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September 09, 2004

Links to Convention Reports

Here are some links to Noreascon 4 reports that we're aware of....

Emerald City

Neil Gaiman

Jed Hartman

Ian Osmund


SFRevu photo albums

Kathryn Cramer

Stephen Leigh

Tom Veal

astolat on Live Journal

Cormac Russell reports on a number of panels.

View of the Hugo trophy from designer Scott Lefton's site.

Christopher Davis

David Levine, Part 1 and Part 2

MidAmerican Fan Photo Archive

rushthatspeaks on Live Journal

Wired News

Jo Walton

Also, all of the at-con newsletters (including the hoax issue!) are available in PDF.

Posted by Noreascon 4 at 07:59 AM in 8-Post-Con | Permalink | Comments (3)

September 07, 2004

Death and Closing Ceremonies



Dateline 2pm, Monday, the 6th of September, 2004

This is the (occassional?) (oxymoron?) trufan clp reporting from the edge of the convention...

One of the best panels of the Con was one of the last... from 2-3pm record crowds pressed into H312 to hear SF luminaries Edelman, Gaiman, River, Pratchett, Willis, and Niven trade an ever-growing set of puns, SF, fantasy, and horror remembrances, quips, counters, anecdotes, observations, and musings on death and the afterlife and its use in fiction. Larry Niven pointed out the virtues of death. (Only Philip K. Dick sells books to movie studios). So later Niven said when asked what ghosts want, they want movie rights! A touching moment was when Uncle River related a recurring dream of his mother being unable to accept her own death, and when she did in a final dream he felt closure and the "reality" of it (more than just a dream). The panel constantly cracked each other up, and a great time was had by all!

Closing Ceremony

The time lapse video of the auditorium setup, Vulcan greeting attempt by a Glasgow tourist rep, and the one-main con "replay" for Deb and staff (who never had time to see the Con, of course) were highlights of the event bittersweet but traditional close of a wonderful Con. (On to teardown for this reporter!)

Posted by Noreascon 4 at 04:08 PM in 7-Monday | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday Night

On Monday night, with things winding down, I went out for my first leisurely dinner of the convention, to a nearby steakhouse, with Texas fans Kurt and Michelle Baty, Scott Bobo, and Ed (sorry, I forgot your last name), plus Craig Miller, Jenny Dazzo, Kelly Persons, and Rick Katze. After devouring a number of steaks, lobsters, vegetable platters, and chocolate souffles, and some very congenial conversation, we strolled back and Craig and I headed up to the Past Worldcon Chairs party, up in the suite of our newest and happiest member, Deb Geisler. There SMOFing was committed, including some discussion of the possibility of doimg some sort of First Night-like event at Intersection next year. Cool. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

Shortly after 10:00 we took the traditional photo of assembled past con chairs, although unfortunately a few of the eligible attendees didn't make it. Some had left that afternoon, Tony Lewis (Noreascon I chair) was not feeling well, and Peggy Rae Sapienza and newly-selected chair Hiroake Inoue arrived later in the evening.

After the picture, I went down to the Dead Dog party in the con suite, and discovered that the last bit of First Night had finally been completed; Bob Devney had printed and distributed the FIRST Night TIMES one shot that was written during First Night! I got to look at someone else's copy and will hopefully get my very own copy the next time I see Bob. I believe we'll be making these available to anyone who wanted a copy and could not pick it up at the convention; we'll be posting something on our regular news blog in the next few days.

Past Worldcon Chairs Photo from Noreascon 4:


Posted by Leslie Turek at 03:48 PM in 7-Monday | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 06, 2004

Closing Thoughts

The Worldcon is now over. Nomi and I are home and will soon collapse into bed for a good night's sleep. I regret that I haven't blogged as much as I could have, but I am delighted that real-time blogging became a part of Worldcon this year. It was because of this that Nomi and I got to meet some wonderful people, our fellow bloggers, and make some new friendships that should last a lifetime.

I suppose I could go into details what I did this Monday, skipping the Sunday stuff. I could tell you about my Kaffeklatsch, in which we reconnected with the very first person who ever came to my very first convention reading, almost ten years ago. I could talk about our one actual hour in the dealer's room browsing (as opposed to the hour on Sunday we worked the NESFA Press table). I could tell you about the fine panels I was on today, Alternate Holocausts and the one on television arcs. And I could tell you how much I enjoyed the Closing Ceremonies.

But you know, I'm very, very tired. I might post about this sort of thing later, but in my own space and in my own time. I hope the con won't mind it if I leave some pointers here. If you liked my posts and want to read more about my life, I keep a LiveJournal under the name mabfan at http://www.livejournal.com/users/mabfan . And if you want to find out more about me and my work, my webpage is at http://www.mabfan.com .

Nomi and I would like to congratulate everyone on committee, staff, and volunteers who helped make this convention such a great success for all of us. We were delighted to have been able to do our little bit on program staff and publications staff, and are sorry that we couldn't contribute more.

Posted by Michael A. Burstein at 08:35 PM in 7-Monday | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, and Final Thoughts: Or, What I Learned from Noreascon 4

Monday I head in to the con to visit the dealers for a final time, go to a kaffeeklatsch with Laura Anne Gilman (a fine time, and you should all buy her book, Staying Dead, which I've read and which is excellent). I also go to a couple more panels. My final panel of the con is on SF Chick Flicks, with MaryAnn Johanson, John Pomeranz, and John Scalzi, whose weblog I read. As the panel starts, John Scalzi admits to having a massive secret online crush on MaryAnn Johanson. I'm very amused and wonder if it's going to get mentioned on his weblog. Blogging about a blogger: somehow, I feel almost meta. The panel's good, too.

On to Things I Learned at Noreascon 4. Number two piece of information about being a writer: self-promotion is good. Number one: don't spend the advance. Number zero: don't be a writer. (But if you're going to write anyway, you might as well be good and get people to pay you.)

I discovered that the panels I knew least about were the most interesting. I'm not making any statement about how interesting they were overall, but they were the most interesting to me personally. Two of the programming items I enjoyed the most were things I knew nothing about. This afternoon's panel on costuming disasters was a case in point. I know perhaps too much about writing disasters, but I knew nothing about costuming, and it was great to get a look into what makes other people bang their heads in frustration. Another example: I wandered into something else I knew nothing about on Thursday night, when I showed up for the slash panel at the correct spatial coordinates but with the temporal coordinates off by twenty-four hours-- and wound up at an audience discussion of John Myers Myers' Silverlock, which I'd never read. It was a great time, and I wound up getting the book in the dealer's room. (I also learned that I should keep myself out of the dealer's room, but that's another story.)

One of the things I was looking to find at this con was whether the SF community was one I would feel comfortable as a part of. As someone in my fifth year of working with the IgNobels-- which have a differently focused but not dissimilar community as compared to fandom-- I had a feeling it was, but I hadn't been in the larger world of fandom before. I've been a part of other communities of those interested in writing and the English language, and I found that none of them can top the kind of joy that people at this convention found in the art of writing and in the experience of reading. After this weekend, I can say that if I'm going to be a writer, this is the community I want to be a writer in. Now: off to start submitting!

This has been Gen Jules Reynolds, blogging live and without a net from Noreascon 4. I'm too tired to come up with anything original to tie this together, so I'm stealing from the best: Jerry Springer. Until next time, take care of yourselves-- and each other.

Posted by Gen Jules Reynolds at 07:19 PM in 7-Monday | Permalink | Comments (0)


CraigVinceCraig Miller asks Vince Docherty what a well-dressed Scotsman carries in his sporran. Vince reached in and pulled out his cell phone, "set on vibrate"....

P1010002The First Night idea trust. Priscilla Olson, on the right, had the original idea. John Pomeranz was the first area head and led the initial brainstorming. Leslie Turek, on the left, ran the area since March, when John had to resign due to real-world work pressures.

TeardownTypical teardown image.

Posted by Leslie Turek at 05:38 PM in 7-Monday | Permalink | Comments (0)

Closing Ceremonies

FifeandDrumThe ceremony began with the Boston signature fife and drum corps.

GuestsWe said a last good-bye to all of our guests, and Deb gave them each a big bag of goodies from the convention.

DebColinVinceChair Deb Geisler passes the gavel(s) on to next year's Co-Chairs, Colin Harris and Vince Docherty. Since Vince is a repeating Worldcon Chair, he got The Big One. Vince told Deb that he understood that one of the big problems when you're running the Worldcon is that you don't get to see it. So the Intersection committee attempted to rectify that by replaying the entire convention for her right there. The One-Man Worldcon, starring Michael 'Sparks' Rennie, started with the belly-dancing and Terry on Trial from First Night, showed Terry begging Peter Weston for a Hugo at the Friday night event, and went on to cover the rest of the convention in brief, ending with the Star Wars One-Man Show ("It's terrible being a Jedi when you're father wants to kill you and you fancy your sister."). Great fun. (Sorry, no pictures, Sparks was moving too fast...)

PipesInteraction closed the ceremonies with a pipe and drum group that led the audience out of the auditorium and in a procession around the Convention Center.

Posted by Leslie Turek at 04:59 PM in 7-Monday | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Gripe Session

I'm a bit of a gripe-session junkie. I like to attend Worldcon gripe sessions because it helps me understand what things are important to the attendees, pick up good ideas for future use, and learn what perennial irritants to try to avoid. So I've taken fairly detailed notes on the N4 gripe session.

Chairman Deb Geisler began by noting that Noreascon 4 is a one-time event; when the convention is over we will disperse as a committee. But we will pass your comments on to our successor Worldcons. "On a personal note, it's been an interesting and rewarding experience, one I'll never be able to have again."

Then she invited comments from the audience.

Congratulate the Hynes for keeping water urns filled.

Problems with matching the size of the audience to the size of the room. For example, presentations by the publishers need to be in a bigger room. Every one was full to overflowing.

First Night was really good. (Applause)

Staggered by incompetence of service in the hotel bar. Took an hour to get cold sandwiches to the table. Deb: We will be having an extensive debriefing with the Sheraton tomorrow at 10:00. We particularly want to apologize for the check-in delays. We did our best to do what we could to improve this. Television check-out is broken today.

Area for autographing was not labelled on the map. No one knew where it was, including people in the office. Deb: We got some of the signage a bit late. Info was in Information, rather than Office, probably should have been there also.

Maps should have marked where the bathrooms where. All the locations in the schedule should have been on the maps. Deb: Let me tell you about the maps. We had technical problems in composing the Convention Guide. Restrooms were labelled on a different layer, which blew up Pagemaker every time we tried to include them. Apparently Pagemaker doesn't have any bodily functions of its own.

Why was there no pocket program or daily program grid sheets? Deb: There was supposed to be daily program grid sheets, but we dropped the ball. We couldn't fit those things on grids - there was too much program.

After last year, which only had a grid, the convention guide was nice. Deb: Put together as nice as we possibly could so it could be as accurate as possible. But the problem then became that technical glitches were hard to solve due to little time.

Problem with finding film rooms (not on map). No information about what films would be in Republic A and B. Deb: We had insufficient communication internally once we got on site. I would encourage our successors to have a central location for stuff that has to happen at con. When you're spread out you don't have everbody checking in one place. Some of the 70mm films came in very late; trying to do deals to get films cheaper.

Please put names of people who would be autographing on the web as soon as you know. Deb: We tried to do that as far in advance as we could.

