Monday, May 28, 2012

The radio workshop Saturday afternoon, with Tom Doyle (barely in photo) Siobhan Carroll, Jim Freund, and Alethia Kontis.
From the SFWA Business meeting, Jim Fiscus, Bud Sparhawk, Kate Baker and Mary Kowal.
Michael Swanwick, foreground left, listens to the panel on infectious diseases, from left, Danielle Friedman, David W. Goldman, Anatoly Belilovsky and Sam Scheiner.

Nebula Weekend – second part

When my sister picked me up Friday night, she said that plans had changed, and mom didn’t seem strong enough to travel. My mother is 81, and she would probably have to be feeling her best both mentally and emotionally to make the trip. After I saw her, I agree it was better for her to stay put. Although she is not feeble, she is not very strong either. My sister was nice enough to reimburse me for my mother’s plane ticket.
For Saturday, my sister drove me to the hotel in time for the SFWA business meeting at 11 a.m. While grabbing a snack beforehand I actually met Rachel Swirsky. The meeting itself was tame. John Scalzi said that despite appearances to the contrary he doesn’t intend to run for president next year, and he urged people to step forward in the next election. Which when you look at things is pretty stupid, because the current SFWA junta is a tight-knit bunch and like with any other inbred social organization, they will just swap jobs amongst each other. I’m sure Mary Kowal will be “asked” to be President next year – just like she asked Swirsky to be Vice-President this year - or maybe Swirsky herself will be asked to be President, or someone else from the usual suspects. Scalzi can just keep the job in perpetuity, I don’t think anyone cares any more. After the reception I received to my candidacy, I knew I didn’t want to play their rigged carny game, which is why I dropped my campaign for V-P and concentrated on organizing SASS. That way I have a speculative fiction group where I will feel at home.
The elections administrator, Lawrence Schoen, did announce the results – no surprise in the outcome. Scalzi had no opposition for President, and the rest of the establishment candidates all won, Swirsky for Vice-President Ann Leckie for Secretary, Bud Sparhawk for Treasurer and Jim Fiscus for West Coast rep. I’m not sure it would be fair to call Sparhawk and Fiscus truly establishment types – as older white males they really don’t fit the profile for the Khmer Rouge PC-politics that dominates the SFWA’s opinion leaders – but I suppose they’re tolerated as tokens. Swirsky and Leckie were no brainers in this crowd.
Schoen did not offer any election totals, but did report that 395 ballots were cast (out of 1,314 active members who are eligible to vote, or about 30 percent). Strangely enough, of those ballots, 110 were “spoiled” meaning they were cast improperly. One member of the audience asked what the reason was. Schoen said most of the spoiled ballots were caused because people didn’t follow the directions and seal the ballot ALONE in its envelope, they also sealed the cover sheet in the ballot envelope The ballot was supposed to be sealed separately so as to be anonymous, and accompanied by the cover sheet in the return envelope.
I really don’t know why so many people made this mistake. I can only suppose that contested elections are so uncommon in SFWA that people are not familiar with the process.
Before the meeting I had told both Scalzi and Schoen that I expected to get 30 votes. After the business meeting I buttonholed Schoen and asked for the totals in my race. I am somewhat proud I was close with my estimate, I got 40. Swirsky got 240, and there was a write-in vote for Lee Martindale. No other results have been announced or posted any place, I really don’t think anyone cares.
Schoen said he had tried to call me beforehand with the outcome, but when he told me what his area code was, I realized I had seen the phone number but didn’t answer it because, like so many people, I use the caller ID to screen calls, and there was no name on his caller ID.
The rest of the business meeting involved a report on finances, and the notice that dues will be going up next year. There was also a long discussion on an outfit called Tekno books, and also Night Shade Books. The gist is that Tekno is a company that’s gone on a long downhill slide for the past decade, especially since its key man, Martin Greenberg, died last year, and the lines of financial responsibility have become very confused. Night Shade was on probation with SFWA for a year, is now off probation, but is struggling like so many other small presses. Everyone seems to have nothing but sympathy for Night Shade.
There was no new business or really much discussion at the meeting. I think there were maybe fifty active members there.
After catching a light lunch in the con suite, I attended the panel on infectious diseases at 1 p.m. It was moderated by Anatoly Belilovsky and the panelists included Danielle Friedman, David W. Goldman, Marianne Porter, and Sam Scheiner. Everyone has some kind of background in medicine and/or epidemiology. Anatoly actually prepared a handout with a list of web resources for people who want to keep up on the subject, and the slides were very informative. Prior to the weekend, I had agreed to be interviewed by Jim Freund with Hour of the Wolf, who was doing a radio workshop that afternoon. I forgot to write down the time, but I thought I remembered it correctly as 2:30, and I left the panel on infectious diseases early to go to the workshop. As it happened, I was an hour off, it was supposed to be 3:30, but I stayed and enjoyed what of the workshop I attended. Many years ago, in the early 1980s, when I was the swing shift manager at the Columbia University student center, Ferris Booth Hall, I met Jim because of WBAI’s holiday crafts festival. He was the festival’s security manager. I don’t think I had seen him in person since 1983, but he was still instantly recognizable. We got caught up, and after he was done with the students in his workshop, we had the radio interview. Some of the students in the workshop included Tom Doyle, Alethia Kontis – who was prepping for a book tour – and Siobhan Carroll. There was at least one other person there, but I didn’t catch her name. We were done about 4 p.m., I believe. In my next post, I will cover the actual Nebula awards banquet.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bud and Mary Horton at the book signing Friday.
Dinner Friday evening at a deli across the street from the hotel. That's Lawrence Watt-Evans and Mary Horton on the left, and just part of Bud on the right. Julie Evans is out of the frame on the right.

