Leviathan Wakes Part II

The read along of Leviathan Wakes, Book 1 of The Expanse is off and running! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Sarah at The Illustrated Page is our host. We’re covering Chapters 15-28, so be prepared for spoilers below!

The plot thickens! Do you think the sickness has anything to do with what we saw in the prologue? And who ordered it to be incubated? What’s their end goal?

Yes, I believe the sickness has something to do with whatever Julie saw int he prologue. It’s either something crazy man-made bacteria or virus or possibly something alien. I expect that someone wants to monitor it while it does what it does and that’s why we have all the observation equipment on the station. I forget who ordered this devious incubation.

What’s your current take on the POV characters? Think they’ll continue to work together? Is Miller crossing a line in this section?

While Holden seems a bit strained by Miller’s casual violence, I think these two can continue to work together. After all, Holden has been working months with Amos, who has that simmering violence just beneath the surface at all times.

I do recall some of the big things that happen next, so it’s hard for me to say that Miller has crossed a line, though I really do like that he is pondering that same question himself. Since he’s even bothering to ask that question, I still put him on the Good Guys List. Besides, his casual yet specific violence has kept Holden and his crew alive so far.

James S.A. Corey’s set up an entire futuristic solar system. What’s your favorite part about it so far?

I’ve had the pleasure of listening to the authors talk about this futureistc solar system a few times at Bubonicon in Albuquerque. Ty Franck originally created this future solar system for a computer game, but that deal fell through. So he teamed up with his friend Daniel Abraham to create this series and I’m very glad he did. I really appreciate these guys doing a very good job of keeping real physics and the difficulties of space travel and colonization in mind and how that affects humanity over time.

So Miller found Julie. Do you think this effectively ends her involvement, or is there more to learn about her?

Well, Julie’s physical self has been out of the game for some time but now we still have her ‘ghost’, so to speak, that has been in Miller’s head for several chapters now. I expect that Miller will continue to look to Julie Ghost for guidance and possibly reassurance.

Other Tidbits:

Naomi and karaoke!

There were several references to aching balls in this section, whether from high G or from a dedicated whorehouse.

I have forgotten what’s on that little black info box the Martian Navy guy had. But now I’m really curious. After all, we still have half the book.

While I didn’t particularly care for Don Quixote, I do love the name Rocinante.

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

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.

My Book Loves of 2013

GaimanStardustHere is a post in which I gush about my favorite books of 2013. Out of the roughly 133 books I read this year, these are the ones that really stand out on reflection for one reason or another. Feel free to scroll until you see something interesting.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

A reread, and a read along. I love this book and the movie. Fantasy, a quest, coming of age. Loads of fun and happy ending.

MathesonIAmLegendI Am Legend by Richard Matheson

New-to-me author. Vampire/zombie book, but starts off 1970s California, a simple virus. Loved the science, the survivalism, the societal twist at the end.

Squatch with Turning Point
Squatch with Turning Point

Turning Point by Robert P. Snow

Murder mystery set in northern NM. Lots of fun, recognize lots of the places in the book.

CooperGhostHawkGhost Hawk by Susan Cooper

New-to-me author. A historical fiction about the early settling of America told through a Native American’s eyes. Done really well, fully engaging.

HaldemanForeverPeaceThe Forever War & Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman

New-to-me author. Great military SF. Awesome characters.

BearUndertowUndertow by Elizabeth Bear

Amphibious alien natives used as a workforce. Plus assassins. You can’t go wrong with that combination.

FremantleQueensGambitQueen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle

New-to-me author. Tudor historical fiction told from Katherine Parr’s point of view.

WatersPayingPiperPaying Piper by Ilana Waters

A children’s book, beautiful illustrations, excellent story.

Pico consented to pose with my book.
Pico consented to pose with my book.

The Shadow of the Sun by Barbara Friend Ish

This was a reread for me, and a read along. Still a damn good book even the 2nd time through, and dissecting it. High fantasy, swords & sorcery.

Smudge Cat as a book stand!
Smudge Cat as a book stand!

Shadow Chaser by Alexey Pehov

Book 2 int he series. Thieves, elves (black pointy teeth!), dwarves, gnomes, a quest.

FahyFragmentFragment by Warren Fahy

New-to-me author. A fun, modern-day beastie flick. The biologist in me loved this book.

Pico resting before dinner.
Pico resting before dinner.

The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham

New-to-me author. Epic fantasy that is different, heavy on the economics, various humanoid races.

SakurazakaAllYouNeedIsKillAll You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

New-to-me author. A short, excellent military SF with a twist.

