Sunborn Bookbub Blast

Sunborn by Jeffrey A. CarverIn conjunction with the good folks at Bookbub, I am knocking 83% off the price of my Sunborn ebook, for a limited time only! If you’ve read the first three books in The Chaos Chronicles and want to keep going with the fourth book, this is your chance. (Or if the dog ate your ebook copy or you’ve lost it under a pile of unpaid bills and requests for political contributions, and you need a new copy.)

That’s $.99 for a book that Library Journal said “ensures [Carver’s] place among the most inventive of contemporary authors of hard sf and speculative theory. Filled with startling ideas and ingenious plot twists, this sf adventure (along with its series predecessors) belongs in most sf collections.” Continue reading “Sunborn Bookbub Blast”

How Not to Win an Award

Each month, I ask my patrons what they’d like for their new essay. They vote. This month the vote was split, and I chose the one I wanted to write about, because no-one was asking me and I had stories to tell. You’ve seen the announcement here – that I won a prize for one of my novels. A not-unimportant prize. It struck me as odd that only my patrons want to know why I wrote this novel. Or maybe the oddness is that people are curious, but have not asked. Either way, I wrote that essay and it will go out tomorrow or Thursday.

The story of the novel may be cool, but I thought you’d like the story of what happened on the night of the award ceremony. It was the beginning of what promises to be a very interesting year.

The Ditmars are the Australian equivalent of the Hugos – awards for writing and art and criticism and more voted by SF fans. My novel was one of the finalists for best novel. I assumed I wasn’t going to win because I could see no reason why I should. I was fully expecting Eugen Bacon to win, in fact, so I didn’t worry too much about the award itself. My brain pushed all deep thought and lists of debts owed to the side, although I did wonder when the announcement would be made.

I only heard about the award ceremony three hours before, and that was a form invitation that all the finalists received. It was already Rosh Hashanah. My New Year.

If it hadn’t been for the pandemic, I wouldn’t even have kept the computer on. Work was out of the question and for me, that award ceremony was work. It took me a while to puzzle this out. I did it on Facebook with many contributions from friends. I discovered then that a lot of people go to award ceremonies for fun. I don’t. I love it when people I care for get recognition, but I find the ceremonies themselves hard work. Speaking to a big audience about a topic I love, however, that’s fun.

I finally puzzled my way through the whole problem, sent an email to my publisher, and sent an apology to the organisers. The only reason it took me that long was that I was dealing with medical issues all that week. I had to decide through a haze and it was not comfortable physically or emotionally. My mother was happy with my decision, which was the big thing. I couldn’t tell her about it until afterwards, however. Three hours is not a long time.

When the three hours were nearly up, I was spending my new year with two of my close friends. Yaritji Green, in the middle of our chat, asked me if I knew someone and I told her they were on the Ditmar committee. I asked her if that meant she was at the online ceremony. Not only was Yaritji at the online ceremony, but she was willing to stand in for me if needed. 

She asked me for some dot points, in case. I didn’t take the need seriously, for that whole day had turned improbable three hours before. I told her “This was an impossible work and the award is in an impossible year and it’s impossible for Gillian to be here cos it’s Rosh Hashanah.” I tried to think about it more but, “I have heaps of things I would say, but I can’t think of them tonight. My brain is outside work zone.”

She asked me about the nomination and I explained, “I had my heart stuff then wrote that novel the following October/November, BTW, so it’s very appropriate that you’re (as a doctor) my sub.” (I’ve cleaned up the impossible typing – everything looked impossible at that moment.) “I cogitated on the conditions for the novel for 20 days in hospital, then while I was recovering, then when I found myself with no paid work because the uni was leading up to sacking me and then splurged and I wrote it very quickly. You don’t need to say any of this – I’m just remembering that this was the first time I sorted out HOW to turn garbage into fertiliser. Fruitcake was the first flower in my new garden.”

My mind didn’t have much time to dwell on the irony in what I’d explained to Yaritji. In fact, the moment I finished typing it, I sent it and two words arrived from Yaritji.

You won,” she typed.

She had been speaking on my behalf while I was trying to get my mind around why it was impossible to think lucidly about this novel. My immediate reaction to “You won” was “Wait…what!!!” Yaritji knows me very well and sent me a picture of her computer, with the announcement writ large on the screen.

That’s the end.That’s how it happened. I suspect I won’t believe I actually won until I see a trophy.


[celebrations] Book Launch Day!

Book Launch Today — Collaborators by Deborah J. Ross


Poised on the brink of war, the people of the planet Bandar are stunned by the arrival of a disabled Terran space ship. But the Terrans are even less prepared to understand the politics, gender fluidity, or mob reflexes of the natives. The Terran captain uses increasing force as the only way to ensure desperately needed repairs. Hoping to bring enlightened human values to the natives, a young scientist’s intervention leads to disaster.