Nebula Weekend - first post

I haven’t done much writing outside of work for the past few weeks, with the result the blog has been somewhat neglected. There are some good reasons for that.
The publication May 11 of my story “Great White Ship” by Daily Science Fiction was a nice ego boost. I knew I had a busy week ahead of me starting on the 14th, because of all the work I had to do to clear the decks and leave behind some stories I had been working on for the Friday and Sunday paper. Things took a downturn on the 15th when an employee started the day normally but soon received a call from family members that her father had been taken to the hospital. She left by 10:30 a.m. to travel to Illinois, leaving us suddenly short-handed, and her job is a one in graphics and productions, so we don’t have many people who could substitute for her. We were pretty much left short-handed all week (the employee’s father died on Thursday).
In making preparation for my trip, I planned to rent a car one-way and leave from Little Rock Friday morning. I could catch a flight at 5:45 a.m. Friday to Reagan Airport, and it would only cost $123. But when I went on-line to make my reservation, I learned I can’t rent a car one-way from Mount Pleasant. In fact, Enterprise only allows one-way drop-offs at airports.
Thankfully, there was a simple solution. A bus from Dallas to Memphis stopped in Mount Pleasant at 9:15 p.m. Thursday and arrived in Little Rock at 1 a.m.
I was pleased and satisfied I got everything done on time that I wanted to get done by Thursday, and I caught the Greyhound bus – which was right on time – and then when I arrived in Little Rock, took a cab from the bus station to the airport. I had emailed the Yellow Cab company in Little Rock, and they had a cab waiting right there, so things went very smoothly.
I snoozed in the airport lobby from about 1:30 a.m. until 4:30 a.m. when the Delta ticket window opened and I checked my bag. There was a change of flight in Atlanta, and I arrived at Reagan just at 11 a.m.
There was a shuttle bus from Reagan Airport to the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, and when I got to the hotel I was able to check my bags although I wasn’t staying there. There were a lot of bags checked in the lobby.
I later learned that about 40 Nebula attendees who arrived Thursday at the hotel had been bumped to another hotel owned by the same company a number of miles away because an entourage that was already in the hotel decided to extend its stay a day, and a number of rooms that had been reserved by SFWA members weren’t freed up in time. Apparently in Virginia, it is against the law NOT to allow someone to extend their stay at a hotel for a day or two if they are already there.
This led to bags being checked into the lobby for people who hadn’t stayed at the hotel overnight. The people who were bumped Thursday were very unhappy.
The first event I wanted to attend was the panel on writing comedy at 4:30 p.m. Until then I wandered around and acquainted myself with the hotel. I visited the con suite and commended the volunteers for their diligence and the quality of their fare. I saw a few people there I had only previously corresponded with, such as Bud Webster, and Ferret Steinmetz. I also saw Sheila Williams, whom I had last seen at the Nebula Weekend in 2007.
I commended Steinmetz for his blog posting in the wake of the Canine-American scandal when Nisi Shawl and then Jim Hines jumped my ass. Steinmetz was one of the few people who addressed the issue intelligently, and I had posted a reply to his blog in the same vein. I told him that I learned a lot from that episode as well as running for SFWA office. He asked me what I head learned, and I told him, honestly, that SFWA is not an outfit for me and I had spent my time working on a new writers’ group.
The panel on comedy was moderated by James Patrick Kelly and included James Morrow, Connie Willis and John Scalzi. Scalzi introduced himself – I had never met him before. He asked me if I knew the outcome of the SFWA election. I told him I had no doubt I had lost the V-P race, and it was no big deal – it would have screwed up my plans much more at this point if I had won (bearing in mind that since March I have been helping with SASS). He said the elections commissioner, Lawrence Schoen, had trouble getting a hold of me. Truthfully, I hadn’t thought about the election for over two months. I later caught up with Schoen and found out what the problem had been
The panel on comedy was interesting. I actually took notes, which I may write up at a future time.
Earlier in the afternoon, I had scouted the location for the mass book signing, and knew right off the bat it was a going to be a disaster. The room was dark and cavernous, not even conducive to socializing. The tables were all spread out, many hidden behind columns.
As I suspected, once the signing started at 5:30 p.m., there weren’t that many people, and they were all much more interested in socializing with big-name authors – I really don’t think all that many books were sold, even by them – and I knew I was going to sit there lonely for two hours. I didn’t want to drive the other guy at the table – a nice fellow, I forgot his name – crazy by talking for two hours, so I pulled the book I had started to read on the airplane out and finished it. It was “The Winter Queen” by Boris Akunin. It is a 19th Century murder mystery, very well written. It was translated from the Russian.
Bud Webster and a friend of his were at a table across from us, but like I said, the tables were widely spread out, and we really couldn’t chat.
One of the things that cut down on my socializing during the book signing, as well as during the weekend in general, was that I was so far away from my home turf. A lot of people from the general area were there and they already knew each other. The only other person I knew from Texas who was at the weekend was Jake Kerr from Dallas, who was a Nebula nominee.
I did get to meet Bud’s significant other, Mary Horton, as well as Lawrence Watt-Evans – who I had met at a Dallas convention once – and his wife, Julie Evans.
Overall, the book signing was a waste of time for me. James Patrick Kelly took photos at the convention and his snapped a shot that shows me obviously disgusted and unhappy.
Things improved immediately afterwards, as Bud and Mary and Lawrence and Julie and I all went across the street to grab a bite at a deli. The conviviality and food lifted my spirits somewhat, and afterwards we went back to the hotel and split so we could get ready for the Nebula honoree and nominee reception, which started at 9 p.m.
There were a few people I saw there I already knew. When Gardner came in I got down on one knee and kissed his ring. I congratulated Connie Willis, and chatted with a few people again, but overall I know so few people that I got much more enjoyment by pulling out my camera and taking a bunch of photos. For some reason some of my photos turned out real well. I’ve already posted a number of them.
My sister was driving in from Great Falls to pick me up at 10 p.m. so I caught the start of the presentation ceremony and then left. I was tired from the long trip that started in Mount Pleasant Thursday night, so I knew I couldn’t last much longer.
That’s all I’ll write up tonight.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Nebula Weekend photo gallery

