honest to blog

By kat kourbeti

hark! british fantasy awards news, podcasts, and two (2) cat pictures

#16・
17

issues

kat kourbeti
kat kourbeti
welcome back to honest to blog, a newsletter with thoughts about writing, movies, music, science fiction and fantasy, and general creative process blah. if you were forwarded this email, you can subscribe (and read the full archive) here.

spoopy season is (already) upon us! 🎃
house? moved. kitten? acquired.
house? moved. kitten? acquired.
not without hiccups, but my house move is complete! i live in central london now - which is the strangest sentence i get to type in this newsletter (and my goodness, there’s a few of those). for better or worse, covid hit the house market and my partner and i swooped in just in time. pictured above is our living room, mid-move, with Olive the cat very graciously perched on the couch. all the stuff has been put away now, but chances are the cat is on the couch as you read this.
emotionally, this time has been A Lot. i’m delighted to be living with my partner, and to be sharing every day with them. for all its myriad faults, the pandemic gave us the most extraordinary chance to fall in love even deeper than we had before (d'aww, i know) - and in many ways the move-in was inevitable, and it has been wonderful. also, i get to lay claim on the cat now, and call her my cat too, and that’s pretty darn great.
at the same time, i’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety since early in the year, and all the big changes in my life recently (including an inexplicable and deeply upsetting shock to an old friendship) made it spike in ways i could not control, taking up all my brain space and turning me into a nervous mess. we’re talking constant anxiety attacks, obsessive thought loops, stomach problems, the works. bad juju all around. that in turn impacted my writing, which had been slow to start with anyway but has now screeched to a complete halt, though thankfully other aspects of my creative work have not (more on this later).
at least i’m double-jabbed now, under the auspices of the house of pfizer, and that’s allowed me to see some friends, and to have my sister and best friend over from edinburgh, and to be a little less jittery all the time. only a little bit, mind. i cannot extol the virtues of therapy enough–i’ve been accessing cbt through the nhs for the last couple of months and it has helped pull me out of the incessant spiral of my brain, something i had been trying but failing miserably to do by myself. it’s an ongoing process, and some days are tougher than others, but i recently started to feel like myself again, before the levee broke, and i’m supremely grateful for that. hopefully the writing will return too, in not too long.
here is olive in my little office, her second favourite place to be (and also mine).
here is olive in my little office, her second favourite place to be (and also mine).
how have you been since last we spoke? how’s the writing, if you’re into that? or the reading? or anything, really. let me know by replying to this email.
new stories for your ears 💜
the Strange Horizons podcast has a new cover!
the Strange Horizons podcast has a new cover!
i made this snazzy new cover for the strange horizons podcast, and finally got us listed on the apple directory! you should now be able to find us on your favourite podcatcher app - but if you use something obscure that i don’t know about and we’re not on there, drop me a line.
here are all my latest episodes (since the last issue i sent out) for your listening pleasure:
  • Motivation Augmentation; an augmented moon miner contemplates their humanity and memories of their love
  • All Us Ghosts; a band of queer VR ghostwriters in a post-pandemic world fight for employment rights
  • The Loneliness of Former Constellations; an ageless alien entity in exile falls for a monster huntress
  • The Cataloguer of Deceit; an old Filipino woman gives up the secret to her long life through the medium of chocolate cupcakes
  • Haja Hoje; a queer Brazilian woman with the power to bring back the vestiges of dead people struggles with her own grief when she loses her partner
  • two stories from our Trans special in May: Women Want Me, Fish Fear Me, in which a sex worker details their life in a world where splicing fish DNA into our own is par for the course; and A Welling Up, in which a woman and her mom road trip in search of her lost brother, pursued by mysteriously appearing lakes. (this one’s by a fellow Greek writer whose work i admire greatly! had a blast podcasting it tbh!)
we have a smol Kickstarter campaign coming up at the end of october, with special stories and podcasts included, so keep your eyes peeled for that :) oh, and we also just went and won a British Fantasy Award for Best Magazine/Periodical!! [/excited screm]
ya girl is a BFA-winning podcast editor?!? definitely was NOT expecting that tbh!!
ya girl is a BFA-winning podcast editor?!? definitely was NOT expecting that tbh!!
i also recently made my cast of wonders debut as a narrator!!
Cast of Wonders
Cast of Wonders 463: Loving the Falls by @mareasie narrated by @darthjuno produced by @audiojeremy art by @alexisonpaper

https://t.co/FvQEPZ756L

CW: suicide themes, death, divorce https://t.co/tjio4to8xE
and got the chance to narrate another PodCastle story!
PodCastle
#pc691 THE HEALER OF BRANFORD by C. A. Barrett, narrated by @darthjuno. A #PodCastleOriginal!

