Saturday, October 19, 2019

Off into history

Alicia Alonso, legendary Cuban ballet dancer, died Thursday, aged 98.

Alonso was one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century. Her personal reputation foundered in mid-century because of her support of Fidel Castro and the Cuban Communist Revolution.

Alonso suffered most of her life with very poor eyesight, and was essentially blind for many decades. My personal theory is that she is the model for the image of The Blind Ballerina.

Our society has many of these kind of cartoonish folk images - one of the best known is having a man wearing only a barrel to indicate he's lost all his money.

One common image of the stereotyped gypsy, and in fact Michael Swanwick explored the idea of how these kinds of images are created in a story published in 2000, "The Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O".

Years ago, when I was just just starting out, I had a thought - what if you suspect YOU are one of these tropes? This led to my story, "Won't You Come Home, Bill Buckley", where a rising author attends a reception and meets both Buckley and Alonso.

Buckley is the model for the erudite and cultured reactionary. When someone snaps a photo of the three people together - Buckley, Alsonso and the author - she learns something she probably wishes she didn't know.

Another thing that contributed to the story is that in 1984 I took a date to a performance of The Village Light Opera Group in New York. During the intermission of "The Yeoman of the Guard", I met Isaac Asimov.

While we exchanged pleasantries in the lobby, someone walked up and took our photo.

"Is that a friend of yours?" asked Asimov.

"Never saw her before in my life," I replied.

I wish to hell I knew who took the picture, I would give so much to see it today. I had no idea at the time I would write science fiction - my first pro publication was 21 years in the future.

Well, "Won't You Come Home, Bill Buckley" was published in 2005 by Bewildering Stories and it is still archived on-line. Here's the link. It's one of my lesser-known works. Hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

More Fencon loot

This is my second post about books I brought back from Fencon:

When I was young - like in my 20s - Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy stories were among my favorites. I really enjoyed them and was disappointed when he was struck down in 1979 and spent the rest of his life in a coma. I wished he had had time to write more.

At Fencon I found FIVE Lord Darcy books. I already have Murder and Magic, and Lord Darcy Investigates. I also bought the two Michael Kurland books, which I knew of, and the 2004 collection edited by Eric Flint, which I had never seen before.

I bought all five for a hefty five bucks! Best deal of the weekend!

NB: Anyone who has ever read my story "The Witch of Waxahachie" that was published in Jim Baen's Universe in 2008 can easily see Garrett's influence.

Dealers Room loot

Fencon was a week ago. Since then I have posted a few times about the people and panels. Now I want to post a bit about Dealers Room loot.

I don't know why it is or why it happens, but I have gone to conventions and not found anything I was interested in (I'm usually looking for books). The number of book sellers seems to have diminished over the years at cons.

Then I have gone to conventions and had great finds with books. Fencon was an example of this. I walked in Friday afternoon and made three different finds in ten minutes.

First, the magazines. I found this copy of Fantastic Stories of the Imagination and snapped it up, because I had no idea Earle Stanley Gardner has ever written any s-f. I'll have to read it.

I picked up the copy of the British magazine, Science Fantasy, when I saw the story "The Sound Sweep" by J.G. Ballard. I've never read the story, but I recognize the title. Trevor Horn, one of the founder of the Buggles, said the story was the inspiration for the song "Video Killed the Radio Star".

I'll post later on some of the books I picked up.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Fencon panels in the rear view mirror

I had five panels at Fencon, and I have to say all went very well. My first was at 3 p.m. Friday, on "The Futrure Is Now", with M.T. Reiten. Adrian Simmons was also supposed to be on the panel, but he sent word ahead that he was delayed because of bad weather in Oklahoma (he lives in Norman) and couldn't make it. He arrived at the con later.

I've been on panels with M.T. before but it has been a few years and it was good to see him again. There was a large turnout and the audience was engaged. This being a type of futurist-oriented panel, M.T. was much more conversant with the topic that I was, but we both enjoyed it and the audience did, too.

My next panel was at 5 p.m. on "When Good Research Goes Bad". All panelists made it - , Melissa Tatum, Tex Thompson, and Rob Rogers. Again, I have been on panels with Mel Tatum in the past, especially at the late lamented Conestoga in Tulsa (a great convention in its day), and it was good to see her. Again, good turnout and everyone enjoyed it.

