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The Full Lid 30th August 2019

Hi!! I’m Alasdair, welcome to The Full Lid. Normally when one of these falls at the hinge of the month I like to re-state what I’m doing and how I do it, and get some new folks up to speed. This week we're doing that but this is also kind of here for me too. It's been a demanding couple of weeks and while WorldCon in Dublin was largely great, it ended on a distinctly sour note. Shortest version possible; The Hugo Losers Party was one of three parties happening in one place and that did not end well. We didn't get in. Many others didn't and it was not how I was hoping my first time as a Hugo finalist would end. 

It was not a good night, At all. Almost two weeks later, there's been no official explanation, an ugly spot of attempted victim blaming, barely an apology and a surprisingly small amount of commentary, most, but by no means all of it,helpful. So the wound is still closing and I have to be honest, I’m not okay. I’m a little angry. I’m very confused. I’m honestly kind of depressed.

Welcome to the newsletter! The jokes are coming I SWEAR!

So here’s what we’re doing this week. Not only is this the usual ‘Come see the stuff I liked!' this is also me taking some compass bearings for myself. I’m good at what I do and I do a lot of stuff and this week I’m reminding myself just what it is. So, expect some career stuff, some WorldCon thoughts and a surprising amount of dutiful supernatural violence. 

Right, as Mr Knowles once said, allow me to reintroduce myself. Let's Contents!

Contents

So What Does Losing A Hugo Feel Like?
Back to The Lab
An Extremely Short Thought About The Astounding Award
Slightly Less Abbreviated Thoughts About The Hugos
Return of the Judge
Wu Assassins Season 1
Signal Boosting
Signing Off/Playing Out
Inclusivity is this simple and this powerful. Everyone gets to feel safe. All of us or none of us.

So, What Does Losing A Hugo Feel Like?

Well, it's not great. They sit you RIGHT by the stage so you have a nice half hour or so (in my case) of working your route out even as the rest of your brain screams 'THIS IS NOT A CERTAINTY' at the part that's been rehearsing your speech for the last six hours. Then, they open the envelope and it's not you and...well...while I didn't have very many sorrows to drown at the Losers Party, I figured I'd at least have a drink.
Anyhoo.

Here's the thing, when you're in a field this ridiculous, just being there is the win. Seriously, this was an incredible finalist class! Look at them!
  My victory condition was not placing last. I didn't place last. I have some thoughts, none of them polite about the fact No Award scored higher than someone on that ballot but we'll get there. The truth is, there was no bad home that rocket was ever going to and I'm delighted that Foz has been recognized for years of fiercely badass work. Would I be more delighted if it had been me? Of course! Every single one of us wanted that thing but we all deserved it and any result was going to be a good result.
 
So now what?

Well, that was a question I asked an agent and I got a pretty great answer. After the jump.
Escape Artists Live! went GREAT. We're still getting used to live shows and the rhythm of this one was the best we've had by far. Relaxed, open, lots of content, very much us. I dug it. Watch for it on the feeds, and an exclusive Patreon Only Q & A too, shortly.

Back to the Lab

I had an agent meeting. A second agent meeting. With a brilliant agent. Who has ASKED TO SEE MY BOOK.

MY book. The one from MY WHOLE ENTIRE HEAD.

This is brilliant for two reasons. The first is I HAD AN AGENT MEETING AND THEY ASKED TO SEE MY BOOK. The second is it forced me to focus in on just what I have in the pipeline right now. And right now? It is a Lot.

Currently Available!
The PseudoPod Tapes Volumes 1 and 2
Courtesy of the mighty Fox Spirit. These collect all my end caps from PseudoPod in 2012 and 2013. yes I am hilariously behind and looking at options for that is one of the things on deck for a few months from now,

Available Soon!
Cracks in the Rock
My essay in the upcoming Specuative Masculinities anthology which looks at how Dwayne Johnson’s career especially shows the evolution of the action hero.

Processing, PROCESSING!
The Icarus Thread
My first (well, second but that’s a whole other episode) novel is out to beta readers. I’m fine. I’m FINE.

Pirate anthology
I’ve been invited to submit to an anthology of pirate fiction put out by Inklings and blocking this out is next. The current idea involves Point Nemo and a burglar in the wrong place at the right depth...

NaNoWriMo 2019
The Icarus Thread was zero drafted in last year’s NanNoWriMo because, unlike whichever randomly selected professional author it will be this year, I don’t find my masculinity threatened by the idea of a community giving itself permission to write a zero draft. Or not write every day. Or try something new. Or experience joy.

Anyhoo.

I LOVED doing it and I’ve got a couple of ideas in contention this year. One is a brace of horror novellas best described as ‘The Lottery meets Taken’. Then there’s the one about the two jobbers who decide this is the night they’re going off script. Oh and just maybe a do over of my first novel but, like I say, whole other episode.

In other news, I have three RPG projects in various stages of readiness. One is with a company who declared bankruptcy right before their Kickstarter was due to launch, while another was handed in over a year ago on a tight deadline and the company is ‘getting around to reviewing it soon.' Combined those two jobs are about $1700 of work I basically did on a promise, and neither promise has been fulfilled. Yet.

