Guest Post: Bubonicon 47 – Tea Time! by David Lee Summers

David Lee Summers with his daughter Verity at the their publishers table.
David Lee Summers with his daughter Verity at the their publishers table.

Folks, it is my great pleasure to have author and publisher David Lee Summers back on the blog. I was unable to attend New Mexico’s once-a-year scifi convention this year and asked (perhaps ‘begged’ is a better term) David to let me life vicariously through him. He was kind enough to offer up this guest post about Bubonicon 47.

Tea Time!

Who Can It Be Now: Characters With Flaws panel. From left to right: Ben Bova, David Lee Summers, S.M. Stirling (scratching his head at whatever Davids saying), Walter Jon Williams, and Caroline Spector.
Who Can It Be Now: Characters With Flaws panel. From left to right: Ben Bova, David Lee Summers, S.M. Stirling (scratching his head at whatever David’s saying), Walter Jon Williams, and Caroline Spector.

I enjoy attending science fiction conventions because they are a wonderful opportunity to connect with fellow readers and writers.  One of my longtime favorite conventions is Bubonicon in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  There are an amazing group of writers who live in or near Albuquerque and regularly attend Bubonicon including Walter Jon Williams, Jane Lindskold, S.M. Stirling, P.G. Nagle, and George R.R. Martin.  These writers, working with an outstanding convention committee, present a great set of panels and readings along with a diverse dealer’s room, art show, and gaming room.  What’s more, the convention has a great name, given when Egypt placed travel restrictions on New Mexico because Bubonic Plague had been reported in the mountains east of Albuquerque.  For most of the last two decades, Bubonicon has also been the convention closest to my home in Southern New Mexico.  That honor was only recently supplanted by Las Cruces Comic Con.

Red or Green panel.  From left to right: Dr. Catherine S. Plesko, Dr. Larry Crumpler, Christine MacKenzie, David Lee Summers, Loretta Hall, and Zachary Gallegos.
Red or Green panel. From left to right: Dr. Catherine S. Plesko, Dr. Larry Crumpler, Christine MacKenzie, David Lee Summers, Loretta Hall, and Zachary Gallegos.

The theme of Bubonicon 47 was “Women of Wonder” and featured an all-woman lineup of special guests.  The guests of honor were Tamora Pierce and Catherynne M. Valente.  The guest artist was Ruth Sanderson.  The toastmaster was Mary Robinette Kowal (in her own words, she’s a toastmaster because she’s nobody’s mistress!).  I was especially pleased to meet Ms. Kowal who, like me, had a story in the anthology of near-future stories 2020 Visions edited by Rick Novy.  Another special thing about that anthology is that it also features Bubonicon’s 2016 Guest of Honor, David Gerrold.  The convention schedule included such theme-related panels as “The Inescapable Romance Subplot: Passing the Bechdel Test?”, “Curse of the Strong Female: Pitfalls and Cliches”, and “Writing Different Genders: Your Point of View.”

Mary Robinette Kowal, right foreground. Photo credit James L. Moore and Jane Lindskold.
Mary Robinette Kowal, right foreground. Photo credit James L. Moore and Jane Lindskold.

Panels weren’t limited to the theme.  I participated in such panels as “Whither Ghost? Dancing With the Definitely Dead?” where we discussed ghost stories and stories with ghosts.  Of particular interest we talked about how ghost stories can take a science fiction twist when you imagine humans uploading their consciousness into a computer, becoming a “ghost in the machine.”  I also participated in a science panel called “Red or Green: NM as Mars Analog” in which we looked at how sites in New Mexico can be quite similar to sites on Mars, to the extent that they can be used to test Martian rovers or be used as test beds for humans traveling to Mars.  I moderated the panel, “It’s Alive: Scientists in Science Fiction” in which writers and scientists discussed how science and fiction have influenced each other.  Our conclusion was that although there is a societal perception of a “mad scientist” trope and a certain distrust of science in the media, science fiction writers generally respect scientists and the work they do.

David Lee Summers  Hillary Estell serving tea. Photo credit James L. Moore and Jane Lindskold.
David Lee Summers Hillary Estell serving tea. Photo credit James L. Moore and Jane Lindskold.

