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Sirens Newsletter—Volume 13, Issue 8: October 2021

Sirens 2021

This month:

The time draws nigh!

We are now just days away from welcoming far-flung friends to Denver, Colorado, for Sirens 2021! Like so many other things in These Pandemic Times, it won’t be quite like other years. We’ll be masked; we’ll be respecting social distance; we’ll be arranging our rooms and meals and events a little differently, in the interests of keeping all our attendees as safe as possible.

What we are sure of, though, is that this will be an amazing opportunity to gather together and celebrate the work of female, nonbinary, and transgender creators of speculative fiction! We will still have brilliant programming presented by dazzling minds. We will still have a bookstore absolutely overflowing with fantastic stories, set in worlds worth losing yourself in. We will still have keynote sessions from our amazing guests of honor. We will still dance!

We’re looking forward to welcoming you to Denver soon—and if you can’t join us this year, we hope to see you in 2022!

A Siren’s Voyage

The final two installments in our conference-prep series, A Siren’s Voyage, cover the on-the-ground aspects of attending Sirens.

We know it can be nerve-wracking to insert yourself into a new group, so Part 5: Our Bookish Community supplies you with some tips for socializing at Sirens. Whether you’re a new attendee and want to introduce yourself to the community or a returning attendee looking to expand your circles, we recommend one question to get the ball rolling: “What are you reading?” Because everyone at Sirens, whoever they may be at home and whatever brought them to the conference, shares a love of speculative fiction—and you can take it from there!

Part 6: Attending Programs addresses the formal component of the conference: the panels, lectures, presentations, workshops, classes, and roundtables that make up the scheduled programming on Friday and Saturday. We let you know what to expect from those sessions—and that it may be more interactive than other conferences or conventions you’ve attended! Sirens thrives on conversations, and we hope that you’ll take part.

In case you missed them and want to catch up, here are the prior installments of the series:


Book Recommendations and Reviews:

  • Want to immerse yourself in a story of magic and self-discovery? S.K. Tiao recommends Madeline Miller’s Circe: “Above all, this is a story about love—of everything people and gods are willing to do for it, and all of the blessings that life can contain if it is attained.”
  • Downloading a hot new read for your travel to Sirens? Let our October Roundup of new speculative works by female, transgender, and nonbinary authors be your guide!

We’re looking forward to greeting attendees in Denver soon! And if you won’t be joining us, we hope you’ll keep reading wonderful books and sharing the love!

This newsletter is brought to you by:


Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at and questions about programming to (programming at


Sirens Newsletter—Volume 13, Issue 7: September 2021

This month:

It’s now less than a month until Sirens 2021! If you’ll be joining us in Denver, have you prepped your packing list? Assembled your masquerade outfit? Practiced your auction-bidding voice? If we won’t be seeing you this year, we hope to keep you involved with your Sirens community online and, as ever, through the exploration of the amazing work of women, nonbinary, and transgender people in fantasy literature and other speculative spaces!

COVID-19 Updates

With the pandemic ongoing, we’ve made some changes and instituted some protocols to ensure that Sirens 2021 can take place in person. Most notably, we’ve canceled Sirens Studio for this year and are folding some Studio programming into the conference schedule. We are also requiring that all attendees show proof of full vaccination and a negative viral test for COVID-19 taken less than 72 hours before the start of the conference. Attendees will also be required to wear masks in conference spaces.

We’re continuing to work on other ways to make the conference as safe as possible, including encouraging social distancing and sanitization practices. We hope that all attendees will take the appropriate measures while traveling to and from Sirens in order to protect yourselves and others.

For more information on these policies, please see our detailed post. If you have questions, contact (help at

A Siren’s Voyage

As the Sirens adventure draws nearer, we know that many of you may be feeling a little… weird about the prospect of traveling, staying in a hotel, socializing with a group, and otherwise recovering aspects of pre-pandemic life. To that end, we’ve been taking you through A Siren’s Voyage, a series designed to help familiarize or re-familiarize yourself with who we are, what we do, and what kind of experience you can expect at this conference.

Feeling Safer

Part Four: Feeling Safer addresses the concerns unique to attending a conference in the middle of a pandemic. What is Sirens doing to reduce risk? What can you do to protect yourself and others? In this post, we review our policies and protocols and make some suggestions to help everyone travel safely and smoothly.


Book Recommendations and Reviews:

  • Our final installment of this year’s Reading Challenge feature series focuses on the theme of “Finding Home.” Characters in speculative fiction may travel far and wide, among the stars or through portals or across continents, but every hero needs a home: a place or a person where they can find safety, comfort, and a respite from the trials of the world.
  • In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month in the US, we’ve assembled a list of 10 new speculative books from Latinx authors, an update to last year’s list of fifty Latinx authors and books.
  • Getting ready for Halloween and want some books to get you in the mood? We’ve got two lists to fit the season! Catherine Lundoff has assembled a list of books celebrating queer monsters and magic featuring lesbian vampires, ghost dogs, gay werecockroaches, and more, and J Koyanagi presents six tales of speculative horror that will have you wanting to leave the lights on!/li>
  • We also have a list of 5 Queer YA Novels that bring escape and comfort, gathered for us by Julia Ember.
  • This month’s Read with Amy feature explores Helen Oyeyemi’s newest novel, Peaces. This story of strangers on a train will make many readers think of Agatha Christie, but Amy warns us to recalibrate our brains for Oyeyemi’s thought-experiment-cum-adventure story that explores the question: “What does it mean when the person you most want to perceive you…simply doesn’t?”
  • Need more new reads? Our September Roundup gathers all the speculative fiction new releases by and about women and nonbinary folk that we could find!