HassonEmoticonGenerationCoverThe Emoticon Generation by Guy Hasson

New-to-me author. A fun collection of Hasson’s short stories. Some humorous, some creepy. All interesting.

ReichsBonesOfLostBones of the Lost by Kathy Reichs

New-to-me author. A later book in the series following the forensic anthropologist. Addictive.

CollingsBillyMessengerOfPowersBilly: Messenger of Powers by Michaelbrent Collings

New-to-me author. A kid’s book, but a good one. Adventure, magic, a quest. Lots of fun.

HearneHuntedHunted by Kevin Hearne

I love the whole Iron Druid series. I think I am all caught upon this series. Luke Daniels does an incredible job of narrating the books.

Pico was chasing the little green got my camera flash makes.
Pico was chasing the little green got my camera flash makes.

The Reason for Dragons by Chris Northrop and Jeff Stokely

New-to-me author. A graphic novel, modern-day, a nod to Don Quixote.

Claudie is an old, dilapidated kitty.
Claudie is an old, dilapidated kitty.

The Hero and the Crown & Sunshine by Robin McKinley

While Sunshine was a reread, The Hero and the Crown was my first read through. Both are excellent. Female leads, magic, companion war horse, and Death by Bitter Chocolate.

LynchRepublicOfThievesThe Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

The 3rd book in the Gentlemen Bastard series does not disappoint. Read this as part of a read along. Great series.

GabaldonOutlanderOutlander by Diana Gabaldon

A reread, but it had been nearly 2 decades. Excellent historical fiction with sex. Yep. Not just silly, light kissing.

Chilly day = Cat Nest (Pico, Heldig, Waffles, Smudge)
Chilly day = Cat Nest (Pico, Heldig, Waffles, Smudge)

Goblin Secrets by William Alexander

New-to-me author. This was an excellent audiobook. Kid’s book. Adventure, masks, goblins, theater.

CoorlimSkyPiratesOverLondonSky Pirates Over London by Micheal Coorlim

New-to-me author. These are fun, short stories set in a steampunk England. I’ve read 4 of the books so far and enjoyed this one the most.

ShowalterAwakenMeDarklyAwaken Me Darkly by Gena Showalter

New-to-me author. This is one of my naughty book secrets. Simple plots, fun characters, erotica element. Aliens, assassins.

Stout snuggling with the Nac Mac Feegle.
Stout snuggling with the Nac Mac Feegle.

Tiffany Aching books by Terry Pratchett (The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky)

All four were read this year as part of a read along, rereads for me. I love these books. They are my favorite Terry Pratchett novels, having a more serious bent than other Discworld books I have read.

BowmanTornFromTroyTorn from Troy by Patrick Bowman

New-to-me author. Another kid’s book and a great one for exploring Ancient Greece.

CoreyLeviathanWakesLeviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

New-to-me author. Well, I had read Daniel Abraham before this book, but Abraham writes this series with Ty Franck under the James SA Corey pen-name. Epic science fiction has never been better.

SchoonZennScarlettZenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon

New-to-me author. My inner biologist geeked out the entire time reading this YA SF.

HillTheHatchingThe Hatching by Liesel K. Hill

I know it’s a short story, but it was one of the best I read all year. Dragons. I won’t spoil it for you. Go read it.

Pico & Chupa
Pico & Chupa

Makers by Corey Doctorow

New-to-me author. Quirky, insightful, and fun. It follows these two tinkers for a few decades. Cutting-edge SF.

BensonBlackStilettoThe Black Stiletto books by Raymond Benson (The Black Stiletto, Black & White, Stars & Stripes)

New-to-me author. Addictive. 1950s superheroine, New York. Need I say more?

LornHopeForWickedHope for the Wicked by Edward Lorn

New-to-me author. I also read his Life After Dane, but I like the Larry Laughlin character quite a bit. Horror. Illegal substance level addictive.

BracewellShadowOnCrownShadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell

New-to-me author. 1001 AD Normandy, royal families. Excellent, excellent historical fiction.

Heldig will steal anyone's body heat...if they'll hold still for it.
Heldig will steal anyone’s body heat…if they’ll hold still for it.

The Wild Life of Our Bodies by Rob Dunn

New-to-me author. This nonfiction was incredibly fun. The odd, slightly embarrassing things I learned from it to sprinkle party conversations with…..

MimsHidingGladysHiding Gladys by Lee Mims

New-to-me author. A cozy murder mystery that I didn’t want to put down.

