PodCasts: Recent Appearances

(Can one really “appear” on a podcast?)

Regardless, it’s been my great good fortune to take part in wonderful conversations on a number of great podcasts recently, so I thought I’d round them all up here:

The Skiffy & Fanty Show episode 297:  In which Usman T. Malik, Max Gladstone and I discuss the category, context and content of Wonder Tales at ICFA 2016, guided by Julia Rios and Shaun Duke. This was a fantastic, sprawling, in-depth discussion, precisely what I wish all panels could be at cons — and while Max and I kept things civil and didn’t cross swords again, the recording did immediately precede the documentation of some Nebula Battle Tableaux with Sam J. Miller and Alyssa Wong.

What can I say, I get feisty after good chat.

Radio Free Skaro episode 524: In which I join fabulous hosts Chris Burgess, Steven Schapansky and Warren Frey to rewatch and discuss Doctor Who episode “The Girl Who Lived.” I had a wonderful time!

Rocket Talk episode 77: In which Justin Landon and I devote an entire episode to talking exclusively about Hamilton and answer decisively the question of whether or not it’s genre. (It is.)

This is of course in addition to my regular gig with the Down and Safe crew, and the narration of stories and poems I do for UncannyMy most recent narrations there were of Seanan McGuire’s powerful story “Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands,” and Isabel Yap’s gorgeous poem “Alamat.” Also, Julia Rios, Layla Al-Bedawi and I are teaming up to launch a podcast called Walkthroughthe first episode of which will appear very soon!

Where Down and Safe is concerned… Well. The last episode we released discussed “Trial,” but the last episode we recorded discussed “Hostage.”

At which I am forever making this face.

Podcast Hostage


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Upcoming Appearances: Sawdust, 4th Street, CONvergence

Well, it’s June. I guess that happened.

I spent half of May in Glasgow, five days of it in New York City (of which, more later, because Hadestown, aahhhh) and the rest of it in my unfortunately usual daze of trying to finish all the things before the next bout of travel. Which is coming up very, very soon!

Here are some places you can see me at in the near future:

Sawdust Reading Series

What: A poetry set!
June 15 at 7:00 PM
Where: Pour Boy, 495 Somerset St. W, Ottawa.

4th Street Fantasy

What: A con I’ve never been to!
When: June 17 – June 20!
Where: Minneapolis, where I have also never been!


What: A Con I’ve never been to at which I’m Guest of Honour! (So many firsts!)
When: June 30 – July 3
Where: Minneapolis also!

I am on ALL THE PANELS! They all look amazing! More specifics later!

Woo blogging!


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New Magazine Day: UNCANNY and LIGHTSPEED

Daunting as it may be to begin a whole new month, it’s always exciting to me to see new issues of my favourite magazines drop, especially when I have something to do with them.

In the May issue of Lightspeed, I have a review column themed loosely around time (and the running out thereof). Here are some teasers from it while awaiting its release online May 17:

Four Roads Cross by Max Gladstone:

Time is of peculiar concern to Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence mosaic: it’s a meta-tool for curating the series’ tension from book to book.

Clockwork Canada, edited by Dominik Parisien:

This is not a collection of beaver jokes and maple syrup.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

This is a startling whirlwind of a book that engaged and entranced me, and then left me arguing back and forth with myself over what I thought it had done.

issue10_mayjune16_coverfinal_med-340x510And today sees Uncanny drop its 10th issue! BEHOLD THIS COVER by Galen Dara! Feast your gaze upon its magnificence! You can buy a print of it in Uncanny‘s new shop.

My contribution to the issue is a podcast reading of Seanan McGuire’s heart-breaking “Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands.” Given the title and the epigraph, I sing a tiny bit. Consider yourselves forewarned/armed, etc.


