chris_gerrib: (Default)
Over the past few days I had to travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico for a science fiction convention. Tomorrow (or next blog post) I'll share my thoughts on my in-flight reading material. Today, some random thoughts about the trip, the con, and San Juan.

1) For years, TSA checkpoints have been providing plastic bins into which one dumps your stuff, to include your laptop. At both checkpoints, I got sent through a line where not only did the laptop stay in the bag, but no bins were provided. The contents off one's pockets were to be put in your bag. I had a bit of a problem with that because I have loose change in my pockets and didn't want to scatter it in a large pocket.

2) In the flight over, I had a layover in Orlando. I was amused to see at my gate two teenage girls that had to be Central Casting's idea of "Puerto Rican teenager." Big hair, too much makeup, too tight and too skimpy shorts and tops, all while radiating waves of attitude.

3) The Old Town of San Juan is quaint, but with the heat and humidity I faded fast. I did have a Pina Colada and a nice grouper filet at Barrachina, the birthplace of the Pina Colada.

4) The convention itself was sparsely-attended. Despite a big production about making sure everything would b bilingual, there were hardly any locals present. Pretty much everybody there was from out of town.

5) Speaking of bilingual, apparently I look like a gringo. Everybody started talking to me in English.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Herewith is my subject-to-change programming schedule for NorthAmeriCon '17 to be held in (hopefully) sunny San Juan Puerto Rico.

TH 18:00 - San Cristobal Military realities and Science Fiction


What series in the Spec Fic portray military life and decision making with the most accuracy.

Kevin McLaughlin, Jonathan Brazee (m), Chris Gerrib


TH 19:00 - San Cristobal Off-world Vacation Hot Spots


You're the travel agent - sell us your best vacation package to the stars

Chris Gerrib, Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ, Tyrell Gephardt, Jan S. Gephardt, W. A. (Bill) Thomasson (m)


FR 12:00 - San Geronimo How Fandoms Evolve (or Don't)

How do they grow? How do they die?

Chris Gerrib, Paula Smith, Isabel Schechter, Diana Pho (m), Tyrell Gephardt


FR 14:00 - San Cristobal The Future of Local/National/Planetary Government in the Information Age

Our current government structures arose in the age of face-to-fact communication. With individuals able to "talk" instantly to people anywhere on the globe and governments able to share information effortlessly, does either representative to geographically defined government fit the emerging paradigm. How long before things change. Or will they?

Chris Gerrib, W. A. (Bill) Thomasson, David Manfre (m), Tanya Washburn, Pablo Vazquez


FR 15:30 - Bahia Reading - Chris Gerrib

Mars, Pirates, Cookies.  One of these is not like the other.  Come hear Chris Gerrib read from his novel The Night Watch and snag a cookie!


SU 10:00 - San Cristobal Forgotten Books

Panelists (and audience members) discuss the books they've loved that have gone out of circulation, and thus the merits of used bookstores.

Evelyn Chimelis Leeper, Chris Gerrib (m), Lee Billings, Daína Chaviano

Ah!

May. 30th, 2017 08:44 am
chris_gerrib: (Default)
For budgetary reasons, I did not go to ConQuest in Kansas City this year. (NASFIC will cost twice as much as ConQuest.) Thus, I went downstate for my Memorial Day weekend and visited the parents. It proved a very relaxing weekend, and I'm glad I did.

Last night, I read the Hugo short story nominations for this year. Yea gods and little fishes was the John C. Wright offering bad! As per Sad Puppies Central Command best practices, Wright took a collection of right-wing strawmen, dialed them up to 15, and used them to beat the reader vigorously about the head and shoulders. I'm sure he thought he was clever in casting himself as the boogeyman and a nubile naked "girl" as the heroine, but I found that in particular and the story in general as the failure mode of clever.

I found the Jemisin story a bit too opaque, and have no strong opinions either way on the Wong. The other three I felt were pretty strong contenders. In the novel category, I haven't read three of the six (Jemisin, Anders and Chambers) and bounced hard off of the Palmer. It looks like I've got my work cut out for me.
chris_gerrib: (Default)

Two nice things happened over the weekend.


Nice Thing #1


I got my carpets at the house cleaned.  I paid for a service, and three young guys showed up and in 90 minutes did what would have taken me all day.  They also got it done better than I would have.


