brief readercon recap.

I just got back in from Readercon, and boy is my liver tired.

I had a great time with my friends Claire and Chang. My first reading (as part of the Beneath Ceaseless Skies author reading) went swimmingly. It was one of the bigger con suites, and there were probably 25 people in attendance. I didn’t make a complete ass of myself, so there’s that. Reading bedtime stories to kids every night for six years makes for decent reading-out-loud training.

I didn’t go to bed until 2:30am or so on both nights because it was just too much fun socializing with like-minded folks, and talking to old friends I hadn’t seen since Viable Paradise in 2008. As is typical at writer-type gatherings, the evenings just slowly dissolved in what can only be described as staggering amounts of alcohol. At one point, we were sampling some excellent home-brewed beers in a room that was meant to hold two guests, but filled to “standing room only” capacity with twenty people.

I met Mary Robinette Kowal, albeit briefly, and saw (but did not get to say hello to) Marjorie M. Liu and Neil Gaiman and his wife Amanda Palmer. The Gaiman entourage walked in just as we were checking out, and I didn’t have time to hang around and fanboy-stalk Neil Gaiman breathlessly, but Chang did and got some pictures to commemorate the deed.

All in all, it was an excellent weekend, even with the lack of sleep. I met old friends again, got to make a bunch of new ones, and had my first con experience as a neo-pro. And now, with my motivation tanks freshly refilled, it’s back to work.


In just a little while, I’ll be heading south into the Volksrepublik to attend Readercon. I’ll bring a laptop and a camera, but there probably won’t be major embloggenings happening from there. I’ll be busy hanging out with some fellow writer types, meeting new folks, reading a short story (Saturday at 2:30 in the NH room, for those of you who will be at the Con), and generally having a good time. In between readings and events, look for my merchandise table, where I will be selling smuggled tax-free hooch from New Hampshire.

(The short story I’ll be reading, “Ink and Blood”, will be in the next issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies.)

Now excuse me while I go through my bags and make sure I didn’t accidentally leave any loose rounds or (God forbid) empty brass cases in any of my pockets…

old man’s war, the movie.

John Scalzi, who instructionated me greatastically at Viable Paradise XII, just sold the movie rights to his “Old Man’s War” military SF series of novels to Paramount Pictures.  Wolfgang Petersen, of “Das Boot” fame, will direct the first movie.

Good for him!  I hope he remembers his former students when he builds that solid gold mansion in Ohio with all the millions from the 10% of gross receipts his wife undoubtedly negotiated for him.

not so intelligently designed, that stupid spinal column.

I’d like to return this week for a refund, please.

I’m now in Week Three of the Great Big Lower Back Kablooie.  On Monday, I had to go to the ER, and on Wednesday, I got to take a spin in the MRI machine over at Dartmouth.  Today I went in for a follow-up visit with the family doc, and it turns out I have not just one, but two disks bulging and intruding into areas usually taken up by nerve clusters.

It’s gradually getting better, and I’m doing OK most of the time thanks to some truly awesome prescription meds.  I am, however, missing this weekend’s Readercon down in Burlington, which is a major bummer.  I’ve been looking forward to Readercon for months, and having to sit it out at home while so many of my writer pals and acquaintances are having a geekfest down there really doesn’t much to lift my mood.  To top it all off, I’m not allowed to drink because of the industrial-strength pain meds in my system, so I can’t even drown my sorrow.  Stupid, treacherous body, I tell you.

Oh, well.  There’s always Boskone next year, and Worldcon down in Reno.  Also, one of my VP pals is going to come up to Castle Frostbite for a visit next week, and she can fill me in on all the juicy gossip from the Skiffy front.  Until then, I’ll be burning through my Netflix queue and books-to-read stack while waiting for this spine to reset itself to normal operational parameters.

snow, and other random observations.

So it’s finally snowing outside again.  We’re supposed to get 6-10 inches by tomorrow morning, which will give me a chance to dust off the poor snowblower.

Boskone was fun.   I reconnected with some VP pals, and met a bunch of new people.  In the end, I was bummed to have to leave on Saturday evening already.  The next con in the area will be Readercon, and half a dozen of my fellow VPXII alumni will be there, so I’m planning on going there in July, and maybe staying overnight.