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Reviews: THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokshi + May Lightspeed Column

May! It’s May! Never have I wanted to shout Mayday quite as earnestly as this past Sunday. New months oughtn’t to begin on the weekend; a week should be allowed the grace of ending without a new month beginning. How lovely would it be, too, if there were a few days’ respite between one month’s end and the other’s beginning? Just a space, a pause, for catching one’s breath.

I write this from Glasgow, where I’ll be until the middle of the month; there’s been a great deal going on, more on which later, but meantime, I reviewed Roshani Chokshi’s debut novel The Star-Touched Queen for NPR Books.


In the kingdom of Bharata, horoscopes mean a great deal. The story the stars tell of your life is an immutable truth that will govern your interaction with the world. But Mayavati’s horoscope is terrifying: It declares her to be married to death and destruction, such that her father’s wives shun and blame her for every misfortune. With war looming at Bharata’s borders, Maya’s ill-starred horoscope casts an increasing shadow; though she’d rather live a quiet, retired life of the mind, a politically expedient marriage seems like the only thing that can save her kingdom.

In other reviewing news, I have a column in Lightspeed this month, in which I cover Max Gladstone’s Four Roads Cross, Dominik Parisien’s Clockwork Canada anthology, and Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti. It’ll be available online for free on May 17, but you can read it right now by purchasing the issue, or even better, subscribing!


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NPR Review: THE PHAROS GATE by Nick Bantock

Do you remember the Griffin and Sabine series? Those beautiful books from the early 90s that were full of envelopes, remarkable artwork, and a whimsical correspondence between two artists who’d never met?

Nick Bantock’s put out a new volume, The Pharos Gate: Griffin & Sabine’s Lost Correspondence, and I had the pleasure of reviewing it for NPR Books.


Here’s a bit of the review:

I came of letter-writing age with the internet. In 1996, the magical and miraculous was, to me, the possibility of finding other people who loved the things I loved no matter how far away: I’d perform the correct strokes, dial up a screeching djinn, and a glowing portal would open between me and the vastness of the world. It was a quiet place where sharing real names was a mark of deepest trust, where it was possible to pour one’s rawest, most vulnerable thoughts into an aether where probably no one was listening — but if someone was, they might draw closer and be your  friend.

This was perhaps less a review of the book than a review of my own experience of correspondence over the last 15 years — but I think the book, and the project of these books, benefit from that.

I was stunned to discover that there’d been an attempt at Kickstarting a game based on the books, but that it had failed to reach its goal. There seems to be an odd gulf between the people who loved this series years ago and the knowledge that stuff is happening with the material now, so I hope The Pharos Gate finds its audience — just as I hope every letter I trust to the postal system finds its way into the hands I intend.


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Lightspeed Column: Language, Roads, Intersection

My Lightspeed column for March is now available online! In it I review Sofia Samatar’s The Winged Histories, Carlos Hernandez’ The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria, and Rose Lemberg’s Marginalia to Stone Bird. Here’s the logic of the assemblage:

This month’s books contain multitudes: worlds built from whole cloth, a cascade of perspectives, multiple languages, and the work of travelling between them. There are, above all, questions: Who are we, how do we approach the world, what does the world make of us? The answers—if answers there are—are songs, and poems, and science.

I loved all of these, but was most blown away by The Winged Histories, which was just released from Small Beer Press on Monday. I was absolutely stunned by its achievement. Here’s an interview with Sofia Samatar in the LA Times (the things she says about TEXTURE, aahhh), her own blog post about it, and an NPR review (by Jason Heller) of the book. I just want everyone to read it, absorb it, be absorbed by it in turn.


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Poetry News: George Johnston Prize and VERSeFest

So much has happened these past few days! Here’s some welcome poetry-related news.

I wrote no poetry at all last year. Wait, that isn’t quite true; I wrote two poems for Brenda Vellino’s graduate course on The Modernist and Contemporary Long Poem, in response to Rachel Zolf’s Neighbour Procedure and Marvin Francis’ City Treaty respectively. They were exercises, though, not really accessible outside the context of either of those works, to the point where I feel they belong more to those works than to me. I wrote no poetry of my own, I suppose I could say, last year.

