ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
I'm guessing that most of the MSP contingent have plans to be at Convivial 4 (Oct. 16-18), and some of the folks who usually make it to Penguicon have plans for ConClave 34 (Oct. 9-11)...and it's quite possible that there are people who're planning on both.

Right now my next planned con is Arisia 2010 (Jan. 15-18), but it's not completely silly to try to get to something between now and then.

Who's going to what, when, where? Philcon is probably too close to Thanksgiving for me to manage. What else am I missing?
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
As my last few posts have indicated, I had a bit of an adventure getting home from Worldcon this year. Funny, it wasn't so hard to get home from my last Worldcon in 2004! (I just took the T, since it was in town and I was actually commuting.)

This was my third Worldcon, but only the first one I actually went to instead of merely attending when it was being held within an easy commute of where I lived (Noreascon 3 [1989] and Noreascon 4 [2004]).
the saga begins... )
Then there was the "adventure" of getting back (previously described here and on FB), which worked out with meeting Scott Edelman at dinner in the hotel restaurant at the Holiday Inn, because his flight had also been cancelled. I wound up accidentally encountering two industry pros, one on each end of the trip, both of whom were also very nice people and great to talk to. That's the sort of thing that I love about this field.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
(Worldcon report coming at some point.)

It looks like airfare is pretty cheap at the moment, though transcontinental travel is still going to be a giant time suck. There aren't any BOS-SJC nonstops (AA killed their old "nerd bird" a few years ago, and JetBlue chopped theirs during the fuel price jump last year), so it's a hub connection somewhere (IAH, probably, since CO has the cheap fare right now) and end-to-end gate-to-gate times run in the 8-9 hour range.

+ Another con to fill in the gap between Worldcon and Arisia
+ BOS-SJC fare reasonably cheap right now
+ Can hook a SEA stop in there to see family; a BOS-SJC-SEA-BOS triangle trip only adds about $100-150 to the fare if I stay through Sunday
+ "Use it or lose it" vacation policy; WFC + the extra day at each end would get me closer, and doing the Seattle trip would get me under the threshold for sure even if I don't take any other time off
- Not sure how many folks I know will be there
- Two extra hotel nights pretty much required due to flight times (either in SJC or near SEA)
- Two long travel days

ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
I'm at the Holiday Inn Aeroport in Montreal after Air Canada cancelled my flight. I have an 0630 flight tomorrow and will at least try to get to work after I arrive.

The good news is that this has become an extension of the con; I'm sitting in the restaurant with Scott Edelman and a couple other stranded congoers. Apparently the NW flight to Detroit was cancelled due to crew rest issues, so several of the non-Boston contingent are also still in Montreal.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
At YUL in the AC lounge; it was definitely a good call to get the lounge pass add-on for my flight. Wi-Fi, snacks, drinks, comfy chairs, power outlets, and OMG clean bathroom yay. I'm tired and worn out but I had a damn good con despite shut-down parties, overly long elevator lines, and the nearly endless walk to the panel rooms.

Back to work tomorrow. Urgh.

ETA: flight delayed ~1hr. Back in the lounge. Very glad I got the pass.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
Given this post, you already know what's coming up, don't you?
[Poll #1434226]
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
From the program guide:
Apollo 11 and Science Fiction. Michael J. Daley, Paul Di Filippo (L), Carl Frederick, Barry N. Malzberg, Allen Steele, Ian Randal Strock. Forty years ago a week from next Monday man first walked on the moon. Apollo 11 can be regarded as a triumph of the science fictional imagination, even if virtually no one foresaw that it would come as part of a massive governmental program motivated more by global politics than by scientific or commercial interests. That we haven‘t been back there since 1972, though—that would have been unthinkable in 1959 (to us) or 1969 (to everyone). Arguably, the moon landing was precisely the moment that sf became irrelevant, the moment where the real world overtook us and our ability to discern the future better than others collapsed. We‘ll talk about the strange and unforeseen history of the manned exploration of space—and its relationship to sf.

My notes on this one are unfortunately not as complete as I would like, and only really cover about the first half of the panel.
more details )
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
Remember how I said I was wary about next year's Readercon? You may have seen some rather...spirited...discussions of the issue elsewhere on LJ, also.

I'm feeling much more reassured after [ profile] sovay's post about Readercon:
Let us all agree that "This is your father's Readercon" is a really bad slogan. It has a deskful of negative associations and nothing to do with the current plan for Readercon 21, which is a temporary simplification of the program to something whose creation and coordination will not cause nervous breakdowns among members of the committee. Note that I do not mean simplified intellectually. The only issue is the density of program items. The dealer's room will contain its usual stacks of books. The traditional events—Meet the Pros(e), the presentation of the Rhysling, Shirley Jackson, and Cordwainer Smith Awards, and the Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition—will all take place. And please, if there aren't parties all over the place in 2010, something has gone terribly wrong with the whole de-stressing idea. Further information will be forthcoming as soon as I have it, i.e., after the committee has a chance to check its e-mail, breathe for the first time since mid-April, and perhaps water some of its plants or pets. For now, please repost and link as you see fit. And if you have any concerns about Readercon, ask.

Don't Panic.
This says to me that the concom knows there's been a screw-up, that they want to address it by fixing the communications channels, and that they're listening. This is a huge improvement over how things looked earlier. I'm still concerned, but even at the nadir I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt as much as I could, and this...this helps a whole lot.

