A chance to meet Pete! (aka my Nine Worlds and Loncon schedule)

Convention season is coming and if you’re going to be at either Nine Worlds or Loncon I’d love to see you!

Here’s where I’ll be:

Cheese & Cheese! Eating, talking, and getting to know each other
Thursday 8pm – 10pm                                    Room 38

So this event is basically an excuse to eat lots of cheese in good company while sharing your cheesiest sci-fi and fantasy pleasures.

If you’re new to the convention scene this is a good place to start* and you don’t have to like cheese to come!

New Voices: the Class of 2014 continued!
Saturday 10.15pm – 11.30pm             Royal B

I’m excited about this one. My very first public reading. Ever.

*On that note, Em is running sessions for those brave souls who are new to this convention lark. There are also a group of us that will be wearing welcome badges. So if you’re a bit lost or in need of a friendly face, feel free to say hello!

 

Agent Hunting
Saturday 2pm – 3pm        South Gallery 33

My first ever panel. This all happened quite recently for me so the memories are still nice and fresh!

 

And there’s also the Hugo’s! OMG!

Tea and Jeopardy Episode 23 – A chat with Aliette de Bodard

teaandjeopardy_300In case you missed it, the latest Tea and Jeopardy went live over the weekend. In this episode Aliette de Bodard comes into the tea lair to talk about cooking, fish sauce and how to pick the best features for a villainous lair.

You can find it here.

If you’re interested in supporting Tea and Jeopardy and would like to join the Order of the Sacred Teacup, our Patreon page is here.

If you’d like to catch up on old episodes, there’s a full index here.

Enjoy!

Tea and Jeopardy Episode 22 – A chat with Professor Elemental

teaandjeopardy_300The twenty-second episode of Tea and Jeopardy is now live and you can find it here.

This time, instead of inviting a guest to the Tea Lair, Emma takes a trip out in the airship to visit Professor Elemental at Elemental Manor.

 

 

There they talk about butlers, primates, the creative process and village fetes.

I’ve been a big fan of the Prof for years now so I’m very excited about this episode. Hope you enjoy it!

If you love Tea and Jeopardy and want to join the Order of the Sacred Tea Cup, our Patreon page is here.

Want to catch up on old episodes? There’s an index of them all on Em’s site here.

Good Things: Dreamwalker

I recently had the pleasure of reading Dreamwalker, the first in a fantasy series by James Oswald. This post is part enthuse, part review, guaranteed spoiler free.

This book has many of the elements you would expect in a fantasy novel: feuding royals, political struggles between different orders, murder, magic, magic swords of light (yay!), dragons, love, villains, heroes and sinister forces moving in the background.

Two things set it apart for me. The first is how little fighting there is and I mean that in a good way. I’ve read a lot of books lately that rely on constant combat to provide the thrills but here it is the characters and the story that draw you in.

The second is the pace of the book. It felt gentle, giving time for me to get attached to the characters and their lives before messing with them. And once it had me, I read through to the end in one sitting.

It was also nice to see Welsh names making an appearance.

So if you fancy something a bit more enchanting and a little less grim, I’d recommend giving it a look.

Good things: Child of Light

Although Ubisoft have recently hit the headlines for failing to have a female lead in the latest Assassin’s Creed game, they also brought out an excellent RPG recently called Child of Light, which features amongst other things, a female protagonist. So here, in no particular order and with a minimum of spoilers are some reasons I love this game.

 

It’s beautiful!

The game looks a treat, I mean, go look at it! The whole thing is a treat for the eyes, from the main characters to the backdrops, to little animations in the scenery as you move through it, every detail appears to have been placed with care.

The music

I love the music. It’s haunting and sad in the main game and dramatic (and a bit earwormy) in the battle sections.

You can fly!

This makes travel fun. It’s really nice being able to zip around and over things and makes exploring effortless.

You have a firefly who helps you explore and fight and looks really cute when it gets tired.

Nuff said.

The battle system

It’s neat. It works on a time system where each action takes a different length of time to complete and that between starting an action and finishing it you are vulnerable to being interrupted. This means that if you play things right you can keep interrupting the enemy, and stopping them from attacking.

It also means that defending is worth doing, something that seems to rarely apply in RPG’s.

Although only two of your party can be on screen at any time, you can swap the party in and out mid battle (a bit like FF10) as often as you like. It’s one of my peeves that most games give you a roster of characters to travel with but only allow you to take a couple of party members into a fight.

It has lots of female characters who are not just love interests

And female villains too.

It’s child friendly

Though I’d advise grown-ups play the game on Expert setting as casual is a bit too easy.

Tea and Jeopardy Episode 21 – A chat with Mur Lafferty

teaandjeopardy_300The latest Tea and Jeopardy is now up. This week, Mur Lafferty comes to the tea lair to talk about side kicks, dealing with award stress and telekinetic chickens.

You can listen to it here.

If you want to catch up on previous episodes, you can find a complete list here.

Also, if you want to support the podcast and join the Order of the Sacred Teacup, our Patreon page is here.

Tea and Jeopardy Episode 20: A chat with James Moran

teaandjeopardy_300In case you missed it, the latest Tea and Jeopardy went up last week. In this episode, James Moran comes to the tea lair to discuss screenwriting, hell and the writerly life. We also find out what he’s got in his music case.

Here’s the link.

If you want to catch up with old episodes, they’re all indexed here.

Also, if you are supporting us via Patreon, we passed another milestone recently and so now there’s a special, secret treat just for you waiting at the site, in the patrons area.

Enjoy!

Good things: Shadows of the Apt by Adrian Tchaikovsky

I'm book 1 and I'm rather epic.