That’s it for September! The Sirens team hopes to see you in Denver next month, but whether we do or not, we hope you’re set for a wonderful, book-filled fall!

This newsletter is brought to you by:


Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at and questions about programming to (programming at


Sirens Newsletter—Volume 13, Issue 6: August 2021

This month:

We are now fewer than two months from Sirens 2021! If you’re planning on joining us in Denver, we have guidance galore to help you plan your trip and prepare for an amazing, mind-expanding, soul-refreshing retreat. And if you can’t join us this year, we’ve got plenty of reading suggestions and online content to keep you engaged with and vitalized by the weird, wild, wonderful world of speculative fiction and the female and nonbinary people who love it.

A Siren’s Voyage

Our detailed guide to the Sirens adventure continues! In Part 2: Getting Here, we share details about our hotel, the Hilton Inverness. (Did you know it has a pool and a spa?) We also provide some tips on how to travel to Denver by plane, train, or automobile, as well as information on the Sirens Shuttle, a more affordable option for making it from the airport to the hotel.

Part 3: What to Bring spotlights that crucial pre-conference activity: packing! We give advice on handling the desert plains climate, the unpredictable October weather, and bringing an extra bag for all those books and auction items that will be begging to come home with you.

We Asked Sirens

Never been to Sirens and wondering what to expect? Attended many times but wondering how others experience the conference? Well, we conducted some informal surveys, and you can see the results in our We Asked Sirens series. We hope these posts will help you get psyched up for the unique energy you can only find at Sirens!


Book Recommendations and Reviews:

  • There’s still time to join us for August’s Book Club, Sunday, August 29 at noon MT (2:00 p.m. ET). We’ll be discussing Violet Kupersmith’s The Frangipani Hotel. If you’d like to join the conversation, email us at (help AT to be added to our list.
  • Looking for a “hopepunk tale of the apocalypse” to get you through the world’s current and ongoing crises? Jazz Sexton reviews Catherynne M. Valente’s latest novel, The Past is Red-and even recommends some musical accompaniment to go along with it! “Long-time fans and newcomers will find Valente at her best, relishing in elaborate sentences packed with imagery that sort of make you want to visit Garbagetown despite it being the result of decadence and apathy.”
  • The fifth installment of this year’s Reading Challenge feature series focuses on the theme of “Saving Yourself.” We know that all Sirens have the capacity to be their own heroes—but a little inspiration from our fictional counterparts never hurts!
  • Continuing our Books and Breakfast series, this month we’re spotlighting our three young adult selections: Melissa Bashardoust’s Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Dia Reeves’s Slice of Cherry, and Rory Power’s Wilder Girls.
  • This month’s Read with Amy feature explores Hannah Abigail Clarke’s YA contemporary fantasy The Scapegracers and its tagline: Party Hard; Hex Harder. Amy is delighted to find a “mean girls” fantasy book that defies the patriarchy rather than reinforcing tired tropes. “Clarke couldn’t care less about some patriarchal notion of girls needing to relinquish their power in order to achieve an unnecessary redemption… This work is about characters to the exclusion of almost anything else and you’ll love these girls so much, admire them, respect them, that you’ll be back to pick up those dropped threads anyway.”
  • Still need a few more stories to keep you busy on a Labor Day weekend retreat or on a back-to-school or back-to-work commute? Be sure to look at our roundup of August’s new releases from female and nonbinary authors!

As summer winds down, we hope that you, yours, and our whole Sirens community are safe, well, and well-stocked with reading material!

This newsletter is brought to you by:


Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at and questions about programming to (programming at


Sirens Newsletter—Volume 13, Issue 5: July 2021

This month:

Can you believe it? It’s July, which means that the Sirens Conference is only three months away! We hope that you’re getting your ducks in a row and your cats herded so that you can join us in Denver in October. There’s still time to register, and in the coming months, we’ll be sharing more travel tips to help you prepare for an amazing, exhilarating, restorative experience!

A Siren’s Voyage

To get you started, whether you’re a first-time attendee or a returner who needs a refresher on who we are and what we do, we’re launching the Siren’s Voyage series of posts. In Part 1: Answering the Call, we introduce our community ethos, our goals as a conference, and our guests for 2021. We also discuss Sirens Studio, the smaller, more intimate pre-conference event, and we introduce our 2021 Studio faculty.

We know that traveling to a new conference can be intimidating—and we know that some of you who’ve been before may be experiencing some reentry anxiety after a year and a half of comparative isolation. We hope that the entries in A Siren’s Voyage will ease the process of preparation. We want everyone who attends Sirens to feel welcome, comfortable, and valued, and we want you to leave the conference revived and reinvigorated. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at (help at

Sirens Community Day

Thanks to everyone who joined us for Community Day on July 25th! We hosted four virtual events on Zoom, including a BIPOC meet-up, the Sirens Book Club discussion of Rivers Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghosts, and a fantastic, mind-expanding lecture from Dr. Alyssa Collins on Afrofuturism, Black feminism, and technology, followed by roundtable discussions.

Sirens Faculty Interviews

In July, we finished introducing you to the Sirens Studio faculty:

Ren Iwamoto

Ren Iwamoto, an assistant editor at Augur Magazine, will be teaching “Seasoned with Soy Sauce: Asianization in Western Speculative Media and What It Means to be ‘Asian-Inspired’” at this year’s Studio. In her Sirens interview, she discusses the intersection of her academic work on post-colonial discourse and her professional work in the world of publishing. On what the future of speculative fiction might hold, Ren says: “Speculative fiction should destabilize. Topic is almost irrelevant to me so long as the story turns some stone over; then something meaningful was accomplished.”


