Aug 30 2015

Worldcon 2015 — just the readings.

Rosemary

This was the first Worldcon I’ve gone to in — wait while I look it up — Yikes, 11 years.  The last one I attended was Noreascon  4 in Boston in 2004.  (Plenty of other smaller conventions between now and then, of course.)

I wasn’t able to wrangle any spots on the program this year, so I was in pure attendee mode.  Yes, entertain and inspire me, pros!   I’ll sit right here.

One thing I was looking forward to was the readings.

I heard Pat Cadigan, who I’ve been following on Facebook lately.   She’s doing the whole cancer-treatment deal, so of course there’s a certain amount of fellow-feeling on my part.  She looked amazingly good!  And from her posts, it seems she’s doing a lot, so I think she has a lot more energy than I did during my treatment.   Or a lot more feisty-ness, at least.   I quite enjoyed her story “Cancer Dancer,” a fantasy in which A Way Out is offered…  They put her in the Big Room, expecting a big crowd, and there were a good number of people there.  Oh, and did I mention: She won a Hugo this year (Correction: No, that was two years ago — I don’t know why I mixed that up, I was right in the audience this year watching her as she accepted a Hugo on behalf of Thomas Olde Heuvelt, who couldn’t be there, for his novelette, “The Day The World Turned Upside-Down.”  Thanks for catching my mistake, Pat!)

I also heard John Scalzi, the first time I’ve ever been in his audience, I think.  This is a guy who’s a real natural onstage.   There was a story, some general audience interaction, a little ukulele (at a fan’s request), a phone call from his wife,  all good fun.  The story was an not-yet-published urban fantasy, and was quite a neat idea.   About it, Scalzi said (quoting from memory here): “When most writers do urban fantasy, they do chain-smoking elves.  I do actuarial tables.”

I heard Jo Walton do a bit from her upcoming book, Neccessity, the third of her  books based on Plato’s republic.  No spoilers, sorry!   But I did so like the character in the section she read.  He has, shall we say,  a unique point of view.  Also, Socrates was present, so of course: dialog!

I’ve known E.C. Ambrose (alias Elaine Isaak) for ages, and yet this was the first time I’d ever heard her read.   She read a section from a prequel to her Dark Apostle series, and when she was done, I said, out loud, before any applause: “Wow!”   It was quite exciting!  Elaine  reads really well, and the prose was strong, the characters were very clear, the scenes were filled with tension, and later, action —  really a good performance of good work.

I was also looking forward to Daryl Gregory’s reading — you know how I much I like his stuff.

 

Daryl Gregory's reading. Not shown: Daryl Gregory

Daryl Gregory’s reading. Not shown: Daryl Gregory

We were there!  He was not.

I used Twitter to good effect, tweeting him the photo above, captioned: “@darylwriterguy Daryl Gregory where RU? (snf).”  Sabine commented that perhaps he hadn’t recovered from the Afterparty (a name of one of his books, how do you not know that?).   A fan nearby overheard her and tweeted to Gregory: “There was too much Pandemonium at the Afterparty, so @darylwriterguy missed his reading but We Are All Completely Fine.”   Shortly thereafter, Gregory scurried in, all apologies.  He had mixed up the times on his reading and the one after (Jack Skillingstead, who was sitting right there in the audience with us).  There was no time left to read, but Gregory proceeded to charm us, and amuse us and gave away some books.  It worked!  He’s a hard guy not to like.

And since we were right there, we just stayed for Jack Skillingstead‘s reading.  I had never read anything of his before, and it was quite worth hearing.  I might look him up now.

I’ve been reading Kay Kenyon lately — Sabine recently turned me on to her stuff, and I quite enjoy what I’ve read so far.   So, we caught her reading as well.   The excerpt she read didn’t quite grab me — but I’m definitely going to keep digging in to her work.

But for me, star of the show: Ada Palmer, who read from her upcoming first novel Too Like the Lightning, a story set centuries from now, but told with the tone and style and language of an 18th-century memoir.   It sounds like it should be a gimmick, but it’s not —  it’s a brilliant move, and the execution was spot-on.  I was utterly fascinated, and then frustrated that it won’t be released until next year!  I shall pre-order, needless to say.

Well, you wanted to hear about more than the readings, didn’t you?  But alas: out of time!   I’ll  talk about the other stuff later…

If you wanted an update on the whole Hugo awards vs. Puppies business — there are plenty of sources.  You don’t need me to repeat it right?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about there, here’s an article in the Chicago Tribune on the subject.

Also, you can watch the streaming of the whole ceremony at this link.

