wood cat


incidents and accidents, hints and allegations

fandom, cat-vacuuming
Kate kate_nepveu
Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Boskone 43 partial report

This post has no detailed panel reports, because I am in the process of writing them up for submission to The Internet Review of Science Fiction—if they want it, great, $70 for something I'd do anyway (that's 3.5 Fullmetal Alchemist DVDs!); if not, I'll just post it here later. I only went to panels on Sunday anyway, so you're not missing much. However, the writeup is taking forever [*], and it can't possibly appear in IROSF for a while, so I might as well stop on that for the night and do all the chatty personal stuff that IROSF won't want.

[*] Taking notes on a Palm + keyboard saves a little time in turning the notes into a report, in that I don't have to wonder what that scribble meant. However, turning notes into sentences still takes just as long, plus I was able to take more notes than usual because I type faster than I write.

This was a con with a big hole in the middle for me: I had lunch with non-congoing friends in a suburb on Saturday, which basically killed the entire day. Here's the short version of the con: Friday: Tor party setup and attendance with physical stupidities; Saturday: dinner and hanging out with logistical stupidities; Sunday: actual panels.


We arrived at the Sheraton on Friday afternoon, parked underneath (because I needed to drive to Burlington on Saturday), and found that the car's trunk, which had faithfully carried Chad's suitcase all the way from New York, now refused to close again. Poked at it for a while, said "screw this," went inside to check in and call AAA. After getting in, we changed our minds, went back downstairs, and just tied it shut—we didn't really need the space, and finding someone to come and fix it would likely have been aggravation we didn't need.

Public service announcement: sign up for hotels' (free) membership programs. For staying at the Sheraton for the last couple of Boskones and Noreascon, we got upgraded this year to the "Club" level on the top floor, with free breakfast, munchies at dinner time, and access to a couple of Internet terminals. Good stuff.

I then met pnh, tnh, and 2muchexposition to help unload stuff for the Tor party. This was the occasion of physical stupidity #1: the bellhop noted that someone should hold onto the boxes of beer when the van's back door was opened. I climbed in, grabbed two of the boxes . . . and failed to notice a third which was much more precariously balanced, which promptly fell out and hit Teresa on the shins. Both shins. She graciously refuses to blame me, but, well, I do.

Spent a while helping with setup, met gtrout which was a pleasure, all that kind of stuff. Chad and I grabbed dinner at the food court, where I got my traditional fix of Pizzeria Regina pizza (best mall pizza there is).

Carrying out another tradition, I went to the discussion of J.D. Robb, where Janice Gelb did an admirable job of moderating a group that tends to the loud and passionate. If anyone there noticed that I never actually said why I hated Origin in Death, sorry—I didn't want to seem like I was trying to hijack the discussion. My booklog entry from last fall has the details.

Then back to helping with the Tor party, then a short doze, then to the party proper, where I had some of Teresa's wicked concoction consisting of many different types of citrus, cane sugar, and some kind of high-proof alcohol, possibly Everclear (label on the pitcher: "This is not fruit juice. Small cups."). Very good, very evil; after a few sips I realized that holding this in my hand while being thirsty was actively dangerous, so diluted it about 4:1 with lemon soda as suggested by a helpful person whose name I forget.

Having diluted the booze way, way down, I alas cannot blame it for physical stupidity #2. veejane had these pants, you see, which sounded like they might fit me around the waist (since I've worn anything from a 2 to a 10 in women's suits). She brought them to the party, and I decided it was too much trouble to go all the way up to the 29th floor to try them on. The bathrooms were crowded with people getting drinks, but there was a very large closet in the suite, maybe 5' square (those of you who've been to other parties in the big end-of-hallway suite on the 9th floor know the one, in the right-hand corner of the bedroom to the right). I turned on the light, hopped in, shucked my jeans and pulled on the pants, zipped up and came out. The bathrooms were still full, and so I couldn't get to a mirror, but they seemed to fit well around the middle (they were about 6" too long, but I expected that). So I got to where veejane and various other people were standing, did the little model turn, and went to stick my hands in the pockets as one does . . .

 . . . and blurted out, "They're backwards!"

