I don’t think you’re ready

…for this jelly.

And not counting the pile by the sink, there are still two full buckets of apples to get through! Everything is apples! Beautiful fragrant delicious apples!

Meanwhile the day is rainy and cool.

Today is for tea and family and quiet work while the weather shushes everything outside. I love this kind of day: a cool grey blanket to gather around one’s shoulders and thoughts.

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The Hugo Awards!


I watched the livestreamed ceremony! I saw Lynne, Michael and Michi accept Hugos for Uncanny (AAAHHHH!!!!!!!!!) while looking extraordinarily fabulous! I saw Jessica Jones win a Hugo! I saw ASTRONAUTS accept a Campbell and a Hugo on behalf of Andy Weir and The Martian film respectively! I saw Naomi Kritzer be an absolute paragon of grace and generosity in accepting her extremely well-deserved win! I saw — and this was probably the highlight for me — Alyssa Wong deliver N. K. Jemisin’s acceptance speech for The Fifth Season, which has made me so happy I am just going to lie down and look up in perfect silence at the stars.

Congratulations to all the winners, and many thanks to everyone who made the ceremony (and the livestream!) possible — I’m still amazed I got to watch it smoothly on my rural internet connection.

I was also really delighted to see that both “Madeleine” and “Pockets” made it on to the long list in really superb company. My heartfelt thanks to everyone who loved my stories enough to nominate them — I’m so grateful for your reading.

Here’s to next year in Helsinki! And if you’re at Worldcon tonight, I hope you enjoy partying well into the wee hours of the morning.

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My Apple Tree, My Brightness

I woke at 6:30 and worked until evening, alternating between academic stuff and being absorbed into Nisi Shawl’s Everfair, except for a blissful interlude with my sister and nephew. As the evening dipped into pink and gold, my mother exhorted me to Take a break — sung in the appropriate key — and she, my father and I went out to pick windfall apples from a tree round the bend.

This tree has been so laden I can hardly speak of it: more fruit than bough, almost as much red as green.


My mother and I have been watching it ripen for weeks, stunned by how bursting it is, how red the apples, how early. It’s been a very hot, dry summer. Then, the last few days, we’ve had downpours and strong, high winds, scattering the apples around so thoroughly that I could smell them long before I could see them.

Today was the day to pick them.



There were so many on the ground, and an astonishing number of them were pristine — too many for hungry insects and animals to consume, we supposed.


The light coming through the leaves undid me.


As we gathered apples, Odin and Mika stood guard.


And such a bumper crop they guarded! Buckets and buckets — all windfall, all destined for jams and jellies (with recipes and suggestions very welcome!).


This is an accurate portrait of how I felt — how I still feel, a bit, even having come back into the house, watched the sky darken, heard the crickets come out. Having picked these apples with my family, in this light and warmth, at a time that feels too early for apples, having carried home bushels of them for making into gifts, for preserving pieces of summer to share one jar at a time.


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NPR Review: THE OBELISK GATE by N. K. Jemisin

9780316229265_custom-6860c06167337b5728fcae0990e09430cc1de865-s600-c85My review of N. K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate — the second novel in her Broken Earth series — is up at NPR Books! A taste:

Beyond the meticulous pacing, the thorough character work, and the staggering ambition and revelations of the narration, Jemisin is telling a story of our present, our failures, our actions in the face of repeated trauma, our responses to the heat and pressure of our times.

I wish this had occurred to me to say in the review, but it’s only in disagreeing with Niall Alexander’s on Tor.com that I could articulate it to myself this way: where The Fifth Season was shifting tectonic plates, a dynamic novel of moving parts and undercurrents, The Obelisk Gate plunges deep and reaches up. In this it reminds me of the action that broke the continent in The Fifth Season, that simultaneous grasping of above and below in order to rip a landmass apart; there’s enormous tension involved in holding that pose, and while that tension’s pay-off will be in the third book, I still felt thoroughly wrung out by the experience of reading it. To fault The Obelisk Gate for not being The Fifth Season makes no sense to me.

It’s possible that this reading was influenced by the fact that I read the books back to back; I can imagine that having had to wait a year for the book might engender a different reaction, a different desire for different pay-offs. But I can’t stop marvelling at it, and where I see it going after this.


