Archive for Sirens 2017

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 10, Issue 1 (November 2017)

In this issue:



From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to all who attended and supported Sirens in 2017. Whether you followed our conversations on Twitter, attended for the first time, or have been with us since the beginning, we are thrilled to have each of you as a part of our community—a community of brilliant, passionate, and increasingly inclusive readers.

Thank you for bringing your opinions, experiences, expertise, and reading recommendations. For submitting programming, donating your time, funds, or skills to our Sirens programs and auction, for buying loads and loads of books, and if you were a new attendee this year, for taking a chance on us.

A special thank you to our three formidable 2017 guests of honor: Zoraida Córdova, N. K. Jemisin, and Victoria Schwab. You are proof that women do, and always have, worked magic.



Our new Sirens website is live and open to the public! To learn more about our 2018 theme of reunion and our exploration of our past four themes: hauntings, rebels and revolutionaries, lovers, and women who work magic, please visit: Zen Cho, Kameron Hurley, Anna-Marie McLemore, and a soon-to-be-announced fourth guest will join us as our guests of honor. Our tremendous Sirens Studio faculty include Rhoda Belleza, K. Tempest Bradford, Dr. Kinitra Brooks, Zoraida Córdova, Dr. Andrea Horbinski, Justina Ireland, Anne Ursu, and a fourth reading intensive instructor to be announced soon.

As we shared earlier this year, we’ll be returning to the beautiful Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa in Beaver Creek, Colorado. The 2018 dates to note are:
October 23–24: Sirens Studio
October 24: Sirens Supper
October 25–28: Sirens

The Sirens Shuttle will run from Denver International Airport on Monday evening, October 22 prior to the Sirens Studio as well as on the afternoons of October 24 and October 25. All shuttle-riders will depart Beaver Creek on Sunday, October 28. In 2018, for the first time, both one-way and round-trip shuttle tickets are available.

Registration is currently $225 and will remain at that price until February 28. We hope to see you next October!



Our 2018 Suggested Reading is now on the website, and so is our much-loved Reading Challenge! If you missed Amy’s Book Club and Read Along with Faye last month, worry not—they’ll be back in January for a new year of reviews and commentary.



Between now and the end of the year, the Sirens staff will be quieter than usual as we rebuild and prepare for 2018. Feel free to stay up to date on all our news through our website, our Twitter, our Facebook, and our newsletter.






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


Sirens Newsletter – Volume 9, Issue 11 (October 2017)

In this issue:



This year’s Sirens is just days away! Before you arrive, you may want to take a look at our conference schedule and programming summaries, and pick your books for Books and Breakfast. We also encourage you to review our tips on adjusting to the altitude, and if it’s your first time at Sirens, here are some things to know.



We interviewed each of our Sirens 2017 Guests of Honor about their inspirations, influences, and craft, as well as the role of women in fantasy literature, as befits this year’s theme of women who work magic.

N. k> Jemisin

This month, we spoke N. K. Jemisin about worldbuilding, urban spaces, and what constitutes progressive epic fantasy: “what makes epic fantasy conservative isn’t a focus on white men, but a focus on supporting or restoring an authoritarian status quo… Progressive fantasies are less concerned (or not concerned at all) with restoring the monarchy or putting down the rebellion or bringing the old ways back.”

Our feature on N. K. Jemisin also includes a review of The Fifth Season by B R Sanders as well as a list of books to check out if you’ve read everything else she’s written already!



This past week, we sent out detailed instruction emails for the Sirens Shuttle, the Sirens Studio, the Sirens Supper, and registration check-in. Presenters should have also received an email about room adjustments at the Park Hyatt and getting ready to present at Sirens, and the updated PDF is on our website. If you emailed us about dietary concerns and haven’t received a response, and for any other missing emails, please contact us at (help at



Our staff began arriving in Colorado on Friday, October 20 to prepare for Sirens. While we’re unpacking materials and setting up for the conference, we won’t be able to monitor our emails as closely as we normally would. If you have an urgent question prior to arriving on-site, please email (help at and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

Once the conference starts, the easiest way to reach is in person! If you have any questions or simply want to chat, our information desk in Grouse Mountain will be open starting at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 26.



