HawaiiCon 2017 Overview

This year’s HawaiiCon offered an array of events in the fields of science fiction and fantasy. We'd like to share our thoughts on the convention, with input from Fred White who was a presenter and is Terry’s husband.

Marqueeda LaStar of Black Girl Nerds

Marion: Marqueeda LaStar of Black Girl Nerds interviewed Nnedi Okorafor. They started off with the acerbic observation that after publishing for more than ten years, Okorafor is now an “overnight success” with HBO’s acquisition of her novel Who Fears Death. “After a lengthy career, you’re suddenly brand now because HBO picked you up,” LaStar said.

Okorafor’s path to writing su... Read More

A report from HawaiiCon! (WWWednesday: September 21, 2016)

Sunset on the Kohala Coast

Words for Wednesday; aloha means “hello,” “hi,” and “goodbye.” Mahalo means “thank you,” and slippah is a noun for a soft-soled foot-covering that might be worn indoors except nobody wears shoes indoors. E Komo Mai means “welcome.”

Books and Writing:

Over at Tor, Sarah Gailey discusses the function of Hermione Granger in the HARRY POTTER books. She’s not exactly a sidekick, because she has her own motives and her own story. (Thanks to File 770.)

Kelly Lassiter sent us this link to a discussion about book reviewing and the difficulties of using a rating system. In their case it’s letter grades. I think ... Read More

Marion reports on FOGCon 2016

A few things make FOGCon different from other SFF conventions. One is its size; it’s a small convention, with probably not many more than 200 participants. FOGCon is very participatory, in the style of Wiscon; participants recommend panels, choose the final panels and volunteer as panelists. FOGCon is also unusual in that it always has a posthumous guest of honor, or as some folks say, “Ghost of Honor.” It’s held in Walnut Creek, California, in the San Francisco East Bay, close enough to Silicon Valley to be cool, and far enough away from it to be comfortable.

This year’s Ghost of Honor was Octavia Butler; the living Guests of Honor were short story virtuoso Ted Chian... Read More

Fifth Annual FOGCon + Giveaway!

Last month Marion and I attended FOGCon 5 in Walnut Creek, California (in the San Francisco Bay area) where I served on a panel called “When the Setting is a Character.” FOGCon, which stands for Friends of the Genre Convention, has a literary bent. Marion and I are going to discuss our experience here, and we've got a book to give away to a commenter.

Marion, what did you think of your first FOGCon?

Terry, I expected FOGCon to be fun because you recommended it, but this conference exceeded my expectations! From the Walnut Creek Marriott Hotel staff – consistently helpful, friendly and cheerful – to the thoughtful and varied panels, this was a great weekend. And I love that they had a “Ghost of Honor,” Joanna Russ, devoting an... Read More

DragonCon Day 2: or, In which I chase Lev Grossman around Atlanta

The first panel on my Sunday list was “Modern-Day Magic,” with Jim Butcher and Lev Grossman at 10 am. I was pretty excited for this; on Saturday, I had a chance to see Lev in the Delphic Oracle panel but had thought “it’s fine, I’ll see him tomorrow,” and decided to go to the Writing Track panel instead. If only I had the powers of the Delphic oracle to see into the future . . .

I left for downtown at 9:15, and made it to the con with plenty of time to spare. However, I misjudged how popular this panel would be. When I got there, it was completely full, with a “waiting” line that wrapped around the hallway. So I went to “Real History of Science-Fiction: Aliens” instead, hosted by Diane Hughes, Jaym Gates, and Michael Z. Williamson. It was a fairly casual conversation between three SF enthusiasts about their fav... Read More

DragonCon: Cluster-Frak at the Marriott

Sre as Zero Moustapha

I began my first day at Dragon*Con 2014 on Atlanta’s metro system, MARTA, where I met Sre and Lena, a lovely couple headed downtown for the festivities. Sre was dressed as Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy and protagonist from Wes Anderson’s recent film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Lena was dressed as herself, as was I. We made our way downtown to watch the Dragon*Con parade together. (Sre and Lena even shared their water with me! What class acts . . . )

If you’ve never been to Dragon*Con, the Saturday parade has become a local event. Several streets in downtown Atlanta are shut down on Saturday morning, and Atlantans hang out of apartment windows and peep over the edge of parking garages to watch the spectacle. It’s like Mardi Gras for nerds. It's like a better, more fun Disney parade. If Dragon*Con were highschool, this parade would be Homecoming, the Spartan... Read More

Justin reports on Gen Con 2013

Gen Con, which I attend nearly every year, is the largest RPG/Gaming convention in the world. For the last few years I have gone primarily as the eyes and ears of The fantasy genre and game playing have been hand in hand since the 70's, and maybe even further back if you count the various forms of story-based play acting and parlor games that have been played over the centuries. Gen Con is the culmination of all things Fantasy and game related. There are bigger conventions out there, such as Dragon Con and Comic-Con, but neither of those is as singularly focused on one element of the genre.