It was a very busy year. It was a year saturated with busy-ness, to the point where I had to put Goblin Fruit on hiatus, which has never happened before. There was no room for poetry, for the kind of quiet space in my thoughts that draws poetry out. Last year was a blur, (sir,) and I’m still not quite finished with what it asked of me.

But there was a call for poetry submissions for a departmental competition, and it was late at night, and I pulled up a file titled “Thunderstorm in Glasgow, July 25, 2013” remembered vividly the circumstances that provoked it, realized it didn’t yet have an ending, understood why it didn’t, confronted the reason, wrote the ending, felt profoundly miserable, and sent it off.

That was February 25; this past Saturday I received the announcement that it won the George Johnston Poetry Prize.

SU Connie Blink

So that happened. A bit stunning to have the first poem I’ve completed in over a year win a prize a few weeks after its completion (though it did take almost three years to complete!) but there it is. I read the poem for the first time on Monday, during Carleton University’s Literary and Performing Arts Extravaganza, and then again last night during my VERSeFest set.

VERSeFest! It opened last night! It was wonderful! I OPENED THE WHOLE THING OMG I was not expecting that! I performed “Song for an Ancient City,” “Peach-Creamed Honey,” “This Talk of Poems,” “Pieces,” and then ended on “Thunderstorm in Glasgow.” I think the latter will be posted online somewhere in the next few days; I’ll share when it is.

I was staggered to be among such poets as Gerður Kristný, Gerald Hill, Sonia Lamontagne, Jane MunroÉlise Turcotte and Yusef Komunyakaa. Of them all I was most blown away by Kristný and Komunyakaa, whose most recent books (Blóðhófnir and The Emperor of Water Clocks  respectively) I picked up, and look forward to savouring.

This was my first experience of VERSeFest, and it’s set a high bar; I was very well taken care of as a performer and blown away as an audience member. I’ll unfortunately be missing the rest of the events, on account of heading off to ICFA tomorrow morning, but if you’re in or near Ottawa and want to be moved, charmed, entertained, I highly recommend checking it out.


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Ah, this book.

9781481442541_custom-9b9696802f08382442f1b5c05a8716fc0aa6fd48-s400-c85This review was very hard to write. Reviews are usually relatively simple work for me; I read a book, and as I’m reading it I figure out the things it’s doing and what I want to say about those things, infused with various degrees of enthusiasm and/or thoughtfulness. I try to find an angle into talking about the book, a means of bridging the gap between the work the book is doing and my experience of it as a reader.

This book, though. As I read it I kept needing to slow clap (and/or violently weep). I kept seeing its project, whole and intricate and interlocking and beautiful and painfully well-wrought, and the elegant simplicity of its vastness kept stealing my speech. I hardly touch at all, for instance, on how I feel the book is organized into two halves, each heralded by an invocation of record-keeping and story-telling (“The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” and “An Advanced Reader’s Picture Book of Comparative Cognition” respectively) that lays out a map for the careful probing of concepts and character. But it’s there, and it’s important, and it’s for you to discover.

Anyway here is a bit from the review, as opposed to bits of what I didn’t put in the review.

I have never been so moved by a collection of short fiction. I was at times afraid to read more. Every single story struck chords in me profound enough to hurt, whether about the love and cruelty of families; the melancholy of thermodynamics; the vicious unfairness of history and the humbling grace with which people endure its weight. Stories so often take us out of ourselves; Liu’s stories went deep into my marrow, laying bare painful truths, meticulously slicing through the layers of pearl to find the grain of sand at its heart.

Make sure to read the Preface too. It’s — bah, I need to stop or we’ll be here all day. It’s a landmark collection from a ridiculously talented human. Let’s leave it there for now.


