Wednesday, September 11, 2013

WorldCon gimmicks

There's a couple of fun things I did at WorldCon, "jest fer grins" as we say in Texas. I took my portable Smith Corona Classic 12 typewriter, and I propped up an Etch-a-Sketch on the platen. I photocopied small version of the covers of "Fantastic Texas" and "Texas & Other Planets" and taped them on the Etch-a-Sketch, and then claimed the set-up was my antique iPad.

The gag went over well at the Steampunk panel I moderated Friday, but I didn't do it twice. There was simply a problem with logistics; the typewriter was too heavy to lug around a lot. It otherwise stayed in the hotel room until I left Monday morning.

The other gimmick I tried was a lot easier and went over well. I have an old-fashioned wind-up alarm clock in my home office. It's not an antique - I bought it last year at the local hardware store. It's the classic design; brass body, round face with large white numbers on a white background, and the two bells at the top with the little hammer between them.

I was proud to be a finalist for the Sidewise award for alternate history this year, and so I decided in honor of the event I'd put the clock to good use. I hung it on a lanyard and wore it all day Friday and Saturday until the Sidewise awards presentation. It worked out well. A few people made comments about Flavor Flav, but most people took it in stride, and when they asked its significance, I told them.

In addition to good self-promotion, it turned out to be good promotion for the Sidewise awards, so I was able to give them a boost, also. Friday I wore a jersey all day (my "Mad Scientists Union Local" shirt) but Saturday I wore a black suit with a blue Texas-themed tie, and the clock stood out even better then. I told some people I was the mad scientist Anachronism Antonelli.

I think I may have given the Sidewise awards administrators an idea with the clock; maybe they'll pick up on the theme in the future.

Now that I think of it, I suppose the suit was a gimmick, too. I decided that, since so many people dress so informally at conventions, I'd swing the other way, and on Saturday wear the suit because of the Sidewise awards. One friend commented that "Lou is cosplaying as a normal person."

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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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