Category Archives: Science Fiction

Book Review: Binti, written by Nnedi Okorafor

When I first heard about Binti, a novella written by Nnedi Okorafor, it intrigued me, even though I didn’t really know much about it. Since this is such a short book, it’s a quick read, and even I managed to read it in one day.

This is the story about Binti, the very first of her people to be accepted into the Oomza University, which is the best university in the galaxy. The Himba people, which she is one of, hardly ever leave their home country, so accepting her place is a huge step for her. On her way to Oomza, the space craft she’s travelling on is attacked by the Meduse, and they kill everyone except for the pilot and Binti. The Meduse have been wronged by the Oomza University, and they’re angry… Will she sirvive the trip? And will the Meduse go to war with Oomza or not?

This was such an interesting read. I loved how communication and lack of knowledge about other people not like our own are such central themes here. I also enjoyed how influenced the book is by Nigerian culture and language. It really does give the story something extra for a westerner line myself. It is a well written and exciting book, and I hope to read the next book in the series in not too long! And maybe other books by the author too?

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Octocon 2015

9 – 11 October I attended Octocon, the National Irish Science Fiction Convention. It was helt in the Camden Court Hotel in Dublin, and stated Friday afternoon, and ended Sunday afternoon. Guests of Honour were Emma Newman and Maura McHugh, but there were several other guests as well.

The convention was kicked off with the opening ceremony, where chairperson Gareth Kavanagh wished us welcome and introduced the Guests of Honour. I had an opening after the opening ceremony, where corrigancj and I headed for dinner. My first panel wasn’t until 20, the Bodily Autonomy in YA panel, which I found very interesting.

There were actually several LGBTQIP+ themes panels for Octocon 2015, which I was very happy about, and I attended several of them. Though I attended several really good panels through the week end, my convention highlights were the Guest of Honour interview with Emma Newman, and the Tea and Jeopardy live show.

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

Emma Newman at the Guest of Honour interview.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

The Guest of Honour interview with Emma Newman (who’s one of my favourite authors), was a warm and personal interview. I think Janet O’Sullivan did a great job, and there was tea and much laughter.

The Tea and Jeopardy live show was based on the Hugo Nominated Podcast of Emma Newman and Peter Newman. Being a fan of the podcast (I must admit I’m still a bit bummed it didn’t win the Hugo’s), I was thrilled to attend the show. I was offered cake by Latimer when entering the tea lair, but I politely declined. Author C.E. Murphy was Emma Newman’s guest for this episode, and it was muc fun. I laughed so much! I missed the chickens, though, but I totally understand they couldn’t be brought to Ireland…

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

Emma Newman and Latimer at the tea lair of Octocon 2015.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

The only problem I had with the convention, was the inside jokes at some panels (not all), that went right above my head. I am not familiar with everything Irish, and there were moments there were things I didn’t understand.

All-in-all I enjoyed my week end, and it was nice to meet up with some convention friends that I know from EasterCon and/or Twitter again. Will I come back to Octocon next year? Only time will show…

EasterCon 2015: Dysprosium

I signed up for this year’s EasterCon at last year’s EasterCon, and was very excited to go. Dysprosium was held at ParkInn by Raddison at Heathrow, so getting there would be the easiest convention for me to get to, with a lot of flights to choose from.

This year’s guests of honour were Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Herr Döktor, and Caroline Mullan. The only guest of honour I had heard of was Seanan McGuire, simply because she was also a guest of honour at last year’s EuroCon in Dublin. To me, it’s not the guests of honour that are the important thing, though, but the fact that EasterCon gather a lot of fans from pretty much all over Europe. That’s pretty fun, in my opinion.

There were a lot of interesting panels and talks this year, but one can’t go to them all. I chose to attend a handfull, as well as being a lot more social than I have been previous years. All good. The panels I attended were all good, even though I had to leave The Unseen London panel halfway through, as I had a splitting headache, and needed painkillers, water and a nap. I siply couldn’t focus, and was sad not to being able to listen to such an interesting topic.

I find it hard to pick a favourite panel or talk this year. I really enjoyed the Guest of Honour interview with Herr Dötor. I am incredible fascinated by how he’s able to make the cool art. He had some pieces exhibited at the art show, and they were magnificent.

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

Herr Döktor was inerviewed by Lady Elsie.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

Other than a lot of geeky stuff, there were lots of geeky people. This being my third EasterCon meant I knew more people this time around than two years ago, when I attended my first EasterCon, and Twitter helps too. I have probably been more social over the EasterCon week end than I have been in years. All good, though. There were great chats. Great company. And I had in general an excellent time.

The 2015 Hugo Awards – The Short List

So, the shortlist of the 2015 Hugo Awards was just announced, and I am, for the first time ever, eligible to vote. I forgot about nominating, but I have every intention to give my vote.

I am very much looking forward to read Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie, as I loved Ancillary Justice. However, there are books I will not read and not vote for, and that are the sad/rabid puppy selection. The reason for this? Well, the explanation I was given on Twitter says it all:

2015-04-04-twitter

Correction from @ClaireRousseau
Claire Rousseau has in the comments asked me to add the following correction:
Vox Day put up a post on his site in which he called NK Jemisin, who is a woman of colour, a “half-savage”. Because his blog was syndicated to SFWA social media, the post was tweeted from the official SFWA twitter. NK Jemisin put in an official complaint in accordance to the SFWA harassment policy that ultimately resulted in Vox Day’s SFWA membership being revoked.

Here is wikipedia for reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Beale#Conflict_with_the_SFWA

So, I will read the following novels:
Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)

As for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, I have already seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and really should watch Edge of Tomorrow as well.

