World Fantasy Convention 2018
I just got back from the 2018 World Fantasy Convention, but I wasn’t there to promote any of my Starbreaker novels. This year I was only there as a fan, and perhaps to do a bit of light networking.
Of course, many of the people we met at the 2014 and 2015 conventions weren’t here, but that’s to be expected. Catherine and I weren’t at the 2016 and 2017 conventions, either. But it was nice to see Elektra Hammond, Randee Dawn, Sarah Avery, and Sally Wiener Grotta again, and we’ll be sure to say howdy to whoever’s here from Broad Universe, since people from that organization had been kind to us back in 2014.
Thursday, November 1
I think I’m going to have to find a different convention to attend. It’s not that Cat and I are having a bad time at WFC, but that next year’s convention is in Los Angeles and the following WFC is in Salt Lake City.
Based on where I live, I could attend Philcon, Balticon, or both. After all, Philcon is in November and Balticon is in May. Baltimore is actually closer to my home than Philadelphia, so if I’m to choose by mileage alone it would be better to join the Baltimore Science Fiction Society than the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society. Also, BSFS has a better website, and apparently offers a lending library.
Also, I had a chance to talk to BSFS president Dale Arnold tonight, and he seemed friendly and down-to-earth. If I’m going to try to be a more sociable SF fan, BSFS might prove more welcoming.
Catherine and I learned at our first WFC in 2014 that the panels are generally less interesting than the readings. Just like the souvenir book bags, they’re often a good way to discover authors I might not think to read on my own. They also appreciate the support, especially if Catherine and I are the only ones who show up.
- Tom Doyle: War and Craft
- James Alan Gardner: They Promised Me the Gun Wasn’t Loaded
- Bryan Camp: The City of Lost Fortunes
- Derek Künsken: The Quantum Magician
Instead of attending the Derek Künsken reading with Catherine, I sat in on the “Taxonomy of Villains” panel. I think I would have gotten more out of the panel if I were just a fan. However, Esther Friesner’s jokes about realizing that Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights is an abusive waste of ammo – and her connections between Heathcliff and portrayals of Satan in works like Dante’s Commedia, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and the works of Romantic poets like Lord Byron.
I really need to watch my spending, but there’s so much good stuff! I haven’t even gotten into the dealer room; I got most of these off the consignment table.
- The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan by Zig Zag Claybourne
- In the Vanisher’s Palace by Aliette de Bodard
- The Quantum Magician by Derek Künsken
- Falling Dusk by Jennifer R. Povey
- Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World by Caroline M. Yoachim
- Amish Vampires in Space by Kerry Nietz
I actually grabbed the Kerry Nietz book from a table run by members of Realm Makers, a writer’s conference for Christian speculative fiction authors. I guess that’s one conference I won’t be attending.
One of the people working the table asked me what I was into, and I told them I was into science fantasy, that I was into soul-searching androids, swashbuckling soprano catgirls, and demons from outer space. So, when they suggested Amish Vampires in Space, I went for it. It helps that it started out as a joke.
Catherine also grabbed a Regency romance parody called Ridiculous! by D. L. Carter.
Souvenir Book Bags
One of the my favorite reasons to attend WFC is the souvenir book bag. They’re stuffed full of free books by authors I might not otherwise think to check out on my own, and often come in attractive hardcover and trade paperback editions. Of course, since Catherine always attends with me with sometimes end up with duplicates.
The convention has a swap table where you can trade your duplicates for somebody else’s, but the pickings tend to be slim until Saturday or Sunday. And on Sunday, you don’t even have to swap; any books you find on the swap table are “free to a good home”.
My Book Bag
- Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope
- Sherwood Nation by Benjamin Parzybok
- Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
- From Unseen Fire by Cass Morris
- Furyborn by Claire Legrand
- Halls of Law by V. M. Escalada
- The Late Great Wizard by Sarah Hanover
- Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson
- After the Apocalypse by Maureen F. McHugh
- A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
- 1635: The Cannon Law by Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis
- Shattering the Ley by Joshua Palmatier
Catherine’s Book Bag
- Elisha Barber by E. C. Ambrose
- Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
- The Silver Scar by Betsy Dornbusch
- Finding Baba Yaga by Jane Yolen
- Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly
- Blood of the Four by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon
- Awakened by James S. Murray with Darren Wearmouth
- Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction edited by Irene Gallo
- Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
- 1634: The Ram Rebellion by Eric Flint with Virginia DeMarce
From the Swap Table
- The Initiation by Chris Babu
- The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas
- Prophecies, Libels, and Dreams by Ysabeau S. Wilce
I think Cat and I already have a copy of Prophecies, Libels, and Dreams, but Cat wasn’t convinced. Not that it matters; it’s just one more book, and we can always pass it along to somebody else later on – or put a “Little Free Library” in front of our house.
