Calling all fans in NYC! CMV will be attending the Brooklyn Book Festival next weekend. If you’d like to come out and see her (admission is free!), get the details below:

Brooklyn Book Festival
Sunday, September 18 (10am-6pm)

The location is downtown Brooklyn, and the festival will be held rain or shine. Also, seating at panels is on a first come, first served basis.

Cat will specifically be doing a Bookend Event with the Center for Fiction on Gender in Science Fiction and Fantasy:

This event brings together celebrated voices from science fiction and fantasy whose work explores gender constructs and/or notions of sexuality, to talk about the current state and representation of these themes in the field. Multi-award winner Catherynne M. Valente (The Labyrinth(2004), Deathless (2011), Radiance (2015)) joins Seth Dickinson (The Traitor Baru Cormorant, 2014), 2015 Nebula Award-winner Alyssa Wong, and Whiting Award-winner Alice Sola Kim.

This event will take place at 5:00 PM at the Brooklyn Borough Hall Court Room in downtown Brooklyn.

While you wait for next weekend, check out CMV’s fairy tale noir short story “The Consultant,” now featured at the Center for Fiction’s website!

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Readercon is nearly here, and Cat Valente is a Guest of Honor at the 2016 con alongside Tim Powers!  The convention takes place in Quincy, Massachusetts, and is running from Thursday, July 7th to Sunday, July 10th. If you plan to be in attendance and wish to find Cat for autographs, readings, or panels – well, this is the post for you! Her schedule is handily provided below:


8:00 PM / 6 / SF in Classical Tradition.
John Crowley, Haris Durrani, Ada Palmer, Catherynne M. Valente, Jo Walton (leader). Whatever your definition of science fiction, there’s no disputing that there were centuries of proto-science fiction published before the modern stuff began appearing. More than 1600 years before Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, Lucian of Samosata wrote The True History, featuring perhaps the first fictional trip to the moon, the first fictional trip into outer space, and the first fictional space opera. Cicero, in 51 B.C.E. published “The Dream of Scipio,” in which the narrator and his grandfather, Scipio Africanus, take an astral journey through the solar system. Greek mythology, plays, and tragedies have science fictional elements in them as well. Our panelists will discuss the fantastical and science fictional in the classical (Greek and Roman) tradition.


11:00 AM / C / The Politics of Food.
Liz Gorinsky, Geoff Hart, David Shaw (mod), Vinnie Tesla, Catherynne M. Valente.
The recipe for lembas is a closely guarded secret—it’s made by the elves, we’re told, but which of them, and how? Why are restaurants lauded for meticulously recreating the humblest foods of people who now can’t afford it? And what becomes of authenticity when all our food is replicated, from the database of some culinary streaming service? Armies march on their stomachs, and empires are built as often to seek out new appetites as sate them. How does food shape our stories, and what are the stories we can tell about our food?

2:00 PM / 5 / Reading Works from Long Ago.
Phenderson Clark, Michael Dirda, Delia Sherman (mod), Catherynne M. Valente, Jacob Weisman.
“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” So L.P. Hartley wrote. But they don’t just do things differently there, they believe and feel things differently as well. Human motivations may remain the same, but how those motivations are expressed and felt vary widely. Is it possible for modern readers to understand the motivations and actions of people of different times and places? How effectively can we understand the inhabitants of 16th century Japan, 1810s England, or pre-historic Europe? What tools can writers use to make that understanding easier for readers?

3:00 PM / CL / Kaffeeklatsch.
Ben Francisco, Catherynne M. Valente.

4:00 PM / 6 / Speculative Retellings.
C.S.E. Cooney, Ben Francisco, Gwynne Garfinkle, Kathleen Howard, Catherynne M. Valente.
Speculative elements in fiction are not limited to robots and ghosts and dragons. For ages, the stories that get told have almost always been by told straight white able rich men, and there may be no way of separating those stories from the culture of writing today. In stories like “Travels With the Snow Queen” by Kelly Link, or “Shift” by Nalo Hopkinson, retelling old stories written by white men becomes an inherent challenge to those narratives, and that challenge itself becomes a speculative element. What other elements can we bring to these stories, and will we ever get to a point where challenging the status quo is not seen as speculative?

5:00 PM / E / Autographs.
Catherynne M. Valente, Fran Wilde.

6:00 PM / A / Reading: Catherynne M. Valente.
Catherynne M. Valente.
Catherynne M. Valente reads From The Refrigerator Monologues, a novella out next year from Simon & Schuster.


