Much of W. B. Yeats’ poetry is inspired by the rich mythological fabric of Ireland. This is the land of the Sidhe, the banshee, the merrow. But the island itself has a character, an identity, in the geographical, historical and metaphysical sense. So, in homage to our host country, we’ll be talking about the place of islands in the human imagination. 

From Avalon to the Archipelago of Earthsea, islands appear in speculative fiction with regularity. They are often places of magic and ritual, home to unfamiliar peoples, creatures and social structures. They have a unique relationship with the ocean, which holds multiple roles of boundary, barrier and provider.

Earthsea as drawn by Ursula K Le Guin

We were incredibly lucky to be joined by Jo Walton, Vida Cruz, and Alexandra Rowland at this year’s WorldCon for a very special live edition of Breaking the Glass Slipper.

Representation is a core concern for us, which is why having Vida on the panel was particularly important. Most of our notes written before the recording turned out to be very Western/European-centric. It makes sense, given we are all Westerners… but it doesn’t do justice to the many viewpoints outside of our limited worldview. Thankfully, Vida was there to shed light on an alternative perspective of islands – making for one of our most enlightening episodes yet.

Jo Walton has published fourteen novels, most recently Lent. She has also published three poetry collections, two essay collections and a short story collection. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002, the World Fantasy Award for Tooth and Claw in 2004, the Hugo and Nebula awards for Among Others in 2012,  and in 2014 both the Tiptree Award for My Real Children and the Locus Non Fiction award for What Makes This Book So Great. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are much better. She gets bored easily so she tends to write books that are different from each other. She also reads a lot, enjoys travel, talking about books, and eating great food. She plans to live to be ninety-nine and write a book every year.

Vida Cruz is a Filipina fantasy and science fiction writer. Her short fiction has been published or is forthcoming from Expanded Horizons, Writers of the Future vol. 34, Lontar: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction, Broad Knowledge: 35 Women Up to No Good, Phantazein, and the Philippine Speculative Fiction series of anthologies. She is a 2018 Tiptree Fellow. She won First Place for the second quarter of the 2017 Writers of the Future contest for her novelette “Odd and Ugly.” Vida attended the 2014 Clarion Writers Workshop in San Diego, California; the 51st Silliman University National Writers Workshop (Fellow for Fiction); and the 20th Iligan National Writers Workshop (Fellow for Novel-in-Progress). In 2016, she was also a fellow at the first Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio Writers Workshop.

Alexandra Rowland grew up on a sailboat in the Bahamas and then in a house in Florida. Sick to death of the tropics, they attended Truman State University in northern Missouri, where they studied world literature, mythology, and folklore. They now live in western Massachusetts where they work as an (occasional) bespoke seamstress and writer under the stern supervision of their feline quality control manager. Alexandra Rowland is also one of the hosts of the podcast, Be the Serpent, along with fellow authors Freya Marske and Jennifer Mace.