Starting tomorrow, October 24, we’ll be live-tweeting our conference schedule starting with Sirens Studio. If you prefer not to receive these notifications, you might want to mute @sirens_con until Monday, October 30. Or, if you’d like to follow along virtually, keep an eye on the #Sirens17 hashtag!



Guest of Honor Interviews: 

Inclusivity at Sirens:

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


First Time at Sirens? 11 Tips and Tricks

In just a few short days, we’ll be welcoming attendees to our ninth annual Sirens! While we’re excited to hold our biggest conference ever, we also know that for many of you, this will be your first time attending—so read on for some tips, tricks, and general things to know before you start your journey to Colorado:

  1. Follow us on Twitter at @sirens_con and the event hashtag #Sirens17 (if you haven’t already!). We’ll be tweeting our full programming schedule, last-minute changes, quotes from presenters and guests, pictures of things like auction items, and more!
  2. Come to our new-attendee session. We’re hosting a session specifically for new attendees on Thursday at 5:00 p.m. in the Jack Dempsey room. You’ll have a chance to hear more about how Sirens works, ask all your questions, and meet other new attendees.
  3. Find a Sirens Ambassador. We’ve appointed 20 seasoned attendees as Sirens ambassadors, specifically so our new attendees will be able to find a friendly face in the crowd. Our ambassadors will be wearing a special button when they’re available for conversations. Feel free to pepper them with your questions or find them when you’re feeling adrift or out of place—they’re here to help!
  4. Start a conversation. Everyone at Sirens is a reader. Whether you’re waiting for the shuttle, lounging in the hotel lobby, or eating at a table, it’s easy to use book talk to break the ice.
  5. Attend programming. Sirens’s programming is presented by our attendees, for our attendees—and as everyone’s voice at Sirens is vital to our community, our presenters include readers, librarians, and educators, as well as the scholars, authors, and professionals that you might be expecting. Check out our full schedule and our summaries of programming, geek out over what’s being offered, and plan out your day. Conversations are highly encouraged in between sessions, and sometimes even during sessions, like in the case of roundtables or Q&As.
  6. Seating is open. Feel free to sit anywhere while at programming, Books and Breakfast, Bedtime Stories, the community room, or at meals—but please leave the seating closest to doors and aisles open for attendees who might need a closer seat or some extra room to maneuver.
  7. Looking for a group for dinner? Check the program book. We’ll have a list of meet-up times and locations, as well as a list of dining recommendations.
  8. We have a bookstore, specially stocked with over a thousand fantasy titles by women and genderqueer authors. If you want recommendations, we’re holding Books with Sirens at 2:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday in the community room, when the staff will try to sell you books upon books. A word of warning: we’re pretty good at it—some people save their book money all year for our bookstore and some bring a second suitcase to take their treasures home! Shipping is also available for a fee (media mail, in the United States only).
  9. We have an auction, of amazing items, some hand-crafted, some one-of-a-kind, some that you simply won’t want to leave behind. The proceeds are crucial to covering a large portion of Sirens’s expenses and keeping our prices down. Your registration bag will include information about the auction and a list of offered items. We hope you’ll bid early and often!
  10. Check out our accessibility policy. Sirens is committed to making the conference accessible for a variety of individuals, but we need your help to do so. Please take a look at our accessibility policy (and also printed in your program book), and then consider how you might help make Sirens accessible for others.
  11. Bring a bathing suit! The hotel has a heated outdoor pool, and five, count ‘em, five hot tubs. Not to mention Aqua Sanitas—a special water ritual at the spa accessible for an additional fee.

Any more questions? Please do come to our in-person, new-attendee session:

Thursday, October 26 at 5:00 p.m.
Sirens Orientation
Jack Dempsey
(room) downstairs from registration
Gerald R. Ford Hall (meeting level)
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa

We can’t wait to meet you at Sirens!

The Official Sirens Guide to Surviving the Altitude

A week from today, some of you will already be frolicking in Beaver Creek, and the rest of you won’t be far behind! And we know, some of you may be thinking, oh, the altitude, it’ll be fiiine. For some of you, that might be true! But for the rest of us mortals whose homes are at sea level, who don’t train for hikes in Machu Picchu or own season ski passes, read on: This post is for you.

