Genre for Japan

Genre for Japan: the week that was

I’ve been quiet about Genre for Japan for a bit – mostly because I’m still recovering. All of us are, to a degree! It turned into such a whirlwind, it’s hard to believe it actually happened.

But happen it did, and to our utter astonishment and delight, once you include the additional donations that people were generous to give us, we raised a total of just over £11, 650.

It’s absolutely staggering, and I can’t quite find the words to express how proud I am of everyone involved: Amanda, who started the whole ball rolling and was our fearless leader; Ro, who got the message out there into the Twittersphere and beyond; Jenni, who got us fantastic press and a huge amount of support, particularly from Rebellion; and lastly, Alasdair, for being cool and energetic and Alasdair-y.

It started with just us. But it grew, and by the time we closed the auctions, it had become about every single person who supported us: the publishers and the authors and the editors and the artists who donated spectacular items; the bloggers who spread the word and urged everyone to get involved; the people who placed bids on items… everyone.

We wanted to raise money for a desperately important cause – and we certainly did that – but it feels like something else happened. It feels like this became a genuine community response.

It’s still overwhelming, both the scale of everyone’s generosity and the sense of unity that we saw developing.

Of course, this money won’t undo the damage done to the lives of everyone affected by the disaster in Japan. It can’t: no amount of money can – rebuilding and recovery are two very different things, and the situation there is far from stable. But hopefully, these funds can help in some way, however small that may be.

Stephen Deas, who was one of our wonderfully generous authors and supporters, recently wrote a beautiful blog post, which puts it so much better than I can. 

As for the rest of us, Ro’s blog also features a quick (but very touching) follow-up post which echoes the sentiments we all share.  

And for a full (and I do mean full!) list of everyone involved, to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude, see Amanda’s post on the aftermath.

Thank you for making this happen – all of you. We started it – but you did it.

We are all Genre for Japan.


Here Endeth the Lesson

I’ve learned several things this week.

1. That a new playground, in a new town, is just like being the new kid at school. Seriously. You don’t believe me? Fresh from the shiny hell of the first “settling-in” session at Small Boy’s new nursery (which, I’ve come to realise, is just code for: “an hour where you will sit and watch just how appalling small children really are to each other. And also how far that kid over there can stick a piece of chalk up his nose before one of the staff hauls him off to the nurse…”) we hit the park and playground over the road. It is, to be fair, a spectacular playground–and as you can imagine, on the first of the warm, spring-y Friday afternoons this year, it was packed.

We stepped through the gate. It creaked behind us, and slammed shut with an ominous clang. Every pair of eyes suddenly turned our way. All of them. Even the seagulls’.

It was terrifying: for a minute, I found myself thinking of poor old Edward Woodward pitching up on Summerisle. And then, after what felt like an hour, everyone just went straight back to what they were doing in the first place. But I’ll be keeping a very close eye on things–first hint of a maypole and I’m off.

2. Moving house is the work of the devil. The less said about this the better. Onwards.

3. I have been incredibly foolish in not reading Joe Hill‘s “Heart-Shaped Box” sooner. I’ve meant to read it, in a flimsy sort of way, for a while, but I’ve finally got round to it and I’m hooked. There’s something about the flow of Hill’s sentences, his language, that really appeals to me–and it manages to pull off the trick of being genuinely creepy without being trite.

4. Re: the above? Do not read books like “Heart-Shaped Box” in a flat with dodgy wiring, where the lights are prone to random flickering. It doesn’t do much for your sanity.

5. That the simplest ideas are often the most spectacular. I mentioned back on Monday that Amanda Rutter had asked on Twitter why the specfic community didn’t have a response to the Japan crisis, and as a result, a group of us formed Genre for Japan. We closed to donations of auction lots on Friday, and as far as I’m aware, we’ve now received close to 140. There’s some incredibly special things in there–and I’m not just saying that because I’m one of the people running it.

We’ve been genuinely overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity. It goes far and beyond anything we imagined, and in the meantime, we’ve been featured in the Guardian books blog, Publisher’s Weekly and on Bleeding Cool, to name just a few. It’s been incredibly hard work getting it up and running, but it’s worth it: it feels like everyone has really thrown their weight behind it to make it a real community event, and one I’m so proud to be a part of.

If you’ve not looked at the site yet, do go and browse: we’ve listed most (but not quite all) of our lots, although the auctions don’t open until Monday. They run all week, closing Sunday night. Take a good look around–I’m sure you’ll find at least one thing you can’t live without!–and bid. Every single penny we raise goes directly to the BRC’s Japan Tsunami appeal.

6. This is possibly the most important lesson of them all. This is really one to live by.

You ready?

When shaking a bottle of juice, for god’s sake, make sure the lid’s on properly, would you?

My hoodie is never going to be the same again…..

Pinch of Salt

I went all quiet again, didn’t I? Don’t panic: I haven’t been clobbered by yet more woe (although I have taken to walking along with one eye on the sky, one looking behind me and one looking at where I put my feet… just in case. You work that one out, because I can’t!) but instead I’ve been involved in a wonderful new project: Genre For Japan.

Driven by Amanda Rutter of Floor to Ceiling Books, the idea is to bring the genre community together to raise money for the British Red Cross’ Japan Tsunami appeal in the best way possible: by giving you a chance to buy Stuff.

And not just any old Stuff, either: thanks to the generosity of publishers, authors, agents and fans of SFF, this is Amazing Stuff. Stuff Which You Cannot Live Without, all with the genre fan in mind.

It’s humbling, seeing how many items have been donated, and also the phenomenal level of interest. If you spend any time on genre-focused websites, or you’re part of the same corner of Twitter as I am, chances are you know all about this already.

And if you don’t, the details are here.

Keep checking the site, too, as more information will be going up over the course of this week ahead of the auction launch next Monday. It’s an awesome cause, and there are incredible people getting involved. Please, please support us, and help us to raise truckloads of money for the Red Cross.

In other news, I watched Salt over the weekend. I was quite looking forward to it – when it was released, much was made of the fact it was a spy-action-chasey-shooty-thriller… but with a woman as the lead. And, let’s face it, there aren’t really as many of those as there should be: particularly given the main thread of the plot (without giving anything away) is a woman trying to outrun spies to protect her husband.

This is a neat reversal of the usual “spy races against the clock to save his impossibly beautiful, elegant, intelligent wife” – but boy, did it frustrate me. It wasted an opportunity to do something really interesting and ended up sort of making a hashed-up, mashed-up version of The Recruit meets Mission Impossible (perhaps not surprising, given that it was written by Kurt Wimmer and – if memory serves – was originally a Tom Cruise vehicle, rewritten for Angelina Jolie).

It could have said so many things about husband-wife relationships, gender-power balance, the role of women in dangerous places and jobs… but it felt like the rewrite went as deep as doing a search & replace, exchanging “he” for “she”.

And the ending just made me cross.

(Interestingly, my Other Half – sitting next to me and watching me seethe in the grip of femrage – laughed as discreetly as he dared, shook his head and said, “You’re getting worse.”)

And he’s probably right.