Not a Blog

Rocket Time!

June 30, 2020 at 9:10 am
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Worldcon is coming up in a month’s time, down in Wellington, New Zealand…

Or at least it would be, if not for the pandemic.   Which New Zealand has handled splendidly, for what it’s worth.   If only America had done half so well..

In any case, there will still be a CoNZealand, but it is going to be a virtual worldcon.  (Which is a damned shame for all those who will miss the chance to visit New Zealand, truly one of the most beautiful countries in the world).   And as CoNZealand’s toastmaster, I am going to be there… virtually… taking part from my fortress of solitude in the mountains and my theatre (now shuttered) in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The toastmaster wears many hats at worldcon, but probably the single biggest part of the gig is hosting the Hugo Awards ceremony.   I am going to be doing that with a combination of live streaming and pre-recorded videos, which we will (I hope I pray) edit seamlessly together.   This week I have started recording some of those videos.   It has been fun, if a little surreal, to be reading off the names of this year’s Hugo finalists when voting has not actually started yet.   And trying to be amusing (one hopes) while talking into a camera without the feedback of laughter (or moans, boos, or soul-chilling silence) from an actual audience is challenging as well.   But so it goes.

SFWA did a great job with the virtual Nebulas.   (Hats off to Mary Robinette Kowal and her team).   We want to make the virtual Hugos just as much fun.   An evening of joy and celebration in these dark days of plague, riot, and police brutality.   We all need a little laughter.   I know I do.

The Kiwis are doing all they can to make Virtual CoNZealand a success.   I applaud them for their efforts, and hope it all comes out splendidly.  That being said, I also hope we never have to do it again.   Over the last half-century, worldcon has become an enormously important part of my life, I have come to realize.  I see people online — younger writers, most often — describing worldcon as a “professional conference,” and yeah, maybe, a little bit, for them… but not for me.   There are professional aspects to conventions, sure, networking and promotion and all that, but for me worldcon has always been a celebration, a party, a holiday, Christmas and Thanksgiving and Halloween all rolled up in one.   Most of all it is a family reunion, a place where I get to laugh and drink and share meals with old friends, meet new friends, and catch up with so many of the people I love, people I do not get to see anywhere else.   So let’s work hard on that vaccine, all you docs out there; I will be at CoNZealand in spirit, but I want to be at DC in the flesh.

((And before anyone starts to panic, “oh my god he is making videos in place of writing,” OF COURSE I am still working on WINDS OF WINTER as well.   That really should go without saying, yet somehow I need to say it, or someone might make stupid assumptions.   I am also doing some editorial work on three new Wild Cards books, reading scripts and making notes on a couple of exciting Hollywood projects, texting with agents, editors, and friends about this and that, eating several meals a day, watching television, reading books, and from time to time using the toilet.   Just because I do not mention it in every Not A Blog does not mean it is not happening)).

 

 

 

Current Mood: busy busy

The Amazing John Picacio

June 19, 2020 at 8:37 am
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SFWA held its Nebula Awards ceremonies last week, and John Picacio, artist extraordinaire, was one of the winners of this year’s Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award… not for his art, but for his contributions to the science fiction and fantasy community.

I had the honor of presenting the award to John.   Well, that is to say, I had the virtual honor of presenting a virtual award to the virtual Picacio.

For all of you who could not be there — which is everyone, thanks to our friend Covid-19 — here is what I had to say:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YV6qoTdD_3MZEQe3ulSNNiJrgT1RfSuM/view?usp=drivesdk

Congratulations once again, John.    Very well deserved.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Hugo Finalists Announced!!!

April 7, 2020 at 5:11 pm
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The final ballot for this year’s Hugo Awards was announced today, via Facebook and YouTube, by my friends at CoNZealand.

Congratulations to all the finalists… and condolences to all those who did not make the ballot.   Take some consolation in the knowledge that much fine work gets overlooked every year.

The Hugo Award is the oldest and most prestigious award in science fiction and fantasy… not only for writers, but also for artists, editors, and fans.  First given in 1953, it was the original award.  Many worthy honors have joined it in the half century since: the Nebulas, the Bram Stokers, the World Fantasy Awards, the Dragons, the Tiptrees, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Prometheus, the British Fantasy Award, the Ditmars, the Auroras, the Saturns… even the Alfies.   (Yes, I have forgotten some, beyond a doubt).  All wonderful honors.   But the Hugo Awards remain the greatest accolade that our field has to offer.

One of the reasons is that it is an award chosen by the members of worldcon, the World Science Fiction Convention, the granddaddy of them all.   By fans, in other words.  By YOU, if you like.   You need not even attend the convention: supporting memberships, considerably cheaper, also allow you to cast a Hugo ballot.  So if you would like your voice to be heard, head over to the CoNZealand website and sign up.

