One of the two program items I attended at Boskone was Rosemary Kirstein's coffee-thing, which was very exciting because I'd missed her reading. (radiotelescope went, and reported back in comments here.) Present were me, Chad, alexx_kay, adrian_turtle, a relative of Ms. Kirstein's (judging by the name), and a man who had obviously known Ms. Kirstein for a while, whose name I have forgotten and whose relationship I don't think I ever knew. As this was a conversation, I did not take notes; everything is a paraphrase and I welcome corrections.
First, to repeat myself: she's working on the next book. As she did not offer an ETA, I felt it rude to ask. This is the book that she thought was going to be after City in the Crags, not a completely unforeseen book as I'd somehow thought from prior reports. So that's good news. She thinks there'll be three, maybe four books in addition to the published ones, plus a prequel.
She said that she can't just write fast to get it all out on the page, that's counter-productive for her.
She's interested in maybe releasing the first book as a free e-text, along the lines of Tor.com and Baen. alexx_kay is planning to proof an e-text of it for the visually impaired and was going to send it to her. It didn't occur to me at the time, but I've seen people who've read the Tor.com free books come back and say, hey, I'd buy the rest,but only as e-text. Since only the last is currently available commercially as e-text, that might be something to consider. On the other hand, I very much doubt that there are enough people who would have that reaction to outweigh the people who would go buy paper copies.
And I'm going to put the rest of this behind a cut-tag, so I can talk about spoilers.
SPOILERS through The Language of Power, and one spoiler for the books to come.
Kirstein said that one thing she likes to ask people is when they figured out that the books were science fiction rather than fantasy. Chad and I knew going in. (I have taken the approach, in my book log entries, of treating that as a spoiler, though indicating that it's the kind of spoiler that at this point is fairly well known and, moreover, may tell you if you'd like the books.) I'll let alexx_kay and adrian_turtle comment with what they said, if they wish, because I'm not quite sure I remember accurately.
I believe she was asked, what the earliest she thinks anyone could figure it out? And she said that would be also the earliest anyone has, papersky, when Rowan works out the idea of orbit. (Though I think papersky later said that she hadn't actually definitely decided it was SF at that point, just wondered. papersky?)
She said that humans had been on the planet for a thousand years. The male acquaintance said that he thought there had been a problem with that timeframe. Yes, but she'd figured out the resolution and was really looking forward to that scene in the last book.
I said that one of the things that I really liked about the books was the POV control, and asked whether it was hard to write Rowan when she understood some things but not so many others. She said no, she really understands Rowan and it's easy to write her POV. The conversation with Will about computers in Language was really fun to write, like a reward.
I mentioned the proposed Wiscon panel on the books; she said she wasn't planning to go to Wiscon, but would really like to be at that panel if it happens. I asked if she'd intended to subvert imperialism and colonialism when she started; she said no, the Lost Colony was a trope lying around to be picked up and played with.
Also in relation to that panel, I commented about uses of science: Rowan uses science to empathize with others, while the wizards use science to distance themselves and turn others into The Other. She said, well, who's really doing science, here? Rowan may well know more than the wizards do. (Interesting! I hope I'm remembering these comments accurately.) I said, well, okay, about the aliens, but I'd also been thinking of the Crew-everyone else distinction.
I also asked how she felt about fanfic, as a lead-in to a related topic. She said that it's always a compliment, but she finds it hard to read. I think it's an extremely rare author who can bear to read fic of their own work! But I wanted to tell her about the Yuletide fic that's alien-POV, not because I thought she should read it, but because I thought it was so cool that someone had attempted it, and I thought she might appreciate knowing about it. She said that she'd seen it and meant to go back and finish it.
(The fic is called "Dumb Animals" and it's completely brilliant. Go read it, honest. I meant to do a Yuletide rec post and include it. While it seems kind of late now, I can at least promote this one. PG-13, 1493 words.)
And that's all I can think of that's substantive about the discussion.
On a totally shallow note, it remains pleasantly unnerving when authors I like say upon meeting me, "Oh, yes, I know your name." We established that it might have been in a thread at Scalzi's, where I apparently mentioned her as an underappreciated author—I don't remember this at all—or maybe from the Yuletide fic, where I'm credited as a beta reader. I know perfectly well that the Internet is a very small place and try to conduct myself accordingly, but still, pleasantly unnerving.