Tag: con report

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Readercon 24, Where did we go from here?

Last year at Readercon, there was an emotional dust-up over a sordid harassment incident, in addition to a scary and unexpected medical emergency for one of our favorite editors. At this year’s Readercon, we were spared this additional drama, and found ourselves sailing through a very mellow and enjoyable con. Of course, it was great to catch up with other fans and pros, like Alan Hanscomb, who finished his novel _Sharon of Two Salems_, and Mark Borok, Dianne Weinstein, and the whole Readercon gang; and also great to make some new acquaintances, like some writer named Seamus who was wearing a little black straw fedora, and a couple of mathematics and linguistics-loving commedia dell’arte performers. Most surprising for me perhaps, was to hijack a moment of Name Your LinkJohn Shirley’s time, reminiscing about his gigs at CBGBs back in 1980, where I saw him stripped to the waist and flailing around like a maniac singing “_I am electricity!“   Now that was a memorable night.  Probably Shirley will scratch his head and wonder just who the heck I am and how I knew him well enough to be on the guest list… but I was gracious enough not to mention in public some of the other crazy shit that we both witnessed in Greenwich Village back then.    Like Mickey Mouse as the sorcerer’s apprentice, those were some nutty times…   _ So where did we go from here?    Yes, the panel sessions.

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Readercon 22 - Goodspeak From the Jewel Hinged Jaw

Yet another great time at Readercon this year! The panel topics had their usual sweep of the field, from Mark Twain, to Mark Clifton, and most places interstitial…yet the mood of the conference was clearly influenced by the passing of two major figures in SF’s new wave: Joanna Russ and Tom Disch. In memorializing Disch, can you imagine a more appropriate set of panelists than Charles Platt, John Crowley, John Clute, Chip Delany, and Gregory Feeley? It is always interesting to be part of a living literary tradition — sf fandom — that celebrates itself, its heroes and villains, its friendships and bitter feuds, by directly mixing the authors, editors, fans and miscellaneous hangers on in a single venue.

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Boskone 48 Art Exhibit - Audio-Visual Reconstruction

At Boskone 48, not only were there great works of Greg Manchess, Omar Rayyan, and Bob Eggleton, among others, taking up several rows of panels, but there was also an entire wall dedicated to an exhibit of original SF and Fantasy paintings! Curated by Joe Siclari and Edie Stern, the exhibit featured dozens of works from their collection, as well as many more loaned by other major collectors. Now that I have a decent mini voice recorder, I decided to do a long walk through the exhibit and comment on the paintings. Fortunately, I remembered to mention most of the dates and the sources where the paintings were published, so now I can reconstruct a major part of the exhibit from the recording for this post. In fact, it would probably make the most sense to just listen to the MP3 (below) as you browse down the images of the works being discussed. Hope you enjoy the virtual exhibit!

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Roll Your Own: Authentic Onigiri Rice Balls

At Readercon two weekends ago, I was happily munching on my home-made O-nigiri rice balls, but nobody believed that they I had made them myself. In fact, it’s pretty easy to make the exact replicas

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Readercon 21 - True Tales of Great Editing

Gordon van Gelder launched the session by asking the panelists to relate an anecdote about great editing, and Patrick O’Leary started off with a note about David Hartwell. O’Leary said, “Hartwell grasped the contents of a story I sent him and shook them down to their basic elements, then he tossed them back at me and demanded a rewrite, along the lines of: Does the main character of this story have to be a monster, a pederast, AND a fire-breathing dragon? Why not just pick two of those and go with that?” Brian Francis Slattery pointed out, that even though editors suggestions can often save a bad story, if they get too involved in the writing process, they can edit the story into incoherence. He cited an example of his own editing in which he so completely rewrote the story that it was both unrecognizable as the author’s style and had, at the same time, become incomprehensible. Barry Malzberg said that if he had to choose an example, he would cite Horace Gold, “for pulling the Demolished Man out Alfred Bester, which was a great exploit!” Van Gelder asked, “What about Daniel Keyes and Flowers for Algernon? Isn’t there a story about Gold asking Keyes to change the ending, and Keyes’ neighbor said to him, if you do that, I’ll go back to my house, get a baseball bat and use it break both your knees!”

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Readercon 21, another feast for the mind