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UNCANNY Year 3 Kickstarter Complete!

It’s done! You did it! Another year of Uncanny magazine with all stretch goals met! A total of 999 backers pledged $34410 to make this happen, and I’m thrilled. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed, whether by pledging or signal-boosting the campaign. You’re wonderful, and have done a great thing.

Last night I joined Lynne and Michael Thomas, Michi Trota, Tanya DePass and Isabel Yap for a livestreamed countdown of the campaign’s last hour. It was superbly fun: we did a Q&A, I got to show off my frightening amounts of tea, perform part of “Right-Hand Man,” and gush about The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson, which I was in the middle of but have now finished and filed (yay social media fast!). That’ll probably go up on NPR Books in the next few days.

In other book news, N. K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate is out in the world, and my review of that goes live on NPR tomorrow. I’m very keen to get it out there because thus far the only review I’ve read of the book is this one by Niall Alexander, with which I couldn’t disagree more, and which I think is a bit hilarious because it starts in almost precisely the way mine does but goes to an opposite place. Yes, it’s a less dynamic book than The Fifth Season, but by design! Guh! How even to begin to dispute! Look.

lying in wait

Sing it Leslie.

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Final 8 Hours of Uncanny Year 3 Kickstarter

Hello friends!

Last night, in the final hour before I turned into a social media pumpkin for the next three weeks, I saw the delightful news that Uncanny‘s Year 3 Kickstarter had reached its penultimate stretch goal: MAX AND AMAL GO TO THE MOVIES. Max Gladstone and I will be jointly writing a film review column, and we’re both pretty excited about it. Huge thanks to everyone who made this possible! We’ll work hard to be worthy of your enthusiasm.

Within moments of reaching that goal, I stretched an electronic hand from my rurality towards Max’, with the following result, as a perhaps-taste of what to expect in terms of serious scholarly inquiry into celluloid subjects:



(Then my mentions proved this XKCD comic in spades. It should be made into an Internet Rule, I think. Munroe’s Law.)

There’s one last stretch goal to reach, and it’s less than $500 away: at $33000, there’ll be an original cover by Kirbi Fagan. Anything above that will be gravy to bank towards next year.

So if you’ve been waiting for the right moment to strike with your support, that moment is now! I’m so happy to be part of Uncanny — everyone on staff has worked tirelessly to showcase amazing work the last two years, and I have every expectation we’ll keep the magazine going from strength to strength.



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Social Media Hiatus, August 16-September 6

So I just made an announcement! A big life-changing announcement! Attached to which was a brief summary of just how much work I need to do over the next two weeks.

In order to accomplish said work — moving, finishing essays, etc — I need to quit social media for the duration. Differently-wired people than I could probably get by without such drastic measures, but having come to terms with my brain’s idiosyncrasies where anxiety spirals and procrastination are concerned, I think this is the best thing for it. I’ve got to take a break — because there’s so much on my plate. The Hamilton-irony isn’t lost on me.


“Jack Frost” by Oliver Hunter

Starting tomorrow, I’ll have deleted Twitter and Facebook from my phone and blocked them on my laptop until the day after Labour Day. I’ll still be writing blog posts, which will still crosspost to Twitter, but I won’t be there to see replies or DMs. I won’t see Messages or friend requests on Facebook. Email, texts, and phone calls will be the way to reach me; I’ll still be approving comments here, because let’s be honest, hardly anyone comments on blog posts nowadays. (But what a treasure it would be to see discussions of books happening in comments here! Like the sainted days of Livejournal come again!)

I’m a little freaked out by quitting so cold turkey — Twitter especially is deeply important to me as a way to reach out and touch friends, share photos of beautiful things or silly observations, start interesting conversations, get advice. Being as on-the-move as I have been — always in between places, at bus stops, on long walks, in airports — it’s been crucial to me. But I need this — need to cool down an overheated brain, need to find quiet and focus in my work, need to find different ways of letting my friends know I love and care about them.

I hope you’ll still be here when I come back!

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Landing Myself a Husband

A week from today, Stu and I will be celebrating our first anniversary as a married couple. We’ll be doing so apart: he’s still in Scotland, I’m still in Canada, as has been the case since January 2015.

