My Schedule @Worldcon75

header-1200x200WorldCon in Helsinki is coming up shockingly soon. Hope to see you there. I’m unlikely to have much time to post while I’m there, but I’m sure to be tweeting. I hope to meet up with a lot of friends I’ve not seen in a while (relatives, too!). My schedule is conveniently grouped for single day attendance (though I’m arriving Wednesday night):

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For the academic track I will be talking once again about Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (yes, when I get obsessed, I stay obsessed to adapt John Irving’s words). The title of my presentation is ‘Lollard Magician: Jonathan Strange & the Reform of English Magic’ so you can get a sense of where it’s going (assuming you know who Wycliffe is).

But I better get back to finishing it —

Charcoal Burners, Black Sails & Magic

Uskglass Charcoal Burner

Admittedly I’ve not left the house since I got here, but don’t let my indolence fool you! I am ready to rise to the opportunity and sure enough, I will be. Thanks to Cailleach’s Herbarium mentioning it on Facebook, I got on the waitlist and now have ticket in hand to attend ‘The Supernatural in Early Modern Scotland’ this Friday. A workshop at The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, it looks to be a fascinating day (see the whole list of speakers here).

So many interests colliding in useful ways! It’s great to have the feeling you’re in the right place at the right time.

And speaking of collisions: the above illustration is of course the lovely Charles Vess. It’s for the last story in Susanna Clarke’s collection The Ladies of Grace Adieu. In my usual way I had hoarded the last few stories last summer, thinking when I read them there would be no more of her writing to read as she has nothing else out at present (yes, that’s how my brain works). I didn’t know the interest I would develop in charcoal burners in the meantime! So it was the first thing I read when I got back here. A delightful tale with saints (including Brigit), Uskglass and of course the titular charcoal burner.

Total collision count: dissertation subjects, two forthcoming conference papers, and the new all-consuming medieval project, Rauf Coilyear. I’m teaching Rauf in the upper division medieval class this fall. I love it when a plan comes together.

Meanwhile I am playing dolls with Miss C and catching up on Black Sails with my sweetie. Life is good.

In New York City

I can’t vouch for the lord‘s whereabouts but this afternoon I head down to the city for the Occult Humanities conference at NYU, which includes a visit to the lovely Katja so that’s a definite plus. I’m sure I will have stories and photos to share upon my return, though be warned that things continue just as hectic hereabouts while I constantly change hats as I move from project to project.

I never managed to make it down to the city last semester other than heading to the airport. Making plans to get back down again soon, maybe with the lovely QoE Stephanie Johnson to see the cards exhibit at the Cloisters and a few other things (there are always things to see).



The Great Grey Beast

thiefusp3‘The great grey beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive. Here he was, buried in the belly of that smothering month, wondering if he would ever find his way out through the cold coils that lay between here and Easter. He didn’t think much of his chances…’

It’s rare that those words do not pop into my mind when February begins. Clive Barker’s hero in The Thief of Always is bored in school and desperately longs for excitement. I’m rather the opposite at present. I’ve been so busy I long for boredom and quiet but it’s not on the horizon.

This weekend I got two complicated grant applications done; one sent off, the other will be today once I look it over again. I’m contemplating a third. Next weekend I’m off down to the city for a fab conference with an amazing art exhibition attached to it — and staying with a friend so excitement abounds.

I’m trying hard to remember my Happy No Year declaration as exciting calls for stories and papers come my way. So many opportunities! But I must remember I have neither the time nor the funds for all the shiny shiny things. No, you can say it, Kate. No.

I’m glad to see February in a way. September and January both seem like the longest cruelest months. Transitions between my two lands, return to teaching, meetings, forms, etc. all add up to a hectic time which makes the month seem even longer. So hello February, hail Brigit. Have you put away your Yuletide decorations?


by Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

DOWN with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and misletoe ;
Down with the holly, ivy, all,
Wherewith ye dress’d the Christmas Hall :
That so the superstitious find
No one least branch there left behind :
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected, there (maids, trust to me)
So many goblins you shall see.