This was my first Worldcon. Sessions on enjoying the Worldcon were all Thursday and Friday - please have one on Saturday. I went on a private village tour with Tom Veal. Trouble finding Art Show once we got up to third floor. Deb: We had all the signs made, but didn't have enough people to run around and put the signs up. We had a sign printer that was working nonstop during the convention. Also not clear where the docent tours would meet or where the filk office was.

Maps weren't all oriented the same way. Deb: We believe in different orientations.:-) It would have been great to have the Sheraton in a different color from the Hynes.

Another first Worldcon (Deb's student). This was extremely organized. I was amazed at the Convention Guide. At 5:30 tomorrow, Deb teaches her first graduate class in Convention Management.

This is my 30th Worldcon and in my opinion one of the best. Minor problems were events didn't start on time. Deb: Opening Ceremonies was late because some equipment was still (literally) in the air. We tried to open the doors earlier for the other events. Last night with the Masquerade, there were several last-minute entrants and they needed time to get their material ready.

SFWA, TAFF/DUFF auctions are a perennial issue. Too small a room and need more time. Should get more priority. Deb: Pete Weston brought an incomplete Hugo which auctioned for $250.

Sound systems. Masquerade: sound for MC was okay, but pre-recorded stuff for entrants was terribly muddy. Film room in Sheraton. Sound almost completely unintelligible (eg, Surge of Power). Deb: They tried to tweak the sound all weekend, there was something strange about the 70mm prints that put a buzz in the sound system. Brought in Boston Light and Sound to try to fix it. Known problem; trying to solve it. Muddy sound in Masquerade due to the quality of the recordings that we get from the entrants.

Loved the wireless access. Deb: I know it went down one day, but otherwise it was cool.

Really like extended Art Show hours. Deb: Was open 36 hours total - longest since LACon II. Opened early to show Retrospective exhibit, and tried to keep it open late at night. Opened AS reception to general public. Some concern about closing at 2 on Sunday, but all previous Art Shows did that, and we turned it around in 2 hours rather than 3.

Hugo Nominees reception is closed because it's designed to get them all to show up.

Thanks for the Mended Drum (applause). Deb: We wanted to do the Mended Drum since the beginning. Kept trying to develop the concept. Up until it all went together, we had no clue what it would look like. We had creative people who painted stuff, found flats, did a great job.

Piped events into there and 210. Couldn't pipe into hotels. Ran in Marriott via tape delay. (Literally ran the tapes over to the Marriott.) We had no way to do it in the Sheraton without spending tons of money.

Thank N4 to arrange for parties to happen in function space, with couches, and free soda. (Applause) Deb: Sleeping rooms have very narrow corridors. We knew that big parties would have serious problems with hall congestion, especially with mobility aids. Thank the bids and other large parties for running them in function space. The soda thing was a great deal. Note that Con Suite staff got Pepsi as well as Coke. Ben Yalow negotiated the contract to get us unlimited soft drinks. (Applause)

At elevators, have signs pointing to stairs. Deb: We put them up, but the hotel moved them.

Had a great time, want to thank everybody. Only gripes: Many panels were standing room only. Some were 1/2 hour, which was too short. No printed film schedule.

I like to go to gaming in between panels. Gaming in two different rooms meant it was hard to get a pickup game. Deb: We originally had everything in the Sheraton and gaming requested additional space, which only fit in the Hynes.

The chairs provided in the Dealers Room are atrocious. Deb: The chairs in the Dealers Room cost us $12 each. In exhibit halls everything must be purchased from a decorating company. When we rent from the Hynes we get a bare box. For better chairs it would cost $19/chair, which would have been considerable. Elaine Brennan: A lot of people don't understand how Worldcon budgeting works. We have to contract with the decorator long before we know how many people are going to show up. So we have to be frugle.

Office and Communications doesn't function well with a noisy photocopier right next to the phones.

Suggestion for future conventions. Have a place on the web site for attendees to indicate what they're interested in, to try to help figure required size of rooms. Deb: It's complicated, because it's not just what the panel is about, but who is on it.

Thanks for the scooter rentals. Hynes did not set up chairs in the program rooms to allow for scooters. Deb: Even when we moved them, the Hynes would put them back. Our community helps support people with limited mobility.

I had anticipated that there would be more computers available to check email. I was surprised there were so few, and there were always long lines. Deb: This is a nice to have if you have the money. We had purchased a number of computers for general convention use. We got donations of 6 Macintoshes for the Internet Lounge at the last minute. We tried to let people know we had wireless access. We had drops for people to plug in laptops, even if not wireless. (People complained that they didn't know they were there.) Deb: We bought 450 pieces of foamcore and still didn't manage to have enough signs out there.

I thought they were a major inconvenience that you had to stand to use the computers. I have arthritis and standing for a long period of time is an inconvenience. Deb: That was on purpose because we only had 6 and we were trying to keep people from using them for a long time. We had one for people with mobility problems.

What is the attendance? Around 5600. We're still working on the numbers.

Lost and found was big box, but needed a place to put delicate stuff into (envelopes, etc.) Sheila Perry: We're also keeping a list in the logbook, so if we find things when we move out, we'll return it.

Commend Con Suite very good variety of food. (Applause for Con Suite.) Also to con publicity for being listed in various places around Boston. Deb: We'll have a dead dog party tonight in the Con Suite.

Your guests of honor have been incredibly available. Deb: We have been so blessed with 4 of the coolest, easy to get along with guys in the history of the world.

Why didn't we use the Marriott? Deb: We had the function space there, but we didn't need to use them, and to do so would have split the convention. We were very lucky to have a site that was this compact. Even though we have lots of space, it's still contiguous and compact. We used it for a Suffolk University class, and some weddings, and the Masquerade rehearsal.

Photo galleries on the 3rd floor. Nice if a gold star marked people actually here. Deb: B&W photos originally shot for N3 in 1989, at Torcon 3 we began shooting pros for additional photos in the gallery. Color are more recent photos.

Fan Gallery, black frames indicate deceased fans. Deb: You can't get more gafiated than that.

Deb: Signage would have cost $30,000 if bought from decorator. Instead we bought a large-format sign printer and shackled one of our people to it.

Deb: Did you like the rugs? Were they neat? They cost $300 each. Where did you get them made? Freeman, our decorator. One is going to the artist, Bill Neville.

What is the total budget? Deb: Still in flux. The average Worldcon costs roughly $850-$900,000. We are slightly over that, around $960,000 expenses; just under $1M income. The surplus will go to the pass-on funds program. We may pass on more than half; the rest will be spent on useful things for fandom (like the exhibit packing crates donated by SFSFC). Budget does not include pass through like Art Show, mobie rentals, etc. That includes budgeting for membership reimbursements. These reimbursements are made only if the Worldcon is financially stable.

Deb: Thank you all very much. It's been an amazing experience.

Posted by Leslie Turek at 04:33 PM in 7-Monday | Permalink | Comments (10)


Mondays at Worldcons are the saddest but somehow the most pleasant times. Sad because everyone is packing up to go home. The panels are winding down, the art show is gradually disappearing through the sales tables, and everyone is rushing around to pick up that last item in the dealers room or to get in their membership conversion to the newly-selected Worldcon. (Or, in my case, to buy that $300 computer from the convention yard sale. I'm a confirmed Mac addict, but every so often I need to run something that can only run on a PC, and at $300, it's cheaper than buying Virtual PC - and faster.)

Pleasant because the crowds are smaller and people aren't quite so busy, and so you can hang out in the ConCourse and chat with the people who pass by. The Dead Dog party tonight should be a congenial group, and I also need to make an appearance at the ex-Worldcon chairs party. We have an annual get-together and group photograph, which is scheduled for 10:00 tonight. I'm sure Deb Geisler is looking eagerly forward to becoming an EX Worldcon Chair.

After First Night was over, I was pretty exhausted, so didn't get to a lot of program during the convention. But I did get to all of the big evening events, and had time for a pass through the Art Show and Dealers Room. This morning, Alex and I toured the Retrospective Art Exhibit as part of a docent tour given by Bob Wiener, which was very interesting. Later today, I'll report on the Gripe Session and Closing Ceremonies.

Posted by Leslie Turek at 01:00 PM in 7-Monday | Permalink | Comments (0)


TimeCostumeThere was no masquerade program, so I'll add captions to these when the Masquerade awards list turns up in the daily newsletter.

UrielCostumeUriel, The Archangel of Ecology (one of four new icons, based on the Hannah Shapiro paintings).


StarWarsHalf-time entertainment for the Masquerade was Charles Ross' One-Man Star Wars show, which was impossible to photograph because he was moving non-stop. He did the complete trilogy in sounds and gestures - here he's doing a tie fighter. He had all the music, voices, and sound effects, from the patrician British of Alec Guiness to the beeps and whirs of Artoo Detoo and the buzzing of the light sabers. You just had to be there - it was great!

(Dave Kyle came by as I was typing this in the middle of the ConCourse on Monday morning, and said "Stop looking so busy!")

Posted by Leslie Turek at 10:03 AM in 6-Sunday | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday: A Con Report

By Sunday morning I'm starting to feel the con burnout, but there's still so much left to see and do! I drive in and park under the Prudential Center, having been ripped off by the guy at the John Hancock garage, who refused to believe in my discount tickets. I've been walking enough to feel some guilty pleasure at being so close to the con.

I meet up with another writer I know online and we hit a couple panels. The first, one on promoting your first novel with Keith R. A. DeCandido and Laura Anne Gilman, is a practical look-- and a practical demonstration, in a way-- of the trials and tribulations of promoting a first (original) novel. The second panel is technically on going beyond sex, with David B. Coe, George R. R. Martin, Victoria McManus, Laura Resnick, and Melinda Snodgrass, but a lot of what the panel addresses is still sex. Not beyond sex. Which makes for an entertaining panel indeed.

Afterwards, I head down to the dealer's room and then over to Trader Joe's to grab something to eat-- I can't face the food court again. At three I head over to the panel on Defending the Writing Life, with Jack Dann, Melanie Fletcher, Gavin Grant, Gay Haldeman, and David Marusek. The panel is an interesting look at how they or their loved ones defend their writing time, but as the panelists themselves note, writing is something each person has to worm their way into on their own, in their own way, and the tips on how to minimize distraction for one person won't work for other people. I suspect that the panels in general are driving home the infinite variety of writers to everyone. Arguably, this panel contains some of the best advice for new writers: don't spend the advance.

After that, I hit my literary beer (actually, a literary CiderJack) with Diane Duane, which is good, followed by my final panel of the day, the panel on rejection with Janna Silverstein, Charles Stross, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, and Jo Walton. It involves a lot of talk about rejection, naturally, and a lot of talk about slush-- those who missed the panel could find a lot of the information over on Teresa Nielsen Hayden's weblog under the highly addictive blog post and discussion Slushkiller.

I grab dinner and then go sit outside for a while. Feeling like I need a bit of a break from the convention, I call up a friend. "I've been reading the blog," he says. "Do people really call you General?" Yes, Jeffrey. Yes, they really do.

