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.
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.
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.
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 Williamsfilled 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.
TheABQ 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.
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.
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.
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.
Here 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 Summerswith 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.
Saturday of Bubonicon 2013 was an all day event, with the con suite opening at 9am. I opted to have tea in my hotel while messing around on the computer. 10AM brought about the first panel of the day: Short Fiction in the Era of Digital Publishing. Josh Gentry of SnackReads moderated this panel of Daniel Abraham (The Dragon’s Path), Suzy Charnas (The Holdfast Chronicles), Joan Saberhagen (manages the literary estate of Fred Saberhagen), and David Lee Summers(Owl Dance). This was a fascinating talk about how publishing has changed since ebooks came about, but also about how digital publishing has changed in the last few years and continues to change. Of special interest to this panel, was the subject of short fiction: how to sell it, should you sell it?, what format to provide it in, etc. Everyone agreed that ebooks were a great way to put an author’s backlist out there, but perhaps not the best way to become known as a new author (for a variety of reasons).
After that I bounced over to the 55 minutes with Walter Jon Williams. He was amazingly entertaining last year, doing the various voices for his characters in the short piece of fiction he read. I was hoping he would be just as charismatic again; he did not disappoint. His story, which will be published in a forthcoming anthology, was just a little longer than we had time for, but he paused in a good place. Of course this only added to my desire to pick up the anthology when it comes out. Let me just point out that I had a choice of listening to Brent Weeks for 55 minutes, or Walter Jon Williams. Sorry Brent, but I am sure you had plenty of fandom to glory in and my shy attention wouldn’t have added to it.
Back in the big main room, George R. R. Martin and Tim Powers had an hour long discussion about dark fantasy: Whatever Happened to Dark Fantasy. While I have read some of George Martin’s works going back to the Wild Cards days in my highschool days, I have not yet had the pleasure of reading Tim Powers’s works. Even with that bit of ignorance, the talk was fascinating. Both authors seemed to shy away from such categories as ‘dark fantasy’ or ‘horror fantasy’. I have to agree with them; having recently explored some H. P. Lovecraft works, ostensibly horror, I found them to be fantasy with some dark elements. Martin and Powers are discussed the differences between fantastical horror and psychological horror (where nothing magical is involved).
After all that sitting, I needed a walk, and what better place to walk than the art show. Lots of cutsy kitten & some magical or SF element art was on display. Some made me laugh out loud with the fun of it. Of course there was the requisite armed and nearly nude women that permeate the SFF world (some of which I appreciated, others I found improbable even with suspended disbelief). This year also had pottery and I loved that there were a variety of mugs named for Tolkien characters. While I bid on a few items in the silent auction, I failed to win any. Perhaps next year.
At the dealer room, I swung by Hadrosaur Productions and said hi to David Lee Summers. While we chatted, author Mario Acevedo happened by and stopped to chat. Of course I had to mention that I recently read his book, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, and from there we were off on conspiracy theories involving aliens and such. The dealers room had several more sellers than last year, which was nice to see. I wandered, looking for a corset to amuse my man with. Alas, I only found a few and nothing that struck my fancy. Perhaps next year.
I sat in on David Lee Summers‘s 25 minute reading. He entertained us with a short bit from his novella Revolution of Air and Rust, which is a steampunk or alternate history set in early 1900s near the beginning of WWI. Having recently finished the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld, I really enjoyed the short bit that Summers shared with us. I’ll be picking up my copy for reading in the winter (when I have much more time for eyeball reading versus audiobooks).
On a whim, I then attended a writing workshop hosted by Diana Gabaldon, How (And How Not) To Write Sex Scenes. I don’t write, other than bloggity stuff and government reports (which may or may not be fiction), but I had not attended anything with Diana Gabaldon yet and didn’t want to miss out. The room filled completely. While we had a few minutes before beginning, Diana Gabaldon invited folks to come up and take pictures with her. I couldn’t resist, but the lady I passed my camera off to looked at it dubiously and caught me making a distressed face that could be mistaken for gas. It was way cool of Gabaldon to make the offer to the room. This was one of the funnest hours of the entire con. We laughed often and loudly. The room was full of women and a few brave men. I read a few of her Outlander books way back in college and recently reread the first book, The Outlander, so I had a good idea of her sex scenes. She gave a lot of great advice that was highly entertaining to even those who don’t have an interest in writing.
The last panel of the evening for me was Assassins & Serial Killers in Fantasy moderated by Brent Weeks (The Night Angel trilogy rocks!). Diana Gabaldon, Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson series), John Maddox Roberts (well known for his SPQR series), and Melinda Snodgrass (who has done script writing for Star Trek: The Next Generation & other TV series) joined him. Once again, this was another great panel. Brent Weeks, well known for his assassin trilogy, was the perfect moderator, keeping the questions coming as the panel explored the various differences between serial killers and assassins. John Maddox Roberts pointed out that the traditional assassin, the hashashin, were folks who were called upon once in their life to take out one person, and then they were expected to die in the back blast of vengeance. The panel also explored the dark, disturbing attraction to serial killers whether in fiction or in the media.
After that was the mass autograph signing. I think I will do another post showing off the treasures I got signed as this post has grown a bit long. You can tell my enthusiasm though.
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?
