This was the first con I’ve been to by myself in a very long time. I spent most of it in panels, and they turned out to be more informative than local con panels generally are. In particular the one on writing a multi-book series (“as opposed to all those single-book series,” Aaron Allston deadpanned) was useful. Kay Kenyon got amazed looks from the other panelists when she mentioned that she keeps a style sheet going to remind herself of names, places, and other odd things needing to be kept track of. “You mean you… do it as you go along?” was sort of the astonished consensus. No one else is that organized, it seems.
Panel on paranormal romance concluded that it’s extremely hot right now, to which I say DUH. The new Harlequin imprint and the upcoming Tor line didn’t clue you in? This panel was useful for taking mental note of things I should be reading, but otherwise the panelists seemed to be debating foregone conclusions, like vampires + sex = sales. Someone noted that almost all the books in this category have a normal heroine finding a supernatural lover, which makes sense from an author-wish-fulfillment standpoint. I can’t think of anything I’ve read with those roles reversed except for Staying Dead (which I highly recommend, btw) and a couple of the Samaria books.
The GOH interview with Sharon Shinn was intriguing. Among other things, she mentioned that she has a mountain of unpublished work—more than she has published. Among these is a contemporary romance. I’m not the only one who read Jennifer Crusie and immediately said “I must write like this!” That book’s probably trunked but she might try another one. She writes very, very fast – about eight pages a night after the full-time day job. (The interviewers, Kay Kenyon and Louise Marley, were aghast.)
Oh yes, and she’s another Buffy/Angel/Firefly fan. Anyone done a study on Joss as a virus?
There was a panel on what good books have come out this year so far. I have notes, although I only bothered to write down the titles that interested me. I’ll post it in a little while. Everyone is looking forward to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, although most people seem to have heard vague rumors and not read the New York Times magazine or the Time article. Insular little world we have here. Several people in the room seemed bewildered by the paranormal romance trend. This after years of wondering why more women aren’t attracted to SF. [facepalm]
I stopped by the ConDFW room party for a while. The con is a little off its stride this year thanks to the server meltdown in March and the guest relations officer being distracted by that whole wedding thing. Anyway, they’ve lined up Steven Brust as the GOH, which means I really must read something of his soon.
The readings I went to were wonderful. Sharon Shinn, Charlaine Harris, and Barbara Hambly all read unpublished things that everyone loved. Charlaine’s hilarious story is in Powers of Detection in October; I don’t know about the rest.
Digression: the people at the readings were impossibly rude. Sharon Shinn in particular is soft-spoken; I was horrified when a couple came in halfway through her reading, pulled out chairs, rattled around in grocery sacks, pulled out candy and sodas, tore open the (loud) wrappers, and popped their soda cans. Honestly. They couldn’t have done all that in the hall? The lady in the back with the two-month-old baby made far less noise through all three readings (back to back!) than these two did in five minutes. Yes, I have become a curmudgeon. RATTLE YOUR SNACKS OUTSIDE! Jesus. Also, when an author politely declines to discuss a particular topic, it’s best to move on rather than continuing the discouraged line of questioning.
The dealer’s room was typically good; stuffed with book dealers, just the way I like it. Frank was there giving massages, so we said hi. I was on a mission to find a couple of things, most of which never turned up. At least I found the book Mike wanted. (Thank you, ACS.) I snatched up the new Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and made it through part of the introductions over lunch. The only thing I found odd, though I agreed with their sentiments wholeheartedly, is that Link & Grant spent a small but noticeable portion of their word count on the graphic design shortcomings of small press publications. (If you are part of a small press pub and those comments stung a little, treat yourself to a copy of The Non-Designer’s Design Book. Really. It’s a tiny book, and very painless.) As I said, I agree—and both Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and the Small Beer books have great designs—but the commentary seemed out of place.
I’m sure there was more, but I can’t remember what at the moment and this entry is already much too long. I’ll try to post that reading list later tonight.
Yesyes you should be reading Steven Brust.
Provided you like well-written Dumas pastiches, you’d proabably really like the series starting with The Phoenix Guards – where Brust does a lot of fun things includng making the ostensible chronicler, Paarfi, into a highly amusing character in his own right though his editorial comments on the events of the books – however I think that you really need to be familiar with the world to get the most out of that, because it deals with the events several centuries prior to the first series which sets up the world the first series is set in.
Jhereg is the first book in the first series, and can be found along with the second and third in an omnibus edition called The Book of Jhereg. Especially after the first book, Brust starts playing around with narration and chronology and other things. Much fun. Set in a world where the elves – who call themselves Dragaerans – consider themselves to be human and humans are called ‘Easterners’. Lots of racial tension. Main character is an assassin, but an engaging one. Much dry humor. Highly recommended.
I have no idea if I like Dumas pastiches, having never read Dumas (argh) but I had heard about the Phoenix Guards several times without really connecting that series in my head with the author of Jhereg. I’ve finally remembered to put the first Jhereg omnibus on my Amazon list, so hopefully my complete ignorance will be corrected soonish.
Anyway, I like Dumas because he knows how to write over-the-top adventure novels. And he also knows that the true humor in anything is in the sidekicks – the servants of the musketeers provide much comic relief.
The Phoenix Guards follows along the general outline of The Three Musketeers, down to D’Artagnan coming into the city to join the Guards and getting himself involved in three duels the same day, as well as the humous sidekicks and courtly manners and corruption On High and such. You’d understand the over-the-topness of TPG if you read Three Musketeers first, but it probably isn’t necessary. (Especially if you’ve seen various Musketeers movies, which usually hit the high points of the book.)
I’ve seen The Man in the Iron Mask, which I suspect is an inferior specimen.