Tuesday, March 28, 2006

AggiueCon 37 (Part One)

It was a 750 mile round-trip drive, but I did enjoy going to AggieCon this past weekend.
I had been unable to attend it in the past; there was a direct conflict with an event in the city where I used to work that I had to cover as part of my newspaper job.
But I changed jobs last year, and so I was able to attend this year.
Right off the bat, there was the issue that we had a Turkey City workshop March 18. That was set by Bruce Sterling's timetable, so there was nothing to do about it. Although there were a number of Austinians at AggieCon, none of them had been at the workshop.
Right at the end of the week, I learned that, because of some idiosyncrasy of printing, a section of the mid-week paper that normally deadline on Tuesday had to be moved up to 10 a.m. Monday - which meant if I went to AggieCon, I d have to turn around right away and get that section done when I came back.
That all gave me cause to pause, but I decided to plow through and head out.
The programming chairperson was nice enough to schedule my first panel at 3 p.m. Saturday, so that left me plenty of time to get there. Still, I left Hooks at 7:15 a.m. and arrived with ten minutes to spare.
If you know anything about the local map, I-30 connects Dallas and Little Rock, I-35 connects Dallas and Austin, and I-45 connects Dallas and Houston.
Texarkana is on I-30; College Station is between Austin and 45- which means you can't get there from here. I made my own way through secondary highways and went through Mount Pleasant, Gilmer, Gladewater, Crockett and Madisonville.
I'm glad I tried it, but going through all those small cities was a pain in the butt. On the return trip, I took I-45 to Dallas and I-30 to Texarkana. It's longer, but actually much faster.
I had never been to the A&M campus; I was amazed by the size, to say the least.
I found the Memorial Student Center, like I said, with ten minutes to spare. I asked the first person I saw with a badge where Con Ops was.
It was Heather Martinez, the programming chairman! What a coincidence! She commented on that, too. She steered me into Con Ops and got me my packet and stuff so I was in place and ready at 3:00 p.m.
That panel was on "Breaking the Wall" with Bill Crider and Tom Knowles.
My next panel was at 6:45 p.m., so I took the opportunity to check into a nearby Motel 6.
The next panel was with Jayme Blaschke and Richard Dee and was on "Immortality and Cloning". Jayme and I were also on the next panel at 8 p.m... "How SF Shaped the Real World". Tom Knowles came back for that one. This was the one panel at the con where I was the moderator.
I was back at the motel by about 9:15 p.m. and slept well. Sunday, my only panel was at 11 a.m. on "Creating Aliens" with David Carren.
(To be continued)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Off to AggieCon

I'm driving to College Station tomorrow to attend my first AggieCon. I'm on two panels Saturday - "Breaking the Wall" (writer's block) at 3 p.m. Saturday, and "Cloning and Immortality" at 6:45 p.m. On Sunday, I'm on a panel at 11:15 about Writing Aliens.
I've had a conflict with my job in the past few years that's prevented me from attending.

I wonder whether consorting with some sf types will help recharge my batteries. Truth be told, I was so dismayed at the Hugo nominations that came out Wednesday that I probably wouldn't bother to attend if it wasn't for the curiousity of seeing what an AggieCon is like. 2005 was a year I paid really intense attention to the fiction that was published - for obvious reasons (like my story was published in Asimovs).

When the Hugo nominations came out, my reaction was "what a sorry assemblage of dystopian self-indulgent crap". I guess the cyberpunks really did screw up the genre. I wonder whethe what I read and like really IS science fiction. Maybe it's science fantasy. I really don't know.