I'm looking forward to the promised FAQ, which (while I don't expect it to answer everything or solve all the problems) should be another important step toward the better communication/better transparency side of things.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
Back from Readercon. Tired. Sniffling, which is allergies and/or a con crud cold. As usual, falling into the post-con "it's over? already?" blues...and looking forward to Worldcon.

Overall: This was another good Readercon.

Positives: I made it to several very good panels (which I have notes on and will put some reports together for). I got to see lots of great people I don't see often enough (and meet some new ones). I finally managed to get to the Korean BBQ place after years of not quite making it. (Mmmm, bulgogi.)

Negatives: There were too many people I didn't see: not everyone I would have liked to see made it to the con, and I didn't get enough time with several of the folks who did make it. The hotel Internet was $13/day and really bad; I heard enough complaints that I didn't even bother trying. I just used my cellphone data plan instead, and even shared it out over Wi-Fi for a few folks so they could get to sites that weren't working through the hotel wireless: you know, the really obscure and useless ones like Gmail. I was spoiled by the free and functional wireless at Fourth Street and Penguicon; if this had been either free or functional, I think a lot of people would have been at least marginally satisfied with it.

I'm really wary about the announced "no GoH, single track" plan for next year. It worked for Fourth Street, but that was between 1/3 and 1/4 the size of Readercon and probably would have been a problem had it been much larger. For the first time in a while I didn't pre-register for next year at the con, because I'm wondering if I'll want to go. Watching train wrecks isn't nearly as much fun when you're on the train.

I'm really glad I decided to (a) stay at the hotel again and (b) arrive Thursday. There was enough con on Thursday night and Friday morning to justify the extra day (to the detriment of folks who couldn't get there until after work Friday, unfortunately). I don't see going to a single programming track as likely to improve that issue either.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
Only a few days until Readercon!
[Poll #1425552]
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
This isn't so much a con report as a collection of random reactions, but I'll post it anyway. (If nothing else, if I post it now I won't wind up waiting until after Readercon, which would be pretty silly.)

I had a great time. This was my first [ profile] 4th_st_fantasy, and I was strongly reminded of [ profile] farthingparty; a small group, a single track of programming, and many of the same folks were there. St. Louis Park is no Montreal, but there was still good food nearby, and the con suite was well stocked.

A+++ would buy again. FSFC is now firmly part of my plans for the Boskone-Readercon Calendar Gap of 2010. I'll probably try harder to avoid connecting flights next year, though.


Absolutely wonderful. The staff were really helpful and flexible, the rooms used for the consuite were right near programming (and the smoking consuite was just a few doors down), and everything was easy to get to. The challenges are admittedly less than those at a larger con (such as [ profile] arisia, where the staff are similarly helpful but the Hyatt has severe physical issues at that scale) but they were exceedingly well handled.

I was particularly impressed by the way dietary restrictions were taken care of by the hotel staff, both at the restaurant and during Sunday brunch. Hotel liaison [ profile] jenett deserves some real credit for this, including the wonderful brunch. (I'm lucky enough to not have any major dietary restrictions; that just meant I had all the wonderful options to choose from.) Little things done right included the hotel being able to give me a 1300 checkout instead of a 1200 so I could go to brunch without needing to deal with my bags and the banquet manager (really) coming out to where we were playing Dominion on Friday night to ask if we needed anything, and bringing us water.


Somewhat writing-heavy, but in a good way even for my determinedly non-writing self. I enjoy listening to writers talk about how they write, possibly all the more because I have no reason to worry about how I'm doing it wrong just because I have a different approach.

I wasn't taking panel notes, and there are much better panel reports over on [ profile] 4th_st_fantasy anyway. Go read them.

travel griping within )
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
Back from Boskone, which I enjoyed despite the effects of the Viral Colonization Bureau's expedition to planet [ profile] ckd over the past few days. (It's down to coughs and a bit of scratchy throat at this point.)

With that, my impressions:


This year, the con was in completely new space (last year at con time, that wing was still being built out). The upper level had panels, registration, and bid tables; the middle level was for lobby access and also had the (now legally required in Boston) Chain Irish Pub Location; and the lower level had the Galleria area which had the hucksters' room, gaming, con suite, art show, and pretty much everything else that wasn't either "audience looking at a speaker/panel/dramatic presentation" or filking.

I really like how this use of space worked. The Galleria setup reminded me of the ConCourse from Noreascons 3 and 4 in a good way. (There weren't anywhere near as many couches, alas, but still.) There were the usual handful of issues with the first live run of what was effectively a new facility (in terms of space layout) that were brought up at the gripe session; I'm sure they'll be fewer in number next year. (If we're really lucky, the hotel will figure out how to make the escalators go in usefully coordinated directions.)


As always at Boskone, a strong program; as always at Boskone, I went to fewer program items than I wanted to because I was doing something else (which includes "attending another program item"[1]) at the time. Particularly enjoyable items included the Alternate Alternate History panel and the dramatic reading of Shakespeare's play (known of only on Barrayar) Tam Lin.

Program suffered a bit from the Viral Colonization Bureau's other expeditions; a few other folks were also coming in under the weather, and so had to drop off some program items to conserve energy.


Dominion was this year's winner of the Race for the Galaxy award for the game being played the most. I think it's a good game; I'm still not convinced it's as good as most people think it is. I'd still rather play RFTG with the expansion (which also goes to 5 players, unlike Dominion).

Commuting is still annoying, but every year I do it anyway because I forget how annoying it is until I go to the con again. (It was easier when the con was still at the Sheraton, since I could just walk home if the T had stopped running.)

