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 Tiger Cruise.
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 forthcoming post.