Dear readers, I ask you: have you ever had pants that zip up the back? Pants zip up the front, or up the side. Skirts may zip up anywhere, but why oh why would you zip pants up the back?

Anyway, I don't blame the booze for that; I blame being in a hurry to get out of the closet where party supplies were stashed. I suppose I can blame the booze for not keeping my mouth shut when I realized what I'd done, but I'm afraid I tend to be excitable at con parties, with or without alcohol.

My only consolation was that doing such a dumb thing early in the party seemed to have used up my quota of stupidity for the night. This was a good thing, since later on there was an exodus as people left for the T, and as a result I found myself in a proto-conversation circle with John M. Ford (and Ken MacLeod, and at various points elisem, PNH, Erik Olson, and some other people whose names escape me, if I ever knew them).

I should explain that Mr. Ford is the only author (so far as I know) who turns me into a stammering incoherent embarassed mass of fangirlishness, such that I cannot even comprehend of starting a conversation. I've e-mailed authors and commented on their LJs, I've had dinner next to Lois McMaster Bujold and made conversation, I am generally good with dealing with authors as people . . . except in this one case. Since this was a more casual environment where we slid into an ongoing conversation, I think I managed to keep my OMG!!!! reaction from generating any really idiotic comments. I think.

(Just before this, I also waved hello to truepenny and matociquala, which I note because I didn't see them for the rest of the con, unfortunately.)

Oh, oracne and others: Sarah Smith, the author of The Vanished Child, was there and I told her that thanks to numerous people's pimping, I'd bought the book and planned to read it. She was very gracious, especially since, first, I hadn't read it yet, and second, I started the conversation by awkwardly establishing that she was that Sarah Smith.

Anyway, great party as usual, thanks to all the Tor people for holding it. We turned in around 1:00 and slept very soundly indeed.


First thing Saturday morning, I went to Chad's panel on "How Much Science Should SF Contain?" I very diligently took copious notes on the whole thing (though I admit I skimped on some of George Scithers' many and lengthy remarks), and then lost them all to logisticial stupidity #1, when I didn't sufficiently understand the program I was using (and because it failed to warn me what I was doing). Grr. Arrgh.

yhlee was there and also taking notes, so perhaps her IROSF report will have something, or not, as she sees fit. All I remember in the frustrated aftermath is that I moved partway through because someone behind me had taken off their shoes and propped up their stinky besocked foot on the seat next to me. (And that Yoon loaned me a great big bag of anime, hooray, but that's not really about the panel.)

Then I went to lunch with friends, missing the "Is Science Fiction Necessary?" panel which reportedly went very well, with smart and interesting things being said by Tobias Buckell, Rosemary Kirstein, and Karl Schroeder, much to Chad's relief.

Lunch was great, and on the drive I got to the bit in Desolation Island that had Patrick biting his tongue when I told him where I'd left off. However, I came back to the hotel with a whanging headache and took a nap. I felt guilty about not doing more con-related stuff, but realistically I wasn't going to enjoy being out and about.

Then I browsed the dealers' room and the art show. I was amused to note that Sarah Clemens and Alan F. Beck were both doing dragon-and-cat images, but in quite different styles. I also admired the paintings of Dan Dos Santos, who I'd met at Tor party setup and who does spiffy stuff, and Donato Giancola, the Official Artist.

After that was logistical stupidity #2, because I had failed to confirm with both halves of mist_and_snow and with yhlee that we would meet at the restaurant, and also had failed to give them my cell phone number. We ended up giving our reservation to the Nielsen Haydens and their party, so they could be seated while we found the rest of our group. In the end, however, it all worked out, and we had a delicious and companionable meal. (Mmm, mahi mahi encrusted with panko and cashews, topped with a butter-bourbon sauce. So good. Next time I'm getting those awesome crab cakes, though.)

Then we stopped by the Saturday night party, where Chad and Yoon both threw (stuffed) aliens into a (fake) volcano and won free books thereby, and where I boggled at the big cardbord Gollum wearing a tropical flower behind his ear and at Esther Friesner's Cheeblemancy. In a good way, I hasten to add.

