Culhwch & Olwen: A Tale of King Arthur & His Warriors performed by David Lee Summers

Tofu used as a bookstand, again.

Tofu used as a bookstand, again.

Where I Got It: Bought a copy from the publisher.

Narrator: David Lee Summers

Publisher: Hadrosaur Productions (2000)

Length: Approximately 70 minutes

Music: Kevin Schramm

Author’s Page

Around 1100 AD, the story of Culhwch and Olwen was committed to paper. It had long before been part of the Arthurian and Celtic oral tradition of tall tales. Now, David Lee Summers has brought that tale back to modern audiences with a grand telling, complete with music, on a modern CD.

This was highly amusing! It is a grand, tall tale indeed. When listening to it, I had to picture Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail. The basics are that Culhwch wants to marry Olwen. However, her father sets him this long string of impossible tasks before he will consent. Luckily, Culhwch is good friends with King Arthur and his Round Table knights.

Each noble man sets off on his assigned quest. Mostly, these quests are to obtain ridiculous grooming supplies! There’s a witch to kill, a couple of giants to defeat, a dwarf’s pot to steal, and so much more.

It’s great to hear this tale brought to life once again. I think those interested in Arthurian tales or even Celtic or English lore would find this amusing. I often found myself chuckling out loud.

The Narration: David Lee Summers tell the story with vigor and an underlying amusement. The music is a nice touch, putting me in mind of a Medieval court telling of the tale.

What I Liked: An old tale brought to life; such an amusing tall tale!; a bardic performance; accompanying music; the cover art.

What I Disliked: Nothing –  I really enjoyed this little slice of historic legend.

Best of 2014

ElwesLaydenAsYouWishA big thank you to all the publishers, authors, and narrators who generously provided review copies, especially the audiobooks. Thanks to all my book blogger friends, real life friends, and family who recommended books, or simply let me babble on about books even when you really didn’t care. According to Goodreads (which I don’t use religiously but perhaps I should just for the stats) says I read 116 books this year, the majority of which were audiobooks. Here is my list of favorites from 2014. Enjoy!

SummersLightningWolvesAs You Wish by Cary Elwes – Nonfiction: True adventures of the filming of the movie The Princess Bride. Lots of good stuff to make you laugh.

AlvaVosper'sRevengeLightning Wolves by David Lee Summers – Steampunk: Wild west gets even wilder in this multi-cultural steampunk adventure.

BernheimerPenniesForferrymanVosper’s Revenge by Kristian Alva – Epic Fantasy: Book 3 of the series and a most excellent wrap up to the first trilogy in this world. Intense and insightful!

Pennies for the Ferryman by Jim BernheimerUrban fantasy: Mike Ross is a reluctant detective with a bad eye that lets him communicate with the ghost world. A great nitty-gritty ride. 

Ancient Stout being used as a bookstand.

CampbellDragonsOfDorcastleThe Art of Eating through the Zombie Apocalypse by Lauren Wilson & Kristian Bauthus – Nonfiction: Cookbook, survival book, and snarky humor on the end of civilization as we know it.

ShrumDyingForALivingDragons of Dorcastle by Jack Campbell – Epic Fantasy: Book 1 in a new series with some steampunk thrown in with unreal magic. Excellent world building in this book!

Tofu actually believes he is hiding behind this book.

Dying for a Living by Kory M. Shrum – Urban Fantasy: Jesse is a Necronites who can take the place of another in death….and come back to life. I almost passed this book up and it turned out to be one of my faves of the year. I thank the book gnomes for preventing me from being a total dunce!

PriestMaplecroftWords of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson – Epic Fantasy: Book 2 in the Stormlight Archives and some of the best fiction I have ever read, hands-down.

7912701Maplecroft by Cherie Priest – Gothic Horror: Take Lizzie Borden and Cthulu monsters and you have something cunningly magnificent. Dare I say this is what Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, and HP Lovecraft have been waiting for?

WillisAllClearBoneshaker by Cherie Priest – Steampunk: The Civil War hasn’t ended and the Pacific Northwest remains in shambles due to an industrial accident. Complex world surrounds a complex relationship between a mother and son.

