June 23, 2014
I spent the weekend and the official start of summer — most of the entire last week actually — very sick with what I thought was a cold but turned out to be a “viral sore throat.” The doctor diagnosed and basically looked at me and said, “Sucks to be you. Oh, and don’t kiss anyone.” Thanks, science! I don’t know if I caught it at Denver Comic Con or someplace else, but it’s terribly funny to me that after a stretch of six conventions since the end of March, I get horribly ill after the one that was the closest to home and that I spent the least amount of time at.
I had a good time for my one day at Denver Comic Con — I even got to listen to some other programs, like Edward James Olmos’s spotlight. He’s a sharp and passionate guy, who’s had a hell of a career. You don’t realize until you line it all up — Blade Runner, Stand and Deliver, Battlestar Galactica, and so on. He talked about it all. And he really seems to love leading the audience in a nice round of “So say we all!”
I also spent the day thinking about how much conventions have changed. I went to my first convention in 1988, I think — Starcon here in Denver, one of the predecessors of the current incarnation of Starfest. It was small and kind of insular and really good fun, and it had everything most modern conventions have — a dealer’s room, actors on the big stage, a masquerade, a film room, an anime room, panels and activities like “Jedi Jeopardy” and “Build an Alien.” In fact, it had everything a modern comic con has — but a bare fraction of the attendance. There’d be maybe a couple thousand, and it would be the nerdiest of the nerds. There’d be a handful of costumes — a lot of Star Trek uniforms and a few “out there” ones that would get a lot of attention because there were so few people dressing up. There’d be an award for “best hall costume” as well as awards in the masquerade.
So last weekend, I was thinking about what’s changed so that we have essentially the same thing going on, but with 86,000 people (DCC’s final attendance count was around that) instead of a couple thousand. What’s covered by conventions has expanded, sure. A lot more people know about them — back in the day, I think a lot of people just didn’t know conventions existed. But more than that, genre is everywhere. The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are super popular, anime airs everywhere on TV and you don’t have to actively track it down like you used to, gaming is everywhere, the biggest movies are all superhero movies, etc.
Conventions have always given people a deeper access to the things they love — meet the actors, buy the T-shirts, network with other fans, etc. There’s just so much more of all of it now, and comic cons stepped in to fill that need in a way that Starfest and the nerdier, longer-running conventions haven’t. 25 years ago, dressing in costume was something different and odd and only some people did. Now, it’s getting to the point where the last few conventions I’ve been at, more people have been in costume than not. It’s becoming an essential part of the experience.
Conventions have always had an air of the mystical. The very strange and mystical way people treat the actors, for example — even just a glimpse of Adam West seems magical, and why is that? I kept thinking, this, the whole convention, is like church. Pop culture church. People wear special clothes. They spend lots of money. All of it in worship of the special things they love. So what’s different now? What is it about comic cons now that wasn’t there 25 years ago? I’m not sure.
What I do know is now, it’s all cool. People don’t look at you funny when you say you’re going to a convention, like they did back then. They think it’s cool. How about that? If you went back in time and told that to my high school convention going self, I never would have believed it.
June 13, 2014
Happy Friday the 13th!
I went riding on Wednesday and got to the barn in time to observe the barn cat, Bob, maim a tiny baby rabbit. That ended up being pretty indicative of the whole week. There was a lot of tedium and crankiness, logistical stuff, recovering from one convention and getting ready for the next while also dealing with a couple of deadlines.
I didn’t do much, if any, new writing because I was going over galleys for one thing, and the rough draft for another, that’s due the 15th. Not writing new words always makes me cranky, but this tedious reading and re-reading of old work is a necessary part of the gig, and for some reason it takes up a huge amount of brain power and concentration, not to mention time. Anyone who wants to be a professional writer needs to understand just how much of the job is this kind of tedium. It’s really necessary because this stage is where the embarrassing mistakes get caught and corrected. (I hope…) But gosh, it’s really time to be working on something new.
I’m also in the middle of another G.I. Joe binge — this happens every 2-3 years, where I go out and buy a bunch of comics and nominally catch up on what’s been happening in the Joe world since the last time I binged on it. I also suddenly realized I need to pull out the DVD of the second movie, which has been sitting on my coffee table for like six months, and see if all of Flint’s characterization ended up in the deleted scenes, as I suspect.
That actually sounds like a good thing to do in a week that’s been characterized by tedious work and dying baby bunnies.
June 9, 2014
June 5, 2014
My brain’s leaking out my ears…as I type this it’s yesterday and I’m packing and freaking out. I had like ten things I wanted to blog about this week, and they’ve all gone out of my head.
