Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Armadillocon looms

Okay, this is nuts, but Armadillocon is in July this year. I know, I know, that mid-summer date is tough to wrap your head around, but the convention is sure to be a great deal of fun, as always. I've got a fairly light panel load this year, and the entire programming schedule may be viewed on the official website. Here's my slate for the weekend:

The Still Changing Definition of Urban Fantasy
8 p.m.-9 p.m., Trinity
A. Bishop, J. Blaschke, C. Neill, N. Holzner*, S. Leicht, A. Marmell
This subgenre label has been around for decades -- but would War for the Oaks or other classic works even fit in today's category? What does it mean, and what does it include and exclude? How is it changing, and how is it likely to change in the future?

Alternate History: The Way Things Weren't
11a.m.-Noon, Sabine
B. Mahoney*, P. Griffin, J. Blaschke, J. Rountree, S. Utley, H. Waldrop
What are the touchstone tales of what might have been? Why is this even considered science fiction -- and what about fantasy alternate history? What does it take to write a good alternate history?

Learning from Others' Mistakes: Writing Errors to Avoid
4 p.m.-5 p.m., Sabine
J. Blaschke*, J. Cheney, U. Fung, S. Lynch, J. Moyer, W. Spencer
You don't have to make every writing error personally. How do you use others' failures as a way to improve your own work?
There's also one other panel that I'm sure to attend, "Apes and Zeppelins" on Friday. There's a story behind that. Last year, during one panel on apes in science fiction, the cover for the ultra-rare Zeppelin Stories pulp featuring the mind-bogglingly awesome promise of "Gorilla of the Gasbags" came up. Only a few copies of this pulp exist, all in the hands of private collectors. Nobody in out SFnal circle has ever read the story, although I believe Jess Nevins has a scan of the first page. On the rare occasions a copy of the issue comes up for auction, it sells for thousands of dollars. The story has attained a certain "Holy Grail" status because of its unattainability. So during the panel last year, Joe R. Lansdale (his ownself) threw out a challenge to everyone there: Write a story based on that cover imagery before the next Armadillocon. Now seriously, how am I going to pass up a chance to write a Zeppelin story? With a gorilla? I accepted, as did half a dozen other writers there.

Gorilla of the Gasbags, the cover story challenge thrown down by Joe R. Lansdale

Alas, I don't think I'm going to succeed in meeting the challenge. One reason is that I've been, you know, killing myself trying to get this Chicken Ranch book finished. That takes priority over everything else, no matter how much fun it may be. The other reason is that the convention is significantly earlier this year, robbing me of precious writing time. I've started my story, yes, and made good progress, but will it be finished by Friday? Not terribly likely--although I do have some nifty passages I'm quite pleased with. No, the apes-and-Zeppelins story is a fun interlude I'm allowing myself before I dive back in to the second-draft rewrites of the Chicken Ranch book. If all goes well, I'll put the short story to bed next week and get back to the book right after that. Still, I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else came up with, and hope they don't mock me too harshly for falling short of the challenge.

Apes and Zeppelins
9 p.m.-10 p.m., Trinity
C. Brown, B. Crider, S. Cupp, M. Finn*, R. Klaw, J. Lansdale, J. Nevins, D. Webb
Last year Joe Lansdale tossed down the gauntlet at the Apes in SF panel, challenging all comers to produce a story worthy of a classic cover from Zeppelin Tales: "The Gorilla of the Gasbags". Our valiant panelists discuss their responses.
Now Playing: Mozart Festival Orchestra The Best of Mozart
Chicken Ranch Central

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