The con as a whole was pretty decent (and those of you who skipped it missed out, just saying). I got there on Saturday and ate lunch with some of my writer pals before appearing on a panel on Aging in Science Fiction and Fantasy, which was a decent enough panel, though I'm not sure that it was particularly ground-breaking in terms of what we discussed. After that, I had a lovely conversation with some local fans before going to dinner with friends at Mai Village in St. Paul. Then, we headed back to the con for the auction, where I picked up 2 books by Elizabeth Lynn (the books I was missing from the Chronicles of Tornor, in fact!), Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus, a James Morrow novel and a 5 more wuxia including early Sammo Hung and Shaolin Soccer. I also found a new home for Mom's big stuffed dragon that's too big to fit in her current room. Then it was back home through the wilds of St. Paul while playing the popular new game Everything is Closed/Partially Blocked Due to Construction (road construction is much worse than usual this year and I live about 30 minutes drive from the hotel under optimal conditions).
Sunday dawned early with a migraine and the need to head back to St. Paul for a day of panels. I made it to my 11 AM panel by minutes, though, and spent a lively hour interviewing/grilling Ytasha about Afrofuturism and showing off art by John Jennings. It was quite interesting and I think I got a better understanding of the scope of Afrofutrism as an artistic/cultural movement. After that, we got Ytasha out of the hotel for a short lunch break at Nelson's Deli, then back again for hanging out and eating. The Alternate Sherlocks panel turned into a discussion of some of our favorites (Elementary generally preferred to Sherlock, the graphic novel Baker Street, split on the Robert Downey version, nobody likes stupid Watson, Carole Nelson Douglas' Irene Adler series, etc.) and recommendations regarding the fabulous Sherlock Holmes Collection at the University of MN Library. Then, I got to go grill Ytasha about comics (she has a multimedia graphic novel out, called Rayla 2212). We also talked about some recently recovered Golden Age comics featuring culturally diverse protagonists like Nelvana of the North and related. Good stuff and an interesting chat to close out the con. After that, I hung out with Ytasha and Anton (her guest liaison) for a bit before taking off.
Taking involved racing home, starting to cook dinner, adding another dining companion (for a total of 4), then bolting off to see Mr. Holmes (Sir Ian McKellan, et al) with one of my friends. It was, for the record, sadly disappointing. The performances were good, but dear god, there were few cliches they did not bring out of storage. Older protagonist wrestling with dementia, victimized women, with or without emotionally abusive spouses, irritatingly superior small boy in danger, bees in danger, the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima, because when in doubt, you trot out everything you have. All to get to...well, nothing really, except SAD. SO VERY SAD. So yeah, disappointed. Now back to the regular fun of my week, day job and catchup, and no more cons for a couple of months, which will be novel at this point.
My schedule (I'll be there Saturday and Sunday; Friday night is MCBA's Biennial and Book Arts Crawl and we have a ton of friends with exhibits up).
3:00-3:55 PM Krushenko's (Room 101)
Panel: Aging in America and in SFF Not all SFF fans are young and lively. What is it like to grow old in America, and how has old age been treated in science fiction & fantasy? Martha A. Hood, mod. Phyllis Ann Karr, Catherine Lundoff
11:00-11:55 PM Mainstage (Northern Pacific) Panel: Afrofuturism and Science Fiction. Does Afrofuturism work within more or less traditional SF? Outside and parallel to it? How does it propose new directions for the genre? What's next for Afrofuturism?
