And the blog has come full circle. This site was all of what, two weeks old, when I went to my first Boskone and right up until the last day of the year, it was the most trafficked thing here. This time around, for Boskone 50, I made the commute for two days instead of one. The downside is that I had to drive to Boston twice, and that isn’t fun.
But this isn’t a 2k word tirade about how much Boston is lame (18 and 1). This is a pile of words about how Boskone is awesome.
I went to seven different panels and a kaffeeklatch, which last year took me half a day to figure out what the hell it was. I was at The Year in Short Fiction, Military Motifs in SF, Death Becomes Her (or Him), Safety and Security Now and in the Future, Writing Advise: The Next Level, Worlds You Won’t Forget, NonEnglish Fiction and Translation, and Exit Stage Left. Whew. That was a long list. But I was able to do a lot in two days.
The Year in Short Fiction was a lot of fodder for my own reading. I’ve talked here before about how I want to read more short fiction, but it is very needle-in-a-haystack-y for me. I get most of my novel recommendations from other authors now so this served a similar purpose for short fiction. The people on the panel are all involved in editing so there’s a lot of fodder for my reading enjoyment.
Military Motifs in SF and the Safety and Security panels were very similar in that they both ended up on the topic of authenticity. This is where I got a lot of useful ideas for my own writing. Myke Cole and James McDonald were on both and Jerry Pournelle is the kind of old guy that every young guy should strive to be. They’re all great speakers and could talk about paint drying and make it interesting. They talked about the mindset that goes with the field. When they talked about it out loud, it sounded like a no brainer, but it’s the kind of no brainer that is easily missed anyways. It’s almost too obvious until you slow down and look at it. It’s got me thinking a lot about the level of professionalism by the crew on the ship in the novel I’m writing. It’s not something I even touch upon since two of the three protags aren’t involved with the daily operation of the ship. But I’m thinking it’s something I need to add in, even if just in little bits. Show the commitment of the revolutionaries.
And I’m off on a tangent. But they got me thinking a lot, which is the great part the cons.
Back on topic though. The Death Becomes Her panel explored Death as a character. There was a lot of philosophy in this one. Michael Swanwick actually shared a near death experience with the panel which is a pretty intense way to start out. The personification of the intangible forces is something I always find ripe for fiction, godpunk or otherwise. F Brett Cox was there again on that one. The panel stayed in the neighborhood of personifications to help people cope.
The Writing Advise panel didn’t quite hit on the stuff I was looking for but it was still a good panel. Elizabeth Bear is a very quotable personality. I was also incredibly amused at the end during questions when one older woman asked her what process she uses to put together her novels. Bear went on to explain that each one she does is different and the method she uses for writing are subservient to the story she’s telling. The woman asking the question seemed to insist otherwise. I think Bear answered three times before people started shuffling in and out for the change of panels and the woman couldn’t ask again. I chuckle, but I also imagine it was frustrating so golf clap for dealing with the repetitive newbie question. Bear also dropped a Futurama reference. Made me happy.
Worlds You Won’t Forget was another one full of reading fodder. I happen to think world building is awesome and when the land or city becomes a character in itself, it’s one of the most enjoyable things out there for me. I love the books when I can tell there are details in the author’s head that I’m not actually reading about. Bear was a font of great quotes on this one again, but it was really interesting that Melinda Snodgrass said how hard she finds worldbuilding. It was totally unexpected from one of the architects of Wild Cards.
I went in to Non English Translations looking for some reading fodder. I have been looking for new stuff to read all the time and the new point of view is always something I want to check out. The guys on the panel were specialists in East Asian stuff because those are the languages they know. Apparently there’s some Chinese space opera coming out soon which is something I want to look forward to. It’ll be good to get beyond just Battle Royale and the Nightwatch series. I think those are my only non English novels and I’d like to check out more but unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much of a two-way traffic in translations.
Exit Stage Left was all about character death. That’s another one that came down to serve the need of the story. That kind of came down to plotting vs pantsing. Something as big as character death really needs to be prepared for rather than thrown down out of hand. There needs to be significance to it otherwise the reader starts to dismiss the story.
Whew. Rambled a lot about the panels. One of the big things I made it a point of doing, was going to the kaffeeklatch. Last year I kicked myself for not talking shop with people in person. It’s a lot different than floating around the internet. So this year I was all like Bam! Gonna do it. So I went to Myke Cole’s. He’s a nice guy who’s super approachable and we had talked earlier in the con. (More on that when it shows up on his blog) It was eight people hanging out and shooting the shit. Damn that’s the kind of stuff I wish I could do everyday. It’s that exact kind of being around writing which makes me more productive and better at my own.
Another of my favorite parts of these cons, is finding authors who sell me as a person and make me want to go read their books. Last year it was Cole, Peter V Brett and Ben Tate/Joshua Palmatier. This year, it’s Elizabeth Bear, David Anthony Durham and Theodora Goss. I saw them all a couple times and they had very thoughtful, intelligent things to say involving the topic and their work. I’m game. Downside, the dealer room didn’t carry any of their stuff. There were some tables of uses books which is all well and good for people who don’t have access to The Book Barn, but you’d think the book sellers would stock up on the people who are going to be at the con. I picked up one of Bear’s books but so many others that I’d be interested in buying weren’t there. Yeah internet and all. But I want to buy stuff at the con from the people I see. I got a signed Wild Cards book, one of Bear’s and an unrelated cyberpunk book that invoked the Rule of Books. I was looking for Goss, Durham, Cox, Jennifer Pelland (who was at the con but I missed this year) and nothing. From a purely business standpoint, you’d think they’d want to have the products that correspond with the participants.
I’ve been typing a lot of thoughts and it’s time to wrap it up. I leave you with some of the choice quotes. Mostly proper quotes, not just amusingly out of context one-liners like last year’s quotes.
- “Being dead was not a barrier to participation.” -Walter Hunt on killing off characters
- “We come to stories because we want drama. We have tedium in our day to day lives.” -Myke Cole
- “Turns out, living forever kind of sucks.” -Theodora Goss
- “There’s no twelve year old that doesn’t want to be a dragon.” -Elizabeth Bear
- “I don’t think we get the props for what we do. [World building] is a daunting task.” -Melinda Snodgrass