Book Recommendations and Reviews:

  • The fourth installment of this year’s Reading Challenge feature series presents books with something we could all use a little more of right now: Hope. While the speculative works we love may go to dark places, challenge preconceptions, and wrestle with thorny topics, we find it equally important to remember the power of our dreams and aspirations. “Even on our worst days, hope shines resolutely on: a north star, a firework, a beacon reminding us not of what is, but what could be.” Visit the post for an introduction to the Reading Challenge selections that we feel best embody this theme.
  • Continuing our Books and Breakfast spotlight series, this month’s post focuses on the adult novels in the list: A Feast of Sorrows by Angela Slatter, Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender, and The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley. Read our introductions to these wonderful, explorative, complex books and get ready to join our discussions on the nuances of villainy and vindication embedded within their stories.
  • We’re all busy these days. Super-busy. Too busy, perhaps, for doorstopper novels or even their more moderately-sized siblings to hold our attention. If your attention span is suffering due to pandemic brain or the demands of work and family life, Read with Amy has your back. This month, Sirens Co-Chair Amy Tenbrink shares a list of masterwork collections of short speculative fiction, perfect for immersing you in a fictional world in just a few pages.
  • Are there middle-grade readers in your life? Rook Riley shares a list of book recommendations drawn from their experience as a middle school teacher. “It’s been my pleasure, along with our school librarian, to help students find books where they can find themselves in the story.”
  • Sirens Book Club: In August, we’re reading Violet Kupersmith’s sublime short fiction collection, The Frangipani Hotel. To join the Zoom discussion on Sunday, August 29 at 12:00 p.m. Mountain time (2:00 p.m. Eastern), please email us at (help AT to be added to our list.
  • Still room on the shelf or space for a few more holds in your library queue? Check out our compilation of July’s fabulous fantasy releases by women and nonbinary authors!

Stay cool, Sirens! (Physically cool, that is; we know you’re all existentially cool already.)

This newsletter is brought to you by:


Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at and questions about programming to (programming at


Sirens Newsletter—Volume 13, Issue 4: June 2021

This month:

Ah, June! The days stretched long, the flowers bloomed, and the book gods delivered unto us a veritable flood of new releases. Whether you’re the type to spend hours basking in the sun or you’re curled up in the comfort of shade and cool air, we hope you’ve got some good summer reads to keep you company—and if you’ve hit a reading slump, we’ve got some suggestions to help get you out of it!


If you haven’t yet registered to join us in October, now is a perfect time! We’re making all our plans, the hotel is open for reservations, and airlines have some amazing sales. So register now to take one thing off your to-do list.

Faculty Interviews

In June, we began introducing you to your Sirens Studio Faculty Members.

  • Jae Young Kim

    Jae Young Kim, who has worked as a nonprofit attorney advocating for immigrants, people of color, and survivors of domestic violence, will be presenting a career-oriented workshop: “Working for Change: Can We Wear Capes in Real Life?” during Sirens Studio. “I hope to share my real-life experience as a nonprofit attorney and provide insights into legal systems. I can share what it’s like working for social change as part of your job and the good and the challenging parts of my work.” Read about her work as an attorney, her thoughts on social change in and out of the courtroom, and her favorite types of fantasy stories in her interview.

  • Anna-Marie McLemore

    Anna-Marie McLemore, author of Blanca & Roja, Dark and Deepest Red, and the forthcoming The Mirror Season, among other works, discusses returning to Sirens as Studio faculty after having been a guest of honor in 2018: “It’s strange and wonderful coming back to Sirens knowing so much more about myself than I did a couple of years ago.” Their workshop, “Finding Magic: Enchanting Characters and Their Worlds,” will help Studio attendees think about magical realism and the interweaving of magic and character. Read their full interview for more of Anna-Marie’s insights on fairy tales, gender identity, and claiming our own stories.

  • Marie Brennan

    Author Marie Brennan, known for the Victorian adventure series The Memoirs of Lady Trent, among other works, is another former guest of honor returning as faculty—she first joined us in 2010! Her Studio workshop, “Faith in Fantasy: Building Believable Religions,” will draw from her extensive academic and non-academic work. “For any kind of worldbuilding, I think one of the most valuable things you can do is read about actual cultures in the real world; don’t just draw all your ideas from novels and other forms of fiction.” Read Marie’s full interview for more on developing character voices, color-coded reference charts, and the difference between teaching and doing.


Remember being a kid and having your list of assigned summer reading? Isn’t the freedom of being able to choose your summer reads for yourself wonderful? To develop your own list, unbound by anyone else’s expectations, and secure in the knowledge that there will not be a quiz in September? And yet… at the same time… sometimes, it’s nice to have that guidance! Not to mention knowing that someone else has had the same reading experience, so that you’ve got someone to share your thoughts with, gush with, or vent to about what your brain has just consumed. As always, Sirens is here to help guide your bookish exploration!