Nice Thing #2


One of the “perks” of being on programming for a volunteer SF con is that, if the con is financially sound, you get your attendance fee back.  This is usually in the form of a check all by its lonesome in a cheap envelope.  Well, I got my check back from Capricon and it also came with a thank-you letter.  A generic “greetings, volunteers” letter to be sure, but it was the first actual thank-you I can recall receiving from a con.

chris_gerrib: (Default)

I’m going to be curled up with a warm calculator this weekend making some financial decisions.  Specifically, travel-related.


This year, I’m already committed to go to Atlanta for a Rotary event (expensive), a European cruise (costly), and visits to two European countries (costly).  I normally attend two out-of-town science fiction cons.  Last year it was ConQuest in Kansas City and InConJunction in Indianapolis.  Both are driveable, but that’s still several nights hotel, food, gas, etc.


Now I’ve been invited to be on programming at NASFIC.  On years when the Worldcon is not in North America, we hold a big convention this side of the pond.  This year it’s in Puerto Rico, of which I’ve only seen the naval station.  So there’s the chance to visit an interesting place and be on programming, which means I get to wave my book around in front of people from around the world.


But I’m not driving to Puerto Rico, and NASFIC is a 4-day con, not over a holiday.  Thus vacation days become an issue as well.  Again, decisions to be made.  Watch this space.

chris_gerrib: (Pirates of Mars)
I am back from the Con That Was Capricon 37. I had a good time, and now need to buck down and make my final Hugo nominations. A reminder - my latest novel The Night Watch is eminently Hugo-eligible!

In the meantime, here's a picture of me as Captain of the panel "Mighty Space Fleets of War."



(There's a saying - "a man who owns a tuxedo is always looking for excuses to wear it." I now understand that feeling.)
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Herewith my final schedule for Capricon 37, February 16 -19, 2017:

ETA: Reading Birch B Thursday 6:00 PM

Description: Pirates, Mars, cookies. One of these things is not like the other. Come steal a cookie and listen to Chris Gerrib read from his latest book The Night Watch.

Hugo Awards Nominating Birch A Fri 11:30 AM

Description It's our favorite time of year! Hugo Award nominating is happening now! Join our roundtable discussion for a look back at 2015 and some thoughts on who and what deserves to be nominated this year. (Note: This panel will provide a very brief overview of the process of how to nominate, but the focus is on discussing which works deserve nomination.)

Panelists
Chris Gerrib moderator
Will "scifantasy" Frank
Chris M. Barkley

The Eternal Darkness Willow Fri 5:30 PM

Description How long can a story line stay dark without a bright payoff? When will readers lose all hope and give up?

Panelists
Blake Hausladen
Dora Furlong
Neal F. Litherland (The Literary Mercenary)
Chris Gerrib

Queer Eye for Sci-Fi: Season 3 Birch B Fri 7:00 PM

Description Queer Eye for Sci-Fi returns for Season 3! There is a long and complex history of queerness in science fiction, from queer-coded villains in pulp novels to the more diverse spectrum of characterization in the last decade. Join panelists as they discuss the history of queerness within the genre, both the good and the bad.

Panelists
Mari Brighe
Lady Nhytefall
Chris Gerrib
Dexter Fabi

Writing History Birch B Sat 1:00 PM

Description Historical Fiction. Alternate History. What's the difference? How much history do you need to be historical fiction? How much needs to be changed to be considered alternate history?

Panelists
Steven H Silver
Chris Gerrib
Pat Sayre McCoy
Walt Boyes
Barbara Barnett
Clif Flynt

Mighty Space Fleets of War Birch B Sat 5:30 PM
Description If we were to have a real "Star Wars," what would our space fleets look like, where would they fight, how would they fight, and why would they fight?

Panelists
Chris Gerrib Moderator
Henry Spencer
Jim Plaxco
Uncle Vlad
J.A. Sutherland
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Herewith my tentative schedule for Capricon 37, February 16 -19, 2017:

ETA: Reading Birch B Thursday 7:30 PM

Description: Pirates, Mars, cookies. One of these things is not like the other. Come steal a cookie and listen to Chris Gerrib read from his latest book The Night Watch.

Hugo Awards Nominating Birch A Fri 11:30 AM

Description It's our favorite time of year! Hugo Award nominating is happening now! Join our roundtable discussion for a look back at 2015 and some thoughts on who and what deserves to be nominated this year. (Note: This panel will provide a very brief overview of the process of how to nominate, but the focus is on discussing which works deserve nomination.)