Rated PG-13. CW: animal cruelty. https://t.co/mutyytFAjD
lowkey highkey, this one’s the cat’s pyjamas (pun intended). also, how cool is it to have two new escape artists narrations for you?? i’m still pinching myself.
in non-fictional podcast news,
i recently appeared on kneel before pod to discuss THE suicide squad (2021), not to be confused with suicide squad (2016), which was my first KBP appearance 😉 and before that, we discussed the falcon and the winter soldier, marvel’s tv sequel to the captain america story (spoiler warnings for both, obviously!)
Kneel Before Blog - Kneel Before Pod - The Suicide Squad (185)
Kneel Before Blog - Kneel Before Pod - Double Agent Carter (177)
british fantasy awards: winning one, judging another one, and watching it all from afar
as i briefly mentioned earlier, in a surprising turn of events, strange horizons won the best magazine/periodical award this year! the list of nominees this year was SO STRONG that i was not expecting this to happen at all. i was watching the livestream of the award ceremony from my couch, trying not to let the FOMO get to me too much (i’m not at live events comfort level yet, alas), and thinking fondly of the SH team and how much we’ve done in the almost-year since i joined, and then they said our name and i was like
hey wait, that's us!! whaaa
hey wait, that's us!! whaaa
i’m so happy for the team and for my small part in this win. it feels amazing to be recognised for our efforts among such a stellar line-up of nominees, especially as the mag’s been through the ringer in the last year, and everyone’s been working super hard amid really difficult personal and world circumstances. so thank you to the best magazine/periodical jury for seeing that :) and thank you to everyone who reads and listens to what we publish.
and then of course, i had the tremendous pleasure of serving on the british fantasy awards jury once again, this time on the best audio category! there was a LOT to listen to, and even though we had most of the summer to do it, it was still a mammoth task. luckily i was in great company, and chatting to fellow jurors arden fitzroy, pete sutton, and tam moules while we deliberated was as much fun as listening to the nominated podcasts and audio dramas.
our nominees were:
  • Breaking the Glass Slipper, Megan Leigh, Lucy Hounson & Charlotte Bond
  • The Magnus Archives, Rusty Quill
  • PodCastle, Escape Artists
  • PseudoPod, Escape Artists
  • The Sandman, Dirk Maggs & Neil Gaiman (Audible Originals)
  • Stellar Firma, Rusty Quill
it’s not a surprise to say that some of the nominated podcasts already numbered among my faves *coughPodCastlecough*, so listening to more episodes proved no problem at all. but it was important to listen deeply and widely, to ensure fairness. i knew of breaking the glass slipper as a staple among genre fans, and i can now definitely see why; i’ve since added it to my list of podcasts to regularly keep up with, and i love the topics and guests they pick every time. it gives me the same energised feeling as being at a great con panel every couple of weeks, which is the kind of high i’m always chasing.
fellow juror arden fitzroy brought stellar firma to our collective attention, and we added it on to the list of nominees with no hesitation. it quickly rose to the top of my personal fave list - an improv show with audience participation set in space? sign me up! also it made me cackle in public many a time, and that’s always a bonus point for me.
among the jurors, i was the only one who had never read the sandman before, so listening to the audible original full cast version featuring james mcavoy, kat dennings, taron egerton, and neil gaiman himself was in fact my first ever experience of the work. the production is superb, and definitely worth a listen, though i was surprised to find out it was originally conceived as a story that would fold into the larger DC comics world, and ngl, that was a major turn off. there were entire chapters set in arkham asylum and gotham city, and i was like….. nah thanks? but i greatly enjoyed the original stuff that bore no connection to the justice league, john constantine, or any other known DC character. the bits in hell and the dream world were *chef’s kiss*. and the score was a standout!! i think i’ll listen to the next “season” when it comes out, as i’m told the DC stuff fades to the background as the graphic novel goes on, but overall this is very peak gaiman, as was expected.
ultimately, i found it astounding that the magnus archives had never been nominated for a BFA (or much else) before this point. i hadn’t listened to it before (it was one of those long-running, intimidating titles that somehow swished past me and i always felt too far behind to properly start it), but even i knew the influence it’s had in the horror audio fiction space, and the effect it’s had on its fans. i have no shortage of fandom friends who have been enamoured with TMA since the beginning, and even more so when a queer love story took centre stage, and the villains became more menacing (shoutout to friend of the blog, alasdair stuart, aka peter lukas, and this year’s karl edward wagner award recipient!!), and the story more and more thrilling. though i didn’t get to catch up with all of it while juror-ing, the crescendo TMA built towards with its final season was unmistakeable. it’ll perhaps come as no surprise to you, but it was the runaway winner among the jury.