1:00 PM / C / My Character Ate What?.
John Chu, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ada Palmer, Lauren Roy, Catherynne M. Valente, Fran Wilde (leader).
“My Character Ate What?,” based loosely on Hollywood Squares, that uses food in SF as the subject matter for questions. You are signing up to be a contestant in Fran Wilde’s game.

4:00 PM / 5 / Catherynne M. Valente Interviewed by John Clute and Elizabeth Hand.
John Clute, Elizabeth Hand, Catherynne M. Valente.


11:00 AM / 6 / Shirley Jackson Awards.
John Langan, Tim Powers, Catherynne M. Valente.
In recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate, the Shirley Jackson Awards have been established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic. Jackson (1916–1965) wrote classic novels such as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, “The Lottery.” Her work continues to be a major influence on writers of every kind of fiction, from the most traditional genre offerings to the most innovative literary work. The awards given in her name have been voted upon by a jury of professional writers, editors, critics, and academics, with input from a Board of Advisors, for the best work published in the calendar year of 2014 in the following categories: Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Single-Author Collection, and Edited Anthology.

12:00 PM / 5 / A Dark and Golden Age.
Sioban Krzywicki (leader), Darrell Schweitzer, J.M. Sidorova, Catherynne M. Valente, Walter Williams.
We frequently refer to the Dark Ages, Middle Ages, or Medieval Period to describe the time between the fall of Rome and the beginning of the Renaissance. However, these terms primarily refer to the conditions in Western Europe. The Eastern Roman Empire didn’t fall until 1453. The Muslim world considered this a golden age with many innovations and scientific advances. China, India, Africa, Eastern Europe, and many other regions have their own eras, empires, “rises,” and “declines” that have nothing to do with this demarcation. How can we better use this history in fantasy and historical fiction? How has our obsession with the tiny, western part of Europe colored our writing to this day?

1:00 PM / C / Keytars in Science Fiction!  
John Chu, Yves Meynard, Sarah Pinsker (leader), David Shaw, Catherynne M. Valente. Alien or futuristic music can play a large role in SF, but how is it best conveyed? Music has evolved to encompass a vast array of styles, instrumentation, and sound. How can we make something seem alien or futuristic instead of just “experimental”? Is it unusual instruments, ranges of sound, different scales, some combination of these or something else altogether? On TV and movies new instruments can be shown, like Spock’s lute, but how do we make sure the sound isn’t just ours? How would alien instruments be different? Would we be able to make sense of it? The soundtrack to Forbidden Planet was created with entirely original, electronic instruments to make a seemingly alien sound, but how often can something like this be done before it becomes generic? Are we stuck with making sure the lyrics convey the alienness or futuristicness?

Also, for those interested in all things CMV, there’s a “The Works of Catherynne M. Valente” panel happening on Friday at 12 PM. Here are the details:

12:00 PM / C / The Works of Catherynne M. Valente.
Jonathan Crowe, Gillian Daniels, Liz Gorinsky (leader), Kathleen Howard.
Catherynne Valente has been a professional fortune teller, telemarketer, private tutor, librarian, waitress, bartender, actress, and statistician, but she is best known as a novelist and poet, having published over two dozen novels and poetry collections. She has been nominated for or won every major award in science fiction and fantasy: the Hugo (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014), the Nebula (2013, 2014), Locus (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014), and the World Fantasy Award (2007, 2009, 2011, 2014). In the Night Garden (2006) won the James Tiptree Jr. Award; The Orphan’s Tales (2006-2007) won the Mythopoeic Award; “The Seven Devils of Central California” won the Rhysling Award (2008); Palimpsest won the Lambda Award (2010). In 2010, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making became the first self-published work to win a major literary award, winning the Andre Norton Award. The sequel, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, was listed by Time Magazine and NPR as one of the ten best books of 2012. The New York Times has called her “an incandescent young star.” Join our panelists in a discussion of her work.

Posted in Blog Posts, News Comment

This weekend, CMV is at Finncon 2016 in Tampere, Finland! The convention runs from Friday, July 1st, to Sunday, July 3rd. If you are attending, read on – we’ve put together a “Where’s Cat at Finncon?” list of appearances for you. And, remember! If you want to join the Kaffeeklatch with Cat on Sunday, be sure to sign up early – space is limited.


16:00 at Luentosali A1: On Writing
Guests of Honor Catherynne M. Valente, Jasper Fforde and Anne Leinonen talk about their work, inspiration and methods. Chair: Saara Henriksson.