My second reaction to the nominations was, "Well, that settles the question of going to WorldCon." This is a not a good year financially - what with Patricia's accident - and I certainly don't want to travels thousands of miles to socialize with such unpleasant people. I guess it's true, artistic types are self-important jackasses. It's obvious the lights in this genre take themselves too seriously. Now I see why some very good writers - Steve Utley and Howard Waldrop come to mind quickly - don't go to many cons, if at all. They're nice guys and probably wouldn't get a word in edgewise.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Turkey City Workshop

There was another Turkey City workshop Saturday, March 18. Workshop Coordinator Lawrence Person called the workshop on relatively short notice (I think it was Feb. 11) to take advantage that Bruce Sterling would be in Austin.
The Cyberpunk Generalissimo was there, as well as Stina Licht, Ryan McReynolds, Tam Thompson, Don Webb, Jessica Reisman, Steve Wilson, and Wendy Wheeler, as well as Lawrence and myself.
Howard Waldrop planned to come but didn't get his story done and begged out. Wheeler accidentally double-booked herself and had to do another workshop in the morning, but she had read the stories anyway (they're all being circulated by email now) and so she made the critiquing in the afternoon.
I offered to bring a lasagna for the lunch break, and I did do. Those who indulged all said it was great, but just about half the people there were either health faddists or vegetarians.
Three of the stories were what the authors are working on for the upcoming Robert E. Howard anthology that will be released this fall in conjunction with World Fantasy Con. It's the centennial of Howard's birth (which is why the Con is in Texas). I understand the book is being edited by Joe Lansdale and Scott Cupp.
I'm getting more accustomed to the workshops. I probably got more out of this one that the two previous ones.
The worst part of the whole affair was the drive because it rained all weekend and so I had to make the drive to and from Austin essentially all the way in the rain. Absolute pain in the patootie.
Most of the members of the workshop live in Austin. Tam Thompson now lives an hour and a half away. Of course, I live five hours away, Lawrence was nice enough to lend me his guest bedroom.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Some good observations from Sweden

I found this entry on the blog of A.R. Yngve, a sharp young Swedish s-f author, posted March 9:

"American writer Lou Antonelli's short story "A Rocket for the Republic" is one of the nominees for this year's Nebula Award. (Note: I may have been nominated for the Nebula but I certainly didn't make the ballot.)
The story was published in ASIMOV's Science Fiction Magazine last year, but the author has now kindly made "A Rocket for the Republic" available for free reading on his website, here.
It's a fun story, and a prime example of the most natural format (or style) of fiction: the first-person account. This is how the art of storytelling began: someone says "You should have seen what happened when I..."
Maybe this is how everyone who wants to be a writer should begin: don't bother with the fancy stuff -- start with what makes it fun! As an exercise, tell a story first-person. Even if the character in a story isn't YOU, you can open your mouth and speak it: "One day I was walking through the forest, on my way to see a sick relative, when I saw an animal caught in a bear trap..."
If you're the parent of a small child, you may already be this kind of storyteller: if you improvise a bedtime story for your kid. The next step is to write your tale down. (Don't laugh: J.K. Rowling started out by making up stories to entertain her kids.)

#

Well, basically, he got it.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Astounding Tales shuts down

I was sorry to hear recently that a small e-zine called Astounding Tales closed down. It was run by two fellows named Keith Graham and Arthur Sanchez. A message went up on March 1 that said they were closing up shop.
Of course, little outfits like that are a labor of love. From what was written on the web site's forum, it sounds like the fun wore off. Apparently the pair got into a big brouhaha and that ended that.
Although one's first reaction is to think that this kind of stuff is petty, let's bear in mind that these kind of projects are done for the love only, and we have no right to expect anything for nothing. To what extent Astounding Tales published some nice little pieces of writing, we're all better off.
I'll always be grateful to them for publishing "Circe in Vitro" in December 2004. "Circe" was a neat little tale that got good reactions wherever it was shopped, but didn't get a bite. Well, a fellow named Kris Barton accepted it earlier for a webzine he called Revelations S-F, but that went belly up before "Circe" was published. It sounds like "Circe" was cursed, because now Astounding Tales is kaput, also.
My good feeling about "Circe" was confirmed when Gardner Dozois gave it an honorable mention in "The Year's Best Science Fiction" collection last year. It was one of my four HMs and the only one Astounding ever received.
Like I said, sorry to see them go.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Campbell eligibility

Jim Van Pelt used to maintain a web site for the John W. Campbell Award for new writers, but he relinquished it last year. I never found out if anyone started a new one, until today, thanks to a link on the old site (which is now an archive).

