Live from ReaderCon 17

Driving[Note from MK, 7/13/2006: This post has been mistitled. This is really for Readercon 16. But since so many people have linked to it, I have kept the incorrect title. If you want the scoop on the latest Readercon (the real number 17) click here]

So, we’re all exhausted sitting here in the hotel room, fueled only by coffee, goldfish, and wild, ebullient enthusiasm. I’m writing this as Paul M. Berger is giggling in a subdued but mildly hysterical manner, while Evil David (aka Mercurio D. Rivera) looks on with sinister intent. Devin J. Poore sits in the corner on the bed, laughing at the foolish mortals and their silly thoughts. In the last 36 hours (we can’t really do the math anymore) we’ve had a five hour road trip (with a few brief glimpses of rest stop havens and threats of exploding kidneys), have all been accused of murder by Johnathan Lethem, saw Joe Haldeman admit freely he’s an alcoholic while telling wonderful anecdotes over a glass of wine, had a dinner from the hotel buffet that was crunchy in the wrong places, and haven’t slept more than an hour. All in all, it’s been quite fun.

We would be remiss to not mention Ajit George, schmooze king, whose uncannily adept social skills have helped us meet many writers whose work we’ve long admired. We collectively thank him for allowing us to reap the benefits of his gregariousness and general animal magnetism. Fred Cataldo was last seen being coerced to drink more at the wine and cheese reception. We suspect we will join him in the near future.

The CrewSeen in the picture at left (taken by Paul Berger) are Fred Cataldo, Devin J. Poore, Mercurio D. Rivera, and Ajit George at the Meet the Pros reception last night. Each pro had a sheet of stickers printed with a quote from his or her body of work. The idea was that we’d go around and collect stickers as an excuse to meet the author. So we ambulated (under the influence of several fermented beverages), talking to such luminaries as Samuel (Chip) Delaney, Ellen Kushner, Jim Freund, James Patrick Kelley, Holly Black, Greer Gilman, & others. Kelly Link gave us a sticker that said, “There aren’t any giant spiders.” But Paul Berger assures me that’s not the case. You can ask him about that story later.

The MobThe picture at left (Paul Berger’s wonderful eye yet again) shows Mercurio D. Rivera, James Patrick Kelly, Will McArthy, Fred Cataldo, Holly Black, and the back of Johnathan Lethem’s head. A few of us were invited to play a psychologically abusive game called “Mafia,” which if you haven’t played is a bit like being interrogated by the CIA and an intervention all at once. Ellen Kushner might call it an interstitial game. All of us in the AlteredFluid writers’ group had been friends for a long time, but it’s going to be a long ride back to New York together. Dignity was lost, integrity was questioned, and all of us were falsely accused of being in the mob. Notice the shifty body language as tensions escalate. Jonathan Lethem, for some reason we have yet to identify, had it out for Matthew Kressel. It must have been his guilty looking shirt. This was a valuable opportunity to rub shoulders with and alienate some of our favorite writers.

Secondary Characters PanelThe picture at right is from one panel dealing with secondary characters. Shown are Teresa Nielsen Hayden, James Patrick Kelly, Delia Sherman, & Ellen Kushner. There were lots of interesting panels and readings. We saw Paul Tremblay, fiction editor of ChiZine, read his story from The Book of Final Flesh. Kris Dikeman, who couldn’t be here today because she is currently attending Clarion West, also has a story in that anthology. Some of the most interesting discussions occurred when the speakers digressed from the panel’s topic with anecdotes about their personal experience. Joe Haldeman’s stories were particularly memorable, especially the ones about his war experiences and the mechanics of his writing routine. We saw a professional writers’ workshop in action and discovered that they focus on many of the same points and issues that we focus on in our own writers’ group, AlteredFluid. That was heartening. Some of the other panel highlights included a discussion of interstitial arts with Ellen Kushner, an overview of the speculative fiction market, and the reading protocols of slipstream. Due to 36 hours of constant stimulation, Mercurio Rivera and Matthew Kressel appeared to outside observers to be unconscious during the panel on “Traumatized Authors.” We are a bit worried about them because we stll have 24 hours to go. We expect to have another night of interpersonal tension and recrimination, schmoozing, boozing, and ultimately losing sleep.

At the Bar
Here is another photo by Paul Berger of Matthew Kressel, Devin J Poore, Paul Tremblay, & Ajit George at the bar. And this was before we started drinking.