Sad to say, no one will actually be attending this year’s worldcon in Wellington, thanks to coronavirus.   The concom, prudently, has decided to make this year’s convention entirely virtual.   A necessity in this time of pandemic, I think, but a sad necessity.

I am the Toastmaster for CoNZealand, the host at the awards ceremony,so originally I was going to get to be the guy handing out the rockets come Hugo night, a once-in-a-lifetime honor that I was looking forward to immensely.  I am still the Toastmaster, as it happens, but I guess that now I am going to be a Virtual Toastmaster.   I suppose I qualify.   I did once write two scripts for MAX HEADROOM, after all (though neither one was produced, which could be an omen).  Alternatively, I could just tie the rockets to the legs of ravens… really big ravens…

Current Mood: excited excited

Hugo Nominations Open

January 6, 2020 at 2:57 pm
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CoNZealand, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, has announced that nominations are now open for the 2020 Hugo Awards.   To nominate, you need to be a member of either this year’s worldcon, or last year’s Dublin convention.  You can nominate either electronically, or with a paper ballot (though very few chose the latter method these days).

Details can be found at https://conzealand.nz/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/2020-Hugo-Nominations-Ballot-Printable-US-Letter.pdf

Members can nominate for the Hugos themselves, the two “Not A Hugo” categories, and for the Retro-Hugos that honor outstanding works published during the years when no Hugos were awarded.

First given in 1953, the Hugo is not only the oldest SF and fantasy award, but by far the most prestigious.   The list of past winners reads like a Who’s Who of our genre (and, honestly, the list of past losers is equally amazing).   No, you don’t need to read everything that was published last year to nominate.  You don’t need to nominate in every category either.  Just nominate the works you read and loved, and you’ll be fine.   Other fans will take care of the rest.

Even if you only nominate a single work in a single category, I urge you to NOMINATE.  Let your voice be heard.  The Hugo is fandom’s award, worldcon’s award, one of the greatest honors our community can bestow.  Winning a Hugo is an amazing experience… but earning a nomination is almost as exciting.   Far fewer people take part in the nomination round than vote on the final ballot, so this is the stage of the process where you can have the greatest impact.   There have been instances in the recent past when a single nomination was the difference between making the cut and being left off the ballot.   Just last year, my own imaginary history FIRE & BLOOD came six votes short of being nominated in Best Related Work (though, as it happens, I was later informed that it would have been disqualified in any case, for having too much fictional contest).   Almost only counts in horseshoes and grenades, as we all know… you wouldn’t want your favorite story off the year to be left off the ballot because you forget to send in a ballot.   So NOMINATE.

Speaking of which… for the last decade or so, I have been making recommendations of my own favorites (in certain categories, at least) on my Not A Blog.  There’s so much good work being published each year it is easy to get overlooked, so I wanted to do what I could to draw attention to worthy books, movies, and individuals.   I will not be making any recommendations this year, however.   I am going to be the Toastmaster this summer at CoNZealand, the guy on stage emceeing the event and handing out all those nice shiny rocket ships.  It would not be appropriate for me to go on record as favoring certain nominees (and, by implication, dis-approving of others… though that would be a shaky assumption, since I don’t always get around to reading everything in every case).   It behooves the Toastmaster to be neutral, I believe.  Which is not to say that I won’t be cheering on some winners and being aghast at others… but not in public.

I expect that I will go back to recommending work next year, when worldcon moves to Washington and it is someone else’s turn in the barrel as Toastmaster.

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

What’s It All About, Alfie?

September 14, 2019 at 8:28 am
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It’s about achievement…

One of my great pleasures since reclaiming the Hugo Losers Party (originated in 1976 at Big Mac, by Gardner Dozois and I) has been presenting the Alfie Awards, named after the late great Alfred Bester, who won the first Best Novel Hugo in 1953 for his novel THE DEMOLISHED MAN.

With the worldcon across the pond this year, it seemed only appropriate to award the Alfies to two titans of British publishing, Jane Johnson of Harper Collins Voyager and Malcolm Edwards of Gollancz/ Orion.  My wife Parris helped me present the trophies at midnight (the traditional hour for presenting the Alfies) during this year’s Hugo Losers Party at Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.   (That’s her in the neck brace.   Yes, she recently had surgery, and thank you for your concern.   She’s recovering well). 

Like some of the original Hugo Awards, the Alfies are made from hood ornaments off 1950s automobiles… smoothed, polished, and restored to a fine silver sheen by Tyler Eugene Smith, who also provided the bases.

I’ve had the honor of working with both Jane and Malcolm.   Amazing editors, both of them, and stalwart champions for their writers and for our field.   It was long past time they got some recognition from the community that they have given so much to over the decades.