10:00 at Juhlasali: Opening Ceremonies
Welcome to Finncon 2016! The convention and our Guests of Honor are introduced.

12:00 at Juhlasali: Guest of Honor interview: Catherynne M. Valente

13:00 at Signeeraukset: Signing
Guest of Honor Catherynne M. Valente signs her works at the main lobby.

16:00 at Luentosali D10a: Sex, drugs and Puss ‘n’ Boots
Beneath the sweet, Disney exterior of fairy tales often lies a roiling underbelly of lust, abuse and unfulfilled desire. Modern reincarnations often put the subtext of the originals out for anyone to see. In a panel moderated by Nina Niskanen, Anne Leinonen and Catherynne M. Valente discuss the topic of sex in the context of fairy tales. CW: may contain discussion of sexual abuse.


11:00 at Kaffeeklatch: Catherynne M. Valente
Come have a drink and chat with the GoH. Limited number of participants, sign up at the info!

13:00 at Juhlasali: Guest of Honor Reading: Catherynne M. Valente
Cat Valente will read from a new, unpublished work.

14:00 at Luentosali A3: Music in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Bowie & Prince
The music panel is back, and with good reason. 2016 is the year in which David Bowie and Prince left us, and returned to their homes among the stars. Our panel looks back on their work and influence. There may be tears.

Also, for those interested, there’s a paper on Cat’s Fairyland series being presented on Finncon’s academic track. You can see Fodor András present his paper “The Nature of Heroism in Catherynne M. Valente’s Fairyland Series” at 10:00 in Luentosali D11 on Sunday.

Enjoy Finncon, everyone!


Posted in News Comment

Last week, the Fairyland series received a wonderful review in the New Yorker Magazine, an absolute dream come true for me! I still can hardly believe it happened. Radiance got a fabulous paragraph all its own as well.

Nothing I can say will be better than reading the review itself, so here it is! I’M A REAL WRITER YOU GUYS!

Posted in Blog Posts Comment

Last night I was made aware of two things: that the Sad Puppy 4 Recommendation List has been released and that I am on it, for my novella Speak Easy.

Yes, these are the same Sad Puppies that dominated fandom conversation through most of last year, and whose slates resulted in so much ink spilt, and so many No Awards given out. Yes, I am still the evil SJW Queen Bee Persian Cat Who the Hell Does She Think She Is that I was last year in the eyes of this group. I am absolutely not going to re-hash the arguments on Sad or Rabid Puppies right now. You guys know how to Google. I suggest File770 for excellent coverage.

My first reaction–and perhaps not my best reaction–was anger and confusion. I genuinely do apologize for posting my first reaction to the internet–I should know better by now. This is me, a good sleep later, trying to sort it all out logically.

I was upset because I wasn’t asked whether I was okay with being put on this list. I had thought I remembered SP saying they would ask authors for permission in the future, but it’s since been pointed out to me that my memory, as with all human cognition, is faulty, and the truth is the opposite–they, in fact, pledged not to ask permission or remove names on request.

I was immediately attacked on Twitter for this anger and confusion–aren’t I an ungrateful, horrible person for not being happy and honored that people liked my work? Aren’t I insulting my readers? Aren’t I trying to exclude certain opinions because I don’t agree with them politically? Aren’t the Puppies showing good faith by including such obviously SJW authors as myself, John Scalzi, Alyssa Wong, Nnedi Okorafor, and Ann Leckie? Shouldn’t I just sit down and shut up? Aren’t I actually the worst?

And it occurs to me that I would feel far less anger and confusion if one single person had calmly and without rancor said to me: “Hey, last year was a clusterfuck all around. This year we’re trying to put all that behind us and do a straight recommendation list. That’s all that’s going on.” But instead, it was the same instant name-calling and attacks that went down last time.

So I spent the night trying to get my thoughts in order on this. Because, yes, if you strip away all the context of the Sad Puppies campaigns, it’s just a recommendation list, and I was happy enough to be on the Locus List (which doesn’t ask permission), so I should simply be joyful that people liked Speak Easy enough to recommend others take a look at it. A recommendation list, as we have been saying all along, is not a slate.

But you can’t strip away the context. Context is content. Context is everything.