But here! I’m reposting my Phoenix Comic Con schedule because they’ve added some things.
- Phoenix Comicon Books and Authors Kickoff : Thursday 7:00pm – 8:00pm
- Autographing Schedule – Books and Authors Friday : date/time TBA
- Spotlight on Carrie Vaughn : Saturday 1:30pm – 2:30pm
- Setting and Place in Urban Fantasy : Saturday 4:30pm – 5:30pm
- Autographing Schedule – Books and Authors Sunday : date/time TBA
- Not in Sequential Form: Superheroes in Prose : Sunday 12:00pm – 1:00pm
The Friday signing is 4:30, the Sunday one is 1:30, both at table 2526 — near Mysterious Galaxy, I think they said. And Noon Saturday at the Tor Booth. Geez, I hope I can remember all this, I think I have it written down…do I have it written down? Okay. It’s fine. Whew.
Hey! I remember one of the things I wanted to post about. I got a new rapier:
Isn’t she pretty? I haven’t fought with her yet. But I will, oh yes…
May 21, 2014
In my thinking over the TV I’ve been watching, I realized I’d stopped watching Doctor Who — I never watched most of last season, and I don’t think I’m going to. It happens sometimes, a favorite show becomes not-so-favorite — I stopped Battlestar Galactica around season 4 because it stopped making sense, The X-Files around season 6-7, because it lost its focus. I was passionate about those shows, and it’s hard letting go, but sometimes there’s a point where a show becomes a chore rather than a pleasure, and then it’s time to stop.
I realized something else: I think over the last three doctors, Martha may be my favorite companion. Rose was the most fun to watch, Donna had a powerful story, but comparing them all together, I think Martha’s the best, because she’s the only one who maintains agency throughout her run. She’s the only one who doesn’t get — and I don’t think this is too strong a word — violated by the Tardis or time vortex. Rose absorbs the vortex, Donna becomes a conduit then gets her mind wipes, Amy gets knocked up, Rory gets killed how many times, Jack loses his mortality. They’re all fundamentally altered, and in their big climactic stories, they’re victims — they become tools, they become weapons, and they become broken by their time with the Doctor. By the end, they’re all taken away — sucked into other dimensions, memories wiped, lost in time. The Doctor loses them, and they are helpless.
But not Martha. All on her own, with no extra powers, with only her wits and a backpack, she goes out to single-handedly foment rebellion against the Master when the Doctor is incapacitated.
And then, she decides to leave. All on her own, she makes the decision, and she just leaves. She doesn’t get yanked through time and space, she doesn’t lose her home, her experience, her past, her place in time and space. All the other companions of the last three doctors are victims. They sacrifice everything, they lose everything up to their lives — more offerings on the altar of the Doctor’s guilt. But not Martha.
When you line up all the other companions, it becomes clear how special Martha really is, because she stays herself.
May 19, 2014
So, I was noodling around on the web and I found this fan art for After the Golden Age on the Tumblr Atethebirds.
Broke my heart a little bit, that did.
(In other news, I have the idea for the third book…we’ll see when I can work on it.)
May 14, 2014
Reminder for those attending RT Convention: Secret Mission is go! Find me (either at the Book Fair on Saturday, or after a panel, or some other time when I’m not otherwise occupied), recite for me some bit of poetry or lines from a play that the Master of London would have known and appreciated when he was alive, and be rewarded. (While supplies last, I’m afraid!)
In other reading news, I’ve just finished The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, and I loved loved loved it. It’s a turn of the century (last century) immigrant story, with fantasy — in fact, this is exactly the sort of thing I mean when I talk about wanting to expand the definition of urban fantasy as far as possible, because this is great urban fantasy: modern setting, a familiar (though historical) New York City, with amazingly well-drawn fantastical elements. This is the kind of book that makes me as a writer insanely jealous, because it’s so well done and I’m just staring at it, thinking, “How?!” Catnip, people. Word catnip.
And that immigrant story: there’s a movie called The Legend of 1900 which is fair to middling (the ending stank), that I saw mostly because Tim Roth is in it, and it’s also an immigrant story. There’s this absolutely gorgeous, heart-wrenching opening scene taking place on the deck of a passenger steamer: there’s fog, and all the passengers are looking over the railing, waiting for their first glimpse — and the fog parts and there she is, the Statue of Liberty, and the sense of joy and hope at that view is fierce. The Golem and the Jinni has a similar scene, just as powerful, and for anyone who had ancestors come over from Europe on one of those ships, with everything they own in the world in a suitcase, (my great-grandfather Linder arrived from Sweden on the Mauretania), it’s like peeking over their shoulder for a little while. It’s like time travel.