We stopped by the Montreal 2009 Worldcon bid party to give them money, and I had a pleasant conversation with René Walling and Ellen Kushner about my last name and its weird silent "p." Then we wandered down to the bar, where we found a whole bunch of people, enough that this is where I shamelessly steal Scalzi's list: John Scalzi, Shara Zoll, Cory Doctorow, Charlie Stross, James Patrick Kelly, Liz Gorinsky, Allen Steele, Tobias Buckell, Karl Schroeder, James Cambias, and Lenny Bailes (though I don't think I saw Kelly or Steele long enough for them to register on my eyeballs, and I don't know if I know who Cambias is). Charlie greeted us by telling us about a new literary movement, "Strict SF," because Mundane SF isn't restrictive enough; as I recall, everything would be written in the second-person imperative, and it would all be set in the present with no sf elements because mainstream is a subset of sf, after all. I believe I am to be a reviewer of the emerging movement. (When Cory Doctorow showed up later, he said that nevermind Strict SF, all his future stories would be peer-reviewed and reproducible!)

There was much other conversation of varying degrees of seriousness: Scalzi and Buckell's forthcoming literary feud, last words (I got "Don't tell them that I meant well" stuck in my head and had to go Google it to figure out where it was from), serial killers, what Karl Schroeder wrote for the Canadian military, the badness of the service in the Sheraton bar, and other things that I will doubtless recall as soon as I hit "post." Wonderfully fannish good fun.

On Sunday, I started the day by a quick pass through the dealers' rooom and then headed for the consuite to drink some water and wake up some more. Of course I sat down at a table with John M. Ford hidden behind a vase of flowers. I built a tower of dominoes and listened to other people talk, being completely too short on sleep to even cope. After that, actual panels, which as noted are to be reported elsewhere or later: John M. Ford's reading from The Fellowship of the Woosters; a panel on audiobooks; "SF as Literature?"; and "Weird Quantum Phenomena." Then we waved vaguely at people in the hotel lobby and stumbled out.


  • The Kestrel, Lloyd Alexander, used. I failed to realize that this was #2 in a trilogy, despite it being clearly printed on the bottom of the cover; I guess that was logistical stupidity #3. However, the library has Westmark, which I shall borrow anon.
  • Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis, used. Slowly filling in holes in the series.
  • The Destroyer Goddess, Laura Resnick, free. Chad didn't see anything he wanted for a prize after throwing an alien into the volcano, so I snagged this. I have the first one in the series and will read it eventually.
  • How to Keep Dinosaurs, Robert Mash, new. This is actually Chad's purchase, but it's so damn cute I have to mention it: a perfectly deadpan guide to owning dinosaurs as pets or livestock, in the style of a dog-breed guide. It has little information icons like a teddy bear ("likes children") and a teddy bear with a bite out of the leg ("likes children to eat"), note-perfect discussions of the merits of various species for different purposes, and beautiful illustrations. Our edition is a UK one, ISBN 0297843982; apparently it's also available in the US under ISBN 0297843478. I highly recommend it.

Overall: good con and great to see everybody, as usual. I keep wanting to think of something that I could volunteer to be on programming for, since Chad enjoyed his panels, but really I can't think of a thing I'd be specially qualified for, and who wants a panelist who doesn't have any more qualification than anyone else in the audience?

Other reports:

The Kestrel is one of my favorite books of all time. Just fyi: it's also a fair bit better than the first book in the series. So if you like, but don't love, Westmark, I might still advise reading The Kestrel anyway.

Thanks. I told veejane about my mistake and IIRC, she said "yeah, but _The Kestrel_ will still kick your ass anyway," so I'll definitely want to get that far.

Oh good! I really can't recommend The Kestrel enough; I love it with a completely irrational love, and I just wish it would get reissued in hardcover. I'm on my second set of paperbacks, and I don't know how long they'll stand up to my frequent rereads.

If you're looking for commentary later, I posted on the series a little over a year ago, and I remember oyceter posted on it at some point too.

I second the Kestrel rec! I wrote up the trilogy a while ago here; not sure if there are spoilers in the comments or not.

But The Kestrel is really good! It is worthy of completely irrational love, which would make the love rational.