One of the highlights of Bubonicon for me is the Sunday Afternoon Author’s Tea.  The tea, which is unique as far as I know to Bubonicon, was conceived as a way for the authors to say thank you to the fans who attend the convention.  Seating is limited, simply due to limited space.  Because of that, there are sign-up sheets for the three sessions, but there is no charge.  Although there is no requirement to dress up for the tea, authors donate prizes and those who are judged to wear the best hat and glove combinations get to pick from the donated prizes.  Those fans who attend have the opportunity to sample four teas donated by the St. James Tea Room in Albuquerque.  This year’s choices included Lady Londonberry, a traditional black tea with a hint of strawberry flavoring, Black Pearl, a black tea scented with vanilla, Hesperides Golden Delight, a green tea scented with golden apples, and Daybreak in Martinique, a Rooibos scented with lemon myrtle and French lavender.  The authors also provide a range of sweet and savory snacks that range from smoked salmon and sausage balls to blueberry scones and lemon muffins.

SummersOwlDanceWhen not speaking on panels, giving a reading, or pouring tea for fans, I hung out at the table for my company, Hadrosaur Productions, in the dealer’s room.  This year, the dealer’s room was full of vendors selling books, comics, toys, and jewelry.  I found a snazzy steampunkish pocket watch to replace one I broke earlier this year along with several wonderful books.  The danger of hanging out in the dealer’s room is that my cash and I have a tendency to part company much too fast.  That said, I do like spending time there because it gives me a chance to interact with readers and writers, which of course, is the whole reason I’m there.

Places to Find David Lee Summers

Hadrosaur Productions

Tales of the Talisman

David Lee Summers: Wrong Turn on the Information Superhighway

David Lee Summers’ Web Journal

Goodreads

Amazon

Facebook

Twitter

You can also delve into David’s mine by reading his past interviews here on Dab of Darkness: 

David as an Author

David as a Publisher

SummersOwlDanceBook Blurb for Owl Dance:

Owl Dance is a Weird Western steampunk novel. The year is 1876. Sheriff Ramon Morales of Socorro, New Mexico, meets a beguiling woman named Fatemeh Karimi, who is looking to make a new start after escaping the oppression of her homeland. When an ancient life form called Legion comes to Earth, they are pulled into a series of events that will change the history of the world as we know it. In their journeys, Ramon and Fatemeh encounter mad inventors, dangerous outlaws and pirates. Their resources are Ramon’s fast draw and Fatemeh’s uncanny ability to communicate with owls. The question is, will that be enough to save them when airships from Czarist Russia invade the United States?

SummersLightningWolvesBook Blurb for Lightning Wolves:

It’s 1877 and Russians forces occupy the Pacific Northwest. They are advancing into California. New weapons have proven ineffective or dangerously unstable. The one man who can help has disappeared into Apache Country, hunting ghosts. A healer and a former sheriff lead a band into the heart of the invasion to determine what makes the Russian forces so unstoppable while a young inventor attempts to unleash the power of the lightning wolves.

HowellSummersKeplersDozenBook Blurb for A Kepler’s Dozen: 13 Stories About Distant Worlds That Really Exist

A Kepler’s Dozen presents thirteen action-packed, mysterious, and humorous stories all based on real planets discovered by the NASA Kepler mission. Edited by and contributing stories are David Lee Summers, editor of Tales of the Talisman Magazine, and Steve B. Howell, project scientist for the Kepler mission. Whether on a prison colony, in a fast escape from the authorities, or encircling a binary star, these exoplanet stories will amuse, frighten, and intrigue you while you share fantasy adventures among Kepler’s real-life planets.