There's never enough time for me to see all the people who are there that I want to see, but that doesn't stop me from wishing a bunch of other people could have been there as well. Too much is never enough.

The Chain Irish Pub wasn't bad. I still didn't get out to Legal Test Kitchen; in fact, despite the weather being better than last year's, I didn't get outside of the hotel for a single meal. Next year I want to try ordering delivery from someplace and eating in the con suite.

[1] If I go to a con where I never have a "hey, I want to go to both of these" moment, there are two likely causes: the programming is not packed densely enough with topics that engage my interests (in which case I may be treating the con primarily as a gaming venue), or it's a single-track convention. Neither apply here.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)

Behind like a very behind thing. I've skimmed back a bit on the flist, but having reached skip=300 and yet still seeing posts from early Sunday I think I'm just going to throw in the towel on this one. If there's anything you've posted recently that you want me to read, you'll have to tell me about it.

Also, next weekend is Vericon. I will fall behind, again. I will probably not catch up, again.

Con report: I went, I played many games, I saw folks, I had fun. Now it is over and I am tired. That's the con report. (Keith Olbermann's Moby Dick: "Call me Ishmael. This whale sank my boat. The end.")

Currently percolating posts: the iPod touch as a PDA (compared to/as a replacement for the Palm TX), e-books as a reading medium. Hooray for Xjournal, since it means I can save a half-baked post and come back to it later.

Other: finally planning some new userpics. (Thanks to [ profile] yendi, who has acquired and delivered a fresh replacement shark.) I only have 184 available slots, after all.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
Even though a portion of my flist was also there (and not posting as much because of it), it's still time to bankrupt my pants.

No travel troubles either way; I knew I was off to a good start when my shuttle to the hotel pulled up just as a group of familiar-looking folks were entering. That let me get in on the Biodome expedition, followed by dinner at a Hungarian restaurant with [ profile] mrissa and [ profile] timprov, particularly appropriate since I'd been reading Dzur on the flight up. (No Great Weapons were in evidence at this dinner, however.)

Of the event itself: I thought the Good Reads panel went pretty well (it's always a bit unnerving to wind up the moderator of the first panel on the program); from there on to Sunday's * Panel (and the not-really-a-Dead-Dog-Party party that followed) it was all good. As always, it's never long enough, though each year I've managed to be able to stay longer than the one before. (By Worldcon, I should have some actual vacation time available....)

And, being Montréal, all the meals were at least good, and usually better than that. It's a mild shame that almost all the places I know are up on St. Denis rather than near the Palais des congrès; that'll make things a bit less convenient for Worldcon. I guess I'll just wind up having to go find more good restaurants. Heh.

Some culinary highlights: Hungarian sauerbraten; Suite 88[1]'s raspberry sorbet, strawberry and pepper sorbet, and that melted white chocolate[2] in a dark chocolate cup they brought out as a free sample for our group; the Asian fusion place's crispy spinach (even if they never did bring out the salmon tartare); Une Crêpe's "Germaine"; and Le Triskell's wonderfully tasty shrimp and scallops crêpe.

Next cons on the schedule horizon, with vague probabilities: Arisia (Jan. 16-19, ~100%); [ETA: Vericon (Jan. 23-25, ~100%);] Boskone (Feb. 13-15, GoH [ profile] papersky, ~100%); possibly one (as yet undetermined) out-of-town con (March-May sometime, ~75%); Fourth Street Fantasy (Jun. 19-21, ~75%); Readercon (Jul. 9-12, ~100%); Anticipation (Aug. 6-10, ~90%).

[1] After the Sunday night dinner expeditions had split off, ours had speculated on whether we'd see another group walk by en route to Suite 88 as we were eating. We didn't, but when we walked in they were already there.

[2] White chocolate is normally an abomination. This stuff almost made up for the existence of every other piece in the universe. No, I don't know how they did it.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
"Belated this post is. Post or post not, there is no draft."

Sunday basically involved two panels and a bunch of random con-ness. The latter included nice chats with a bunch of people, including some e-book reader hardware geeking with Robert J. Sawyer. (Oh, and breakfast. To my complete lack of surprise, the hotel's Eggs Benedict was passable; no worse, no better. The best non-home-cooked ones I've had in a while were at Sarabeth's on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It didn't hurt that I was eating those on someone else's dime, either; that place isn't cheap.)

1000: The Aesthetics of Online Magazines

The obligatory introductions/"position statements":
Ellen Datlow: involved with several online magazines over a long time, starting with OMNI Online. She didn't change her buying pattern when moving from print to electronic media. Designing for readability is very important.
Leah Bobet: managing editor of Ideomancer. Very interested in hyperfiction, and ways to use the medium that aren't necessarily practical (or possible) in print.
Ernest Lilley: senior editor of SFRevu and related efforts. Feels that you can treat the web as a piece of paper and "recapture the print experience". Sees experiments (like hyperfiction) as often being "too much work for too little payoff, like eating an artichoke." Aims for the "transparent experience" where the words flow into your brain, with no distractions in between.
Sean Wallace: senior editor at Clarkesworld Magazine. It's a fantasy magazine that "moved from print to Web". When buying, considers the commercial aspects of the story, particularly length; longer stories are harder to turn into podcasts, and take up more of the "best of" print book when that's done.

[ckd: I'm really pleased by the panelist choices here; we have a set of people all of whom have actually done this, and with significantly different viewpoints. Kudos to the Readercon program folks.]

