The awesome Laurie Penny

Laurie Penny, journalist and, more recently, SF&F writer, at the RNC.
It doesn't matter that [Milo Yiannopoulos] doesn't mean it. It doesn't matter that he's secretly quite a sweet, vulnerable person who is gracious to those he considers friends. It doesn't matter that somewhere in the rhinestone-rimmed hamster wheel of his mind is a conscience. It doesn't matter because the harm he does is real.

He is leading a yammering army of trolls to victory on terms they barely understand. This is how we got to a place where headline speakers at the Republican convention--one of the most significant political events in the national narrative of world's greatest superpower--are now actively calling for the slaughter and deportation of foreigners, declaring that Hillary Clinton is an agent of Satan, and hearing only cheers from the floor.

They ventriloquise the fear of millions into a scream of fire in the crowded theatre of modernity where all the doors are locked, and then they watch the stampede, and they smile for the cameras. [...]

What's happening to this country has happened before, in other nations, in other anxious, violent times when all the old certainties peeled away and maniacs took the wheel. It's what happens when weaponised insincerity is applied to structured ignorance. Donald Trump is the Gordon Gekko of the attention economy, but even he is no longer in control. This culture war is being run in bad faith by bad actors who are running way off-script, and it's barely begun, and there are going to be a lot of refugees.

Read the rest. Laurie Penny is two and a half feet tall and made entirely of cigarette smoke and hastily-scribbled Post-It notes. She has reported first-hand on people you'd pay your monthly rent to avoid ever having to meet. And she has written what is possibly the greatest single piece of journalism to emerge from this astonishing event.

On sale at MidAmericon: Making Conversation by Teresa Nielsen Hayden

MAKING CONVERSATION cover.jpg Twenty-two years ago, there was Making Book. It was a finalist for the 1995 Hugo Award for Best Nonfiction Book, but lost out to the dead guy. It's been through three printings and is still available from NESFA Press.


Making Conversation, selected from TNH's writing since 1994, will be first available at MidAmericon 2, and afterward from NESFA Press in softcover and e-book form. 222 pages, 59 essays (long and short) about time, space, genre, editing, gardening, saints, libraries, food, democracy, drink, insanity, fear, hamsters, chaos, moderation, palimpsests, fanfic, clichés, books, slush, spelling, scams, sleep, fantasy, policing, infundibula, trolls, writing, knitting, fandom, habaneros, exposition, management, Selectrics, Brooklyn, literary agents, pygmy mammoths, and the true cure for scurvy.

From "Dispatch from Staten Island" (GEnie SFRT, 1 Sep 1994):

"And this is in America, a country in which more than one normal, intelligent adult has had to spend time examining the question of whether, for the last decade and a half, I've been faking narcolepsy--including all the high-tech inpatient testing procedures and scary medical bills--in order to be allowed to drive up into the Bronx once a month to purchase my prescription stimulant drugs, instead of buying them from a local street vendor like normal people do.

"I think they should worry instead about how any idiot--me, for example--can walk into Rickel Home Center and buy bags of premixed quick-drying concrete without anyone so much as asking whether I know the difference between cement and Hamburger Helper. Instead, the employees ask whether I know they're having a special on bricks. This strikes me as gross social irresponsibility. A few hours after you take them, drugs are history, but masonry can be a semi-permanent error."

Some notices:

"If Teresa writes it, I will read it."
--Neil Gaiman

"Teresa Nielsen Hayden is a bloody good writer."
--David Langford

"This is a terrific book. I mean, I had no idea. It is a convulsively funny, shrewd and sharp collection of anecdotes well-told, observations well-observed and jokes hilariously cracked, all the while tracing secret histories of fandom, the ins and outs of being diagnosed narcoleptic at a time when such diagnoses were considered spurious and radical by much of the field, of the gypsy life of a con-running, APA-publishing foremother of the blogging masses whose 'personal publishing revolution' has its origins in the dim days of mimeographs and ditto machines."
--Cory Doctorow, reviewing Making Book in 2003

NESFA Press. ISBN 978-1-61037-320-3. $15.00. August 2016.


On sale today: Jo Walton's Necessity, the concluding novel of Thessaly

necessity.jpg On sale today in hardcover and e-book. Excerpt here. Author website (with upcoming appearances) here. Of particular local interest, Jo Walton and Ada Palmer will be reading and signing together tonight (Tuesday, July 12) at the Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and tomorrow night (Wednesday, July 13) at WORD Bookstore in Brooklyn, New York.

(Making Light posts about the previous two books: The Just City and The Philosopher Kings.)

My flap copy (warning: spoilers for the previous two books):

More than sixty­-five years ago, Pallas Athena founded the Just City on an island in the eastern Mediterranean, placing it centuries before the Trojan War, populating it with teachers and children from throughout human history, and committing it to building a society based on the principles of Plato's Republic. Among the City's children was Pytheas, secretly the god Apollo in human form.

Sixty years ago, the Just City schismed into five cities, each devoted to a different version of the original vision.

Forty years ago, the five cities managed to bring their squabbles to a close. But in consequence of their struggle, their existence finally came to the attention of Zeus, who can't allow them to remain in deep antiquity, changing the course of human history. Convinced by Apollo to spare the Cities, Zeus instead moved everything on the island to the planet Plato, circling its own distant sun.

Now, more than a generation has passed. The Cities are flourishing on Plato, and even trading with multiple alien species. Then, on the same day, two things happen. Pytheas dies as a human, returning immediately as Apollo in his full glory. And there's suddenly a human ship in orbit around Plato--­­a ship from Earth.

Some notices:

"Riveting...As before, Walton has done a superb job of world building and character development, giving readers a novel that both stimulates and satisfies."
--Booklist (starred review)

"A glorious kitchen sink of genre, combining philosophy, time travel, aliens, and the gods....Engaging food for thought."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)