SummersSpaceHorrorsBook Blurb for Space Horrors:

Space Horrors is the fourth anthology of the Full-Throttle Space Tales series. Edited by David Lee Summers, Space Horrors contains blood-chilling tales of vampires and ghouls in space, by established and rising-star authors. Terrifying tales contained in this volume: “Poetic Justice” by Alastair Mayer: Space hibernation does strange things to a man. “Listening” by Anna Paradox: It’s Halloween on the run to Mars. What could go wrong? “The Walking Man” by Glynn Barrass: A giant robot on Mars is in the hands of mutineers. “Natural Selection” by Simon Bleaken: The Zoological Institute warned Rebecca not to go study the bugs. “Oh Why Can’t I” by C.J. Henderson: The Earth Alliance Ship Roosevelt is pitted against a world swallowing creature. “Last Man Standing” by Danielle Ackley-McPhail: Mining can be hard work, depending on who – or what – is doing the mining. “Anemia” by David Lee Summers: Vampires prefer the eternal night of space, it seems. “Chosen One” by Dana Bell: A particularly unnerving game of cat and…something. “Sleepers” by Selina Rosen: Sometimes the nightmare you wake from is not as bad as the one you wake up to. “Divining Everest” by Patrick Thomas: When the vampires call for help, you know it’s bad. “Into the Abyss” by Dayton Ward: Ghosts haunting the depths of space. “Salvage” by David B. Riley: Insurance investigator Sarah Meadows is on a ghost ship and in trouble. “The Golem” by Judith Herman: A friend in need is a deadly reckoning. “In the Absence of Light” by Sarah A. Hoyt: Have you heard of the drifters? “A Touch of Frost” by Gene Mederos: Space is a hostile environment – except for zombies, of course. “Wake of the White Death” by Lee Clark Zumpe: Who will rescue the rescuers? “Plan 9 in Outer Space” by Ernest and Emily Hogan: Making bad space horror more horrible ain’t easy.

SummersDragon'sFallBook Blurb for Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order:

Three vampyrs. Three lives. Three intertwining stories.

Bearing the guilt of destroying the holiest of books, after becoming a vampyr, the Dragon, Lord Desmond searches the world for lost knowledge, but instead, discovers truth in love.

Born a slave in Ancient Greece, Alexandra craves freedom above all else, until a vampyr sets her free, but then, she must pay the highest price of all … her human soul.

An assassin who lives in the shadows, Roquelaure is cloaked even from himself, until he discovers the power of friendship and loyalty.

Three vampyrs, traveling the world by moonlight—one woman and two men who forge a bond made in love and blood. Together they form a band of mercenaries called the Scarlet Order, and recruit others who are like them. Their mission is to protect kings and emperors against marauders, invaders, and rogue vampyrs—and their ultimate nemesis, Vlad the Impaler.

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 2013: The Afterglow

The signed Kindle.
The signed Kindle.

First, here are a bunch of pictures of my signed goodies from the Bubonicon 2013 mass autographing session Saturday afternoon. I brought more books than I could carry in one backpack, and more than I could get signed in the 80 minutes allotted for it. I also went around with my kindle having the back signed. Some of the signatures on it are from Bubonicon 2012 and it came with one signature (David. B. Coe). We were allowed 3 items for the author to sign and then we could get back in line to have more signed. Since I had so many authors I wanted to stalk, I limited myself to no more than 3 items per author.

Books signed at Bubonicon 2013.
Books signed at Bubonicon 2013.

George R. R. Martin by far had the longest line. In fact, by the time I decided I was done (5 minutes left of the session), he still had somewhere between 20-30 people in line. So I spent my time stalking all sorts of other authors. Of course I had books for David Lee Summers to sign. Mario Acevedo, whose book The Nymphos of Rocky Flats I recently finished, was sitting next to Summers, so I couldn’t resist having him sign my kindle (devilish smiley face). I recently finished The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham and had a paper copy for him to sign. However, I listened to Leviathan Wakes (by Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck under the pen name James S. A. Corey), so I asked the two if they wouldn’t mind signing my kindle – and luckily I had a few permanent markers on me. Then I headed over to the Tim Powers line to get a few books signed for a fellow blogger and tripped over Joan Saberhagen on the way. Well, I just happen to have this anthology, Golden Reflections, she helped put together, so I asked her to give it a signing since I blundered into her. She was so nice. In fact, everyone I tracked down to sign this anthology went into smiles and commented on how much fun they had with it.