SeboldShanghaiSparrowAll Clear by Connie Willis – Time Travel: Book 2 in the All Clear series is an excellent wrap up to Blackout (WWII historical fiction).

MartinDeadlyCuriositiesShanghai Sparrow by Gaie Sebold – Steampunk: Awesome multi-cultural fiction with a stubborn lass at the center of it.

BowmanArrowThroughAxesDeadly Curiosities by Gail Z. Martin – Urban Fantasy: Certain objects attract ghosts or hold onto malevolent memories. Time to call in the right detectives to neutralize the object!

AlexanderAmbassadorArrow through the Axes by Patrick Bowman – Classic Retelling: Book 3 concludes Bowman’s excellent retelling of the ancient The Odyssey.

JangDearLeaderAmbassador by William Alexander – Science Fiction: Awesome adventure that asks so much from one young lad.

Cats: Picky readers.

Dear Leader by Jang Jin-sung – Nonfiction: A look inside North Korea from a native poet and spy. Absolutely fascinating.

FremantleSistersOfTreasonThe Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman – Historical Fiction: Beautiful story of two young people in NY during one of the worst fires in history.

LornDastardlyBastardSisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle – Historical Fiction: The sisters of Lady Jane Grey must navigate murky political waters for decades, and they do not always succeed.

KozeniewskiBraineaterJonesDastardly Bastard by Edward Lorn – Horror: A fast-paced, intense ride right up to the end.

Braineater Jones by Stephen Kozeniewski – Urban Fantasy: Think noir detective meets zombies. Yeah. Pretty fucking awesome indeed.

One of the few times Smudge has willingly held still for her photo.

JordanNewSpringThe Kingdom of the Gods by N. K. Jemisin – Epic Fantasy: Book 3 of The Inheritance Trilogy offers a beautiful ending to this complex and rich series.

AtwoodMaddAddamNew Spring by Robert Jordan – Epic Fantasy: I believe this to be Jordan’s finest work in The Wheel of Time series.

Grahame-SmithAustenPrideAndPrejudiceAndZombiesThe MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood – Dystopian: I read all three of these books this year and each blew me away in different ways. Atwood had me laughing one minute and wanting to punch something the next.

Streak sleeping in his basket.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith & Jane Austen – Classic Retelling: Yep, hoity-toity aristocracy of England has been infested with zombies. And now it is fashionable to send your kids off to Asia to become martial arts experts. A most excellent and entertaining book!

The Mystery of Grace by Charles de Lint – Paranormal Fantasy: A captivating tale of a mechanic who has to figure out a way to free herself and others from a mundane afterlife.

Lightning Wolves by David Lee Summers

SummersLightningWolvesWhere I Got It: Review copy via the author (thanks!).

Publisher: Sky Warrior Books (2014)

Length: 266 pages

Series: Book 2 Clockwork Legion

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 2 in the series, I feel that most readers could pick it up and enjoy it. There is enough material from Book 1 mentioned to explain the background of characters in Book 2.

This book is part alternate history, part steampunk, part mystery and all those parts come together for a massively entertaining read. Set in the 1870s Western USA, Russian forces occupy the Pacific Northwest while the desert Southwest is still Wild West. Our heroes from the first book have since scattered; now the impending doom (or fate) brings them back together. Ramon Morales (who was once a sheriff) and his fiance Fatemeh Karimi (a healer and owl talker) are resting up at Ramon’s mother’s house at the start of this series. But soon they are traveling west. Professor Maravilla and Larissa are hiding out in the Grand Canyon tinkering away with the ornithopters and other mechanical wonders. They too are pulled into the trouble brewing in the Pacific Northwest.

Billy searches for work and ends up on a chili farm owned by Hoshi, a retired Japanese samurai. Soon, they are asked to help hunt down a thief and murderer, William Bresnahan. New characters are pulled in to round out this team of soon-to-be heroes; the Shieffelins, Luther Duncan, and a completely foreign entity that only Maravilla can communicate with.

A wild ride through the wild west, with a rich mix of the various cultures and political factions, this book is a most entertaining read. Growing up, I didn’t really care for Westerns because I felt they only focused on the Caucasian cultures while casting all others in a negative light (if mentioned at all). Lightning Wolves does not make this mistake pulling in many cultures with real characters that have regular flaws and gifts.

