Ride the Naugy!

Ride the Naugy!Among the bits of wonderful things I picked up at ReaderCon (or on my way there) was this odd little pamphlet petitioning me to “Ride the Naugy!” I can just imagine a little kid roaming around a park with his mother and having a gray old man come up to him and say, “Hey kid, have you ridden the Naugy yet?” The poor mother would never know. So as a public service announcement, I’m putting the flyer here.

All-Star Zeppelin Adventure StoriesPaul M. Berger, of our AlteredFluid writers’ group, has just discovered in Gardner Dozois’ The Year’s Best Science Fiction that he received an honorable mention for his story, “Voice of the Hurricane”, in the wonderful anthology All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories. Mr. Dozois lists Paul by name in the introduction. Way to go Paul!

And if you’re a Battlestar Galactica fan, these pictures might get you excited. (Mild spoiler warning). The series restarts tomorrow, and while I don’t have cable, I am eagerly awaiting this new season. Now I just have to get someone to record the episodes for me.

It’s a Gas Gas Gas

Mercury Mariner Hybrid SUVSome of the most annoying commercials on television are car commercials. What I often see are SUVs traipsing through green wildernesses that true drivers will seldom see, or more often, a bleak, apocalyptic landscape of charchoal and gray, as if the auto manufacturers are readily promoting the destruction of the environment. Well, not so, says Ford Motor Company, who to much acclaim has recently released (shown at left) its Mercury Mariner Hybrid SUV. And while the Mariner boasts 33 miles per gallon in the city and 29 on the highway, it’s still not much compared to the Honda Insight which boasts 66 mpg with a manual transmission. Still, it’s a start. I particularly like this quote from the Sierra Club’s article: “The technology exists today to make all vehicles average 40 miles per gallon within ten years. Taking this step would save more oil than the United States currently imports from the entire Persian Gulf or could ever take out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, combined.” My belief: fuel economy before drilling. Imagine New York City, free from the ubiquitous pollution and soot that seems to cover all. That is possible, but only if consumers make wise choices.

Shuttle AstronautsOnly three hours before the Return To Flight Space Shuttle Launch. What interested me most of all was the woman commander, Eileen Collins. It’s a wonderful thing to know that a woman is representing the US and the world on a mission that exemplifies what I believe true Americanism is: intelligence, spirit, adventure., & an inability to accept limitations. I haven’t done this in many years, but I’m going to be following this launch live from NASA’s webcast. As the Cape Canaveral folks like to say, “Good luck, and Godspeed!”

Queue You

AlchemyFor some reason or other I’ve gotten into the habit of reading things in queues. In my mind I say, “okay after this book, I’ll read this one, and then this…” And for some reason if I break that order I feel guilty or frustrated or otherwise confused. My current order is something like this: I’m reading The Dubliners by Joyce now. After that it’s going to be Issue #33 of Not One of Us, followed by Alchemy (Seen at left. these were given away free at Readercon, which I find spectacular), then it’s Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Telling, which I also bought at Readercon. Then there’s the much anticipated Magic For Beginners by Kelly Link. I forgot to have Kelly sign her story “Stone Animals” which will appear in The Best American Short Stories. After that it’s the latest Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristelet (#16) and then I can finally get back to finishing my collection of Poe stories. But I suspect that won’t be for a while.

Jello!What would be a better housewarming gift than a nice bowl of Jello? Seen at right is a scan from my latest Jello suggestion book, The New Joys of Jell-O which was the much anticpated sequel to The Joys of Jell-O, also in my collection. I’ll probably read this one after Poe.

In other news, the space shuttle will be launching again after a two year hiatus. We wish them the best of luck, safety, and speed. And, while we’re talking about space, check out this picture of the Trapezium. I know it’s false color, but it just reeks of beauty.

Finally, I would be remiss to not mention and thank heartily, Drew Morse and John Benson, publisher of Not One of Us for selling Sybil’s Garage at their dealer table. Many thanks!

The Post Readercon Post

Food and BooksEven though I had little to no sleep all weekend, somehow I could not get to bed last night until near 2am. I think the post ReaderCon euphoria kept me buzzing all night. Seen at left are me (Matthew Kressel), Devin J. Poore, Fred Cataldo, Ajit George, and Mercurio D. Rivera. Paul Berger took the picture yet again. The restuarant behind us is called the Travelers’ Restaurant, and if you’ve never been there, you might want to give it a try (1257 Buckley Hwy right off I-84 and the CT/MA border). While the food is nothing to rave about (I enjoyed my chicken cordon bleu) the main attraction is the three free books you get to take home from their shelves upon leaving. I chose The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Lonesome Dove, and a book about The New Joys of Jello. I was very happy with my selection.

Devin and his BeerDevin J. Poore in this picture proves that one can never have enough beer at a Con. We devoured many.

FrustratedHere’s me and Mercurio frustrated Saturday night during a difficult game of Mafia. I’m a terrible liar, and because I was so excited when I was previously a “villager”, when the luck of the draw made me a mobster, I stumbled and fell, and ultimately slept with the fishes. Mercurio, unfortunately, was falsely accused and sentenced to death as well. Don’t we look chipper?

Paul TremblayHere’s Paul Tremblay again, reading from his new collection Compositions for the Young and Old. I liked the story, about a zombified resurrection of Mark Twain, very much. Paul’s a super nice guy too.

Altered Fluid PanelFinally, I thought I’d show once of the few pictures where we’re not frowning, sulking, drunk, or frustrated. Shown are me, Paul M. Berger, and Devin J. Poore. All in all it was a long, but ultimately rewarding weekend, and all of us are greatful for the experience we had there.

And on a brief, quick, & personal note, I read this review of one of my recent publications, which made me quite happy. The link to the story is broken for some reason, but you can read it here.

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