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Ancillary Justice Hardcover Art!

So! The other day I mentioned that I’d seen the art for Subterranean’s limited edition hardcover of Ancillary Justice. And that it was fabulous but I couldn’t share it.

Today I saw it on Twitter! So I will now share it with you. Bask in the awesomeness that is Lauren Saint-Onge’s cover art for the hardcover of AJ:

ancillary-justice-by-ann-leckie

I know the “lettered” edition is sold out. I don’t see the link to pre-order the regular “limited” edition, so I’m not sure what’s up with that just now.

In any event. Isn’t that a lovely picture? I bought a print of the entire John Harris painting that’s the three Ancillary covers. (The original painting was beyond my means, but I am told it went to a loving home.) I am sorely tempted to see if I can get this one as a print, too. I just am so very happy with this!

Ancillary Sword Pre Order Update

You remember last week, I told you that if you pre-ordered Ancillary Sword and filled in this form with a copy and paste or an image file of your receipt, you could get a signed bookplate? Well. Starting today, if you do those things, you can also access the first three chapters of the book.

That’s right. Pre-order Ancillary Sword, fill in that form and you’ll be able to read not just the first chapter, which is already up on Orbit’s website, but the next two chapters.

I’m given to understand that if you’ve already filled in that form, you’ll be getting (perhaps already have gotten) an email giving you access to those chapters. Enjoy!

Editing to add: Currently the form is still geographically restricted. I’ve asked Orbit if it’s possible to let anyone who pre-orders, anywhere, to access the chapters. I’m told they’ll try to put up a form, and they’ll tell me when it’s up, and I’ll blog about it as soon as I get the word. So watch this space!

Wiscon

So, I’m not going to Wiscon next year.

There are lots of things I could say, but mostly they’ve already been said. I’m glad the concom appears to be rethinking their decision, but the fact that it had to be rethought at all is, well, I’ll settle for disheartening, though a stronger word would probably do better.

I wrote a much longer post, but really, everything in it has been said by others. But to me, it all boils down to Wiscon very clearly not having a functional harassment policy. There appear to be quite a few reasons this is the case, and none of them say anything good about how Wiscon is being run.

And the fact is, I love Wiscon. I go nearly every year. Hell, my whole family loves going. I was hoping, up until I saw the committee’s announcement last week, that they’d handle this. And then, desperately, that they’d handle the reaction–clarify somehow, or (way better, because even with the ambiguity about one or four years removed, it was still a bad call, and why do we care when or whether a serial harasser can apologize or not, exactly?) issue a new decision, because better late than never, right? But the comments and blog posts that I’ve seen over the last few days have removed all doubt on that score. The dysfunction on display has been such that even if the committee issued a new ruling tomorrow, I would have no faith they’d understood what had happened and why, and no faith that any future cases would be handled any better.

(And frankly, the stuff coming out just now about how Frenkel apparently lied about the nature of any NDA he might have had with Tor? Only makes things worse. First of all, like I said above, we care about him making an apology why exactly? This keeps Wiscon attendees safe how? And second of all, the guy’s a known serial harasser, and you take his word for this? And you’re shocked when it turns out he lied? Hello?)

Anyway. The end result of all this is, I’m not going to Wiscon next year. And won’t until I see a functioning harassment policy and very possibly a new set of names on the concom.

Wiscon

I have just sent an email to chair@wiscon.info regarding Wiscon’s failure to address multiple incidences of harassment. I won’t say anything more about that, unless it becomes clear that only public outcry will have an effect. This is not to say that I at all disapprove of anyone else engaging in said public outcry right now–quite the contrary. If everyone involved had refused to say anything publicly up till now, no one would know there was a problem. And that’s exactly how harassment keeps on happening.

So, except for that part of things, I had a great time at Wiscon, hanging with friends old and new. I was on some panels, all of which were a lot of fun, including the “SFWA, is it Relevant?” panel, which for some reason the Deities of Panel Assignments had decided I ought to moderate. But all the panelists, and the panel audiences, were awesome and smart and fun. I am well aware that I lucked out.

I don’t generally attend as many panels as I used to, certainly not as many as I intend to when I first look at the schedule. One of the few that I did was about gods as characters, and there was one small moment of “hrmph?” that, later, I wished I’d thought of raising my hand and saying a particular thing in response to.

