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Old Friends

November 8, 2017 at 12:26 pm
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The first SF convention (as opposed to a comicon) I ever attended was the 1971 Disclave in Washington, D.C. The first person I met at the con was Gardner Dozois, who was working the registration table when I walked in. When he wasn’t volunteering at cons, Gardner was the slushpile reader for GALAXY… and the very same guy who had fished my story “The Hero” out of said slush pile several months previously, leading to my first professional short.

In other words, Gargy was the first friend I made in fandom, and my first editor as well.

He’s still a fan, he’s still a pro, he’s still the best editor out there… and in the decades that followed, he’s been my editor, my collaborator, and my partner in crime, the guy who founded the Hugo Losers Party with me in 1976… before going on to win, like, thirty-seven Hugos in a row.

I had the chance to catch up with him last week in New York City, and I’m pleased to report we’re both going strong.

Friends like the Great Gargoo are the reason I love fandom.

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

From Brazil, With Love

October 5, 2017 at 4:16 pm
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LeYa, my Brazilian publisher, and a small army of my Brazilian readers sent me this video as a birthday greeting:

I don’t know what to say. I am astonished. Charmed. Flattered. And maybe just a little bit terrified.

I really do need to make it down to Brazil one of these days.

(And they used one of my favorite songs, too).

Current Mood: silly silly

Talking Over Thai

July 21, 2017 at 6:09 pm
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So a couple of months ago, while I was out at Stokercon in Long Beach, on the mighty Queen Mary, I went out with Scott Edelman for Thai food (yum), and he recorded our conversation for his EATING THE FANTASTIC podcast.

The food was great, and the talk was fun. You can check it out at:

http://www.scottedelman.com/2017/07/21/down-drunken-noodles-with-george-r-r-martin-in-episode-43-of-eating-the-fantastic/

Scott and I both emerged from comics fandom of the 60s, so be forewarned, there’s a lot of talk about the Good Old Days.

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Our Kansas City Revels

September 2, 2016 at 6:10 pm
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Forty years ago, at the first MidAmericon in 1976, the very first Hugo Losers Party was held in my room at the Muehlebach Hotel in Kansas City.

The night before, at the awards ceremony, I had lost two rockets (one to Larry Niven, one to Roger Zelazny, fwiw). The affair began as a modest little party in a modest little room, with some peanuts and cheese curls and whatever booze we had been able to scrounge from other parties. But as fate would have it, my room was next to the pool deck, which allowed us to overflow the confines of my double, which we soon did, to become the loudest, largest, and most memorable party of the con. Gardner Dozois was our ‘herald,’ announcing each guest as they appeared, and naming them either a winner or a loser. Losers were cheered and welcomed, winners were booed and cursed and pelted with peanuts… unless they told a good story about they were really losers. (Which Alfie Bester did most memorably). Thus did that first Losers Party pass into fannish legend.

In the decades that followed, the Hugo Losers Party became a worldcon tradition. Many more great parties were thrown (most notably, I think, the 1981 party in Rusty Hevelin’s suite at Denvention), and eventually the party became somehow ‘official’ and a tradition arose whereby the following year’s worldcon concom threw the bash after every Hugo ceremony. That worked for a while, but gradually the original spirit of the party was lost, as the event became stuffier and duller and more institutional, finally even abandoning the name ‘Hugo Losers Party’ because some sensitive (and irony-impaired) souls did not like being called losers. (Hey, we’re all losers, boys and girls). The nadir was the ‘party’ the Sasquan concom threw at Loncon, which was truly a dismal affair. So last year, at Sasquan, I decided to reclaim the party that Gardner and I had started… but since life (and fandom) have been good to me, I was able to do a little more than we’d been able to do in 1976.

