Thursday, April 27, 2006

Travel plans change

At the start of the year, I looked forward to attending both the WorldCon in LA in August, and the Nebula Awards Weekend in Tempe in May. Well, things change.
After my wife's accident Jan. 11, which resulted in the loss of her right index finger in a dog attack, we're stacked up with medical bills (I didn't have health insurance at the time). Even though this year's WorldCon will still be a relatively inexpensive one (LA being a good deal of a city with excellent air connections) it still would cost at least a couple of thousand dollars to attend; we simply can't afford it.
That left Nebula Weekend, which is shorter and less expensive. I can drive to Tempe from Hooks. BUT May 7th my family is having a celebration of my mother's 75th birthday (which was actually April 15, but there were scheduling issues). So the Nebulas are out, also.
That being the case, I still have what looks to be an excellent selection of cons ahead of me. I'll be a guest at both Conestoga and SoonerCon in Oklahoma in July; ArmadilloCon is in Austin in August, I'm a guest at FenCon in Dallas in September, and World Fantasy Con is in Austin in November.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The rocket flies again

I had another opportunity to read "A Rocket for the Republic". The New Boston Noon Lions Club asked me to be the guest speaker for their meeting today.
The older brother of the program chairman for the month is a comic book/graphic novel artist who lives here in New Boston. He know about my writing and I got "volunteered" by some friends.
Things started slow because I had to start while the meal was being served, but by the time I was finished everyone who had been listening enjoyed it - and those who hadn't listened at the beginning were completely bumfuzzled because they couldn't follow the story.
I also brought some books that were passed through the audience while I spoke, including the "Lone Star Universe" anthology, "A Spectre is Haunting Texas" by Fritz Leiber, "The Texas-Israeli War" by Howard Waldrop and Jack Saunders, "Lone Star Planet" by H. Beam Piper, and the three Texas books by Daniel daCruz - "The Ayes of Texas", "Texas on the Rocks" and "Texas Triumphant".
It was another nice opportunity to share the story, and a few of the members took a moment to tell me afterwards how much they enjoyed it.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Back after a Break

After my partisan comments and wrangling at the start of the month, I made a conscious decision to lay off posting for a while.

This past week I visited the doctor, and he changed my diabetes medicine. Diabetes is the only diseases that I recall has irritability as a symptom. My blood sugar had been getting kinda outta whack; I'm glad I got it taken care of.

Like everyone in Texas I'm working on my submission for the World Fantasy Con themed Robert E. Howard anthology. The "dreadline" is May 15th.

This past week I got my SFWA membership packet in the mail. I got copies of the most recent publications, the membership directory, some reference materials and my membership card. I signed the card with a ten-year old pen I have left over from the paper I used to own (a little symbolism there) and stuck it in my wallet.

Since I've only had one qualifying sale, I'm an associate member for now.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Apology

Well, using April Fool's as an excuse to unload on Richard Horton with that language was a mistake as well as a misjudgement, so I apologize. We subsequenly had a free and frank exchange (to use the language of formal diplomacy) and I think we understand each other better. That's not to say we agree, but we're also not throwing knives at each other.

The Internet is really useless as a communication tool because it makes it TOO easy, and gives everyone equal access - which, if you have a realist appraisal of human nature and the human heart, is a big mistake.

Next time I feel like venting my spleen, I'll write a letter - and then eat it in a salad later.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

April 2

Well, in the spirit of April's Fools I took advantage of the calendar and some blunt Texas talk to intersperse some amusingly abusive comments towards Rich Horton in amidst my AggieCon comments yesterday - April 1. Today, April 2, in the spirit of fairness, I'll devote some space to reprinting his email to me. Fair's fair - I lambasted him, so here's his response. Honestly, I feel nothing he said falls beyond the bounds of fair comment. I've included a few gentle footnotes:

#

I must confess myself astonished at your apparent hate, or at least contempt(1), for my work. Indifference I can understand, certainly I can understand disagreeing with my taste, but this ...For one thing, you have, I believe, rather comprehensively misread me(2).
It is certainly your prerogative to feel I like the wrong stories, to feel that I am missing good stories and promoting bad ones. Indeed, I welcome your opinions on which good stories I missed and which bad ones I am trumpeting. But which authors do you mention as writers who "didn't get the recognition" they deserved?
James Van Pelt, Steven Utley, Tom Purdom in your response to Derryl Murphy's post. In your own post you also mention Howard Waldrop and Robert Reed. These are five of my personal favorite writers! These are writers whose stories I HAVE been recommending in Locus, and picking for my Best of the Year books.
This year I didn't, as I recall, pick any Utley stories, but I have recommended his work in the past. As for Purdom, "Bank Run" is in My Year's Best, and was on my Hugo ballot. Quite frankly I do not think any reviewer has supported Tom's work more than I have in recent years.
I called loudly for a Hugo for "The Path of the Transgressor", for example. Jim Van Pelt's "The Inn at Mount Either" is also in My Year's Best this year, as are Howard Waldrop's "The King of where-I-Go" and Robert Reed's "Finished". I do not precisely recall calling 2005 a weak year for short fiction. Perhaps I said something of the sort somewhere sometime, but I sure don't recall it, and I don't think I would have -- I don't think it a particularly weak year -- nor, necessarily, an amazingly good year. (3)
I did say that the 2005 Hugo short story short list was fairly weak. But then, so did you, by implication, in your blog(4). Indeed, you complained quite a lot more than I about the whole short fiction ballot, seems to me. The only story you were happy about being included was Howard Waldrop's, as far as I can tell.
Oddly enough, Howard's story is one I did include on my recommended reading list,and one I did choose for my Best SF of the year book, and one I did nominate for the Hugo. So what's your complaint there? Otherwise, I proposed an alternate Hugo short story ballot that included, for example, Robert Reed's "Finished".
As to my neglect of "A Rocket for the Republic", what can I say? Deal with it. I have about 1700 words a month to cover the field's short fiction. It's hard. I have to cut mentions of a lot of stories. I thought "A Rocket for the Republic" a fine story, an enjoyable piece. But, no, not one of the best 6 or 8 that month, and not a Hugo nominee. Sorry about that, but that's what I think(5).
Are your tastes different from mine? Heck if I know so far. But maybe they are -- fair enough. I can handle that. I'm still going to act, to the best of my ability, as a "self-appointed arbiter of what's appropriate" -- I think every reader should act in that way. By which I mean we should all push stories we like and, yes, complain when stories we don't like get awards. I am forced to wonder -- do you actually have any idea what I really like?
It's not like any of this isn't public knowledge -- I have to believe I make my likes and dislikes about as well known as anyone. But your issues with me seem oddly unrelated to my likes and dislikes,at least as far as you have articulated them. At any rate, the writers you mention as liking are writers I like and have recommended.
Good luck with your future writing. (6)

#

(1) Probably closer to disrespect.
(2) That's always a possibility.
(3) I'm not unhappy with the standouts - it's the selection of lesser stories and authors that puzzles me.
(4) I expressed my choice about what would have constituted a better ballot in my own nomination form. I thought it was actually a very good year - which why I was so surprised at the weak ballot line-up.
(5) The First Amendment backs you up there.
(6) Thinly-veiled threat. Well, maybe I misread you and you're sincere.

#

Anyhow, what the heck do you, a big shot reviewer, care a fig for my opinion? I'm a nobody. I almost feel sorry you wasted all that time writing the email. Well, since you care enough to take the time to write, I read it, and I will think about it. Meanwhile, now that it's April 2 and I've had my rant, I'm completely played out on the subject. I'm not going to discuss the Hugos for this year any more, I feel I've said everything I could possibly say.

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".

Latest reviews

In a spare, swift, convincing narrative style, conveying in a deadpan voice a wide array of sometimes Paranoid suppositions about the world, Antonelli juxtaposes realities with very considerable skill, creating a variety of Alternate Worlds, some of them somewhat resembling the constructions of Howard Waldrop, and making some sharp points about American history, race relations, dreams, and occasional nightmares in which the twentieth century goes wrong. [JC]

---From the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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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