So, one of the panelists had grown up Muslim and was now, ISTR, Episcopalian. They remarked that Ishmael had been a major and central figure to them, growing up, and that it sometimes startled them how little emphasis he got in Christian traditions, sometimes it seemed (I am paraphrasing here) as though he barely existed for Christians.

Another panelist replied that, no, actually, Christians knew about Ishmael!

And I sat there, and I went, “hrmf.” And it was only this afternoon in the shower (as often happens) that something sort-of-parallel occurred to me.

A friend of mine, who is Roman Catholic, married a lovely man who had grown up Southern Baptist, and who had decided to convert to Roman Catholicism. So they attended the sort of classes that you do, when you’re converting. In one of these, the instructor was trying to explain to the students just how incredibly central the Eucharist is to Roman Catholics.

One student said, “Oh, but it’s central to the church I grew up in, too! We have Communion at least once a month!”

Reader, did you just laugh? I’ll lay money you have been, at some time in your life, Roman Catholic. In case you didn’t laugh, to a Catholic, that statement sounds a lot like, “Bathing is very important to me! I take a bath every month, whether I need it or not!”

The thing is, I’m quite certain that student was utterly and completely sincere–no doubt the Eucharist was very important to them, and no doubt they felt quite sincerely that their devotion was equal to anyone else’s–but, not (yet) having been Catholic, they had no freaking idea just how central and important it is to Catholicism. Catholics don’t have Communion monthly, or quarterly. Weekly is a bare minimum and I’ve known quite a few people who attend Mass daily. Even if you don’t go to Mass every Sunday, it can be kind of weird to visit some other Christian denominations and find so many things missing, things that point to that very centrality of the Eucharist. It’s not that denominations that have Communion monthly or quarterly don’t care about or understand or value it–but until you’ve been a Catholic, or spent a lot of time with Catholics and/or Catholicism, or attended Mass on a regular, long-time basis, it can be hard to appreciate the differences in scale and intensity, between the way Catholics do and quite a few other denominations do.

I wished I’d remembered this story, to tell it. I’m sure the panelist meant well, but I’m equally sure they don’t actually have any idea what the first panelist meant, or how big that difference the first panelist was describing probably is.

Con or Bust Auction

Still head-down, mostly hiding from the internet. However!

Con or Bust is an organization that helps fans of color attend SFF conventions. You can read about Con or Bust and its history and goals here.

They hold an auction every year. There are lots of cool things you can bid on: a signed ARC of Genevieve Valentine’s upcoming novel; three months of the Wyrding Studios Earring Club; signed copies of three of Martha Wells’ books of the Raksura; a custom handspun, hand woven scarf… and that’s just scrolling down the first few pages. Go scroll through and see all the fabulous things on offer!

It just so happens, though, that one of those things is a signed copy of Ancillary Justice. Or, two actually. The two top bidders will each receive a copy, if I understand correctly.

Go on over and check it out! It’s a good cause, and I’m really pleased to be able to contribute something this year.

Misc Notes

Various things I’ve considered tweeting, or that are too small for their own blog posts:

1)There was a time when I felt strongly the responsibility to finish any book I started. In some cases, I’ve been the better for doing that, but in others the impulse to lay a book aside might have been better obeyed.

Personally, I think that if you’re really, really finding a book a slog, and you really want to stop reading it, actually putting it down for good is definitely an option. Yes, even if it’s my book. Thank you for trying it, sorry it wasn’t your kind of thing, no hard feelings on my part. It happens. You are under no obligation, moral or otherwise, to spend your time finishing a book you’re not enjoying.

2)I am still amazed in the best possible way by the reception Ancillary Justice has had so far.

3)This recipe for sesame noodles is delicious, though next time I make them I will cut down on the (non-sesame) oil. (Like a good allrecipes user, I actually altered it from the get-go–I used mirin instead of rice vinegar, I halved the sriracha, and I only used half the sugar. I might use even less sugar next time. And possibly a touch more sriracha.) It looks like a useful basic recipe to have with other stuff–tofu, leftover chicken, whatever vegetables you have on hand, that sort of thing.

4) While I was writing Ancillary Justice there were quite a few times that I read something that made me want to cry, because it was so good and there was no way in a million years my own work would ever come close to what I had just read. It was hopeless for me to even attempt it.

I kept writing anyway. Because, damn it. Just because.

