BSFA/SFF Minicon

Now have my schedule for tomorrow.  GOH interview at 11.  Panel on Humanism in SF at 3.30 with Roz Kaveney and and Paul Kincaid.

Sense of preening delight due to be swamped by conviction of utter inadequacy in 3…2….1….

The minicon can be found at City of Westminster Archives Centre, 10 St Ann’s St, London SW1P 2DE and the full schedule is here.

Jungle Drums

My Dearly Beloved likes ferns. We have royal ferns, maidenhair ferns, bird’s nest ferns. Oh, and tree ferns. Lots of tree ferns.

One of these is a particularly splendid specimen that has to live in the conservatory because it’s too delicate to go outside. This is a cyathea cooperi. It has lovely long green fronds which unfurl from tight hairy fists, very slowly, like vegetable ballet.

It has recently produced a new frond, which is in the process of unfolding. Before it started unfolding, however, it grew up. And up. And up, until it was taller than Dearly Beloved.

We looked up cyathea cooperi.

Oh dear.

This delicate beastie is in fact a very large fern. The individual mature fronds can be 20 feet long.

20 feet. That’s one leaf.  If I stand under it in a gauzy dress I’ll look like something out of an old children’s book illustration.

So once they’ve all unfolded, that’s a circle of about 40 foot width. The conservatory isn’t that big. And it certainly isn’t 49 feet tall, which is, apparently, what cyathea cooperi can grow to.

There’s a reason why they’re called tree ferns.

And there’s another frond unfolding.

If you don’t hear from me again, I’m living on the street because my house has been taken over by a very large plant.


I’m honoured…

I’m Guest of Honour at the BSFA/SFF mini-convention – Saturday 1st June, City of Westminster Archives Centre 10 St Ann’s St London SW1P 2DE. My slot’s at 2.30 (being interviewed by the ever splendid Helen Callaghan) and I’m also doing a panel, details to follow.

That’s this coming Saturday for those of you, like me, who didn’t realise June was quite so close at hand, (ulp). The con runs from 10am to 5pm, and includes the BSF and SFF AGMS.

I’ve never been a Guest of honour before.  I shall have to smarten up my act and try and be…um…coherent, and witty, and stuff.  Or at the very least present and conscious.

I usually manage these fairly basic requirements pretty well, but considering that I managed to schedule major dental surgery three days before my first ever panel, and turned up looking as though I’d just run face first into a wasp’s nest and emerged with a Fu Manchu bruise ‘tache, not to mention being flown to the wide on painkillers, I am aware that I don’t always.

Fingers crossed that life decides to be better organised this time.

You Ain’t Jack Sparrow

I’ve just found my books on a pirating site. Again. Second time in a month, this is, that someone’s decided it’s OK to pass on my work for free. And this particular site seems to think that they’re doing something rather wonderful; with patronising little cartoons about how piracy isn’t ‘theft’ because with ‘theft’ you take away the original of something, whereas with piracy you only take a copy, the original’s still there, so you see, it’s all fine and dandy and anyone who believes otherwise is a big old silly.

Well, no, actually, it isn’t fine. The ‘copy’ argument is utterly meaningless. What you’re taking away is my living, mate. That’s actual money for things like buying groceries and paying bills that I now don’t get. Any copy of one of my books that’s stolen, not sold, is money taken from me exactly as though you’d taken physical coins out of my pocket.

Just because I didn’t sit down and write out every single word of every copy of my books by hand on vellum like a medieval monk, that doesn’t mean they’re not my work. Hours, days, months of work, that I spent trying to make it as good as it could be.

You’re also stealing the work my publisher did on it, like the many hours that went into editing. Work they did to make it a better story. They’re not a huge company. They’re not Monsanto. They’re just people – people like me who have mortgages, babies, bills. When you pirate you’re making it that much harder for a good publisher to keep going, to keep producing the stuff you like so much you’re prepared to stuff it under your jacket and walk out of the shop whistling.

Except you don’t even take that risk, do you?  You sit safely behind your screen, merrily stealing away, knowing you’re extremely unlikely to get caught and making lots of self-justifying statements that only go to show you do actually know exactly what you’re doing.

You might like to define yourselves as some kind of revolutionaries. But me, I think you’re  grubby little crooks, no better than someone who nicks a granny’s pension out of her handbag. You don’t make theft into untheft just by calling it something else. You can call the sky the ground, and spend the day walking around on your hands calling anyone who disagrees with you an old-fashioned misery-guts, but it doesn’t mean the sky is actually now the ground – it just means you’re walking around with mud on your hands and your arse in the air.

If you like it enough to read it, bloody pay for it. It’s only a few quid. If you’re so broke you can’t afford that, borrow it from the library – that way I still get something. Not much – pennies  – but it’s better than nothing, and it proves you had enough respect for another human being not to steal from them.  Borrow it from a friend! I have no problem with borrowing, I borrow and lend books all the time –  it does mean that somewhere down the line the author and publisher actually got paid, if only once.

And you know what matters even more? It’s not just the money. It’s the fact that if you steal my work you’re showing you don’t care about me at all; you’re happy to exploit me. Just because you’re doing it at a distance, it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. And it hurts, emotionally as well as financially. I’ve been an obsessive reader since I learned how. I write for readers. I write to make a connection with them, to give them something fun, involving, a few hours out of the world. If a reader then acts as though it’s OK to rip me off, it’s like being turned on by someone you thought of as a friend.

If you like to think you’re not the sort of person who would come into my house and walk out with my mother’s necklace, then don’t be the sort of person who walks off with my book. And don’t be the sort of person who encourages other people to do it. That’s no more moral or revolutionary than a kid egging other kids on to nick a bag of crisps from the corner shop and run away laughing.

Grow the hell up. Stop stealing and pretending you aren’t. And stop pretending you aren’t hurting me by doing it. You are.

Eastercon Schedule

Eastercon Schedule is here:

I’m a busy bee this year.  Friday, 7pm, fantasy genre get-together at the Conservatory Bar, signing books and stuff.  Then running really fast to….

Friday, 8pm, Head to Head panel on C.S. Lewis and E. Nesbit in Rowan, Cedar Court.   Where I will try and sound intelligent in some very intelligent company.

Sunday, 1pm, Advice for Writers panel on Setting, Boardroom, Cedar Court.  Talking about worldbuilding and trying to come up with a more detailed response than, “Whee!  It’s fun!”

Sunday, 5pm, Revolutionary Fantasy panel, Main, Cedar Court.  Where apparently we are going to be storming some barricades.  I wish I’d had more warning, I don’t know what  I did with my pitchfork…

After which I can be found in the bar, probably.