With plans for are promised chat with Elizabeth Hand and Alix E. Harrow on temporary hold, Jonathan and Gary share some pleasant memories of the World Fantasy Convention, muse about whether the nature of conventions has changed in the wake of the pandemic, and speculate about next year’s events in Glasgow, Niagara Falls, and elsewhere.
They then touch upon some books they’re looking forward to in 2024, including novels by Kelly Link, Nisi Shawl, Peter S. Beagle, and Paolo Bacigalupi, and some titles they’d recommend from 2023, including novels by Ian McDonald, Nina Allan, Geoff Ryman, Christopher Priest, Francis Spufford, Wole Talabi, and Nicola Griffith, as well as a few story collections, anthologies, and nonfiction books. By the end, it almost all comes into some sort of focus.
The 2023 World Fantasy Convention was held in Kansas City, Missouri over the weekend of October 26-29 2023. The convention was incredibly kind and generous and featured Jonathan as a guest of honour and Gary as a panelist.
During the weekend we grabbed long-time friends of the podcast Kij Johnson and Jeffrey Ford and attempted to discuss ‘the art of narrative’ or perhaps how you go about finding and telling a story.
The conversation was interesting and we hope you enjoy it. Our thanks to everyone at the Kansas City convention, but special thanks to co-chair Rosemary Williams and her spouse, both of whom went far above and beyond to make sure you got to hear this recording.
See you again soon!
Responding in part to some issues raised by Niall Harrison in The Los Angeles Review of Books, Jonathan and Gary discuss the value and purpose of year’s best anthologies, whether it’s even possible to still represent such a diversified international field, and how stories we read in anthologies frame our own reading experiences and help us discover exciting new writers. Needless to say, a lot of digressions leads us into some other topics as well.
For this episode, Jonathan and Gary are joined by the distinguished novelist, editor, and scholar Jack Dann, whose new The Fiction Writer’s Guide to Alternate History: A Handbook on Craft, Art, and History has just been published by Bloomsbury Academic.
Jack discusses definitions of alternate history (as opposed to secret history or parallel universes), his own work in developing his da Vinci novel The Memory Cathedral and his more recent Shadows in the Stone, the responsibilities of the alternate history writer, some key writers and texts, and some recent trends in alternate history fiction.
In a return to classic rambling form, Jonathan and Gary begin thinking about the waning months of the year, and the inevitable recommended reading discussions.
Jonathan starts off by asking why we always seem to say it was a surprisingly good year for collections, when just about every year is a good year for collections. We also touch upon anthologies, such as Jared Shunn’s massive The Big Book of Cyberpunk, and what implicit arguments are being made by such broadly inclusive anthologies.
We also touch upon Jonathan’s brand-new The Book of Witches, the question of whether SFF is starting to mature enough that broadly diverse voices are viewed as simply part of the mainstream of the field, and some of the books we’ve been reading or anticipating, including Elizabeth Hand’s A Haunting on the Hill and Aliz E. Harrow’s Starling House (both will be guests on a future podcast), Tobias S. Buckell’s A Stranger in the Citadel, Nicola Griffith’s Menewood (and how historical fiction relates to SFF),The Best of Michael Swanwick, and Christopher Barzak’s Monstrous Alterations.