 


Dec 17 2014

Next up: Daryl Gregory

Rosemary

darylgregory

 

I first encountered Daryl Gregory’s work when I served as one of the judges for the Philip K Dick Awards. His book Pandemonium was one of the many that were dumped on me. (Many. Many, so many. Of, shall we say, varying levels of skill.)

But unlike most of the others offered for consideration, this book grabbed me from the start, and immediately proved itself “unputdownable” as we say nowadays. It certainly had my vote for the PKD award — but alas, it ended up being disqualified as being fantasy and not SF.   (An argument could be made for it being SF, and I did make that argument. My fellow judges were not convinced – even though that argument was actually present in the book itself, and uttered by Philip K Dick.)

Regardless — on the basis of Pandemonium I started seeking out everything I could find by Daryl Gregory, and I was not disappointed.

He’s not just good — he’s good enough that I will now read anything by him, even things I wouldn’t normally read, because I know he’ll deliver.

Horror novel? I generally dislike horror, but when I went to a live reading of his at Readercon last year, he read from We Are All Completely Fine, and I instantly pre-ordered it.

Zombies? I hate zombies. Raising Stony Mayhall? Snatched it up.

There’s something especially engaging about Gregory’s characters. I think that (like Robert Charles Wilson, another favorite of mine), he’s particularly good at giving the reader a strong sense of how remarkable and shattering events effect the real people stuck in the middle of it all, the ground-level experience.   And he’s able to make me love his characters — possibly in part because he so clearly loves them himself.

His most recent is Afterparty (in which there is a drug that makes you think you see God), but I think that if you’re new to his work, Pandemonium is a good place to start. It’s charming, and eerie, unpredictable and heartbreaking. And I do so love the two brothers, Del and Lew, who seem so perfectly real to me, with such true-to-life adult sibling interaction, the kind that has a wealth of history behind it.

Another good place to start is with his short story collection, Unpossible. You’ll get a real sense of his range from that.

(Okay, I admit that I have not looked at his series of graphic novels for the Planet of the Apes.   A guy’s gotta make a living, I suppose.  But maybe I should check them out… since he can make enjoy a book about zombies, maybe he can sell me on tie-ins, too? Hm.)

Daryl Gregory’s books on Amazon

Daryl Gregory’s website

 


Jul 16 2014

Readercon weekend

Rosemary

My first actual out-and-about public appearance since — well, since the diagnosis in December.

Everyone was perfectly lovely to me.  Most people had heard about what’s been going on in my life, and were glad to see me, and welcoming.  And those who didn’t know me at all did not look askance at my odd hairdo.  Because that’s how we roll in SF/F.   I’ve given up wearing hats because: hair coming back in!  Plus: summer.  Hats are far too hot.

I did have some trouble with my energy levels.   I seem to have two settings: 1) Perfectly fine, let’s chat! 2) Okay, I go lie down now.  These alternate at apparently random intervals.

I skipped all the usual huge group dinners in favor of room service.    Because, even if I felt good at the start of the dinner, I might suddenly not — so I played it safe.

I only had the one panel, on why schools and the education experience show up so much in SF/F literature (with Greer Gilman, Lev Grossman, Faye Ringel, Delia Sherman, Rick Wilber).   I think I wasn’t my sharpest, having just fought my way through stop-and-go traffic on the Mass Pike, followed by more stop-and-go traffic  on route 95, arriving at the hotel exactly one hour before the panel, and discovering that valet parking was not an option in my case because the valet could not drive a manual shift car!  Which mine is.  Because I like it.  And all the nearby parking spots were taken — but after much explaining on my part, hotel security said that I could leave my car out front until after my panel.  Which was nice of them.

Oh, and my car’s air conditioning is broken.  Did I mention that?  Yeah.

So, I arrived already exhausted, and I feel I could have done much better on that panel…  I could have said quite a lot about the Steerswomen’s Academy, but didn’t quite have the nimbleness of mind to insert my counterpoints at the right moments.   Because, of course, the Steerswomen’s Academy is so very different from other school experiences presented in literature.

At the Meet the Schmoes Pros Party, James Patrick Kelly had the misfortune of being the first person I ran into.  Since I haven’t really seen many people other than Sabine and some close friends  for the last four months, I had to say All the Things!  Right Away!  Non-Stop!  He endured it bravely and graciously.   What a sweetie.    And of course, Ellen, and Delia, and Elaine Isaacs.  Oh, and Yves Meynard, who is such a dear.  And newly married!