The only one I have read in this batch is The Outlander. Looking forward to diving into the rest.
The only one I have read in this batch is The Outlander. Looking forward to diving into the rest.

The Tim Powers line was shorter than I expected. In fact, Brent Weeks and Diana Gabaldon had longer lines, but Powers didn’t seem to mind. I told him my blogger friend threatened to beat me bloody with his books if I don’t give them a try and he seemed appreciative of the comment. Then I bobbled around to a few more – John Maddox Roberts, Walter Jon Williams, and Connie Willis. I got to tell her how much my man and I enjoyed the audio version of Blackout. I can’t wait to read the 2nd book, All Clear. Willis created one giganto novel and the publisher split it in two, so you really need to give both a read to get the full story.

My beloved Night Angel trilogy signed.
My beloved Night Angel trilogy signed.

Then I got in line for Brent Weeks. His wife and baby were right up there at the big table with him. The line had gone down quite a bit so he was chatting with folks as they came up to the table. I had my Night Angel trilogy that my man’s sister (thanks D.!) gave us a few years ago. Weeks was very cool. He let me babble on about how my man and I enjoyed his trilogy so much, we basically read it at the same time, having two sets of bookmarks and one staying up later than the other to get a chance at the book in use. My man won that little race, finishing the trilogy half a book ahead of me. Then over to Diana Galbaldon‘s table. By that time, the room was pretty darn warm and I and many others were beginning to wilt. I thanked her for doing this as I can only imagine that it might not be the most favorite part of a convention for the authors. I had found an old ARC of The Outlander and rescued it just for this con and was very happy to get it signed.

Sam Sykes books for my man.
Sam Sykes books for my man.

Finally, I swung by Sam Sykes‘s table. My man loved his first novel, Tome of the Undergates, and I picked up the next two in the series for him. Interesting factoid I didn’t know before the con: Sykes is the son of Diana Gabaldon. Sykes signed my kindle as the books were already signed, and he offered me two signed book plates! Hooray – keep putting out novels Mr. Sykes so we can use the book plates appropriately. Hmm… which brings up ideas of how to use them inappropriately. Anyhoo, I then asked Jane Lindskold (Firekeeper Saga) for a signature on the anthology. While I am not familiar with her work, I look forward to reading her story in Golden Reflections. Last on the list, but not least, was S. M. Stirling. My man really enjoyed his Island in the Sea of Time trilogy and we have both wanted to give The Change series a go. After all that, I was beat.

Mario Acevedo, Betsy James, Gabi Stevens, & Connie Willis
Mario Acevedo, Betsy James, Gabi Stevens, & Connie Willis

Now, on to Sunday, in which the festivities started at 10 and ended (for me anyway) at 4ish. Of course, I started off with a panel, Warehouse 2013: Odd Objects in Fiction. Gabi Stevens moderated and Mario Acevedo, Betsy James, and Connie Willis joined in. In this panel, they started off discussing objects that propel a story forward, such as the One Ring in Tolkien. The discussion then turned to metaphorical objects, such as searching for the truth. It was actually pretty good info for any aspiring authors because the dos and don’ts of how to use such objects in fiction were also touched upon.

Diana Rowland playing Toastmistress to Guests of Honor Tim Powers & Brent Weeks.
Diana Rowland playing Toastmistress to Guests of Honor Tim Powers & Brent Weeks.

I then stuck around for the hour and half Co-Guest of Honor Presentation. Diana Rowland played hostess to Tim Powers and Brent Weeks. This was a great discussion. I quite enjoyed Diana Rowland’s jokes and stories. She use to be a cop and use to work at a morgue. I know, you might be guessing things about me by my interest in such professions. At any rate, now I want to read her stuff. Library trip! All three shared publishing snafoos with the audience. Brent Weeks talked candidly, but kindly, about the narration to his first book and how reviewers found the narration (think surfer dude for the main character) to be not a good match for the book. Tim Powers, who has been a published author for many more years, talked about Canadian Harlequin’s failed SFF line of books and then his experiences with Lester Del Rey. I am constantly fascinated by all that goes on behind the scenes to simply get a book out there to the public. Then of course we talked movie versions of their books. Brent Weeks commented on how he would want a good match and to have a final product that he could be proud of. Tim Powers was at the other end of the spectrum, not minding at all if a book of his was turned into a musical with dancing hamsters. He commented that to him movies, or even audiobooks, were different beasts entirely than the source material, his books. The imagery of dancing hamsters doing a Tim Powers scene had many in the audience laughing. It was a great way to spend an hour and half.

