Prediction: history will look back on this period and call it Bad Hot Takes week. I’m going to save my own for later, not least as I haven't seen someone have my one, which probably makes me the special one, not just deluded.
Out this week – Star Wars 65. Preview here. I just love the cover. It’s one of Gerald’s best.
Two issues to go in our run after this. I just had Angel’s final page arrive yesterday, which was a suitably bittersweet moment.
This was a shock. Bombsheller are pivoting to purely being a production company, so losing their absolutely startlingly brilliant retail side. There’s all the details here. Jazzlyn’s team has been amazing to work with, and the actual merchandise itself has been startling, so it’s a real loss.
So this is likely a last chance to actually buy the leggings. There’s a chance the merch may move somewhere else later, but that’s far from certain, as it involves us organising stuff, and we are terrible, just plain terrible.
Until May 19th when it all wraps up, the code StayBadass will give you 20% off in the shop.
When reading this, despite its sci-fi expanse, I kept on thinking that in her other life, Arkady Marine is a scholar of Byzantium. After finishing WicDiv 455, I’ve carried on following the Empire’s route into Byzantium (primarily with the History of Byzantium Podcast) and my recurring thought is just how the edifice of the city was viewed at different times. How those in the city circa 1000AD would look at things like the The Hagia Sophia or the Theodosian Walls, as almost mysterious monuments. The walls stopped the city for falling for centuries. For centuries, the people there couldn’t have built those defences. They simply are – and the long shadow of their past glories is still strength. And then, thinking of how someone from the edge of Empire would feel when they looked upon Alexandria. That line between seeing the wonder of these impossible, unparalleled things, and know that the mortar in those buildings is your blood.
The seduction of your oppressor’s glamour lies right at the heart of A Memory Called Empire.
The Ann Leckie coverquote (“A Memory Called Empire perfectly balances action and intrigue with matters of empire and identity. All around brilliant space opera, I absolutely love it.”) is both accurate and well chosen. A Memory Of Empire’s space is a parallel and complimentary one to Leckie’s – interested in using space opera to explore questions of identity and power. In its specific focus it recalls the joy of Iain M Banks’ best Contact-centric Culture novels, with the power-dynamic reversed. It follows a diplomat from a distant, still independent but entirely subservient space station, trying and secure their future. Can she survive in this enchanting, petrifying empire of poets and war? She’s alone, with only a recording her dead predecessor’s personality for company.
It’s a political whodunnit. And, if the arid tone of the above has given you the wrong impression, you should know these are delightful, awful people to be with. In political terms it’s like a murderous West Wing rather than Veep… but a West Wing who are sharp enough to slip into the Death of Stalin. They are clever, brave and at any second are quite capable of leaving you for dead, with either a word or an action. Yes, the cast is often so arch you can support an aquaduct on them, but these are deeply human creations. They flirt and lie and manipulate one another and show the teeth beneath the manners in any imperial civilization.
I loved being with them, and I loved this. I carry it with me, like a voice in the back in my head.
My Peter Cannon 4 notes were lobbed online. I say stuff like…
“This is an issue which is primarily a homage to Eddie Campbell’s Alec comics. It’s mainly the King Canute Crowd, but there’s a little of How To Be An Artist in there too. They’re best available in the enormous and reasonably priced omnibus, The Years Have Pants, which I’d recommend you get. I came to comics late, but I was immediately attracted to the Alec books, which were one of the key influences on Phonogram which is rarely spotted (understandably, because it’s almost invisible because we’ve buried it in genre). Alec is about telling these autobiographical stories of real people with a degree of romance and glamour – rather than the somewhat cold and deglamorizing approach that a lot of autobio books take. Alec is wonderful in how it freezes a real moment and understands the poetry of it.”
I should get to the WicDiv 43 notes this week as well. I was hoping to get them done today, but realised that this is a little more time sensitive.
Other stuff with me!
Another printing of DIE 4! Yes, it’s reached the point where a new DIE printing with a tweaked cover gets put in the quick notes section of the newsletter. This has been a hell of a thing, and thanks for all your support.
I’m at Portsmouth Con this weekend. I’ll be tabling a little, but there’s a spotlight panel at 3pm on Saturday. Come say Hi.
You Don’t Read Comics did an interview with me, which is the widest for a while, I suspect. Go read.
TCAF is approaching and the schedule is up. There’s a lot of fun panels we’re on, but the one I’m going to highlight is the DANCE PARTY where we ourselves and Kid Koala will be DJing. These are always a fun time. Do come.
I’ve actually had a break this week, disappearing to Devon for the weekend, which explains how I’ve gone through three books. I managed a draft of Once & Future 3, which revealed a huge plot hole in issue 2, which I’ve managed to do a few tweaks before Dan draws it to solve it. In short: when setting the timing for certain scenes, I’d forgotten it didn’t take 9 hours to drive from Bristol to Glastonbury. On the brighter side, it’s at that point where we’ve turned from the unveiling of the concept towards rushing towards the denouement. I’ve also made my final choices of what to include and what to save for a possible sequel. Or sequels. Once & Future is very much the cinematic episodic model of a book, with each one being this seismic moment in the casts’ lives. That I’m riffing on British folklore means there’s a lot to touch on. There’s some key Arthurian signifiers which aren’t turning up in this story, for example. There’s one whose absence I couldn’t believe when I plotted it.
I also made my selection for the short list for Creators for Creators. I was one of the initial judges, who goes through everyone, and then makes a handful of selections. They’ll be put together with the other initial judges, and then the shortlist presented to the full board for final selection. It’s an epic task, and the only thing which made it at all easier is exactly how many entries there are. With over four-hundred and fifty submissions and only one winning place, you’re forced into brutally stringent criteria. In the first round, if I could instantly see a reason why someone isn’t going to be the winner, I stop and move onto the next. I moved from 450, to about 80, to 21 and then my final 8. By the time I hit the 80, I was starting to verbalise “I’m sorry” when I closed candidates PDFs and moved them over to my No folder. It’s been a fascinating experience – seeing this number of pitches gives you a high level view of what stories people want to tell, and how they want to tell them. I believe the winner is announced at TCAF.
I also started actually scripting the final issue of WicDiv this morning. I’m a teary mess. This is going to be a hard week.