Book Recommendations and Reviews:

  • Happy #SirensPride! To celebrate Pride Month, we’ve compiled a list of 30 Queer AF books for your enjoyment. Of course, we celebrate Pride and the works of LGBTQIAP+ authors all year long, so consider these titles but a sampler of the amazing speculative fiction produced by the queer community. We hope you’ll explore further, find more fabulous queer reads, and tell us all about them!
  • A new series on the blog reintroduces our Books and Breakfast selections for 2021, where we showcase a number of popular, controversial, and just plain brilliant books that address aspects of our theme. This month, we’re spotlighting the graphic novels on the list: Monstress: Awakening by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, and Nimona by Noelle Stevenson.
  • The third installment in this year’s Reading Challenge feature series centers books with the theme of Revolution: the act which transforms personal action and private battles into organized action and real societal change. These are the books “that make us see things about our world more clearly—and show us how change might be possible.” Visit the post to learn more about the Reading Challenge selections that we feel best embody this theme.
  • Isabel Schechter shares an “It’s on my list” list, for all those of us who really keep meaning to get around to everything on our high-stacked TBRs.
  • If you’re in need of hopeful, joyful reads to help get you through tough times, let Lily Weitzman help with a list of her favorite daring, optimistic, community-oriented pandemic reads.
  • June’s Read with Amy feature shares Sirens chair Amy Tenbrink’s thoughts on S. L. Huang’s Burning Roses, a fairy tale remix with a Latina Red Riding Hood and a Chinese trans woman as the Archer. “As they travel, we learn their respective mistakes, their pain, their trauma, and their hopelessness—why each continues to throw herself in front of monsters, desperation disguised as heroism. And why heroics, in the end, are the path to neither redemption nor happiness.”
  • July’s Book Club selection is Violet Kupersmith’s The Frangipani Hotel. If you’d like to join the Zoom conversation on Sunday, July 25, please email us (help at to be added to our list!
  • Still need more? Here’s our June Roundup of new fantasy releases!

Good luck to you in your summer adventures!

This newsletter is brought to you by:


Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at and questions about programming to (programming at


Sirens Newsletter—Volume 13, Issue 3: May 2021

This month:

Spring feels especially wonderful this year, doesn’t it, as the weather warms, the flowers bloom, and vaccine numbers are looking up? While we’re still finding the world challenging in far too many ways, we’re also finding that, in a number of little joys and delights, we’re suddenly optimistic. So with that optimism, let us help you find the stories that will make sense of the mayhem or transport you out of it.

Conference Registrations

If you’re looking forward to joining us in October, now is a great time to confirm your plans! The current registration rate is $275, and includes all of our programming and keynote addresses, four meals and receptions, and a conference bag and t-shirts. Sirens Studio tickets are still available as well, if you’d like to join us a couple days early for our smaller sessions with exemplary faculty. Register now to lock in your attendance.

Guest of Honor Weeks

In May, we featured two more of 2021’s Guests of Honor! These brilliant minds have done incredible work in the field of speculative fiction, and we are so excited to welcome them to Sirens in October.

Dr. Kinitra Brooks Author Searching for Sycorax Dr. Kintra Brooks Sycorax's Daughters Dr. Kinitra Brooks

Dr. Kinitra Brooksis a lauded scholar of popular culture, specializing in Black feminist theory and genre fiction. In her Sirens Interview, Kinitra discusses her work, with a particular eye to the erasure of genre boundaries and the fluidity of expression in Black women’s writing. Her Further Reading features media analysis on works like Lovecraft Country and Black is King, interviews about topics including folklore and syncretic practices, and much more! The Sirens Review squad celebrates Searching for Sycorax, Kinitra’s literary monograph presenting black women characters as both stereotypical fodder and literary backbone of the horror genre, and Sycorax’s Daughters: A Revolution in Horror, a collection of poems and stories which Kinitra edited, showcasing the extraordinary variety of the horror genre as written by Black women. Kinitra also supplied us with a recommended reading list of novels, short fiction, and nonfiction, and we have a list of Book Friends to complement her work.

Joamette Author Heartwood Joamette Author Power & Magic Joamette Author Power & Magic Immortal Souls Joamette Author

Joamette Gil is our Studio Guest of Honor. As the head witch at P&M Press, an independent comics micro-press specializing in speculative fiction by creators of color and LGBTQIA creators, Joamette has a wonderful perspective on both the creative and business aspects of speculative comics to offer our Studio attendees. You can read about her love for comics and her experiences Kickstarting collections in her Sirens Interview. The Sirens Review squad takes you inside Power & Magic and Heartwood: Non-Binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy, both of which Joamette edited. Joamette also offered us some recommended reads, including graphic novels, short stories, and novels, and we’ve put together a collection of what we think are great read-alikes for the comics she’s edited. You can also see some of Joamette’s own comics, along with other interviews, in her Further Reading.


Do you switch out your winter to-read list for a summer to-read list at the same time you change out your wardrobe? However you arrange your shelves, nightstand stacks, or ebook files, here are some suggestions for starting the summer right with fabulous works of speculative fiction from marginalized authors:

Book Recommendations and Reviews:

  • The second installment of this year’s Reading Challenge feature series centers on the theme of Transgression: “In the speculative space that is Sirens, our second mission statement is transgression: to find and share those stories, our stories, that transgress boundaries, expectations, and limitations for all people of marginalized genders.” Visit the post for a look inside the works from this year’s Reading Challenge that most thoroughly explore rule-breakers, barrier-busters, and paradigm-shifters.
  • In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’ve compiled a list of fifty great speculative works by female, trans, and nonbinary AAPI authors. These books range from graphic novels to YA to adult, from hilarious romps to sweeping epics to lush romance.
  • Sirens Chair Amy Tenbrink spends her days reading, reading, and reading some more, and this month she tried to review a book, and ending up down a rabbit hole. In “On Politeness and Monstrousness,” Amy tells us why she eagerly gobbles up books about teenage monster-hunters and is invariably disappointed by them. “No demographic needs to claim their monstrousness more than teenaged girls.”
  • As the school year wraps up and we look forward to summer reading, writer and high school teacher Katie Passerotti offers up a list of highly teachable fantasy books. “If we expect students to become lifelong readers, it’s vital they be given choice and be provided with opportunities to read broadly and outside of the very cis, very white, very male literary canon.”
  • Wonderful new fantasy books by women and non-binary authors joined the world in May! Be sure to peruse our Round-Up to find your next great read.
  • Our June Book Club selection is The Seven Necessary Sins for Women & Girls by Mona Eltahawy. If you’d like to join the Zoom conversation on June 27th, please email us (help at to be added to our list!