I received a number of awards and honors last month during my trip to England and Ireland (posted about the Burke Medal below and will be talking about the others in posts to come).  But giving is as big a thrill as receiving, and Parris and I loved being able to make this presentation to Malcolm and Jane.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

At the Irish Film Institute with Robby the Robot

September 12, 2019 at 10:59 am
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One of the highlights of my time in Dublin was my visit to Altair IV, courtesy of the kind folks at the Irish Film Institute.  The IFI has an impressive facility there in Temple Bar, and as part of the celebrations of worldcon, they invited me to present one of my favorite films, and speak about why I loved it.   I was delighted to do so.

No one who knows me or has read this blog for long will be even remotely surprised by the movie I chose: the MGM science fiction film, FORBIDDEN PLANET, from 1956, a classic whose influence on all the SF films and television shows that followed was profound.   Starring Leslie Nielsen, Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, and Robby the Robot.

((I couldn’t bring Robby with me to Dublin, alas, but I did bring Commander J.J. Adams and Altaira)). 

Maura McHugh joined me afterwards for a discussion of the film, and some Q&A with the audience.  Listen in, if you’d like (sorry, it’s audio only).   And then go out and watch the movie again.   It’s still great… and I hope to hell that they NEVER remake it.   They’d only mess it up.

Current Mood: geeky geeky

Back Home Again

September 1, 2019 at 5:40 pm
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August went by in  a blur, and most of it was spent on the road.   London, Dublin, Belfast.   Great cities, great times, but it is good to be home in Santa Fe.  By the end of any long trip, my green chile addiction kicks in and I need a fix.

I do not travel with a computer, so I returned to the usual one thousand unanswered emails.   Thankfully, a lot of them were spam or junk mail, so I was able to get through them quickly.

Dublin is a lovely city, and worldcon was fun as always.  James Bacon and his team did a smashing job, although the convention facilities were not equal to the size of the crowds, which caused some problems and a lot of lines.   I did a couple of signings there, but not a lot of programming.   But the two panels I did do, both with Parris, were very special, and I think the audience felt that as well.   I do miss some of the pleasures that I used to take for granted at worldcons, like being able to walk the dealer’s room and browse new books, or sit in the bar for hours with friends coming and going and everyone buying rounds… but sadly, none of that seems possible for me any longer.   Too many people wanting signatures or selfies.   All very nice, most very polite, but I hate refusing anyone, and after a while it just wears me out.

I was able to enjoy more of that at Eurocon/ Titancon the following weekend, in Belfast.   A much smaller con in a smaller city, maybe that’s the answer.   Peadar and Pat made a great toastmaster team.  I had not been to Belfast since we were shooting the GAME OF THRONES pilot, and it was fascinating the extent to which the show has permeated the city.   Castle Ward has its own Night’s Watch, the GOT Exhibit down by the Titanic Museum is just stunning… and everywhere I went, strangers came up to thank me for their jobs and tell me how the show has changed the city and their lives.   That was very gratifying.

I just hope Brexit does not screw it all up… but I fear it might.   Belfast deserves better.

Loved our time in London too.

Oh, and everywhere I went they gave me awards.   That was also very nice.

I will have more to say about that, and many other things, in subsequent posts.   Right now, I am still trying to bounce back from jetlag.   Later, friends.

Current Mood: tired tired

Raya Rocks Starport

March 24, 2019 at 10:20 pm
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My friend, minion, and collaborator Raya Golden has been blitzing the Pacific Northwest this week, promoting her graphic novel STARPORT, based upon an unproduced pilot of mine from 1994.  Raya did the adaptation and the art.

She started out at the Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, where she was joined by a couple of buds of the Lobh.

After the con, she headed down to Portland, to sign copies at Powell’s, surely one of the great bookstores.  (I have signed at Powell’s myself in years past.  My name is scrawled on one of their pillars, amongst all the other writers who have had signings there).

STARPORT is now available from your favorite bookstore or on-line bookseller.   It’s one of my favorites of my unproduced pilots, and Raya did an amazing job with the adaptation.   If you like SF, give it a try.

Oh, and where was I, you ask?  Why wasn’t I with her?   Well, I’ve been busy at home.

Who loves the infants??

 

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Worldcon Time!

August 6, 2018 at 7:31 am
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It’s August, and that means that worldcon is coming around once again.   (In a properly ordered universe, worldcon would be coming on Labor Day weekend but sadly that seems to be a lost cause since Dragoncon stole those dates).