I then go snag myself a seat for the masquerade. About five minutes in, I realize that I really should have done some research and worked out the rules. Original? Self-made? Reproduction? Original reproduction? I'm lost. The costumes are incredible, and I'm lost on the rules. Before the adult division, the MC says she's going to explain the adult categories for the one person in the audience who doesn’t already know, and I hang my head in shame, knowing that I am that one person. Fortunately, I don't need to know the rules to know that the costumes are bloody incredible. (I'm really hoping someone else knows how to reliably turn off their camera flash and can post some pictures here, because descriptions aren't going to do them justice.) My final thought: a spotlight on Terry Prachett might have made determinations of when he was blushing easier.

Posted by Gen Jules Reynolds at 08:52 AM in 6-Sunday | Permalink | Comments (2)

September 05, 2004

The Hugo Awards: A Nominee's Perspective

As I warned people in my Thursday post, I wouldn't be able to blog again until today, because from Friday night to Saturday night I was observing shabbat, and I figured that I wouldn't have time to post elsewhen. There's a lot I could post about, but I thought I would give everyone a nominee's-eye-view of the Hugo Awards.

I have to admit that I have a relatively skewed perspective on Worldcon. I've only managed to make it to four Worldcons in my life, and at each one of them, I was a Hugo nominee. (I missed two others at which I was a nominee.) So from my perspective, I've always had set plans for the Hugo evening. And this is how it worked this year.

At 6 PM, Nomi and I (along with friend and assistant Julia) went to the pre-Hugo reception. This is a big closed party, where nominees and their guests have a chance to chat, along with the presenters, MC, and people running the show. In reality, it's kind of a way to make sure that all the nominees are corralled, so if someone said they would be on hand to accept their Hugo, they're actually there. They do provide a level of food and drink, and there's a lot of people around in fancy dress all perspiring in nervousness because they don't know what's going to happen. I talked with a lot of people and have to admit that it's hard to remember many of the conversations. I do recall the following, though. Nomi came up to me at one point to say that she had been talking to Phil Klass (William Tenn), and that he had told her that I was an excellent writer and that I had written an excellent story.

Delighted, I approached Tenn to thank him. To my face, he said, "You're welcome. After all, your story was not as poorly written as it could have been."

We all love William Tenn.

At 7:45 PM, they escorted all of the nominees into the auditorium, where they had reserved a block of seats for us. And then we had the ceremony. When you're a nominee, you have sit and wait through a ton of other presentations while you wait for them to announce your category. No matter how short the ceremony, the wait is interminable. Throughout, I was sitting, very nervous, holding Nomi's hand, and hoping that when George R.R. Martin opened the envelope, he'd read my name aloud as the winner in the Short Story category.

Of course, at this point we all know that Neil Gaiman won, and Neil was very funny as he accepted his Hugo. So the question people now ask me is how do I feel. There's an old saying that it's an honor just to be nominated, and while that is true, I hope people would understand that someone who loses will still feel a certain level of bitter disappointment, and that the joy of being nominated is separate from the frustration of having lost.

On the other hand, I have a few wonderful things to hold onto. According to the voting breakdown, my story had the most nominations of any in the category - including Neil's. And I placed a strong second, implying that had Neil's story not been on the list, I probably would have won.

After the ceremony, we went to the Hugo Loser's party, where I hugged Sue Francis, thanked Michael Rennie for some apple juice, and made some reconnections with some good friends. And then we left, to join Bob Greenberger in the Rhode Island Science Fiction Club Suite, to watch some excellent hula dancing and let out the last of my tension as we watched Donna's hips sway to the music.

I'll report more later if I can -- and here's a shout-out to the lovely Dawn Burnell, who writes about having attending my reading in her Sunday blogging.

Posted by Michael A. Burstein at 07:40 PM in 5-Saturday | Permalink | Comments (2)

Morning and one Panel


I slept a lot and had fun this morning just shooting the breeze with my husband and my roommate. Lunch was brief and I managed to post one update. Then it was off to a reading. I had missed Michelle's reading (darn) which I had really wanted to hear, but food was more important. I made it to Michael Burstein's reading. It was a lot of fun. He read a yet-to-be-published story that will be appearing early next year in an anthology "I, Alien" edited by Mike Resnick. It was a gas. I will be picking up the anthology just on the basis of that one story. And Michael was kind enough to sign the manuscript for me and gift it to me. *SQUEEE*

Now I'm off to the Strange Horizons tea party. Talley-ho!

Posted by Dawn Burnell at 05:10 PM in 6-Sunday | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday & Hugos


After my late night Friday, and a late night Thursday and very little sleep before flying, I slept in on Saturday morning. I woke up with barely enough time to shower and dress and grab food before Jay Lake's SFF.net reading. Jay is a friend of mine and I hadn't ever heard him read before. He read two stories: "Angel's Daughter" (my request) which appeared in the June Realms of Fantasy this year and "Crimson Mud, Drying Blood". I'd read "Angel's Daughter" before, and was thrilled to hear his intonation. I had not heard the other story, which was very interesting and more than a little disturbing. But very, very good.

After that I ran down to the panel "Tough Love for New Writers". There, I was discouraged from writing, told that I could very well be turned into a little ball of sobbing jelly, informed that I would not be respected by the rest of the world, and that for $50 a year Gavin Grant would tell me I was a writer. Basically, the editors and writers of the panel wanted to tear down any aspiring writers. There was a morbid humor going on, and there were a lot of laughs. But the take-away message was that you will not find happiness in being published, selling your first novel, becoming a SFWA member or winning the Hugo. You must be happy within yourself. If you happen to write and get published during that, good for you. It was a sobering panel, but it was a kindness. Anyone who could sit through that panel and know that they were being serious for the majority may have the makings to become a writer. But if someone sat through that panel, knowing they were serious or thinking they were joking, that person most likely doesn't have the resilance and ego to truly make it in the field.

I am a masocist and really had heard most of it before and said some of it before. And yet, I still want to be a writer. In fact, it energized me to send out more stuff, silly as that sounds.

My panel for the day checked off I ran up to the room to gather some supplies and then out to grab some nylons and hydrating drinks from the Walgreens. I changed into my formal dress and bounced down to the Hugo Pre-Reception to "be pretty, smile and entertain the guests."

I believe I acquitted myself well. And I figured out I know more people than I thought I did among the Hugo nominees. I know Jay Lake (up for the Campbell and a Hugo). I worked for Charles Brown of Locus (up for yet another Hugo) and knew some of the other Locus crew. I (now) know Michael Burstein (up for the Hugo) and his wife Nomi. I had met Ellen Datlow (up for a Hugo) and Teresa Nielson Hayden (presenting a Huog) earlier during the Con and both were happy to talk to me. I had met John Joseph Adams (assistant editor at F&SF, his boss was up for a Hugo) earlier this con. I knew Frank Wu (up for a Hugo), though he showed up very late. And anyone who I had not already met was more than willing to talk to me anyhow. It was a lot of fun and I just enjoyed the wash of conversation and the feeling of being there. The nervous energy was running high and it rubbed off on me (and several others, as they confided in me).

The walk over to the ceremony was a thrill in itself. I got to help chase Neil Gaiman out of the room to the hall, and he was putting the finishing touches on his Toastmaster notes. I got to walk through the special "Not an Entrance" entrance. I got to sit in the second row of the ceremony and look up to see my husband working the follow spot. None of this I would have believed before coming to the Con. I would have bet on being up in the nosebleed section or waiting in line for 2 hours to get on the ground level.

The ceremony was a lot of fun for me. I enjoyed the speakers and thrill of the annoucements. There were the normal Hugo strange events ["Filthy Pierre" winning two of the special awards, winners being annouced early due to technical glitches, papers being shuffled, speakers running over, etc.]. I got to whistle and cheer for Frank who won the Hugo for Best Fan Artist. He was stunned and so cute. I got to stand up in happiness for Jay, and I can now say "I told you so" to him about the Campbell. I smiled when Neil was given his second Hugo. And I had the fun daydream of thinking some day I would be up there. (yes I know, it is not the end all of being a writer but it a nice spiffy daydream)

After that I realized I had not had much food (there was finger food at the pre-reception but I was trying very hard to keep talking so I didn't eat much) and went to get food. My body informed me at that point that I had not been eating enough, or drinking enough, or sleeping enough. So I got some food, didn't finish all of it and crashed. It was only midnight [early for a Con], but I was dead tired. My husband became my designated socialite and he stayed out drinking and courasing until early that morning. In my dreams, silver rockets danced.

Posted by Dawn Burnell at 04:00 PM in 5-Saturday | Permalink | Comments (0)

Catching Up

Catching Up

It has been a busy last two days. I will attempt to summarize.


I don't know why I pretend that I will make any panels/events at a Con if they occur before 11 AM. Or even at 11 AM. Though my husband and I valiantly tried to make an 11 AM panel, it was just not to be. I did, however, manage to make the next panel I had scheduled at noon: The Future of Short Fiction (and Magazines). This is basically an annual panel. Every year people are convinced that the short fiction market is dying. However, to listen to this panel, that is a myth. It was reassuring to me for two reasons: I prefer reading short fiction and I prefer writing short fiction.

There was some discussion of the value of internet publishing. I think it was unfortunate that the panelists began that discussion by making generalizations. It is clear to me that they were mostly talking about the equivalent of vanity press: Anyone can throw up a webpage and "publish" their own work. Most of the time, it is crap. However, the generalizations covered any internet publishing, at first, meaning e-zines like Strange Horizons and Sci Fiction were included. The panelists later clarified that such markets were indeed great places for authors to submit their work and other smaller e-zines were also good training grounds. However, the very valid point that none of the e-zines are self-supporting. All in all, it was a standard panel of this title.

I had a little downtime before sitting in ConSuite for the next two hours. Which was when I finally managed to get my last post up, due to technical problems earlier in the morning. The Wi-Fi access is very good at this Con, however there are very few computers or laptop ports provided by the Con for direct, physical connections. There was a decent amount of grumbling about this set-up, though you can never please everyone. As the years pass, I'm sure different WorldCons will have different technological achievements. Note for next year's participants: Remember to bring adapters for your power chargers as there are different power outlets than in America.

KaffeKlatches: These are neat little events. Basically, a personality in the field agrees to spend 1 hour with eight interested fans over coffee and munchies provided by ConSuite. There are also Literary Beers, which are the same thing only the group meets over beer/cider instead of coffee/tea.

I signed up for Michelle Sagara West and Ellen Datlow.

Michelle was a lot of fun, as were the other participants. She was cool with the fact that I (and at least one other person) were there because we read her LiveJournal, but had never read any of her fiction. In her LJ, she discusses the various traditions and explanations and myths about book publishing. She has been a book store employee, a book store owner, an orderer, an author, and back to being a part-time books store employee while writing. So she knows many of the small ways an author can help their book take off and what authors can expect once they sell their first novel. The KaffeKlatch discussed a little of that, a little about her fiction [no spoilers, thankfully] and a little about books to come out. I enjoyed it because Michelle was just such a sweet person. See earlier entry about how people are nice here.

Ellen Datlow's KaffeKlatch was fun and informative for different reasons. Ellen is an editor, so has a different view on things than any author can have. Some people asked questions about how to sell to her and others asked how to become an editor in the field. She was very blunt and honest, which I appreciated. For any writers out there: SciFiction is very much look for SF. Ellen said she always receives too much fantasy and never enough SF, preferably hard though "rubber" is okay. And remember, SciFiction is the highest paying market in the field.