Panelists
Chris Gerrib moderator
Will "scifantasy" Frank
Chris M. Barkley

The Eternal Darkness Willow Fri 5:30 PM

Description How long can a story line stay dark without a bright payoff? When will readers lose all hope and give up?

Panelists
Blake Hausladen
Dora Furlong
Neal F. Litherland (The Literary Mercenary)
Chris Gerrib

Queer Eye for Sci-Fi: Season 3 Birch B Fri 7:00 PM

Description Queer Eye for Sci-Fi returns for Season 3! There is a long and complex history of queerness in science fiction, from queer-coded villains in pulp novels to the more diverse spectrum of characterization in the last decade. Join panelists as they discuss the history of queerness within the genre, both the good and the bad.

Panelists
Mari Brighe
Lady Nhytefall
Chris Gerrib

Writing History Birch B Sat 1:00 PM

Description Historical Fiction. Alternate History. What's the difference? How much history do you need to be historical fiction? How much needs to be changed to be considered alternate history?

Panelists
Steven H Silver
Chris Gerrib
Pat Sayre McCoy
Walt Boyes
Barbara Barnett
Clif Flynt

Mighty Space Fleets of War Birch B Sat 5:30 PM
Description If we were to have a real "Star Wars," what would our space fleets look like, where would they fight, how would they fight, and why would they fight?

Panelists
Chris Gerrib Moderator
Henry Spencer
Jim Plaxco
Uncle Vlad
J.A. Sutherland
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I apologize for the radio silence. Wednesday and Thursday I was taking a cybersecurity course, and had no time to blog. Today I had to get caught up a bit. Over the past weekend, I was at Windycon, where I was on a panel entitled "Where Did English Get That Word."

As is typical with panels, we digressed a bit and got on other languages, namely Spanish. If you've been to Spain, you'll note that people in the interior of the country seem to speak with a lisp. I told the audience the story I'd heard, namely that this was because a king of Spain had developed a lisp and his people imitated them. (It actually tied into English, as we were discussing how words associated with the common people developed negative connotations while words associated with nobility got positive connotations.)

Well, somebody in the audience jumped up and said "that story about the lisp is wrong!" She had lived for 18 years in Madrid and said that the cause of the "lisp" was just an artifact of language. I thanked her for her correction. When I got home, I did some googling and found out that she was right and I was wrong.

You learn something every day.
chris_gerrib: (Pirates of Mars)
I will be attending Windycon, my local SF convention right here in River City Lombard, IL, on Friday November 11 - Sunday November 13. Herewith is my schedule, which I assume is more-or-less firm.


The Star Wars Universe
- Saturday, 11-12-2016 - 11:00 am to 12:00 pm - Junior Ballroom BC
A discussion on how side-stories like Rogue One, Clone Wars, and Rebels add rich details to the universe, as well as help bridge the gaps between the main movies.
J. Betts (M)
T. Bogolub
C. Gerrib
J. Taylor

Windycon Writer's Workshop - Sunday 9-11 AM
Advance registration required - closed session

Where Did Those Words Come From? - Sunday, 11-13-2016 - 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm - Lilac B
English is notorious for borrowing words from every source possible, and etymology studies where those words originally came from. Join our panelists in an open discussion on the origin of many of the words we use today.
A. Collier (M)
C. Gerrib
S. Murphy
F. Pyter
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
More thoughts on The Con That Was:

1) I drove to this con. It's an 8-hour drive, but driving is cheaper than flying, even when paying $24/day parking. Having said that, if I drive again, I'm definitely taking I-80 through Des Moines. Mapquest had routed me via I-72 and US-36. Those roads are fine, but desolate, with little in the way of services. That's not surprising, since I-72 in Illinois runs through Pike and Scott counties - the later being the 4th least-populated county in Illinois.

2) I was amazed at the number of Big Name Writers (Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle) who seem completely incapable of using a microphone. During a conversation with Mary Robinette Kowal, voice actor and writer, she stated that at the SFWA business meeting she took a moment of personal privilege and held a quick course on the use of a microphone.

3) Based on a glancing analysis of the Hugo Award stats (PDF), it appears that Wile E. Coyote's Vox Day's minion count is down - around 150 or so of his little buddies paid to vote. This is less than half ~400 who voted to nominate. Apparently paying $40 for two years running was a stretch.