The Sasquan party was a great success, I think. But of course that meant I had to do it again. I mean, how not? This was fortieth anniversary, and we were returning to Kansas City. I did toy for a moment with the idea of trying to book my original 1976 hotel room… and the adjoining pool deck… but, alas, the room, the deck, and the pool itself are all gone, demolished in one of the hotel’s numerous renovations over the past forty years. (The old gorgeous historic Muehlebach still stands, but alas, remained dark and unused throughout Big Mac II, with the con confined to the newer Marriott wing, and the even newer Marriott across the skybridge).

Instead we went two blocks away and rented out the Midland, a gorgeous old 1930s movie palace. I mean, how could I resist? I LOVE old movie theatres, especially the art deco palaces of the 30s and 20s, and the vaudeville houses that preceded them. And the Midland was stunning, as I think all our guests agreed.

Drinks were drunk, barbeque was eated, losers were feted, winners were mocked, Alfies were given (more on those next rock). And when two in the morning rolled round, the band played “Teen Angel” and we all remembered Dave Hartwell, who was sorely missed.

What more is there to say? It was a party to remember, I think. Just like 1976.

Countdown to Hugo

April 18, 2016 at 12:59 pm
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We’re one week away from the announcement of the 2016 Hugo nominations. Drum roll, please.

Should be interesting. MidAmericon II has announced that more than 4000 nominating ballots were received, shattering the previous record of 2122 set by Sasquan last year. The nominating pool included all those who were members of Sasquan and of next year’s worldcon in Finland as well as the members of MidAmericon itself.

However, to actually vote on the awards, you will need to be a member of Big Mac II. You can take care of that here: http://www.midamericon2.org/

I am hopeful that my own exhortations encouraged a few people to nominate who might elsewise have forgotten. And of course I am hopeful that a few of my own favorites, the books and stories and television shows and movies that I recommended here, will make the shortlist. But there’s no way of knowing until the nominations are announced.

Whether my own choices make the cut or not, I will be pleased if we get an honest ballot this year, with Hugo-worthy choices in all categories.

Odds and Ends

March 3, 2016 at 1:45 pm
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Got back from MystiCon on Monday. It was a fun weekend, and did much to restore my spirits. After all the internet rancor that has dominated on-line discussion of late, it was good to be reminded of what cons are all about… and how warm, welcoming, and open fandom can be. The Roanoke crowd seemed like good folks. And it was great to see how many young people and first-timers were at the con (I asked for a show of hands on several occasions). All the alarums about the demise of traditional SF fandom may be somewhat premature, I’m thinking.

Back home, of course, I had the usual thousand new emails waiting in my inbox. But among them, at long long last, was my Hugo PIN from MidAmericon II. I can finally begin nominating for this year’s awards. I urge all of you to do the same. (And will have a few more Hugo thoughts and recommendations in subsequent posts).

We had a great event at the JCC with Tony DiTerlizzi of THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES. And one last week, before I left, with Joe Lansdale and HAP & LEONARD. Plenty of signed books from Tony and Joe both are now available in the Cocteau bookstore. If you’re an autograph hunter, strike now while the supply lasts.

We have more fun events coming up in the next few months as well. Magician Francis Menotti will be making a return appearance, with the trick that fooled Penn & Teller, and we have booksignings scheduled with Darynda Jones, Joe Hill, and Stephen Graham Jones. And a little further out, Neil Gaiman will be appearing with some gigantic Tasmanian cave spiders. Go to the JCC website and sign up for our email newsletter if you’d like more details on forthcoming events at the theatre.

Meow Wolf’s opening comes closer every day. The gang down at Silva Lanes is working overtime right now, getting a little frantic as they labor to make sure everything is ready for opening weekend.

Oh, and GAME OF THRONES season six is drawing nigh as well. You may have heard. Before the season six debut on April 24, the JCC will be running a season five marathon. Weekly screenings, two hours per week, of the S5 episodes on our big medium-sized screen. And admission is FREE. First come, first seated.

I am sure there’s more. Life is busy. Hope yours is too.

See You In Roanoke

February 22, 2016 at 12:53 pm
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Next weekend I will be heading off to MystiCon, in Roanoke, Virginia, where I’ll be a Guest of Honor. A new con for me, and a new part of the country (it’s been on my schedule since 2013).