The plot jumps from character to character, giving us quality time with all our main characters. Some of my favorite scenes are where Maravilla and Larissa go off to investigate the rumor of a warrior ghost who rides a camel, haunting a certain mountain range. Just the imagery alone evinces a giggle from me. Natives of the desert Southwest may recognize several real locations used in this story (a plus in my book!).

For those who need some mechanical wonders in their steampunk novels, you also will not be disappointed. There are some carryover wonders from Book 1 (Owl Dance) such as the ornithopters. But Prof. Maravilla has been hard at work in Book 2 – there are indeed lightning wolves! These are steampowered metal contraptions in the shape of wolves and they are pretty awesome. Then there is the digging peccary, a metal mining machine in the shape of a javalina (but far larger).

I do have one small criticism for this book: many of the fight and/or escape scenes are pretty basic, like something you would see in the old black and white Zorro TV series. They also often come off rather flat as the characters don’t have any particular emotions during the scenes.

The ending was definitely satisfying and I did not expect it to be quite what it was – pleasantly surprised! For those of you who read Book 1, you will notice a minor but important scifi thread weaving its way through the plot. This comes to the forefront at the end and it is well done!

What I Liked:  The coverart is gorgeous!; lots of cool mechanics; plenty of cultural interactions; ghost warrior camel riding in the desert; mysteries and political factions; the ending was satisfying. 

What I Disliked: Some of the fight and escape scenes came off as flat.

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX

lavinia-portraitRIP9BannerCarl from Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting another awesome reading event. I have thoroughly enjoyed R.I.P. in the past and look forward to doing so again this year. Anyone can join this event and the primary purpose is to have fun, so no pressure.

This year, the group read is The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. One again, The Estella Society is hosting the group read. Right now, I am planning to participate in this, but I have been having some trouble with my eyes. Don’t worry, I probably just need a new prescription and I see the eye doctor tomorrow, and will hopefully have new glasses within 2 weeks. But because of that, I am hesitant to commit to a reading level this year. Instead, I am just going to keep it open ended and enjoy the fun.

I do have some audiobooks lined up to listen to as I beat out some rugs on a loom.

A few Kathy Reichs books kicking around – Temperance Brennan series

Points of Origin by Darden North

Contamination by T. W. Piperbrook

Double Forte by Aaron Paul Lazar

Provided I simply need new glasses and I can get back into eyeball reading like I am used to:

The Cistern by Lorne Oliver

The Wish List by Gabi Stevens

Vampires of the Scarlet Order by David Lee Summers

Dragon’s Fall by David Lee Summers

Bubonicon 2014: Sunday

David Lee Summers at Bubonicon 2014

David Lee Summers at Bubonicon 2014

On Sunday, the panels and author readings didn’t get started until 10AM, but the Con Suite was open at 8AM. They had donuts, and not just any donuts, but donuts with bacon. Yep, you read that right. You could have a chocolate frosted donut that also had a strip of crispy bacon in it. (I think I heard one of the Con volunteers say the donuts came from Rebel Donut shop). I almost snagged one, but I feared that I wouldn’t like it and then who would I share it with? If my man was at the Con with me, I would just grab one for him, eat half of it, and then tell him how good the second half was. Instead, I stuck with the cheese, crackers, bagels, chips, bottled water, and a regular donut. The Con Suite also had a sizable spread of fruits, but there was a lot of chopped melon, and unfortunately, I am very allergic to melon.

I went to David Lee Summer‘s reading first thing. He read the first chapter from his latest book, Lightning Wolves, which is a steampunky desert Southwest alternative historical fiction that is quite fun and inventive. Then he read an interlude from his vampire novel, Dragon’s Fall. This book appeals to me because of the historical fiction aspect and his reading of the interlude only peaked my curiosity. And I asked my moonlight question. Growing up, I never really paid attention to vampires. But then vampires became a little more popular in the 1980s with The Lost Boys, and then with Interview with a Vampire. And that is when I started to wonder why most vampires weren’t reactive to moonlight, since it is simply reflected sunlight. Summers had a great answer for this in that it really depends on how the author has set up their vampires – is there a scientific basis for this existence (virus, blood defect, etc.) or are they magic based? From there, you can build logical reasons to how vampires do or don’t react to moonlight.