After the KaffeKlatches I attended the Wheatland Press Party, which was fun. I am friends with one of the editors of Polyphony, Jay Lake, who also has several collections out from Wheatland. The party was fun because I got to meet a lot of other neat authors, see Deborah Layne in passing, and cheer for my roommate Diana and her first SF publication in Polyphony 4. She even got asked to autograph her story. How cool is that?

After the party was a lovely dinner where I met more wonderful people (are you seeing a theme here yet?). My husband and I attended the Swing Dancing event for a short time, but they had just opened and the band wasn't set up yet so no one was there. We hung out at Frank Wu's party for a while, which was much fun. Frank is a sweet and wonderful guy who knows a lot of neat people. I went from there to the mystical SFWA suite to meet up with fellow blogger Michael Burstein.

Background: On his first blog I commented how much I enjoyed his Hugo nominated story, "Paying it Forward". He came over to my first entry and suggested meeting up. We exchanged a few e-mails and Voodoo Messages and finally cell phone calls before we established a meeting place and time. Michael and his wife Nomi were kind enough to stand near the door to the SFWA suite, as it is barred by a magical list of SFWA members and their guests. I'm sure I rubbed shoulders with many of the authors I admired that night, though it was too crowded to turn around and check every bump.

Michael and Nomi are good people. We chatted up at SFWA until the crowd was too much, then went down to ConSuite to wait for some of their friends, then I called my husband and we retreated to the privacy of their room. Basically, I got to spend 3 hours talking with a really neat couple about many things. And did I mention one of them was a Hugo nominee? And had wanted to meet me? Little ol' me? *squee*

Of course, I found out he wanted to meet me because I had said I liked his story. And that he was all *squee* about that. Which is one of the coolest things about Michael. He may be a well respected, multiple Hugo nominated author, but he's also still a fan of the genre and is surprised when people tell him how much they liked his work. It was refreshing and reassuring. I hope that when I'm a published and Hugo nominated author, I have the easygoing nature that Michael does.

Eventually we had to leave and I made my way back to Frank's party. I ran into a gentleman that I'd been introduced to via Nomi and he and I checked out the Evil Villain's party. It was a lot of fun to just help each other remember various villains. At some point, other member of the Technical crew came by and tried to hit me up for volunteering. Since I have no technical experience I turned him down. However, my husband had done lights for Rocky for a while so I went and asked him if he wanted to help out. Those two got to talking and my original partner in crime remembered that he still needed someone to help out with the greeting of the various guests at the Hugo Pre party. He asked if I wanted to help out. For some insane reason (probably ethanol induced) I played it like I didn't want to help out. So he fed me peeled grapes. What is a girl to do?

So it was that I was slated to greet the luminaries of the speculative fiction world preceding one of the largest award ceremonies in the field. I just hoped my dress was good enough.

Posted by Dawn Burnell at 03:19 PM in 4-Friday | Permalink | Comments (1)

Around the con 2

ShoppingDebbie King on a "small" shopping run for the Volunteer Den on Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Laurie Mann.)

Nippon2007Chairman Hiroaki Inoue announcing information about the Nippon 2007 bid at this morning's WSFS business meeting.

GlyerMike Glyer's new look.

Posted by Leslie Turek at 02:35 PM in 6-Sunday | Permalink | Comments (0)

More photos

Keith Stokes reports that photos from both Hugo cermonies and around Noreascon have been going up during the convention at www.midamericon.org/photoarchive.

Posted by Noreascon 4 at 02:11 PM in 6-Sunday | Permalink | Comments (0)

Upcoming Conventions and Bids

The current rate for the Nippon 2007 Worldcon is $160 U.S. ($100 for pre-supporters, and other discounts for Friends and voters). These rates will be in effect until Dec. 31, 2004.

The other existing Worldcons and Worldcon bids made brief presentations to the Business Meeting.

The current rate for Interaction (Glasgow 2005) is $170 until Sept 30. Their hotel reservation page opened this weekend, and the on-site hotel rooms are filling up fast.

The current rate for LACon 4 (2006 Worldcon in Los Angeles, California) is $125, going up to $150 on Sept 12. They take PayPal and offer an installment plan.

CascadiaCon, the 2007 NASFic in Seattle, has a rate of $85 to Nov. 30. They announced a special anime GoH Inoue-san. Booking for hotels opens Sept. 21. There are currently about 650 registered members.

Three 2008 bidders made presentations. Kent Bloom announced a new bid for Denver Colorado. The dates of the convention would be 6-10 August 2008. They are holding an organizational meeting in the Marriott this afternoon.

TR Smith and Vince Docherty announced the Geneva Convention bid. They promised hot and cold running chocolate in all program items. "Don't vote for us; vote for our opponents - we're just trying to have a good time". The assembled crowd clamored for t-shirts.

The Chicago in 2008 bid announced that Dave McCarty will be the new chair of the bid. They are still deciding on hotel and dates, looking at Labor Day, but trying to find the best rates. Considering airport hotel.

For 2009, a bid was announced for Anticipation, Montreal in 2009. The bid was formed only 12 hours ago, although the organizers insisted they were not drunk at the time. They are accepting pre-supports for $20. The convention date is uncertain. The convention would be bilingual.

Margene Bahm announced a 2009 bid for Kansas City, with the theme of the phoenix rising from the ashes. Also "Exploring the library of your imagination". They will have table in ConCourse starting at noon. Bidding same facilities they used before, for Labor Day weekend. Pre-supporting $20, $25 for pre-opposing, $50 for friend of the library, $100 for patron. What is official language of convention? Ans: calculus. (actually, English).

Rick Zellig from St. Louis announced that Archon is bidding for NASFic of 2007. Not sure of dates, possibly at Adams Mark downtown, possibly in August. Archon is normally a 2500-person convention. PS $20, PO $25.

Rose Mitchell represented Australia in 2010, in the place of chair Steven Boucher, who could not attend Noreascon. Despite how the bid started, it is now a serious bid. We would like to thank the very strong pre-support that we've had so far. (600 people have signed up) You'll see us at Glasgow in 2005. Haven't decided on a site. Melbourne likely, but not locked in. What time of year? Spring. Will be updating web site soon.

TR Smith announced a "protobid" for 2011 in Washington DC. This is contingent on hotels actually being built near the convention center. They're having a party tonight in 708 with the theme, "DC supports the Geneva Convention".

Posted by Leslie Turek at 12:47 PM in 6-Sunday | Permalink | Comments (1)

Nippon 2007 Wins Site Selection

At this morning's WSFA Business Meeting, site selection administrator Patrick Molloy announced that vote counting took place last night, taking 1 hr and 36 min. 1686 valid ballots were received. 38 selected "No Preference", leaving 1648 valid ballots expressing a preference, requiring 825 votes for a majority. The results were:

1 Highmore SD
1 Dunadin
1 Rottnest Island
1 Monkey's Eyebrow KY
1 Monkey's Elbow KY
1 Louisville in '94
3 Minneapolis in '73
12 None of the Above
692 Columbus in 2007
935 Nippon 2007

Chairman Hiroaki Inoue read some brief remarks in Japanese that were translated into English by another committee member. He thanked the voters, the Columbus committee, the Noreascon 4 committee, Peggy Rae Sapienza, agent Andrew Adams, and Takumi Shibani, who first started the bid.

Convention name will be "Nippon 2007" and the dates will be Aug 30 - Sept 3, 2007, in Yokohama, Japan.

Author Guests of Honor will be Sakyo Komatsu and David Brin. Artist Guests of Honor will be Yoshitaka Amano and Michael Whelan. Fan Guest of Honor Takumi Shibano.

Their PR0, with detailed hotel, travel, and conversion information was distributed.

The chair clarified that the vote for the 2007 NASFic will be held at Cascadiacon next year.

Posted by Leslie Turek at 10:34 AM in 6-Sunday | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday: Panel reports

The first panel I attend is on paranormal romance, with Catherine Asaro, Charlaine Harris, Sue Krinard, Sandra McDonald as moderator, and Diane Turnshek, who I realize I was working with on Wednesday night, hanging signs on the pillars in the concourse. Some things that spring to mind: paranormal romance is on the rise, and while angsty werewolves and sexy vampires have their place, the field has a lot more than that going on. One conclusion, in the words of Diane Turnshek: science fiction and romance go together like peanut butter and chocolate. After the panel, I head out to spend far too much money in the dealer's room.

Afterwards, I head over to the panel on Tough Love for New Writers, with Gavin Grant, David G. Hartwell, Steve Miller, Priscilla Olson, and Teresa Nielsen Hayden. I already know most of the reasons why nobody should ever be a writer, so I'm not learning new information, but the discussions of why SFWA membership should never be a primary life goal and the able career planning advice of Gavin Grant ("[What you should try to do is] write, and don't get published, and die. And you can do those things") make it a fun-- is depressing-- panel. My favorite bit comes at the very end, however, when Teresa Nielsen Hayden tells us that if you're a person who can't do anything but be a writer-- if you're someone who will write no matter how much you try not to-- then you might as well try to write well, and get someone to pay you for it. I find myself liking this advice.

At the end of the panel I rush to the Concourse to sign up for a literary beer, making it barely in time as the last signature on the list. I then head up to the Snowball Earth presentation, which is being given by an old professor of mine, Paul Hoffman. I'm running late, but I figure I can slip in the back and then go up and say hi afterwards.

When I arrive, however, the presentation hasn't started-- and Paul Hoffman is nowhere to be seen. Janine Ellen Young volunteers to moderate a panel until Hoffman arrives, takes the stage, and asks is anyone in the audience knows anything about Snowball Earth-- and since I took a seminar from Hoffman which wound up focusing on the Snowball, I raise my hand and wind up on the panel. Janine Ellen Young moderates wonderfully. Also pinch-hitting on the panel-- and doing a great job-- is Richard Lovett, who's working on an article on Snowball Earth for Analog. I periodically burble about stratigraphic sequences and carbon dioxide and hope I'm making something approaching sense. The audience asks great questions, and I walk out of the thing feeling rather like I got hit by a lemon wrapped around a brick, only in a good way. Mind you, the real pan galactic gargle blasters won't be coming for a few more hours.

Posted by Gen Jules Reynolds at 01:57 AM in 5-Saturday | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Hugo Awards

My apologies once again for the fuzzy pictures. I was taking them from the projection screen in a low light situation without a tripod, so they aren't so great, but maybe better than nothing...

GaimanNeil Gaiman was Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

PierreKyleDave Kyle presents the Big Heart Award to Erwin "Filthy Pierre" Strauss for his years of service to fandom. Filthy responded to a standing ovation by saying that he liked doing what he did, and planned to continue doing it. In a bit of a coincidence, the Noreascon 4 Special Committee Award was also given to Filthy, occasioning a second standing ovation.

P1010010Robert Silverberg told stories from the past 50 Hugo ceremonies (as the only person who has attended every one of them).

HugoDesignHugo designer Scott Lefton describes this year's Hugos, which featured rocket flames formed from copper and brass.

GaimanHugoNeil Gaiman accepting the Best Short Story Hugo for "A Study in Emerald".

SwanwickMichael Swanwick accepting the Best Novelette Hugo for "Legions in Time".

Posted by Leslie Turek at 12:22 AM in 5-Saturday | Permalink | Comments (6)

September 04, 2004

Around the con

TheLuggageThe Luggage was walking around in the ConCourse. (I got there just a minute too late to get a picture of Terry Pratchett watching it perambulate.)