My notes on the discussion don't go into deep detail, but touched on things such as the "5000 word attention span limit" (Bobet attributes this to the Internet being a two-way medium, which changes the reader's expectations), the issue of longer stories needing some way to "mark your place" (segueing into a discussion of PDA reading in an e-book format rather than as a web page), the question of how you do ads in a longer story (break it into multiple web pages?), the idea of serialization (Lilley: "they won't come back for the next chunk"; Bobet: "they will if it's good enough"), and of course a mention of Shadow Unit.

1200: Satire With and Without Freedom of Speech

This was both deep and fast moving; definitely "wear your life jacket" territory. (Appropriately enough, Jim "here are all the ways things can kill you, and what to do about them" Macdonald was on the panel.)

Quick hits: James D. Macdonald saying that magic realism was the Latin American version of the Lem/Zemyatin "sneak it past the authorities" trick. James Morrow: "Rush Limbaugh is the piano player in the whorehouse of the Bush administration." Macdonald: "There's a word for stories with only one level. That word is 'unpublished'." Paul Di Filippo, after a question on whether "satire exhaustion" had set in: "The Onion just did 'Whale Oil Once Again Economical'." Morrow: "Satire should be pointing up to a better world."

After that, I got my membership for next year.

That was the con that was. I didn't see everyone or everything I would have liked to, but I never do.
ckd: (sharky tng)
For whatever reason, it felt like Friday was the most programming-heavy day of the con; this made me very happy I'd taken the day off so I could get to more of it, but threw off my general feeling of the pace of a three[1]-day convention. (It also made me sad that folks who couldn't take Friday off were missing such a significant chunk of the con. The programming during Arisia's extension into Monday didn't seem like nearly as big a loss for those who couldn't be there.) The upshot of all of this is that Saturday, normally the day with the most going on programming-wise at a three-day con, got me to one panel and one event. (OTOH, lots of good hallway/lobby conversations ensued.)

Saturday started with a serendipitous breakfast meeting with [ profile] enegim, D. (WINOLJ), Bob Devney, Michael Devney, and SFRevu's Ernest Lilley. That got the day off to a nice start with the informal Buffet Panel. (Among the topics: this discussion of McCain's citizenship status; there's an argument, that will probably never see a court, that he was caught in a corner case of citizenship law at the time of his birth and retroactively naturalized by a 1937 statute.)

1100: "Why Don’t We Do it in the Reformation?: Underutilized Historical Eras in Spec Fic"

I didn't take nearly as many notes for this one as I did for Friday's If Free Electronic Texts Are Good Promotion, What’s Piracy?, but did take some. Having finally had time to read through (most of) the comments on [ profile] sartorias's Bittercon post on the topic (176 at last count[2]), I have to agree that the online discussion was more generally fruitful than the panel. (The topic may just lend itself better to a medium that encourages multiple discussion threads and more time available to think about responses.)

The high visibility of alt-hist in the genre as a whole seemed to weight the discussion somewhat toward that are. The general consensus seemed to be that there was too much WW II and too much American Civil War, with everything else underused to a greater or lesser extent.

Farah Mendlesohn ([ profile] fjm) asked why the Spanish Civil War gets no love, especially since changing that would be one way to get a very different, or nonexistent, WW II.

Carolyn Ives Gilman (see? I'm not confusing Glenn Grant, Gavin Grant, Greer Gilman, and Carolyn Ives Gilman this year!) said that she thought wars were overused because war results in a much more stripped-down view of society (as depicted in fiction). James Cambias said that he didn't think that was as true for historical fiction as for AH.

Mendlesohn suggested (Readercon 20 Guest of Honor) Elizabeth Hand's Mortal Love as a "travelogue with a tourist of 19th Century England". Walter H. Hunt asked her if it was "like de Tocqueville"; her response: "at times, very much like that."

John Crowley mentioned Paul Parks's (?) four book "Roumania" series, but wondered if you had to know the real European background to appreciate them. Hunt said "if you don't, then what? Is that why nobody writes in these settings?" [ckd: see also Cambias's comment, later]

Gilman noted that there are fads and fashions among professional historians, also. Some eras and/or areas become more popular than others.

Mendlesohn recommended James Morrow's The Last Witchfinder, then suggested that the problem with many eras in Britain was "boring kings" and that there wasn't enough historical fiction set in Birmingham [ckd: or possibly even anywhere but London, really].

She then mentioned the earlier US civil rights era (running from the 1890s through the 1920s and 1940s) as being underused [ckd: I'd say it's also very very underappreciated in general]. I think there was some discussion at that point of some reasons it's less well known, mostly that those pushing for it tended to be socialists (or at least seen as such/associating with such) and therefore significantly de-emphasized in history class. Hunt said that John Dos Passos's USA covers this era. [ckd: also probably worth reading as a stylistic influence on writers from Brunner to Haldeman. I should read it....]

Hunt then made some comment about the naval portions of the French and Indian War being "all different" (from something), which I didn't note down any details of, but obviously thought interesting enough to note at the time. Anyone who does remember and could refresh my memory would be appreciated.

James Cambias noted that fiction set in a particular setting tends to attract more fiction in the same setting. [ckd: This of course leads to the problem of an author doing "research" by reading fiction and therefore getting it wrong.]

There was some audience discussion/questions, including such various bits as a mention of the blast furnace being invented in monasteries, but lost when Henry VIII destroyed them; Slavic history (Mendlesohn asked how many people know when the US invaded Russia, and was happy to see so many hands go up); and a question about "why not more English Civil War fiction?" Mendlesohn's reply to the last was that there was plenty of it in the UK, much of which still takes sides.

