Sunday, September 29, 2013

SASS membership roster

We are updating our membership list as of Oct. 1, so if you have been thinking of joining SASS, now would be a good time to get on the roll. We will be using this roster for the formal adoption of bylaws and election of officers, so if you join now you can participate in our first formal election.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

"The Killing Jar"

I was glad to learn that fellow SASS member Ed Morris has sold his story "The Killing Jar" to amagazine based in Australia. This is noteworthy because "The Killing Jar" was posted on the SASS private writers forum and critiqued. This is the first time this has transpired.

Ed posted on Facebook: "Thanks to Lou Antonelli and the wonderful feedback from the Society For The Advancement of Speculative Storytelling, I just homed "The Killing Jar." It is a ghost-story written for a girlfriend who overdosed when I was nineteen, inspired in part by John Shirley's WETBONES, and it made Lou cry. Sorta speechless about it myself."

Friday, September 27, 2013

My FenCon schedule

The FenCon convention is coming up Oct. 4-6 in Dallas. I've gotten my schedule and here it is:

Friday  6:00 PM  - 7:00 PM    Elm
Boon or Bane? Disruptive Technologies of the Future

Description: For good or ill, the internet and mobile technologies have radically transformed how we live and work, in just a few short years. How will new technologies like next generation genomics, 3D printing, autonomous robotics, advanced materials and more affect us in the near future?

Panelists:
Lou Antonelli, Martin L. Shoemaker, Adrian Simmons, Teresa Nielsen Hayden

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Friday  9:00 PM  - 10:00 PM    Live Oak
Compelling Dialogue

Description: Good dialog is the backbone of a strong story. How do you know if your characters are too chatty, or too quiet?

Panelists:
Lou Antonelli, Carole Nelson Douglas, Vickey Malone Kennedy, Sabine Starr

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Saturday  2:30 PM  - 2:30 PM    Gallery
Autographs

Lou Antonell, Michelle Bardsley

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Saturday  7:00 PM  - 8:00 PM    Live Oak
Where the #&%@ are all the aliens?!?

Description: The Fermi Paradox asks if there's such a high probability of alien civilizations, why haven't we found them yet? Maybe they aren't there after all, or maybe we're looking in the wrong places. Our panel will discuss all of this, and maybe figure it out once and for all!

Panelists:
Lou Antonelli, Chris Donahue, William Ledbetter, Geoffrey A. Landis

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Looking back

You ever go back to read a story that you wrote a number of years ago, and you wonder how you wrote anything so accomplished? The story still seems well-written and entertaining? It's like after the passage of time you garner a little objectivity and you appreciate your own skills more.

I had this experience this past weekend as I reread "The Silver Dollar Saucer" in galley proofs for inclusion in the "Raygun Chronicles" anthology. Funny how, looking back, this story had such a mundane start and then such difficulties getting published.

This is another case where I whipped up a story on an arbitrary maguffin - again, as in the case of the very first story I ever had published ("Silvern" in Revolution SF in 2003), a silver dollar. I distinctly remember pondering a feared case of writer's block while marking time taking photos of a girls softball game in Longview. I decided that I would reach in my pocket and write a story based on whatever random item I pulled out.

Because of the fact I was at a particular game when I did this, I know when I did this - March 2005.

Years ago, Amazon's first attempt at selling individual fiction was called Amazon Shorts, and I submitted "Saucer" to them - and it was accepted. In fact, I got a contract. Then I noticed the contract stipulated you must also have a book available for sale on Amazon.

Poor research on my part - I hadn't noticed that. My first collection, "Fantastic Texas", was still a few years away in 2009, and when pressed, I had to concede I didn't meet the requirements. The contract was withdrawn.

After that inauspicious start, it took 24 submissions and three and a half years for the story to find a home at "Raygun Revival". It was clear after a few rejections that it straddled too many genres and was hard to categorize. Was it a Weird Western? Space Opera? An alien abduction tale? Secret History? Probably all of those. 

It took time, but when the Overlords at Raygun Revival saw it, they snapped it up - bless their little dilithium-crystal powered hearts.

Over the years it's proven to be one of my most popular stories, and it was included in both "Fantastic Texas" and "Texas & Other Planets" - so it's publication in "Raygun Chronicles" will be its third reprint.