MoonRockAt the NASA exhibit, the Retro Hugo for Werner von Braun's The Conquest of the Moon had been added to the moon rock display.

LitBheerLiterary Bheer in The Mended Drum with George R.R. Martin.

Posted by Leslie Turek at 11:58 PM in 5-Saturday | Permalink | Comments (2)

Hugo Awards

Best Novel - Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold

Best Novella - "The Cookie Monster" by Vernor Vinge

Best Novelette - "Legions in Time" by Michael Swanwick

Best Short Story - "A Study in Emerald" by Neil Gaiman

Best Related Book - The Chesley Awards for Science Fictiion and Fantasy Art: A Retrospective by John Grant, Elizabeth L. Humphrey, and Pamela D. Scoville

Best Professional Editor - Gardner Dozois

Best Professional Artist - Bob Eggleton

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form - Gollum's Acceptance Speech at the 2003 MTV Movie Awards

Best Semi-Prozine - Locus, Charles N. Brown, Jennifer A. Hall, and Kirsten Gong-Wong, eds.

Best Fanzine - Emerald City, Cheryl Morgan, ed.

Best Fan Writer - Dave Langford

Best Fan Artist - Frank Wu

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer - Jay Lake

Special Noreascon Four Committee Award - Erwin "Filthy Pierre" Strauss

Posted by Noreascon 4 at 11:18 PM in 5-Saturday | Permalink | Comments (4)

Panel Report: Fantasy of Manners

Description: How do we define it? How do we draw the line, and what is its appeal? Is it a truth (universally acknowledged . . . ) that only women can write it? Lois McMaster Bujold, Ellen Kushner, Madeleine E. Robins (m), Jo Walton

People interested in the topic of this panel (described in as much detail as I can stand after the jump) might also like to read various discussions (including proposed reading lists) collected in my LiveJournal "memories", and this brand-new LiveJournal community.

The panel disposed of the question about whether only women can write it with a "No." Steven Brust was the immediate response; Alexi Panshin's Villiers books were mentioned later.

In the introductions, Ellen Kushner (EK) said "This is going to sound awful, but I invented Fantasy of Manners." Specifically, she suggested the term to Don Keller when he was writing the article citing her first novel Swordspoint as one of the key texts of this new thing he'd identified (his proposed label was Fourth Street something-or-other, after a con). EK said that it was just dumb luck that her book was first; she said that about a year later, Faren Miller reviewed a really great book in Locus that was much in the same vein, which of course got unfairly tagged as being heavily influenced by Swordspoint.

(Anyone have a guess at what this was? The panel couldn't bring the name to mind. The author was female.)

(By the way, EK is currently working on a novel set chronologically in-between Swordspoint and The Fall of the Kings, which features Alec as a ~40 year old who is now rich and powerful and pushes things one step too far.)

EK said that her second novel, Thomas the Rhymer, isn't FoM; I don't think I heard her say whether she thought Fall was or not.

Madeleine E. Robins (MR) said that her path into FoM was partly a quote of her mom's (attributed to Dorothy Parker), "A lady never offends anyone inadvertently." She thinks FoM is all about being really deliberate in negotiating the world.

I believe that around this point EK said that she was hoping the panel would be Fantasy of Manners 201 rather than 101, and in response, Lois McMaster Bujold (LMB) said that she was hoping that first they'd define the thing.

Jo Walton (JW) listed her elements of a definition (and noted that she thought she was on this panel because she likes to read this stuff, and was surprised to find that people thought her novel Tooth and Claw was FoM):

  • It has to be fantasy.
    • LMB: meaning that A Civil Campaign is science fiction of manners? JW: yes.

  • It can be described as "like Jane Austen with (fill-in-the-blank)." Or Heyer.

    • Which is one reason why she didn't think Tooth and Claw fit, because it's Trollope where all the people are dragons and eat each other, not Austen. (Late in the panel, EK said that she'd fallen in love with Trollope a few years ago and wanted to start a new movement, the Young Trollopes. Much groaning from the audience.)

  • It has manners used as weapons.
  • The events are small scale: they matter to the characters, but they don't change the entire world.
  • Key works: Swordspoint, Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer's Sorcery and Cecilia, Barbara Hambly's Stranger at the Wedding

    • Sorcery and Cecilia, as discussed later on in the panel, is epistolary Regency-with-magic. The Hambly is middle-class FoM, I believe in the Regency period.

  • It's witty.
  • Some people (ed. like your humble reporter) think it has to be non-passionate in tone, but she disagrees.

    • This is the other reason she didn't think Tooth and Claw was the kind of thing people meant by FoM.

EK added that Keller either said or meant to say that while the story might not change the world, it matters to society and in that sense the fate of the world is at stake, because the characters' world is social.

MR said that class standing and hierarchy is very important. JW added that FoM is a way of exploring something that's not quite the historical period. (Somewhat later, JW said that in writing historical fiction, you have to be aware that people of those times have a lot of awful things in their mindsets, and of course you can change that, but you can only go so far before you're not historical anymore.) MR took this up, saying that a certain kind of historical romance drives her nuts, where the protagonist gets away with being a 1990s girl in an 1810 setting. She's interested in the way that FoM can allow a writer to feed in modern attitudes, as long as the story is anchored in the historical time; FoM is about ways that characters can subvert the system to their very small ends, in a very mannered way that makes it look like they're acting within society's rules. The weapons are always social and verbal.

(MR's two most recent novels, Point of Honour and its sequel, Petty Treason, are hardboiled Austen noir, about a Fallen Woman who makes a living doing private investigations. I haven't read the second yet, but I loved the first to pieces even though I disagree that it's FoM; I think hardboiled is a different category and the tone is wrong. I said as much later in the panel, to generally disagree that you could describe all FoM as "like Austen but," and MR kind of shrugged and said that she wasn't setting out to write FoM in the first place. Which is perfectly fair.)

People riffed on the verbal weapons for a bit; LMB said it was a great attraction because the characters get to say things you never get to say in Real Life. EK said that Alec, one of the main characters in Swordspoint, is exactly that: he can say anything he wants, and there's a guy with a sword who'll kill anyone who doesn't like it—great wish-fulfillment.

(Aside: that is precisely why I couldn't work up the enthusiasm to re-read Swordspoint for this panel.)

Rivka of Respectful of Otters asked whether FoM could be modern. JW thought that it maybe could; some people say the Bordertown shared universe is, which is modern-day, and of course there's A Civil Campaign. EK added that there is a tendency to see the genre as Regency, because of Sorcery and Cecelia and Heyer (described by Cynthia Heimel as "Bertie Wooster for girls"). LMB asked if the Godfather movies would fit; I'm not sure if the panel answered it, but the consensus of the people sitting around me seemed to be "sure." (I haven't seen them, not my kind of thing.) EK said that Sayers' Wimsey/Vane novels are FoM precursors of a sort. In response to a question I didn't hear, MR said that you couldn't have FoM in a military setting, because the response to snark would be, "You're out of line, soldier."

JW pointed out that you have to have class differences in order to have FoM. She didn't think you could have FoM on Beta Colony—this got some kind of reaction from LMB (Beta Colony is part of her Vorkosigan universe) that I didn't see because I was taking notes, but that the audience seemed to appreciate. Relatedly, she passed on a comment by Micole Sudberg that American manners novels are tragedies, British manners novels are comedies. There was then a brief, intense flurry of comments on class in America and Britain, which I didn't bother to write down because it was very fast and because I just really didn't feel like going there.

MR said that one of the fascinations of FoM is that you don't have to live that way. Another is that it has rules you can learn. (Sherwood Smith's Crown Duel was mentioned for its fan language (not language of fannish people, language of things you wave to cool off).) Later on, she said that everyone is adjusting manners all the time, but we have no idea we're doing it, and FoM is neat because they are aware of it. She mentioned working for a women who used straight BBC Received Pronunciation when talking to MPs, and East End London to talk to the help. (Victoria McManus in the audience said this is called "code switching.")

A brief interlude, as someone asked if Sharon Shinn's Samaria books are FoM. JW and EK both disagreed strongly; they've got society, but they're straight romances, no snark. I (and the rest of the people I was sitting with) agree.

EK then dragged the panel away from definitions because she wanted to talk about how she came to FoM. She said that when she made the big leap to working in publishing, which was the most structured and hierarchal thing she'd ever experienced, suddenly Austen made a lot more sense to her. Plus, she was living in a dangerous area, so she wrote about what was fascinating her at the time: manners, and violence (and sex).

The panel discussed some of the TV that Keller identified in his article. The Avengers seemed to be popular; MR said she wakes up every morning and says to herself, "Damn, I'm still not Emma Peel."

LMB got into FoM-type-things in her post-SF-only phase, when she found a bunch of Heyers in an overstock warehouse in her early twenties. She said her interest in Heyer laid dormant for a time, but she finds that there's something new in the books each time. (Jim Baen, she reports, reads Heyer.)

(MR noted that in Regency settings, it's easy to tell who's done their homework, and who's just read Heyer.)

LMB said that shortly after that, she found Dorothy Sayers, though not Dorothy Dunnett (who is also mentioned by Keller). MR bounces hard off Dunnett; EK loves her and Dunnett was part of the soup that Swordspoint came out of. (Dunnett is emphatically not FoM, though.)

The Saint books were mentioned (I'm ignorant here, can someone help in comments?). Somehow we got to EK saying that she thought hardboiled noir like Dashiell Hammett were Regencies for boys. This brought up honor for MR: FoM is about personal honor, societial honor, and the clash or contrast between. EK added that honor is a currency as well.

EK recommended Kage Baker's The Anvil of the World as delicious FoM. Someone in the audience said that Baker has a new collection with several stories set in that world as well.

About the last thing that was said was LMB reciting her definition of genre (I think it was hers), "a group of works in close conversation with each other." She thought that this discussion suggested that FoM is a very broad-based close conversation.

Posted by Kate Nepveu at 02:13 PM in 5-Saturday | Permalink | Comments (11)

Friday: Gen(eral) Jules' Diary

Parties 4 (vg), alcohol units 0 (bad, but was driving home), caffeine units 7, vampire bites 1, moments spent sqeeing like fangirl: hopefully zero, moments tempted to spend squeeing like fangirl: oh, hundreds.

I got to the Prudential Center at a little past six, and went to check messages. On the way, I ran into my friend Doctor Foo and a couple of his friends. Did I want to go to a party? Of course I wanted to go to a party. I rerouted immediately.

Most of the wonderful and fascinating things that happened last night won't be mentioned here, if only for considerations of space. But a choice few:

-Listening to Sean McMullen, whose Souls in the Great Machine and The Miocene Arrow I loved when I came across them last year, sing a beautiful song about a truly disgusting subject.

-Discussing goat dressing on the gay rodeo circuit with one of the people at the Evil Genius party, a party for the Silicon Valley Costume Con bid, which had walls full of evil geniuses (and a can of cat food). Much debate was had over which evil genius was most impressive. My personal vote: Scratch Fury, Destroyer of Worlds, from PvP. He only came out last Christmas. That's an impressive degree of responsiveness in Evil Genius expertise. Also: goat dressing is interesting stuff. (There has to be a DVD.)

-Having my blood sucked at the Boxboro Fandom party, which was awesome-- definitely a party worth a toll of blood. Amazing decorations and people and very scary looking drinks. Post-vampire bite, I'm still waiting to become dark and angsty but temptingly redeemable. (Nothing yet. Must take a little while.)

