Monthly Archives: October 2011

World Fantasy implementation

The maze of the Town & Country Resort became rather charming after two or three days; lots of byways to explore, lots of private places to hang out; lots of gathering places to check out.

On Friday morning I attended the Locus Foundation Board Meeting, which discussed many urgent and/or timely topics, though none of which concerned me or the website directly, at least not right away.

The spread of the resort had its downside; the feeling of a certain lack of focus, some attendees complaining how hard it was to track down folk who they knew were there (just like a Worldcon!)

I attended quite a few panels: on evil characters; on The Odyssey; on the sea — the con’s theme was “Sailing the Seas of Imagination” — this panel’s premise being, is the sea to fantasy as space is to SF? With many fascinating pro and con perspectives from David Brin, Michael Cassutt, David D. Levine, Rachel Swirsky, and Courtney Schafer. The most attended was probably the Connie and Neil show, with Connie Willis and Neil Gaiman chatting before an audience of 500 and asking each other the questions that usually they do not tolerate being asked from fans — beginning with, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’.

Saturday: A Founders of Steampunk panel, with KW Jeter, Jim Blaylock, and Tim Powers, revealing their secrets, such as a comprehensive nonfiction guide to London by one Henry Mayhew that provided them all with grist for stories and novels, and the fact that, indirectly, Roger Elwood’s request for 10 novels about King Arthur throughout the ages triggered some of the earliest steampunk novels — of which, Jeter’s INFERNAL DEVICES and Blaylock’s HOMUNCULUS are still considered the two core texts.

Also: the requisite “Year in Fantasy” panel, with Jonathan Strahan, Ellen Datlow, Paula Guran, David G. Hartwell, and Jo Fletcher. THE HEROES; AMONG OTHERS; AKITA WITCH; THE SILENT LAND; [they were mixing late 2010 with early 2011 titles]; Tananarive Due, LIsa Goldstein, LOW TOWN; Steven Erikson; of course SNUFF and A DANCE WITH DRAGONS; collections by Beagle and Ryman and Powers and Kiernan and Lanagan and McHugh and Dozois; and they kept reading titles until the hour ended and the next panel’s participants pushed them out.

At the art show I bid — something I rarely do — on three works by a graphic artist named Carolyn Nicita and won two of them — the best piece having been outbid me by a member of the art show committee who’d been there to top mine as the bidding closed Saturday evening, while I was away at dinner…

The awards banquet today featured mediocre food but a relatively sparkling awards event, even though only one of the winners, and one of the lifetime achievement winners, was in attendance. Connie Willis was toastmaster, and spoke on the theme of asking con official David G. Hartwell what she should speak about and for how long — exploring various suggestions, continually returning to her fascination with the UK TV series Primeval and avoiding award show fails (like the very recent National Book Awards clusterfuck — her term), high seas Titanic anecdotes, and guest of honor revelations.. It went on far longer than her stated time-limit of 5-7 minutes, but of course no one minded; it was hilarious. I sat at a table with Scott Edelman, who recorded the whole thing and should be providing a link to a YouTube video shortly.

The weather was spectacular, sunny and in the low 80s F, with several comments about the poor folks back east or in Denver who were suffering snow.

The drive home was slower than the drive down on Thursday…

World Fantasy arrival

I sat home this morning, finishing a periodicals post, and watching the online traffic maps, until the route seemed clear for an unencumbered drive, which as I expected didn’t appear until somewhat after noon; the difficulty is driving through the vast expanse of LA city, on I405 or I5, which experience rush hour traffic slowdowns much of the morning and then again in the afternoon beginning by 4pm or so. The best case from my area in northwest LA, through the city to San Diego, is two hours; today it took about two hours 15 minutes, what with traffic slowdowns over the Sepulveda pass and then again entering SD on the 805..

The Town and Country resort, site of this year’s convention, is a maze of hotel structures, cabanas, pools, parking structures, and alleyways, which requires the handy map they give you at check-in to navigate. I parked my car and checked in, wandered over to registration, found the dealers room, and oriented myself just in time to attend the opening ceremonies, conducted by Toastmaster [not mistress] Connie Willis, who introduced the several guests of honor — Parke Godwin, Sheila McCarthy, artist Ruth Sanderson, and last but not least, that promising upcoming young writer by the name of, what was it, oh, Neil Gaiman…. who all stood up for brief, or very brief, words of acknowledgement….