Happy reading!

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Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at and questions about programming to (programming at


Sirens Newsletter—Volume 13, Issue 2: April 2021

This month:

Your Sirens team has been at a full gallop, busy as bees, getting our ducks in rows and our cats herded and other animal idioms properly aligned. But don’t worry, we’re not chasing any wild geese. We aim to give your brain and spirit some rejuvenation, because you’re the pick of the litter! So go hog wild with this month’s Sirens content.

2021 Sirens Programming Submissions

Did you know? Submissions are now open for 2021 programming. We’re looking for excellent roundtables, workshops, afternoon classes, panels, papers, and lectures to fill out the schedule of events. So if you have research to share, an idea to explore in conversation, or a skill you can help others build, and if you don’t already have programming accepted from a 2020 proposal, we hope you’ll submit!

Need help figuring out what to submit or how to structure your submission? Our ongoing annual programming series has the answers you need! You can also head to the #SirensBrainstorm tag on Twitter to find a plethora of ideas, free for the taking.

Submissions, including any co-presenter confirmations, are due May 15.

2021 Sirens Scholarships

We’re delighted to announce that, due to the overwhelming generosity of last year’s Sirens at Home attendees, we have thirteen additional scholarships to offer 2021 attendees. Four of those scholarships will be granted to those who identify as BIPOC, three for exemplary programming proposals, three to those with financial hardships, and three to librarians, educators, and publishing professionals (which may be anyone from an editor to an agent to a publicist to a cover designer to a bookseller).

We are also again offering three Sabrina Chin “Braver Than You Think” Memorial Scholarships to first-time attendees and presenters. Sabrina Chin co-chaired Sirens for a number of years before her passing in 2019, and her family has funded these scholarships to help us continue her work with Sirens.

If you need assistance, we hope you’ll consider applying for a scholarship by May 15!

Community Day

Thanks to everyone who attended our first Community Day on April 25th! We had an excellent BIPOC meetup, followed by a vibrant discussion of Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion with the Sirens Book Club. Kameron then revisited her 2018 Guest of Honor keynote speech, “Narrating Our Way to a Brighter Future,” and we followed that up with roundtable discussions in breakout rooms.

If you weren’t able to join us and are suffering the pangs of envy for those who did, fear not! We’ll be hosting more virtual events between now and October.

Guest of Honor Weeks

In April, we featured two more of 2021’s Guests of Honor! Both are dazzling writers with many award wins and nominations to their credit, and we are overjoyed to welcome them to Sirens.

Sarah Gailey Author

First, our showcase of Sarah Gailey included an exclusive Sirens interview, as well as the Sirens Review Squad covering Magic for Liars and American Hippo. We also compiled some Book Friends for Sarah’s work, in case you need some read-alikes on your shelves. Sarah also has a mountain of short fiction, essays, and interviews available online! We’ve rounded them up for your reading convenience. If you’re looking for some ultra-quick recommendations to plump out your to-read list, Sarah made a list of favorite reads described in four words each.

Fonda Lee Author

Our second Guest of Honor week in April helped you get to know Fonda Lee with an interview and a sampling of Fonda’s works from around the web. The Sirens Review squad read Jade City and Zeroboxer in hopes of tempting you to add them to your to-read list. Fonda gifted us with a rec list of books featuring women wielding power, and we compiled a list of Book Friends that we think complement Fonda’s work.


Whether the full flourishing of spring has you frolicking in the daisies or reaching for the antihistamines, we hope you’re getting the time (and un-allergy-bedeviled eyes) to do some reading!

The 2021 Sirens Reading Challenge seeks to amplify voices that are pushing boundaries in speculative spaces. We’ve picked works that are innovative, challenging, and even uncomfortable, but that we think look toward a more inclusive, more empathetic, more just world. This month, we started a six-part series featuring the themes and messages important to Sirens, beginning with “Reclamation”, and used works from the challenge list to highlight that theme. We hope you’ll take a look, see why those titles made this year’s list, and decide to dive into them yourself.

Book Recommendations and Reviews:

  • Has a year of quarantine shortened your attention span for reading? You’re not alone; we’re hearing that from a lot of the Sirens community. Fortunately, the Sirens Review Squad is here to help: Emory Noakes shared a list of five LGBTQ+ fantasy novellas ideal for pandemic brain!
  • The Sirens Book Club pick for May is Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee. If you’d like to join the conversation on Sunday, May 30, email us at (help AT to be added to our list.
  • Need yet more potential new reads? Be sure to check out April’s roundup of newly-released fantasy fiction by women and nonbinary authors!

Well, cats and kittens, that wraps up the things we have to crow about this month. If we’ve put a bee in your bonnet, convinced you to feather your nest with new books, or persuaded you to take a gander at a new author, we hope you’ll howl about it till the cows come home.