Here’s a spoiler free part review, part enthuse about Shadows of the Apt. Yes, I'm talking about a series here rather than a single book, I hear that's fashionable at the moment. Enjoy!

Shadows of the Apt is an epic fantasy series by Adrian Tchaikovsky. The series has been running for some time now and the ninth book, War Master’s Gate, has recently come out (and is shortlisted for a Gemmell award!). Being a little behind the times, I only started reading the series last year.

So here are my thoughts so far (I’ve read the first two books).

Disclaimer: I have met the author and think he’s rather lovely. In fact I’d take him home for tea!

Shadows of the Apt contains all the ingredients you’d expect in a good epic fantasy. There are multiple races, lots of factions fighting and competing, fragile alliances, politics, war (lots of war!), magic, romance, betrayal, and some seriously badass swordplay.

But several things set it apart for me. The first is that the different races are all based around insects. They still appear humanoid but have abilities and aspects of their appearance tied to their namesake. For example Wasp-Kinden can fly and sting. Moth-Kinden see well in the dark. I loved this as an idea as it was so immediate. In a lot of fantasy the races have made up names like The Killiamancoratrors or Mingfatiorana and it can be hard to remember which is which but in Shadows of the Apt I could immediately hook into the world.

Another great plus point is that the world is constantly changing and the world at the start of Book 1 is a very different place by the end of Book 2. This is because the actions of the characters have real and immediate consequences.

A note on characters: there’s a nice variety of ages and gender. It’s good to see older characters in the limelight.

The interplay between technology and magic is excellent too. I liked the way science is made to feel like magic sometimes, when we see it from the point of view of those races that traditionally fail to grasp it.

I'm book 2. I'm rather splendid.

And it really is epic. If you’ve ever played Final Fantasy 7, there’s an amazing moment where you’ve been adventuring in the city of Midgar, immersed in its politics marvelling at how big it is and then you step outside for the first time and realise there’s a whole world to explore. The transition from book 1 to book 2 is like that, moving from epic, to EPIC!

But, despite all this, you don’t need a dictionary or a wiki to navigate the plot.

I’m really excited to see where things go next and looking forward to settling into the rest of the series and picking up Book 3.

I'm book 3. Pete hasn't read me yet but he should. Did he mention it's his birthday soon?

It's Tea and Jeopardy's first birthday!

teaandjeopardy_300Wow! It’s Tea and Jeopardy’s first birthday today. To celebrate, we've put together a special episode.

Also, if you’ve never listened to our bloopers before, Em has put together a collection of our favourites at the end of the episode. There are a couple of new ones too!

 

WARNING: blooper reel contains frequent swearing (not suitable for my parents).

Here’s the link.

Enjoy!

Confessions of a Squee Killer

I came across a set of tweets from Jen Williams this morning…

Jen Williams @sennydreadful

I will never understand the urge to harsh a squee.

Jen Williams @sennydreadful

you see someone enthusing about something they love. You think, "I know, I'll tell them I think it's shit. They'll appreciate that."

Jen Williams @sennydreadful

Or, just don't. People love different things. It's okay.

 

I agree with completely with what’s being said here. I do. I’m not a monster or anything*. But… I think I can understand it. There have been times when I see people raving about a film or book, saying the exact opposite of what I feel, and the urge to kill their squee is powerful.

Just before I go on, when I’m talking about a ‘squee’ in this post, I’m referring to a demonstration of love and excitement about something, usually connected to science fiction or fantasy in some way.

I can’t speak for squee killers everywhere but for me, encountering a squee I don’t understand can be a painful experience, creating a sense of distance between me and person doing the squeeing.

I’m used to not fitting in. Superheroes and magic and giant robots are enjoying a time of relatively mainstream cool these days but it was not always so. Growing up, I learned to be careful with who I shared my passions with and those friends who also loved things like Star Wars, Babylon 5, Dungeons and Dragons, Amber, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and running around the woods in silly costumes were rare jewels indeed.

And with those friends and the wider geek community I have a feeling of belonging that I often don’t in the wider world.

I’m used to people not getting what I love but when those people are in circles that I consider to be ‘my community’ or ‘my tribe’ it can be almost unbearable.

Conversely, when people I respect squee about something I think is terrible, it’s also unbearable. I feel like maybe I don’t understand them after all, maybe they don’t understand me.

That’s when the Dark Side become tempting.

Perhaps, it whispers, if you were to point out to them why the thing they love is rubbish, they’ll realise their mistake and then unity will return.

Somehow, their squee makes me feel insecure. And I think that’s the point of all this. Squee killers are moving from a place of insecurity because it’s rare that they simply offer their opinion with a comment like:

“Yes, the effects in Prometheus were excellent, although I must admit I found the representation of the scientists hard to believe and that made it harder for me to suspend disbelief.”

Instead going for something like:

“Prometheus sucks in every way! The plot is rubbish, the characters laughable. And how did she run with that injury? And why didn’t she run sideways! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! And if you think otherwise you’re a ****weasel!”

Ahem.

I think this is because a squee comes from the heart. It’s a primal thing. And geeks don’t just like their fiction, they adore it. More than that I think we identify with it. For me, it is far more than just entertainment. I often hold fiction and the creators of said fiction up to my own moral standards and that can make me a tough audience.

But when I enjoy fiction, it feeds me in a deep way. Or it makes me feel warm and smile. Sometimes I actually feel it changing me as I read it and when that happens I want to share those good vibes.

I want to squee.

My name is Peter Newman and I’ve gone ten months since my last squee kill.

 

*Before alcohol only.