Fact: Colorado has the highest average altitude in the United States, and is the seventh driest state. Much of it is actually a high-plains desert. If you’ve been to Denver, you’ll know it’s not called the Mile-High City for nothing: The steps of the State Capitol are at 5,280 feet. In Beaver Creek, the average elevation is a whopping 3,000 feet higher at 8,100 feet. (For reference, most airplane cabins are pressurized between 5,000–8,000 feet as a safe and healthy range for most people.)

In Beaver Creek, the sky is bluer, the sun is brighter, and the air is thinner—which means less oxygen going to your brain. You might breathe more quickly, find yourself in need of a nap, or be prone to headaches. But! You can help avoid dehydration and other dastardly effects of altitude with these tips in mind:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration and high altitude can both bring headaches. Drink water early and often—you can even drink a sports drink, with electrolytes, for an extra boost. For a good rule of thumb, drink whenever you see our conference co-chair Sabrina Chin take a sip. (The rallying call for this is, “When Sabrina drinks, you drink!”) And we’ve got you covered: This year we’ll have Sirens water bottles, with some of our fabulous artwork, for sale.
  • Balm it up. Because of the lack of moisture in the air, you might need to apply extra lip balm, nasal spray, eye drops, and lotion to keep yourself comfortable.
  • Eat a snack. May your bellies be full. With high altitude can come a bigger appetite—your body is working extra hard to compensate for less oxygen and lower temperatures.
  • Be aware of the sun. Thinner air means less protection from the sun’s harmful rays. Whether you burn easily at sea level or not, you will in Beaver Creek—so make sure that you cover up and apply sunscreen if you’re going for a hike or enjoying the grounds. Bring your sunglasses, too! Believe us, your eyes can burn.
  • You might need more sleep than usual. Or you might be really tired from the plane ride in, or suffering from jetlag or insomnia. Nevertheless, lethargy is real in the mountains. Who says naps are only for babies?
  • Alcohol will have a greater effect on you, so imbibe judiciously. One drink at sea level equals two or even three in the mountains. Please consider moderating your drinking—and drink plenty of water during and afterwards. If not, your headache the next morning probably isn’t altitude sickness; it’s a hangover. (And if you complain, we will be tempted to give you the side-eye…)
  • If you feel a headache coming in, up your fluid intake and try taking ordinary painkillers. Chances are, you’ll feel much better with some rest, too.
  • If you’re struggling with the altitude, consider altitude pills or supplemental oxygen. Some people have found that these help; some people think these are nonsense to take advantage of tourists. Regardless, the Beaver Creek Market, just minutes from the Park Hyatt, will sell you both.

If your headache does not respond to more water and ordinary painkillers, and is accompanied by nausea, extreme fatigue, inability to sleep, swelling, or continued rapid heartbeat, please see the hotel’s front desk. You are within the small percentage of people misfortunate enough to experience altitude sickness. While altitude sickness generally clears up within a few days, the Park Hyatt can help with treatment options.

For more information in the meantime, you can check out our page on Altitude (and please note that, while we haven’t updated it for our new location in Beaver Creek, all the information still applies). Any other questions, please contact us at (help at We’re looking forward to seeing you all next week, and we want your experience at Sirens to be amazing!


Five Earth-shaking, Epic Books to Read After The Fifth Season

So, you’ve inhaled N. K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season. Maybe you’ve read The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky too—and found the books in The Inheritance Trilogy and the Dreamblood duology. What next? We’ve got you covered! Read on below, and remember that all these books will be in our on-site conference bookstore next week.

1. The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

On the surface, The House of Shattered Wings might not feel similar, but look beyond the Paris setting in aftermath of a devastating war between fallen angels, you’ll find one of the finest explorations of colonialism in fantasy. There’s an elegance to de Bodard’s writing with intrigue, court politics and icy antiheroes, but what’ll stay with you most are the ruminations on displacement, ownership of one’s self, and belonging.