Catherine Lundoff, mod.; Ytasha L. Womack
2:00-2:55 PM Krushenko's (Room 101)
Panel: Alternate Sherlocks. From TV to movies to spin-off books, the characters of Sir Arthurr Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories go ever onward, conquering new mediums and having new adventures. From vampire hunting to alternate histories to misadventures of Sigmund Freud to the mystery-solving skills of Irene Adler, Mycroft Holmes & Mrs. Hudson, most of us have read or watched some variation on the Holmes canon. How do these stories keep going and keep inspiring? What are some of our favorites? Where do we see the opportunity for new & different adaptations? Will they ever run out? Catherine Lundoff, mod.; Cynthia Booth, Matt Coe, Eric M. Heideman
3:00-3:55 PM Mainstage (Northern Pacific)
Panel: Diversity in Comics and Rayla 2212. Author Saladin Ahmed has been engaged in an ongoing project that's been rediscovering characters of color & women in precode comics that show a far more diverse comics world than ones many of us grew up with. More POC comics creators & characters are being discovered & celebrated, including Ytasha L. Womack's Rayla. Let's talk about this brave, not so new world, that explores what comics have been & can be in the future. Catherine Lundoff, mod.; Ytasha L. Womack
And lots of other discussion on diversity in YA, and a bunch of other fun things. Come on down to Bandanna Square (in St. Paul) and check it out!
My schedule, if I can beat this thing:
Saturday, Noon-12:55 PM, Main Stage (Soo Line Room)--Panel: Queer and Feminist Sci-Fi Theater in the Twin Cities. Tessa Johnstone Carlson and Jessi Hiemer (Gadfly Theater Productions. And possibly me.
Saturday, July 26:
3:00-3:55 PM, Krushenko's (Room 101). Panel: LGBTQ SF/F You Should be Reading. Catherine Lundoff, mod.; Robin Raienimi.
And the 5PM autographing, also on Saturday. Send good wishes that I can beat this thing please! I hate missing cons after I've agreed to a schedule. :-(
Annnddd…I forgot to mention author Ka Vang’s reading from her new children’s book, Shoua and the Northern Lights Dragon, on Friday night. The book sounds wonderful and I need a copy forthwith.
Day 2 dawned bright and early in the sense of me waking up at my usual time. I enjoyed a quiet breakfast in the lobby, met up with friends and did a bit of prep for my 10AM “Depictions of Aging in SF/F” panel. By the time it started, I realized I was getting a migraine and had cleverly forgotten my pills at home (this will be entertaining later), but we soldiered on, talking about our various likes (realistic portrayals of older characters,) and dislikes (magical fixes, body swaps), whether female writers in genre tend to do more realistic portrayals of aging than male writers (general impression was yes, and most recommendations were by female authors, but we agreed that we didn’t have a representative sample) and sundry recommendations. The basic reading list is here, with some additions.
By the time we got to my noon reading I had inhaled a nice lunch which Rebecca Marjesdatter was kind enough to pick up for me and my migraine was getting interesting. I read from Blood Moon (the Silver Moon sequel in progress), a prequel short piece for the novel proposal book I’m working on, a flash horror piece and an excerpt from my steampunk ghost story from Ghosts in Gaslight, Monsters in Steam to an appreciative audience which included GOH Jack McDevitt (who is, incidentally, a fine GOH. I recommend him!).
When I emerged, Anton asked what he could get me and went in quest of the only pills that work on my headaches. His success enabled me to a. shed my migraine and b. accept pills from his hands with a loud cry of “Oh look! There’s Anton with my drugs!” to the great amusement of onlookers.
After that, Kim Long-Ewing and I talked about Broad Universe, the Carl Brandon Society and the Outer Alliance in the “Unheard Voices of SF/F/H” panel. Check them all out and sign up. It’s for the good of FANDOM. Dammit.
Then we autographed things and it was fun.
This was followed by a pleasant group dinner at Little Szechuan, then back to Vanna and buy stuff at the auction. Speaking of which, if you bought one of my books and would like it personalized, let me know. If we can’t meet up, I have book plates I can sign and send.
More chatting. Fall down, go boom after parties.