I promised last year not to allow my name on any slate, for any reason, in perpetuity. Which means that if SP4 is, somehow, a slate, it would be hypocritical of me to shrug and say I’m cool with it just because my name happens to be on it. This is where I get stuck, because I feel there is a moral morass here. Call me old-fashioned: when I give my word, it still means something to me. This puts me in an incredibly difficult position, from which there is no easy extrication.

The problem is, I spent a year listening to how the Puppies are Master Strategists. You can’t blame me for doing a Perception Roll and looking for traps. And that is my fear. That, with apologies to Admiral Akbar, it’s a trap.

I don’t want to be anyone’s shield. I want any nomination to be about my work and my work alone. I don’t want to be used to add legitimacy to a slate, I don’t want to be used to whitewash the history of a movement that, at the very minimum, has behaved poorly and rudely toward a large number of people, including me, my loved ones, and my colleagues. I don’t want to be fodder for a “we all know the first five are the real slate” strategy. I don’t want to be used as a gotcha!, forced to withdraw in order to keep my moral house in order and make room for more works along the lines of “Safe Space as Rape Room” and “Sad Puppies Bite Back” or remain on the list and force a conversation about No Awarding so that the Puppies can watch the people they targeted last year get No Awarded or call us all hypocrites at large for not doing it–victory declared at any result.

I don’t want to be used. Hashtag Not Your Shield. I want my work to be my work, and that’s it. If I get nominated, I want to know it happened fairly. That it was only about people liking my work.

And maybe, just maybe, that’s what’s happening. They seem to have done everything people said they should do to make it a recommendation list and not a slate. It’s democratic, it’s open, there are either more or less than five recs for every slot. The Rabid Puppy list has almost nothing in common with the Sad Puppy list.

But it’s absurd to get angry at someone for thinking there might be something more to it. After all the talk about manipulation and strategy, all the insults flung and accusations levied, this is the result. It is hard to trust. And it is impossible to just pull the tablecloth out from under the Sad Puppies and leave the flowers and the silver still standing. The Puppies are a political group. They specifically did what they did last year to make “SJW heads explode.” Members have engaged in racists, homophobic, and sexist rhetoric. They have stated that the last several years of Hugos, during which I won and was nominated, were a lie and a farce, only existing due to affirmative action.

But many members did not engage in that rhetoric. The relationship between Sad and Rabid was always fluid, strange, and half-obscured. Many people simply wanted more populist work on the ballot, and they had every right to want that. Every right to have their voice heard–just not to the exclusion of all other voices. No group is monolithic.

But the Sad Puppy name is inextricably entwined with that history. Remember why the Puppy was Sad in the first place. You can’t just separate that past and say it’s all fine now. You certainly can’t, as some have in messages to me, say there was never anything wrong with it and everyone else was evil. At least in terms of what I’ve seen on social media in the last 24 hours, Puppies still want to fight, still want to accuse, still don’t want to say anything in the ball park of “Hey, it’s not like that” and explain things in a non-inflammatory way. This worries me. This makes me think about Admiral Akbar.

So what do I do? Honestly, I still don’t know. My stomach hurts. At the moment, it really does look like people just liked my book. Anyone could recommend something, after all. Locus doesn’t need my permission and neither does anyone else, so requiring it from the Puppies alone, as long as it is not a slate, would be strange. I’ve been on some WEIRD rec lists in my time, I tell you what. And I will absolutely not dismiss readers because of the URL where their desires are expressed.

It all comes down to whether this recommendation list is a list or a slate.

Right now, it doesn’t look like a slate. Right now, it looks like a list complied by people with extremely wide-ranging tastes and interests. Right now, I’m inclined to try to mend fences across fandom in whatever little way I can by giving them the benefit of the doubt that this is all in good faith–because I want to be given the benefit of the doubt that I act in good faith. So for right now, that’s what I’m going to do. I am going to believe in the better angels of our–and Puppy–nature. I’m going to choose to believe that they looked at the thousand suggestions of ways to recommend books that would not run afoul of the spirit of the Hugos and adjusted their methods accordingly. I’m going to choose to believe that the political rhetoric of the Puppy movement is a thing of the past, and from here on out, it will be about what each and every one of us said it should be about–good books. Nothing else.

If this changes, if all that ugliness comes roaring back and it becomes about something other than the content of books, I will change my mind and very quickly. But for right now, I have to try to believe that things can get better. This is my Pollyanna moment. I sincerely hope I don’t regret it.

If you take anything away from all of this it should be merely that Hugo nominations close on March 31st. Nominate what you love, don’t think about anything else. Love is all that matters, in the end.

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