi Alderman, Helen Lewis, Lucy Saxon, and Linda Woodhead.

More books

I am distressingly ill. There are a distressing large number of deadlines around about. There is also a distressingly large quantity of books, and none of them are the next lot of C.J. Cherryh’s FOREIGNER series, or the next book by Laurie R. King, which is all I really want to read right now… sadly.

Books, with tolerant sleepy cat.

Books, with tolerant sleepy cat.


Books in brief: David W. Anthony, THE HORSE, THE WHEEL, AND LANGUAGE

David W. Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped The Modern World. Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 2007.

This is a lot less populist than its title implies. It is a solid and engaging work of scholarly synthesis that brings together evidence from historical linguistics and archaeological excavation to investigate the geographic origins of Proto-Indo-European, and the spread of Indo-European languages, and what kind of material culture Indo-European culture groups might have had.

The first section concentrates more on the historical linguistics, and is a lot more accessible than the latter sections, which requires one to keep track of the names of a lot of archaeologically distinct culture-groups, type-sites, and other sites. And pottery, and bones, and a gloriously detailed treatment of prehistoric steppe cultures. I liked it a lot, but it’s not my period or area and even though I’m used to keeping track of these kinds of details in other contexts, I did find it quite hard to follow in places. (This might be, in part, because I was reading it a little at a time over a long period, and not making notes.)

It’s a lengthy tome, and detailed, and more readable than this sort of detailed survey often is. I enjoyed it, and I recommend it if you have an interest in prehistoric steppe cultures.

Things I have found interesting recently

Sonya Taaffe has a brilliant story in the most recent installment of Ideomancer, “ζῆ καὶ βασιλεύει.” Absolutely magnificent.

Arkady Martine has an excellent story in Strange Horizons, “City of Salt.”

Beth Bernobich is Kickstarting a novelette, Nocturnall.

Foz Meadows has an amazing essay on GIFsets and the changing face of criticism.

Speaking of Foz, she encouraged me into watching the first season of The 100, out of which – among other things – came this exchange. Which amused me.

The Washington Post has an article on an early medieval Viking female burial that included a ring with “For Allah” inscribed on it in Kufic script.

I binge-watched all four seasons of Legend of Korra and should probably stop looking at art of Korra and/or Asami like these prints at some point. (But not yet.)

I want to go to this production of the Bakkhai. It is unlikely I will be able to afford it, especially since it is in London. But NEW ANNE CARSON TRANSLATION.

My brain is slowly growing back into something akin to the ability to focus. I can read books this week. It is a welcome development.

Books in very brief: Zahn, Milan, Kelly, Abbott

Timothy Zahn, Cobra Outlaw. Baen, 2015. eARC courtesy of the publisher.

Reviewed at Fun, but shallow.

Courtney Milan, Trade Me. Ebook, 2015.

Contemporary romance. Normally not my sort of thing but it’s MILAN, so I went for it anyway and WOW IS IT GOOD.

I mean, I should have hated it. If you described it to me, logically. It has the thing I hate. (Billionaire.) AND YET IT IS BRILLIANT.

Lee Kelly, City of Savages. Saga Press, 2015. Copy courtesy of the publisher.

Interesting debut. Read for review at


Karen Abbott, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War. Harper, 2014.

Narrative history. Title refers to the American civil war. Interesting and engrossing piece of writing, but needs to be contextualised better for people not familiar with that particular piece of history. Its focus on four different women and how they responded to the war makes for fascinating reading.

Books in very brief: Lerner, McCullough, Bagnall

Rose Lerner, A Lily Among Thorns and True Pretenses. Ebooks, various dates.

Very excellent historical romance novels. Recommended.

Kelly McCullough, Drawn Blades. Ace, 2014.

Fun adventure with assassins. Latest in series. Recommended.


Roger S. Bagnall, ed., Egypt in the Byzantine World 300-700. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2007.

Collection of academic essays that provide an effective and wide-ranging introduction to the world of Byzantine Egypt and a good summary of the work done and the kinds of evidence available. Some fascinating stuff in here. Recommended, though not as a fun relaxing read.

The Amazons – I am very excited

Very interested in THIS book

Very interested in THIS book

Review copy of Adrienne Mayor’s The Amazons: Lives & Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World, via I am to review this for, and I am positively gleeful about the opportunity to read it. Mayor is a researcher at Stanford who has a track record in publishing well-received popular history, and the cover copy for this book has strong praise from both Edith Hall (well-respected scholar of Classical receptions) and John Boardman (a name to conjure with for Classical historians), so I am very much intrigued to see what kind of book this is.