Readercon is on the weekend after Independence Day, which gives me a perfect deadline for two different projects I am currently tackling.  The first is the MilSF novel I’m writing, which stands at 45,000-ish words right now.  My plan is to have it finished and edited into good shape by the time I go to Readercon.  The other project is the reduction of my gravity footprint–at my current rate of shrinkage, I should be at my target weight by then.  (I left behind 13 pounds in the first six weeks of the year, and I continue to shed about two pounds a week.)  So that’s the goal: show up at Readercon slim and trim, with Book Two of Three in the Space Kablooie series under my arm.  (Not the actual title of the series, mind you.)  The con weekend in Burlington will be my reward for meeting both targets.

In other news in the Social Events category, we’ll have another Northeast Blog Meet dinner on March 1st, which will have me trekking down into (or near) Menino’s Mordor again.  There are also two German Stammtisch evenings coming up in the next two months.  I have to watch this “hanging out with adults” business, lest I develop a social life…

southward ho!

I’m going into East Berlin by the Bay tomorrow, to attend my very first SF convention.   I hear that Boskone is a particularly good con for a noob writer like myself, and there will be quite a few VP instructors and former students there, so I’m looking forward to it.  On the way in, I’ll finally take the opportunity to stop at Cambridge Typewriter, our regionally famous typing machine shop, to drop off a Royal Deluxe Portable for overhaul and ogle the machines they have for sale there.  And if I find that I have an hour or so to spare around lunchtime, I’ll stop by Bromfield Pen Shop for a bottle of Noodler’s ink or two, which will make the day thoroughly writing-themed. 

I really should bring a camera, or better yet, buy one of those Flip video cameras, so I can bore the lot of you not just with written recollections of my thoroughly mundane outings, but present moving pictures as well.  But don’t hold your collective breath for video blogs…that would require me to shave on a regular basis, and come to work in something other than my regular office wear, which is usually from the Whatever’s Clean line of writer couture.  (“Irons in the dryer!  Now With Some Matching Colors!”)

Anyway: extended Dadcation tomorrow, for the sake of networking and socializing with fellow writer types and skiffy geeks (and there is a lot of overlap in that particular Venn diagram.) 

the gathering of the gun geek clan, and other notes from a day off.

The Northeast Blogger Dinner down in Manchester was a ton of fun.  A few of us hit the range before the dinner at Manchester Firing Line.  I brought the Steyr along, which turned out to be the popular girl at the prom—everyone wanted to give it a spin, and everyone who put a magazine or two through it came back from the firing line with a grin.  Something about that pistol just feels very much Right.  After hearing some smack talk about revolvers, I also had to offer up the 3” K-frame that was riding on my belt, which has a much nicer trigger than the rental Ruger SP-101 they were wringing out, and it was widely concluded that the three-inch Smith is a Very Nice Shooter, Indeed.

The roads were not too bad going down to Manchester, but horrible on the way back, especially the uncleared side roads from the Interstate back to Castle Frostbite.  I had to pilot Robin’s little front-wheel drive Neon along tire ruts in the two to three inches of snow on the road, and it was slow going.  This morning I had to fire up Mr. Snowblower and clear out the driveway…we had roughly six inches of new snow on the ground between Saturday and Sunday morning.

While I was on my extended vacation, I watched Avatar.  (Sherlock Holmes was also in consideration, but the showtimes for Avatar were more convenient at that point in time, and I just had to see what all the ooh-ing and aah-ing was all about.  Verdict:

–The special effects and CGI were just over-the-top sensational.  At no point did I sit up and think, “This is where the computer took over.”  The visuals are phenomenal, no doubt about it.  Much like Terminator 2 set the bar for CGI in the 1990s, everyone else will be playing catch-up with James Cameron once again in the ought-Tens.  (That’s what I’ll call the decade until I come across a better term.)  We’ve reached the point where you could fake any damn thing you wanted on video, and it would look better and more convincing that actual reality.