And now-- back into the city and off to panels and the dealer's room.

Still not General. Go me!

Posted by Gen Jules Reynolds at 10:26 AM in 4-Friday | Permalink | Comments (0)

Additional live reporting

I've become aware of a couple of other sites that are doing live reporting from N4. Cheryl Morgan's Emerald City has been doing regular updates. SFRevue Online says they're going to blog, but so far they haven't posted anything.

Posted by Leslie Turek at 09:02 AM in 5-Saturday | Permalink | Comments (2)

Late-night fun

MusicThere was music late into the night at The Mended Drum (note the weapons in the door!)

DancingThese guys were dancing just outside.

Posted by Leslie Turek at 08:58 AM in 4-Friday | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 03, 2004

Photos from Retro Hugos

Leslie here, back from the Friday Night "Time Travel" event. This was a combination event that included the 1954 Retro Hugos as well as interviews with the guests of honor.

SetThe stage was a replication of the Harvard Bridge, and the evening commenced with some amusing stories of how the bridge got its name and is measured in "Smoots". The bridge divided the stage into two halves. The right side (in color) represented 2004, and was where the GoH interviews took place. The left side was in black and white and represented 1954, where the Retro Hugos were awarded.

WestonandTheremin The transitions between 2004 and 1954 were heralded by flashing lights and eerie theremin music by a group called "The Lothars".

SiclariBob Eggleton was the host on the b&w Retro Hugos side. Here Joe Siclari is accepting the Best Fanzine Hugo on behalf of Walt Willis. (For a complete list of winners, see my previous post below.)

InterviewPeter Weston conducted the interviews on the 2004 side. Here is his interview with Jack Speer.

SpeerJack Speer. Hard to believe that he attended the first Worldcon in 1939 at the age of 19. Although fandom has grown in size since those days, he said, "Things haven't changed as much as you think."

TennPhil Klass (William Tenn) gave a very amusing interview, with stories about the great editors John Campbell and Horace Gold. On Campbell's winning the Retro, he said, "I'm glad he won. He was entitled. He would have told you that himself."

PratchettWhen interviewing Terry Pratchett, Peter Weston pointed out that Terry has been awarded the Order of the British Empire (a title with somewhat less significance these days, now that there is no British Empire). But Terry observed that there is still one piece of empire left, "... a little island in the middle of the ocean with puffins on it. Those puffins damn well have to do what I say!"

As the final interview of the evening, Terry Pratchett turned the tables and interviewed Peter Weston about his experiences in British fandom and his role as maker of the Hugo rockets, "a matter in which I have some interest....", said Terry. "Are you suggesting that you haven't gotten a Hugo yet?", asked Peter, at which point Terry fell to his knees in a begging posture. "I have Hugos, you have lots of money, we can come together.", said Peter.

Okay, I've shared a little bit of the evening with you, but now I'm going to find some parties... Leslie Turek, signing out.

Posted by Leslie Turek at 10:16 PM in 4-Friday | Permalink | Comments (0)

1954 Retro Hugo Winners

Best Novel - Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Best Novella - "A Case of Concsience" by James Blish

Best Novelette - "Earthman, Come Home" by James Blish

Best Short Story - "The Nine Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke

Best Related Book - Conquest of the Moon by Wernher von Braun, Fred L. Whipple & Willy Ley

Best Professional Editor - John W. Campbell, Jr.

Best Professional Artist - Chesley Bonestell

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form - The War of the Worlds

Best Fanzine - Slant, Walter Willis, ed.; James White, art editor

Best Fan Writer - Bob Tucker

Posted by Leslie Turek at 09:41 PM in 4-Friday | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, and an Introduction

Hi, everyone! I'm a new addition here, so here's a short introduction before I get into my Thursday experiences.

I'm a recent college graduate and a Boston area resident, which means I've been commuting in after work for the last couple days. Tonight I drive the car in and start the hard-core attendance-- no more turning into a pumpkin when the T closes! (For anyone who's curious, driving in Boston is, in my opinion, just as nasty for the locals. The only difference is that you know to expect the unexpected.)

In fandom terms, I'm relatively new, having just started attending cons in the last year or so-- but I've been reading and writing SF for very close to as long as I can remember. I just started submitting stories earlier this year, so I'm hoping for some good tips from the panels here. Outside of SF, I work in the environmental sector and am involved with the Ig Nobel Prizes. I also keep my own weblog over at LiveJournal as gjules. And finally, I should mention one last thing-- I'm not a general! Despite the confusing "Gen," I'm just someone with the first name Genevieve, who felt that Genevieve Jules was a bit too close to Mary Sue for comfort.

Thursday I arrived after six and went to buy discounted parking passes, after which I went to meet a friend who was volunteering in the con suite. We headed out to the Prudential Center food court, where I started to demolish a plate of chicken quesidillas (highly recommended). My hands were nice and messy when my friend saw a couple old friends and called them over to say hi. It was after I'd been introduced that I looked down at con badges and realized we were talking to Jim MacDonald and Debra Doyle. I think I managed not to go fangirl, but let me tell you, it was a close call.

After that, I went to George Scithers' panel on starting a magazine. The short version: don't. The long version also seemed to be don't. If I were interested in starting a magazine, I would have found it quite depressing. As I'm not, I found it interesting-- and vicariously depressing.

I then went on to "Whose Line is It Anyway?" where a raucous good time was had by all, until everyone was chased out by the horrifying suggestions for casting Sandman: The Movie. Cyndi Lauper! Keanu Reeves! Enough to turn anyone's stomach. After some further wandering and much looking around, I headed down to the T to make it back home before it closed.

For Friday? I'm about to go brave Boston traffic to head in for tonight's events-- so look for me tomorrow afternoon.

Posted by Gen Jules Reynolds at 05:23 PM in 3-Thursday | Permalink | Comments (0)

Accessibility issues

I was frankly appalled last night that the suite rented by General Technics in the Sheraton Hotel did not allow for access by a friend in a 32" wheelchair. The princely sum of $250 a night is apparently not enough to guarantee access to all. How maddening!

Another friend confined to a wheelchair was just telling me how sad he was that there was no simple "pocket program" (such as a printed grid of major events), or even a posted sign that he could 'drive by' to look at and decide where to go next.

Would anyone on the con staff care to address these issues?


Posted by Amy Proni at 02:14 PM in 4-Friday | Permalink | Comments (1)

First Night

Leslie here. I spent all of Thursday (except for a brief break to see Opening Ceremonies) setting up for First Night. The morning involved trying to get all of the decorator and Hynes setups straight, and moving all my supplies out from storage to the headquarters table in the Midway. In the afternoon, we got a few volunteers who helped with blowing up balloons and hanging crepe paper streamers and cracking glow sticks and hanging signs. Also during the afternoon, the various clubs and performers who were participating in First Night came to check in and settle the final details. Everything went quite smoothly, except for a couple of incidents where persons unknown walked off with vital elements of the setup without asking permission.

Like 30 minutes before opening, when someone came to ask me where the corkboard was for the WSFA booth. "It's right there, next to the booth," and I look over there and see an empty space where just 30 minutes ago there was a corkboard. Lots of little incidents like this made my life a bit more difficult, but it was more than made up for by the people who pitched in and helped out and ran all of the various activities.

I have a few pictures. I admit up front, they're not very good... just quick snapshots I took as I was rushing about from place to place. But they might help give a sense of what was going on.

BellyDancers2First Night began with a live brass fanfare by The Star Chamber. I was off in a corner of the ConCourse at the time, so didn't get a picture, but it sounded great. After that, we had nonstop belly dancing by three different groups, who had set up their own decorated area. They were great - they gave the Midway a lot of energy and visual excitement.

TerryonTrialOne of the big events of First Night was Terry On Trial. We were expecting a lot of people, so with the help of the exhibits and tech areas, we got a platform stage set up in the middle of the ConCourse. Here is Esther Friesner declaiming about Terry's sins, with the Arisia Bounce Castle in the background.

HugoRingTossOne of the first events we had an idea for was the Hugo Ring Toss, using real Hugo rockets (on loan) and glow stick rings. Here is Anne Murphy of the Science Fiction Oral History Association, who sponsored that booth.

ThereminThomas Farrell brough his theremin for people to play with. This is an instrument that is played by waving your hands in the air (in an electric field). Inexperienced players produce some very "interesting" sounds, but we kept the volumne turned low, so I don't think we drove anyone crazy.

IkebanaThe Japan 2007 bid demonstrated various Japanese crafts, including origami and Ikebana.

CCCPersis Thorndike ran the Children's Costume Corner, and helped kids make their own sparkle crowns and magic wands. Persis made a crown for me to wear for the evening.

There were lots of other things happening that I don't have pictures of. To properly acknowledge everyone who was involved in making First Night work would involve a long list of probably about 150 people, including all of the staff and volunteers and all of the performers and the clubs who ran booths and the N4 areas that contributed. I am very grateful to all of them for helping make First Night a success.

Now I'm going to relax and enjoy the rest of the convention.

Posted by Leslie Turek at 02:06 PM in 3-Thursday | Permalink | Comments (0)

Meeting new people at WorldCon

It is after 2 AM local time. This probably won't be posted until tomorrow as I have no wi-fi access. Forgive the strangeness of the entry, but hey, you wanted NoreasonCon Live, you'll get me live.

I've been up since 4 AM California time. While I dozed slightly on the plane (does anyone actually manage to sleep in those things?) it wasn't restful at all. Thankfully there were no problems en route and my husband and I were able to safely arrive in Boston and then use the public transit I outlined in my last entry to arrive at the Convention Center.

There was an adventure in getting the room. Not really important, other than to mention instead of a double double (for four people) we have a king sized bed w/ a suite including couch bed. Not quite what we asked for nor what we wanted. My husband and I are staying with a friend I met at the Strange Horizons workshop and another writer friend of hers.

Side note: I've heard one of the best ways to get ahead in the SF/F world is to room with people you don't know. More authors have told me that their first sale was due to a friend of a friend of a roommate from a Worldcon. Here's hoping. If nothing else, I've now met another really cool person. Not only that, but my roommates introduced me to EVEN MORE new people over dinner.

There were ten of us who headed out to Thai food this evening [mm… Thai food]. I didn't quite catch everyone's name and ended up sitting across the way from a guy named John who Diana had brought along. John's roommate was next to him and then Diana and my other roommate. John and struck up a conversation and I mentioned I did Chemistry so we chatted about that and the writing thing. I asked him what he did.

"Oh, I work as an editorial assistant," he said.

"Really? For what magazine?"

"F&SF," he said.

I nearly choked. I believe I managed to get out: "John what?"

"John Joseph Adams," he said. That's right, I was in the presence of a deity. The Slushgod himself.

I admit it, I lost my cool. I blushed, ducked my head, and tried not to completely fangirl out. And that is exactly what WorldCon is about. Bringing the fans face to face with the movers and shakers, editors and writers, agents and publishers of the speculative fiction industry. I've seen Ellen Datlow walking around and I successfully managed to get into her KaffeKlatch tomorrow. We've seen Terry Pratchet walk by, which makes sense as he's a Guest of Honor.

I managed to have a perfectly normal conversation with John for the rest of dinner. The five of us trooped to a room and spent the next couple of hours just talking and geeking out. It was a lot of fun. I may have missed First Night and a few panels, but I had fun. And relaxed.