This newsletter is brought to you by:


Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at and questions about programming to (programming at


Sirens Newsletter—Volume 13, Issue 1: March 2021

This month:

We’re a year into a global pandemic, and you’re a year into caring for yourself, your family, and your community in ways few of us imagined would ever be necessary. You have a favorite mask—you know, the one that fits really well and the color brings out your eyes? You’ve moved past merely judging people’s Zoom backgrounds and now have a detailed 10-point scale for rating them. You’ve learned new and exciting skills in the realms of baking, sewing, gardening, and perhaps more esoteric talents like soap-carving or experimental entomology.

You’ve been resilient. Like the heroes of the stories we love so much, who stand up and keep pursuing their goals even when the world knocks them down with everything it’s got, you’ve endured. That same spirit of resilience drives Sirens, too—and after a winter’s worth of recuperation, we’re ready to harness springtime’s energy with some fabulous new programming!

Welcome Back

Early this month, we announced our intentions for the year: if possible, to hold Sirens in person in Denver, October 21-24. We’re going to be nimble as we plan for that conference, responding to safety protocols, which may change frequently over the coming months, and responding to both rising vaccination rates and new outbreaks of the disease. We don’t know yet what state the pandemic will be in come October, but we promise that we will be considering options to keep all of our attendees safe.

With that in mind, over the next few months, we’ll be gearing up and getting you ready for the conference. Our theme is, as it would have been in 2020, villains, and we recommend diving back into that topic with the essay “Unsex Me Here: Gender, Power, and Villainy.”

2021 Sirens Programming Submissions

We’ll be opening submissions for conference programming again soon! While much of our accepted programming from 2020 will be rolling over to the new year, we want to ensure a full and robust slate of presentations. If you did not have programming accepted for 2020, we encourage you to submit a proposal this spring—and if you’re not sure what that might entail, our annual programming series can explain it all, from what kinds of programming we seek to how to prepare your submission.

Sirens programming always seeks to include a wide variety of viewpoints, lived experiences, and points of view, so we very much hope that you will consider putting together a roundtable, presentation, panel, workshop, or afternoon class! Submissions will open in mid-April and close on May 15th.

Rin Chupeco’s Guest of Honor Week

Rin Chupeco Author

As we roll toward October, we also want to reintroduce you to the amazing Guests of Honor who will be joining us in 2021! This month, we showcased Rin Chupeco, author of fabulous books such as Wicked As You Wish (reviewed for us by Jo O’Brien) and The Bone Witch (reviewed by Faye Bi).

For more on Rin, you can check out their Sirens Interview and our list of their short fiction and other interviews. If your to-read pile of books isn’t stacked quite high enough yet, Rin has also given us a list of their favorite SFF books, and we’ve assembled a set of “Book Friends”—that is, books we think would pair well with Rin’s works.

Inaugural Sirens Community Day

With Sirens at Home last October, we all learned what an online Sirens conference might look like—and we liked it so much that we thought we’d offer periodic community days of online programming, collaboration, and discussion. Each will be free to attend, and we hope you will, whether you’ve had the chance to attend Sirens in person over the years or not, and you can sign up here. Please note that, as with Sirens at Home, for safety and security reasons, we will be sending video conference links out to registrants closer to the event.

Our first community day will be on April 25, featuring 2018 Guest of Honor Kameron Hurley, as well as a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, person of color) meet-up, a book discussion of Kameron’s The Stars Are Legion, and a roundtable discussion of hope in speculative fiction. We hope you’ll join us!

Speculative Fiction Book Club

We have so many amazing books on the 2021 Reading Challenge, and we want you to have the opportunity to discuss some of them before Sirens 2021. That’s why we’re launching Sirens Book Club. On the last Sunday of each month, now through August, we’ll discuss one of the 50 speculative works by female, nonbinary, and trans authors that are featured in this year’s challenge.

In March, we discussed Tehlor Kay Mejia’s We Set the Dark on Fire; on April 25, we’ll chat about The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley. If you’d like to join us, please email us at (help AT to be added to our list; for safety and security reasons, we’ll be emailing the Zoom link out to interested folks closer to the discussion date.

Speculative Fiction Book Recommendations

As always, the heart of the Sirens community lives in the stories we share, analyze, deconstruct, re-imagine, and celebrate. Whether isolation has prompted you to devour several books a week or pandemic-brain has slowed your pace, we hope we can guide you to some new reads that will delight your senses, challenge your mind, and give you another world to exist in, for a little while.

Book Recommendations and Reviews:

  • Reading has certainly helped many of us get through this pandemic, and Amy Tenbrink tells us that Katherine May’s Wintering was exactly the book she could rely on. Wintering is a book about the fallow periods in life and their importance: “Rather than dismissing her challenges as ‘somehow silly, a failure of nerve, a lack of willpower,’ May speaks eloquently about the idea of leaning into hard times as a crucible, something that may burn as you pass through, but will release a different you in the end.”
  • Paired with our Sirens Book Club for this month, Meg Belviso reviewed We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia, highlighting the book’s well-drawn world and incisive political exploration: “The young people in this world are ready to fight and love (did I mention there’s queer romance? There’s a queer romance!) and build a better future for themselves. The beauty and joy of Medio is never completely obscured by the greed and cruelty of its ruling class.”
  • Have you seen 2021’s release roundups? So far we’ve spotlighted new books released in November 2020-January 2021, February 2021, and March 2021.

The Sirens staff is delighted to be back on the horse, ready for another year of discussing and celebrating the remarkable work of women, nonbinary, and transgender people in fantasy literature and other speculative spaces!

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Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at and questions about programming to (programming at


Sirens Newsletter—Volume 12, Issue 9: September 2020

This month:

Whether you’re a pumpkin spice latte or apple cider sort of person, or eschewing fall-themed beverages altogether, the equinox has come and gone, and change is on the wind. Whatever patterns your life may be falling into these days, Sirens hopes we can provide you with some entertainment, some intellectual stimulation, and some companionship, even across the miles.