Ekaterina Sedia made a point that's similar to one made in the Bittercon discussion: "There are no unused eras, just overused time/place/people combinations."

Cambias closed out with a possibly telling point: using an obscure period means that you have to do a lot of research work for the few people who do know/care, but that for the majority of readers it's likely to be just as new to them as a completely fictional background.

My congoing day then wandered off into various trips through the Book Shop, hallway conversations, a dinner run, James Cambias's card game Bone Wars, the Kirk Poland Bad Prose competition, more Bone Wars, and then some sleep.

[1] As already mentioned, I didn't go to the con Thursday evening, so my experience was of a three-day con with an early Friday start.

[2] The second sentence of [ profile] sartorias's post starts with "I don't know how much interest this one will raise--"; I think we have the answer, and the answer is "a whole heck of a lot".
ckd: small blue foam shark (sharky classic)
I didn't go to the con on Thursday. The logistics of making an hour-long trip each way (~10m walk, ~20m subway, ~30m bus outbound, and all that in reverse on the way back) didn't make much sense for a couple hours of panels unless they were absolutely mustn't-miss topics, and they didn't seem like they were that compelling.

Friday, though, I took the day off work so I could get to all the interesting panels on Friday. A bit of transit screwage (a disabled train turned the ~20m subway into more like a ~50m subway) meant that I missed the 0920 #350 bus and had to wait for the 1020. That at least got me to the hotel slightly before 1100, letting me get my badge and make it to the panel (towing my rollaboard, since I hadn't had time to check it at the front desk).

The 1100 panel was "Science Fiction as a Mirror for Reality". While I have certainly not refrained from nitpicking Robert J. Sawyer's work, I still like a lot of it, and in person he's a very dynamic speaker. He's working with the CBC on a pilot for a web videocast (or similar) about the topic, and did a fairly good job getting the panel and audience to kick around some ideas. (At least until the discussion wandered into the swamp of "why isn't more SF referring to the 9/11 attacks?". Nobody else mentioned Joe Haldeman's "Giza", and I was hoping the discussion would get back on track, so I didn't want to feed it....)

A quick lunch run, then the 1300 "What’s it All About, Skiffy?". Like the 1100, this was a "main speaker/panel discussion" format; in this case, it was Graham Sleight talking about the history of recent SF/F/H (where "recent" = "in the last 20 years", which by way of making me feel old, all takes place after I started going to cons). This was amusing but hard to summarize. Key points included some very amusing names for subgenres, which I will not spoil here.[1]

I then took care of various bits of stuff that needed to be taken care of: hotel check-in, a run over to the Bur(b)lington Mall since I'd forgotten to pack a swimsuit, a first pass through the Book Shop (Dealer's Room), etc.

If Free Electronic Texts Are Good Promotion, What's Piracy? )
1700: "A Tale of Two Disciplines"

Interesting, but I didn't take many notes. Some snippets: "Why stop at two?" (Vandana Singh); "I went into SF instead of science because the latter had too much specialization" (Robert J. Sawyer); "Science is really numbers. The ultimate synthesis is numbers, through words, into mental images." (Geoff Ryman).

A book shop run, then an attempt at 1900's "Economics as the S in SF"; the room was too warm, so I left after only a few minutes.

2000: Elizabeth Bear's kaffeeklatsch.

2200: The Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award goes to Stanley G. Weinbaum. There is much applause. Barry Malzberg gives an uplifting and cheerful speech. (OK, I made that last part up.) This is followed by the Meet the Pros(e) party, during which I managed to get photographed by SFRevu's Ernest Lilley, said photo later winding up heading Liz Gorinsky's Readercon report over on

[1] ETA: by kind permission of [ profile] grahamsleight, his description of the subgenre names from his still-in-progress work:
So my own approach to movements is to say that, for the moment, I’m going to brush aside all the specific labels I mentioned just now (slipstream, interstitial, et al) and replace them with two – and two only – of my own invention. The first set of genre-blending work I want to talk about is that which involves mixing tropes and approaches within the field of the fantastic. I want to name this cluster of work in a way that’s value-free and that has no connection with actual worth or content – something that’s just a name rather than a description – so, entirely flippantly, I’m going to [label these works with] the name Dave. [...] The second of my two labels is for works which exist in some sense on the border between the fantastic and the mimetic. Equally flippantly, I’m going to label these works with the name Roger.
I encourage anyone who gets a chance to hear him talk about this to do so.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
I'm at Penguicon, finally. (Traffic, bletch.)

If you're also here and want to leave contact info, comments are screened.
ckd: (sharky tng)
I didn't see everyone I wanted to see, or get enough time with the folks I did see, but that always happens. Setup on Thursday was enhanced by the wise overlordship of [ profile] fluffcthulhu; the weather was pleasantly lacking in precipitation, though it was still really cold; food options near the hotel are still not all that abundant, but between the con suite and staff den there were pretty good options for "refueling stop" food. I'm still happy with the hotel's physical layout (the bar/seating area in the lobby is a big win) but I'm looking forward to more food options and better function space next year when the currently-in-progress buildout is complete. Food highlight of the con: dim sum in Chinatown with [ profile] mnemex and [ profile] drcpunk.