My last panel on Friday was the Liars' Panel at 9 p.m. This was the one panel I moderated, and all panelists were there - Selina Rosen, Kathy Turski. Linda Donahue and Ben Gibbs. If you missed it, you missed a wild time indeed. 'Nuff said.

Saturday at noon I joined Rie Sheridan Rose and Kathryn Sullivan for a panel called "All Tales Are Done", about fairy tales and myths. The turnout for this panel was smaller, but everyone enjoyed it, especially because I think the trio of panelists was especially knowledgeable about the subject.

My last panel was Sunday at 2 p.m. on "The Cyber Future Is Now" with Stephen Patrick. A third panelist didn't make it. This panel was a lot like my first, and as with M.T. Reiten, I think I was the weaker link, but I was impressed with the turnout for so late in the convention, and the audience was very engaged.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Social stigma

I'm still not used to going to conventions and having people I used to be friendly with snub me or ignore me because I was a Sad Puppy. Of course, I don't get as many convention invites as I used to because of the blacklist, but also I'm not seeking invites because for the time being I'm preoccupied with being a self-employed business owner.

Still, I don't recall any obvious snubs at Soonercon, but this weekend it happened at FenCon. In one case I walked into an elevator and absent-mindedly cheerfully greeted someone I used to be on good terms with only to get the cold shoulder and no response. And there were obviously a person or two who would not say hello to me at the convention.

In all these cases, i noted the people are from Austin, so I guess they are pretty tight knit (read: Echo Chamber). I always find it fascinating when people ascribe statements or actions to others which are untrue, but you can tell they are inbred distortions reinforcing their own prejudices.

Instead of asking someone what they did or said, they just make assumptions.

Anyway, it's their loss, because it limits their circle of friends and experiences. It must be interesting to know it all and to be already friends with anyone worth knowing.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Update on Sirius S-F

After a great launch and publishing five excellent original short stories, Sirius S-F went on hiatus for a couple of months because of illness here at the Antonelli household - first myself, and then more seriously with Patricia.* Our last published story was June 2.

We do have an excellent assortment of stories in the slush pile, and we look forward to a re-launch very soon. In the meantime you can visit and read the stories already available.

I tweaked the cover page art to more accurately reflect the kind of stuff we like. It is a Galaxy magazine cover from 1960 by Ed Emshmiller, "Venus on Bust".

* Some of you may recall I stayed hoe from LibertyCon because of this.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Update on Patricia’s health:

As some of you know, I stayed home to be with Patricia rather than attend LibertyCon. She was having health problems and I wanted to be with her.
Patricia has suffered from acid reflux disease all her life. Last spring she suffered an attack so bad that she aspirated acid, and had to go to the doctor, who gave her some new meds as well as an inhaler.
She’s had a few more attacks since then, and two weeks ago she started having chest pains and shortness of breath. A doctor’s visit and x-ray showed she has scarring on her lungs, probably caused by aspirating acid over the years. The doctor said it looked like she had emphysema.
They also saw an enlarged heart, and agreed to schedule a visit to a cardiologist. The following weekend was LibertyCon, so I’m sure you understand why I didn’t go.
Between her sore throat, plus apparently some side effect of the medicine, Patricia stopped eating, and so she became very weak. That probably slowed her recovery. By Monday she still felt bad enough that we decided to go to the ER of a hospital in Texarkana.
That was a complete waste of time. If you didn’t see what I wrote, there’s a link to my story about that earlier on my wall.
By Monday night she started to eat again and by Tuesday and Wednesday she started recovering. We went to a follow-up visit to the doctor on Friday. He had good news. He had a radiologist look at the previous x-ray, and he said there didn’t seem to be anything serious going on. Plus the BMP reading from the blood taken the previous week shows no sign of heart damage.
Patricia will still be going to a cardiologist in the future, in light of this scare, but I am happy to report she seems to have recovered. She back at work at the paper this past week and things are getting back to normal.
Thanks for all the expressions of concern. I’m sorry I missed the convention, but a health scare like this puts everything in perspective.

Off into history

Alicia Alonso, legendary Cuban ballet dancer, died Thursday, aged 98. Alonso was one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century. H...