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Out Now: James Bond & Popular Culture

Out now: includes my essay “Flirting with James Bond” about how I developed the Chastity Flame series. read more at the McFarland site, or just click the picture to buy it for yourself,  or to send the info to your college or local library!


The most recognizable fictional spy and one of the longest running film franchises, James Bond has inspired a host of other pop culture contributions, including Doctor Who (the Jon Pertwee era), the animated television comedy series Archer, Matt Kindt’s comic book series Mind MGMT, Japan’s Nakano Spy School Films, the 1960s Italian Eurospy genre, and the recent 007 Legends video game. This collection of new essays analyzes Bond’s phenomenal literary and filmic influence over the past 50-plus years. The 14 essays are categorized into five parts: film, television, literature, lifestyle (emphasis on fashion and home décor), and the Bond persona reinterpreted.


Foreword (Robert G. Weiner) 1
Introduction 5

Part One. Film
Japan’s 1960s Spy Boom: Bond Meets Imperial Nostalgia (Michael Baskett) 10
“Permission to kill”: Exploring Italy’s 1960s Eurospy Phenomenon, Impact and Legacy (Nicholas Diak) 32
Subverting the ­Bond-Canon in Madame Sin and Se tutte le donne del mondo (Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns) 47
Nation and Action: The Case of the Bollywood Spy Thriller (Ipshita Nath and Anubhav Pradhan) 62

Part Two. Television
Mr. Bond’s Neighborhood: Domesticating the Superspy for American Television (Cynthia W. Walker) 80
The Undefined Agent, Illya Kuryakin: Making the Russian (In)Visible in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Thomas M. Barrett) 103
Who, Doctor Who: 007’s Influence on the Pertwee Era of Doctor Who (John Vohlidka) 121
Refashioning James Bond as an American Secret Agent: Scarecrow and Mrs. King, 1983-1987 (Christine D. Myers) 140

Part Three. Literature
Super-Spies Face the Collective Shadow of the Cold War in Matt Kindt’s Mind MGMT (Hannah ­Means-Shannon) 162
Flirting with Bond: Or How I Created My Sexy Female Secret Agent (K.A. Laity) 181

Part Four. Lifestyle
Modelling Bond: The Cultural Perception of James Bond on the Eve of the Eon Production Films (Edward Biddulph) 194
Derek Flint, Matt Helm, and the Playboy Spy of the 1960s (Brian Patton) 209

Part Five. Reinterpretations
Archer: A Spy Parody for the Ears (Ian Dawe) 232
“Sometimes the old ways are the best”: ­Ret-Conning in James Bond Video Games (James Fleury) 247
Afterword (Trevor Sewell) 267
About the Contributors 271
Index 273

Calling on Heroines

Heroines of Comic Books and Literature Cover

Who are your heroines?

The heroines books are apparently out now: at least we contributors have begun receiving our copies. Academic publishers don’t tend to do the same sort of launches that fiction publishers do, so we don’t have the breathless announcements from the publishers on a specific day. Fortunately the editors have taken it upon themselves to get the word out and well done, them,

It’s priced for libraries at a list price of $75 (though discounted at Amazon, of course), so maybe something to suggest to your library to buy. It will surely prove popular along with its companion volume. We need to see heroines everywhere and this is a good round up of women you may or may not have heard of — and observations of what they teach us.

Who are your heroines from books or the screen — big or little? Or from life? I chose Christina of Markyate most because I want more people to know her story. Who inspires you?


Glasgow, Day Three AKA Dundee & the Trossachs

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We started off from Glasgow, so I guess it counts. We took a windy trip through some of the lower highlands and yes, the famous Loch Lomond. It was incredible as the slideshow will demonstrate; what you don’t see is the cars and one other bus trying to squeeze past our big tour bus (or indeed, backing up to find some room) on the steep lanes. Eep!

It was funny being in Dundee without my sweetie, but we visited a lot of familiar places as well as some lectures and performances on the campus of Dundee University. Morris Heggie brought over some original pages of artwork from DC Thomson which were fascinating to see. Must dash, but I’ll add some captions when I have time.

Oh, and check out my piece over at Jump Magazine for Girls on awesome women of the Middle Ages!

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