congrats to Rusty Quill and everyone on the TMA team! very well deserved!
congrats to Rusty Quill and everyone on the TMA team! very well deserved!
all this being said, rusty quill may be chuffed to know that stellar firma came within a hair’s breadth of winning on a chaos vote, as my insistence on it being my favourite nearly swayed a couple of other jury members… 🤭 i’ll let arden elaborate on this on twitter below, as they were quite chuffed with how chaotic things got during deliberations:
Arden Fitzroy
So! The BFA juror experience: a thread! Choosing was hard, but we were delighted to award @TheRustyQuill’s The Magnus Archives with Best Audio! For the incredible work of the cast+crew over 5yrs, for pushing the limits of how horror can manifest in audio narrative drama— https://t.co/Ik4gTXmTGp
Arden Fitzroy
That said—since I can say things now! @StellarTim’s Stellar Firma came incredibly close to winning.Because what speaks more to the future of audio than the utter chaos of a small show totally dismantling genre conventions through the medium of semi-improvised space shenanigans?
Arden Fitzroy
Thanks to jurors @darthjuno @suttope & @eater_of_books for the wonderful conversations, and for appreciating the case for the chaos vote! The whole process was amazing, I’m so glad we met. Congratulations to everyone on the shortlist, y’all don’t know how hard you made it for us!
as arden said in their tweet, being on this jury was an absolute blast, and i’m very grateful i got the opportunity to do it. thanks to the british fantasy society for having me ❤️
and if you want to watch the ceremony livestream, you can find it here:
British Fantasy Awards 2021 (From the British Fantasy Society)
British Fantasy Awards 2021 (From the British Fantasy Society)
prepare for fannish squee--i mean howling
ok so this won’t mean much to most of you, but they just announced they’re making a movie out of mtv’s teen wolf, and i’m ecstatic 🤩
TEEN WOLF
We’ve heard your howls, and we’re howling back! A #TeenWolf MOVIE is coming to @ParamountPlus in 2022. https://t.co/AHH6QvuJOY
teen wolf was my main fandom for several years, back in the heydays of tumblr, and i hold a super soft spot in my heart for it. yes, it’s a ridiculous-sounding remake of a pretty ridiculous 80s movie, but hear me out: they took a dorky concept and actually made it cool, unironically. the lore is way better than it has any right to be (no vampires allowed; only well-researched mythological creatures from various cultures, thanks very much), and the setting of beacon hills, california was probably the first queernorm world i’d seen on tv, which was pretty groundbreaking at the time.
more than that, it led me to discover some great music (including canadian pop-rock legends marianas trench, now my favourite band, who are featured on the soundtrack thrice), fed my fanfic-writing muse, and nursed my broken heart back to life. i owe a lot to this little show.
here’s why i’m so intrigued to see what jeff davis is planning to do with a film version: the show went through a lot of unforeseen changes from its midpoint onwards, due to several cast members deciding to leave and pursue other career options (some of which worked out, and others… not so much). it meant jeff davis and the other writers had to scramble for different plotlines as their main characters were no longer available, with the end result being an increasingly tangled mess of unresolved story threads that started off really cool, but had nowhere to go. by the start of season 5, they had to introduce a whole new host of werewolf kids, as half their starter cast was simply awol.
as you know, i’m a sucker for a decent story arc, and i know i’m not alone in wondering what the original vision was for the wolves of beacon hills. like most, i’m hoping the original cast will be back for this, including dylan o'brien and tyler hoechlin, aka sterek, the ship to end all ships. now go forth and make it gay, you cowards!
ps.
if you’re a member of spectrum, the london sf/f writers’ group, you can now download the 2021 short story contest entries on the theme of ‘depths’. voting opens next week, and closes 17th october. the grand prize is a critique from the unbroken author and recent ignyte award winner cherae clark, with portal bookshop vouchers for everyone who places 1st-3rd in any of the voting categories.
and of course, hugo voting continues, and strange horizons is a finalist for best semiprozine. you can vote if you were an attending member of ConZealand, or have a supporting ($50), attending ($275), or virtual ($90) membership to DisCon III. more info here. as for the work that is eligible, you can find our full 2020 archives on our website. voting deadline is november 19th!
that’s all from me this time! as always, feel free to reply to this email with any comments and thoughts about the contents herein, or forward it to anyone you think might be interested in it (along with my thanks!).
until next time, stay safe and creative!
xK
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kat kourbeti
kat kourbeti @darthjuno

writing, media and arts commentary from a queer g(r)eek writer of science fiction and fantasy works.

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