Darynda Jones, Alan Beck, Caroline Spector, Debbie Lynn Smith, & Warren Spector.
Darynda Jones, Alan Beck, Caroline Spector, Debbie Lynn Smith, & Warren Spector.

Then I had a half hour to kill before going to a talk I didn’t want to miss, so I stuck around for the panel Reality Bites Back: Media/Game Shows Gone Wild. Caroline Spector moderated with Darynda Jones, artist Alan F. Beck, Debbie Lynn Smith, and her husband Warren Spector attending. This panel was about reality TV shows. We have a TV. It is hooked up to a blu-ray player and Netflix. I don’t watch a whole lot of TV preferring my audiobooks. So, I knew only a small fraction of the shows they were talking about (mostly the cooking ones). They made some interesting points about ‘scripting’ of such shows and just simply how human behavior changes if you add a camera and dangle money in exchange for outrageous behavior. I ducked out early to hit the 1PM talk.

 

Connie Willis giving her 55 minute talk.
Connie Willis giving her 55 minute talk.

Connie Willis was giving a solo presentation, Non-Formula Plotting. Again, this was geared towards writers and aspiring authors, but I enjoyed her novel Blackout so much, I figured listening to her chat for an hour would be a treat. She did not disappoint. She pointed out some basic plot frames that are used again and again, successfully. The man in a hole plot is usually a big draw. People love to see or read about a person digging themselves out of a hole – usually metaphorical. Even if you don’t care for the main character, you like to watch the struggle of the person trying to regain financial stability, power, life, etc. The other plot frame that I remember her talking about extensively was the try, fail, try, fail, try, succeed story line. She then went on to discuss how to modify these slightly, with either failing at the end, or succeeding in a way that made the whole mess worse. All in all, it was an entertaining and insightful hour.

Darynda Jones, Mario Acevedo, David Lee Summers, T. Jackson King, & Doug Beason
Darynda Jones, Mario Acevedo, David Lee Summers, T. Jackson King, & Doug Beason

I was waiting around for the art auction to announce whose silent bids won, and that wasn’t scheduled to happen until 3PM. So, I popped into the second half of another panel, What If Humans Never Go Into Space Again? This one was moderated by David Lee Summers with Mario Acevedo, Doug Beason, Darynda Jones, and T. Jackson King joining him. I walked in at the point where they were discussing how the travel industry and thrill seekers will propel humans into space (at least a vacation station) if world governments do not. Several on the panel made the point that as the world becomes more and more crowded, more and more eyes will turn towards the stars. I kind of wish I had caught all of this panel, but with the hour & half co-guest of honor presentation off setting the two main tracks, it was hard to jump back and forth catching all of a presentation.

Once this was over, I still had a half hour to kill, so I went to the afternoon auction. We could hear all the fun they were having through the floating wall. I sat near the back, where I could see one of the doors to the art show room. It was interesting to see the variety of items that had been donated for the auction. If I am reading the pamphlet right, these items were either for personal benefit or donated to Bubonicon to raise funds for next year. Of course there were plenty of books, some art donated by show artists, movies, Star Wars ice cube tray, even some VHS movies. Most people paid with cash on the spot. I think the highest item I saw was $40 or $50. Once I saw a line starting to form for the art show, I headed out there.

We waited. We waited some more. It was past 3PM when they came out with a handwritten list of all the bidders (by number) who won something. However, they repeated again and again that it was a very rough list and to check inside. I waited some more. Finally, about 330, they started letting folks in, but only 2 at a time, to pick up their items and pay for them. I was only 8 or 10 people back, so I was finally done about 410, not having won anything in the art show. Still, I had a great time.