I took my little camera with me to the Nebula Weekend, and here is a collection of some of the best, and most interesting, shots I took. I will write up my thoughts and observations later, but for now, I thought some people might enjoy the selection of photos.

I'll start with my favorite photo: At the reception for the Nebula nominees and honorees Friday night, when John Scalzi - at the podium and out of sight - called on former astronaut E. Michael Fincke to come forward from the audience, Fincke saluted. What is interesting is that Alethia Kontis - in a totally different outfit - also seems to be saluting, although I really think she was fanning herself. God only knows what was running through Kate Baker's mind at all this.
Startled by the snooping photog, James Patrick Kelley - and his shirt - make the best of it at the entrance of the Nebula nominee reception Friday evening.
Alethia Kontis sits at the feet of the Master of the Airwaves, Jim Freund, during the Radio Workshop Saturday afternoon.
John Scalzi strikes a Messiah-like pose with devotees at the mass book signing Friday.
Stanley Schmidt and Jack McDevitt enjoy a laugh together at the Friday book signing.
Ferritt Steinmetz looked dapper at the mass signing Friday.
The Three Graces: Cordelia Willis, Connie Willis, and Cynthia Felice at the Nebula nominee reception Friday night.
John Kessel is his usual tall, dark and gruesome self during the Nebula nominee reception Friday night.
James Patrick Kelley reacts to something Gardner Dozois said during the Nebula honoree reception Friday night.
Gardner Dozois (front, left) - wife Susan Casper is behind him - with Peggy Rae Sapienza (standing) and Cordelia Willis, Connie Willis, and Cynthia Felice (up against the wall) at the Nebula honoree reception Friday night.
John Scalzi shows Kate Baker something on his whatever in his hand. This was at the Nebula nominee reception.
Lawrence Watt-Evans and Sheila Williams at the Nebula nominee reception.
Stan Schmidt and Stephen Gillett chat while waiting for the Nebula nominee ceremony to begin.
John Scalzi hams it up at the Nebula nominee reception Friday night; that's Brenda Clough at the left.
At the Nebula nominee reception Friday night, John Scalzi goes to show his love for Astronaut Michael Fincke.
At the SFWA Business Meeting Saturday morning; from left, Jim Fiscus, Bud Sparhawk, Kate Baker and Mary Robinette Kowal
James Patrick Kelley, Eileen Gunn and Michael Swanwick visiting in the hotel lobby Saturday afternoon.
Sheila Williams and Gardner Dozois were handicapping the Nebula ballot in the hotel lobby Saturday afternoon. Looking on were, from left, Marianne Porter, Michael Swanwick and James Bratz.
James Patrick Kelley, Scott Edelman and John Kessel (all facing the camera) during the reception in the lobby before the start of the Nebula Awards banquet Saturday night. That's Rosie Smith to the left and Karen Wester Newton with her back to the camera.