Day 3 was a wee bit shorter, though quite entertaining in that it opened with Breakfast for Professionals Who are Not Morning People, with Roy and Cynthia Booth and me grunting politely at each other over coffee and misc. breakfast items. I caught part of Jack McDevitt's excellent reading after running a short errand. Then there was more hanging about with friends until "LGBTQ SF/F You Should be Reading." In theory, I was moderating but we went for a more free form discussion based on room set up and Rachel Gold brought wonderful questions and other people asked other questions, and I ranted a fair amount about the marginalization of queer sf/f by LGBTQ writers and how difficult it is to find since most of the bigger houses don't publish it, and many of the larger review sites don't review it. We did make some recommendations for new and recent works: Scheherazade's Facade, edited by Michael C. Jones, Geoff Ryman's Paradise Tales, Tenea D. Johnson's Smoketown, Rachael Ack's steampunk series, Amanda Downum's series that kicks off with The Drowned City, and a number of other books that I'm forgetting. Lively discussion then spilled out into the lobby area for more discussion so good panel all around.
I finished things off with "By the Light of the Moon: Reading, Writing, and Watching Werewolves." Silver Moon may have been mentioned a time or two, but we also talked about various werewolf films including Ginger Snaps and In the Company of Wolves, Angela Carter, Hannah Kate's anthology Wolf Girls, some of Roy C. Booth's short stories, The Howling, Wolfen, HowlCon and the She-Wolf blog, plus sundry other things I have spaced out by now.
Good, free-ranging discussion on the topic - I look forward to other write ups.
Diveriscon was an all around awesome con experience. I met new folks, had great discussions, brought in some new readers and learned about work I need to be reading and watching. Yay for the Diversicon con com and volunteers! Great job, folks! :-)
Check out next year's con, when the guests will be Laura Ives Gilman and fabulous local sfnal poet Terry Garey
So I spent last weekend doing my first gig as a “headlining guest” (as in name goes out in publicity as opposed to “also attending”) at a science fiction convention. Diversicon is a small convention that takes place in the Twin Cities, usually St. Paul, every year for the past 21 years. As the name implies, this is a convention built around the notion of “diversity” in science fiction, fantasy and horror. Former guests have included Melissa Scott, S.P. Somtow, Pam Keesey, Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes and a host of others. In short, not bad company to be keeping. J
Jack McDevitt, Roy C. Booth (and Cynthia Booth) and I kicked things off with readings at DreamHaven Books on Thursday night. We got an audience of 15-20 attendees, which is pretty good for a weeknight reading. Roy and Cynthia had survived a harrowing drive down from northern MN, and arrived after I got started, but still with plenty of time to do a fun reading. Jack McDevitt was an excellent reader and quite pleasant and the attendees asked lots of good questions, so it was a fun experience all around. We retired to Merlin’s Rest, which proved somewhat unfortunate as it was “overly amplified live band in a small space night.” But the food was good.
My Friday kicked off by landing at the hotel mid-afternoon with bags of auction items and copies of my books. I checked into my nice hotel room, dropped stuff off and chatted with various friends. I capped things off with a brisk dinner with author Rachel Gold, con pro liason extraordinaire Anton Petersen and my friend Matt, before returning for Opening Ceremonies. These were quite efficient: after greeting the attendees, Roy and I stepped out to make room for Jack McDevitt’s interview.
Shortly thereafter, I was back up to moderate “Can’t Rip a Chainmail Bodice: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and/or Feminist Romance.” To be honest, I don’t think this panel ever really jelled. Individually, I think we all said interesting things about the topic but we never quite got a discussion to take off. Just one of those Friday night things, I think. I do remember plugs for Michael Merriam’s work, Rachel Gold’s new SFR (written as Rachel Calish), my Silver Moon, the works of Tamora Pierce, Holly Black, Lois McMaster Bujold, Pat Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, Emma Bull and others, plus some general points about sexism in romance and the extent to which nonheterosexual romance does or does not play into those formulas.
After that, it was lounging about in the nice big open space and chatting with the Merriams and other friends, and hence to bed.
Part 2 coming soon!
On a side note, awesome Google Doodle today on Maria Mitchell, the astronomer.
Once more, with feeling, I'll be reading and signing at DreamHaven Books tonight with Jack McDevitt and Roy C. Booth as a kickoff for Diversicon 21. 6:30. It'll be fun!