Ironically, I got more than double for this republication that I did for when the story was originally published.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Touting a friend

Alex Schvartsman was one of my roomies at WorldCon, and one thing we have in common is that we have both been published in BuzzyMag. I have one of those proverbial warm spots in my heart for the ezine. Over the years I've had one, maybe two stories published in the first issue of a new publication, but my story "The Centurion and the Rainman" was the first story published by Buzzy when they began publishing original fiction in March 2012.

Alex has just had his latest short story published by Buzzy, "A Shard Grows in Brooklyn". Enjoy!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Praise for "Raygun Chronicles"

Editor Bryan Schmidt reports "people are excited about our book. Just having the ARC lying around people were wanting to buy it yesterday based on title and cover images. And a couple readers had this to say:

"'Raygun Chronicles is an impressive anthology with an impressive list of contributors, a real showcase of the color and scope of what science fiction can be.' - Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of the Saga of Seven Suns

“'Raygun Chronicles breathes supercharged life into the space opera genre with exciting and inventive new tales by a superb line-up of writers. This is why science fiction will live forever!'” – Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Extinction Machine, Fire & Ash, and Patient Zero."

Friday, September 20, 2013

Tales from the Wild Weird West delayed

Stupefying Stories is going to release a special themed anthology, Tales from the Wild Weird West. It was scheduled to have been out already, but Publisher Bruce Bethke is having to take care of one of those sad transition issues in life - his mother is dying. They took her off life support yesterday.

I thought I'd devote this space today to listing again the Table of Contents. It is a good selection of stories. We all wish Bruce strength as he goes through this difficult time/

“An Offering at Midnight” by L. Joseph Shosty
“Paying Old Debts” by Rebecca Roland
“Gray Eagle’s Revenge” by Roy C. Booth and R. Thomas Riley
“The Well” by Rose Blackthorn
“Welcome to Scuttletown” by Jeff Shelton-Davis
“MacGruder and the Ghost” by Ken Altabef
“Rain Charmer” by Gef Fox
“La Sombra del Diablo” by Douglas J. Moore
“The Automated Earp” by Michael Ezell
“Cattle Futures” by Rebecca Schwarz
“Princess Nicotine” by John Skylar
“Riders of the Red Shift” by Lou Antonelli
“The New Herd” by Lilliana Rose

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Silver Dollar Saucer flies again

I'm reading the galleys for my short story "The Silver Dollar Saucer", which is being reprinted in "Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera for a New Age", an ambitious anthology of space opera stories "from some of the finest voices in science fiction writing today:"

It includes 23 contemporary stories capturing the classic golden age feel of space opera past, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. "Saucer" is one of the stories included from the six-year run of the ezine "Ray Gun Revival", which originally published it in January 2009.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Leinster Legacy

One highlight for me of the WorldCon was briefly meeting Billee Stallings, the daughter of Murray Leinster. She attended the Sidewise Award ceremony and was introduced from the audience. She was at the convention to help promote the web site, books and legacy of her dad - whose real name was Will Jenkins.

She had a very nice handout which was prepared for the convention. I take a moment to quote from it here:

"Before Murray Leinster, many science fiction stories explored time travel, leaping ahead in time or traveling backwards. But in Leinster's imaginings, the idea of moving sidewise in time - to worlds that might have been -  first came to fruition.

"In Sidewise in Time, Leinster describes a time fault that links the untrodden paths of the past to the present, an ingenious plot that inspired the prestigious Sidewise Award in the genre."

The Leinster web site, www.murrayleinster.org, covers the whole range of his work. He was prolific during the heyday of pulp fiction magazines and he had many outlets and was able to publish in multiple genres, including westerns, adventure and mystery stories.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Some final WorldCon thoughts

Two weeks ago I was driving back to East Texas from San Antonio, having attended my first WorldCon. I've spent much of this blog space since then reviewing the event. Here are some random and parting thoughts:

It's an expensive proposition a attend a WorldCon, especially considering the hundreds of dollars it costs for registration. If I hadn't been a Sidewise award nominee, my wife wouldn't have allowed me to come (my wife is not a fan). I'm impressed at the effort made by many people whom I know are much more broke than I am to attend.

My roommate, Alex Schvartsman, took a Hugo Boss suit for good luck to wear at the Hugo awards, and it worked as he got to accept the Hugo for Ken Liu. Late Sunday night, he was complaining how heavy the award is to lug around!

