Saturday, April 01, 2006

AggieCon 37 (Part Deux)

AggieCon came the weekend after the Hugo nominations were released. I was disappointed, of course, that I didn't get a nomination. That's natural. I might have flattered myself that "Rocket" - which got lots of good comments and reviews - stood a chance. What was really disheartening was what was nominated. Except for Howard's story, none of the stories I nominated made the ballot in any of the short story categories. Over at the Asimov's discussion board, a number of people have commented that 2005 was a weak year for short fiction. That's especially funny coming from someone like Rich Horton, who didn't even bother to mention "Rocket" in his Locus review, and certainly didn't mention it on his recommended reading. Then he complains it was a weak year for fiction. Ha, jackass. It was a weak year for what YOU liked.
Of course, when I consider the great stories and writers who were neglected for the Hugo ballot, it makes me realize I have plenty of company.
Anyhow, after gazing with dismay over the Hugo ballot and reading the petulant whinings of morons like Horton, it was actually refreshing to attend AggieCon and rub elbows with s-f fans without affectations.
All the old-timers who attended said this year's was rather anemic compared to years past, but I enjoyed it. The panels were all sharp and the audience participation helpful and incisive.
My attendance was a bit of a stretch because I had been at Turkey City the weekend before (I'm the only person who attended both). But the quality of the panels and their discussions lifted my spirits.
Getting back to the Hugos, one thing I realized after talking to some older and wiser and I is that living out in the boondocks, I probably will never be in the running for any genre awards. Nominations and voting really - like in all other kinds of elections - are popularity contests, and the serious contestants are people who live in large cities and who belong to clubs or groups that support them.
After thinking about that, I realized it made a lot of sense, and explains why people, say like Steve Utley and Robert Reed, don't rack up more awards and nominations than they do. Steve lives in Smyrna, Tennessee, and Robert lives in Lincoln, Nebraska. At least Howard lives in Austin.
One thing I figured out after some talking to some people is that, between ArmadilloCon and World Fantasy Con this fall in Austin, WorldCon would really be a complete waste of time.
Some observations on specific panels:
"Breaking the Wall" (writer's block) with Bill Crider and Tom Knowles. It was heartening to hear that Bill Crider (who moderated the panel) didn't start writing fiction until he was 40. I guess I've always been self-conscious that I started writing so late in life (45).
During a discussion of discouragement, Tom mentioned that he once was - as a result of a combination of factors - blocked for a year and half. Still, he was able to work he way past that. Makes me feel better when I don't write for a week or two.
"Cloning and Immortality", which was moderated by Jayme Blaschke, was the most intellectual and raised the most questions. We really didn't have any answers, but it was intellectually stimulating.
"How SF Shaped the Real World", which I moderated and which Tom came back, was lots of fun, especially when we got into s-f history and prediction. It was a nice way to end the day.
The only panel I was on Sunday, "Creating Aliens" moderated by David Carren. It had the smallest attendance, but really some of the sharpest exchanges. David is one person I had never met before, but he has lots of experience writing for TV shows, and he able to very intelligently discuss the subject of the panel.
He mentioned one alien he created for an episode of TNG, "Future Imperfect", which I recalled quite clearly and I commended him for it.
During a discussion with the audience, on how aliens do not have to be monsters, one member of the audience mentioned TNG episode "Darmok" - where the aliens only spoke in metaphors. That reference was so on target and I agreed to wholeheartedly I actually rose out of my seat and pounded the arms of the chair in enthusiasm.
I've seen other people do that at panels when they got enthused, but that's the first time I recall I actually did it myself.
Next, as the finale, I attended the panel with Rick Klaw, Mark Finn and Scott Cupp on the Robert E. Howard Centennial. It was the only panels I sat in on from the audience. The attendance was very low, I think there was only four of us there, because the AggieCon GOH Stephen Brust was doing his reading at the same time, but I enjoyed it because I learned a lot.
The trio know EVERYTHING about REH, and since I've been invited to submit to the anthology, I feel obligated to give it my best shot and do the best I can to come up with a story.
That's about it. In between the panels and spaces of random thots I kinda sorta began to sort out my role and relation to the genre. I'll probably set down these ruminations in the future, under a header "Bent It Like Bradbury".

1 comment:

  1. A response here, Lou:



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"It’s possible that you haven’t run into the stories of Lou Antonelli. Since 2003, he’s been publishing delightful short tales of alternate history all over the nooks and crannies of the SF world. Thanks to Fantastic Books, we now have 28 of these little gems in one place. "Many of Antonelli’s stories have an unexpected twist ending. And many of them are what he calls “secret history” stories, which aren’t exactly alternate history—they’re set in our familiar history, but there’s always some element that contemporary observers missed. " -

- Don Sakers, The Reference Library, Analog July-Aug. 2014

A better path develops for a distraught man in “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli (debut 6/11 and reviewed by Frank D). Jake is about to end it all. He has been trying to keep his high maintenance wife happy for decades and has needed to embezzle to satisfy her spending habits. Now, on the verge of indictment and abandoned by his spouse, he buys a gun. Before he pulls the trigger, he spies a Kodak one-day photo hut. Curious, he pulls up to the window. They are holding pictures of him and his last girlfriend from 30 years before. The package is a lot thicker than it should be. Double Exposure” is listed as an Alternative History story but I would classify it as a Magical Realism tale. It is set as a second chance tale, a look into a life that should have been. The author is inspired by his memories of the old photo huts (I remember them) and of their disappearance. A cool idea (photos of another life), one that I could imagine would make for a great anthology.

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“Great White Ship”: A traveler stuck waiting for a flight strikes up a conversation with an old airline employee. The Old Timer tells him a story of a Great White Airship that arrives from a most unusual destination. The story of a craft from an alternate reality and how it got there is only the precursor to the final act. This is one of my favorite stories from this site. I have a great passion for lighter-than-air craft and their potential as a future means of transport, which opens the story. The author uses this speculation to launch into an engaging tale. As fascinating as the main story line is, the alternate history premise that accompanies it is just as worthwhile. This story was well written and very well thought out. It is well worth the read. Recommended.

- James Hanzelka, Diabolical Plots

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