Unrelated: Saw Pride and Prejudice at the Guthrie last night (half price tix - huzzah!) and found it kind of meh. Austen may not have written for "dull elves," but lordy, most modern interpretations seem to be. You really can't do P&P with an unsympathetic Lizzie. Just doesn't work. Sets were nice, costumes were great, actors perfectly fine. But the writing and directing was off - unnecessary explanatory speeches, pointlessly abrasive behavior, mugging. So not a thumb's up from me.
Saw Red 2 a week or so back. Because Helen Mirren. Several laugh out loud moments, good performances, tighter ploting and pacing than the first one. Recommended if you can enjoy shoot 'em ups, which are not everybody's speed. Plus, Dame Helen = awesome, as always.
Saw Pacific Rim at the end of last Hell Saturday. and found it entertaining. I like a lot of things about it and was glad I went. Big robots smash Cthulhu. Might go see it again at the Riverview. We'll see.
And for me, personally, like this. Not bad for my headline guest gig. :-)
Friday, August 2
Scott Lohman, MC; Jack McDevitt, Roy C. Booth, Catherine Lundoff, Eric M. Heideman; Peter Cushing, Cordwainer Smith, in absentia
Main Stage (Soo Line)
Panel: Can’t Rip a Chainmail Bodice: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and/or Feminist Romance
Romance has long had a foothold in SF/F as a subplot. Now the popularity of paranormal and urban fantasy, as well as science fiction romance, seem to be assuring it a place of primacy in the genre. On the other hand, often romances follow very traditional patriarchal rules, even when fairly feminist individuals are writing. What does a feminist romantic storyline look like? How can writers who like to think of themselves as feminist avoid falling back on the old standbys?
Catherine Lundoff, mod.; S.N. Arly, Rachel Gold, Axel Kohagen, Michael Merriam
Main Stage (Soo Line)
Saturday, August 3rd
Panel: Depictions of Aging in SF/F
Aging is often depicted as something to avoid via magic, genetically engineering, body switches and other hand waving, but there are excellent depictions of middle-aged and elderly protagonists out there. What are some good examples? Bad ones? What would we like to see? Are greatly extended lives a good thing, or is there something positive to say about death?
Catherine Lundoff, mod.; Ruth Berman, Terry A. Garey, Martha A. Hood, Rebecca Marjesdatter
Main Stage (Soo Line)
Fiction Reading: Catherine Lundoff
Main Stage (Soo Line)
Panel: The Unheard Voices of SF/F/H
What amazing voices and stories are we missing out on in science fiction, fantasy, and horror due to lack of representation, support, or a myriad of other things? What are some things that suppress/oppress different voices and stories? What is being done to boost the signal of women, authors of color, and QUILTBAG authors? What can readers do to find these voices? Members from Broad Universe, the Carl Brandon Society, and Outer Alliance discuss these issues and more in a lively panel discussion.
Catherine Lundoff, mod.; Kimberly Long-Ewing, Victor Raymond?
Massive Autographing: Jack McDevitt, Roy C. Booth, Catherine Lundoff, Aimee Kuzenski, Michael Merriam, Ka Vang
SF Minnesota Auction includes
7:00-7:30 p.m. Items available for inspection
7:30-8:40 p.m. Bidding, Round One
8:40-9:50 p.m. Auction Halftime (see below)
8:50-10:00 p.m. Bidding, Round Two
Sunday, August 4
Panel: LGBTQ SF/F You Should be Reading
What’s new or just plain under-appreciated? Where can you find interesting queer sfnal work? What new directions is current work taking?
Catherine Lundoff, mod.; Rachel Gold, Rebecca Marjesdatter
Krushenko’s (Room 101)
Panel: By the Light of the Moon: Reading, Writing, and Watching Werewolves
Werewolf legends can be found all around the world and remain a nearly endless resource of fascination and inspiration. What’s the allure? What are some of our favorites? Werewolves we love to hate? What kinds of changes have we seen in their depictions over time?