There were two panels I attended as an audience member, the panel on small towns held Friday, "Good Things Do Come From Small Places" and "The George and Howard Show" on Saturday. Chum Howard Waldrop was on both of them.

Other panelists on the small town discussion were Connie Willis, Joe Lansdale, Steve Gould and Robin Hobb. Willis was moderator and never asked for any questions from the audience. Joe had some interesting things to say about growing up in a small East Texas town.

The razzle-dazzle Saturday with George R.R. Martin and Howard Saturday afternoon was a hoot, somebody needs to release that as a video! Funniest thing I ever saw, everyone laughed their butts off.

Having the WorldCon and Dragon Con in Atlanta the same weekend was goofy. I don't know how it affected DragonCon, but I definitely think it cut down on the WorldCon attendance. I also don't think having a WorldCon in Texas in August helped attendance.

I wasn't surprised Spokane won the 2015 WorldCon bid. I was slightly surprised when after the vote was announced, one old pro - who will remain nameless here - said that the "elites" in s-f were pushing for Helsinki, which had been exactly my impression. I don't think Orlando ever stood a chance, from what I heard. One problem with the Helsinki bid was that, if they won, that would put two Worldcons overseas for two years in a row. With the crappy state of America's neo-Third World economy, few people are going to be able to go to London next year (my wife has already told me "Don't even think of it!"). It's quite possible two WorldCons overseas in a row would have sunk the whole Worldcon proposition.

I changed up my attire regularly during the con. Friday I wore my Mad Scientists Union jersey, and Saturday my black suit. I wore my Texas Nationalist Movement shirt for the first half of Sunday, then changed at lunchtime to  regular short-sleeved shirt for the during of the convention. I was pleased when a member of the audience for the political panel Sunday - who lives in a northern state - told me she agreed with the TNM shirt. I told her I'm not surprised that there are people up north wouldn't mind if Texas took off, either.

No Texan was in the running for a Hugo literary award, and neither of the two who were nominated for other awards - myself for the Sidewise and Stina Leicht for the Campbell Award - won. Although Stina and I are far from friends, I have to concede it's only human to feel sympathy for the sting of disappointment.

I felt very disappointed when I was blackballed from the anthology that was released at the convention, but I got over it, too.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

WorldCon Report: Part Five

That's me pretending to forget the Alamo.
Well, it's two weeks later and I'm up to Sunday, Sept. 1, at WorldCon. The first thing that day was the Stroll with the Stars; in this case, to the Alamo. The convention chairman, Randy Shepherd, herded us (no pun intended) through the the Rivercenter Mall and around a corner to the Alamo. He gave a nice talk in front of the Alamo and then we all went inside. I have visited the Alamo before, but it was nice to visit again this historic site. Along the way I visited with David Brin (whom I had never met in person) and Sheila Williams and her daughter.

Dian Turnshek took the photo of me in front of the Alamo; I was pretending to forget what transpired here. I wore my Texas Nationalist Movement shirt for the occasion, which I thought was appropriate.

My first panel was on "Fiction and Real Politics and How Writers Get it Wrong" at 11 a.m. This was a good panel, with very insightful authors. It was more like a political science panel, however, and really didn't talk much about writing. That's not to say it wasn't interesting, it was. But I had kinda gone in thinking we'd be talking about practical politics, and citing Heinlein's short story "A Bathroom of Her Own" and stuff like that. But it dealt a lot in philosophy - which was still interesting.

For some reason, most of the panelists seemed to be Canadian, which skewed the discussion a bit.

After two weeks, it's hard for me to remember specifics, but I recall I was responsible for some insight. Actually, let me quote here from a blog post by fellow panelist Madeline Ashby:

"On a panel on philosophy and SF, one of my fellow panelists decried the predilection among younger readers for dystopias and “darkness,” then talked about how when he was a young man, he had no trouble finding a job, buying a house, living a life, etc.

'“How old are you?” I asked, from the other end of the stage.

"He gave his age. I believe it was around 54.

'“So you’re a boomer?”

"Yes.

'“And how much did you pay for your first house?”

"It was a figure around $60K. Less than $100K, anyway.

'“The average price of a starter home in Toronto, where I live, is $550,000. I’m thirty years old. I have a university degree and two graduate degrees. Despite all that, it is likely I will never be able to afford my own home - or have my own child. You want to know why people my age and younger write without hope? That’s why.”

