Editorial – December 2023

This is a very unusual issue. That’s not because I have been slacking over the holidays; quite the opposite.

Firstly I have been very busy with the day job. The downside of being self-employed is that you have to take work when it comes. A contract that I have for a minimum of 40 hours a month has produced over 100 hours in December. The money will be useful.

In addition, the nature of the Crawford Award has changed. There is now an official jury, rather than just a group of people giving Gary Wolfe suggestions. This means that there are a bunch of books that I have to read, and am not allowed to review. Add in Wizard’s Tower work as well, and in December I have read 3.5 novels that I can’t review here.

So I’m very grateful to Paul Driggere for providing me with some additional SF&F content. Scavengers Reign sounds like a great series. I hope to get to watch it some day.

There’s also a lot of history content in this issue. It is something I was able to write about when I was in need of content. I know it is not usual SF&F fare, but I hope you will find it interesting.

And so to 2024. It is traditional at these times to look back over the past year. All in all, 2023 has been a bit shit. I got COVID. I crashed my car (albeit probably saving my own life and that of an idiot other driver in the process). Things could have been better. But I really enjoyed my trip to Uppsala for the Eurocon, and Juliet McKenna has continued to produce amazing books for me. Mustn’t grumble. Also I have my own house, which kind of eclipses everything else.

In terms of publication, I have essays in two volumes published in 2023. They are Follow Me: Religion in Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Imagining the Celtic Past in Modern Fantasy. The latter is now available as an affordable paperback so you can go and grab a copy. Should those books be up for awards (and I hope they will be), any glory will go to the editors, not me.

Talking of awards, next year’s Worldcon will be in Glasgow and there will be more UK voters in the Hugo voting pool than usual. I note that Juliet McKenna’s Green Man series is very much eligible in Best Series, and I encourage you all to consider it.

Looking forward to 2024, there is a new online non-fiction magazine called Speculative Insight due to debut. It is edited by Alex Pierce who is best known for the Galactic Suburbia podcast but also edited Letters to Tiptree and Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler. She now reviews for Locus. Alex kindly asked me to submit something, so I gave her the text version of the lecture about fantasy that I did for Bristol Central Library. That will be available to read on January 6th.

As to the rest of the year, well, I hope to get to Luxcon, Finncon and Worldcon. I also hope to get a new car, but that is dependent on the UK government not finding a creative new excuse to deny me a pension. I don’t think it will be long before government pensions are means-tested and only those people who can afford a creative tax accountant will get one.

There will also be major elections in the UK and USA in the coming year. The US one may turn out OK, but if it doesn’t the results will be disastrous. The UK, thankfully, can do less damage to the planet. But, regardless of which of the two major parties wins, trans people are going to get screwed. It would not surprise me to see parties competing on promises to be “tough on trans” as part of the election campaign, because the media will ask them about it incessantly. And then, whoever wins, we will end up with a government whose policies are well to the right of Margaret Thatcher. In all of my 60+ years (which includes living through the Cold War), I have never felt less optimistic about the future.