My goal when attending Gen Con for FanLit is to capture some images of crazy costumes, find out about upcoming Fantasy games, and meet cool Fantasy enthusiasts. This year I was only able to at... Read More

Who’s your favorite Golden Age writer?

Robert Silverberg was the Master of Ceremonies at the Nebula awards, which Marion and I attended a few weeks ago.

Robert Silverberg, Master of Ceremonies

Silverberg told stories about the writers of the Golden Age, like Clifford Simak, Damon Knight, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and even lesser known writers like Silverberg’s own mentor Randall Garrett.

There were clearly three “eras” in the room; the Golden Age (1938-1946 if you trust Wikipedia); the New Wave (1960s-1970s, again, Wikipedia) and the current era which I want to call The New Golden Age, based on the quality of ... Read More

Marion visits the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

The Nebula Awards event which Terry and I recently attended also offered tours of the Computer History Museum and the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. I chose the latter. Growing up in northern California I had heard about this museum. I had always assumed it would be vaguely campy, filled with Rosicrucian mysticism and quasi-historical replicas.

Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

Human Mummy (male)

To my surprise, it is an elegant Egyptian museum with genuine artifacts. San Jose’s Rosicrucian Park and museum were founded in 1928 by H. Spencer Lewis, an explorer and mystic who was very interested in bringing the Rosicrucian movement back to the United States. ... Read More

Marion and Terry report on the 2013 Nebula Awards Weekend

The 48th Annual Nebula Awards weekend was held by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America at the San Jose Convention Center in northern California from May 17 through 19, 2013. Terry Weyna and I, who both live in Northern California and both are aspiring writers, decided to see what a bunch of published writers get up to when they party together.

Gene Wolfe and Teri Goulding

Marion Deeds: I think what surprised me most is how light on programming the weekend was. I thought there would be sessions about the nuts and bolts of a writing career, but I guess that SFWA members already have a pretty good idea about that. Still, I thought we’d hear about things like the new Amazon publishing arms, the Night Shade Books mess, that sort of thing. Read More

Writing the Other

Terry Weyna and I attended the 2013 Nebula Awards Weekend in San Jose, California last week. The event focused mostly on the Saturday awards banquet, and programming was rather light, but I did attend a panel called “Writing the Other,” subtitled, “How do we write about what we cannot know?”

Ken Liu, moderator

“Writing the Other” looked like the staff of a think-tank. Saladin Ahmed (Throne of the Crescent Moon), Kim Stanley Robinson, (2312, which won the Nebula), Ken Liu (“Paper Menagerie”) and Aliette de Bodard (who would win for the novelette “Immersion”) made u... Read More

The Gaming Gateway: Gencon 2012

Justin goes to Gencon!

Drizzt Do'Urden & Guenhwyvar at D&D booth

Games have been incorporating elements of traditional epic fantasy since at least the 1950's, but it wasn't until Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson introduced the world to Dungeons & Dragons that fantasy gaming really hit the mainstream. D&D merged fantasy storytelling with game mechanics and forever intertwined the two types of entertainment. Now there's an entire industry built around fantasy-based gaming.

Gygax started another tradition in 1968: Gencon, the largest gaming convention in North Ame... Read More

International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, Part Three

Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Lunch on Friday included a presentation by the scholar guest of honor, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen. His talk was entitled “Undead,” and was a meditation on the meaning of that word -- or, in other words, on zombies. Undead does not, Cohen noted, mean that the undead thing is alive; it is a restless state from which monsters arise. What is behind the shift in our literature from ghosts to zombies? Zombies pose no challenge to our minds, as ghosts do, but just want to eat our brains, the physical repositories of our minds. We don’t love zombies the way we might love some ghosts, but think of them as only bodies, things, a collective, a form. If horror is made for mapping what we fear, ou... Read More

International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts 2012, Part Two

Read Part 1 here.

Thursday evening, Geoffrey Landis gave a presentation on “Spaceflight and Science Fiction.” Landis is a full-time scientist with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as well as a noted hard science fiction writer, so he was the best possible person to speak on this topic. Landis noted that Poe (who was everywhere, it seemed, but perhaps I only noticed this because my paper was on Poe), before he invented science fiction and the mystery, wrote “The Unparalleled Adventures of One Hans Pfaall” (1835), in which a man flies a balloon to the moon. Poe used a lot of what Landis called “bafflegab” -- faux technical language -- to justify the ability to fly a balloon to the moon, positing that there was no end to the atmosphere. Jules Verne followed with his novel, From the Earth to the Moon,... Read More

International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts 2012, Part One

The International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts is an unusual conference. It is largely academic in nature, with scholarly papers offered on the literature, language, and theories of the fantastic (science fiction, fantasy, horror) in all media (television, movies, books, poetry, paintings, games, and just about anything else you can thing of). The papers have titles like “Dialectical Progression in Roman Polanski’s Apartment Trilogy” and “The Inflicted ‘Self’ in Robin McKinley’s Deerskin: Implanted Memories, Fragmented Bodies, and Re-envisioned Identities,” which might make you think that you wandered into a meeting of the Modern Language Association.