"This man thanked me for bringing that to his attention. He was genuine, not sarcastic. He simply did not know how the younger half lived. And really, I think that’s what it boils down to. It’s more than just an active distrust of young people (and young women in particular). It’s a totally different set of life experiences."

Well, she's totally right. I was really stunned. I later sent her a Facebook message and told her my thought after this exchange was essentially, "What happened to the American dream when I was preoccupied taking care of myself?"

Other panelists included moderator David Nickle, Gregory Wilson, and Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

My other panel on Sunday was on "Philosophy and Science Fiction" at 4 p.m. If my first panel of the day was supposed to be on politics but turned into one in political science and philosophy, this one was supposed to be on philosophy but ended up more a discussion on religious faith - which was still interesting. All the panelists seemed to have some connection to religion in some way (not as common as you would think in science fiction). For example. Madeline Ashby - who was also on this panel - said she attended a Jesuit school.

The other panelists were C.J. Mills, Mark Van Name and Steve Diamond. Everyone was respectful of religion and it was an extremely good panel. It was also the best attended panel I have ever seen at ANY convention where I was on the dais. All the seats were full and people were standing in the back; I counted over 100 people.

The Hugo Awards started at 8 p.m., but as I mentioned in a previous post, I realized it was more important for me to exercise in the hotel pool or there would be a serious possibility I wouldn't be able to make the drive home Monday. I also wanted to hit the road by 6 a.m. and I wouldn't be able to do that if I stayed up late until the end of the ceremony and then went to some party.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Bryan, Alex and Maurice

I'd be remiss as I recap my WorldCon weekend not to mention my roommates in Room 1820 of the Marriott Rivercenter Hotel.

The room was reserved by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, who I have been dealing with this year because of my participation in the Raygun Chronicles anthology. Bryan posted on Facebook a number of months ago that he would be looking for roommates. When I realized I would be going to the convention, I asked him if he still had space. He said I'd be the third, Alex Schvartsman was also on board.

Just before the convention he mentioned Maurice Broaddus was also going to join us. That made four people with two beds and a cot, but that didn't particularly bother me, especially since I am a very sound sleeper and easily sleep on the floor - as I did Thursday night. As it happened, everyone's schedule was so staggered that at any given time anyone could find a bed space.

When I arrived at the hotel at about 8 p.m. Thursday, when I went up to the room, Maurice and I arrived at the door at the same time! I'd never met him before, so we exchanged greetings and then went off our respective ways.

Both Bryan and Alex were in the room when I came back just before midnight. Bryan traveled from Kansas, Alex from New York - Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, to be exact. I had never meet Bryan in person; I'd heard of Alex. Both are dedicated anthologists, and they talked "shop" a lot for a couple of hours; I'd chime in occasionally with a comment of observation. They both are much more involved in the genre than I am.

They are also both friendly, nice guys. Alex imported a brown paper sack of authentic New York bagels from his neighborhood bagelry, which I appreciated. Having lived in New York City in the 1970s and 1980s I remember what real bagels were like*.

I snoozed on the floor that night; what discomfort I suffered wasn't from the floor, but from the fact my legs were sore from the long drive. Come the morning, we saw that Maurice never came in and the cot was unused. Bryan had commented that Maurice kept hours like a vampire, and he was sorta right. I didn't see Maurice much, but he was pleasant and friendly when we chatted. He had traveled in from Indianapolis.

I never spent any time except in passing during the con with Bryan; Alex came to the Sidewise Award presentation Saturday. He's the one who took the photo of Rick Wilber, Cat Valente and myself that's in the previous post.

We were all pretty busy, so that's not much of a surprise our paths didn't cross that much. We also all have our own friends. The event we all might have been expected to attend together - the Hugo Awards - I skipped because I decided I needed to do hydrotherapy in the hotel pool, or else I would be very uncomfortable driving home Monday.

I have Type II diabetes, and as a result I have neuropathy in my feet and muscle weakness in my legs. I try to be very careful in caring for these conditions. As I mentioned before, my legs were sore after the six hour drive to San Antonio; by Sunday things were only worse after all the walking entailed at the convention. I realized if I didn't do something pro-active Sunday, I might have difficulty driving home. The Hugo Awards were the logical time to hit the pool; my presence wasn't going to make much of a difference, anyway.