Steven Gould & Walter Jon Williams at Bubonicon 2014

Steven Gould & Walter Jon Williams at Bubonicon 2014

Then it was off to the Co-Guests of Honor Presentation. Steven Gould was the Toastmaster, with Walter Jon Williams helping out. They started off with some trivia questions concerning lizards mating in space aimed at the audience and then moved on to quizzing the co-guests of honor, Cherie Priest and John Hemry. Once the silliness was concluded, important matters were discussed, like the Chad Mitchell Trio song featuring Lizzie Borden. Yeah, that little girl from the nursery rhyme who gave her parents 40 whacks was indeed a real historical person. Priest’s soon-to-be-out book, Maplecroft, features Lizzie fighting Cthulu monsters. Damn! That’s some creepy nursery rhyme turned mysteriously cool yet still creepy all at the same time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wlO-J0v9ZY

John Hemry was asked to talk about retiring from his navy career to become a writer and stay-at-home father. He spoke openly of his three children, all who are somewhere on the autism spectrum and each requiring some amount of special care. I have to admit that this little bit of a reveal on his personal life is why I want to give his books a try. The military SF genre is filled with books written by military/ex-military men and, to me, much of it is interchangeable, lacking distinction from author to author. But since Hemry has been a househusband and a father to challenged children, I expect he has more insight into the human condition than most writers in the military SF genre. With my fingers crossed, I will be plunging into some of his books soon.

John Maddox Roberts on the Secret History/Alternate History panel, Bubonicon 2014

John Maddox Roberts on the Secret History/Alternate History panel, Bubonicon 2014

The first panel of the day for me was The Weird Weird West: SF with Six-Guns, moderated by John Maddox Roberts. He was joined by Craig Butler, Josh Gentry of SnackReads, David Lee Summers, and Walter Jon Williams. This was a fun, fun panel that was part history lesson and part romp through all the weird westerns out there, in print and on screen. Sitting down to enjoy this panel, I instantly thought of Westworld. The discussion started with a bit of history about the Wild West (and how short lived that actually was) to the paranormal side of the Wild West (think ghost stories and native folk lore) and then to the various cultures that have homaged the Wild West – Spaghetti westerns, Samurai 7, and more. For your traipsing through the Weird West, check these out: Joe Landsdale, Jane Lindskold, Emma Bull, Ambrose Bierce, Red Harvest, The Good, the Bad, and the Weird, The Haunted Mesa, and Science Fiction Trails magazine.

Cherie Priest & John Hemry (AKA Jack Campbell), Bubonicon 2014

Cherie Priest & John Hemry (AKA Jack Campbell), Bubonicon 2014

After taking a break to check out the Bubonicon auction, I ended up enjoying the panel Cthulu Lives! Lovecraft’s Old Ones in Today’s Fiction. Moderator Cherie Priest was joined by Yvonne Coats, John J. Miller, Harry Morris, and John Maddox Roberts. The panel spent a lot of time on their love for H. P. Lovecraft and his influence on today’s writers and the entertainment world in general. From the bookish world, check out Caitlin Carrigan, Fritz Leiber, Molly Tanzer, Livia Llewellyn. From the big screen and TV, check out True Detective, Cast a Deadly Spell, Pacific Rim. Then folks got a little serious and discussed the darker side to Lovecraft: his racism and sexism. Miller and Priest had the most to say, and seemed to have studied not only Lovecraft’s works but also his personal life. Morris also pitched in here and there with anecdotes. Priest pointed out that you don’t find hate without fear, and Lovecraft had a great hate of women. Miller pointed out that Lovecraft came from a highly dysfunctional home. It was a very interesting discussion and I think Lovecraft’s biography would be a worthy read. Then Priest told her story of her large framed Lovecraftian poster above her bed, and the squirrel falling down behind the wall late at night as Cherie sat up reading.