2. The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor

In this standalone prequel to Okorafor’s award-winning Who Fears Death, Phoenix is a two-year-old “accelerated human” with a body of a 40-year-old, a scientific experiment built by a government-backed corporation. She lives in Tower Seven with other genetic specimens, also usually of African descent. The Book of Phoenix expertly combines mythology, religion and futurism with contemporary racial and gender politics and a revenge story for the ages. And yes, not unlike orogenes, she also has the immense power to destroy the world.

3. Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

No epic fantasy list would be complete without Kate Elliott’s many intricately crafted sagas, but we find her young adult series Court of Fives (and sequels Poisoned Blade and Buried Heart) to be among her best. With immersive world-building with inspirations from Ancient Egypt and the tensions between the native population and the Patron upper class, Jessamy’s mixed-race family is at the crux of rebellion and political change. We also think the obelisks would wink at the Fives court.

4. Monstress by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda

If you want vengeance, you’ll have a ball with Raika Halfwolf, the Arcanic protagonist and former slave girl.  Arcanics are a mixed race between humans and the immortal, animal-shaped Ancients, and though some of them “pass” as human, their bodies are systematically used for magical experiments. With large realms, an extensive cast and expert meta-commentary on race and politics, it’s just as well that Monstress is a comic, with sumptuous visuals to pore over.

5. The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley

This all-female space opera has alien tech, organic ships, and no small dose of messy bio-evolution and body horror.  Zan wakes up a prisoner on a ship with people who say they love her, while Jayd also finds herself navigating dangerous political schemes among the Legion. It seems pretty far removed from The Fifth Season, but it’s innovative, eye-opening, gruesome, and visceral—and you probably haven’t read anything like it before.

B Reviews Guests: The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

We’re excited to share the last in a mini-series of posts by friend of Sirens, B R Sanders, who has been reviewing books by each of this year’s Guests of Honor during their featured weeks. This week we welcome their review of N. K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season!

I loved this book. It was immensely hard for me to read, and I still loved it.

I read The Fifth Season hungrily, because it is a damn good book, cleverly structured and wonderfully written, always leaving you on the edge of your seat and wanting more.

The Stillness is a land that is never still. Stills are people who hate orogenes, people whose immense magic can bring order to the land. The world has a habit of ending. There are entire histories of apocalypses. This is the story of the most recent one, the most terrible one yet. And to understand how it happened, one has to understand how many injustices—small and large, premeditated and coincidental—came together to shape two very particular people in very particular ways.

It’s Jemisin’s choice to root this apocalypse in a handful of lives, and in a handful of choices, that makes the book work. She shows how those choices fracture a life, how the course of lives can and must sometimes change on a whim. How sometimes those forces are within our control, but how often they are not, and how terrifying it is that they are not. The actions that set the story in motion come as a cumulative response to this: a response to a lifetime of being corralled and cajoled and confined.

There is an immense amount of depth in this book. I am White, and I have rarely been as aware of my whiteness as I was reading this book. There is a reason that Essun and Alabaster are Black. Jemisin is articulating something here about what it is to be Black—the entire sequence while they are in Allia, while they have to navigate avenues of politeness that they are expected to perform but can’t expect to receive in kind, that is what it is to be Black in America, at least in part. She has captured here that kind of very particular containment that I am aware of but I will never experience, and she has written it into the minds of people who can literally tear the world apart with a fury-filled thought.

But they are not just their fury. Of course they aren’t; they are people, and they want and they desire, and they get tired and they break and they have hidden strengths. Jemisin knows these characters inside and out. Alabaster and Essun, especially, are deeply known and well-written. The book is both a quest and a tragedy, but the tragedy is at its heart the fact that people have limits, that they run out of will, that they can’t keep going. Or that some can, and others can’t by some weird fluke of fate.

The Fifth Season brutalized me and left me breathless. When it ended, I immediately preordered its sequel, The Obelisk Gate. I cannot wait to see what happens next.

B R Sanders is a white, genderqueer speculative fiction writer who lives and works in Denver, Colorado, with their family and two cats. Outside of writing, B has worked as a research psychologist, a labor organizer and a K–12 public education data specialist. They write about queer elves, mostly.


