ping

Jul 9, 2006

OK, it’s been six months, I don’t know why. But I do know that with Readercon this past weekend, I feel like writing again all of a sudden. I felt this way last year after Boskone, too, and it lasted maybe a week, let’s see how we do this time.

Guests of honor this time around were China Mieville and James Morrow. Imagine my surprise when I had Mr. Mieville autograph two of his books, only to have him open the first one and discover that he’d already signed it for me. Usually I remember standing in line to get someone’s autograph, but I have no recollection of it whatsoever. Must’ve been a Worldcon, maybe Toronto, maybe Boston, I don’t remember. Fortunately he hadn’t signed the other one.

Programming was a little bit of everything. Geoff Landis did a slide show talk about the planets which should’ve been longer, because he didn’t get through all of them (no thanks to a couple of people in the front row who kept asking two-minute questions). Most of the usual suspects were there, no Delaney, no Jim Kelly, but did see Tom Disch a few times, I’d only seen him briefly once before. Barry Longyear was there, but I didn’t see any of his panels. Someone asked Mieville whether he was influenced by Doctor Who, and he said he hadn’t thought so until he realized recently that what happens to one of the alien races in Perdido Street Station was basically the same thing as happens in The Masque of Mandragora, but I think he’s thinking of the Mandrells in Nightmare of Eden. Same Doctor different episode. I think there’s a paper in there somewhere, “Who References in the work of China Mieville”. He also indicated he was happiest with The Iron Council out of all his novels, which of course is the one I had the most trouble with, it’s probably the most literary, but I thought the literariness caused the story to take a back seat, unlike the first two New Crobuzon books that managed to juggle both equally well. I meant to tell him that I thought he was robbed when The Scar lost to Hominids, but I was distracted by the autograph incident and I’m sure he already knows it anyway.

Memorial guest of honor was Jorge Luis Borges, not an sf writer, but someone who wrote enough in a “magic realism” style to have influenced a vast swath of other sf writers. I picked up an anthology of Borges writings last week, since I’d never read anything by him previously (not good reading group material since he only wrote short stories, and most of them are very short). It’s always fun to read sfnal ideas treated by people outside the field, and Borges spare but evocative prose, given a couple of readings, gives you a sense of awe of what he can accomplish in such a short space, breaking many of the rules of writing. Jeffrey Ford gave the example that new writers are always told “show, don’t tell”, but he said Borges almost always just tells, and gets away with it.

So after reading group Wednesday night, chorale board meeting Thursday night, and then Readercon, this is my first night home in nearly a week. Let’s see if I can keep this blog going for a while. Since I’ve had some time away, I’ve got a few things to talk about, just need the energy to get it down.

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