Claire Eddy & Connie Willis on the She's My Tardis panel, Bubonicon 2014

Claire Eddy & Connie Willis on the She’s My Tardis panel, Bubonicon 2014

By this point I was fading fast and thinking about that 2 hour drive home. But there was one last panel, She’s My TARDIS, Except She’s a Woman, moderated by John Hemry. He was joined by Connie Willis, M. T. Reiten, David Lee Summers, and Claire Eddy. This started off as a discussion of ships or even planets that became a personality within the story, such as Firefly‘s Serenity, the ship from Farscape, even the planet Arrakis from Frank Herbert’s Dune. Willis recommended the movie Dark Star. And then someone asked the question of why ships are usually referred to as female, which lead to a deeper discussion of animism and the female psyche. Needless to say, the men kept digging themselves into a hole and it was terribly fun to watch. Indeed, I spent much of this last hour of the con laughing out loud (with everyone else, so it was the good kind of laughing out loud).

And there you have it folks. I’ll try to do one more post about the autographing session, the auction, the costume contest, and the art room. I didn’t get to explore the gaming room nor the vendors this year. And there was a late night charity auction Friday night. Really, I should just replicate myself for this event so that I can enjoy everything. Next year’s Bubonicon will be later in August, instead of the first weekend, so I only have a whole year to wait.

Bubonicon 2014: Saturday

ABQ Steampunk Society & Cherie Priest

ABQ Steampunk Society & Cherie Priest

The Saturday of Bubonicon is where the most stuff happens – lots of panels, plenty of readings by individual authors, the mass autographing session, and the costume contest. For this post, I decided to talk about the panels and in another post I will share my crappy photos of the costume contest and talk about all the cool art I saw in the art show room.

First, let me say the Con Suite was awesome. This is my first time partaking of it and I was impressed. The hotel house rules put the Con Suite up on the 16th floor and they have to cover the expensive items (i.e. the TV) and the floor with plastic – which kind of makes you feel like you are walking right into a kill room, except there is all this food and nerdy people having merry geeky conversations. There were simple breakfast burritos that you could dress up with salsa or cheese, plenty of fruit, bagels, various beverages, and all sorts of appropriate con food (minion cheese nips!). And donuts! It’s been months since I had a donut and I was just dreaming about them last week.

Connie Willis on the Ten SF Worlds You Need to Visit panel, Bubonicon 2014

Connie Willis on the Ten SF Worlds You Need to Visit panel, Bubonicon 2014

Then off to my first panel of the day, Secret History versus Alternate History: Splitting Hairs. Since Ian Tregillis couldn’t make it this year (sniffle), Walter Jon Williams filled in as moderator. He was joined by Cherie Priest, John Hemry (AKA Jack Campbell), S. M. Stirling, & John Maddox Roberts. Williams quickly defined the terms ‘secret history’ and the grammatically correct ‘alternative history’ to the panel’s agreement. This panel was part history lesson and part discovery of other great authors of the genre that I need to hunt down and devour. Priest talked about how boiling water, two ladies (Clara Barton & Sally Thompkins), and their insistence to remain in charge birthed the organization we know today as the American Red Cross. There was also plenty of talk about dirigibles (real and fictional), submarines, and the what if photography came around a bit earlier (since all the tech was there but no one had put it together). Stirling highly recommended checking out the memoirs of Anne Lister, a mountaineer & traveler who died in the 1840s. Fredric Brown was also recommended, along with Anno Dracula by Kim Newman.

The ABQ Steampunk Society hosted a tea and chat with Cherie Priest that everyone was welcome to attend. The ladies of the ABQSS were all decked out in their outfits, complete with gadgets and personas. The tea was hot, the room chilly, the conversation excellent. Leah R, the ABQSS Event Organizer, was dressed as Briar Wilkes from Boneshaker (hooray!). Various steampunk touchstones in modern culture were discussed such as the tv series Jack of All Trades (which I need to Netflix!) and the robot Boilerplate (who has a tidy little faux history and website). Beyond Victoriana is a blog that focuses on steampunk, and especially on steampunk beyond the boundaries of England and English culture. I had quite a bit of fun browsing around on this site. Of course, Priest gave us a little history lesson (which is tied to one of her books) concerning Maria Boyd, a spy for the Confederacy in the Civil War. I forget exactly how Maria came up in conversation, but she had a fascinating life starting in her teens with plenty of marriages, internment camps, spying, affairs, etc.

