Ummm. What did I do last week that wasn't fannish? Well, our
blinds for the dining and living room were finally delivered, so we
had an interesting couple of evenings getting those up. (They work
pretty well, but they're white, and the walls are white, and
there's just a lot of white. We'll be looking into ways to spiff
them up some.) And I've been working with an intern on a long-term
project, which is kind of fun.
We went to Albacon this weekend. Overall, I found it enjoyable.
The function space was not good, and I understand people had
complaints about the way programming was scheduled; as the original
hotel was sold four months ago, however, I don't wish to
complain—I'm sure the con did the best they could under very
trying circumstances. The weather was good, fortunately, and Lake
George is beautiful this time of year (the leaves weren't fully
turned yet, but they were getting there). This was the smallest con
I've been to, and as a result there was a much higher proportion of
authors I'd never, ever heard of. Interestingly, the ratio of
interesting to forgettable to perfectly dreadful seemed about the
same as among bigger names.
We didn't make the con until Saturday morning, as Friday night
was taken up with the aforementioned blinds and other house things.
(We didn't stay at the hotel, not wanting to board the dog again.)
We went first to a panel on writing continuing series without
having them go stale, which included Lois McMaster Bujold (the
Guest of Honor). This was the only panel I took notes on, as I
spent most of the con feeling sleepy and lazy. Comments I wrote
down, from Bujold unless otherwise noted:
- When to stop a series: when characters reach their "maximum
integrity," a phrase I found striking.
- Minimal explicit backstory is a good thing generally, but
especially helpful in series, because it allows the reader to start
reading anywhere and still have things to discover.
- On sf's tendency to treat universes as series: "Mainstream
fiction is the world's largest shared-universe series."
- That sf tendency allows series to stay fresh, by exploring
different corners of the universe. Several people cited Terry
Pratchett's Discworld series as an excellent example.
Then we went to a panel on whether modern science was too
complex for the average SF writer. This was generally fun, with
enthusiastic participation by all involved, though I thought the
moderator was a little too enthusiastic in hewing very tightly to
the title question. (This was the guy who did fruit fly chromosome
in C major; definitely an enthusiast generally.) There wasn't much
consensus, but I think that was a function of different writing
goals among the panel members.
Then we had dreadful pub food in town at J.T. Kelly's Pub, came
back to sit in the sun, browse the dealer's room and art show, and
chat with various people in the consuite. James Macdonald said that
the sequel to The Apocalypse Door is titled The
Gates of Time, and is not yet turned in. Also, it can now be
told that Macdonald was "Douglas Morgan," the author of the fun
Another panel, titled "Writing Fantasy," which was extremely
diffuse because no-one really knew what the topic was. The
moderator, David Coe, nevertheless did a credible job of keeping
people talking about, well, writing fantasy. My favorite comment
was from Beth Hilgartner, a Meisha Merlin author who is also an
Episcopal priest; one of her parishioners read a dark fantasy novel
of hers and told her, "You're meaner than you look!" Then we hung
around a bit; I got in the Bujold signing line to say "hi" and "I
like your books" (I had nothing to be signed). I had a serious
fangirl moment when she looked at my badge and said, "Oh yes, you
write reviews." Lois McMaster Bujold knew my name! Ahem.
Sorry. (I did ask something about the Chalion universe, but I'm
going to put all that information in a separate post.)
We headed out to rescue the dog after that, and so missed dinner
and the various evening goings-on. I do much prefer staying at the
hotel for cons, but in this case it couldn't be helped.
Slow start Sunday morning, but made it up for a panel on using
history to create SF, which made me feel very uneducated for not
having read I, Claudius, which came up repeatedly. We
had a perfectly unexceptional lunch on the lake and then strolled
with ice-cream; I dozed on a couch when we got back, being suddenly
sleepy. This occasioned much hilarity when the panel on "Is Gender
Necessary" broke up, as they'd been discussing liminality and
passing and my shirt was striped in a way that semi-blended into
the couch. A most curious sofa, indeed.
More talk around the consuite; I felt bad for breaking it up,
but the dog was pining away. papersky, rysmiel,
zorinth, and redbird came back with us to crash
for the night; after tea on the patio, we had plentiful Italian
food at Buca di Beppo, which seemed to be found pleasingly bizarre
by our guests.
The next morning, Papersky committed
poetry in our house, which I thought was just unspeakably cool.
Saw everyone off at the train, came home, tiptoed upstairs, and
took a nap. Spent the afternoon basking in the sun with Emmy, and
then headed off for dinner with Bujold and her subsequent signing
at Flights of Fantasy. The dinner was typically fannish, lots of
enthusiastically loud conversation about wide-ranging topics. At
one point someone doubted that I was actually out of law school,
having seen me at the con and thought I was under 18. *sigh*
That was about it for the week. Substantive details about the
Chalion universe and the work in progress are behind a cut tag in a