No Award is coming to a bookshelf near you! Of recent months, No Award has appeared in two books. Liz was critical to the development of them both.
Cranky Ladies of History
Late in 2013, Liz blogged about noted Cranky Lady of History Tsaritsa Sophia Alekseyvna. First it was a Tumblr post, and when that exploded, she figured it was maybe worth preserving, and cross-posted it to her blog.
It got a tiny bit of attention on WordPress, but attracted a lot of retweets, at which point someone said (to Tansy Rayner Roberts, if memory serves), “Hey, this would make a great anthology.”
Said great anthology then came into existence.
(Despite Liz’s best efforts, nothing else she has ever posted has ever and will ever achieve this level of success. All those Tumblr ramblings about how Lin Beifong is great, and no one wants to turn Cranky Middle-Aged Cartoon Superheroines into an anthology. Which is frankly weird.)
Crowdfunding took place, pitches were submitted, and, miracle of miracles, both Liz and Stephanie had stories accepted.
Stephanie wrote about her favourite pirate and yours, Cheng Shih, Fierce Lady, Pirate, Total Ratbag. There’s not a lot of documentation out there about her, either in English or Chinese texts, so Steph did the best she could (in both English and Chinese, as a noted polyglot) and then wish fulfilled where she couldn’t.
The greatest new thing Steph learnt about Cheng Shih during research for this story was her potential linkages to the start of the Opium War, and her working relationship with Lin Zexu, who started the Opium War. Fighting the British because of opium would have been totally Cheng Shih’s jam, so it sounds legit.
Cheng Shih, like Noted Asian Lee Lin Chin, is one of Steph’s heroes, and if she were to grow up to be just like Cheng Shih, that would be acceptable.
Liz wrote about Queen Mary 1 of England, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, burner of Protestants and all around cranky lady. But first, she read half a dozen biographies, one of which turned up a truly amazing anecdote.
From memory: Late in Henry VIII’s reign, when Mary was in her late twenties or early thirties, living as far from her family as she could get without actually running away to Europe, Henry-via-retainer sent her a rather shirty letter to the effect of, he had heard she was entertaining “strangers” in her home, and could she not do that?
Mary replied, effectively, “Surely the king doesn’t want me to abandon the principles of Christian hospitality? I will continue to act as my conscience dictates, thank you.”
And apparently nothing more came of it, because those letters are published in a rare book, of which only six copies exist. Suffice to say, Liz’s library didn’t hold it. (David Starkey owns a copy, but somehow it seemed unlikely he’d lend it to anyone.)
What piqued Liz’s imagination was this: who were these “strangers”? English aristocrats wouldn’t be strangers. English peasants wouldn’t come to the king’s attention. So … time travellers? Aliens? ALIEN TIME TRAVELLERS? (The Doctor?) Faeries?
None of these questions are answered in Liz’s story because it takes place many years earlier, in the weeks before the downfall of Anne Boleyn. This was particularly fun because Boleyn is remembered as a light-hearted, witty lady — at least, that was how she interacted with men — whereas Mary quickly went from being a happy, gifted child to a dour young woman with an undefined chronic gynecological complaint.
You can purchase Cranky Ladies of History (please do).
You might not know this, but Liz loves Doctor Who, and Steph knows that time travel is terrible and no one should do it. Liz says:
This all started back at Aussiecon 4 in 2010. Liz and future-co-editor L M Myles were in the bar, as often happens at conventions, and they got to talking about the curious lack of substantial books about Doctor Who companions. A couple exist, but they’re more promotional than analytical, and at least one is best known for the terrible would-be sexy photos it contains. (Tumblrs that should exist: Unsexy Photoshoots Featuring Sci-Fi Actresses Who Deserve Better.)
Fast forward a couple of years, and Liz Myles had co-edited the Hugo-nominated Chicks Unravel Time, a follow-up to the Hugo-winning Chicks Dig Time Lords. Liz contributed to Chicks Unravel Time, and publisher Lars of Mad Norwegian Press liked her work enough that when we met at ChicagoTARDIS in 2012, he was willing to give them a chance with a companion book.
Fast forward some more years, in which Liz Myles became a podcasting queen and Liz discovered that programming/chairing a convention and editing a book at the same time is a really bad idea. And we have, at last, got a book. An actual book that the two Lizes made, full of essays we’re proud of. Which brings us to…
Steph wasn’t going to submit anything to this anthology. Liz enticed her in with ‘How would you like to write about the least feminist companion and say something nice about her?’ And you know what? Did Steph ever. Steph mainlined hours of Five and Six, and then wrote several thousand words about how the Doctor is terrible and men are terrible and you should all feel terrible, and misogyny is the thing that keeps Peri from embracing her innate awesomeness. Steph is living her best misandrist life, okay? You should, too.
You can purchase Companion Piece from Amazon and similar places. (If you do, please feel free to throw a review up on Amazon, GoodReads, etc!)
Alternatively, leave a comment here, and you might be RANDOMLY SELECTED to receive a copy. IT’S THE FIRST NO AWARD GIVEAWAY!
And if that doesn’t work, we’re also giving away two (!) signed (!) copies at Continuum — go buy yourself a membership, then turn up for the closing ceremony. Guest of Honour Tansy Rayner Roberts is just one of several contributors attending, so it’s not just Liz and Steph writing their names in the book. (And drawing. Steph will be drawing in books)
No Award in Books: The Live Show
There will be panels about both of these books at Continuum, a speculative fiction convention, of which Liz is Chair and Steph is programmer. Continuum is held over the Queen’s Birthday weekend in Melbourne, Steph uses it to push an agenda, and because this is our blog you’ll be hearing more about it over the next two weeks.
Sunday June 7 6pm, Cranky Ladies of History, including editors Tehani Wessely and Tansy Rayner Roberts. Monday June 8, 2pm.
(PS Don’t try first programming and then chairing a con while co-editing a book. Learn from Liz’s mistakes. Sleep is a wonderful thing that you will one day miss.)