I didn't get to a whole lot of panels, but those I did were lots of fun. [ profile] orzelc managed to top Charlie Stross, Karl Schroeder, and Tobias Buckell without even trying; David Weber had some great stories of Jim Baen; the "is this the year for e-books" panel was pretty well distributed across viewpoints, though it dipped into a round of the Eternal Copyright Flamewar there for a bit as well. I did a fair amount of gaming, including many games of Race for the Galaxy. I got to the Tor party, and contrary to my expectations it wasn't wall-to-wall people, so I could actually move, and have conversations, and so on. Unlike some people I didn't wind up with a copy of Cory Doctorow's upcoming book, though I did buy Noreascon I on a Stick. (I bought the cheaper version with the LPs; my sometimes-officemate has both a turntable and an interest in several of the authors on the recording.)

Chad's post also mentions the "graying of Boskone". I'm not absolutely sure that the total attendance is aging quite that quickly; it's my impression that there are a fair number of YA readers attending. (Bruce Covillle as the Special Guest this year would presumably have raised that number, also.) I do think there's a bit of a demographic hole caused by Boskone's years in the wilderness[1], exacerbated by Arisia and Anime Boston drawing in potential Boskone attendees who may not have the time, money, and/or energy for multiple conventions within weeks of each other.

Life in general
It continues, as these things do. The TV's broken, the weather's been doing the traditional New England "wait 10 minutes and it'll be different" dance, and last weekend we got some always-delectable Kelly's Roast Beef in conjunction[2] with a visit to the Natick Mall Collection and then the nearby REI for their climbing wall. (That was for [ profile] hr_macgirl, not for me. Heights? DO NOT WANT.)

Upcoming conventions: Minicon (N) Readercon (Y) ... and a New (to me)! Exciting! convention
Sadly, no Minicon for me this year (again), much as I'd like to be there. However, I am going to be at Readercon (as usual) in July.

Now, the new! exciting! bit: I'm going to Penguicon in April! SF! Games! Computers! A list of "Nifty Guests" that includes several very nifty folks on my flist! Three hours in Newark Liberty International on the way out, because that was the only way to get the cheap fare without getting to BOS for an 0600 (DO NOT WANT) flight! Okay, that last one's not too exciting. I certainly hope it's not as exciting as my last connection in EWR. The last time I flew through EWR, there was a minor power problem.

As a bonus, the following Monday is a holiday in Massachusetts[3], so I get a recovery day afterwards and can sleep in unlike all the folks living in less enlightened states.

footnotes )
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
These are taking long enough that, by the time I'm finished with them, I'll be a year older than when I started.

(Oh, wait, that already happened.)

They're taking long enough that both They Might Be Giants and Suzanne Vega will have new albums out.

(That's already happened, too.)

Hmm. Well, anyway, they're taking a while.

So, a quick poll:
[Poll #1023389]
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The Saturday 1100 panel:
"The Door Dilated," Needless Exposition Contracted: Heinlein as Narrative Innovator.
James L. Cambias, F. Brett Cox, Daniel P. Dern (L), Fred Lerner, Tom Purdom
Robert A. Heinlein was the first sf author to regularly write about the future as though the reader already lived there. From our current perspective it may be hard to imagine just how radical an innovation this was. We celebrate the centenary of his birth by examining the profound influence he's had on the art of sf storytelling.
Since this was on Saturday morning, it was exactly on RAH's 100th birthday. (That weekend being Readercon and CONvergence andthe Heinlein Centennial...making one wish for trilocation.) As one of the many folks who grew up reading Heinlein (library shelves, rocket ship stickers on the spines, the whole bit) I thought it'd be interesting to delve into the ways he made his writing so unobtrusive, almost a style of having no apparent style.

[These are reconstructions by memory based on notes. I apologize in advance for any mistakes, and nothing here (even if in quotes) should be assumed to be an exact or even inexact version of what someone said without checking it with them. Comments of the form [ckd: bracketed text] are my own glosses, comments, or snarky bits.]

my notes on the panel )

This was an interesting panel for me because Heinlein, particularly the juveniles, has always been a comfort read for me. (At one point during my college years, I was sick and very lethargic, and re-read Starman Jones because it was one of the few Heinlein juveniles I could get from the campus library, which was much easier to get to than the Boston Public Library.) I find Heinlein's technique so smooth as to be un-noticed, which seems like one of those things that's incredibly hard to make it look so easy. The panelists made understanding it look so easy....
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Second panel of the con. These reports are coming along, slowly, as I'm finishing one every two or three days...I hope they're useful and/or interesting.
"The Singularity Needs Women!"
Elizabeth Bear, Kathryn Cramer, Louise Marley, Victoria McManus (L), James Morrow
At Readercon 14 (2002), GoH Octavia Butler said "As the only woman up here, this may be a strange question, but I can't help wondering how much of this speculation about a post-human future has to do with men's desire to control reproduction." We sadly can't ask Octavia exactly what she meant, but we want to pursue this striking statement. Does the post-humanist ideal of freedom from bodily constraints clash fundamentally with the ideal of freedom for the more than half of the population with female bodies? Or might the Singularity actually be a means to the freedoms sought by feminism? Has anyone written fiction about how these ideals interact, and if not, is this an opportunity?
Great set of panelists for this one, with James Morrow as the token male.