I’m not doing that kind of work anymore.

What I AM doing is indie and creator owned work because its’ fun, you get paid on time and the projects actually happen! After The War, my co-created RPG with Jason Pitre, is at the presses as you read this and I am incredibly excited to see our weird, hopeful apocalypse baby released into the wild.

I’ve also got early stage work in play on a collaboration with the mighty Alex Acks on a working class fantasy novel and the equally mighty Ella Watts on a non-fiction book. (And at least one of them is reading this. Hi buddies!). On top of that I’m writing the Black Archive book on Day of the Doctor, due out next year. Oh and rough notes for an MG novel set on the Isle of Man about teenage magicians. Which I was.

So, fiction, non-fiction, podcasting and RPGs. As well as a weekly newsletter. And regular hosting duties on at least one show. Oh and being the unsung hero of The Magnus Archives.

Hi! I'm Alasdair, you may have heard of me. You've almost certainly heard me. This is what I do.
Getting to these events is neither easy or cheap. When we can make it, we try and help out by...well...turning me into a billboard for the forces of justice. This time I was the Stunt Matt Wallace (Again) and also Dublin Kameron Hurley. I gave out swag, wore the shirt (Got a second version signed for Matt and Kameron. Don't tell them. Unless they're reading in which case, hi buddies!) and generally represented.

An Extremely Short Thought About The Astounding Award

Earlier this week it was confirmed that the John W Campbell Award has been renamed the Astounding Award.

This is GREAT NEWS.

And every other award named after someone should be having a long conversation about whether they want to follow suit. Humans are fallible, ideas are bulletproof and ideals can and should be Astounding. 
We're so fancy and yes we DO already know. The tux, from Macgregor and Macduff got customized brilliantly by Reading sartoriomancers La Sartoria my first bowtie (Thanks SO MUCH TO Alex Acks for tying it) looks great and the Tux Chucks bring everything together.

AND HOLY SHIT LOOK AT MARGUERITE. LOOK AT HER EARRINGS AND HER DRESS AND HER CAPE AND HER AMAZINGNESS.

I have no chill whatsoever here. She looked stunning and I looked badass. And honestly, ending up as part of Alyshondra Meacham's wonderful thread of Hugo fashion remains a highlight of the show. Check our literal style, yo.

Slightly Less Abreviated Thoughts About The Hugos

That is an amazing set of winners! Especially delighted to see Zen Cho, Jeanette Ng, Becky Chambers and Mary Robinette Kowal recognized. That being said. there are times when Hugo voters can, intentionally or not, be cruel. Two of them hit this year.

-Charles Payseur getting fewer votes than No Award is indefensible. Charles is a dynamo who, along with colleagues like Maria Haskins, has made short fiction reviewing viable and vital and in doing so has aided the entire field. The industry needs him, it doesn't need to insult him. I hope next year that's rectified.

-Didi Chanoch's thread here covers the ground concerning Gardner Dozois' posthumous Hugo brilliantly. All I'll add is this: the voters didn't recognize the 13 years E Catherine Tobler and Shimmer put into making the industry better. That's a massive shame.

Return of the Judge

The Judge returns! I’m incredibly happy to be both returning as a Kitschies Red and Gold judge (Tentacle Black, of course, being the Judge team the Weatherman keeps in reserve) AND debuting as a judge at an award I cannot yet name but shortly will!

Even better I’ve already found that I’m approaching things differently from last time. Previously, I took a long LONG time drilling down to the books that were worth considering. I also struggled with the difference between ‘I like this’ and ‘This is award worthy’. This time? First book out of the pile, a hundred pages in. I love it! It is very much my jam. And under no circumstances an award contender for this award. So I’m reading it for fun and bringing the next one on the line. Go Team Efficiency!

Wu Assassins Season 1

Wu Assassins, on paper, is the exact sort of urban fantasy cheese I run headlong at. Iko Uwais, the astonishing lead of The Raid movies, starts as Kai Jin. An Indonesian-Chinese chef and the adopted son of Triad leader Uncle Six (Byron Mann), Kai discovers that he is the Wu Assassin. Five elemental powers have echoed down history and fallen into the hands of criminals. Only Kai, with the aid of the thousand monks' skills and faces he now carries can stop them.

Well...I say only he....

Kai is aided and occasionally anything but aided in his quest by his adoptive family. Not just Mann's wonderfully laconic Six either but Lu Xin Lee, Kai's functional older brother and siblings Jenny and Tommy Wah. Lu is played by Lewis Tan, whose career has justifiably blossomed after being laughably overlooked for Iron Fist. Lu is a car thief, small time criminal and far more like Uncle Six than he wants to admit. Jenny, played by Li Jun Li, has inherited her parents' business and is increasingly unhappy about that. Tommy, played by Lawrence Kao (Who I was delighted to discover is also a member of dance crew Kinjaz), is a heroin addict and the family member in a flat spin. In addition, they're first investigated and then aided by CG Dill, an undercover cop played with exuberant charm by Katheryn Winnick. Throw in Celia Au as Ying Ying, the original Wu assassin and JuJu Chan as Uncle's boydguard, Zan and you've got a massive cast all of whom are extraordinarily gifted at graceful forms of violence.