Farewell for now,
Paul M. Berger, Fred Cataldo, Ajit George, Matthew Kressel, Devin J. Poore, & Mercurio D. Rivera

Reproductive Organs

Hibiscus FlowerI’ve found that nature is most creative in its reproductive organs. I have this little tropical plant on my computer, an epiphyte, and though I’ve forgotten its name, for the past few weeks I’ve been admiring the little tubular purple flowers that have grown from the twisting green stems. Inside the tubes themselves though are still smaller and brighter tubes, and at the end of those, rye seed-shaped blobs full of yellow pollen extend out to the air. All this just to reproduce. Flowers are the most amazing things. Take a good, hard look at an hibiscus flower and you might be hard pressed to believe in a universe as HP Lovecraft so eloquently put it, “that grinds from nothing to something and something back to nothing again, neither heeding nor knowing the wishes or existence of the minds that flicker for a second now and then in the darkness.” Lovecraft’s words are dark and lonely, but if you look at these flowers — I mean really look at them, then you will know that Lovecraft was truly writing fiction. I mean, flowers could reproduce without all this fanfare, yet they hover instead at the precipice of nature’s creativity. And it’s not just flowers. Take fruits for example. My mulberry tree in my back yard throws red and blue berries all summer long. And there are pears and mangoes and bananas. All part of the reproductive process. Then we have animals, each with complicated courting rituals of their own, various sexual organs. I just read yesterday that Orcas and their newborn baby whales don’t sleep for several months after birth. Something, to me, in the inherent nature of the universe is trying to reproduce incessantly, and this force, be it god-like or wave-like, focuses its energy on this process of reproduction most of all, resulting in the creative explosion we know as life. No wonder the porn industry does so well.

Meteor on MarsI just read yesterday too that a few months ago they observed the first meteor on another world. While that may not sound impressive to some, I think it’s pretty damn cool that we have these little rovers climbing around Mars watching the sky as well as the ground.

Finally, on a more personal note, I have a story up at Abyss & Apex. Give it a read if you so desire.

Revving up for ReaderCon

Hi everyone! Hope everyone in the US had a good 4th of July. We spent it on top of my friend’s roof watching the Manhattan fireworks. I convinced everyone that, yes, there were smiley faces in the fireworks. No one believed me until they saw this. (Okay, so that’s not really my photo, but it illustrates the point well, doesn’t it.)

So we got to see Lauren McLaughlin last night at our writers’ group and everyone was glad to see her back (even for a little while). Can’t wait to see what’s next from her. And we’re gearing up to go to ReaderCon this weekend for a little schmoozing and boozing. I’ve never been to a Con before, but I expect it will be lots of fun. And I’m sure everyone has already seen it, but I may go see Batman this afternoon. Yes, I’m a little behind on the curve.

We were talking about War of the Worlds last night, and though I haven’t seen that either, the people who had thought that Spielberg essentially abused the memory of 9/11 by continually beating viewers over the head with terrible, panicking imagery. I read this review from the Village Voice and it had this to say: “Spielberg explicitly alludes to the WTC attacks in dozens of ways: missing-persons postings, fallen airliners, reflexive questions like “Did you lose anybody?” etc. The references are merciless, and firsthand veterans of ground zero should approach the movie with tongs.” Even better, I plan not to see it. I liked his early films, but his last few have descended into big budget drivel, and now this exploitation of human fears has permanently changed my opinion of him and his films. Go do something better with your time like eat at this Restaurant in the Sky.

You know you’re a nerd when…

Exterminate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…you spend your friday night watching Deep Space Nine and the new Doctor Who. The Deep Space Nine episodes I got from Netflix, but the Doctor Who episodes, not available anywhere in the US, had to be (ahem) acquired by other means. I thought they were really well done, amusing but at the same time capturing that true science fictiony feel of the older Doctor Who’s. Especially enjoyable was the return of the never to be destroyed Daleks. “Exterminate!” While they did pull a little deus ex machina with Rose at the end, I thought overall the episode worked. It had a little Max Headroom feel for me, that totally underappreciated and short lived show of the late 80s. I also liked Captain Jack, and though I didn’t catch the episode where he was introduced, it was good to see them use an American character that wasn’t naive nor stupid. Jack seemed to be quite flirtatious with both sexes too, a modern and interesting take for a Doctor Who character. Yes, you can say it now. I am a nerd. Well, what did you expect?

The Hudson Current article about the creation of Sybil’s Garage is now online. Hope you enjoy it!

Song playing now – Visage – “Fade to Gray”

Space 2005

While awakening and stretching this morning, I walked over to my window to open the blinds when I noticed a not so unfamiliar man rummaging about the garbage across the street. In his hands was a toy model of the spaceship from Space 1999, a TV show from the late 70s, early 80s that I remember fondly. Because I was out of sugar for my coffee, I wandered over to the local bodega to get some when I saw this poster for a movie called Ringside. I never heard of the movie, but the poster was in excellent condition. However, I decided against keeping it. People throw away the darndest things.

Stranger Things Happen

I’ve just heard that Kelly Link has released her first collection of stories, Stranger Things Happen, online under the Free Creative Commons License. I’ve read the stories before and enjoyed them, but I’ve copied STH to my computer for later persusal. Kelly said she was inspired by “author and copyright activist Cory Doctorow who had put each of his books online under a Creative Commons license.” She hopes this at least won’t hurt sales, and spread her (excellent) stories far and wide. I hope so too.