[These are reconstructions by memory based on notes. I apologize in advance for any mistakes, and nothing here (even if in quotes) should be assumed to be an exact or even inexact version of what someone said without checking it with them. Comments of the form [ckd: bracketed text] are my own glosses, comments, or snarky bits.]

my notes on the panel )

Interesting topic, and an interesting panel, though I think Kathryn Cramer was actually on a panel about online society and anonymity rather than the Singularity discussion that the other panelists were on.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
Here's the first of my panel reports from this year's Readercon. This was the first panel I made it to, starting at 1600 on Friday.
Smooth and Lumpy Expanded Universes.
Michael Cisco, James Alan Gardner (L), Yves Meynard, Ian Randal Strock, Rick Wilber.
There are convincing and unconvincing ways for a writer to build on a created world. The introduction of the Bene Tleilax in Dune Messiah strikes many readers as an off-note, because it's inconceivable that the organization wouldn't have been mentioned in the original novel. In contrast, the Order of the Phoenix fit beautifully into J. K. Rowling's world. Isaac Asimov spent the last years of his career relentlessly expanding and merging his created universes, with controversial results. What other examples stand out? What are some of the tricks of the trade?
I generally enjoy the interconnections between books, whether they be major (closely linked but with different protagonists) or minor (a quick name-check or historical reference).

[These are reconstructions by memory based on notes. I apologize in advance for any mistakes, and nothing here (even if in quotes) should be assumed to be an exact or even inexact version of what someone said without checking it with them. Comments of the form [ckd: bracketed text] are my own glosses, comments, or snarky bits.]

my notes on the panel )

Fun panel. I was interested in the way the discussion hit both technique and what for lack of a better word I'll call "mode", the distinction between fact-based and tone-based worldviews. I'm a sucker for inter-book connections ( the cameo appearance of a couple of characters from Michael Flynn's In the Country of the Blind in his later Firestar, for example), so I was hoping for more examples and fewer tricks of the trade, not that I actually need more books on my to-be-read pile.
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This is not a full writeup by any means, and is not organized in any particularly useful manner. Think of it as an Impressionist painting, or something, I don't know. I'm tired. There are also no panel writeups in here.

Those will be coming; I have my notes from the various panels, and they're somewhat more complete than last year's. With luck, this means I won't confuse Glenn Grant and Greer Gilman again. (Look, I was taking notes on a PDA with a thumb keyboard. You try being verbose while trying to keep up with five fast-talking and very erudite panelists.)

warning: alliteration inside )

[ profile] kate_nepveu is collecting other Readercon reports over at [ profile] readercon.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
Well, Farthing Party plus surrounding events. Panel notes will be sketchier than my usual standard, as I missed roughly half of them and was too busy enjoying the other half to take many notes.

Friday: travel and arrival )

Saturday: the program begins )

Sunday: reading and departure )

Despite the truncated nature of my experience of [ profile] farthingparty, I had a great time and would love to do it again.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
And so we reach the third and final day of Readercon.

Sunday )
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Hey, "only" two weeks after the convention, I have finally finished the con report.

Saturday )
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This is substantially the same report posted to [ profile] dirac_angestun, with minimal additional content because I'm too tired to add much at this point. If you read this, you don't need to read that one.

Summary: a good start to the convention.

Friday panels: libraries, worldviews, Readercon 101 )
From there, the rest of the evening was a mix of mostly-social activities, including hanging out and socializing (including a not-too-bad ham sandwich in the hotel bar) with various folks many of whom are on LJ, but since I didn't take notes I don't remember who was around when (or which evening) and I hate doing namechecks when I feel like I'm going to leave people out. If you were there you were fun to talk to.

The evening also had me catching part of a reading, going to the Meet the Pros(e) party (I didn't try collecting the quotes, but had fun anyway; more people who were fun to talk to), and then returning home to sleep.
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Yeah, it's been a few days. Last night? Power outage. Monday? Still fried. Hey, at least it's getting written.

So, onward....

once more into the lj-cut, dear flist )

Thud. Also, I still need a congoing userpic.

Overall? Good con; many folks I wish could have been there weren't, which made it less than I wish it could have been. Next year, I hope.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
...of Minicon.

Packing mostly together. Reading materials to bring include [ profile] naominovik's His Majesty's Dragon which helpfully arrived at the library in time for me to pick it up today, Freedom and Necessity because it's time for a re-read, and a stack of backlogged issues of the Economist to catch up on while waiting at the airport. Plus I'm sure I'll find more to pack.

iPod charged, Palm charger is around here somewhere, and I do know where my LJ badge from last year is.

Flight leaves in under 13 hours.

Pre-calculated locations:
42.370007,-71.019187 [BOS, Terminal E]
44.883485,-93.211527 [MSP, central terminal area]
44.861557,-93.353223 [Sheraton Bloomington]
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
Sunday. Ah, Sunday. Sunday was not much of a panel-going day for me; hanging out and kaffeeklatsching (which is, after all, just institutionalized hanging out) were the order of the day.

This started at 1000, with Cory Doctorow's kaffeeklatsch. Unsurprisingly, even for that early a timeslot, it was very well attended; Cory's always interesting, and as the Special Guest, was more likely to have people attending the con to see him. After a discussion of Google Print, Amazon's "search inside" feature, and the nature of cookbook buying, the topic moved to origami. (Another attendee mentioned an origami book that had one of the designs available online, so she bought the whole book.) After that, Cory spent the rest of the time making origami cranes out of his name card.

At 1100, I headed off to the mall food court to say hello to [ profile] tigerbright at her mini-birthday-con. I proceeded to totally geek out with [ profile] happyfunpaul about the old days of USENET, meet [ profile] bikergeek, and enjoy the company. Even the massive influx of folks from the college student conference at the Hynes couldn't wreck it.