My Favorite Moments: The autograph session, the Ty Franck & Daniel Abraham talk, with writer workshop put on by Diana Gabaldon, the co-guest of honor presentation.

Who Will I Be Stalking: Well, there were several new-to-me authors that caught my eye such as Diana Rowland, T. Jackson King, Susan Krinard, Jane Lindskold, Tim Powers, and Sam Sykes.

Next year I would like to attend the costume contest for fun. I saw several Saturday afternoon and wish I had taken photos. I loved staying at the Marriott where the convention was held as I kept bumping into authors here and there. If I do the art show next year (meaning more than look), I think I will do the quick sale instead of bidding. I could have either been enjoying another panel, the dealers room, or on my way home instead of standing around for just over an hour to learn that I had not won anything. At any rate, the art show is always fascinating to look at.

Sigh…. only 51.5 more weeks until the next Bubonicon.

Bubonicon 2013 Friday

Bubonicon 2013 Saturday

Bubonicon 2013: Great Start

Craig Butler, Joan Saberhagen, Ian Tregillis, Josh Gentry
Craig Butler, Joan Saberhagen, Ian Tregillis, Josh Gentry

Bubonicon is admittedly a very small SFF convention located in Albuquerque, NM. But this has it’s perks. While I was waiting to check into my room Friday, I was about 5 feet from George R. R. Martin, famous for his Wild Cards series and his series Song of Ice and Fire, as he chatted with friends and made lunch plans. A young man came up and asked for his photo and he was very cool about. Perhaps I should get out of my shy polite stalker mode and move to polite upfront fan?

One of the things I like so much about this small convention is how cool everyone is. It truly is a friendly atmosphere. I had 2 backpacks of books plus my clothes and a little icechest with fruit and yogurt. A guy from Final Sword Productions, one of the dealers selling fiction, RPGs, minatures, & other things, was very awesome to keep an eye on my stuff by the door while I parked the car. It’s stuff like that that truly makes the weekend incredible.

Upon checking into the con, I got my little swag bag with schedule and my little hospital grade wrist band. I missed the badges, but I understood that this was way cheaper and simpler for the staff. Still, the fact that it was completely shower safe didn’t quite make up for the fact that it was an irritating piece of plastic. Once checked in to the motel and the con, I had nearly 2 hours to kill until the first panel. I found the ice machine and explored the cable TV selections, neither of which we have at home on the farm. I was more impressed with the ice machine. Have commercials gotten incredibly shorter in the 10 years since we had satellite TV or is it just me?

S. M. Stirling & Walter Jon Williams
S. M. Stirling & Walter Jon Williams

Anyhoo, the first panel was moderated by Ian Tregillis (author of Bitter Seeds). Entitled Should I Be Paranoid: Who’s Looking At Me?, it was a ramble about government and big business info gathering and what they have done with it and what they could do with it. Tregillis was joined by Craig Butler (overseeing post-production on RotGut), Josh Gentry (Editorial Director of SnackReads), and Joan Saberhagen (manages the literary estate of Fred Saberhagen). As the first panel on a Friday afternoon, it was pretty well attended. Once the panel starting discussing some small town issuing hunting licenses for surveillance drones, things really livened up. Overall, it was an interesting discussion about how much information is already out there (think about those shopper reward cards at the grocery store), how much of that info is with big business, and how much is government, and how much we (as a society) really care. A fun panel with lots of tidbits that have been in the headlines recently (think Snowden).

Alan Beck, Susan Krinard, & Victor Milan
Alan Beck, Susan Krinard, & Victor Milan

Up next for me was the panel Mutant Madness: Extraordinary Genes Run Wild, hosted by Victor Milan (who I know from his Wild Cards contribution). He was joined by artist Alan F. Beck, Susan Krinard (author of the Stone God series), S. M. Stirling (author of The Change series), and Walter Jon Williams (who I know from Hardwired – one of the best cyberpunk novels ever written). Of course with a panel title like that, the Wild Card series came up. There was much discussion about what scientists have been able to do in real life (glow in the dark mice anyone?) and then the various mechanisms in literature for coming up with mutants. Susan Krinard brought up her love of Wolverine from Xmen – she wants to be Wolverine. Hell, I want to be Wolverine.

