Wednesday, November 08, 2006

World Fantasy postmortem 4

Saturday was a whirlwind. I realized late Friday that I'd been spending much of my time with many of the folks I see at Armadillocon and Turkey City, which somewhat defeated the entire purpose of World Fantasy. I vowed to do better, with mixed results.


Who was the first person I ran into in the morning? Elizabeth Moon, who I'd given two large maypop passion fruit to on Thursday (did I not mention that?) so she could plant the seed on her famous "80 Acres." This time she had chocolate--rich, dark chocolate--and was sharing with Peter Beagle and Esther Friesner. It's here that I have to point out that I suspect a number of photos have gone missing from my little digital camera. I can't find any I took of Wendy Wheeler, Robin Hobb, Lou Anders or several other folks I'm certain I shot over the four days. So there's a bit of puzzlement over that, but it could just be that I'm a crummy photographer.


Remember what I said about hanging out with new folks? Right. Strike that. Because Steve Wilson showed up with the latest issue of Space Squid which I just had to have, because, come on! It's Space Squid fer cryin' out loud! Copyeditor to the stars Deana Hoak was quite taken with the issue as well. Where exactly it was she was taken isn't known, but I'm certain it was somewhere interesting. I saw Deana throughout the convention, but only spoke with her briefly a few times, to my regret. Deana hooked me up with some upscale cloth diapers about a month back (I kid you not) and I wanted to treat her to dinner or something for her efforts, but it was not to be. Alas, as Gordon Van Gelder would say.


Next up is a shot of Stephen Dedman and Scott Edelman chatting. I got Scott to sign his interview in Voices of Visions, so now I've got most of the editors down. Stephen and I met online years ago via the Eidolon mailing list, and after passing several times during the previous two days, finally got a chance to talk for a few minutes. Robin Hobb joined us shortly therafter, and the conversation turned to Seattle, her fantastic book Wizard of the Pigeons, and how that book shares a very similar vibe with Mike Grell's The Longbow Hunters. Stephen agreed with my observation. I've always wondered if Mike had read Wizard of the Pigeons while writing Longbow Hunters, and now Hobb is intrigued as well. After that group broke up, I ran into Ted Chiang, who I've never met before. I expressed admiration for his short fiction (awesome stuff, that) and also regret that I missed his appearance at Turkey City the year before--particularly since I was I who suggested bringing him (this is a habit with me. I also campaigned for Andy Duncan two years back, but couldn't make it due to a scheduling conflict). Ted's a nice guy, and here he's talking with F. Brett Cox.


Steve Gould's been a friend for years--he was an instructor in the very first writers workshop I ever attended back in '88--and it's fantastic that his profoundly spiffy novel Jumper is being made into a movie with Samuel L. Jackson. He introduced me to David Smeds (above left), who I've exchanged comments with online, but never had the pleasure of meeting in person before. We talked a bit about the Jumper film, and also Steve's new group blog, Eat Our Brains, which he's doing with Rory Harper, Maureen McHugh, Brad Denton and some other folks I don't know that well. Maureen dropped by, and I have to sympathize with her as she sandwiches World Fantasy in between moving out of her old home in Ohio and into her new one in Austin.

By this time folks were gearing up for the World Fantasy Awards and banquet. I wasn't attending the banquet, because I have a hard time justifying spending $50 for hotel food (although I'm told that this time around the fare was pretty good). In the run up to this I got to meet and chat with Sheila Williams from Asimov's for a bit, then settled in at the bar with Chris Nakashima-Brown and a writer from Alabama who I can't recall for the life of me. Since Texas A&M was playing Oklahoma on ABC, I had this crazy idea that I'd watch some of the game then head in for the awards when the dinner was over. Silly me. The first sign of trouble came when Chris tried to buy me a Shiner Bock and the bartender gave us Ziegenbocks. Any true Texan knows that's just wrong, so we rejected them in favor of Bass Ale, despite the bartender's grumbles that they were all the same. Hey man, it's the principle of the matter. So we're talking football, and gametime draws upon us. There's two big screen televisions in the bar, and they're both showing the tea-sips (Longhorns to you non-Texans) beating the crap out of Oklahoma State. There's a few fans watching the game on the TV on the opposite end of the bar, but we're the only ones watching the one beside the bar. "Can you change it to ABC?" I ask the bartender, a greasy-haired kid who's barely 21, if that. "Naw," he mutters. I laugh at his joke. "Come on, change the channel. Nobody else is watching this screen." He turns and outright snarls at me, "This is TEXAS, baby! The only games on these TVs are the LONGHORNS!" That arrogant shit pissed me off so much I got up and walked out. Drove about a mile down the road and found a sports bar in a Holiday Inn showing the game. Now those folks ran a classy establishment. The buffalo wings were a little on the scrawny side, but they didn't try to pass of Ziegenbock as Shiner and a bunch of the Longhorn fans there were actually pulling for A&M against the Sooners. It was a close game, and I abandoned my plan to leave at the half and return for the World Fantasy Awards.