Great fun at this year’s Readercon 2010, which left me with plenty of food for thought! My stash was nicely replenished with a few dozens books, including some works by Jack Vance, Mack Reynolds and Tim Powers, whose backlist I’ve been catching up on recently. Speaking of Vance, our friends at StarShipSofa have conducted a fine hour-long interview with him, worthy of a listen. In the dealer’s room, I have to say that Neil Clarke (of Clarkesworld and Wyrm Publishing) had a terrific rack of cheap books, for which I thank him immensely! Neil had a signed copy of the rare Fain the Sorcerer by Steve Aylett, who wrote the really strange biography of SF’s mysterious Lint, among other excursions into the bizarre. Although Neil’s price was really reasonable, it would have cost more than the entire stack of books I purchased at the con… so maybe when I get rich! Dark Hollow books, along with all their fine supernatural horror selection, had a box of 50 cent paperbacks where I scored copies of Moorcock’s Hollow Lands and Fury by Henry Kuttner. Thanks kind people! Also of interest was my conversation with Darrel Schweitzer about my good friend Harry O. Morris. Darrell said that it was Harry O., in his famous Lovecraftian zine Nyctalops, who discovered both the writer Thomas Ligotti and the artist J.K. Potter. Although Harry often mentioned various works by Ligotti and Potter in our conversations, he never once bragged about having “discovered” them, in any sense. So it was really a pleasant surprise to hear those words of recognition from a supernatural horror writer and scholar of Schweitzer’s stature. Disclosure: I suppose Harry O. “discovered” me too, since my teenage participation in various exquisite corpse poems (with Harry O.) and collages (with Leslie Hall) were published in Nyctalops here and there. Caveat: probably “discovery” doesn’t count unless I do something more significant, like publish a novel or painting elsewhere, though, alas…

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Arisia 2010: The Editor Writer Relationship

This panel featured Jeanne Cavelos , Joy Marchand , David Nurenberg , Allan Steele and GOH Gardner Dozois , who discussed the relationship between writer and editor in the SF field and how the situation has changed. In their opening remarks, Cavelos related her experience as a senior editor in New York, where she found that the interest editors take in nurturing new authors from unknowns into big names has fallen victim to the push for blockbusters. Today, if an editor is not advocating for a bestseller to the senior editors, to her peers, to the sales division, to the assistant editors and designers she’ll be out of a job. Allen Steele pointed out that short fiction editors still manage to read the submissions they find interesting, and they’ll take the time to send comments back to the author or ask for changes. “Short fiction editors still edit,” said Dozois, “ but at the major publishing houses, who’s in charge? In fact, it’s the sales people who end up canceling book deals.” Nurenberg emphasized how incredibly valuable the feedback he received from games publisher White Wolf was to his career, “like water to a drowning man…“ As that analogy didn’t make much sense, he said, “I mean to a thirsty.” Somehow the object of the verb got lost, but we get the idea!

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Arisia 2010 con report: Barefoot Techno-Fantasy Fest, in a Kilt

[photo by Sean Molloy] At my first Arisia, I found myself weaving through crowds of strangely-coiffed pirates, rocketeers, and gamers; wondering at what point my own personality would intersect with one of those cliques and, at the same time, idly speculating as to which clique it would be. Twisting, turning, and meandering, I wondered if there was any cipher concealed for me in my conversations with Freemasons, swordsmen, and zombies, or a secret buried somewhere in the depths of a prominent decolletage. In the end I was left with an exhilarating sense that something interesting had transpired, and though I could list any number of particulars of the fun things I did, I wasn’t quite sure how it all added up. This year, at my second Arisia, I was more accustomed to the casual ebb and flow, the meaningless randomness of who one might meet at any given moment, and I was more attuned to simply enjoy the dance. Indeed, some of the most startling appearances in 2009 — the stilt-walking woman in tights and razor claws, the body-gloved Harley Quin, and the immaculately nuanced Steampunk ensembles — returned. They were all conspicuously different from last year, but instead of novelty they radiated a pleasant warmth of familiarity. Oh that mischievous stilt-woman! Always scratching and snarling at the Muggles as they float up behind the glass of the atrium elevator! And Harley, the little minx, does one ever tire of contemplating the poses she strikes while strapped into that saucy leather corset, black boots and ragged stockings? [photos by Sean Molloy - http://www.flickr.com/photos/falconn67/] It was equally reassuring to see pieces of last year’s favorites, if not ramped up to full energy, at least lying about here and there like fragments left over from an archaeological dig. The skull-bracketed rocket pack that was flamboyantly posing with a team of rocketeers in ‘09, was this year merely glimpsed abandoned on a table, straps dangling idly alongside. It certainly would have been fun if somebody rushed out of the con-suite, strapped on the skull-pack, and flamed up across the atrium space to a party upstairs! And yes, there were pirates, there were faeries, and furries, and a few storm trooper types. You could say that it was the same rich stew of individuals at Arisia 2010, but there were definitely higher concentrations of bare feet, of blood-drenched nurses, blue-green body paint (though only a few of them Navi, as fas as I could tell), and really pervasive wearing of kilts. Sure, some people I expect to see wearing a kilt (since that’s pretty common around the office…okay, it is Cambridge!), but it seemed like every time I turned around there was another utilikilt wrapped around some smiling, bearded dude. Which means that this year’s Arisia (officially sub-titled “the future and the past”) has been informally dubbed by Yunchtime as the “barefoot techno-fantasy fest, in a kilt.”

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Readercon 2009: Apollo 11 and Science Fiction

**Update** Terrific Photo Spread in Boston Globe - Big Picture Did SF become irrelevant after the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969? This panel explored the relationship between the Apollo program and SF, and the ways in which SF did or didn’t live up to its visionary potentials after manned space flight became a reality. Paul De Fillippo kicked things off by asking to what extent SF inspired the space program? And to what extent did the eventual breakdown of the manned space program affect SF?