There comes a time in every story when things look bleak: the princess is locked in the tower, the witch has lost her power, the rebel leader has been imprisoned in the dungeon, the questing hero has lost their way. When the shadows and doubt creep in, what well of inner strength can we draw from? What faith, what hope can we rely on?
At Sirens, we like to think that strength can be found in community. If April’s been a tough month for you, you’re not alone. We hope that, both through the lens of fiction and the Zoom windows of reality, we can offer you some entertainment and some hope for better days.
Guest of Honor Weeks: Fonda Lee and Rin Chupeco
Our celebration of our 2020 Guests of Honor continued this month with spotlights on Fonda Lee and Rin Chupeco! Fonda and Rin are both authors who will be delivering keynote addresses at Sirens this year. Here’s where you can learn a little more about them and their works:
- Fonda’s Sirens Interview: Discussing gendered villainy, integrating women into hypermasculine power structures in her worldbuilding, and concepts of duty
- Further Reading: A list of Fonda’s guest posts and interviews
- Lily Weitzman’s review of Jade City
- Fonda’s Book Recommendations
- Rin’s Sirens Interview: Discussing constructing trust in relationships between characters, integrating politics into fiction, and being mistaken for a ghost
- Further Reading: A round-up of Rin’s short fiction and interviews
- Faye Bi’s review of The Bone Witch
- Rin’s Book Recommendations
We have our last two Guest of Honor weeks, for Dr. Kinitra D. Brooks and Sarah Gailey, coming up in May, so keep your eye out!
Have some thoughts about gendered villainy that you’re eager to discuss with a diverse group of brilliant people? Been doing some research on fantasy literature that you’d love to share with someone besides the other denizens of your quarantine house? Want to teach us all how to design a map, swing a sword, or dress for a masquerade ball? It’s time to get those Sirens programming proposals shined up and submitted! You still have a few weeks, but the deadline of May 15 is fast approaching, so be sure to get yours in soon!
Remember that there are no required qualifications for presenters. Every conference features readers, scholars, librarians, teachers, publishing professionals, authors, and more as part of our programming schedule. You have ideas, and we want to hear them! Our vetting board is looking for thoughtful, inclusive, relevant programming on gender and fantasy literature, potentially but not necessarily focused on this year’s theme of villainy. You can check out the Sirens archives for examples of past programming, and peruse our annual programming series for details on what format proposals take, what our vetting board looks for, and how to submit.
Need some starter ideas to help your proposal grow? Think of the #SirensBrainstorm tag on Twitter like that sourdough yeast everyone seems to have these days! Dozens of potential topics are there, waiting for you to bake them into proposals. You can also join us for the next programming chat on Monday, May 4, 9–11 p.m. Eastern (6–8 p.m. Pacific) if you’ve got questions or some potential ideas you’d like to talk out.
We had grand plans this year to organize a whole slew of in-person Sirens meet-ups, from coast to coast – but, well, that’s been slightly derailed. Instead, we’re taking the conversations into virtual space! We held one Sirens chat on Zoom in April, and we have another scheduled for 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 3, and we look forward to holding more, both general and region-specific, in the coming months. Keep an eye on your email for more information and Zoom links!
We’ll also be holding another Twitter chat on May 6 at 8 p.m. All you have to do is follow #SirensChat to participate. This month’s theme celebrates space fantasy, science fiction, and the places in-between!
We know how comforting a trip to another world is even at the best of times. Right now, a trip anywhere probably sounds good to most of us! Let these books help your mind escape into some flights of fancy:
Book Recommendations and Reviews:
- The Sirens Staff compiled a list of hopeful reads for hard times.
- Kate Larking took us on a journey through the character-driven fantasy novels that helped to make a reader out of her.
- Amy Tenbrink shared a list of fandom-focused fiction centering marginalized groups in fandom spaces.
- Don’t miss the April Roundup of New Releases.
And here are a few staff picks from April’s new releases:
Erynn’s Pick: The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper, by A.J. Fitzwater
This collection of seven short stories is centered around Cinrak, a lesbian, capybara pirate and her enormous house-ship crew of found family: trans boy chinchilla, genderqueer rat mentor, fairy, and whale, and drag queen mer. Contains colorful storytelling in an anthropomorphic world, magical tales of swashbuckling animals with input from the moons, winds, and stars. Does not contain as much blood, murder, and conflict as you might expect from a pirate ship, but if you are wanting a light-hearted escape to a socialist, seafaring, LGBTQIA, utopian vessel then look no further.
Cass’s Pick: Race the Sands, by Sarah Beth Durst
I cannot shut up about this book. I got to read the ARC earlier this spring, and it was genuinely the first thing in ages to take me away from the real world and fully invest me in a world of imagination for a few hours. I’ve come to realize that I can count on Sarah Beth Durst for truly innovative worldbuilding. Race the Sands features a world where reincarnation is an acknowledged and critical component of society and politics. The mythos is absolutely fascinating.
And then there are the monsters. Which people ride. Imagine if the Kentucky Derby featured a dozen chimeras that had to be telepathically controlled so they didn’t maim or eat their jockeys. It’s wild and spectacular. The main characters are a pair of amazing women who team up to ride one strange beast in pursuit of their own goals–but with consequences none of them could have imagined at the start of their journey.
Happy May, friends! May it bring you many flowers of the heart and mind.
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Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at sirensconference.org) and questions about programming to (programming at sirensconference.org).