And not to forget mad book collector and pal Michael Tallin, who lives on the opposite side of the country, and I only see at conventions.   His book-and-autograph fever often sends him to Readercon, and I get the pleasure of his conversation and company, without actually having to foot the bill for a flight to California!

It was lovely to be out in a social situation again, with people who are of My Tribe.

But it did wear me out.  I did not rush to get up the next day.   And rested often.

I managed to catch a couple of panels on Saturday.  When the Other Is You, where the panelists, all members of minorities or marginalized groups,  spoke of the difficulties and pitfalls in writing about their experiences.   (That was Chesya Burke, Samuel Delaney, Peter Dube, Mikki Kendall, Vendana Singh and Sabrina Vourvoulias.)  Later, I caught New Models of Masculinity,(Erik Amundsen, John Benson, Kameron Hurley, Catt Kingsgrave and Bart Leib)  wherein the panelists discussed the fact that SF/F too often uses the default cliche version of the manly man, and what are the other options?  And how does it operate in the real world today?  Fascinating.

I also caught great readings by Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, and Daryl Gregory.

There was no Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Science Fiction and Fantasy Competition — and that’s okay.  Kirk Poland was a brilliant, hilarious idea, and thrived for many years — but it has basically run its course, and is best retired.   We shall remember it fondly.  Time to do something else.

The something else was A Most Readerconnish Miscellany: readings, music, poetry, by all sorts of people, as part of a fundraiser for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, and Operation   Hammond, which teaches convention runners and volunteers about first aid, both worthy causes.   I arrived late, and left early, later discovering that I’d missed a performance by Ellen Kushner!  but I caught a vivid, rousing poetry recitation by C.S.E. Cooney.   I had heard her do “The Sea King’s Second Bride” in the past and was blown away; this time I arrived partway through her poem, which involved a woman, a double-bass, and the Devil.  It was awesome.

A reading by one of  the guests of honor, Andrea Hairston, also included a banjo-player who had put some of the song lyrics in Hairston’s work to actual music with actual banjo.  Excellent.

And Daniel Jose Older did an excerpt from his work — completely amazing.   A true performer and storyteller, with this brilliant, crazy urban edge. After his bit, I waved over the person collecting the donations and handed over forty bucks, because damn! I now have to run out and get everything available by Older.

Then my Kaffeeklatsch, which I think went well.  We merged the the other person klatsching, one Adrienne J. Odasso, a poet new to me.   I bought one of her chap-books, but haven’t delved into it yet…

Oh, look!  My indicator just flipped over from Perfectly Fine! to I Go Lie Down Now.  I shall do that, soon.

I do regret that I wasn’t able to meet & greet and hang with all the people I’d hoped to… but my on again/off again energy level kept me from being as social as I’d have liked, and from seeing as many panels as I wished I could have seen.  I passed people in the halls who I wanted to talk to, or hang with… but I just couldn’t do all I wanted.

So if I missed you, I do apologize (looking at you, Kate Nepveu!).

But I was so glad to finally get out into the real (as in SF/F fan and writers’) world again.

In other news: Radiation is going well. About which, more later.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mar 27 2010

What I said

Rosemary

Over at Chad Orzel’s Uncertain Principles blog, he’s asked for book recommendations.  Here’s what I said:

Robert Charles Wilson’s SPIN. If you haven’t already, that is, as it’s not a new book. (Actually, I’d be interested in a scientist’s take on the science in it…) You can follow it up with everything else ever written by Robert Charles Wilson.

On the absolutely opposite end of the spectrum: Catherynne M. Valente’s THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND IN A SHIP OF HER OWN MAKING. (I haven’t quite finished reading it yet, so I hope that after recommending it, I don’t watch it flip around and prove me wrong!) That one’s online, and can be read for free, although the author politely requests donations (which I shall, even should it flip; the pleasure I’ve got from it so far is already worth the bucks). http://www.catherynnemvalente.com/fairyland/ In a certain mood, I’m ready to read things that are clearly shaped as fairy-tales, and I’m finding Valente’s take on the form both charming and moving.

And for something smack-dab in the middle, how about PANDEMONIUM by Daryl Gregory? I came across this book when I was a judge for the Phil K. Dick award (a strictly-SF award, so the book was disqualified by some of the judges as not being SF, in their opinion). I found it fun, and poignant, and clever and deep. (Don’t read the cover blurb, however — I feel it gives too much away.)

Right after I posted it, I had a vague memory of actually having said those things to Orzel in person.   If so, I now look like a dope.

Ah, well.   At least the readers of his blog will now have heard of those books, and might read them.  Pass on the good stuff whenever you  can, say I.