Friday, November 2
Even though the readings are the best part, it’s really hard not to nod off. My wife keeps discreetly nudging, poking, or outright hitting me to keep me from falling asleep on some poor author like a complete boor.
Poor Catherine. I’m a terrible husband for her; she can’t take me anywhere – an observation she often makes herself with tongue wedged firmly in cheek.
We did notice one thing many of the authors had in common: the ones who were most famous all had agents and had all gone with the big publishers.
It doesn’t necessarily follow that if I go that way I’ll have similar success, but it beats the shit out of trying to market everything myself.
But I can’t query on Without Bloodshed unless I rewrite it enough to make it a brand new novel. But I wanted to revise it anyway. Maybe change up the setting to account for massive climate change. Imagine a green Antarctica.
Maybe writing Without Bloodshed v2.0 will shake things loose with Dissident Aggressor.
It’s been a long day of readings, though we took a break for shopping. Fortunately, Catherine’s been noting the authors whose readings we attended.
- Joshua Palmetier read from an upcoming work, The Crystal Lattice.
- Charles Gannon read from his upcoming fifth novel.
- Dan Stout read a tale of schoolyard noir and a bit from his first novel, Titan Shade.
- Carolyn M. Yoachim read “The Clockwork Penguin Dreamed of Stars”, a short that reminded me of Nier: Automata because one of the clockwork animals, a chimpanzee named Zee, is the only one capable of lying – and lies to the others to get them to go out and search for humanity after humanity has died out on Earth.
- John Crowley read a passage from Ka.
- Tina Connolly read a story about a music student and a shapeshifter who came from outer space with a mission to sample human music, and a passage from her novella Last Banquet of Temporal Confections.
- Sunny Moraine read from an unsold novel with the working title of Tidal Lock featuring a nonbinary protagonist with a degenerative disease attacking her limbic system.
- Christopher Golden read from his story, “It’s a Wonderful Knife”.
- Sherri Woosley read most of “The Boy from Omran”.
- Julie Czerneda read from a new Web Shifter novel featuring Esen and plugged her upcoming fantasy, Gossamer Mage.
We bought more books today, but justifying it by saying the money we aren’t spending on food is going to books.
- Ka by John Crowley
- The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint and Charles Vess (illustrator)
- All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault by James Alan Gardner
- The Imlen Brat by Sarah Avery
- Badass and the Beast, edited by Roquet & Shrum
- The Engine Woman’s Light by Laurel Anne Hill
- American Craftsman by Tom Doyle
- Crossroads of Sin and Other Stories by D. H. Aire
In addition to books, we splurged and bought a couple of prints to frame and hang up. One is a gorgeous Donato print depicting Phédrè no Délaunay from the Kushiel’s Legacy novels by Jacqueline Carey.
The other is “Magnus & Loki: Cousins” by Sarah Clemens. Catherine loves Magnus & Loki because what’s not to like about the hijinks a Maine Coon cat and a little dragon can get up to together?
We also scored some freebies today. From the swap table comes…
- Noumenon: Infinity by Marina J. Lostetter
- Child of a Mad God by R. A. Salvatore
And Julie Czerneda was kind enough to give Catherine copies of the first Web Shifters trilogy in paperback:
- Beholder’s Eye
- Changing Vision
- In Plain Sight
Saturday, November 3
Today was a good writing day, though yesterday wasn’t bad, either. Yesterday I got down about 750 words on a short called “Demagogue Detail”. Today, I did 2562 words for Dissident Aggressor. Had one scene from Isaac Magnin’s viewpoint, followed by one from Tamara Gellion’s viewpoint. Readers of Without Bloodshed may also know them as Imaginos and Thagirion – and they’re still having angry wizard sex.
I had “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” by Ghost on repeat since I stole the song’s title for use as a chapter title, so I didn’t notice people talking around me until somebody asked me if their conversation was disturbing me. They weren’t, of course, because I couldn’t hear them. That’s the whole point of having a hard drive full of devil-killer music and a pair of headphones. But it was nice of Julie Czerneda to ask.
I ended up talking with one of them a bit later on. Tanya Gough was walking another writer through the capabilities of her current implementation of a story planning/composition web app called StoryBilder. It isn’t ready for use yet, but you’ll want to get on the mailing list. Trust me.
Naturally, I missed a bunch of readings since I was writing instead, but Catherine gave me the dirt on the ones I missed.
- Linda Robertson read from her new novel, Hand of Virtue, about a female soldier seeking a wizard to help her son with a developmental abnormality.
- Natania Barron read her short story “Eye of the Narwhal” and part of her novel Masks and Malevolence.
- Julie Day read from a dark fantasy story called “Re-Stitched”.
- Ysabeau Wilce read a bit from Tiny Terror’s adventures in Metal More Attractive.