After that, I headed back to the con, hit the dealers room to buy the Whisperado CD and nothing else (ha! made my saving throw that time!). On the way out, I had a nice chat with Bob Devney and Lis Carey; I was pleased to hear that Bob recognized my name in a good way from comment threads on [ profile] makinglight, and got a chance to thank Lis for being part of the team that put together such a good con.

I then headed back up to the con suite to hang out some more. I wound up catching the last part of [ profile] nineweaving's kaffeeklatsch, which allowed me to meet [ profile] enegim and [ profile] kestrell as well.

This was followed by [ profile] scalzi's kaffeeklatsch, which was originally just three of us, though [ profile] autopope also showed up and joined in for a good chunk of it. John is as fun to talk to in person as he is to read on [ profile] scalzifeed, even when he's getting ready to make a run for Logan so that he can get the runaround from the airlines. (Hey, John; come back to Boskone, but maybe book a different airline for the trip....)

At 1400, I headed for the Funny Sunday panel ("Urban Legends Smackdown"), which was loads of fun, even (or especially) due to the substitute for [ profile] kradical being a small stuffed lion with a mane of floppy yarn hair. I remember something about Harlan Ellison's car being filled with concrete by a guy with a hook for a hand who owned a baby alligator, or something like that.

That ended at 1500, and I thought about going to not gripe at the Gripe Session, but got sidetracked and didn't make it down to the session. Instead, I meandered between gaming and the Con Suite hanging out in both locations.

In the gaming room, I watched [ profile] lesliet_ma and other folks play St. Petersburg for a while as I kibitzed it, finished the game so that Leslie could get ready to go to dinner, then played a two-player game of St. P (my only game all con!). At that point, the game room was getting packed up, so I helped out with that for a while, finishing up by taking a power strip back to the con suite and hanging out some more with various people including [ profile] cheshyre, [ profile] xiphias, [ profile] victorthecook, [ profile] ocelotn, and [ profile] persis. It was a very hang-outy kind of day.

Eventually I reached a point where I really had to go home and start a load of laundry! How exciting! Besides, I was too dead for the dead dog. So, home I went, and that was the con that was...if you were me.

Next up, Minicon.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
We interrupt this Boskone report to bring you breaking news. Rumors of an impending shark attack on Minneapolis/St. Paul have been confirmed. I repeat, the shark attack has been confirmed. Sightings of airline tickets and hotel reservations have been reported by reliable sources in the Boston area, and it is believed that some kind of "convention membership registration" is about to be mailed.

Further bulletins as events warrant.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
Well, that's certainly suitable music; thank you, iTunes.
the second day begins... )
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
Well, that was fun. Alas, that's the end of the local convention glut high-density time of the year. Arisia, Vericon, Boskone... ... ... ... ... ... Readercon. Bit of a delay there. Ah well, life is like that and if it's not like that, it will be. (I am so trying to avoid getting hit by post-con blahs.)

This report will be semi-chronological, semi-themed, and mostly-rambling. My posts are like that, and if they aren't, they will be.
they will also be long, but lj-cut )
Speaking of sleep, this seems like a good stopping point; additional reports to follow.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
I'm caught up on LJ, only because so many of the folks on my flist were at Boskone and therefore not posting to LJ! I am tired, my RSI is starting to flare, and sleep is good. Did I mention the tired?

I took some notes. They're kind of scrambled, or perhaps it's just me. I will do some kind of con report, though.
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Go to con, see panels, buy not too much stuff in dealer's room, see more panels, see people, go home. Repeat on Sat, but arrive earlier. Repeat on Sun, but leave earlier.

More specifically? I'm not on program (again) so I can do the "whee, that looks fun" thing as far as programming choices. (Except of course for the time slots where I'd need bilocation or trilocation, because there's so much good stuff that there are overlaps. Ah well.)

I do not, at present, have specific plans for lunch or dinner any of Fri/Sat/Sun, but will be doing my best to keep up with the "2" part of 5-2-1 while including social opportunities. This means that if anyone would like to make plans, I'm open to suggestions. (Otherwise, my at-con meals will just be quick fuel runs to the Urban Pain in the Pru or something. Bah.)

I have inchoate plans for a run to Bluefin (Porter Exchange) for dinner on Sunday after the con. (It's too far to justify the time away from the con Fri or Sat, IMO.) Anyone interested in a sushi/Japanese food run?

Comments are not screened, but if you want to leave contact info (cell #, email address, whatnot) without blasting it to the world at large, use the poll:

[Poll #674362]
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
Vericon appears to be a go ( in don't want to jinx it...) despite my inability to preregister or even pre-plan very far ahead. Since I needed to book neither transportation nor accommodation, that just means I'll pay a bit more for it. Whee.

Boskone is a go (commuting again).

The next question, of course, is "then what?" Naturally, when presented with a question like that, it's time for an LJ-poll.
con and on )
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
A quick look back at the good and bad (and neutral) of the con (and some surrounding events).

[+ good, - bad, 0 neutral]

The ups, the downs.... )
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I won't be at Wiscon this weekend. Nor Marcon, nor Balticon.

All y'all who are going to any of the above, have fun.
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Got up, ate a vague breakfasty type collection of food from the con suite (which was very well stocked, kudos to the folks responsible), and got packed for the return trip.

planes, trains, automobiles, moving sidewalks, and feets don't fail me now )


ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
blue shark of friendliness

September 2017

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