After a vicious assault, a pregnant native becomes radicalized. A failed poet sees the Terran occupation as a way to gain the recognition he craves. A widow whose farm is bombed using Terran weaponry journeys to the capital in search of help and ends up facing a firing squad. And a reporter becomes the voice of the resistance, determined to take back his world from the invaders…

As violence escalates, the fate of both peoples rests with those who have suffered the most. Can they find a way to forgiveness . . . and peace?

 Lambda Literary Award Finalist

James Tiptree, Jr. Award 2014 Long List

The “Story Behind the Story” of Collaborators

Collaborators is an occupation-and-resistance story, which at its heart is about
the uses and abuses of power. In order to talk about power, I had to address the issue of
gender. Gender and race inform every human interaction; from our earliest years, we
are trained to respond to others as “like me” or “not like me,” and all too often treat
them either kindly or harshly as a result. Rather than delve into 20th Century human
gender politics (I wrote the book mostly in 1992-95) I decided to create a gender-fluid
alien race in order to highlight the assumptions humans make. I wanted to create a
resonance and contrast between the tensions arising from First Contact and those
arising from gender expectations. What if the native race — inherently “not the same
color/race/ethnicity” as humans — did not divide themselves into male and female?
How would that work – biologically? romantically? socially? politically? How would it
affect the division of labor? child-rearing? How many ways would Terrans misinterpret
a race for whom every other age-appropriate person is a potential lover? Or, in a life-
paired couple, each partner equally likely to engender or gestate a child? Maybe by the
time we achieve interstellar space flight, we’ll have evolved beyond sexism and racism,
not to mention homophobia and religious intolerance. One can only hope.


For my alien race in Collaborators, I also wanted sexuality to be important. I
decided that young adults would be androgynous in appearance and highly sexual. Sex
would be something they’d enjoy often and enthusiastically with their age-mates.
However, the intense intimacy created by sex exclusively with the same person would
lead to a cascade of emotional and physiological effects resulting in a permanent,
lifelong pairing. The pairing, a biological bond obvious to everyone around the couple, would lead to polarization with accompanying mood swings, aggression, inability to
focus. Each partner would appear more “female” or “male,” which would inevitably set
up occasions for misunderstanding with Terrans, who think and react in terms of those
divisions. The natives, on the other hand, would wonder how people who are
permanently polarized can get any work done, and react to Terran women as if they
were all pregnant, and therefore to be protected at all costs because their own birth rate
is low. Just as we’ve instituted the canonical talk about the birds and the bees, or sex ed
in schools, so the natives would have traditions of preparing their young people, trying
to ensure that pairing does not have disastrous political or inter-clan consequences. We
know how badly that works in humans, so it’s likely to be equally ineffective with native
teenagers, too. Continue reading “[celebrations] Book Launch Day!”

Gillian Polack Wins Ditmar for Best Novel

The Year of the Fruit CakeTreehouse writers are thrilled to report that fellow resident Gillian Polack won Australia science fiction’s 2020 Ditmar Award for best novel for The Year of the Fruit Cake. The book was published by IFWG Publishing in Australia.

Since Gillian was unable to attend the awards, Yaritji Green and Gerry Huntman accepted on her behalf. The Ditmar Award has been given at Australia’s national science fiction convention since 1969.

Gillian said on Facebook, “I was so subversive in this novel that I still have trouble believing fans voted for it. This gives me a ridiculous amount of hope at a time when hope is not everyday.

In The Year of the Fruit Cake, five women meet up by chance when they end up sharing a table in a café. They are all very different, and one of them — though we’re not sure for a long time which one of them — is an alien from a culture of multiple genders in which the beings change genders several times over a lifetime. On Earth, however, she is trapped in the unchangeable body of a menopausal woman and has a confused mass of memories about who she really is.

The book is available internationally.

I can’t stop wondering if other peoples’ lives are this confusing

I was trying to explain to a friend today, that my life is so rollercoaster that I couldn’t catch him up on the last three weeks. I’d just caught him up on maybe a third of it, with much hand gesturing and discussion. He didn’t think my life was playing rollercoaster games with me. It’s normal, he said.

If it’s normal, I worry about the world. One day recently, eight nasty little things happened to me before breakfast and spellcheck offered me ‘tetchy’ instead of an entirely different word. I wanted to accept ‘tetchy’ then. That same day, I received one of those phone calls that ends with, “Don’t tell anyone. This is under embargo.” The embargo  is over and I can tell you: I’ve been given a government grant to write. And I’d just told the world I was tetchy. I had eight reasons for being tetchy and now I have one reason for having a sigh of relief. Income is a magic thing.

The next bit of rollercoaster was entirely exhaustion with being inside. The place I live in may be short on COVID, but I am vulnerable and my various doctors tell me I will be in iso for a long time to come. Sometimes I become rebellious. This time I found an historical drama (the ‘an’ is to remind you of my accent) that is 50 one hour episodes long and that depicts a part of the Middle Ages I’m little-acquainted with. Six Flying Dragons and the Korean fourteenth century. I can still pick some holes in it and there is so much to learn about how Korea likes to tell its own stories and so it’s relaxing.

