ArmadilloCon — Saturday and Sunday

To those who borrow this book: If you don’t return it to Patrice, your hard drive will crash, losing the last two hours work on your project, which were the best thing you’d ever done. Also, your e-reader will fall off the counter into the toilet. And your cat will throw up in your favorite shoes. So just save yourself the trouble and RETURN THE BOOK. Sincerely, The Author

The aforementioned book curse was by Emma Bull, who so inscribed my new edition of War for the Oaks. I had loaned a previous copy to a friend, who moved out of state with it.

This was a high point of a con with with many high points. I know that crests imply troughs, but seriously, there were very few of those. Everywhere I went I heard people praising the programming and the panels. Truly one of the best literary science fiction conventions in the US, not just in Texas.

It does an author good to have people at his or her reading, and mine was nicely attended. I read the first two chapters of Miss Bennet, and then a bit from the middle section of Lady of Temia, and people laughed at the funny bits. I decided not to do the book signing, because while I love sitting and chatting with my author friends, I also wanted to see some more panels, so I went to the one on Imagining the World without Fossil Fuel. Matthew Bey rode up on his bike and it was a great visual. Thought-provoking panel with great back and forth among audience and many salient points. Also, I got to hear Martha Wells read from the second book in the Cloud Roads series (Books of the Raksura I believe is the official series title). Have I mentioned that if you love fantasy you need to read her books? You need to read her books.

The guest of honor interview with Paolo Bacigalupi went very well. I like an interview subject who loves to talk, and entertainingly and intelligently so. Paolo gives great interview. It was fun and absorbing and a lot of people said they enjoyed it. If I had thought ahead I might have seen about recording it, but oh well. If you get a chance to see Paolo at a convention or elsewhere, take it. He is thoughtful and engaging. I really enjoyed his follow up to Ship Breaker, called The Drowned Cities, which he read from on Sunday and I’m looking forward to that book when it comes out next May.

Likewise the panel of Strong Female Protagonists, which had insightful commentary from all the panelists, but especially Amanda Downum, who had thoughtful things to say about the fallacy of Writing the Other  — women and men are not necessarily the Other. And thinking of women as being somehow Other (or men, for that matter) is, well, demeaning.

The agent panel with Kimberly Frost was interesting and absorbing. Aspiring writers may think they desperately need an agent, or they may be troubled by the idea of having to think about the business side of writing. However, being informed and armed with proper information better enables a writer to navigate their career and achieve their goals. Be informed, people.

The WisCon panel, which discussed the disinvitation of Elizabeth Moon as Guest of Honor, was ably moderated by Emma Bull, but I am conflicted about some of the conclusions drawn by the panel, and even exactly why it had to be discussed. I’ve made my feelings clear here, and certainly don’t think shutting down discourse ever serves any purpose, but…I will process my inchoate impressions into cogent thought and discuss further in a single blog post.

A wonderful little surprise was a short film by Jessica Gardner based on William Browning Spencer’s short story, “A Child’s Christmas in Florida.” The film transferred the story to Texas, and it was lovely and heartwarming, and truly deeply weird. If you get a chance to see it at a film festival or other source, do. Extraordinary.

On Sunday, I was treated to Jessica Reisman‘s reading from her new novel, then put myself on the Guns in SF/F panel on account of researching and learning how to shoot for the gunrunning subplot of Gordath Wood, and then, even though I was scheduled to moderate the Learning to Write panel, I made everyone from that panel go to Emma Bull’s reading instead, on the grounds that we can TELL you all about books and writing classes, but the best way to learn to write is to learn from the masters. Emma Bull read from Claim, her sequel to Territory, and then talked about researching Territory and the shootout at OK Corral and the politics of the old West, and how they resonate in our psyche. Good stuff.

Excellent meals, marvelous parties, a wonderful mai-tai at Mark Finn’s party that I had to leave unfinished or I would be unfit to drive home. Good friends, good conversation, books, and more. I love my ArmadilloCon!

AggieCon

One of the refreshing things about AggieCon is all the young people out and about enjoying books, media, gaming, etc. Granted, as Matthew Bey pointed out they aren’t actually into the books, but they are definitely into story. Now if only I can capture that…oh yeah, that’s my job.

Lots of costumes, lots of steampunk. Small panels, and they weren’t well attended, but that just gave me more opportunity to do things I normally wouldn’t, like check in on the SCA vs. Amtgard demo, or practice watercolors with one of the artists in the art show.

Punks, steam. Lots.

It was swell meeting John Joseph Adams, his fiancee Christy Yant,  and Catherynne Valente and hanging out with the Stauber clan.

Nerds are awesome.

Among the panels I did were Nerd Girls, which devolved into “Nerd Girls, past and present” (you kids have things a lot easier nowadays, because at least you can be smart in math without going all Ophelia on us). Earth building, in which the various approaches were espoused by the panelists. Upshot: Too much gets in the way of the story, too little and you may be missing telling details. Or not. Depends on the style.

The Firefly panel was absorbing and fun, although it took a dangerous tangent in the Civil War, states’ rights, and slavery, but we steered the craft away from those dangerous shoals. Look, it’s not like we’re afraid of controversial topics, but it was 10 am on Sunday. We might not have gotten out of there.

The Firefly panel. Matthew Bey at far left, Catherynne Valente in the center. I didn't get the other panelists' names.

That pretty much recaps the con.  I need to get back to work on GWIII, which I need to start calling by its working title, which is Lady of Temia. Today, that is. It might be Lady of Crows tomorrow.

 

 

So you think you know tacos?

Totally unrelated (probably) to the New York Times’ recent discovery of the source of Austin’s mojo, that is, breakfast tacos, Austin’s own Matthew Bey is hosting a taco contest.

I’ll let him explain. I can’t play, seeing how I know Matthew and all, and that would be a conflict of interest (also, I never win these things), but you can! And should!

THE FABULOUS TACO QUIZ