Masscon Jan 2021

In previous years, we’ve held the occasional one day minicon reprising some of the talks we held at Critical Mass during the year. Adam and I thought it’d be nice to hold an online mini-con in late January.

We were both impressed with Punctuation, and thought we can put our paid Zoom account to good use. We decided to organise a few test runs in December to see what was possible, and get some experience wrangling Zoom.
Our current plan is to run trials on the weekend, at 8pm Adelaide time. Here’s the current draft schedule, if any of you wish to be guinea pigs
Sat 5th Dec, 8pm: Unearthed treasures
People bring two books: forgotten gems or recently unearthed discoveries
We send them to one of two breakout rooms; they have 30mins (6 x 5) to Talk about their book #1 (& post a para to host), then half of them move to the other breakout room and repeat with book #2.
Sun 6th Dec, 8pm: Quiz (Individual): Shared slide and people raise hand to answer
Sat 12th Dec, 8pm: Quiz (Team): Shared slide and teams gather in breakout rooms to compose answers which are posted to host(s) to mark
Sun 13th Dec, 8pm: Treasure Hunt: Teams form, move to breakout rooms and are given a list of items. They find as many items as they can before being recalled for judging
Sat 19th Dec, 8pm: Panel We test whether we can create a webinar like panel followed by general discussion when all audience are visible for Q&A

If you’d be interested in taking part in the experiment, email me at for more details

MassCon trials
8:00pm Adelaide / 8:30 Melb/Sydney
Every week on Sat, Sun until Dec 19, 2020 — 5 occurrence(s)
Sat Dec 5, 2020 08:00 PM Unearthed treasures
Sun Dec 6, 2020 08:00 PM Quiz (invividual)

Sat Dec 12, 2020 08:00 PM Quiz (team)
Sun Dec 13, 2020 08:00 PM Treasure Hunt

Sat Dec 19, 2020 08:00 PM Panel

Meeting ID: 824 6710 5925
Passcode: 420646

Doctor Who’s sonic pioneers to turn internet into giant musical instrument

Members of the Radiophonic Workshop live in concert in 2016. Paddy Kingsland, left, and Dick Mills
Members of the Radiophonic Workshop live in concert in 2016.
Paddy Kingsland, left, and Dick Mills

The BBC Radiophonic Workshop made the famous science fiction theme tune and worked with the Beatles. Now it is preparing to make history

The Radiophonic Workshop has always broken new sonic ground, from the Doctor Who theme to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Now they’re at it again – this time using the internet as a musical instrument.

A performance of Latency will take place at a special online event on 22 November using a technique inspired by lockdown Zoom calls. The band includes composers from the original BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which created soundtracks for most BBC shows from the 60s to the 90s and influenced generations of musicians from Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfield to Aphex Twin, Orbital and Mary Epworth.

The idea [of playing the internet] reflected our time,” said workshop member Peter Howell. “We’re all subject to the internet now in a way that we never thought we would be. And Bob and Paddy came up with an idea that is literally using what we’re all relying on for a creative purpose, using something that we’ve all taken for granted but in an artistic way.”


The internet has an unpredictable natural lag, or latency, caused by the milliseconds it takes for electrical signals from one computer to reach another, as anyone using Zoom has experienced.

The trick that Earland and Kingsland discovered was that they could extend the internet’s delay from a few milliseconds into several seconds. Instead of trying to play at the same time, the Radiophonic Workshop will play one after another – in sequence, rather than in parallel.

“We had the bright idea of using that latency to make a loop of music,” Earland said. “The sound gets sent to someone, and they add to it, and it keeps going round. So you’re not relying on everyone being on the same clock.”

By James Tapper, from The Guardian, 15 Nov

Punctuation Con: !

Last weekend saw several hundred sf fans enjoy an online sf convention designed to provide social spaces for people to chat, discuss, debate and play as they might in a face-to-face convention. Punctuation Con was organised by GUFF winner Alison Scott and her colleagues from the #octothorpe podcast; they used Zoom, Discord and Streamyard to present panels and talks, provide rooms for group games and discussion, and encourage fans to talk about their passions. The Aussie Drinks Room included people from Adelaide, Canberra and Wellington as well as the curious fans from around the world. Bilby and Kwoll agree that it was a very well done convention, and hope to use some of these ideas in a mini con in January next year. (VirConium?)

As part of planning for an online minicon, we’re going to hold some Zoom sessions to test out ideas on Saturdays over the next few weeks (around 8pm Adelaide time, so that overseas fans can join in if they wish). If you’re interested in taking part (we’re looking for guinea pigs), contact Roman (

Crit Mass: The Mongolian Wizard, 7pm Nov 18th

Over the past seven years, Michael Swanwick presented a new fiction series at, consisting of stand-alone stories all set in the same world—an alternate fin de siècle Europe shot through with magic, mystery, and intrigue. The first nine in a projected series of 21 are published by Tor.