My honest advice to any writer who has such a moment when reading some book that impresses them–and I suspect quite a lot of us have had such a moment, or will have at least one or two of them–is to feel those feelings, and then make yourself a nice relaxing cup of hot chocolate or tea (I recommend a lavender tea, but you have whatever is warm and comforting and relaxing). And/or do whatever self-comforting things you do. Bath, or music, or a silly movie, or whatever. Then, go to bed and get yourself a good night’s rest.

The next day, get up, sit down at the keyboard, and keep writing.

So, I had a lovely time talking to the folks at Sword and Laser yesterday. It was fun! They’ve got a nice community thing going on at Goodreads. It’s pretty cool, and worth checking out if you like that “pick a book and talk about it for a month” book club kind of thing.

So, during the conversation (which of course as soon as I was done, I was like, “Oh, I oversimplified that way too much and I should have clarified this other thing, and….” but hey, that’s how talking is) the subject of Velveeta came up–it’s not even food! I asserted, though, of course, it is. But it’s not particularly nutritious food, it’s full of salt and saturated fat, and maybe you’ll get some calcium out of it, but it’s really all about that pasteurized processed cheese product taste and texture. You’re not eating it because you think it’s good for you, you’re eating it because it tastes good–and it probably tastes good because you got served velveeta mac and cheese as a kid, or any of those “melt a block of velveeta with a can of tomatoes and maybe some other stuff” dips were a standard part of Thanksgiving or whatever, and really there’s no separating that taste from that “my family loves me and I’m safe and warm and things are as they should be” feeling you had when you ate it back then.

Or maybe, you know, you just like the way it tastes. Because it tastes good. Granted, it’s not gourmet. Not sophisticated. It’s not real cheese. Everyone knows that real cheese is better than process, and everyone knows that someone who prefers wrapped slices of Kraft American or, heaven help us, Velveeta, to the obviously infinitely superior genuine cheeses available is obviously a philistine. Or, charitably, perhaps they just never learned better, isn’t it a pity?

Of course, that real cheese is often three times the price of your average Processed Cheese Product. Or more. I can buy a big block of velveeta, that will make quite a few servings of macaroni and cheese, or a couple of big bowls of dip, for a price that would get me a small triangle of, say, white stilton with apricots (ooh, I gotta go to Trader Joes today). So, there’s just a bit of class stuff going on here. Which I find interesting.

The thing is, there’s room in life for both. Why does it have to be either/or? I mean, I get if someone says, “Yeah, I don’t like the taste of velveeta.” Or whatever. Why does it, so often, turn into, “that crap’s not real cheese, when I make macaroni and cheese I use gruyere and organic locally sourced cheddar, that’s how you make real macaroni and cheese”? I’ve got nothing against gruyere and locally sourced cheddar mac and cheese, by the way. I will be more than happy to dig in if you invite me over to try some. I bet it’s freaking fabulous. In fact, I’ve got less than nothing against insanely expensive and/or locally sourced cheese. I love that stuff. (And after I hit Trader Joes, I need to find a shop where I can get me some Baetje Farms goat cheese, cause all the farmers markets are closed for the season. OMG so delicious.) But you know what? I like the kind of mac and cheese with velveeta, too. They’re different experiences, and they both have their different appeals. Sometimes I just want to savor some Coeur de la Crème and sometimes I want to scarf down some fluorescent orange paste sprayed onto a Ritz cracker. They’re both very different approaches to the cheese thing, and I can enjoy the everliving hell out of both.

Now, this isn’t to say that dishes made with processed cheese product aren’t open to any sort of criticism. In fact, there are better and worse instances of velveeta-based dishes, and one could certainly learn something interesting from what makes one casserole work while another one doesn’t. Of course, if your criticism is confined to the announcement that supper is invalid because it contains velveeta and that shit is disugusting …well, that’s a criticism, certainly. And it might well be based in a firm personal dislike for velveeta and all its works and empty promises. But it doesn’t really say much, does it, beyond “I freaking hate velveeta.” Not terribly interesting, not something you can sink your teeth into, no matter how you dress it up.

