Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Armadillocon 39 in the rear-view mirror

Here it is, Tuesday after, and I've yet to offer any parting thoughts on last week's Armadillocon gathering. Life's been like that a lot of late, so much time and so little to do. Wait a minute, strike that--reverse it.

I saw a bunch of folks I normally only get to see once a year, and had far too little time to engage in meaningful conversation with any of them. This is becoming an all too frequent occurrence. I exchanged menacing looks with my nemesis, Stina Leicht, at various points throughout the weekend. I had a long, rambling and funny conversation with Rhonda Eudaly and Jimmy Simpson. There was the traditional late-night bull session with Joe Lansdale, Bill Crider (yay Bill! Last year wasn't the same without him!), Lawrence Person, James Reasoner and several other folks I'm blanking on at the moment. As Bill pointed out elsewhere, these sessions used to last until 2:30 a.m. but these days, they peter out at 10:30 p.m. I guess that means we're all getting old, but I have to point out that some are getting older than the rest of us.

The YA panel on Friday night was great fun, and the other panelists (Dantzel Cherry, Jack Conner, P.J. Hoover, Mari Mancusi, Holly Lyn Walrath) were funny and witty in ways I'll never be. Also, they tolerated my over-long, tangential answers to unasked questions, so I count that as a win. I felt out of my depth on Saturday's first panel, "Science Fiction Set on Other Continents," since most of my SF takes place on other planets as opposed to exotic locales on Earth. And Venus, the setting of my current project, doesn't have plate tectonics, so by definition it lacks continents. Nisi Shawl kicked things off by trying to trick me into being moderator, but I didn't fall for it. This is good, because she's smarter and more talented than I can ever hope to be. Nicky Drayden, David Hardy and Gabino Iglesias pretty much carried my dead weight across the finish line, but I got some consolation points by pointing out that I'm more interested in different cultures and their exotic nature (from my perspective) than the lands they originate from, and so chase down many rabbit holes researching them before I use any in my fiction.

I had a reading of a chapter from Sailing Venus, and was gratified half a dozen people turned out for it (even if some were disappointed I wasn't reading about the Chicken Ranch). A small stack of Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch sold out at Willie's table in the dealer's room, which meant I had gas money for the drive home. Probably the only lowlight of the convention was Fannish Feud, which was fun and funny, yes, but the pros lost, so that makes it awful by definition. I knew we were in for a rough go when the question "Name an actor who has played Spider-Man" came up and Tom Holland, the kid who did such a great job in Civil War and Homecoming was only the No. 3 answer. I made it through the first round by answering Andrew Garfield, but the second time around my team had two strikes and just two answers left on the board. I knew one of the answers was the guy from the 70s Spider-Man TV show, but I could not remember Nicholas Hammond's name for the life of me. The only other live-action Spider-Man I could remember was from The Electric Company, and since I knew it wasn't Rita Moreno under the mask, I went with the only other actor I remembered from that show--Morgan Freeman. I didn't get it right, but I did get a big laugh, so there's that. The last remaining answer? Neil Patrick Harris. So, yeah, it totally sucks the pros lost.

One of the last panels I attended was Sunday's World Fantasy Convention preview, with Martha Wells and Jonathan Miles. They kept circling back to all the business that gets done there, all the book deals made, and it underscored for me how far behind I am on Sailing Venus. Writers who attend World Fantasy ought to have work that is substantially complete to pitch to editors, right? Well, that's my thinking, anyway. Nose back to the grindstone for me. I'll let you know how that word count is progressing the next time I come up for air.

Now Playing: Count Basie The Atomic Mr. Basie
Chicken Ranch Central


  1. Great to see you there. Sorry we didn't have more time to talk, though.

    1. I'm just happy I didn't have to make a bunch of videos again! ;-)