2020 Sirens at Home

The big news this month is Sirens at Home! We may not be able to convene in Denver, but we can come together in virtual space. From October 22nd to 25th, we have a schedule of events designed to show off the best of what Sirens is: a warm, supportive community celebrating fantasy fiction and those who love it. During the weekend, we’ll be sharing essays, hosting panels full of brilliant minds, giving book recommendations, and gathering in groups both large and small, both general and specific, for discussion and merriment!

If you haven’t attended Sirens before, or if you’re trying to convince a friend or colleague to join us, this is a fabulous opportunity to get a taster of what Sirens is all about. The weekend is a veritable sampler of what you’d get at a full in-person conference – and it’s totally free. That’s right! Anyone can attend with an absolutely no-charge registration.

How should you do that? Well, all you need to do is register, and we’ll send you all the info you need to join the online events.

The Sirens staff is so excited about the online programming we’re putting together, and we hope we’ll see many friends, old and new, on our screens in October!

Sirens Chats

Sirens at Home isn’t your only chance to see your fellow Sirens! We’re also holding more Zoom chats in October and November. These video meet-ups have been very chill and sociable, a chance to blow off a little steam, connect with far-flung friends, and trade recommendations on books, binge-watching, recipes, child-and-pet-wrangling, and more.

Here are the dates and times for the next two Zoom chats. If you’re not yet on the list to receive reminders, email help at, and you won’t miss a thing.

  • Saturday, October 3, at 12 p.m. PDT/3 p.m. EDT
  • Monday, November 16 at 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST

We also have a text-only chat option, ideal for the camera-shy or just camera-exhausted! On Thursday, October 8, 9 p.m. EDT/8 p.m. CDT, we’ll have a spooky-themed Twitter chat! Simply follow #SirensChat and answer questions with the hashtag to join in!


It’s starting to be cozy-up reading season, isn’t it? Maybe you get to curl up on a porch with a blankie, breathing in the crisp autumn air and letting a pleasant chill settle over you as you leaf through the pages of a new adventure – or maybe you’re huddled inside, seeking refuge from tumultuous weather. Whatever your reading situation is, we hope we can bring you some delights and give you something to chat about with your fellow Sirens.

We’re even doing Books and Breakfast for Sirens at Home! Check out the seven 2020 releases being featured, and if you’d like to take part on Friday, October 23rd, pick one to read, make sure you’re registered for SAH, and join the discussion.

Book Recommendations and Reviews:

  • Amy Tenbrink calls Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia “a must-read for anyone interested in both female horror and its evolution.” Read the full review.
  • Tina LeCount Myers gives us a reading list featuring stubborn, willful, goal-oriented heroines.
  • September gave us a whole slate of fantastic new releases by women and non-binary authors! Check out our round-up if you need some inspiration.

Our staff members are full of excitement for some of October’s new releases. Here’s what we can’t wait to get our hands on:

Erynn’s Pick: Burning Roses by S.L. Huang

Burning Roses

Enjoy a dark adventurous escape into the fairy tale world of Rosa, aka Red Riding Hood, a recovering assassin, and Hou Yi the Archer from Chinese mythology. These once-gloried heroines are queer, middle-aged, tired, and full of angst over the past. Instead of relaxing away their retirement, they must team up against deadly sunbirds, sent by Hou Yi’s former apprentice, ravaging destruction through the countryside.

In the midst of chaos, Rosa reminisces guilt over her associations with scam artist Goldie (of three bears fame) and marriage to Mei, a foreign beauty who was imprisoned by a prince-turned-beast. Meanwhile, Hou Yi, finds opportunity to make amends to her family following her ruthless chase of immortality. Burning Roses is a quick read with a big feel, written by MIT mathematician and professional weapons expert/stuntwoman, S.L. Huang.

Cass’s Pick: The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

The Once and Future Witches

There’s no such thing as witches – but maybe there could be. When the Eastwood sisters join the suffragist movement in New Salem, they begin a process of melding magic into their political efforts. Invoking ancient rites and the strength of their words, they seek to open new avenues to power for women. Their actions might change the course of history, if they can evade the dark forces lining up against them.

Having read The Ten Thousand Doors of January this past winter and absolutely eaten it up with a spoon, I’m so excited to read Harrow’s next effort. Her prose is gorgeously spell-binding, and the witchy theme should make this a perfect October read.

This newsletter is brought to you by:


Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at and questions about programming to (programming at


Sirens Newsletter—Volume 12, Issue 8: August 2020

This month:

This summer has been A Lot, hasn’t it? So many of us are dealing with so many different kinds of trauma. Isolation and health, racial justice and social reform, political and personal and professional pressures mounting and mounting and never seeming to crest.

We know it’s tough. We are so proud of our whole Sirens community, because we know how hard you work and how much you care. We hope that we can provide a forum to further all these conversations, inspire you to both thought and action, and also give you a respite when it’s time to step away, rest, and replenish yourself.

2020 Sirens at Home

While the “villains” year of Sirens may be postponed to 2021, we are busy planning for Sirens at Home, which will take place October 22-25, 2020. Even though we won’t be together, that doesn’t mean that we cannot gather and have some of those conversations that we would usually have at Sirens.

Keep an eye out for announcements in September, but we’re planning panels, discussion groups, safer spaces, Books and Breakfast, book recommendations, and even an at-home version of our Sirens Ball. So read those books and pull together those costumes because we’ll have more information for you soon.