Rebecca Marjesdatter, mod.; Catherine Lundoff, Eric M. Heideman, Axel Kohagen
Main Stage (Soo Line)
Scott Lohman, MC; Jack McDevitt, Roy C. Booth, Catherine Lundoff, Eric M. Heideman; Cordwainer Smith, Peter Cushing, in absentia
Main Stage (Soo Line)
Plus sundry parties, etc.
In other news, I managed to get 2 short stories out the door yesterday, plus some more writing done on both the novel proposal and the Silver Moon sequel, Blood Moon. I'm going to bite the silver bullet on the latter and do an outline for it in hopes of picking up speed, but fear that family drama and the associated "fun" is going to really bust up my writing time for this Fall. Not to mention my time for everything else, but I'm really hoping to be proven wrong on this on. The good part is that in the here and now, I have new work to read next week. Yay! And am feeling better than yesterday - double yay! :-)
Full steam ahead.
I made it to the knitting class, which was fun, and to lunch afterward, which was also fun, but not to Chez McCullough for the party, which was sad for me. I did spend last night practicing knitting. I have three rows that I don't hate and two that I do, so progress.
Today was the Broad Universe General Meeting, at which I could say very little, given my still nonexistent voice. It was productive and BU is awesome and you should totally join up, if you haven't already.
This afternoon's accomplishment was updating my website, finally. I added new links, took out defunct stuff, added new reviews and podcasts and started on events for 2013. Check it out at your leisure, if you are so inclined.
And speaking of 2013, the Diversicon 21 website is updated with guest info, including that for Special Guest C. Lundoff. It's a very affordable con - if you register now, it's a mere $25.00, for which you get the writerly stylings of Jack McDevitt, Roy Booth and me, as well as a host of other talented folks. Come, bring your friends! :-)
Friday night's Steampunk panel was quite enjoyable. We talked about style as well as literature, comic books, movies, TV and gaming. A few things that were touched on:
Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee
Steam Century - steampunk LARP
Infernal Devices and Morlock Nights by K.W. Jeter
Cherie Priest - Boneshaker, etc.
The Steampunk Bible
Silver Goggles and Beyond Victoriana
Steampowered: Lesbian Steampunk, vols 1 and 2.
The Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale
"Pimp My Airship" by Maurice Broaddus. Plus more stuff.
Saturday, I did publicity things for Silver Moon in the morning, then turned up to do a noon reading at the con. Had an audience of about 10 who seemed to enjoy it thoroughly, and I followed up with a reading of a short excerpt of my new story, "Miss Lucy's Glass," which is going to be submitted this very week.
Saturday afternoon, we did a werewolf fan panel and enthusiastically plugged the Ginger Snaps movies, Angela Carter, Silver Kiss and Silver Moon (my friends plugged it, not me. Well, probably me, too), plus a number of other works old and new.
We went to dinner and I got a forceable reminder about why I should not do big con dinners when I've got a migraine and my blood sugar tanks. So back home again for me to sit around watching A&E's The Scarlet Pimpernel and read a bit of Angela Carter while icing my head.
Sunday, I went back and taped a reading for Cynthia and Roy Booth's public access TV show on Bemidji Public Access. which was a grand time.
Then it was errands and much needed shoe-shopping! Between the plantar's and the bursitis, shoe shopping was an unattainable goal for the last year and a half or so. But today, victory! And 3 pairs of cool shoes.
Then it was the fairytale retellings panel which was interesting, more of a list sort of thing than discussion. Check out the Mythopoeic Awards for some idea of what we covered.
Now to go collapse for a bit, then sleep.
Here's what I'm doing -
9:00-9:55 PM, Soo Line: The Politics of Steampunk
John Everett Till, mod.; Catherine Lundoff, Mark Tersteeg
Noon-12:55 PM, Northern Pacific
Catherine Lundoff reads from her novel, Silver Moon
2:00-2:55 PM, Northern Pacific:
By the Light of the Moon, Reading,Writing, and Watching Werewolves
Catherine Lundoff, mod.; Rebecca Marjesdatter
4:00-4:55 PM, Soo Line: Fairytale Retellings
Catherine Lundoff, mod.; Don Kaiser, David Lenander, Rebecca