Tofu being used as a bookstand.
Tofu being used as a bookstand.

The Human Blend by Alan Dean Foster

More SF modifications for my inner biologist to geek out about. Excellent mystery, excellent SF, excellent characters.

Heldig & Tofu
Heldig & Tofu

Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan

Book 6 in the Wheel of Time series, and part of the massive read along of the series. Incredible ending to this particular book. Robert Jordan gets better with each book.

Waffles is always bathing. A very clean cat.
Waffles is always bathing. A very clean cat.

The Mongoliad by Neal Stephenson & crew

A very fun historical fiction set in the time of Genghis Khan. Luke Daniels was amazing as the narrator.

ScalziRedshirtsRedshirts by John Scalzi

Haha! A fun Star Trek parody. Wil Wheaton as the narrator was perfect!

Typical morning cat cuddle pile on the bed.
Typical morning cat cuddle pile on the bed.

The Legend of Broken by Caleb Carr

Another awesome historical fiction. Sorcerers, hunters, midgets, a pox, and a crazed ruler who needs to be taken down.

This is Heldig's 'nice kitty' face.
This is Heldig’s ‘nice kitty’ face.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

New-to-me author. This is Book 1 in the trilogy, and my favorite of the series. Steampunk, Austria, airships, a woman in disguise and in service to the crown.

I didn't catch Pico in a good mood.
I didn’t catch Pico in a good mood.

The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls

Only Jeannette Walls can pull on my emotions as she does. Modern-day tale of two sisters trying to find some stability.

Chupa and Streak with a good book makes a decent cat pile.
Chupa and Streak with a good book makes a decent cat pile.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

New-to-me author. WWII female pilots and spies. One of the best WWII books I have ever read.

IgguldenBloodOfGodsThe Blood of Gods by Conn Iggulden

The 4th book in Emperor series tells what happens after Julius Caesar fell. Excellent series.

BernheimerPrimeSuspectsJim Bernheimer books (Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, Prime Suspects, Horror, Humor, and Heroes)

New-to-me author. Uh, yeah. You might of noticed that I listened to 3 of Bernheimer’s books in ~2 weeks. Yeah, addictive. Mostly SF. Go, read, enjoy.

I meant for this to be a more dignified pic, as I so enjoyed this book, but Pico refused to put his bath on hold.
I meant for this to be a more dignified pic, as I so enjoyed this book, but Pico refused to put his bath on hold.

A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

I really should read beyond Book 2. Both Books 1 & 2 were excellent. Historical fantasy, or just straight up epic fantasy.

SilvermanGardensOfAmpheiaGardens of Ampheia by Joshua Silverman

A novella set in his Legends of Amun Ra series. Think Ancient Greece set on an alien world. Magic, armor, SF.

MunteanuOuterDiverseOuter Diverse by Nina Munteanu

New-to-me author. SF detective story. Lots of fun.

Stout wouldn't hold still for a pic!
Stout wouldn’t hold still for a pic!

The Aylesford Skull by James P. Blaylock

New-to-me author. Magic, steampunky, England, detective. Intrigued?

Toothless Waffles being used as a bookstand...again.
Toothless Waffles being used as a bookstand…again.

The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

Historical fiction, Elizabeth of York, the War of the Roses. Very good, easy to get into.

WillisBlackoutBlackout by Connie Willis

New-to-me author. Excellent time travel, WWII SF-Historical Fiction. Great characters, great plot.

AcevedoNymphosRockyFlatsThe Nymphos of Rocky Flats by Mario Acevedo

Vampire detective, nuclear weapons mill, and nymphos. Intrigued?

PoznanskyTwistedTwisted by Uvi Poznansky

A collection of her short fictions. Offers a darker twist to such things as the story of Job, working with clay, and elderly cats.

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

CoreyLeviathanWakesWhy I Read It: The authors of Leviathan Wakes (Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck write under the the pen name James SA Corey) were at Bubonicon 2013, so I had to check out this book.

Where I Got It: Own it (audible.com).

Who I Recommend This To: Love epic fiction? Love space opera? This is a great mash of the two.

Narrators: Jefferson Mays

Publisher: Recorded Books (2011)

Length: 19 hours 9 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Expanse Series

Author’s Page

Holden and crew mine ice on the rings of Saturn and transport it to the Belt. During one of their runs, they find a derelict ship, with a secret, that puts them smack in the middle of a political conundrum. Meanwhile, down and out Detective Miller has been hired by rich parents to find their daughter Julie. Still having a few wits about him and haunted by the image of Julie he tracks her to the derelict ship Holden & crew found.