Guest of Honor Interview: N. K. Jemisin

We’re pleased to bring you the last in our series of candid, in-depth interviews with this year’s Sirens Guests of Honor. We’ll cover a variety of topics relevant to Sirens with each author, from their inspirations, influences, and craft, to the role of women in fantasy literature, and discuss our 2017 theme of women who work magic—particularly women who have power and wield it. We hope these conversations will be a prelude to the ones our attendees will be having in Beaver Creek this October! Today, Faye Bi interviews N. K. (Nora) Jemisin.


FAYE: It’s a pleasure to be interviewing you! I’ve long admired your keen ability to write about power, oppression and pain, and your dynamic characters that make bold decisions. Recently, I came across your Worldbuilding 101 presentation, which starts with geography and climate and moves to sociocultural factors and magic. As a lapsed anthropology nerd I’m impressed by the breadth of your process. Do you go through this exercise each time you develop a new world? Do you have a similar process or comparable tools for character-building?

NK JemisinNORA: I do use that Worldbuilding 101 process (plus a little more; I actually do a more advanced worldbuilding seminar to accompany the one you saw) to develop worlds and cultures. I do not use a systematized process to create characters, however, because individuals should not be designed by formula. Mostly with characters, I just try to make sure that they are people, with rich internal and external lives.


FAYE: You often set religion front and center in your stories, often literally, where gods are main characters in The Inheritance Trilogy to constructing a new religion in the Dreamblood duology. What draws you to writing about religion and faith as recurring themes in your books?

NORA: Mostly I think of epic fantasy as rooted in the ancient epic story form—i.e. Gilgamesh, the Illiad, etc. Ancient epics were often concerned with people’s relationships with deities, and the deities themselves were very people-like, with human drama and human egos and human frailties.


FAYE: Jane Jacobs once wrote, “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” You’ve set much of your work in cities, from your short stories “nonZero Probabilities” and “The City Born Great” (both of which are set in New York City) to your fantasy cities such as Sky, Shadow, and Gujaareh. What fascinates you about the city? How much of that fascination is a response—or conversation—with the association of epic fantasy with feudal pseudo-Western Europe?

NORA: It’s hard to explain why I love cities. I just do! I’m not sure what my interest in modern cities has to do with feudal pseudo-Western Europe, though. After all, most feudal pseudo-Western European fantasies also center on cities—yeah, there’s a superficial association of such fantasies with the romance of rural spaces, but it’s false, because they never stay rural. The farm boy chosen one always ends up having a showdown in the center of power. The coalition of heroes always has its fateful, game-changing meeting at the Citadel or the White City or the City in the Trees. Fantasy is about people; people gather in cities. Writing fantasy is a quintessentially urban-centric exercise.


FAYE: You’ve mused before that much of epic fantasy delivers “white male power and centrality”, which is the very definition of conservatism. Do you think the definition of epic fantasy has expanded in recent years? What makes an epic fantasy “progressive”? In your opinion, what are some cornerstone books that make up today’s progressive epic fantasy canon?

Well, thing is, as I mentioned in that old article, there are plenty of writers of epic fantasy who don’t fit into the boys’ club; it’s a stereotype that epic fantasy is a boys’ club. Certainly, the best-known writers tend to be white guys writing white male power fantasy, but they’re not the be-all and end-all of the genre. I wouldn’t say the definition has changed at all in recent years, but thanks to some discussions that have taken place prominently on social media and other fannish spaces, there’s greater awareness that the stereotype is a stereotype, and more interest in interrogating that stereotype.

And to clarify, what makes epic fantasy conservative isn’t a focus on white men, but a focus on supporting or restoring an authoritarian status quo; that is the definition of conservativism. Progressive fantasies are less concerned (or not concerned at all) with restoring the monarchy or putting down the rebellion or bringing the old ways back. Progressive fantasies might also interrogate power structures in our own world, such as the ones that suggest only cis-het white men can be heroes.


FAYE: Lastly, tell us about a remarkable woman of fantasy literature—an author, reader, agent, editor, scholar, or someone else—who has changed your life.