I sent a message to the new site asking to be included in the list of eligible authors. Here's a copy of it:

#

Lou Antonelli has had 22 stories published since he started writing science fiction in August 2002. A journalist by profession, he is the editor of a semi-weekly community newspaper in East Texas.

"A Rocket for the Republic", published in the Sept. 2005 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction, was Lou's first SFWA-level sale. It was also the last story Gardner Dozois accepted for Asimov's before retiring after 19 years as editor.

Lou is a member of the Turkey City workshop in Austin, Texas. He has been a guest at ConDFW, FenCon, Marcon, Conestoga, SoonerCon and AggieCon.

Bibliography:

1. "Silvern" - RevolutionSF, June 2003.
2. "Silence is Golden" - RevolutionSF, August 2003.
3. "Comes the Juju Man" - GateWay science fiction, December 2003.
4. "S*P*P*A*M*" - Bewildering Stories, December 2003.
5. "Rome, If You Want To" - Surprising Stories, May 2004.
6. "Pen Pal" - RevolutionSF, July 2004.
7. "I Got You" - Bewildering Stories, July 2004.
8. "Flash, Boom, Bam (a flash anthology" - Bewilderimg Stories, July 2004.
9. "Doppelgangster" - Bewildering Stories, Sept. 2004.
10. "Double-Crossing the Styx" - Continuum Science Fiction, Fall 2004.
11. "The Rocket-Powered Cat" - RevolutionSF, Dec. 2004.
12. "Circe in Vitro" - Astounding Tales, December 2004.
13. "They Call It Time" - AlienSkin, Dec./Jan. 2005.
14. "Won't You Come Home, Bill Buckley?" - Bewildering Stories, Feb. 2005.
15. "Big Girl" - Ultraverse, May/June 2005.
16. "The Hideaway" - AlienSkin, June/July 2005.
17. "The Honor of the Blue Devil Patrol" - Beyond Centuari, June/July 2005.
18. "The Cast Iron Dybbuk" - June/July 2005, Andromeda Spaceways In-flight Magazine.
19. "Dialogue" - RevolutionSF, August 2005.
20. "A Rocket for the Republic" - Asimov's Science Fiction, Sept. 2005.
22. "After Image" - Surprising Stories, Sept. 2005.
22. "The Queen of Guilty Pleasures" - Bewildering Stories, Oct. 2005.

"Silence is Golden" was honored with an Honorable Mention in "The Year's Best Science Fiction, 21st annual collection (2004)", St. Martin's Press, New York, N.Y.

The following stories were honored with Honorable Mentions in "The Year's Best Science Fiction, 22st annual collection (2005)"
"Pen Pal"
"The Rocket-Powered Cat"
"I Got You"
"Circe in Vitro"

Some reviews of "A Rocket for the Republic":

"Texan tall tale, or sci-fi fabulism? A fun first-person narrative about the first space expedition ÷ way back in the thirties. The eighteen thirties, that is." - L. Blunt Jackson ("Bluejack"), the Internet Review of Science Fiction (IROSF)

"A light-hearted Asimov's debut" - Sheila Williams, Asimov's Science Fiction.

"Very good" - SF Revu.

"A short and amusing tall tale about an experimental rocket and an encounter with aliens in the early 1800s." - Eagle's Path Short Fiction Reviews.

"Steam Punk fans who long for a wholly American twist on the genre will enjoy this story." - Doug Hoffman, Tangent Online.

Review of "The Cast Iron Dybbuk":

"This issue of ASIM opens with the fun little tale “The Cast Iron Dybbuk” by Lou Antonelli. Miners come across a very ancient artifact, and Bad Things happen... the concept behind the story and the humorous note it ends on are enough to pull it through, starting another issue of ASIM off right. " - Paul J. Iutzi , Tanget Online.

Latest reviews

"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.

- Frank Dutkiewicz, Diabolical Plots

“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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