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NPR Reviews: MIDNIGHT TAXI TANGO by Daniel José Older and BORDERLINE by Mishell Baker

I have been remiss in posting about my NPR reviews as they go up! Here are excerpts from a couple of recent ones; my review of Ken Liu’s The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories goes up at the end of this week, but the book’s out in the world today, so let me lead with saying that I can’t recommend it enough and it’s incredible and you should definitely absolutely purchase it for the preface alone even if you’ve already read most of the stories within.


Borderline by Mishell Baker

9781481429788_custom-3895083fcd8ebf5d277c38983fba7561462321c4-s400-c851Millie has been in a psychiatric center outside Los Angeles for six months, ever since she leapt off her prestigious film school’s roof and ended a promising career. While there she’s approached by an organization called The Arcadia Project, which is supposedly in the business of enabling creative people living with mental illness to find employment in film and television.

It seems too good to be true — and is, as in truth The Arcadia Project manages the presence of fairies in our world, facilitating their relationships with humans and policing their comings and goings according to complicated protocols. When a highly regarded fairy nobleman goes missing, Millie quickly gets in over her head, trying to manage her physical and mental conditions while serving as an amateur detective andnot blowing her shot at working in Hollywood.

Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel José Older

9780425275993_custom-a285b9de30f9646285c2e9d892d76a25e37b1799-s400-c85Carlos Delacruz — ghost-slayer and half-dead hero of Half-Resurrection Blues — investigates a series of unusual deaths in Von King park that suggest supernatural involvement. Carlos is himself haunted by halves: half-songs, half-memories of his pre-death days, and the elusive trail of his former lover, Sasha. Meanwhile, Kia Summers — teenage shop-keeper, capoeira student, music-lover — mourns the seventh anniversary of her cousin Gio’s disappearance, and Reza Villalobos — dapper gun-wielding protection detail of one — refuses to accept the loss of her lover, Angie. As all three pursue the threads of their losses, their paths cross and tangle; they uncover pieces of each other’s mysteries and chip away at the sinister force responsible for their pain.

In other reviewing news, my column in the March issue of Lightspeed exults over Sofia Samatar’s The Winged Histories, Carlos Hernandez’ The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria, and Rose Lemberg’s Marginalia to Stone Bird. You can read the column right away if you purchase the issue; otherwise it’ll be released online on March 15.


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Artemis Rising and THE BESTIARY

Few items of post are as joyful to receive as contributor copies. To whit!

bestiary 1

Edited by Ann VanderMeer, illustrated by Ivica Stevanovic, and containing work by all these infamous creatures, it’s a gorgeous collection I’m looking forward to reading. You can order it from Centipede Press, and get little previews of some of the stories there too. My own story, “Weialalaleia,” is about invisible grief-eating leeches!

bestiary 2

Aren’t you glad that thing’s invisible before it plunges into your throat to eat your grief? I sure am!

I wrote this story five years ago, and read a bit of it at the World Fantasy Convention in 2012. I’m both glad to see it in print and messed up about the time of its appearance: I wrote this just as the war in Syria was beginning, still hoping it wouldn’t last, and didn’t have it in me to imagine how horrific things would further become. Increasingly I’ve found Syria impossible to talk or write about — so the appearance of a story in which I was trying, obliquely, through layers and layers of distance, to come at something almost like talking about it, is unsettling, like opening up a letter I posted to myself years ago.


In other news, I’m a guest host for PodCastle this week under the auspices of Artemis Rising 2, their second year of running “a special month-long event across all three Escape Artists podcasts featuring stories by some of the best female and nonbinary authors in genre fiction.” I introduce “Territory” by Julie Steinbacher (read by Maura McHugh and Kim Rogers), a heart-breaking, beautiful story about young women falling in love with each other and seeking transformation. It starts painfully and ends hopefully and I found it deeply moving.

Escape Artists do great work, have acquired a number of my stories in the past, and it’s always a pleasure to work with them. I hope you’ll check them out and consider subscribing or donating if you like what you hear; it all goes to support the authors and the running of the website.


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