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".