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).
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.
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.
Who I Recommend This To: Looking for a new take on epic fantasy? Check this book out.
Publisher: Orbit (2011)
Length: 555 pages
Series: Book 1 The Dagger & The Coin
Set in an ancient world long since ruled by dragons, the 13 dragon-made races of humans continue on with civilization. Cithrin, a half-Cinnae ward of the Medean bank, grows up with numbers and sums as her nursery rhymes and ledger books as her dolls. Marcus Wester, well known for his military achievements and his ability to instill loyalty in his soldiers, now leads a quieter life with his trusted friend, the Tralgu Yardem. Dawson, an honorable man in his own eyes and according to a certain code, needs everyone in their proper places in society, and will go to great lengths to maintain that order. Geder, a tentative and secretive scholar, unfortunately is part of the military, and also the butt of all his friends’ jokes. All these people will find themselves at the center of big changes that will affect not just their city or country, but the entire continent.
This was a brilliant book. I love my epic fantasy and I walked into this book expecting a good story with some typical epic fantasy tropes (stuff I enjoy and why I keep returning to the genre). Yet Daniel Abraham gave me more than that. First, the world of The Dagger & the Coin series is ancient. It has evolved. It was once a place ruled by dragons, where the races of humans were created to serve or entertain the rulers of the world. Now, the dragons have long since disappeared, all but fallen into myth. The races have intermingled, have their own religions, commerce, cities, and politics. Next, the characters we follow are interesting, with pasts of their own, and caught up in circumstances that they must navigate successfully, or perish. Several of the characters grow throughout the book, and there were a few twists of circumstances that turned some characters in a different direction than I expected. Political intrigue, a bank’s treasury on the run, military action, manipulation, a troop of actors, and the occasional drunken bout fill these pages. It is a hell of a ride!
Of course, I developed my favorite plot lines with the chapters moving from character to character. Cithrin and Marcus Wester were a lot of fun to ride around inside their heads. Cithrin probably grew the most in this book and I found myself rooting for her at every turn. The conversations, clipped as they were, between Marcus and Yardem often had me chuckling with the dry humor. In fact, if life was a bit different, I could see my man and I having some of those same conversations. At first, I wasn’t too interested in Dawson, but as time went forward, I saw how his rigid view of the right and the wrong of the world made him a very complex man. Of course, this same trait also makes him a volatile man in the sense that if you step out of your place he can’t help but try to shove you back in it, or even eliminate you entirely. I had the same reaction to his wife Clara, at first practically ignoring her as a woman primarily interested in appearances. Later we learn that she is quite a bit more than that. Of course Geder turns out to be a very complex man. I don’t want to say too much here as I mean to avoid spoilers, but damn! I loved watching his story line as it took turns I did not expect.
What I Liked: The detailed world-building; the complex characters; there’s several characters with mysterious pasts; the dragon myths; Geder’s story line; the ending sets the reader up for Book 2 perfectly.
What I Disliked: Not a true complaint, but it did take me most of the book to start picturing the different races in my head. Abraham has a good description of each on his website. Perhaps this could be in the books too?
Here I plan to go over just some of my basic impressions of the book, but I won’t be covering the specific questions asked on the Goodreads group. There will be some spoilers below for the book, but I will follow up with a spoiler-free review.
Wow! Citrhin grew so much in this one book. It was great to watch her go from this sheltered innocent to an independent business woman. She definitely had some hard knocks that stole the wind from her sails along the way, but luckily Marcus Wester and others were around to give assistance. I especially like how Wester refused to let her piss her life away in drink and self-pity. Good for him.
Geder is turning into quite a twisted man. In the beginning, he was this bumbling, socially awkward nerd who I was rooting for. Alas, one too many jokes, one too many times being used, and he snapped. I had hopes for a while that the burning of Vanai would be the pinnacle of his evilness (I think it would for most villains, right?) and he could settle into some scholarly career in a nice country home where he wouldn’t be tempted or pushed into doing further harm. Alas, we’ve seen little glimpses that indicate to me that he likes having power over others, even if that is done/attained in an unhealthy fashion (I’m thinking of his little conversation with Phelia in particular).
Let me couple that with Basrahib. Initially, I thought of him as some isolated mountain holy man, but that little episode with Phelia and Master Kit’s reaction later on have my hackles raised. I know I need, and it is a definite need, to read Book 2 to learn more.
The world building was very interesting; having the mix of the different humanoid races along with the banking systems was a different way to put an epic fantasy setting together. I think it was easier for me to pick up the basics of the banking subplots over remembering the particulars of all the different races. Though by the end I was able to picture characters in my head with scales or boar’s teeth or hairy pointed ears, etc.
The Goodreads experiment for a read along was interesting. Some things I liked – such as being able to have 1 big stream of discussion. However, I think I like the visuality of bouncing around to all the different participating blogs. I like to see what people put into it, such as cover art, fan art, silly pics with pets, etc. I also found myself not reading everyone’s comments on the Goodreads group, whereas on a blog I usually read everything a person puts up on the read along post. I am not too sure why; again, it might be the visuality of it. Can my eyes become visually bored with something without my permission? At any rate, it was very cool of Carl to run this read along and I did have a good time, and I especially enjoyed the book.
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.
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.
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.