But ICFA is different from purely academic conferences in several ways.  Most importantly, this conference is populated by authors as well as academics. While it honors a scholar each year, it also h... Read More

World Fantasy Convention 2011: Day Three

I spent most of the morning today in the dealers’ room, which was a disaster for my wallet but a boon for my library. As has become my habit of late, I spent more time picking up titles from small presses, like Prime, Night Shade and EDGE, than from the big boys. Some of that was simply because the big boys weren’t there in force; even Tor, which hosted a party last night, didn’t have a table full of books. But mostly it was because I’m of the firm belief that the small presses are where it’s happening these days, with the strangest and most interesting books coming from them. I am very thankful that the USPS is on site with boxes and a guarantee of safe passage for my new acquisitions, because I could never carry all of these onto the plane, not even if I bought a new piece of luggage -- not enough arms! There were also a few jewelers on the premises, with some lovely things, and I confess I committed jewelry (though not the piece pictured here). The jeweler who captured me ... Read More

World Fantasy Convention 2011: Day Two

I'm reporting about Day 2 today. Read about Day One here.

There were lots of interesting panels today, and it was frustrating to try to boil them down into the ones I wanted to see.

My first choice was “Retelling Old Stories: The New Fairy Tales.” I’ve got all the modern fairy tale collections edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow and many other rewritings, so I was eager to hear this discussion, and it didn’t disappoint. The first question addressed by the panel was the obvious one: why rewrite fairy tales? Read More

World Fantasy Convention 2011: Day One

“Sailing the Seas of Imagination” is the theme of World Fantasy Convention 2011 here in sunny, temperate San Diego, so you don’t go too long without someone issuing an “Arrrh!” or a panel about what happens under the sea. It’s a great group of people: fans, writers, critics, all people who read with passion and heart. And I'm here and get to blog about it!

Once registered for the convention, I trudged directly over to pick up my goodie bag. World Fantasy is famous for these bags: sturdy canvas totes jammed with enough reading material to last at least a month. I returned a number of the books to the Book Swap table because I already owned them, but I’ve still got 10 new books (and I’ve already tasted A Darkness Forged in Fire by Chris Evans Read More

Great Bookstores: Larry Smith, Bookseller

Elizabeth Campbell went to Dragon*Con last weekend and wrote in to tell us about bookseller Larry Smith.

Larry Smith, Bookseller, is a conventions bookstore. He and Sally Kobee sell new science fiction and fantasy books in hardback, trade, and mass market bindings. They are out of Ohio, so in addition to Dragon*Con, we see them at ConText.

They've been doing this for freaking ever, they know freaking everybody, and it seems like they have every single freaking book in stock. Sally seems to know what you're looking for before you do. You can often find authors glomming around their bookstall signing their novels. It's a pretty powerful experience to be nosing aro... Read More

Great Bookstores: Orielis’ Books

Elizabeth Campbell wrote in to tell us about a bookstore she loves. Orielis' Books is an internet bookseller located in the Chapel Hill area. They attend the local SFF conventions:

"Orielis' Books are always in the vendor room at the Cons we get to attend in the Virginia/North Carolina area. They are an online used books business, and build their "brick and mortar" by wheeling in their treasure-crates of books into the hotel for the duration of the weekend.

I love having them at the Cons, as I can pop straight over to them after a panel and pick up a copy of whatever was recommended. They make an effort of being sure to carry the small press books authored or published by the Con's guests."

If you’... Read More

Justin reports: GenCon Indy 2010

Just reports about his visit to GenCon. Comment for a chance to win a FanLit bookmark signed by R.A. Salvatore.

Each year in Indianapolis, thousands gather for what’s called “The Best 4 Days in Gaming.” Gencon Indy was held from August 5th to August 8th, 2010. This gathering of nerds is the largest of its kind in the country. If you are into Dungeons & Dragons or board games, this is your Mecca because over 8600 gaming-related activities are held over four days. Gencon is awesome, but you may be wondering how much it relates to fantasy. The truth is, without fantasy as inspiration, Gary Gygax would never have created Dungeons & Dragons. ... Read More