This year’s gathering is in San Jose, California.   It ought to be called ConJose II, but it’s not.   I like my worldcons to have names, not numbers, however, so I refuse to accede to this new twitch of numbering cons instead of naming them.   The SanJose folks keep insisting that this worldcon is not ConJose II, though.   So be it.   In the tradition of my Not A Blog, and of course the famous John W. Campbell Award (Not A Hugo), I shall henceforth refer to this year’s gathering as Not ConJose II.

I have cut way down on the number of cons I attend, due to the press of work, but there’s no way I’d miss a worldcon, by any name.   I’ve only missed one in the last thirty years.   Dragoncon and San Diego Comicon and GenCon and many other cons are now much bigger, but worldcon remains the original, and the best, the heart of the fannish community.   Worldcon is like a family reunion.   And yes, like any large family, we have our share of drunken uncles, loony cousins, and snot-nosed kids… but still, family is family.   I’ll be there for the whole con.  I hope to see many of you in SanJose.  Worldcon is great time for getting together with old friends and making new ones.

I know that some of you will be hoping to get your books autographed at the con.   There will be several opportunities for that.

My week will start on Tuesday, August 14, with a special fundraiser on behalf of LOCUS, an evening with John Picacio.   That event is not an actual part of the con, so tickets will be sold separately.  I will not be signing at the fundraiser, no… but we will have hundreds of pre-signed books available for purchase at the event.

https://foxrwc.showare.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=210

I also have three scheduled signings at Not ConJose II itself.  Friday at noon and Sunday at 1pm, I will be signing in the official autograph area.   The lines will be capped, however; there’s a limit to how many books I can sign in an hour.   (No, my hand doesn’t fall off.   It’s my lower back that protests).  Sorry, I can’t do personalizations or inscriptions, and we have a limit of one book per person.   Mind you, if the lines are short, I will sometimes loosen the rules and sign a second book, etc.   Don’t count on that, though; my lines have not been short in years.   Oh, and yes, I will sign things other than books.   Games, cards, replica swords, photographs, program books, interesting body parts…. but still, only one item per person, and no personalizations.   And I don’t sign babies, pets, or books written by other authors.

Besides these two general signings, we also have the Wild Cards signing, scheduled for Saturday morning at 10am in the dealer’s room.   That’s a mass signing.  Melinda Snodgrass, Caroline Spector, Marko Kloos, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Kevin Andrew Murphy, and several other Wild Cards writers and creators will be joining me, to deface your books with their illegible scrawls.  But at that event we will be signing ONLY Wild Cards books, so please don’t bring copies of any of my other works… those you can get signed at the general signings.

I do prefer to limit my autographing to these four scheduled events.   I want to enjoy worldcon like everyone else, without having to scrawl my way through it.  So please do not approach me before or after panels, at the Hugos, in the corridors, at the parties, while I’m having dinner (or breakfast, or lunch), or in the restrooms to ask for an autograph.   Your understanding would be much appreciated.

Aside from signing things, what am I doing at Not ConJoseII? you may ask.

At 5pm on Friday I will be part of the Gardner Dozois Memorial.   A sad event, but I think we’ll have some laughs as well.   Gardner was the funniest man in our field for half a century, he’d want to hear us laughing.

There’s also to be a Wild Cards panel, though I am not sure just when.   The present time is a conflict for me.   Depending on where the panel gets moved, I may or may not be on it.  But there will be a Wild Cards panel regardless.

Oh, and keep your eyes on Thursday.   We’re looking at doing a presentation and trailer screening for the new NIGHTFLYERS television series that debuts this fall.   Details are still being worked out   When we have more definite news, I will let you know.

And that’s it, so far as my public participation in Not ConJoseII is concerned.   But of course, I will be there all weekend, wandering the dealer’s room, drinking in the bar, visiting the art show… and, of course, hitting the parties.   That’s what worldcon is all about.

 

Current Mood: busy busy

California Dreamin’

April 26, 2017 at 12:32 pm
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I am off to California tomorrow.

First stop will be Long Beach, for Stokercon, the annual gathering of the Horror Writers Association and the presentation of the Bram Stoker Awards. (That’s the one that looks like a creepy house, as opposed to the new World Fantasy Award, which looks like a creepy tree). This year’s Stokercon will be on the Queen Mary, which I last visited for a Nebula Awards banquet in… ohmigod, could it really have been 1996? Where do the years go? (Thinking back, that must have been a few months before A GAME OF THRONES was published. Little did I dream how much my life was about to change).

I love old ocean liners (modern cruise ships not so much), so banqueting with my brothers and sisters in horror on the Queen should be a hoot and a half.

After that, it’s down to San Diego for a fundraising event for Clarion. I’ll be having a conversation with Kim Stanley Robinson.

Alas, I’m told the event is already sold out.

And, sorry, no, I will not be signing… just talking.