With all the Star Wars buzz going on right now I had to share this painting. Man that princess can wail!
Hey, my friend Howard Taylor is trying to start a companion game to go with his Schlock Mercenary comic. It looks very cool. So yeah, go kick my friend here.
I was working out some thoughts on the 2015 Hugo nomination short list when it occurred to me, “This year is your year to host the awards ceremony.” In fact, what better year could there be?
I’m a Science Fiction author that nearly no one knows. My books and stories rate so low on pretty much any publication list that their mere mention can be counted on to elicit an underwhelming “What, who?” from anyone unlucky or bored enough to be reading reviews that far below the fold. Because of this I am peerless and practiced at holding my head up just high enough to pass below the hangman’s knot. I know the perils of invisibility all too well, and as such I’ll be able to represent those nominated without outshining or upstaging.
I can remain pleasant, nay even jovial, in the company of uncomfortably narcissistic people. You can find asshats in any workplace, but I’ve spent more than two decades working at places unnaturally blessed with them. My scorn for their ostentatious choices in everything from cars parked below the office block to project timelines remains necessarily obscured. I have a demonstrable track record of being able to separate myself from crazy; quietly look on with a smile while not partaking from the kool-aid.
We’re located so darn close, a measly 279 miles from Spokane, and thus my speaking fee would be necessarily be a fire sale bargain. I drive a Prius, which is powered by weasel farts, and I can complete the round trip drive in less time than it would take to get through a TSA inspection line on a single tank of stoat emissions. Plus, I’ve already bought my ticket.
This year’s Hugo award script is going to be a cinch to write. In fact, I’ve already worked out the basics.
I’ll open a tastefully off-white envelope as if I’ve never looked inside. “The 2015 rocket for best novel,” I’ll say, “goes to Ann Leckie, Ancillary Sword.” Everyone will clap and cheer, Ann will walk across the stage and accept her award, thank a few people for her successes, and then return to her seat.
This announcement will be followed by about five minutes of me saying, in a dead pan voice, “No award.” I will wait for applause, holding my breath and counting to twenty-seven, knowing that they’re just not going to happen before moving on to each subsequent envelope. I’m telling you I’ve got this.
“Dad, what does Bender say?” he asks me, fully expecting an answer.
I want to break into the chorus of “What Does the Fox Say,” but the coffee cup is already at my lips and I simply struggle to swallow. A-bear asks of me the impossible, fully expecting I’ll have the capacity to deliver. The possibility that I might not have the answer to this or any question never enters his mind. I am practiced at this, I can make up the difference.
My first boy, who is nearly 18 and soon on his way to college, wasn’t so much this way. With him I could do no wrong. At a time in my life when I made so many mistakes and failed so miserably my reputation with him remained golden. I couldn’t be tarnished and looking back that far I know that the reason I stopped screwing up had a lot to do with living up to his expectations of me.
“Bender wants your table crumbs, he says ‘give me all your cinnamon roll,'” I reply after chocking down a hot mouthful of java-juice. It burns on its way down, so I have a little trouble imitating the begging Bender, who table-sharks our local coffee café, with the appropriate element of Scooby Doo.
“No he doesn’t,” Aral replies with indignation, “he says, ‘Rut row, give me all your cinnamon roll.’ Ah ha ha ha ha!” He’s got his Scooby down, which is surprising since he’s only ever heard it from my mouth.
“You’re right, little cub.”
Time enough …
Last night I went to bed intending to get up early. I wanted to do some yoga. Maybe sit for a peaceful moment, listen to my breathing or the rain. I went to bed early and then didn’t sleep, staring out the window at the clouds, backlit by the city, as the rolled their way north. When I did obtain some slumber I had anxiety dreams. Seems even I don’t think I deserve a house on the island, because last night, while in the moving truck crossing the Sound, the ferry went down with all hands. And this morning there I sit, at the bottom of the Salish Sea, amongst all our household goods. Notably, my dog sits next to me on the bench of the moving truck.
Dreams are creepy sometimes. I don’t even know why I was in the moving truck. But the most lasting effect of that little gem is that this morning when my alarm went off, I simply turned it off and rolled over snuggling under the down comforter.
A-bear has asked me several times just this morning what dogs are saying, he expects that I’ll interpret their body language and translate this into words he can understand. Pepper jumping around at the front door? “Errrrmahgerd, I have’ta pee!” The Maltese walking down the sidewalk with its owner? “Can I have some kisses, please? Just little kisses.” The guy walking this dog wasn’t impressed. And Bender at the coffee shop, who perpetually orbits under the table sniffing around for a tasty snack.
My leitmotiv seems to be acting as Speaker for the Dogs. For this I am thankful, life couldn’t have blessed me more. And so, sitting at the café sipping my favorite cuppa, I’m going to give myself permission let go of my house buying anxiety. I’m going to, at least for a time, forget all my self imposed deadlines and write for the joy of it. I’m going to talk like Scooby Doo and make my youngest son squeal with glee. I’m giving myself permission to simply be that guy. Not the idealized person I imagine I should be, but the guy I actually am. The person the moment calls for.
Last year I attended and/or was a guest at a number of really excellent genre conventions. I learned several lessons. Made some good contacts. Enjoyed lively discussions. I even played Cards Against Humanity in front of a crowd and danced to the John Scalzi’s mesmerizing master mixes. But the one thing that I got out of all this convention attendance that I hold most dear was a handful of new friends.
This year my convention attendance will drop dramatically. I can’t afford plane tickets or hotel rooms and still be able to buy a house. And right now, from this rather uncomfortable stool at my local cafe, a house seems like about the only thing I really want. If everything works out I’m headed to WorldCon, it is a mere day’s drive away, and if my budget is too tight I can camp.
So while I’m looking forward to WorldCon it’s sort of a great big question mark in my mind. Could be fun, might be stressful, and I might learn something valuable, but not “Whaaaaahooooo, I’m going to attend a convention jam packed full of strangers!”
That said, my favorite convention last year was by no small margin GeekFanExpo. It was small enough that I got to spend a lot of time intimate time with creators and fans alike. There didn’t seem to be a raucous or immature “party till you puke” sort of vibe that grew from the dark recesses of the hotel until it overcame the whole affair sometime after midnight. And, the best part, I made some pretty awesome friendships while I was attending.
This year they’re trying to do it all again. It takes a lot of effort, time and money to make something like GFX happen at all. Contracts must be negotiated with multinational hotel conglomerates and mom and pop vendors alike and everything from site security to harassment policy must be taken care of well in advance of the opening ceremony.
Personally, I’d love to see this happen again. GFX was an awesome time last year and we all could use a second chance at awesome. Right now the shows creators have put up a Kickstarter which they’re using to fund the seed money to make the convention a reality. If you’ve got the spare nosh consider plonking it down for a most excellent celebration of all things geek.
This morning I woke up to discover the a significant portion of my book shelf had been transformed into a collection of grave markers. It’s been reported that last night Sir Terry Pratchett died at the too young age of 66.
More here, I may need to close the shutters for a while.