Jake Kerr of Dallas (the only other Texan I know who was there) smiles. He was joined at the reception before the Nebula Awards banquet by nominee Dave Goldman (on the left), and Jake's stepdad Mike Selembo. Nominee Tom Crosshill has his back to the camera. 
Alethia Kontis, who was the presenter for the Andre Norton Award, in the lobby during the reception before the Nebula Awards ceremony (right). I don't know who her friend is.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

More on The GreatWhite Ship

Since I posted other comments, I will post this last comment made on the Facebook page: 

"Shedrick Pittman-Hassett Nice story...I got a very vivid picture of this monstrous ship emerging from the lightning-filled storm clouds. And the colloquialisms ground the story in its setting with authenticity. Really enjoyed it."

For a story that people really enjoyed and that has received a lot of positive comments, this was a hard one to sell. DSF was the 16th market I sent the story to, which I guess shows that entertaining, sweet and inspiring stories aren't mainstream in S-F any more.

 Spent some time today filling out the guest questionnaire for ArmadilloCon, also sent a mug shot to SoonerCon. I also went through a round of resubs. I have a dozen stories nestled in various slush piles now.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Well, the comments about "Great White Ship" on the Daily Science Fiction Facebook page have been pretty positive.
Some people seem to think writing using dialect or regional authenticity is illiterate. I ran into the same kind of comments about "A Rocket for the Republic".
  1. Lou Antonelli: "Great White Ship" - Email featured science ficiton story for 5/11/2012.
     ·  · 
    • William Ledbetter and 4 others like this.
      • Steven Doyle Does DSF employ an editor? The frustrating thing is, this could have been a really good story, given a little help. (An airport bar doesn't have the charm of Gavagan's Bar or The White Hart, but the location was relevant to the story.)
      • Gregg Chamberlain seven... this story has that sense of wonder i always look for in most of my short sf.
      • Walter Giersbach This is a fine alternate-history tale in large part because it relies on character as much as expository story writing. Good job, and just five days after the 75th anniversary of the Hindenburg's last flight. (Yep, I live next door to Lakehurst-Dix-McGuire and can see the hangars from my house.)
      • Anna Berg Loved the story, but 100% agree with Steven that it needed another pass. There were too many colloquialisms (I went to wave) and the ending seemed off. Still glad to have read it though! :)
      • Lauren Liebowitz Maybe this is because I live in Texas, but I didn't notice any weird or jarring colloquialisms - the whole thing was in someone's voice, so it sounded appropriate to me.

        I thought it was charming!
      • Gregg Chamberlain i also feel that any colloquial text was appropriate for the setting. actually, i kept picturing the actor who played the father in Ugly Betty and the guy who played the silent native American in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest as the old soon-to-retire latino airman and Billy Mack the tower control operator who were both present when the lost airship showed up out of the storm during their watch.
      • William Ledbetter Read it this morning, Lou. Great story. Very entertaining!
      • Joy Fleisig Nice take on the Hindenburg and alternative history. My father, who was almost 12 at the time, "took credit" for blowing the Hindenburg up, it passed over his house and he thought "die, you Nazi bastards!"

        I'll see about turning this into a story one of these days.
        Yesterday at 11:50am via mobile · 
      • Howie Erickson Great story - one tech question though. Would the airship dump ballast on landing? Wouldn’t that make the airship ship rise? I probably don’t understand enough about airships but one of the worries I have is getting the technology wrong in one of my stories. Lou, if you have time I would like your comments on this.
      • Lou Antonelli From what I read, once you landed you dumped the water ballast to make the airship easier to maneuver - make it lighter, in case the ground crew had to wheel it around or pivot it around the mast. You reloaded the ballast tanks with water when you were ready to leave again. Then again, I might have misinterpreted what I read. Then again and again, we we say in the newspaper business, "never let the facts get in the way of a good story."
        Yesterday at 1:06pm ·  ·  1
      • Alexander Floyd Jordan Loved it. Aircraft, secrets, parallel histories, and storms create an amazing illusion.
        I actually agree with Mr. Doyle for once (its a mad world, after all). 6, almost 7, shouldve been an 8. A little more would have sent this story someplace beyond exceptional. The author did what he set out to accomplish, so in my book, he can add one more notch on his stick from me. Thank you for sharing

Whatever happened to that old Sunbelt?

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