Please read a few or perhaps all of the stories in the series. They can be found on the website, listed in order on this page: Mongolian Wizard

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Zoom details:
Note that we will open the zoom  room about ten minutes before the start of the meeting

While this is the last in our set of formal meetings, we will be planning a gathering in early december. If we aren’t under strict lockdown, perhaps dinner in a restaurant; otherwise a zoom gathering for a chat/puzzle/game/panel*

New Collection of Jane Yolen

The Midnight Circus, Jane Yolen (Tachyon 978-1-61696-340-8, 242pp, $16.95, tp) October 2020.

The Midnight Circus is the third collection of Jane Yolen stories from Tachyon in the last three years, following The Emerald Circus (which won a World Fantasy Award in 2018) and How to Fracture a Fairy Tale. Collectively these rather modest volumes are giving us a pretty good sense of what a Selected Stories volume might look like, and it might look pretty important. Yolen’s aston­ishing bibliography, closing in on 400 volumes as I write this (and who knows, maybe passing 400 by the time you see it) represents an almost unprecedented synthesis of centuries of worldwide tale-telling, at all levels, from kid’s board books to challenging novels of the Holocaust.

— full review by Gary K Wolfe at Locus

World Fantasy Awards

The World Fantasy Awards 2020 were announced in a virtual ceremony by World Fantasy Con 2020 on November 1. The winners are —


  • Queen of the Conquered, by Kacen Callender (Orbit)


  • Silver in the Wood, by Emily Tesh (


  • “Read After Burning,” by Maria Dahvana Headley, (A People’s Future of the United States)


  • New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color, edited by Nisi Shawl (Solaris)


  • Song For the Unraveling of the World: Stories, by Brian Evenson (Coffee House Press)


  • Kathleen Jennings


  • Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, for The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games (New York University Press)


  • Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay, Laura E. Goodin and Esko Suoranta, for Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research


  • Rowena Morrill
  • Karen Joy Fowler

Info from Mike Glyer, File770

Crit Mass, Nov 18th: The Mongolian Wizard

Over the past seven years, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Michael Swanwick presented a new fiction series at, consisting of stand-alone stories all set in the same world—an alternate fin de siècle Europe shot through with magic, mystery, and intrigue.

For this Critical Mass, we’re going to discuss the series to date: please read a few or perhaps all of the stories in the series. They can be found on the website, listed in order on this page: Mongolian Wizard

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Zoom details:

Nova Mob, Nov 4th: Ian Mond on the top 11 books of 2020

Guest Speaker & Locus critic Ian Mond on his top 11 books of the 2020 year. Why 11? There’s a tie…

Social distancing arrangements do not allow a full Nova Mob meeting at the Kensington Town Hall, so we will continue with the Zoom video conferencing.

Murray hopes to have the recording of October’s Nova Mob celebration of John Bangsund’s life available early in November.

Congratulations to Bruce Gillespie on his Ditmar win!

You are invited to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Mondiale – the 2020 world of books that are terrific sfnal stuff but probably aren’t marketed that way so log in to find the true quill. [Nova Mob Nov 2020] Ian Mond

Time: Nov 4, 2020 08:00 PM to 09:30PM Melbourne time,
7:30 to 9pm Adelaide time

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 417 758 3193
Passcode: nova

Some of the Best, 2020 from Tor

The 2020 edition of Some of the Best from is an anthology of 29 favorite short stories and novelettes selected from the stories Tor have published this year. The eBook edition will be available for free on January 5, 2021. Of course, you can enjoy all of these stories right now at the links listed here.

Oct Crit Mass: Kathleen Jennings

Our guest for the October 21st Crit Mass is Kathleen Jennings, writer and artist. Kathleen Jennings is based in Brisbane. As an illustrator, she has been shortlisted four times for the World Fantasy Awards, once for the Hugos, and once for the Locus Awards, as well as winning a number of Ditmars. As a writer, she has won two Ditmars and been shortlisted for the Eugie Foster Memorial Award and for several Aurealis Awards.

Some of her recent work includes the heart of owl abbas ( and Flyaway (Picador, Aus). See her website

Kathleen notes

I’m very pleased to announce that Brain Jar Press is publishing my next little book Travelogues: vignettes from trains in motion on October 17, 2020 — and it is now available for preorders!

Kathleen’s new book launches Oct 17th

Critical Mass: Kathleen Jennings
Zoom details:
Starts at Oct 21, 2020 07:00 PM Adelaide (7:30 Melbourne/Sydney, 6:30 Brisbane)
Part One: 7:00pm Adelaide (7:30 Melbourne, 6:30 Brisbane):
Talk by Kathleen Jennings, followed by questions
<tea break> 7:40 — 7:50pm
Part Two 7:50pm Adelaide (8:10 Melbourne, 7:20 Brisbane)
More questions and Discussion with Kathleen
Meeting ends 8:30 Adelaide (9m Melbourne, 8pm Brisbane)

Zoom Meeting ID: 721 7823 2704
Passcode: dfv9zb