Post Hugo Monday.

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Just four weeks to go until the first of two autumn Banff Centre residencies. I’m so ready for it. I haven’t had time off since February (well, a day in July, but still…) and I admit that I’m looking at the calendar and counting down. Four more Mondays left until my writing holiday. Yes. I’m ready.


Some delightful news this weekend, too – Lightspeed Magazine won a Hugo award! I watched the live broadcast of the awards show, and I cheered when the acceptance speech mentioned the Women Destroy Science Fiction project. It’s a well deserved award; I am so pleased for them. And more than a little delighted to share in the Women Destroy Science Fiction shoutout — because, you know. I wrote for that. I’m a part of that.

There were a number of great acceptance speeches — really, they were all awesome, and inspiring. So many strong voices speaking to the changes happening in science fiction, the work of inclusion and expansion, the shared desire to create new stories and art. I’m so proud to be able to say that I’m a part of that. There’s still work to be done, but it’s being done.

Meanwhile? The weekend was spent reading (I’m more than halfway through Wendy N. Wagner’s Skinwalkers) and working on revisions for a story. To my horror, the short story has suddenly approached novelette length. This week, I think, will be spent pruning it back. There’s always that work to be done, too.

Monday: writing for me, spitting for science.

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The writing is going well. I’m not sure what the wordcount on the novel is right now, but I’m still make good and steady progress on it. And I was able to get a couple of short stories tidied up and sent out on Saturday.

The publicity from the Women Destroy Science Fiction story is beginning to wind down, but a few students told me today they’d read the story or were planning to — it brought such a smile to my face. Admittedly, my secret double life is exposed: mild-mannered academic advisor by day, sci-fi writer by early morning, noon, and night.

Meanwhile? I was selected for the second phase of a massive, 30-year study I signed up for:


Spitting for science? I can totally do that.

The Tomorrow Project is signing up 50,000 Albertans between the ages of 35 and 69 who have never been diagnosed with cancer for an enormous longitudinal study on cancer rates and health in the province. I’ve taken part in research studies before, but they’ve all been fairly short-term. This one will continue on for decades, and the data collected will help to give better information on who develops cancer, who doesn’t, who is at risk, and what roles environment and genetics might play.

I signed up in memory of Alyson Woloshyn, a coworker who was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme in 2009. She survived an astonishing three years, putting everything she had into enjoying her life. The Tomorrow Project is totally the kind of thing she would have signed up for. I can just see her now — going around the office, chivvying people into filling out questionnaires, putting up lunchroom posters, arranging a spit sample contest. Yup. Alyson, I’m in it for you.

The first step for the project is a survey — about forty pages of questions on your medical history, including family histories. This second phase is a saliva sample to start a genetic profile. Not very hard at all. I didn’t sign up for the blood tests (it was too close to my surgery, and I was told that some of my values would have been kind of screwy while I was still healing). If they want blood later, I’ll give it.

That’s my Monday. The writing is for me, the spitting was for science. Easy-peasy.

Turns out being mentioned on NPR really makes for a good day.

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So how was my day? Oh, you know…

Women Are Destroying Science Fiction! (That’s OK; They Created It)

The perception that the science fiction that women write isn’t “real” isn’t as pervasive as it was in the 1960s, but it’s just as ridiculous. If you need proof to back up that assertion, all you need do is read this issue of Lightspeed Magazine.

It’s more than just an extra-large and particularly great issue of an already good magazine. It’s a master class on all the ways in which women are writing — and have written — some of the best science fiction available. Many of the concepts these stories explore are what purists would expect from the SF label: In “Cuts Both Ways” by Heather Clitheroe, cyborg implants create perfect memory recall; Tananarive Due’s “Like Daughter” deals with what happens when humans have access to easy cloning; “The Unfathomable Sisterhood of Ick” by Charlie Jane Anders takes place in a future where augmenting and messing with brain chemistry is as common as taking vitamin supplements is now.

However, the authors are less focused on technological changes and more on the relations between people, or between people and society, or changing cultural and gender roles. That’s true across the issue.

It was pretty freaking fabulous.

(my story is here if you want to read or listen to it.)

Another great review!

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He wanted the storm, the merging with the howl and the fury, to become a part of it. Flipped and spun and thrown through, one speck in a blizzard, pure and beautiful, nerves on fire with tension and pain, and the pleasure. It was intoxicating.

An intensely intelligent and intimate story, Cuts Both Ways looks at a future filled with casters, those mechanically augmented to pick up on the electromagnetic brain waves of the human population. The main protagonist, Spencer, is the vehicle in which we are forced to consider the drawbacks of those things we often say we want in passing. “Wouldn’t it be great to never forget anything?” –actually, no, as Spencer shows us, with his heart-breaking narrative. A definite must-read. (link)

Early reviews of ‘Cuts Both Ways.’

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I’m really pleased with these early reviews of my story in Women Destroy SF:

Heather Clitheroe’s “Cuts Both Ways” is a tale of love and loneliness from the perspective of a traumatized cyborg. It’s also a close examination of what it means to be the Other, which succeeds because it’s not a clumsy stand-in for something that already exists. And yet, while the protagonist’s most defining characteristic (perfect memory recall) does not exist in our reality, the story does address issues that people in different real-world marginalized populations experience: Spencer is both heavily scrutinized by airport security and also doesn’t have the freedom to love. This is the story that I found most emotionally evocative. While you don’t get to know the love interest very well, the longing that Spencer feels is tangible. (link)

And this one:

Spencer is a cyborg spy and that used to be fun for him, though he certainly was never James Bond with circuitry. He’s a skinny man who has to drink Ensure to provide the calories his program needs, he has to put up with strip searches at the airport so the security agents can check out his cool hardware, and he’s tormented by his inability to forget anything, especially after his last mission. In “Cuts Both Ways,” Heather Clitheroe uses a time-honored science fiction trope–the uncomfortable interaction of technology with humanity–in a fresh way. The point isn’t that technology diminishes Spencer’s humanity, but that it makes it impossible for him to distance himself from it. The distance, Clitheroe suggests, is necessary to happiness. Rich sensory and emotional descriptions increase the experience of the story. (link)

The issue is on sale on Lightspeed’s website, and my story will appear for free on June 24 and in its podcast form.