I think it’s really sad when some people think things like the sad/rabid puppies thing is all right. After all, it will backfire on the works listed, no matter how great they are.

All shortlisted nominations can be found HERE.

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

The 2014 Hugo Awards winner, Ancilliary Justice by Ann Leckie.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

EDIT 05 April 2015:
I edited this post after The Puppy-Free Hugo Award Voter’s Guide was brought to my attention. I will not read any of the short stories, and have therefore deleted the section of short stories to read.

It’s Monday, what are you reading?

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

They say it’s the golden age for Norwegian fantasy. I’m not sure it’s true, but more Norwegian fantasy has been published the last few years. I’m currently reading Bian Shen by Torbjørn Øverland Amundsen that was published a couple of years ago, and I’m enjoying it so far. It’s concept is different from anything I have read before, and I am curious on how it continues…

So, what are you currently reading?

EasterCon 2014: Satellite 4

Though this year’s EasterCon was my second (last year was my first), I still feel a bit of a newbie. I had therefore decide that for this year’s con, Satellite 4, I would volunteer. My friend DC pretty much “claimed” me for Ops, so I had shifts there every day of the convention.

Photo © 2014

My badge.
Photo © 2014

Though I had arrived on Thursday, the first day of the convention was Friday 18 April 2014. I didn’t actually attend any program items this day, but had two shifts in Ops, and had a blast doing that. However, I managed to attend a few on Saturday, among them one called “Astronomy and poetry”, which was pretty much reading of poetry with some sort of astronomy link. I really enjoyed it. It was lead by Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who’s a British scientist and Visiting Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford.

Photo © 2014

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Photo © 2014

Another fun program item on Saturday was “Is it steampunk if it’s real?” Here we could listen to Feorag NicBhride tell us about some odd transportations that was developed in the 19th and early 20th century. One thing is for sure: There was no lack of imagination at the time! If the transportation actually worked? Well…

Two other program items I attended Saturday were “African Writes” and “Read for your life!”, and I enjoyed both. Especially the latter ones, where you could listen to known and unknown readers read from their works. If there’s a similar item next year, I would love to listen to it! It’s not every day you get to hear an author read something from their brand new one-week-old idea!

Come Sunday, I managed to oversleep terribly, that meant I missed breakfast, as well as the first program item I had planned to attend. Fortunately, I did not miss the panel “Red planets”, which was on politics in science fiction and fantasy. It’s no secret politics interest me, so this was an interesting discussion. I would probably have gone to it even if my friend Pogodragon hadn’t been on the panel.

Photo © 2014

The Red planet panel.
Photo © 2014

After the politics, I hurried over to the next item I wanted to listen to, this one called “Humans are weird”. And this item made it clear we really are a weird mammal. Our babies are helpless, we have good eyesight and amazing sense of taste (humans have 10000 taste buds, while a hen has only 24!), and we have a rubbish sense of smell.

When the weird humans were done with for the day, I headed for my shift in Ops, before going to a sort of celebration of Terry Pratchett. This was a sweet and fun program item, where stories about the wonderful Sir Terry Pratchett were told. Stories about meetings and other fun facts. I have never met, nor probably ever will meet, Sir Terry Pratchett, but he seems like a grand dude, and writes fun books indeed.

Photo © 2014

Celebrating Sir Terry Pratchett!
Photo © 2014

Sunday ended with a party for next year’s EasterCon, Dysprosium. There was a beheadding of a chocolate bunny, drinks, snacks, and people to talk to. It was indeed fun, until I decided it was time for me to go to bed.

Monday was the last day of the convention, and I started it with a shift in Ops, before some time to relax. I then attended the program item “Early science fiction writing”, which I must admit was a great disappointment. I actually ended up fishing out my e-reader to read my book! Just because I was too polite to get up and leave, and maybe in the hopes it could turn better?

The convention officially ended with the closing ceremony. Prizes were handed out, people were thanked, and we all concluded it had been a wonderful convention. We can’t wait for the next one!

EasterCon 2013: Eight Squared Con

At the end of March I headed to Bradford, in West Yorkshire, England. Though I have been to several conventions before (I was quite active with ShadowCon in Oslo at one point), this was my first outside Norway. Actually, it was my first outside Oslo, even though I haven’t lived in the capital for the four last years. I have been wanting to attend EasterCon for several years. I almost managed to get there last year, but then things didn’t quite worked out.

I arrived in Bradford on Thursday, and had a bit of a soft start before the convention actually started. Spent the evening with some people I knew already, as well as some new people who were introduced. There was Indian food in the centre of Bradford, which was good.

I headed to the Cedar Court Hotel, where the main event took place, a tad bit early on Friday. The registration opened before expected, and I managed to get my badge and a bag of information. As I couldn’t see anyone I knew around, I headed back to my hotel, where I relaxed, before heading down to Cedar Court for the opening ceremony.

Eight Squared Con was, as I said, my very first con outside of Oslo, and it was on a totally different scale from what I was used to. I admit it felt intimidating in the beginning, as I am an introvert by nature. Some people would probably not believe me, but it’s true, I feel very insecure among strangers, and am not the person to go up to a group of strangers and start chatting with them. As the days went by, I did warmed up a bit, and managed to talk to quite a few people.

I attended a few panels, and my favourite was “The Changing Portrayal of Gender and Sexuality in SF & Fantasy”, which more or less was about LGBTQI people in SFF literature. It was more like a discussion group than a panel, which I think worked very well. Another panel I found to be funny, was the “Superheroes on Film” one. I kind of like superheroes, you know…

All-in-all I had a great experience, and have even signed up for next year’s EasterCon! See you there?