Friday, September 13, 2013

WorldCon Report: Part 4

Recovering after having a sudden eruption with an old rotted tooth that became abscessed and had to be yanked about 5 p.m. yesterday. Other than the essential violence of having a tooth extracted, I'm doing pretty good.

Back to the slow slog through my chronological report of WorldCon (now two weeks in the past). I suppose I'll be done with all my observations in time to attend FenCon in Dallas the first week of October.

I actually didn't have any panels on Saturday, but there was plenty for me to do. The centerpiece of the day, from my perspective, was the Sidewise Awards at noon. I wore my black suit to mark the formality of the occasion, and adorned myself with the alarm clock to specifically honor the award.

First, though, the SFWA held a business meeting at 10 a.m. which I attended. It was pretty dull, like all corporate meetings are; nothing of substance was discussed and there's really nothing interesting to report. At least by attending I assert my right to participate as a dues-paying member. Of course, in reality I'm marginalized in the group by not being a doctrinaire political leftist, or a self-hating white person. I'm also a Christian - a total loser to these superior god-like beings. I kept my mouth shut; just reminding these hateful snobs you're alive pisses them off.

The Sidewise Awards at noon were conducted by Evelyn Leeper and Steven Silver, who gave a really interesting talk about the origins of the award almost two decades ago, when there was an especially noticeable outburst of alternate history stories. I thought it was a hoot one of the names considered for the award was the Hodge Backmaker Award, for the protagonist in the milestone alternate history book "Bring the Jubilee".

They also explained the process of reading and winnowing the finalists.  Sitting there, I realized I remembered one of the finalists, "Something Real" (I had forgotten the title since reading it) and when I made the connection to Rick Wilber, I said to myself, "He's got it in the bag, that WAS the best alternate history of 2012."

I was right, and Rick was very grateful for the award. He gave a very nice little acceptance speech and he had family members there, too, to enjoy his moment of happiness. It was a well-deserved honor, and I have no compunction in saying that I was fairly beaten by a great piece of literature. I am proud that "Great White Ship" was judged worthy to stand in the same company.
Rick Wilber proudly poses with his Sidewise Award after the ceremony, flanked by yours truly and fellow finalist Catherynne Valente.

After photos were taken, I trotted off to the food court at the Rivercenter Mall where John Denardo was meeting up with his SF Signal fans. I visited briefly with John, and met Wesley Chu, an up and coming young author (well, at my age, everyone looks young) who was very nice to talk to.

Because of my sleep deficit, I went to bed again that afternoon in the hotel room, and then got up that evening to attend room parties. I met up with a number of people in the various party suites; had a really nice conversation with Adrian Simmons (an old chum) and Diane Turnshek (whom I had never met before) in a hallway at one point.

The dead last party suite I attended was the one for the Phoenix NASFIC, and they had the best layout, they went all out for a retro look, which included an old Philco Predicta television - the model with a horizontal cabinet and and the picture tube by itself on a swivel on top.

It was just about 1:30 a.m. and "The Shape of Things to Come" was concluding on the screen. The suite was quiet and dark, and as the final scene ended it all seemed eerie and other-worldly. Not nostalgia or deju vu, more like a sense of loss or regret.

That was it for Saturday, and I was off to bed.

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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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