–The storyline, on the other hand, was insultingly preachy.  Oh, noes! The private corporation and its evil space mercenaries are going to burn down the Home Tree…for profit! Quick, Gaia, help the communal, tree-dwelling, nature-loving indigenous people!  As Tamara already commented on her blog: the wildlife on Pandora is mostly hexapodal, but the sentient and sapient aliens are…tall blue humans with tails and pointy ears?  (Yes, I realize that Cameron didn’t want to have the audience go “ick” at Hero Protagonist locking tongues with something tentacled and six-legged, but the aliens were not nearly alien enough.)

–On the same note: the Na’vi were too much like Native Americans.  Cameron built in way too many parallels, to the point where the whole thing just started looking like Dances With Wolves.  Plains tribes that ride horses…bow-armed warriors…face paint and bead necklaces…in tune with nature…yes, James Cameron, we get it.

All in all, the CGI-gasm salvaged the whole thing, and I didn’t feel robbed by having shelled out $6.75 for the matinee.  The “refreshment” prices are a different story altogether.  Ten bucks for a soda and a hot dog? Holy shit.  And it wasn’t even a monster hot dog–more like a hot pup, or a hot dogguette.  It’s been two years since I’ve been in a movie theater, and after that wallet rape, it’ll be another two or three years before I step into one again.

Anyway, that’s the after-action report from Super Dadcation yesterday.  Words were written, a movie was watched, rounds were fired, friends were present, and much fun was had.  Now we dive into the coming work week with newfound energy and motivation…or something.

pew pew. maaooowwwwnnn.

I know I’m months behind the Kool Kidz, but I finally had a chance to watch the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot.  (Minor spoilers ahead, just in case you’re even less hip than I am, and haven’t seen the new Trek yet.)


  • The visuals were amazing, as is to be expected of current-day CGI.  The space battles were fantastic, exciting, fast-paced stuff.  Favorite shot: the unlucky female crew member of the Kelvin getting sucked out into space through a hull breach, and careening off past the phaser battery that’s firing back at the Romulan ship.
  • The set design was also well executed.  The bridge of the new Enterprise makes the Apple Stores look like they were put together by the Amish.  The uniforms approximated the original series’ velvet pajamas without looking either cheesy or like a bad homage. 
  • The actors mostly got the characters’ idiosyncrasies down, and created their own interpretations without just doing Kirk/Spock/McCoy/Scotty imitations.  The only one that grated a little was the guy who played Scotty—he had a hard time keeping up a convincing Scottish accent.

Flinched at:

  • The science, particularly the “red matter” business.  Ouch.  The stuff is so volatile and powerful that it can generate a singularity, yet you can keep it contained in a Vulcan ship, siphon it off with a needle, and bottle it?
  • What was the point of Young Kirk trashing that ‘Vette, other than establishing that James T. Kirk a.) has a severe issue with authority, and b.) really likes hanging off precipices by his fingertips?  (He ends up in that position three or four times in the movie.)
  • The Enterprise being put together in a dry dock in the middle of Iowa?  How are you going to get the whole thing into space when it’s done?  Every bit of technobabble related to Trek makes clear that the Enterprise needs her transporters because she can’t make planetary landings.  It made for some awesome CGI shots, though.
  • The villain.  I’ve liked Eric Bana since Blackhawk Down, but he doesn’t come off as very menacing or convincingly motivated in this one. 
  • Academy cadets staffing a commissioned vessel (the flagship of the fleet, no less!), because the rest of the fleet is busy somewhere else?  Does Starfleet have such an abundance of ships that they have to resort to filling them with trainees in an emergency?
  • Kirk being evicted from the Enterprise, shot down onto the desolate ice planet…and ending up literally on top of Old Spock?
  • Do a three-man HALO drop with Kirk, Sulu, and a Red Shirt…and give all the detonators to the Red Shirt?  (Hands up, all of you who didn’t see Red Shirt’s fate coming from a mile away.)
  • Amazingly creative field promotions—putting cadets above Fleet officers into command positions.
  • Promoting a maverick Academy cadet straight to Captain, and giving him command of the flagship of Starfleet?

Overall, however, it was a fun ride, and a mostly well-executed (and much-needed) reboot of the franchise.  I did like how they mostly pulled off the whole “alternate reality” thing, to wipe the slate clean regarding continuity.  It’ll be interesting to see where they take the whole thing from here.