For much of the last year, people have well-meaningly asked me how I find married life. “Lonely,” I’d say, and try to make a joke of it. But it’s been very hard on us both: finding the time, money and energy to travel transatlantically on the regular, trying to sync up our days in order to talk across a 5-hour time difference when we both work, trying to be cheerful through partings that only got harder and harder to do. It’s been rough.

Now, though — finally — we have an announcement on that front.

Stu Landing 2

My husband is now a Landed Immigrant, and he’s coming to live with me and be my love on October 3. He’s crossing the ocean and I just can’t wait.

I’m now in the process of moving from rural QC into the Ottawa apartment we’ll share with our two cats. I need to be moved in by September 1 — which gives me two weeks to buy furniture, move it, set up utilities, do all the administrative minutiae of changing provinces all while writing reviews and finishing essays and trying to get everything lined up so that I can start this Fall semester on the right foot. And of course during this time Stu is packing up our stuff on the other side of the ocean, preparing everything for moving the cats — it’s all a bit much.

But I think it can all be done. Know why?

That’s why.


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Serial Box Blog: More about “Fire & Ice”

Yesterday I mentioned that my guest-episode for Serial Box’ Bookburners went up; today I say a bit about what prompted it over at Serial Box’ blog. A taste:

During my time abroad I’ve watched with mounting shame and horror as the country I called home turned ugly. I’ve watched the millions of Syrians struggling to survive invasion by escaping into other countries get called “cockroaches” and “floods,” things to be either exterminated or defended against. Borders are much on my mind – as well as the question of who’s allowed through them, when, how, and what they get called once they’re on the other side.

Only about as spoilery as the episode’s cover, so no worries on that score; I hope you’ll give it, and the episode, a look.

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Bookburners: FIRE & ICE

Guys I did a thing!


Backstory: there is this thing called Serial Box, which is kind of like HBO for ebooks: it runs serial fiction in novelette-length “episodes” to which you can subscribe, and have them turn up on your reading devices every Wednesday. Each serial has a showrunner and a writing room team, and together they build the serial from the ground up, just like people do for TV, except with a built-in infinite budget for special effects (that lives in your braaiiiiin!). They were recently mentioned on NPR, even!

Max Gladstone — along with with Margaret Dunlop, Mur Lafferty, and Brian Francis Slattery — writes Bookburnersa supernatural thriller where books have teeth and gnaw relentlessly at the crack team from the Vatican whose job it is to hunt and contain them. (It’s a bit like Torchwood if Torchwood were actually, you know, good.) You can read the pilot episode for free here.

Late last year Max invited me to guest-write an episode, and I said yes.

Another awesome thing about Serial Box? Each episode of each serial is also available as an audiobook, narrated by Xe Sands. My husband and I listened to the whole of Season One while driving from Glasgow to London and back, and I was hooked. A genuinely diverse team of flawed, fantastic people trying to do their best by an increasingly incomprehensible world? This is my life. Sign me up.

My episode takes place in Ottawa, which is my hometown, and includes shout-outs to The Haunted Walk of Ottawa, where I worked for several years and first learned much of the history on which I drew to write “Fire and Ice.” I don’t want to give anything away, except that it starts with ghosts in the Library of Parliament and is set in the dead of winter on an Important Anniversary (that happened this year!) and ends somewhere in the midst of my constantly-being-processed feelings about [stuff].

You can buy the episode — which I think works pretty well as a stand-alone, honestly, as it’s a bit of a pausing point in the season’s overall arc — for $1.99, or you can buy a whole season at once (which saves you $6.40 on Season 1, and $5.88 on Season 2). It is SUPER worth it to subscribe. And if you hate reading things on screens, never fear, Season 1 will soon be a real physical object courtesy of Saga Books! As will the first seasons of Tremontaine — a prequel to Ellen Kushner’s incredible Swordspoint, run by Ellen herself — and The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, a spy thriller co-created by Lindsay Smith and Max Gladstone.

I wrote 13000 words’ worth of story set in Ottawa and I am really kind of proud of it. I hope you enjoy it!

(Also I was VERY restrained in my treatment of Toronto, so. There’s that.)


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