Saturday, February 07, 2015

Upcoming at ConDFW next weekend -

My schedule starts Friday at 3 p.m. with a panel on alternate history, "For Want of a Nail". It will be held in the Madison Room, and I am moderating. The other panelists are Julie Barrett, Melanie Fletcher, Katherine Eliska Kimbriel, and Rie Sheridan Rose.

The panel's description is as follows:

"How big of a change is needed to change history? The traditional tale of losing a war due to not having a nail for a horseshoe is a perfect indicator that not much is needed. However, if you make small changes you need to be able to predict where the nail falls, so to speak. Our alternate history experts talk about how to alter history in ways which are quite subtle, but create huge results."

I've gone to conventions over the years where the programming seems random and a bit arbitrary, or at least inexplicable, when it comes to what's handed me, and then there are times when the panels indicate my someone actually ready my biography and bibliography with an eye towards the choices.

This upcoming ConDFW has one of the best matched up line-ups for me, if not the best, I've ever seen. Having been a finalist for the Sidewise Award in 2013 gives me a modicum of respectability as an alternate history author.

Of course, anyone who plans to attend the panel needs to buy"The Clock Struck None" as the primary textbook.

Note the First: I will never, however, complain about convention programming because the people who do it are volunteers, and any time anyone gives of their time freely like that is to be thanked, and if there are any inadequacies, they're only human. A number of years ago I left a convention halfway through because my programming was messed up, but it was because of the human factor; it was when the Great Recession was beginning to bite and people were losing their jobs left and right. As it happened, that was the last time that convention was held, it didn't survive the Recession.

Not the Second: One of the best panel line-ups I ever was presented with was from last year's WorldCon. LonCon offered me panels on both Alternate History and Steampunk, but I had to renege on my offer to participate because the newspaper I worked at was sold in June and the bastards refused to honor my two weeks' paid vacation accumulated under the previous owners. I went from 14 days vacation to zero, and LonCon went out the window.

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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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