They have a website at http://mysticon-va.com/ with a list of all the other guests — but, alas, it says there that they are sold out, so if you’re not signed up, you may be out of luck.

I am looking forward to spending some time with old friends there, and to making some new ones.

Truth be told, I need a good con just about now. I am tired and I am stressed, and I am so so so sick of the toxic rancor that more and more seems to characterize the internet.

So… let’s raise a few glasses and have a few laughs at MystiCon, and try to remember why we love science fiction, fandom, and each other.

Thanks

January 2, 2016 at 10:36 pm
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The outpouring of support in response to my post on THE WINDS OF WINTER has been astonishing.

Thank you all, so very much.

There were forty pages of screened comments on the post by the time I logged on this morning. I haven’t even been able to read half of them as yet. So if I haven’t unscreened yours yet, be patient. (My loyal minions often do much of that for me, but they all have off right now for the New Year holiday).

I am going to close comments on this post, lest I have even more messages to deal with.

But I cannot tell you how much I appreciate all the kind words and good wishes.

Labor Day

September 7, 2015 at 2:44 pm
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It’s Labor Day.

We ought to be at worldcon.

Labor Day weekened was the traditional date for worldcon for half a century. Not in the beginning, no. And not so often of late either. But in the middle, yes. For decades and decades. You could set your calendar by it.

It’s still the best date for a big con. Which is why Dragoncon moved there.

Dragoncon should go back to its original July dates. And worldcon should go back to Labor Day.

Yes, I know all the arguments against. Don’t want to hear them again, thank you. I say they’re spinach, and I say to hell with them.

It’s Labor Day.

We ought to be at worldcon.

Hugo Voting Continues

June 13, 2015 at 7:06 pm
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With the Puppy Wars heating up again — not that they have ever really cooled down — this seems an opportune moment to remind all and sundry that there is still plenty of time left to join Sasquan and cast your ballot for this year’s Hugo awards.

With the electronic ballot, once you have a membership number and a PIN, you can go and post some preferences and votes now, then return a day later, or a week later, or a month later, and change them, or add some more rankings. Your vote does not get counted until balloting closes.

The ballot is here: http://sasquan.org/hugo-awards/voting/

If you have not voted the Hugo Awards before, please note that it is an “Australian ballot,” a preferential system whereby one ranks the nominees. You don’t just vote for one. You can rank NO AWARD as if it were any other finalist; ahead of some nominees, behind others.

(Which is the way I believe one should use NO AWARD. As I have stated previously, I am opposed to the nuclear option of just blindly voting NO AWARD in every category).

Of course, you need to be a member to vote. Supporting Memberships will cost you $40. You can sign up to buy one at https://sasquan.swoc.us/sasquan/reg.php

In addition to voting privileges, a Supporting Membership will get you the convention’s program book (usually a handsome item, though it varies from year to year) and other publications.

You can also sign up as an ATTENDING member and actually attend the convention, which is the course I strongly recommend for those who have the time and the money. Cons are fun, especially worldcon; that’s what they are all about. Reading, panel discussions, the art show, the dealers’ room, the masquerade, filksinging… all sorts of great stuff goes on. Something for all tastes. And EVERYONE is welcome, despite what you have heard. (Just don’t be an asshole. Assholes get welcomed too, but the welcome wears out more quickly).

Both supporting and attending members get an electronic “Hugo packet” that will enable you to read many of the works nominated for this year’s rockets. You should do that, no matter what side of the Puppy Wars you are on; we want informed voters. Yes, sadly, IMNSHO this is the weakest Hugo ballot in recent memory, thanks to the Puppy slates… but there’s still some damn strong work there, especially in Novel and Dramatic Presentation. And of course it is possible that your own tastes may differ from mine.

So join, read, vote. And fifty years from now, when your fannish grandchildren ask you, “Say, gramps, what did you do in the Great Hugo War?” you’ll have an answer for them.