And of course, there’s a reverse snobbery. “Fuck that pretentious stinky expensive chees crap, give me my velveeta!” It’s the same thing in the other direction. And like I said above, there’s a strong class element to it. Which, actually, food is complicated–it’s strongly class marked, what kinds of things you eat can be a signifier of what group you belong to, or claim membership in. But the reality, of what people eat, isn’t necessarily as neatly compartmentalized as the common narratives might make it seem. One region’s incredibly cheap, everyday affordable food is another area’s pretentious luxury. The organic, local farmers market produce that signals pretension to so many folks might, for quite a few people, be the most affordable option available to them (particularly for people with various allergies and sensitivities, and of course that’s a whole other subject). And yet, it’s kind of amazing what we assume about people based on what they eat.

And what we assume about what we don’t eat. Are people who claim they love high status foods that we’ve tried and don’t like–are those people just faking it so they look high class? I’ve heard versions of this assertion, not just about food, btw, but honestly I have trouble believing it. The thing about food is, it’s so enjoyable. I mean, it tastes good, it’s a pleasure to eat. Stuff that isn’t a pleasure to eat–well, I don’t eat much of it, unless there’s no other option. So I have a hard time believing that people who chow down on oysters or um, I’m actually having trouble coming up with a food I don’t like at all, maybe olives, but anyway, people who express enjoyment of eating something, and continue to eat it, I have real trouble believing that they’re actually gritting their teeth and faking a smile on a regular basis in the hope they’ll be considered acceptably high class.

Are people who chow down on rotelle and velveeta dip, or fluffernutter sandwiches on white bread, or whatever, are they just ignorant boors who are incapable of knowing what really good food is? I suspect not, given that most people I know will, depending on the occasion, or availability, eat and enjoy all sorts of things. It’s just, the question of what’s available and how much money you have to spend does matter–and if certain foods are nearly always relatively cheap, that ends up with their being associated strongly with not having much money.

But darn it, velveeta tastes good. And so does marshmallow and peanut butter. And so you get “guilty pleasures.” But why should anybody feel guilty for liking food that tastes good to them? And why should any sort of food be relegated to the “not actually decent food” category as though it’s horrible and nobody with decent taste eats it if they have a choice, when actually quite a few people really enjoy eating it? Hell, I did it myself, halfway at least, with my “it’s not even food” crack in that interview, and I don’t even really think that. Why is that narrative so strong? Wouldn’t it be better to use a narrative that encouraged us to find really good ways to use those foods, maybe even new ways, rather than a narrative that just consigns them to the “horrible” category and then leaves everyone who enjoys them to do so furtively, or be very obviously ironic about it in the hopes no one thinks they seriously like it? Or insulting whole groups of people based on what they freaking had for supper?

I could turn this into an analogy. I’m half tempted to! Y’all know how I am. And food analogies are, like, a thing with me. But I think instead I’m going to the store. Because suddenly I’m very hungry for rotelle dip and I love that stuff.

Signing at Subterranean Books

Last night’s signing at Subterranean Books was loads of fun. There was even cake!

Cake!
Cake!

Just because. Cake doesn’t really need any reason besides its own existence.

It was a great evening. I really enjoyed hanging out with the people who came, and the folks at Subterranean were fabulous.

Subterranean Books is a great store. They’ve got a really nice selection of books, and while they don’t specialize in science fiction, it’s pretty clear from looking at their SF shelves that someone there is a fan. It’s not a huge selection, but it’s a really good one. If you’re looking for something you’ve been hearing about, that sounded interesting, chances are you’ll find it there.

And of course, they’ve got some signed copies of Ancillary Justice. So if you’re in St Louis, and you want a signed copy, Subterranean is the place to get them.

In other news, there have been more reviews, and of course it’s very gratifying to see review titles like “The mind blowing space opera you’ve been needing” but even so, I have to give the first prize trophy for titles to “I Am Beside Myself and Myself and Myself.”

Giveaway Winners!

The blog Giveaway, of four copies of Ancillary Justice, closed last night. This morning, the household’s newly-permitted driver obligingly chose four slips of paper at random out of a bowl. And so, the winners are:

Glen Mehn, who likes black
Beth Nutley, who likes blue
Ferrett Steinmetz, who likes black (a lot of people like black!)
George Hollis, who likes purple

I’ll be emailing the winners for snail mail addresses once I’ve had a bit more tea.

There are still giveaways going at Goodreads and Librarything, and I’ve just heard that the Skiffy and Fanty show plans to give a copy away when they interview me. And I might do another giveaway at some point, just because.

Also, I’m given to understand that at least one Waterstones in the UK already has the book up for sale.