And then the shit got real. Yeah. the book starts with this sweeping, fantastic colonized solar system with interesting people and complicated politics. But then the fates throw in something unforeseen and it just takes this book to the next level. This was one of my favorite books of the year and it is because of what happens in the second half of the book.

i also enjoyed the few nods to other science fiction greats, like a few lines about fear from Frank Herbert’s Dune and a reference to voices in the whirlwind (Walter Jon Williams). Not only that, but sometimes the dynamics and the back and forth dialogue between Holden and his crew were reminiscent of Firefly. While none of these things were so prominent to make me say, ‘oh, try this because it is just like…..’, there were these little hat tips or chin nods to other works and I loved that. Now I wonder if I missed some…. Perhaps this will turn into an annual read.

If I have any criticism with this book, it is that there were few female characters. Julie and Naomi (from Holden’s crew) appear more than 2-5 times but are still secondary characters. There are a handful of other ladies that make brief appearances (by turns they are competent and /or ruthless).

Now that I got that out of the way, I can continue to gush about this book. I read a lot of epic fantasy because I love the detailed character development, the depth of world building, and the intricate plots. So take those three elements and squish them together with a space opera and you get the magnificence that is Leviathan Wakes. Yeah, it’s that damn good.

The Narration: Jefferson Mays was a good fit for this book. He was the perfect fit for Holden. I don’t think I can imagine another voice for him after hearing this performance. One little niggling thing: the title was off by a single letter – Leviathan Awakes instead of the correct Leviathan Wakes and I heard it at the start of each downloaded section, so it stuck with me. I am guessing the narrator was handed the typo and Audible/publisher either didn’t catch it or didn’t think it worth the money to record it correctly.

What I Liked: Damn near everything; huge sweeping world as backdrop for our heroes to save the world; Holden and crew; messed up Miller; the mystery (which I won’t spoil for you) but it was awesome!; the ending (totally wasn’t expecting that!).

What I Disliked: Few females and none in major roles.

2014SFExperienceI’m taking part in the reading event of the season, The Science Fiction Experience 2014, hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings.

What Others Think:

The Little Red Reviewer

Attack of the Books!

SF Signal

The Book Smugglers

Tethyan Books

52 Book Reviews

Neth Space

Walker of Worlds

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.

The Dragon’s Path Read Along: The Schedule

Pico resting before dinner.
Pico resting before dinner.

The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham is Book 1 in The Dagger and The Coin series. Some of you may know this author from his The Long Price Quartet (Book 1 A Shadow in Summer), or as half the writing team, published under James S. A. Corey, for Levithan Wakes (the other half being author Ty Franck).

For me, The Dragon’s Path is my first Daniel Abraham book – even tho he has been on my list for some time because so many folks recommend his work. Thanks to Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings for hosting a read along, or group read, of The Dragon’s Path.

Now, setting up a schedule was a little tricky as there are not numbered chapters and the chapter titles are characters’ names. Carl did divide the book up into quarters using a paperback book. In his words, here is the schedule:

Week 1:

Read pages 1 to 137 (print book), ending with the chapter entitled Dawson that begins, “The King’s Hunt pressed through…”

Discussion/Questions for this section will go live Friday, July 12th, hosted by me [Stainless Steel Droppings].

Week 2:

Read pages 138 to 283 (print book).  This section begins with a chapter entitled Cithrin that starts “The dragon’s roads behind them…” and ends with a chapter entitled Geder which begins “A riot?”

Discussion/Questions for this section will go live Friday, July 19th, hosted by Two Dudes in an Attic.

Week 3:

Read pages 284 to 424 (print book).  This section begins with a chapter entitled Cithrin that starts “Word of the destruction…” and ends with a chapter entitled Geder which starts “Geder couldn’t say exactly…”

Discussion/Questions for this section will go live Friday, July 27th, hosted by Kailana.

Week 4:

Read pages 425 through to the end.  This section begins with a chapter entitled Dawson which begins “Summer in Osterling Fells.”

Discussion/Questions for this section will go live Friday, August 3rd, hosted by Mihai.

Carl has set up a group on GoodReads to capture all the fun. Anyone can join in, because Carl is cool like that. So, if you don’t have a blog, or perhaps you read this book last year but still want to discuss it, hop over to The Dragon’s Path Group on GoodReads to join in.

Right now, I am thinking that I will throw up a weekly post with the discussion questions and point to the GoodReads group, but we’ll see what happens. Summer on the farm is wicked busy.