NORA: My agent, Lucienne Diver! She’s basically the person who “discovered” me, at least in the sense of helping me transition from being a neo-pro short story writer into a pro novelist. She’s also been one of my staunchest supporters, even back in the days when I couldn’t sell a novel, and she’s also talked me down from giving up or setting manuscripts on fire more than once! She’s also ferocious in negotiations. A great person to have in my corner.


N. K. Jemisin is an author of speculative fiction short stories and novels who lives and writes in Brooklyn, New York. Her works include the Inheritance Trilogy, the Dreamblood Duology, and the Broken Earth series. In the Inheritance Trilogy (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdoms, and The Kingdom of Gods), gods dwell among mortals and one powerful, corrupt family rules the earth; three extraordinary people may be the key to humanity’s salvation. The Dreamblood Duology (The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun) is set in the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, the city of dreams, where once the only law was peace but which now knows violence and oppression; it’s a tale of culture and empire, war and religion, and the realm of dreams. The Broken Earth series (The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky) is about Essun, who searches for her daughter in the land of the Stillness, which is long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon and there is no mercy. Nora’s work has been nominated for the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the World Fantasy Award and shortlisted for the Crawford Award, the Gemmell Morningstar Award, and the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. She won a Locus Award for Best First Novel (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms in 2010), the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award (The Broken Kingdoms in 2010 and The Shadowed Sun in 2012), and the Hugo Award for Best Novel (The Fifth Season in 2016 and The Obelisk Gate in 2017). Her short fiction has been published in Clarkesworld, Postscripts, Strange Horizons, and Baen’s Universe. In addition to writing, she has been a counseling psychologist and educator (specializing in career counseling and student development), a sometime hiker and biker, and a political/feminist/anti-racist blogger. Nora currently writes a New York Times book review column named Otherworldly, in which she covers the latest in science fiction and fantasy.

For more information about Nora, please visit Nora’s website or Twitter.


October Fantasy New Releases

We’re excited to bring you a roundup of October book releases of fantasy by and about women. Let us know what you’re looking forward to in the comments.

As always, we’d love to hear from you. If you’ve sold a fantasy work, read a great recently-released story, discovered a fantastic link that we missed, or if you’ve got a book or story review to share, please get in touch and leave a comment below.


Sirens Newsletter – Volume 9, Issue 10 (September 2017)

In this issue:



By now, many of you already know that because of the Hotel Talisa’s renovation delays, this year’s conference is moving to the nearby Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek. Dates for Sirens Studio (October 24–25) and the conference (October 26–29) will remain the same, as will the programming schedule. Due to credit card security protocols, all attendees must make a new hotel reservation. For full information including reservation instructions, please visit our relocation page.

Thank you all so much, in advance, for your patience and assistance as we tackle all the tasks necessary to move Sirens. Our staff is working hard to ensure that Sirens will be the same brilliant conference for the same brilliant community that it would have been if we’d planned to hold it in the Park Hyatt all along. Thank you, too, for your understanding and support!



In the weeks leading up to Sirens, we’ll be sending important instruction emails to this year’s registered attendees regarding updated menus, meeting the Sirens Shuttle, checking in for the Sirens Studio and Sirens, and finding the Sirens Supper. Presenters will also receive detailed instructions—so keep your eye on that inbox!

If you’re riding the Sirens Shuttle and you have not yet provided us with your flight information, please write to us at (help at We’ll track your progress toward Sirens and make sure that you haven’t run into any delays along the way.



In the final post in our 2017 inclusivity series, Justina Ireland explains the history behind the term “intersectionality” and what makes Sirens stand out from other conferences: “Attending Sirens is like having a good meal after years of living off of crumbs. Your identity will be respected and embraced, your opinion valued, and you will learn so much it will feel like a weekend of machine gun epiphanies, each one more amazing than the last.” Read the rest of her post here.



We always need great volunteers to help at Sirens! Volunteer shifts vary in length and responsibilities, but most volunteer shifts are during programming and allow you to attend presentations. If you’re planning to stick to a room for the whole morning or afternoon, and don’t mind flagging down help if any problems arise, we, our presenters, and our community thank you immensely.