* Alex mentioned that because they were genuine freshly made bagels, they had no preservatives and would go stale quickly, and he was right. By Friday afternoon I "had" to east the last two because they were rapidly fossilizing.

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.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

In memoriam

I'll interrupt my ongoing recapitulation of WorldCon to note the passing - within a week of the end of the con - of three well-known s-f authors.

As the con was winding down - and some people, like me, were already on the way home - word came Monday that Fred Pohl had died at age 93. Pohl is one of those towering figures from the Golden Age, and I was honored to meet him in person in 2004 when my wife and I traveled to Lawrence, Kansas, to attend the Campbell Conference at the University of Kansas (that was the previous time I met James Gunn, before this WorldCon). I brought along a copy of the issue of the Galaxy magazine with the story he wrote with Cyril Kornbluth, "Gravy Planet", which was expanded into the famous novel "The Space Merchants". He scribbled off a signature.

I thought it was interesting that a few days earlier I met David Kyle at the convention; to the best of my knowledge, Kyle now is the last living member of The Futurians.

On Wednesday, Ann Crispin, who had been battling cancer for a number of years, posted on her blog that the struggle was over, and she died Friday. I met Ann and her husband, Michael Capobianco, together at the Nebula Awards in Washington, D.C. in 2012. She was pleasant and nice to me. She was not only known as a writer but also an advocate for the rights of authors, and was well-respected and liked by many people.

Last weekend the news came that Patricia Anthony had died a month earlier. She was an author who had her heyday in s-f in the 1990s. I have somewhere  a box of old magazines I once bought in a garage sale, and they included many copies of Aboriginal S-F, a magazine that folded about the time I started writing (early in the last decade). She had a story in just about every issue; I think she was the wife or girlfriend of the editor. She drifted away from writing genre fiction a number of years ago, which is why she wasn't in touch with the field and her death wasn't immediately noted. One of her last - and best - science fiction stories, "Eating Memories", originally published in 1998, was reprinted in Revolution S-F in May 2003, the issue before my first story "Silvern" was published. I remember reading it, and thinking it was pretty classy. I never met Anthony personally.

Deaths are always markers in the passage of time for the living, and these deaths - especially of people so significant to the genre such as Pohl and Crispin - are also a cause for reflection. The fact Pohl and Crispin died during the week following the convention makes it doubly so.

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."

Monday, September 09, 2013

WorldCon Report: Part Three

Still working my way slowly through the WorldCon experience, I'm up to Friday night, which saw for me the only panel that was a mis-fire.

"How to Build a Book Launch Campaign" seemed to be, right off the bat, a hinky choice for me, but I assumed the programmers put me on there because I work on a newspaper, and I could discuss what book promotion looks like from the other side of the desk. I feel the con programmers actually read my bio in making some of their choices of panels for me.

But I have never written a book, only short stories, so my only books have been collections. I didn't think I would have a lot to say on this panel.

Hoo-boy, was I right.

The panel, which convened at 8 p.m., got off to a strange start. We panelists started congregating in the wing of the convention, and the moderator said she got an email from the con that the room had been changed. Some bystanders confirmed that, so we traipsed a long way to get to the new room.

There were three woman and me - another guy was AWOL - and as we started the panel, since everyone else seemed to hold back, I started off; I really didn't think I would have a lot to contribute, so I thought I say my main spiel at the start and then pipe down.

Well, I guess the moderator thought I was long-winded and/or boring, because she cut me off in mid-sentence, and then for the next 15 minutes, the three ladies all talked amongst themselves. This is a phenomenon that has nothing to do with the con; it's an American social phenomenon. Middle-aged American men see it all the time, especially in the workplace. When a cluster of women start talking amongst themselves, they will pretty much ignore any males around.

After ten minutes I realized they had forgotten I was there, and I would have dozed off except for the noise.

Twenty minutes after the panel started, someone from the con came in the room and said the missing panelist was in the original room, and there were more people there than with us. He didn't have a clue why the room change was made in the first place. We all picked up and went to the room where the panel was originally scheduled to be.

Now, while I was sitting on the dais in the first room, I was getting so bored, I thought about going down and being comfortable in the audience. This room change was a great opportunity, then, and when I got to the other room. I sat in the first row and left the ladies to join the young male author on the dais.

