Double reprint day

It’s not often that I get to talk about even one reprint, much less two, but today is that day, with two pieces finding new homes.

First, my flash fiction story, “We Need To Talk About the Unicorn in Your Back Yard,” which originally appeared over at Daily Science Fiction, is now available at Toasted Cake, a podcast focusing on flash fiction pieces.

And second, my poem, “Do Not Imagine,” which originally appeared in Future Lovecraft, is now available in A Visitor’s Guide to the Void, a guidebook to a larger performance project which also includes a rather cool interactive poetic oracle.

Enjoy!

Happy Watermaidens Day

Today is, by decree fee, the day of the watermaidens – and this year, the watermaidens intend to invite a unicorn or two to their celebrations.

Such invitations are rare events – sometimes happening only once a century, if then.  It is not that the watermaidens dislike unicorns, precisely – indeed, some have even opened their springs and ponds and lakes to the delicate yet wild creatures from time to time, when the unicorns need to refresh themselves in cold water.  A few watermaidens have even entered into long friendships with unicorns, guarding the creatures with their magics, or beckoning young people to come closer, and place their chests against a unicorn’s horn.

But watermaidens, like unicorns, tend to be solitary creatures, and when not solitary, tend to enjoy certain activities not entirely approved of by the more proper unicorns. Not that all unicorns demand chastity – far from it – but many of the older and more traditional unicorns do feel that it is their duty to uphold the standards associated with them. And although few watermaidens continue to practice their ancient art of dragging mortals down into the water depths – in part because many of them have no depths to drag mortals into – the very existence of that tradition causes even the most frivolous, unconventional unicorns to shudder. Nor do watermaidens, for the most part, care to venture into the deepest parts of the forests and meadows where unicorns hide or dance – they are not comfortable leaving their waters for long.

(Indeed, even on this day, many watermaidens will remain under their frozen lakes, or hide in seafoam – they prefer their comforts, those watermaidens.)

This, of course, makes it rather hard to invite the unicorns to their celebrations.  Without knowing precisely where the unicorns live – and with no safe way to travel there – messages must be sent instead. And the watermaidens, of course, have never been overly fond of paper and pen – paper tends to disintegrate, if in their hands for too long. A few of them do have cell phones – but those phones rarely survive long in their watery grasps. Most birds cannot be trusted to send messages.

Still.

The watermaidens have their ways of leaving messages on starlight and the wind, on moonlight and clouds.

And they know how to sing to the unicorns.

So as you travel today, keep an eye out. That white flash – that gleam of light – it might be nothing more than a reflection of sunlight, or some creation of mortals, or an optical illusion.

Or it might just be a watermaiden dancing with a unicorn.

Ok, now I’m worried about Amazon

The following paragraph is taken verbatim from Amazon Web Services legal page:

The Lumberyard Materials are not intended for use with life-critical or safety-critical systems, such as use in operation of medical equipment, automated transportation systems, autonomous vehicles, aircraft or air traffic control, nuclear facilities, manned spacecraft, or military use in connection with live combat. However, this restriction will not apply in the event of the occurrence (certified by the United States Centers for Disease Control or successor body) of a widespread viral infection transmitted via bites or contact with bodily fluids that causes human corpses to reanimate and seek to consume living human flesh, blood, brain or nerve tissue and is likely to result in the fall of organized civilization.

Thanks to @DianePatterson on Twitter for the alert.

World Fantasy Con 2016, Update

Good news:

The 2016 World Fantasy Con has updated its website with a disability and accessibility policy, found here. In other good news, the convention has arranged for ASL interpreters for some events, which is a great step forward and something I applaud.

Bad news:

1. There’s no indication of whether or not WFC will be offering the pre-Feb 1st prices for those of us who were waiting to find out if the convention would be accessible before registering. That’s a problem for me. As I said in my earlier post, I don’t think it’s fair that, after several years of accessibility problems, I should have to pay more than other members because I had to wait to find out if the con would be accessible.

2. This sentence:

“We have reserved the ADA ramp for the Sunday Banquet.”

That’s good, but doesn’t mention the panels. Will they be on elevated stages (making it easier for hearing impaired members to lip read), and if so, will access ramps be provided to those stages?

3. The accessibility policy stresses that the hotel is ADA compliant. That’s great, but I cannot stress this strongly enough:

ADA compliance does not always mean accessible.

Which was absolutely true when I stayed at the Columbus Hyatt hotel for World Fantasy back in 2010. The hotel was (mostly) ADA compliant, except, oddly, in the mobility accessible rooms, which did not meet ADA standards despite supposedly being mobility accessible. But the rest of the hotel was technically compliant: I could, for instance, get into the hotel bar, all that ADA compliance requires.

However, the hotel bar had only one bar, at a height too high for wheelchair users. The bartenders couldn’t see me, so I had to ask other people to order drinks for me. Far worse, however: the rest of the bar was mostly equipped with high tables and chairs. Nobody could see me, and I couldn’t join in. I was effectively cut out from conversations.

That’s leaving out some other fun stuff – the way, for instance, that the floors with suites, where the parties were, had no disabled bathrooms whatsoever, or the inexplicable placing of the handbars in the second floor public bathroom – far from the toilet and largely useless for wheelchair users.

Now, can World Fantasy do anything about this sort of thing? Probably not. And to be fair here, the issues I’m mentioning are not really that unusual in U.S. hotels, and these are minor issues compared to the problems I’ve encountered with other World Fantasy cons. And apart from the weirdness with the bathroom doors and the shower heads in the mobility accessible rooms, most of these issues could be worked around. But I mention them in the hopes of explaining why the words “ADA compliance” are not always going to be enough – and, I guess, to explain why I’m going on and on about this. Because I haven’t just encountered issues at previous World Fantasy cons, I’ve encountered issues at this hotel.

4. My emails to info at worldfantasy2106.org have still not been answered.

Still, this counts as progress, and I’m very grateful and encouraged to see at least some response to this.

And in the meantime, for proof that I am still writing about other things, my discussion of The Lion King, with bonus snarky comparison to Hamlet, is now up at Tor.com.