. . . I think there's something wrong with that sentence, but I can't quite put my finger on it. =>

I think it is worthy of both rational and irrational love. I love it irrationally because a sweet old junior high librarian put it in my hands, and I love it rationally because it's very well-written, powerful without being preachy, gritty without being unreadably grim, and because Justin and the Monkey are such brilliant characters.

I agree. You could read The Kestrel without reading Westmark first, but it'll be more powerful if you start at the beginning, for spoilery reasons; also, you do need to have read Westmark before you read the third book, The Beggar Queen.

It was wonderful to meet you at last! I've been wanting to tell you that I love your carved cat icon, because an almost identical carving sits on our dresser - Delia's had it since she was a child in Japan, I think. She certainly loves it enough.

It may well be from the same place; Chad got it in Nikko, where they sell lots of carved wooden sleeping cats in honor of this famous carving, not that it looks much like the famous one.

When I got around to making icons, I took a bunch of pictures of knick-knacks around the house. The cat was one of the few pictures that worked, and since my "If I were an animal" has long been a small neat brown cat (like Bast's cat form in _American Gods_), well, it seemed an obvious choice.

It was great to talk to you as well. I hope you guys had a good time.

Thank you for the link! I love the sparrow story. And I actually love the fact that the "Nikko nekkos" - which indeed look nothing like the original carving - are identifiable icons (in the traditional sense of the word) all on their own. Folk art rules.

What a bright idea, to use things around the house that matter to you for your LJ icons. (I've got a million of 'em - but that would mean I'd actually have to learn and employ technology.....Think I'll just stick to Simon.)

I keep meaning to re-take the cat and various others with a better camera and more knowledge of image editing programs, but then I remember what a remarkable pain the cat was (dark wood with shallow bits and reflective surfaces photographs very poorly), and I find an excuse to put it off for another day . . .

But, if you ever want to play with a digital camera, it's a pretty low-stress way of doing so.

(Deleted comment)
I know, I about fell over.

(Deleted comment)
Honestly, my reaction to the whole "Mundane SF" thing is, "is anyone really writing this stuff, and who so I can avoid them?"

But perhaps I'm being unfair, since I only know about it second-hand. ("Mundane" is a very bad name, regardless.)

(Deleted comment)
Literally next door? Well, either way I didn't. And I only got his name by looking at the website and seeing his picture. Very nice person, I hope the con bid is going well.

I may well have spoken with Jim Cambias, as there were one or two people whose badges weren't visible or who were only present for a bit. I just didn't know it if so.

John M. Ford's reading from The Fellowship of the Woosters

Bother. I'm sorry I missed this.

Dreamhaven is apparently to publish it as a chapbook, so it will be available in print form.

The pleasure was mutual, I'm sure.

I'm sorry I missed you on Saturday night--my mournful "I can't find anybody I know and am not feeling brave enough to crashing that interesting-looking gang Scalzi's got going" pass through the bar must have been before you arrived. Well, we'll always have the Tor party.

This is why I'm a fan of the Saturday night parties Boskone has started doing. I've never felt comfortable at bid parties, the Montreal party this year being a very notable exception (and we only stayed a short while anyway), and the semi-closed parties can be just as intimidating if you don't already know people. The carnival-style stuff is goofy, but in a fun inclusive way, at least in my experience, and gives people something to do on Saturday night with much less social pressure.

Just come back next year--by the general process of 'net fandom osmosis, you'll know many more people and won't feel like you're crashing!

I will happily recommend that you crash any group I happen to be in at a con (I wasn't in that particular Scalzi-posse, but the general principle applies). You're interesting to talk to.

Roundup moved

Re: Roundup moved

Noted, thanks for telling me!

(Deleted comment)
Okay, say rather, I couldn't stomach the idea of asking someone to pay me money for anything that included the story about putting on pants backwards. =>

Oh, oracne and others: Sarah Smith, the author of The Vanished Child, was there and I told her that thanks to numerous people's pimping, I'd bought the book and planned to read it.


According to the web, she lives in Boston, so perhaps if you make it to another Boskone you'll meet her yourself.

Oh, I have met her before! She goes to Readercon, and we were both on a panel at Gaylaxicon last summer, also.


Log in

No account? Create an account