Oh AND Mark Dacascos as one of the monks, not to mention a lovely, affectionate nod to Iron Chef.

This could so easily have been a glorious hot mess and it is anything but. From an action point of view having athletes like this on screen pays dividends every single episode. The fights and fighting styles are used constantly to express character and drive the plot and it's rarely been done better than it is here. A late episode, 'Ladies Night';, sees Zan functionally storm a Police Station and be taken down by Jenny and CG in one of the most pleasingly realistic, and gnarly, fights I've seen on screen. There's precious little showboating here, just two very frightened people closing the distance with a trained killer and trying to choke her out before she murders them. Likewise the clashes between Kai and Six and a later, crowd-pleasing racist beatdown. Each fight serves a purpose, each fight feels different and each fight tells you about the people in it.
The acting and direction are no slouches either, Uwais is perfect for the mournful, dutiful Kai, balancing his relentless focus with moments of Jackie Chan like physical comedy. Mann clearly loves his work, exuding velvet toned menace as Six but it's the main ensemble that really impresses. Kao is brilliant as the twitchy, nervy Tommy and Li Jun Li nails Jenny's fundamental conflict effortlessly. Best of all, Tan gets to have the time of his life as Lu, a man convinced he's bad to the bone who is, in reality, quietly an absolute teddy bear.

But where the show really shines is in the writing. An early episode sees CG and Kai sent to pick up a windshield. In two lines, the junkyard owner they visit is established as a complex, interesting character. The revelation behind why Jenny is working the underground fight circuit is impressively handled and explored with a compassion you wouldn't expect from a street-fighting sub plot, Likewise Tommy's struggles to get clean and even the villains, none of whom are who they first seem to be. Tommy Flanagan, yet another welcome face, is especially great as the season's main antagonist precisely because he has justifiable grievances. Nothing is easy or simple in this world and that makes Kai's burden all the harder to carry. Time and again the show takes a simple premise and upends it. Time and again the show surprises you and it's characters alike.

Wu Assassins is absolutely the sort of urban fantasy cheese I love. But it's also a fiercely well written and ambitious show that's desperately interested in duty and found family. It engages with, although perhaps doesn't explore enough, Kai's heritage. It has the courage to make nothing easy and makes almost no missteps in its exploration of violence and its consequences. Best of all, it never forgets to have a little fun. 

Wu Assassins Season 1 is on Netflix. Jack Burton would love it. And would Jack lie to you about something like this?
 

Signal Boosting


Alex and Sharon Shaw are two of my oldest friends and also two of the most prolific and positive forces working in UK pop culture discussion. School of Movies is an astoundingly good show and one I've been honored to be a guest on. But New Century might just be their masterpiece. Here's what you need to know.
 

The grandest adventure in the New Century Multiverse begins. SteamHeart brings together the heroes of the previous stories in a journey south to save the whole damn world.

The investigations of the Cartographers have uncovered the origin point of the wendigo plague. Now a team must be assembled to travel there, journey inside and find out who or what is behind the near-extinction of mankind.

They will need a Captain, a strategist, an engineer and pilot, a specialist on supernatural phenomena, a doctor, a heavy, and a journalist to write about the whole journey. Along the way they will meet allies and enemies old and new. And in doing so, they will either tear themselves apart or redefine what family means to them.

And after the miraculous steamcraft they travel in makes its final stop, the world will be entirely different to how it was when they began.

Here's where you can find it:

AUDIO DRAMA ON BANDCAMP

USA KINDLE VERSION

USA PAPERBACK VERSION

UK KINDLE VERSION

UK PAPERBACK VERSION

And here are the podcast versions
 

I'll be reviewing Steamheart in an upcoming issue too but don't wait for me. This stuff is GREAT fun and you should dive into it headlong.

And of course, here's my Ko-Fi.

Signing Off/Playing Out

Tough run, this last couple of weeks. Massive thanks and love to Marguerite, as ever. Because here we are, at the end of the month, ready to face the next one. And, I am ready. I'm not okay, like I said and part of me bitterly resents the fact I'm healing. But the rest of me looks at how easy it is to live in old trauma and that's not something I, or anyone, should do. You don't have to let it go, but you can put it down and that's what this week's issue has helped me start to do. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it.

If you did, check the Escape Artists Podcast Network for more me and other awesome people related goodness and the KennerStuart instagram for regular updates.

This was made for free so if you can, please consider dropping some money in my Ko-Fi. Thank you:)

Another week down, folks. Round we go and we're readier than we think. Remember to hydrate, eat some fiber and check the wording on the invitation. Playing us out this week? Well, it's one of my all-time favorites that's been back in rotation. After all, this has been a rough couple of weeks. And this?
Is a Full Lid.
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Agathon Towers · Cheapside Road · Reading, Berkshire RG1 7AG · United Kingdom

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