They started right back up a didn't even notice me in the audience, until someone pointed me out, but I told them to carry on, they were doing fine without me. And honestly, I think the audience members enjoyed the panel, the other authors were pretty knowledgeable about the subject. I took a few notes myself, looking forward to the day I actually peddle a book.

The three muses let the young guy talk a few times, but he was good looking and innocent. He had no idea what happened in the other room, anyway.

After the panel., a couple of guys from the audience grabbed me in the hall and asked me questions they had expected to ask me in the panel, and we had a nice visit, so I did contribute in my way.

I'm sure none of the other panelists remember me, and quite frankly, I don't care. I have a great job, a wonderful wife, and a good life. The fiction writing is a sideline. It obviously means more to them than to me. I wouldn't even say the panel was a bad experience. It was fascinating to observe how oblivious and self-centered people some people are.

Since I hadn't gotten a good night's sleep the night before, I headed back to the hotel and was in bed by 9:30 p.m. so I would be well-rested and ready to hit it Saturday.

I slept like a bear.




Sunday, September 08, 2013

Like ships that pass in the night - More on WorldCon

It's been almost a week since I left San Antonio, but I'm still posting. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was drawn away for a few days covering a really serious local news story, but things are stabilizing, and besides, that story isn't going away any time soon. I am leading my newspaper on a community service project to get reparations for the wanton destruction of the railroad depot, or to force them to rebuild the structure. I'd say the odds are against us, because we are dealing with a bunch of godless money-grubbing assholes, but we will fight the good fight.

Back to posting about the WorldCon. Such a large event not only generates a lot of news, it draws a lot of people, and one of the drawbacks that comes with that is that you can go all four days and not meet someone you wanted to. Add to that the event was sprawled over three city blocks, and the result is you come back home regretting you didn't find someone.

For example, I've never met Cat Rambo in person, and I know she was at the con, but our paths never crossed. I wish I had also run into Harry Turtledove again; I met him once at a Dallas Con. I know I'm not the only person who had this problem, I've seen many similar observations from other people.

People I was happy to meet, and chat with multiple times, included Gardner Dozois, George R.R. Martin,  and Robert Silverberg. I'd never met Silverberg before, and he was very accessible and nice. A few people I saw just once, and quickly; these included Jay Lake, Michael Swanwick, Wesley Chu and John Klima. John and Wesley were people I had never met before. There were a few cases where I had nice extended visits with some people, including Steven Silver, David Marusek and Diane Turkshek.

Other people I met a few times in passing included Sam Taylor, Bill Ledbetter, and John Denardo.

There were two authors who were on the same panel with me twice, Gail Carriger and Madeline Ashby, for the record.

Other than Howard Waldrop and Gardner Dozois, there were really no authors I went out my my way to track down; Howard has always been a good chum, and I wanted to report to Gardner on the progress of my WIP, Letters from Gardner.

I knew when I found Howard, I'd find George R.R. Martin, and I was right, and I also got him and Gardner together, too.

An atrocity

I knew bloggers should post every day - and I was following that dictum last week as I kept recounting my visit to San Antonio and WorldCon - but I got sidetracked Wednesday by the real world. The Union Pacific Railroad tore down an old, disused depot without any warning or consideration for the city. It was a travesty and an atrocity, and I've spent a lot of time in the past few days documenting this debacle.

http://www.dailytribune.net/news/onlookers-cry-as-railroad-razes-depot/article_bc7baa0e-15ba-11e3-a126-001a4bcf887a.html

http://www.dailytribune.net/news/railroad-apologizes-for-historic-destruction/article_df40fc10-1682-11e3-b7f7-001a4bcf887a.html

http://www.dailytribune.net/news/uprr-poor-corporate-citizens-says-judge-lee/article_6587d530-1752-11e3-90fe-001a4bcf887a.html


Thursday, September 05, 2013

WorldCon Report: Part Two

As I mentioned in my previous post, the convention spread across multiple blocks and buildings. I'm not the only participant who has subsequently mentioned the three-building sprawl, which was especially grueling for people with orthopedic problems. I suppose there wasn't much to be done; a convention of this size needs a venue of a certain size. Just the exhibition hall alone seemed the length of a football field. Sometime Saturday as I was walking I heard a strange slapping sound, and I realized my feet had gone so numb I was slamming them against the floor as I walked. As a result I tried to be especially aware of my feet and legs; in the long run, everything turned out fine, but I skipped the Hugo awards ceremony Sunday night to engage in water exercises in the hotel pool; otherwise I don't think I could have stood the long drive home Monday. I exercise in the pool at the local wellness center at least three times a week anyway, and as I sit here Thursday morning, my legs feel fine, so I think I handled the issue properly. Neuropathy is a common problem for people with Type II diabetes; fortunately, my circulation and healing remains excellent.