And met the SlushGod. Who, contrary to popular belief spread by rejection notices, is really a nice guy. When I ducked my head, he asked if he had rejected me recently. I nodded and he apologized. It made me smile. He didn't need to, I know it isn't personal. But it was nice.

And that too is WorldCon. People are nice here.

Posted by Dawn Burnell at 01:43 PM in 3-Thursday | Permalink | Comments (0)

Opening Ceremonies

DEbGOpening Ceremonies began with an amusing slide show of the history of Boston fandom, starting with the Boston Tea Party (presented as a particularly rowdy bid party), up to the recent preparations at the NESFA clubhouse. Then last year's con chair Peter Jarvis attempted to pass the gavel on to our chair Deb Geisler, but Deb brought out an even bigger one that she had hidden away.

NASAThere was also a taped greeting from one of the NASA astronauts, who said that she had been inspired by reading science fiction.

GohsThe ceremony also included introductions of Noreascon 4's Guests of Honor: Terry Pratchett, Jack Speer, William Tenn, and Peter Weston.

Posted by Leslie Turek at 01:34 PM in 3-Thursday | Permalink | Comments (2)

My Thursday at the Con: Highlights

I'm sitting here on Friday morning in the Green Room across from my wife and the lovely Susan de Guardiola, and there are science fiction writers around I want to talk to, and instead I'm typing on a computer. I don't know how bloggers do it.

Anyway, I won't be able to post again until after the Hugos tomorrow night, so I thought I'd take this free hour to let both of my readers out there know what I did on the first full day of the convention.

In the morning, Nomi and I walked through the Prudential Center to go shopping at Shaw's, and on the way over experienced a phenomenon which Nomi named "vortexing" a few years ago at a Lunacon. Basically, you can't take a step anywhere in a convention without running into someone you know, and then of course you want to have a conversation. So if it's going to take you five minutes to get from one panel to another, it's really a good idea to schedule an hour to get there. Among the people we ran into on our way to Shaw's was Shane Tourtellotte, and I made sure to pay him the $6.83 I owed him in joint royalties from 2003. (He later returned my videotape.)

At 12noon, the Con officially opened. Nomi and I took care of a bunch of things on the ConCourse. We left a stack of Burstzines in the Fanzine Lounge; sales of the issues will be donated to the TAFF and DUFF. We stopped at the NESFA Press table to pick up our pre-ordered GoH books, and Peter Weston happened to be standing there, so we got him to sign his book. We said hello to friends at the Analog/Asimov's table, the Threads of Time table, and we met people at the Borderlands Books table: Jude Feldman, Lisa Rogers Lowrance, and Alan Beatts.

At 1 PM we went to the Opening Ceremonies. It's obvious that Deb Geisler is having the time of her life.

At 2 PM I moderated a panel called (Really) Hard Science for Beginners, with Susan Born and Keith Kato. We had a full house, and people seemed to get a lot out of our explanations of string theory and quantum teleportation.

At 4 PM I moderated Stump the Scientists! for 7-12 year olds. These kids had some amazing questions, but Isaac Szpindel, Bridget Coila and I were up to the task.

At 5 PM, I spent an hour autographing at the Analog/Asimov's table. A lot of people came by to say hello, and for the the first time I met Steven Silver, who has published me in his fanzine just as we have published him in ours. He also bought my first story for his reprint anthology, WONDROUS BEGINNINGS.
However, I must say that the highlight of the hour was when Robert Silverberg came over to the table specifcially to say hello to me and engage me in conversation.


I may be a writer, but I'm still a fanboy at heart.

At 6 PM, Nomi moderated an excellent panel called Language: Barrier or Bridge.

At 7 PM, the Boskone "Sunday Funny Sunday" crew, of which I am one, reprised Twenty Panels in an Hour. I will be the first to admit that we could have been funnier. (One highlight was Leigh Grossman's comment -- "There is only one Godzilla, and Bob Eggleton is his prophet.")

However, at 9 PM, to a full house, Nomi and I co-hosted "Whose Line is It Anyway?" Our improv performers -- Solomon Davidoff, Michael McAfee, A. Michael Rennie, and Josepha Sherman -- were fanatstic. The audience laughed and laughed. McAfee won the game with his portrayal of the World's Worst Worldcon Chair: "Welcome to Antarcticon!"

And, then, at 10 PM, Nomi and I spent an hour connecting with a good friend, Janna Silverstein, whom we haven't seen in three years. Afterwards, we chose sleep in favor of party-hopping. It's funny; a few years ago, I would have felt the absolute necessity to go to as many parties and connect with as many writers and editors as possible. But today, these people aren't scary strangers; they're friends with whom I communicate on a regular basis.

Tonight shabbat starts, and it doesn't end until the Hugo Ceremony begins. Consequently, I won't be able to post again until either Saturday night or Sunday. If you're reading this blog at the con, feel free to tell me, and wish me good luck at the Hugos!

Posted by Michael A. Burstein at 11:27 AM in 3-Thursday | Permalink | Comments (0)

Panel Report: "As You Know, Bob: The Positives and Negatives of Infodumps in Writing"

Description: Exposition can be quick or subtle, or straight, or with a twist. It can stop the story cold, or provide plot (and stylistic) impact. It can be smooth or lumpy, necessary or gratuitous. The panel will discuss expository theory and practice, and answer the eternal question: "What does Bob really know?" Debra Doyle, Terry McGarry (m), Teresa Nielsen Hayden

This panel on Thursday afternoon was very well-attended. I'm going to re-arrange the order of conversation occasionally for flow; I've also roughly divided the topics into theory and practice.

(Roughly) Theory

Teresa Nielsen Hayden (TNH) didn't say this first at the panel, but it ought to go first. The three rules of exposition are: (1) you can do anything if it works; (2) never tell a reader anything before they want (not need) to know; (2) all advice about writing is simple, it's putting it into practice that is hard.

TNH pointed out that while SF writers always talk about worldbuilding, they're not actually building worlds, they are making the similitude of worlds. The reader may feel that they know everything about the world the book's set in, but they don't, they're being given just enough. She noted that characterization even depends on the world (how can you know what a character's reaction means, without context?), so the author has a tremendous burden.

She also said that while SF readers get used to having their exposition in lumps, particularly at the beginning, it doesn't have to be that way, and authors maybe do it too much; she mentioned "incluing", Jo Walton's term for gradually revealing background information, as an alternative. Debra Doyle (DD) added that she thinks of exposition and story like making a pound cake: you have a big lump of butter, a big lump of sugar, it's a whole lot of work to get the two of them together, and even when you do you're still not done. On the other hand (to shift food metaphors), when you get exposition right, it's like raisins in oatmeal.

(On the other other hand, TNH noted that she grew up hearing that readers don't like exposition, and realized one day that if that was true, James Michener and Alex Haley wouldn't sell.)

DD asked if SF readers are more tolerant of exposition. Terry McGarry (TMcG) replied they might be, but they're also more adept at compiling information, and more willing to continue the book until they figure things out. TNH said she thinks of it as calluses. However, there are limits: while readers can carry a lot of mental markers of things-to-be-explained, the author can't multiply one by another; the intersection of multiple mysteries is too much. DD put it, don't make readers solve equations with than one variable.

Going back to genre, DD said that if an author has a detailed description of a room, mainstream readers will assume the details carry symbolic/thematic significance; mystery readers will look for A Clue; and SF readers will look for worldbuilding. This is one thing that makes cross-genre work so difficult.

(Question late: what do you do if you're writing something that's cross-genre, mystery in SF setting with romance? DD: well, that's one of the reasons it's hard. TNH: particularly making the payoffs all work at the same time. Maybe rebalance depending on where you want to sell it.)

Late in the panel, DD pointed out that you can play games with exposition. She's got a short story coming out that's a country house mystery written by one character and translated, annotated, and footnoted by another (the reactivated reservist at the start of Starpilot's Grave).

TMcG also pointed out that sometimes SF can get away with more exposition because of sense-of-wonder. TNH brought out Steve Brust's theory of the novel: the structure on which you can hang the maximum amount of cool stuff.

(Around this time TMcG, who makes a good moderator, called on me; my original question had gone by the wayside, but I pointed out that I'd just listened to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy read by the author, and I'd been struck that it's really just one chunk of exposition after another, but Adams could get away with it because the chunks are so good. TNH commented that she thinks the true genre of that book is the Tall Tale.)

TNH remarked that while J.K. Rowling doesn't do ornamental exposition, she's still really good at writing sentences that make you want to read the next one. She used the Sorting Hat as an example; there's a lot of information about the Sorting Hat that we very obviously don't get the first time we meet the Sorting Hat, because we don't care then; it would feel, in Patrick Nielsen Hayden's terms, like we were studying for a test.

(Roughly) Practice

Question from the audience: how do you deal with series backstory?

  • DD: (immediately) Rewrite until you sweat blood.
  • TNH: Trust your reader; it's remarkable how much they will pick up. (She used the page 117 game, where panelists read just page 117 and then extrapolate the book, as an example.)

    When people synopsize, they tend toward too much detail. Stick to verbs, avoid nouns.

  • TMcG added: Why things happened aren't as important as that they happened. If whys become important later, then explain.

    Look at previous events through another character's eyes: this gets you characterization plus exposition.

Question: example of problem-solving regarding exposition? (This turned into series backstory as well, though it was much later in the panel.)

  • TNH: someone set part of a book in Washington DC, and didn't know how politicians talked; move that section of out DC.

    Something about searching for all "ly " in a manuscript that I didn't catch.

  • DD: third book in a series, a character makes a status report back home about events in the prior two books; but also frets about loose ends, etc.
  • TMcG: her series books are separated by time and profound changes, so she just starts each from scratch. Readers of prior books get to pick up on the changes.

Question: the questioner, a writer, hates exposition and leaves everything out until her first reader complains, and then she puts it back in. But readers (or her first reader, not sure) complain that the writing feels unnecessarily mysterious.

  • TNH: That's a mistake. A writer loses a reader's sympathy in that situation. In general hating exposition is good, though—but the writer still needs to know all that stuff that's not being put it!
  • DD: Her pet peeve is hiding the gender of a character.

Question: is a 1 part in, to 10 parts left out, rule appropriate? Answer: no, would hate to quantify.

TNH reported that Steve Brust says that explanations are always an opportunity to get in an argument with the reader. Never explain, describe: not how it works, how you use it. DD added, what happens when it breaks down.

DD: if there's information you must get across, attach it to something inherently interesting, like sex or violence.

TNH: or you could try not explaining, and see if it's needed. However, if you-the-writer find yourself writing all these little scenes where nothing happens but one little detail is dropped in each: either try action scenes, or just tell the reader it, already.

Question: if you can't do the "easy" fish-out-of-water situation, how do you do worldbuilding exposition? TNH: one good trick: talk not about how things are, but how they changed.

Comment: political discussions are another good technique.

  • TNH: yes, but be very sure you know about politics and how people talk: either the people in power, or just the dumb arguments in pubs. Ken McLeod is good. So are Alan Clark's diaries (British MP (?)).
  • TMcG: and if I don't know anything about this society yet, why do I care about this argument?
  • TNH: also people in political discussions have a lifetime of thinking about this, and will be talking about the latest developments.