- Zig Zag Claybourne read from both The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan and its spiritual successor Afro Puffs are the Universe’s Antennae.
- Ellen Kushner read from her story in The Book of Swords, “When I Was a Highwayman” – an origin story of sorts for Riverside fencer Richard St. Vere.
- E. C. Ambrose read from Elisha Barber.
- Michael Ventrella read from his upcoming alt-history Big Stick and his comedic conspiracy thriller Bloodsuckers: a Vampire Runs for President. Apparently he wrote and published the latter during the previous administration, since a vampire in the White House might be an improvement over the current one.
- Jeffrey Ford read from “Big Dark Hole” and “Dick Shook”.
- K. Parr read from “Just His Luck”, a superhero satire.
- Kaaron Warren read from “Sick Cats in Small Spaces”, a short horror story involving a family vacation in the Australian Outback.
- John Kessel read from a future novella called The Dark Ride, set during the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY.
- Jae Steinbacher read from “Blood Sausage”, which will appear in Broad Knowledge: 35 Women Up to No Good.
- Aliette de Bodard read from the first chapter of In the Vanisher’s Palace.
- Natasha D. Lane read from The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone.
- Nino Cipri read from a novel in progress with the working title Super Dead Girls.
- Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading:
- Carmen Webster Buxton read from her novel Turnabout.
- Randee Dawn read from her story, “Cat Person”. I hope things worked out OK for the kitten.
- A. R. Henle read from her story, “Strong Meat”.
- Laurel Anne Hill read from her novel, The Engine Woman’s Light.
- A. L. Kaplan read from her novel Star Touched.
- Emily Lavin Leverett read from “Only the Young Die Good”, slated to appear in Tales from the Old Black Ambulance.
- Tina LeCount Myers read from her new novel, The Song of All.
- Jean Marie Ward read from her story, “A Favor for Lord Bi”, from Second Round: Return to the Ur-Bar.
- Paula S. Jordan read from a piece involving a man treating an injured alien.
- Margaret S. McGraw’s selection started with a fortune cookie and a lost girl from a planet whose people normally disdained outside contact.
- Laura Kelly’s selection was about marriage counseling for ghosts haunting an old Victorian house.
Unfortunately, we don’t have titles from the selections read by Paula S. Jordan, Laura Kelly, and Margaret S. McGraw. If we figure it out we’ll update this post later on.
Catherine and I both bought each other Christmas pressies, but we won’t mention them here.
- Uncommon Miracles by Julie S. Day
The following books are getting a good home.
- Skinny Dipping in the Lake of the Dead by Alan DeNiro
- Temper by Nicky Drayden
- Driving Arcana: Rotation One by Goldeen Ogawa
- Hunter of Legends by Clayton Wood
- Runic Awakening by Clayton Taylor Wood
- Wothwood by Natania Barron
- City of Lies by Sam Hawke
- Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio
- Plum Rains by Andromeda Romano-Lax
Sunday, November 4
Today was the last day of the convention. Many people left early today, so things started winding down before the World Fantasy Award presentation and banquet.
I didn’t attend any readings today, because I was loading the car, checking out of the hotel, and trying to do some more work on Dissident Aggressor, but Catherine did.
- Alma Katsu read from The Hunger, a alternate take on the events surrounding the 1846 Donner Party.
- J. L. Gribble read from Steel Victory, the first novel of a seven-book saga concerning the adventures of a retired vampire mercenary.
- J. B. Simmons read from The Blue Tower, the first of a YA fantasy series called “The Five Towers”.
- Sharon Shinn read from Echo in Amethyst, the third installment of her upcoming Audible Originals series, “Uncommon Echoes”.
I wanted to be a good kitty and not buy anything, but I figured that since I had gotten Becky Chambers' Record of a Spaceborn Few as a freebie, I might as well buy her previous books in the series. Catherine bought a few of her own.
- The Long Way to a Small Planet by Becky Chambers
- A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
- We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix
- The Blue Tower by J. B. Simmons
- Bone Guard One: The Mongol’s Coffin by E. Chris Ambrose
- Star Touched by A. L. Kaplan
- A Smuggler’s Path by I. L. Cruz
- Walking Through Fire by Sherri Cook Woosley
- Essential Magic by Cara McKinnon
We decided to adopt the following today since nobody wanted ‘em.
- Breakwater by Catherine Jones Payne
- an ARC of The Burning Throne by Ashok K. Banker
- Fire Dance by Ilana C. Myer
- Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep
- Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
- Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore
- Break the Bodies, Hide the Bones by Micah Dean Hicks
Shelving Our New Books
Naturally, Catherine and I had to get the books shelved once we brought them home. That meant moving books from the shelf in the living room upstairs to my study or back to the bookshelf in Catherine’s study. It took a bit of work, but we got it done.