The reason I mention this subject right off the bat in this post is because the three-building sprawl hit me right in the face Friday morning when I went to check in at registration. I arrived in San Antonio too late to register Thursday, so I schlepped over the convention center first thing Friday at 9 a.m. when registration opened. When I got there, they reminded me I had to finish paying for my registration (I paid $60 a long time ago) and I realized I didn't take my checkbook, so I had to go all the way back to the Rivercenter hotel. By the time I got there, I was so light-headed I had to eat breakfast, and I made the mistake of going to the Denny's across the street.

It took an hour to have breakfast - a half hour to wait and a half hour for my order, which was botched (you can't tell the difference between fried and scrambled eggs?). The restaurant staff was badly over matched by the breakfast crowd. Then I got the checkbook and was able to register, just in time to make the Steampunk panel I moderated at 11 a.m.

That panel went very well, and was very well attended. This is a case where I was able to do a good job as moderator because I had relatively little to contribute - although I could address the subject intelligently. The other panelists - Gail Carriger, Jess Nevins, Jayme Blaschke and a late addition, whose name I am embarrassed to say I can't remember - were all very knowledgeable and informative. I enjoyed the panel, and so did the audience.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

WorldCon Report: Part One

First, it might be interesting to note this was the first convention I ever attended where I registered in advance. This may sound strange, but over the years, every time I registered for a convention, something would happen at the last minute, and I wouldn't be able to attend (and I'd lose my registration fee). This happened so often that back in the 00's I stopped registering for conventions. It worked better for me if I showed up and registered at the door.

Now, I haven't had to register for a convention for many years since I've been getting invites as a panelist for a long time, but WorldCon requires that all panelists register. I paid my $60 basic membership a long time ago, but I didn't pay up the rest until I got to San Antonio, so I suppose that's why the curse didn't strike.

BUT it almost did!

My wife is a school teacher, and she worked Thursday and Friday (it was still the first week of school), so she didn't come with me. My mother-in-law came Wednesday to stay the holiday weekend with her. Thursday morning, as I was preparing to leave, she came to me and said the carpet in the closet of the guest bedroom was wet.

I found that the interior air conditioning unit drain was stopped up, and water was spreading from the drain under the walls across the slab of the house. I had to call a repairman, and because of that I didn't get on the highway until almost noon, which was much later than I had planned.

The bad part about that is that I hit Austin during its rush hour, which took me an hour to traverse, and I had to turn the A/C off in my car or else it would have overheated. I didn't get to San Antonio until past 7 p.m. I was hot and sweaty, and it was too late to register for the convention.

On a positive note, I was able to find the hotel easily, and also the public parking garage. I had to use printed Mapquest directions; my GPS had died a week earlier; apparently it needs a new battery.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt rented the room at the Marriott RiverCenter, which we shared with Alex Schvartsman and Maurice Broaddus. Maurice and I actually collided at the front door of the suite, which was fun; later I spent time chatting with Bryan and Alex. I know Bryan from working with him on the Raygun Chronicles anthology; I didn't know Alex beforehand.

The first person I ran into at the hotel was a fan of mine, who said he had gone to the San Antonio library earlier in the day for the reading of the Rayguns Over Texas anthology. He said he was surprised I wasn't in the anthology, and he had asked them about it. That sorta tickled me. I told him it just wasn't meant to be, the Austin clique didn't like me and that pretty much was that.

That wasn't the first time during the weekend someone asked me about the anthology, but hey, it's s free country, they can publish whatever they like. I suppose it's better for people to ask why WASN'T Antonelli in the book, than why WAS he?

I took some time that evening to scope out the layout of the con. I was unhappy to see that our hotel was two blocks away from the convention center; to get to the convention, I had to leave our hotel, cut through another hotel across the street and across that block, then cross another street, and THEN begin schlepping through the convention center.

I realized I was going to do a lot of walking in the next three days - not a fun prospect, in light of the fact I have neuropathy in my feet because of diabetes.


Coming soon!

This is one of my best ever alternate histories.