Instead, I watched Coach Franchione purge all remnants of testosterone from his system by opting to kick a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 2 late in the fourth when he needed a touchdown to tie the game. Idiot. And then I get back to the convention to hear that Brad Denton gave what was probably the greatest toastmaster speech in history. Me and my stupid football obsession. Yes, there was much grumbling about the award winners, with most feeling the eventual winners constituted a slight to the Robert E. Howard Centennial theme (which was resisted early on by certain parties, who lobbied strongly to award the con to Australia). The fact that John Crowley--a respected writer who is nevertheless in the prime of his career--was given a Lifetime Achievement Award didn't go down particularly well, but the biggest rub was that most of the winners weren't in attendance. As I wasn't familiar with any but a handful of the nominees, I find it difficult to form an opinion one way or the other.


Fully intent to drown my sorrows, I made my way to the Three Toreadors party, orchestrated by Jeff VanderMeer, Jay Lake and Daniel Abraham. I was supposed to bring some bottles of my mead to the festivities at VanderMeer's request, but early Saturday I'd realized what it was that I'd forgotten in my rush to leave on Friday. Oops. Jay Lake quickly let bygones be bygones by drafting me to be a judge in some of their wacy, ongoing contests. The first was to identify which contestants could really sell the "Tastes great! Less filling!" chant. Then they held a Conan impersonation contest, which the above left individual won going away. His competition was Darrell Schweitzer, above right, who simply had on too many layers to do the famous barbarian justice.


I also had the good fortune to run into Ken Scholes, who's incredible story Edward Bear and the Very Long Walk I had the great fortune of accepting for publication at RevolutionSF. We talked for a long time, but the beer was kicking in, so I don't recall all that much about what was said. The other pic above is Jay Lake himself, preparing a particularly fiendish doom for Chris Nakashima-Brown.


Chris Nakashima-Brown, you see, was tabbed by Lake to play the role of "Bond, James Bond," circa Goldfinger (ie strapped to a table awaiting a laser to slice and dice him). The contestants' job was to play the role of the maniacal super-villain, and devise perilous ways in which to do Bond in. The winner threatened to feed him nothing but McDonald's Happy Meals, forcing his arteries to clog and provoking acid reflux. Let's just say out super-villains need work. Down the hall there was a publisher party going on, and I ran into Edelman again (left) and Ellen Datlow (center right). Back down in the lobby, I ran into Kasey Lansdale, a budding country & western music superstar, who'd opened for Ray Price at the Paramount earlier that night. She proudly announced that she'd earned a standing ovation from the crowd, and was on her way to crash in her room. Proud poppa Joe R. Lansdale (Hisownself) followed shortly thereafter, and he and I wound up talking politics in the lobby unti the wee hours of the morning.

Sunday was a rush, like it always is at the end of a con. The 19th Century Fiction Heroes panel was a great deal of fun, and thanks to Bill Crider, I know now that literature begins and ends with James Fenimore Cooper. The later Pirates panel was a bit of a dud--I hear there were more than a few duds this year--but Robin Hobb told a great story about a piratical relation of hers running contraband washing machines in the waters off Alaska. Great stuff.

Quite unexpectedly, Alexis Glynn Latner invited me along to lunch with her and her editor, Lou Anders. Lou and I have met in passing at previous cons, but never said more than a few words to each other. The short walk over to Thundercloud Subs afforded us a chance to get to know each other a bit. Then, once back at the hotel, I run smack dab into Sharyn November and stopped her to say "Hi." We'd met at the Corpus WFC, but I was taken aback when she said she read my blog on occasion. She was heading to the smoker's balcony and asked if there was something specific I wanted to discuss, ie pitch. Once again I kicked myself for not having Wetsilver finished as originally planned. So I declined, rather than make a fool of myself with some half-assed impromptu pitch, but she reminded me she's editor GoH at Armadillocon next fall and wants to talk then. Wetsilver will not only be finished and polished by then, but I expect I'll be well into the first draft of Sailing Venus, so I'll have plenty to talk about.

On my way out of the con to head home, I passed David Drake and stopped to touch base with him. Again, he was another person I'd seen a bunch but not had a chance to chat with. He bemoaned the fact that I was saddled with such a horrific cover for Voices of Vision and seemed pleased at my plans to include him in the follow-up volume, Voices of Wonder, should I ever get around to finishing the introductions to that one. A very nice guy, that Drake, and ferociously intelligent.

At that point, I was pretty much conventioned out. I headed home, stopping at Freebirds on the way out to pick up a bunch of Monster burritos for the family's dinner. This WFC wasn't as productive, businessly speaking, as I'd hoped--mainly since Tekno Books wasn't there as I'd erroneously thought they would be (antho pitches, don'tcha know) but I do believe I made some good contacts and laid some decent groundwork for professional relationships that could pay off down the line. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Now Playing: Andean Fusion Spirit of the Incas--Andean Symphony II

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