After which was a presentation, which I ducked into and out of over the course of an hour plus, by the San Diego Zoo, that prominent local attraction, with two or three zoo officials not just promoting their site, but displaying *live animals* for the edification of the audience — including an armadillo, an owl, an anteater, and a porcupine, of those I saw…

Later I hooked up with the Locus worker-bees and contributors — Kirsten and her daughter Teddy, Beth Gwinn, Fran, and Karen Burnham + Curtis + 2-month-old-baby-boy Gavin — for dinner in one of the onsite restaurants. Then back to my room to check email and plan tomorrow’s post — Lois Tilton’s latest column, which you’ll see tomorrow morning.

Today’s travel music: Peter Gabriel’s New Blood CD, with impressive, substantially different versions (orchestral) of many of his best songs from “Rhythm of the Heat” to “Mercy Street”; REM’s latest album, which continues to grow on me; and the new Coldplay, which hasn’t, yet.

World Fantasy prelude

I’ll be driving down to San Diego tomorrow afternoon to attend World Fantasy Con, a somewhat foreshortened trip, arriving late, leaving early (Sunday after the banquet), compared to last year’s trip to Columbus OH, mostly due to dayjob work priorities. (And I’m taking my work laptop with me to check in and keep up.) I’ll be attending a Locus Foundation meeting Friday morning, but otherwise … my schedule is completely open.

Beth Gwinn stopped by last week and has stayed with us on and off, with a weekend interlude to Sacramento to visit relatives; she left today for San Diego.

I have a telescope on my balcony and we’ve been watching Jupiter’s moons for a couple weeks now. Their positions change noticeably after only an hour or two. Tonight: three on the right, spread out; one on the left, close.

A couple plugs: liked The Ides of March. Also liked, guardedly, Drive, which I would have liked better had there been fewer abrupt, violent scenes, along the lines of such scenes in the Godfather movies. Like the soundtrack though – by Cliff Martinez, who also just did Contagion.

Also, in the art-house department: a de facto gay film called Weekend, which effectively shows how quickly, vibrantly, yet sadly, a chance hookup can lead to a weekend romance that leads to an inevitable breakup due to circumstances. I always read closing credits, and from this film discovered a singer named John Grant — not the SF writer — whose album Queen of Denmark is quite nice, with a curious song about Sigourney Weaver and a lovely earworm song called “Where Dreams Go To Die”.

Somehow I seem to be seeing more movies lately than reading books. This was never my intention. I did recently finish a nonfiction by Jesse Bering and am part way through the new Richard Dawkins; will report on them soon.

R.E.M. Lines

I’ve written, indulgently, about R.E.M. before, so instead of doing that again I’ll just list some of my favorite songs and lyrics… not quite in chronological order; with my favorites being toward the end.

Fall on Me
    a way to talk around the problem

    twenty thousand miles to an oasis

Orange Crush
    we are agents of the free

I Remember California
    at the edge of the continent

E-Bow the Letter
    aluminum, tastes like fear

Losing My Religion
    that was just a dream

Sweetness Follows
    it’s these little things, they can pull you under

Eleventh Track
    hold him, and keep him strong

Leaving New York
    it’s easier to leave than to be left behind

Saturn Return
    you climb into your rocketship

    don’t talk to me about being alone

Walk Unafraid
    i’ll be clumsy instead

Bang and Blame
    you let go on me

    does she know i sing?

The Lifting
    once you had a dream of oceans and sunken cities

    to leave it, believe it, leave it all behind

Find the River
    all of this is coming your way

October Country: has re-instated its California affiliates, as of a week ago. Thank you very much. Purchases through links to from Locus Online again credit me with a small commission. I use these accumulated credits mostly to buy books to list and profile on the site — since, unlike Locus Magazine, I do not get freebie books for the asking from publishers (since all I can offer are listings, not potential reviews). Alas, the three months since June during which Amazon decommissioned California affiliates are unrecoverable.

Other October topics will follow.