Friday, August 28, 2015

Sasquan in the rear view window

The way the convention ended reminded me of the joke from the spring of 1865:

“Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”

Except for the finale Saturday night with the Hugo awards, the convention turned out pleasant enough for me, based on diminished expectations. All real happiness disappeared months ago when the elites started their campaign against the Sad Puppies. Listening week after week for months to people denouncing you as an impostor and a fraud will run your spirits down a little – especially when one of the ringleaders is the master of ceremonies of the main event. Of course, they claim they never attacked anyone personally and spoke in generalities about “quality”, but the coded message was clear. It’s like a demagogue railing against some racial or ethnic group, but denying any individual implications. It really got to be depressing after a while.

I am grateful to the convention committee for allowing me to attend after the issue with David Gerrold came up, especially since some especially neurotic people felt I was an intrinsic danger. The incident where the editor who revoked my story acceptance and accused me of doxing her, when I did no such thing (she may have been doxed, but I didn’t do it and certainly didn’t plan it) was part of the general pile-on that depicted me as some kind of sub-human ogre. Needless to say, I was determined to be on my best behavior, and in fact I seriously considered asking the convention to have someone “tail” me, not only for my protection, but to prevent anyone from making false accusations against me to get me bounced.

The con committee would have refunded my registration, but there was considerable money already tied up in plane tickets and accommodations that would have been lost – and which I could not afford to lose. As a backup, I contacted another fan privately to ask if I could be put up until Monday if I was ejected for some trumped up reason. I could not afford any accommodations otherwise. The fact I knew I would not be made homeless made me feel a little better.

One reason I felt secure at the convention was because of my roommate and Self Proclaimed No. 1 Fan, John Husisian. Needless to say, we hung out a lot. There is no way I could ever adequately thank him for his help and support!

The trip itself was difficult. Unfortunately, the night before I left Dallas I had to attend a late night governmental meeting as part of my job as a newspaper editor that lasted until 9 p.m. I had to get up at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning to get to Dallas to catch my flight, which was delayed and bumpy of stormy weather. I barely made my connection in Denver. I was feeling pretty bad by the time I got to Spokane.

I recovered somewhat overnight and attended the first session of the World Science Fiction Society Business Meeting Thursday. My main concern was to help the Hugo nomination reform proposals – 4/6, and E Pluribus Hugo – move forward. They were approved to be acted on later, and I was satisfied they would ultimately pass – which they did. As someone who was got entangled over the exploitation of the existing rules for Hugo nominations this year, I feel some reform is certainly needed.

My reading later on Thursday went very well – a half dozen people heard me read “Great White Ship” and they all enjoyed it. In light of how I had been ostracized and vilified by the Puppy Kickers, I would not have been surprised if no one showed up.

Friday my signing in the dealers room was pleasant – not many people, the greatest number to get me to sign copies of the “Ray Gun Chronicles” anthology. I sat next to Rick Wilber – who beat me out for the Sidewise Award in 2013 – and had a nice chat.

My kaffeeklatsch later the same day had a small group, three people, but we had a great time. I then spent three hours in a writers circle helping critique stories with Eric James Stone and Fonda Lee. All three aspiring writers submitted good stories that were a pleasure to read.

About the pre- and post-Hugo reception, and the ceremony itself, the less said here the better. I’ve held forth on that fiasco on Facebook.

People who I met at Sasquan I had never met in person included James Van Pelt, at the Fairwood Press table; Mike Resnick - who commended me for still being alive and intact in the wake of the Puppy Kicker mob; Karen Junker; Starshadow ; Ken Burnside, who shared a lunch my myself and Karen Junker; Eric James Stone, Wendy Delmater Thies, Kary English; Mike Glyer and Bradley Cozzens.

Old chums and acquaintance I met again included Alex Shvartsman; William Ledbetter; Brad Foster; Rachael Acks; David Marusek; Rick Wilber; John and L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright; Eric Flint; Kevin J. Anderson Rebecca Moesta; Tully D. Roberts, and Toni Weisskopf.

Of course, my Number One Fan John Alexander Husisian was my guest at the Hugo ceremony and reception afterwards - the "real" one, not George "Rolls Royce" Martin's private soiree.

There were a number of people who I'd met before who I avoided, either because I didn't know if they would snub me because I had been publicly identified as a Sad Puppy, or I didn't want them to get in trouble because they were seen talking to me.

Special mention goes to Gerald Blackwell, who I met at Ravencon in Richmond, Virginia, in April. He drove all the way from the East Coast!!!

Overall, I’m glad I went, but it wasn’t nearly as much fun as it could have been. The ways things ended – with the No Award revenge slate triumphing over the nominations in five categories – was certainly a case of overplaying one’s hand.

To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, “We hold these goofs to be self-evident.”

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"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.

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“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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