K-drama was performing its magic and I was thinking, “I, too, can have an even keel of a life.” Unless my friend is wrong and other people have placid days from time to time. For it seems I can’t. The minute I thought I could I had to give up seven phials of blood to medical diagnosis. I went into a shop on the way home. The shop with no-one else except one salesperson, and we stayed clear of each other, so I can tell my doctor next week “I didn’t betray you, truly – I wore a mask and didn’t come within 2 metres of anyone.

My unexpected trip outside the flat taught me that Australia is getting very few shipments from SE Asia. I have lots of ginger tea and not a scrap of the spices I went in for.

I also have moon cakes. Normally the moon cakes come from Hong Kong or from Singapore. These might have been from Hong Kong, but they are labelled ‘China’ and are standard white lotus ones with much eggyolk. These will be my special treat for the next month, then the tin ends up storing food in my pantry. Moon cake tins stack and they have good seals, and each year I get just one. I was thinking that flour would be good to store  in this one, but it’s too pretty.

I couldn’t get my Javanese coffee. Kopi Jawa is a particular roast and a particular brand from Indonesia. I was taught to make it in a way that works like instant coffee but with a much better flavour, and it’s great for when I’m lazy, or tired or sick or all three. There was a void on the shelf where it belonged.

It’s odd to find what’s around and what isn’t. It’s stranger walking through a shop with shelves that look as if they belong to the seventies than it is to shop online.

I ought to explain the seventies thing. Australia in the seventies had strikes. We imported a lot of things – we still do – and the strikes meant unpredictably empty shelves. This means I have techniques for dealing when my favourite Japanese spice mix is missing, but I’d rather have the spices.

When I came home I found the best and nicest email in my in-box.

I’m on panels at NASFiC. So many conference organisers are learning (in a great hurry) how to create magic online events. This one is free (though donations help) and it starts on Friday and half of it is in the middle of my night. I would normally attend the Australian equivalent, but the Australian equivalent is nothing like NASFiC and I’m so much looking forward to it.

I’m not talking about nine-tenths of what happens. This erratic movement from amazing to mundane to terrible to brilliant is my everyday.

The funny side is iso in a flat. I see people through Zoom or other programs, and I speak a lot on the phone, and I shout at my television when the writing is bad, but otherwise, I am alone. So much alone. And so busy and so rollercoastery and running and hopping to keep up. Some days I suspect plants are fictional. Other days I’m pretty certain that the outside world is a figment of my imagination.

I don’t always have enough time for my imagination. The day NASFiC ends, for instance, I have to edit a book I wrote with another government grant early this year. The grants are not very big but, to be honest, when it’s just me and my computer and my living room and the kitchen (far too close, because I like cooking and cooking likes my waist) the grants don’t have to be big.

My rollercoaster has some very deep dips in it, which you (honestly, trust me on this) don’t need to know about. The nuggets of gold and nodules of gem take me to the heights, and it’s much easier to deal with bad things when one has occasional views of a bigger world and when there are whole months at a time when bills can be paid. This year, the lows are giant hollows cut into a mountain and when I’m there I feel as if there is no outside world and no hope. The highs, however, are exceptional.

I still want to know if my friend is right about everyone having eight nasty things to handle before breakfast and one gloriously brilliant thing after breakfast and if the transformation from tetch to thinking there will be a future is very sudden and possibly uncomfortable. I’d like to know that. Mind you, I’d also like to know ten more languages and have forty hours extra each day and good eyes so that I can read ALL the wonderful stories in them. I’d like lots of things. Not this week yet. This week is busy.

Support Clarion and Clarion West

Although both Clarion and Clarion West have cancelled their six-week workshops for this year due to the pandemic, they are holding write-a-thons this year to raise funds and scheduling online readings and panel discussions.

You can choose a writer to sponsor here for Clarion West and here for Clarion. Nancy Jane Moore is participating for Clarion West and you can sponsor her here. Other participating writers are welcome to leave their name and pages in the comments.

If you’d like to write for one of the write-a-thons, both are still accepting signups. Go here to sign up for Clarion and here for Clarion West.

Clarion is featuring a series of conversations on Wednesdays, starting June 24 with a panel moderated by Karen Joy Fowler. You can register for the different sessions here.

Clarion West is holding a Tuesday reading series, which begins on June 23 with Andy Duncan. You can register for those readings here.

Welcome to the Treehouse

At the beginning of April, just when mating and nesting season was getting underway for us Crows in North America, a bunch of Humans built a treehouse in a Crow tree and then stuck around.

We were suspicious at first, because who wants strangers around when you’re nesting? But our Australian cousins,* who were preparing for winter rather than fledglings, followed them closely and decided they were mostly harmless. In fact, they have turned out to be an excellent source of seeds and other snacks, and with all the new mouths to feed, the extra bits have come in handy. Continue reading “Welcome to the Treehouse”