Diana Rowland (author of the White Trash Zombies series) was the Toastmistress this year and the 30 minute opening ceremonies was basically the big room full of everyone, with all the guests sprinkled through the room. Rowland read off their names and some little tidbit about them and we all clapped, unless they weren’t present and then we made up some excuse for them (like they were at the bar). It was cute, fun, and more low key than I expected.

Ty Franck & Daniel Abraham - on the move!
Ty Franck & Daniel Abraham – on the move!

Lastly, I went to the 55 minutes with Daniel Abraham (author of The Dragon’s Path) and Ty Franck (who write epic SF under the name James S. A. Corey). They were incredibly funny. Part of this might be due to the near constant sleep deprivation Ty Franck lives under, but in any case they had the room laughing when they weren’t reading a section from a story submitted to a forthcoming anthology. Shortly before the session got started, authors Sam Sykes (author of Tome of the Undergates, one of my man’s favorite books) and Brent Weeks – Night Angel Trilogy rocks! – (along with his beautiful wife and tiny baby) popped into the room and sat 2 rows behind me. It was a small room. I was among greatness and yet still breathing. It was awesome. This session was over far too soon, and then I took this really crappy photo. On the other hand, it portrays just how animated the two were.

The talk by George R. R. Martin was completely full and I was beat from my day. I drove down from the farm (just over 2 hours) and I was up early since I live on said farm. Across the parking lot was Buca di Beppo and I ordered carry out Italian for dinner – which was a perfect way to tuck in for the evening.

Prepping for Bubonicon 2013

This is Chupacabra & Waffles nesting in my books.
This is Chupacabra & Waffles nesting in my books.

That’s right. New Mexico has it’s own SFF convention and it’s coming up next weekend in Albuquerque. Bubonicon is the only con I will be able to jaunt off to this year, so I am making the most of it. I’ve already booked my hotel room and purchased my con ticket. My man has offered to watch the farm for the weekend (as I will be watching the farm while he is off at the Fire & EMS Symposium – you can see pics over HERE from last year). the con is a 2 hour trip one way from where we live, so my man may or may not make it down for part of Saturday.

Of course I stacked these books just so, just so for the cats.
Of course I stacked these books just so, just so for the cats.

As you can see from the pile of books (and cats) I have plenty to get signed and keep me entertained. Brent Weeks and Tim Powers are the guests of honor this year. I have read the Night Angel trilogy (how fast did I read those books?) by Weeks and picked up a book by Tim Powers to give a try (I’ve heard great things about his works). You can check out the full list of participants on the site. Several state and regional locals will be attending. Who am I excited to see, listen to, politely stalk, end up having to do some emergency elevator evacuation drill with? Well, DoD favorite David Lee Summers will be there (you can kind of see a pile of his book sunder Waffles kitty), Connie Willis (loved her book Blackout), George R. R. Martin (yes, I finally read the first 2 books in the series A Song of Ice & Fire), Diana Gabaldon (recently reread her book Outlander, and it was every bit as good as the first time almost 2 decades ago). I just finished The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham two nights ago and am very excited to know he will be at the con. Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck wrote Leviathan Wakes under the pen name James S. A. Corey. I am just about halfway through Leviathan Wakes and loving that too. One of my man’s favorite writers, Walter Jon Williams, will be attending along with S. M. Stirling. Let’s see, who else…. Ian Tregillis, Sam Sykes, John Maddox Roberts and many more.

Cats. I will not be taking the cats.
Cats. I will not be taking the cats.

I attended one day last year (instead of the entire weekend) and saw a few costumes walking around. Since I have a room at the hotel hosting the con, I will be able to stay for the costume contest this year, hooray! There’s also tons of great panels and single author sessions scheduled. I plan to take my camera and my kindle – people like to sign kindles. I will probably take my knitting just in case there is a false fire alarm and we are all stuck in the parking lot. Speaking of the parking lot – right across it is Buca di Beppo, one of my favorite Italian restaurants. Yes, I will be eating good that weekend.