Ernest Cline on the Pop! Culture Influences panel, Bubonicon 2014

Ernest Cline on the Pop! Culture Influences panel, Bubonicon 2014

Alas, the tea was drunk the hour was over and we all had to shove over for the next item on the schedule. I was off to Pop! Culture: Influences of Today’s Life, a panel moderated by Cherie Priest and which included Ernest Cline, Scott Phillips, Gabi Stevens, and Lauren Teffeau. Some of this panel I got, some I didn’t. I am a produce of the 1980s, but it was heavily influenced by country music and nothing but country music (unless I heard it in a movie). Don’t fret; I rectified this somewhat when I escaped to college and discovered all sorts of emo and alternative music. But there are still gaps in my 1980s cultural references as there were plenty of movies/music/tv that I wasn’t allowed to experience. Other parts of the panel, i totally got, like I can completely understand why someone (Cline) would want a DeLorean or two, and why they would trick them out with paraphernalia from Ghostbusters, Star wars, and KITT. There was plenty of talk about Star Trek, MST3K, and Atari to go along with it. Also, I learned an important Star Wars trivia – the gold dice hanging from the Millennium Falcon in the first movie were later stolen from the set and didn’t make a reappearance in the subsequent films.

Daniel Abraham moderating the Sidekicks & Minions panel, Bubonicon 2014

Daniel Abraham moderating the Sidekicks & Minions panel, Bubonicon 2014

The fun continued with Sidekick and Minion Cliches & Comic Relief, moderated by Daniel Abraham (who is half of the awesome writing team James S. A. Corey, the other half being Ty Franck). He was joined by John Hemry, Claire Eddy, S. M. Stirling, & Connie Willis. This panel started off with a rousing discussion of the definitions of sidekick, minion, and foil and then friendly banter about the differences, followed by examples – Pinky & the Brain, Harry, Ron & Hermione, Sherlock & Watson, Batman & Robin, Don Quixote & Sancho Panza. Who’s a foil (someone there to constantly screw up and create opportunities for our hero to look good)? Who is a minion (someone forced into assisting our evil empire builder)? Who is a sidekick (and there was tons of discussion on exactly what role the sidekick plays)? And here is another new-to-me author to add to my TBR pile – Sean Stewart. Then someone mentioned a podcast done in the style of old-time radio theater, The Thrilling Adventure Hour.  A few movies/tv shows, such as The Venture Bros. and Grabbers, were also mentioned.

Ten SF Worlds You Need to Visit Before You Die was moderated by Connie Willis, who was joined by Yvonne Coats, T. Jackson King, John Maddox Roberts, and Courtney Willis (Connie’s husband). If you think I blathered on before, well, there was tons of good stuff discussed on this panel, and I could go on and on – but this is already a really long post. So let me say the following books/authors were recommended by the panel: The Wood Wife, H. Beam Piper, Samuel R. Delany, Discworld, Barsoom, Andre Norton, Redshift Rendezvous, Robert Forward, Riverworld, Karen Anderson, Richard K. Morgan, James White, Earthsea, And Flatland. There, if that doesn’t keep you in reading for 6 months, I don’t know what will.

David Lee Summers at Bubonicon 2014

David Lee Summers at Bubonicon 2014

The last panel of the day was What Scares You Now? Horror Today which was moderated by Craig A. Butler. He was joined by Cherie Priest, Scott Phillips, David Lee Summers, & Joan Saberhagen. First, let me say that I was NOT stalking Cherie Priest on Saturday. It just so happens that she was in nearly all the panels I had an interest in. No, the stalking came the next day – just kidding. But we did get to share an elevator (and some morbid humor) with several other ladies. Second, half the panel started off introducing themselves and their fear of centipedes. Hence, there was a fair number of centipede jokes throughout the hour. There was plenty of discussion about vampires and zombies; Priest said an interesting thing that I will attempt to clearly paraphrase: the two are opposite sides to the same coin. One makes you unique, powerful, desirable, and autonomous while the other strips everything unique from you, makes you undesirable, and leaves you no longer in control of yourself. I am sure there is a senior psych paper in that somewhere. Saberhagen was difficult to scare, as she fears none of the made up monsters. She did have bits and pieces to add to psychological terrors, such as when your senses say something is in front of you or happening that your mind says can not be. And of course there were lots of recommendations of what is good in horror now: Salem’s Lot, Manhattan, The Day After, Kate Kerrigan, The Ape’s Wife & Other Stories, The Slenderman.