For more details, please visit our volunteer page. If you’re a returning volunteer, you don’t need to fill out the form—just follow the directions in the email sent through the Google Group.



When the Moon Was Ours

Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink debates whether books have to have plots in her review this month, of Anna-Marie McLemore’s When the Moon Was Ours, but found it “transcendent. McLemore took the best parts of fairy tales and the best of who we, as people, might be, and with her stunning craft, put it all on the page.” Full review on the blog and on Goodreads.



Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1

Are you done, or almost done the 2017 Reading Challenge? Faye is… not as close as she would like. But she found Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios’s Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1 “demanding and intellectually challenging… incredible, myth-making, myth-breaking stuff.” Read her full thoughts on the blog and on Goodreads.



Mermaid's Daughter

Friend of Sirens Jae Young Kim read Ann Claycomb’s The Mermaid’s Daughter, a modern-day retelling of The Little Mermaid set in at a musical conservatory, whose main character is an opera student. “Love and music are central to this retelling…it’s clever and fitting.” Read her full review here.



Interesting Links


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


Inclusivity at Sirens: Justina Ireland

Sirens is about voice: the voices of each individual attendee, how those voices come together in conversation, and how those conversations create a community. At Sirens, we want everyone to have an opportunity to use their voice, whether that’s as part of our programming schedule or late into the night over tea.

But we also know that building a space for those conversations—a space where everyone is willing to speak and, equally important, where everyone is willing to listen—is not so simple. So often, we as a society build barriers that prevent people from speaking, and so often those barriers are based on gender, sexuality, race, religion, ability, or other identity—and so often those barriers also help others ignore those voices.

This year, we are featuring a series of posts addressing diversity, inclusion, and intersectionality at Sirens in order to highlight voices that are both vital to our community and are too often unheard.

Sabrina Chin and Amy Tenbrink, Conference Chairs

When people ask me about literary conferences worth attending the first one that springs to mind is Sirens. Often people will ask me why. Are there great workshops? Do the panels crackle with personality? Is the food good? And of course, all of these things are a yes. But Sirens also has the one thing going for it that so many other conferences don’t: a keen eye for intersectionality.

Intersectionality has become quite the buzzword of late, but few people realize that it refers not to identities, but rather to how systems of oppression impact those identities and that those impacts are situational. So, for example, all People of Color face racism, but the shape and tone of the racism is dependent on race and situation. And People of Color may also face ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and a whole host of other oppressive forces as well. Basically, intersectionality is about recognizing that oppression doesn’t work in any one way, but rather works in many different ways based on the situation.

The term intersectionality was originally coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe how both feminist and Black equality movements tend to leave Black women behind, failing to recognize that the aperture for social justice movements must be widened to include the myriad ways systems of oppression impact marginalized groups. Meaning: we can’t just address sexism. We must also address racism, ableism, homophobia, and any other prejudice that is used to categorize and limit the ability of all people to live a happy and healthy life.

This is what is great about Sirens. It’s rare to see such a weighty (and complex, since our brains are trained to think in binary from an early age) conversation happen alongside discussions of  fantasy literature. And not just in a couple of tokenized panels. A glance at the schedule shows this dedication to inclusivity. The panels always address multiple identities, and not just as a separate diversity panel. Instead, social justice is baked into every panel, all of which feature a multitude of identities and experiences. I always learn something new at Sirens, and even the casual conversations can feel like a revelation.

And this intersectionality is what makes Sirens so great. Attending Sirens is like having a good meal after years of living off of crumbs. Your identity will be respected and embraced, your opinion valued, and you will learn so much it will feel like a weekend of machine gun epiphanies, each one more amazing than the last.

Sirens is the best conference around, and I say that as someone who has been to quite a few conferences. You will leave nourished and satisfied, with a head full of ideas that you maybe hadn’t considered before. And isn’t that what a great conference is about?


Justina Ireland is the author of the teen novels Vengeance Bound and Promise of Shadows. She enjoys dark chocolate and dark humor and is not too proud to admit that she’s still afraid of the dark. She lives with her husband, kid, and dog in Pennsylvania. You can visit her online at


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