2021 Sirens Registrations

If Sirens at Home is making you ready for 2021 when we all hope to be together again, you can register now. And if you register for 2021 by September 1, 2020, we’ll send you a Sirens at Home care package this October—including a limited edition T-shirt!

Sirens Essays

Our summer essay series concluded this month! In “Women of Feral Souls,” author Artemis Grey takes us on a rich journey from isolation to community, exploring the ways in which souls reach out to one another: “Living deeply in oneself, as I and many other feral souls do, gives you nearly impenetrable armor, but that armor creates an island: atolls of emotional vacancy crowned with wary cliffs interrupted only by deeply embedded linns wrought of warning and disinclination, against which churn and froth the waters of humanity.”


In August, we continued introducing you to some of the amazing members of the Sirens community! This month’s interviews feature academics, publishing professionals, and a whole lot of love for fantasy fiction.

  • Scholar Adriana De Persia Colón tells us about her academic work on Boricua fiction and ethnoracial identity. “I also love that SFF can tackle complex issues such as imperialism and colonialism, for example, while having action-packed plots and adventures.”
  • Rine Karr, reader, writer, copyeditor, and tea-lover, tells us what she loves about fantasy fiction and how it relates to her background in anthropology. “There have been many times when I’ve found solace and strength in the actions of a character in a fantasy story.”
  • Editor Diana Pho takes us inside her process for preparing a book for publication: “Once I get my mind wrapped around a story, I get so involved in the building blocks of the narrative—re-tooling a line edit, constructing an editorial letter, or sorting out a reverse outline—that it is its own creative high.” She also tells us about her work as a playwright, ongoing conversations about diversity in publishing, and highlights of her con-going life.
  • Isabel Schechter, builder of speculative communities and author of essays on race and representation in science fiction and fantasy, discusses fandom spaces in-person and online, now and in the future, and shares some of her favorite con experiences from Sirens and elsewhere. “I have been able to make connections at every convention I’ve attended. I remember being on a panel about found family and I started bawling and soon so was everyone else in the room.”

Sirens Chats

When did you last get to squee about an amazing read to another human, face-to-face? It may be virtual, but we invite you to join us online to share what you’re reading, what you’re loving, what you’re doing. Here are the dates and times for the next four Zoom chats. If you’re not yet on the list to receive reminders, email help at, and you won’t miss a thing.

  • Tuesday, September 1 at 5 p.m. PDT/8 p.m. EDT
  • Thursday, September 17 at 6 p.m. PDT/9 p.m. EDT
  • Saturday, October 3 at 12 p.m. PDT/3 p.m. EDT
  • Monday, November 16 at 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST

We also have a text-only chat option, ideal for the camera-shy or just camera-exhausted! On Thursday, September 10, 9 p.m. EDT/8 p.m. CDT, we’ll have September’s Get-To-Know-You Twitter chat! Simply follow #SirensChat and answer questions with the hashtag to join in!

2020 Reading Challenge

We hope that you are hard at work on the 2020 Reading Challenge because the deadline for completion is still October 1, 2020. (Surely you did not expect that Sirens would give you two years to read 25 books!) We’ll be rolling out our 2021 Reading Challenge during Sirens at Home later in October. So get those books read for this year—and clear your reading schedule for 2021!


Reading is at the core of all we do at Sirens, and August has been another fascinating month for fantasy fiction. Here are some of the books that have been on our brains:

Book Recommendations and Reviews:

Our staff loves to share their excitement and reading recommendations with you, too! Here are a couple of August’s new releases that have brought delight:

Erynn’s Pick: Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar

Star Daughter

Normally wearing a mask of quiet mediocrity, seventeen-year-old Sheetal Mistry is learning to shine under extreme family pressure from both her paternal extended desi family’s push for perfection and the manipulative politics of her star mother’s celestial court relatives.

When high emotions incite her star fire into a chaotic flare, critically injuring her mortal father, she must seek out her estranged mother and allow herself to become a political pawn, performing as a human champion for the stars in order to save his life.

Thakrar’s coming of age story is a sparkling spin of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust in a world inspired from Hindu mythology. Beautifully descriptive and full of family, friends, traditions and feelings sometimes so supernal they can only be expressed in music, Star Daughter will illuminate her space on your bookshelf.

Cass’s Pick: Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston

Bookish and the Beast

I have loved the whole Once Upon a Con series, and the third installment is as delightful and charming as Geekerella and The Princess and the Fangirl were. Bookish and the Beast picks up the story of antagonist Vance Reigns, bad-boy actor used to a life of privilege and fulfilling the “hot villain” trope in the Starfield universe (the Star Trek analog which this series uses as the basis for its in-world fandom). When tabloid scandal forces him to hide out in a small rural town, he encounters Rosie Thorne, a girl feeling trapped by her life, struggling to decide both who she wants to be and how to become that person.

And, of course, they hate each other at first—except it turns out that they’ve met before, at the ExcelsiCon masquerade the year before, when they had started to fall for each other. So much of this story is about taking down those masks and barriers. Vance, as with all Beasts, has a lot of work to do! But he and Rosie both grow and learn that there might be more strength in trusting each other than in keeping protective walls around their hearts. The book also features some great rep: Both main characters are bisexual! One of the secondary characters is nonbinary, we see two gay men as parents, and queer characters from previous books make cameo appearances as well.

I adore that these books are YA romances for geeks. Reading them as an adult has both made me affectionately think of my own youthful romances and yearn for the day when we can go to conventions again, because surely I’m not too old for my own magical moment, right?


Forward into fall!

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