TMcG pointed out that the level of concreteness a speaker uses depends on their relationship with the person they're speaking to: with someone you know well, you use a lot more "thing" or common referents.

TNH said that the appropriate level of detail is a function of the narrative pace. She got this from pencilers on comics pages. DD said that her father-in-law, who did models, put it that no-one counts the rivets on the moving car. TNH replied, and if they are counting, the car isn't moving fast enough.

TNH points out that the author can be hampered by knowing the real explanation; she described a story where the author had the character give the real explanation, which was deeply lame (my words), and where "I cheated" would have been more satisfying and more in-character. It's remarkable how often you don't need to explain. I believe this was related to her later statement that the Sopranos could be staged with doublets or space suits: almost all action and no explanation.

TNH also suggested the exposition-reducing technique of, "What would Wolverine say?" (not do), and then take out the part where he calls someone "Bub." (The audience really liked this.)

Question: how many new words can you introduce at the start of a story? TNH: if nouns, as few as possible, not even one per sentence. The story shapes what we do with information and we don't know what to do with these yet.

Examples of very good exposition from TNH:

  • The Killer Angels
  • The Perfect Storm
  • Nine Princes in Amber
  • Patrick O'Brien

Posted by Kate Nepveu at 11:24 AM in 3-Thursday | Permalink | Comments (4)

September 02, 2004

Note to contributors

We've set up categories for each day of the convention, so please set the correct category when you make future contributions. Thanks.

Posted by Noreascon 4 at 09:22 AM in 3-Thursday | Permalink | Comments (0)

Some photos

ArtShowSetupA mid-afternoon view of Art Show setup.

GrantKrugerGrant Kruger loves Worldcons.

IrvingNew arrivals are greeted by Irving just outside of Registration...

Gryphon...and this gryphon just inside.

P1010006Near midnight, putting up signs in the ConCourse

MendedDrumWdNThe Mended Drum facade is looking really great!

Posted by Leslie Turek at 12:07 AM in 2-Wednesday | Permalink | Comments (2)

September 01, 2004

Wish you were here!

Tullio and I arrived around 6:00 this evening. It took a few minutes to check into the Sheraton, but then we were shown directly to a very nice room. All of the staff were quite pleasant. The hotel lobby had a festive air about it, a palpable sense of anticipation for the annual gathering.

We took a walk over to the convention center and found the registration tables. Everyone was really nice and we were given our badges straight away. I found myself marvelling at the efficiency of the ConCom: there seemed to be enough volunteers and gofers around to make things run smoothly (at least from my point of view!). We got a bit twisted around looking for Hall D so that we could check into the Dealer's Room. I think that our sense of direction may be confused from 17 hours in the car... . Gee but it's great to be here!

I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow.


Posted by Amy Proni at 11:31 PM in 2-Wednesday | Permalink | Comments (0)

On Site!

Hello from Hall C of the Hynes Convention Center! Tonight, Nomi and I are safely ensconced in the warm glow of fans and friends. And, thanks to Jim & Laurie Mann, we have learned how to access one of the wireless hotspots in the Hynes.

So what happened tonight? Well, Nomi and I got a taxi to the Sheraton to help with our eight bags of food, our two duffel bags, our laptops, and our backpacks. A personal note to the Red Sox: do not schedule home games on September 1, when everyone converges on Boston to move in. Students are moving in, non-students are moving, and adding a Red Sox home game to the mix means one thing: traffic jams.

But I digress. (TM Peter David)

After we arrived at the hotel, the fact that we were already checked in allowed us to move all our stuff directly to our room. And then, since it was already 8 PM, we headed down to the Con Suite for a special party for Committee, Staff, and Volunteers. The party was a reception so those of us working the con could meet the Guests of Honor (see why you should work the con?). But although there were definitely sightings of William Tenn, Jack Speer, and Peter Weston, Terry Pratchett was nowhere to be found.

However, it was a good opportunity to mingle with a smaller crowd before the hordes descend upon the Hynes tomorrow. People with whom Nomi and I chatted included:

Claire Anderson, who is running the ConSuite with help from her husband Dave (and so far doing a great job!);

Diane Turnshek, who asks me to remind all SFWA members to visit her in the SFWA Suite, and to come to the Business Meeting for the delightful coffee and danish;

Jerome Conner and Kara Haff, who shared recent moving stories and look cute together;

Philip Klass (William Tenn) and Fruma Klass, who still remember us, which always amazes me;

and Con Chair Deb Geisler, who was suffering from a cough and a migraine, apparently brought on from getting enough sleep last night.

The missing Pratchett was a slight disappointment, as Nomi and I brought our copy of BREWER'S DICTIONARY OF PHRASE AND FABLE, 16th edition (2000), for which Pratchett wrote the Introduction. Two years ago, for the simple reason that he recommends BREWER'S all the time, we got Neil Gaiman to sign our copy; and we were hoping to get Pratchett it as well. We didn't know for sure if he would be signing books tonight, but we thought it couldn't hurt to ask.

I guess we'll have to track him down at one his regular Autographing Sessions. I'm sure the lines will be short. :-)

Tomorrow morning we have to do some shopping; at noon we will browse the Hucksters Room, and at 2 PM we have our first panel: (Really) Hard Science for Beginners. And then more and more and more.

If anyone wants to meet this blogger in person, I'll be signing at the Analog/Asimov's table at 5 PM tomorrow. Oh, and I have a Kaffeklastch Monday morning at 10 AM. I'm sure the whole con will be awake then.

This is Michael A. Burstein, signing off for tonight from Noreascon 4, where the men are real men, the women are real women, and the small blue furry things from Alpha Centauri are real small blue furry things from Alpha Centauri.

Posted by Michael A. Burstein at 10:41 PM in 2-Wednesday | Permalink | Comments (2)

Running very fast to stay in place

Hi all. Leslie Turek here. As mentioned earlier, I am the poor sucker, er volunteer, who is running First Night tomorrow (Thursday) night. So today my job was to try to make sure everything was set up, which took much, much longer than you might think. (Or maybe not, depending on whether you've worked on a big convention before.) I knew my boxes of supplies had been loaded on the truck last night, which was anticipated to arrive this morning, but it took until mid-afternoon before the boxes started coming on the frieght elevator. I anxiously watched as first 4 First Night boxes appeared, then 6 more, and about an hour later the last one. I tucked them all away for the night, and heaved a big sigh of relief.

Another job for today was going over the physical setup and checking that everything was correct. This was complicated by the fact that some of the items are being provided by the decorator and others are coming from the Hynes, so I had two different coordinators to deal with. And of course, in spite of the fact that we provided very detailed plans, the setup did not match what we asked for. So I am hoping that we'll still be able to make some corrections tomorrow. There's a lot of other stuff going on right now, and First Night isn't the highest priority, because some of the areas need to open at noon tomorrow. So I'm going to try to relax and get to bed early tonight. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day, and, hopefully, a lot more interesting.

(If you'd like to help with First Night setup, stop by the Midway after Opening Ceremonies. We'll need people to blow up balloons, crack glow sticks, set up signs, and help decorate from 2-5 in the afternoon.)

Posted by Noreascon 4 at 07:50 PM in 2-Wednesday | Permalink | Comments (2)

Getting there (Public Transit)

Whew, today has been a whirldwind of prepping for my arrival. I'm sure the rest of you have already planned everything, but just in case there are any last minute people, here's the low down if you plan to arrive w/o a car.

I'm staying at the Sheraton with friends. I'm flying into BOS (Logan International Airport). I'm also planning on attending the Lord of the Rings Exhibit at the Museum of Science. I now have an idea of how to use the various subway systems.

First, the MBTA is your friend. All the lowdown on the various subways/buses.

As noted on the Noreascon Travel page, the Hyes Convention Center & the two main hotels (Sheraton and Marriot) are on the GREEN line. The Airport is on the BLUE line. Directions lifted from the travel page: Take the free Massport shuttle bus (#22 or #33) from the terminals to the Airport subway station on the Blue line of the MBTA. To head toward our hotels, take an inbound train to Government Center station, then transfer to any Green line train going south toward Park Street station. Then follow our directions to the conference hotels. The cost is $1.25 from the airport.

Okay, now you are at the convention area. I leave you to find your own hotel.

The Museum of Science is also located on the GREEN line. Isn't that nice? If you haven't heard, they are hosting a special Lord of the Rings exhibit. So cool. You will need to buy tickets in advance for the showtime you would prefer. I already bought mine, so no worries about stealing my place. Includes full entrance into the museum. I'm going Tuesday morning before my flight. Directions to the Museum can be found on the web, which tell you the correct exit from the Green Line to use to arrive at the Museum.

Of course there are ways of getting around Boston, but I'm a fan of public transit. Mostly for the whole lowered pollution aspect. Hope to see you on the T!

Posted by Dawn Burnell at 07:25 PM in 2-Wednesday | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

D minus one

Are people really interested in reading about individual experiences at Worldcon while it's happening? I hope so.

As I mentioned in the last entry, since Nomi and I live locally we decided to get the room a day early to make check-in easier. There's a reason for this. Many fans bring a ton of stuff with them to a Worldcon -- for example, I was talking with dealer Mitch Botwin about the stuff he's got in storage -- and what Nomi and I bring is food.

You see, we keep kosher. And so in order to eat during the con, we need to have our food supply with us. Every time we go to a con, we always request a small refrigerator for our room. And many's the time that request has been mangled in one way or another. So by checking in early, we have more time to make sure that the fridge is in place.

Normally, I would have checked in at 3 PM, but last night I called the hotel to ask if I could get an early check-in. They said I didn't have to get anything special arranged, that there'd be no problem. Yay!

So this morning, Nomi goes to work and I write my five pages (in an hour!). I pack a few bags to start with and arrive at the hotel at 1 PM, all set to check in.

Guess what. Room's not ready. They have it, they know which one it is, but it's still being cleaned up. I'll be able to get in at 3 PM.

Since I now have two hours to kill, I decide to wander the con. Over in registration, I hook up with Dan Kimmel, local area movie critic who's commuting in from home for the con. I pick up my Hugo nominee packet (including ribbon and rocket pin) and we wander around a bit more. Dan's got time to wait, and he's enjoying being behind the scenes for the first time. (As he put it, to him it feels like the convention's already begun.)

We wander to Program Ops to say hello to Priscilla Olson and so I can pick up Staff ribbons for Nomi and me. We pass writer Shane Tourtellotte in the hall, who has to return a videotape for me, but is holding it hostage until I pass along his share of royalties for a novella we did together that's now on Fictionwise. We wander back to Registration, where I spot Mike Resnick with his 18 (19? 20?) Hugo rocket pins in his badge (as he says, it's his shtick). He and I have a pleasant half hour conversation before it's time for me to try to check in again.

(I notice that there are no lines at Registration. People are getting their badges very quickly. Kudos to the staff! Hope this keeps up!)

I wait for about ten minutes at the front desk, get my key, and am told that they will call in my refrigerator immediately. But I go to the room, and lo and behold! It's already there, plugged in and cooling down. Kudos to the hotel.

So now I'm back home. This evening, Nomi and I will have a taxi take us to the hotel, along with our three bags of food, four pieces of luggage, and whatever else we need. And then tomorrow, the con begins in earnest, and once again I will have no time at all to blog. (Just kidding, Blog Staff!)

Posted by Michael A. Burstein at 04:50 PM in 2-Wednesday | Permalink | Comments (0)