Friday started at 9am with the Codex breakfast. Codex is a neo-pro online writer’s forum and there were almost forty of us. It was really great meeting everyone. It also made coming to this con for the first time easier because I virtually knew a lot of people. There was never a shortage of good people to talk to.
Then more panels. They say that all the important stuff at a con like this happens in the hallways and bars, and I can see the truth of that. But there were a lot of cool panels and being my first time here, I wanted to attend them.
First there was Traveling Before the Motored Horse. Ellen Asher and Melinda M. Snodgrass gave a great presentation about the reality behind horses. They discussed their behavior and got down to the nitty gritty in how to take care of them. There was also a discussion of distance. A good rule of thumb measure might be that a horse could cover 17-30 miles a day realistically, depending on the type of horse and the terrain.
Now, on this day, I had taken my netbook with me so that I could work on blog posts in the in-between time and hopefully stay nicely current with my postings. Alas, it was not to be, but for good reason. A Codexian I hadn’t gotten a chance to talk to at breakfast introduced himself and we had a nice chat. Then I was off to another panel, then another break and more conversation with other Codexians and then another panel. Can you see why I couldn’t get these blog posts up sooner?
The thing is, in one of those conversations in-between, I got invited up to the SFWA con suite for the party that evening. I’m really not a party person, but I know these are a great opportunity to meet important people. More about this in a minute.
The next panel was F***ing Your Knight and the Horse he Rode in on: Fantasy Series Not Based on Medieval European Culture. This was really good and I’m going to have several new writers to catch up on. The panel was composed of: Saladin Ahmed, Aliette de Bodard, Ken Scholes and Christopher Kastensmidt who I’ve discovered is an excellent panel moderator. They discussed the benefits and challenges of writing fantasy in a non-European setting. While using existing mythologies, they twist and use them to create their fantasy worlds but they don’t forget to honor the culture the stories come from.
I was about to walk out when someone mentioned the title of the very next panel in that room and I realized that I wanted to see that one too; I’m not sure how it slipped off my schedule. But this one was Mud and Blood: The Grittier Side of Fantasy. The panelists were Glen Cook, Pat Rothfuss and Ken Scholes. They spoke about putting hard-edged realism into a story, and not pulling punches. Even with not holding back there was one thing that Pat and Ken agreed on. I forget who said it first, but they both agreed that once they became dads, that the harming of a child in a story became a hot button for them. It had better be really important to the story and not just a play for emotion because it will turn them off as a reader. Glen had a keener edge in his attitude that, ‘bad things happen’.
Both of these panels were excellent and pertained to my current novel project.
After this, I went to Mary Robinette Kowal’s puppet show, Whatnot. She and her fellow performers, Jodi Eichelberger and Lance Woolen put on a cross of puppetry, improv and the Blue Man Group (mostly sans music). But it was certainly not what you would think of when you hear ‘puppet show’. There was audience participation and a series of skits. Some were funny, some touching, some sad, but all were thought-provoking. It was truly brilliant.
So now, as you can see, it’s been another long day. It’s late and I’ve not gotten more than five hours of sleep on any given night. Not because I couldn’t sleep; no, I’m out as soon as my head hits the pillow. I’ve just been doing so much stuff.
But, there’s the SFWA party to go to in the Atlantis, which is connected to the Convention Center via a sky bridge. Not wanting to miss out, I go. Next time, I swear I will do fewer panels and get in a disco nap in the afternoon. This party was being put on by Sheila Williams and Stan Schmidt, essentially Dell Magazines. They had two giant sheet cakes with a cover for each magazine as decoration.
Of course Stan and Sheila were there, and I thanked Sheila for giving her time and insight at the Kaffee Klatch. Gordon Van Gelder of F&SF was also there. Early on in the party I found myself talking extensively with James Patrick Kelly and Michael Cassutt. They were very entertaining and calling us the ‘next generation’ of SF writers. Again, there was only a good, helpful attitude toward us newer folk. Michael is based in LA. I told him I’d take care of him if he ever needed picture framing.
Then I mingled and ran into some more Codexians and a good variety of established people. When the main room got too hot and crowded, I slid over to the overflow room across the hall. A place vacated and someone noticed I looked tired and invited me to sit on the bed (this was obviously a normal room and not a con suite). I saw her name and knew that I recognized it from somewhere, but I wasn’t sure where. Well, I kept my mouth shut for a few minutes and paid attention to the conversation and realized that Patricia Briggs is a well established author with many books. And we were just sitting there shooting the shit. She’s a very nice, easygoing person.
By the way, I am usually lousy at recognizing people. Thank goodness for the name tags. I can’t tell you how many times someone famous has come into the frame shop and I’ve been oblivious.
After a couple of hours, I reached my limit. I found myself becoming a bump on a log just because I was too tired to participate. Rather than sit like a slug, I excused myself and somewhere around 1am went back to my hotel room – and collapsed.