Sunday, March 11, 2007

Finale on ConDFW

On Sunday I was fortunate to visit more with Harry Turtledove, both between panels and even in the sitting around in the lobby.

Brad Sinor hosted a Q&A session with Turtledove, and I took the opportunity to ask a question which has been on my mind for years: In "The Guns of the South" the main bad guy is a South African named Rhoodie. I always wondered whether Turtledove used that name because it was in the news because of a RSA government scandal in the 1980s. One of the reasons Prime Minister B.J. Vorster resigned was because it was learned the government had secretly funded a project to purchase and/or influence English-language newspapers in the country. The government official who has run the razzle-dazzle was named Eschel Rhoodie.

Turtledove said he didn't know anything about that, he just wanted a reliably Afrikaner name. Of course, there's always the possibility he had heard the name and dropped in into his mental Rolodex. In another contest during the same Q&A session, he mentioned the problem authors constantly face of "idea pollution". Many s-f readers would be surprised to learn actually how little some authors read, because of that.

I visited with him after the panel. He seemed to take note of my knowledge of the RSA. Later that day, while chatting in the lobby, I mentioned a story idea, adding that I have never written it up because I don't think it would sell anywhere. He encouraged to forge ahead anyway, and dropped an idea for a twist that hadn't crossed my mind.

At 1 p.m. I moderated a panel on "How to Escape from the Slush Pile" in the main programming room with Stephen Brust, Robert Aspirin, Martha Wells and Emma Bull. It was a very informative panel, but some of the experiences and opinions of the panels were directly contradictory. I hope we didn't leave people confused.

For example, we talked a lot about rejection, but Asprin said he's never really had any. I touted the virtues of getting exposure to get your name around, but Brust said exposure is what you die of in the Arctic. I am proud I was able to keep the panel rolling forward and that I prevented any bickering. It dawned on me that maybe one of the reasons I moderate well is because I've served in various boards and clubs over the years (including a school board, library board and animal shelter board). Hey, compared to running a Lions Club meeting in a small town (I am a former Lions Club president), moderating a panel at a s-f panel is a cinch.

The last thing I attended was Mel Tatum's reading, and then I hit the road for home at about 4:30 p.m.

I think things went very well, and I enjoyed it immensely.

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