And there we have most of Saturday. It really is a small convention, but that lets me ride the elevator with book celebrities and ask pesky questions at every panel (if I wanted to). And I get to know some of the regular con goers too. Plus several of the local authors bring their spouses and kids, so that is always cute to see.

Bubonicon 2014: Friday

Walter Jon Williams, T. Jackson King, and Laura Mixon

Walter Jon Williams, T. Jackson King, and Laura Mixon

It’s the start of my yearly holiday, Bubonicon, the scifi convention of Albuquerque, NM. I packed appropriately with books and a fun t-shirt for authors to sign at the big signing party on Saturday. I’m staying at the hotel where the convention is held, which makes it mighty convenient to pop in and out of panels and readings, zipping up to my room here and there for apples and sanity breaks.

This year, the 4pm panel kicked off the convention with local authors. It’s All SF: Sci-Fi & Southwestern Fiction, moderated by Walter Jon Williams, hosted a great discussion on how the desert southwest has been used as location in SFF. Williams was joined by fellow NM authors David Lee Summers, Jeffe Kennedy, T. Jackson King, and Laura Mixon (AKA M. J. Locke).

This panel ranged from the ecological and geographical diversity of the Southwest, to the cultural diversity of region. Of course, this went on to discuss frontier adventures in general and how what we learn from this region can be used to build frontier locations on fictional worlds. Two of the panelists have ties to the Roswell incident, which I found quite amusing. There was a nice discussion of the O.K. Corral and how modern movies make that the climax of the story, when in reality the O.K. Corral event was the beginning of Tombstone violence that went on for several months. Add in side notes about a Santa Fe version of the phantom of the opera and Japanese chili farmers, and you have a pretty amusing panel.

David Lee Summers, Jeffe Kennedy, & Walter Jon Williams

David Lee Summers, Jeffe Kennedy, & Walter Jon Williams

But then Walter Jon Williams had to bring up the (sadly) failed camel corp and the Ottoman trainer, Hadji Ali (AKA Hi Jolly), who was brought over with the camels to train US military personnel in camel riding. Apparently there is a monument to this man in Lake Havasu, AZ which is a pyramid with a camel at the pinnacle. Then Laura Mixon asked if anyone knew the song. No one volunteered, so she sang part of it for us, which was really quite awesome. Check out this LINK for the lyrics.

So, there we have scifi, history lesson, and musical entertainment all within the first panel of the Con.

Then I was off to tea, with two authors (David Lee Summers and Melinda Moore). We met at a nearby Starbucks, which is perfect for me as I love the scent of coffee but greatly prefer slurping down tea. We had a great chat, mostly about books, of course. And Melinda let me be a little book geek and have her sign my kindle.

ABQ Steampunk Society

ABQ Steampunk Society

Then back to Con in time for Steampunk 101: Queen Victoria Doesn’t Own It. This panel was hosted by ABQ Steampunk Society, and they were all dressed up. It was pretty cool to variety in their costumes (which I didn’t do a good job of photographing). Of course, plenty of steampunk literature was discussed – Scott Westerfeld, Cherie Priest, Jules Verne, K. W. Jeter, David Lee Summers, and plenty of others. Alternate history writers were pulled into the discussion (Harry Turtledove, Eric Flint). The aesthetics of steampunk were also discussed especially in relation to steampunk societies that have popped up around the world in places where there isn’t necessarily a body of literature int he native tongue to draw upon.

Bubonicon fun & swag

Bubonicon fun & swag

Then I was off to the dealer room to pick up a book I have been meaning to since the last Bubonicon – A Kepler’s Dozen. 99% of the time, I love living on the farm. But I do sometimes really miss being near a bookstore.

So, what do I have loaded on my kindle? Lightning Wolves by David Lee Summers. What audiobook do I have loaded on my laptop? The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis. I have so been looking forward to this event for months now and this kickoff doesn’t disappoint.