4) The Sans won - San Juan for NASFIC and San Jose for Worldcon 2018. I'd like to go to San Juan (Tobias Buckell is Guest of Honor) but that will make 2017 a damned expensive travel year.

5) Not con-related, but a nice interview of me by Ellie Maloney. Worth a read, if I do say so myself.

1036

Aug. 23rd, 2016 10:46 am
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
1036 is the number of miles I put on my vehicle getting to and from Kansas City for Worldcon. I also did a bit of driving around town, but that amount is trivial to the total. Convention thoughts:

1) I spent an inordinate amount of time in the WSFS Business Meetings. Compared to last year's fun-fest (ha, I joke) this session was somewhat less tense and hostile. At Spokane we had a couple of Sad Puppies and several small-c conservative (i.e. "make no sudden changes"). This year with the exception of the singularly ineffective Kate Paulk they all stayed home or at least out of the business meeting. So after the usual hot-air-machines did their thing, stuff got passed quickly.

2) Speaking of the Business Meeting, my own 4 and 6 got amended to 5 and 6. I'm a bit ambivalent about that and EPH, which also passed, but the point of democracy is that you take as much of the pie as you can, which is rarely the whole thing. I do think that, after EPH does it's voodoo and Three Stage Voting gets in, we'll end up dropping EPH. It's too damn complicated and opaque.

3) I've been to KC often enough to hit some of the more well-known attractions. This didn't stop me from visiting Jack Stack's, of course. In the interest of getting away from the con for a bit, I drove to the River Market to visit the Steamship Arabia museum. Driving proved to be a bit problematic, as Sunday they have a flea market there, but the museum itself was a nice 90 minute diversion.

4) I ran into a number of friends and acquaintances, who I shall not list here. I will note I had dinner with new writer Adam Rakunas, who shares an agent with Tim Akers. Nice guy, and good dinner.

Now my dryer is buzzing, so enough with the Internet.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Comes news at MidameriCon II they revoked the membership of Dave Truesdale over conduct at a panel. Specifically, he read a prepared speech that had nothing to do with the panel and unnecessarily pissed off a bunch of people. Also comes news today that the con issued a one-day suspension of Mary Robinette Kowal's badge for serving alcohol at a panel in the convention space. I didn't see either event, and I know Mary personally (and have not talked to her about this) but I have thoughts.

Thought #1 - Once Bitten Twice Shy

So, a few months back, Mark Oshiro broke the Internet over KC fandom's head regarding (in part) what happened at a panel. So, once bitten and thus twice shy, one would reasonably expect this con to have a lower tolerance for shenanigans. I'm told Truesdale has enough of an Internet presence to know this. So, in his case, it's rather like somebody making an elaborate sign saying "kick me" and taping it on their back, then getting upset at being kicked.

Thought #2 - New Sheriff in Town

Again as a reaction to past shenanigans, MidAmeriCon felt they needed to step up their enforcement game. They felt they needed a new sheriff, so they got one in the form of Mark Oshiro, deputy on the Incident Response Team. The whole point of getting a new sheriff is that all the stuff the old sheriff overlooked doesn't get overlooked any more. That cuts both ways.

Thought #3 - Response

As usual, Mary's response is thoughtful, classy and appropriate. She broke a rule she didn't know existed, apologized, took her punishment, and moved on. Frankly, were I in her shoes, I would not have been as gracious. I haven't seen a response from Truesdale, but I would be surprised if it were within a country mile of Mary's.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I will be driving to KCMO (Kansas City, Missouri) tomorrow to attend MidAmericon 2, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention. Postings will be light and variable. Or maybe heavy, you never know.

In the meantime, my first novel The Mars Run got a very nice, detailed and well-thought-out review. In that review, Ellie Maloney notes However, it seemed to me that Janet was not fully in touch with her emotions, as if compartmentalizing her circumstances and relating the story to the reader in a somewhat removed manner.

Some of that "compartmentalizing" is frankly unintentional. This is a first novel, and I made several first novel errors. First person POV, for one, which is a lot harder than it looks. My other error was, I think, subjecting the POV character to too much trauma. For victims of abuse, the novel can be triggering, even though this version of the book was rewritten to reduce the amount of trauma.

Despite that, I personally like The Mars Run, and I think the right reader will like it too.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
So, over the weekend I attended InConJunction in the lovely east side of Indianapolis. (For those not in the know, the east side is the rough part of town.) In any event, the hotel was nice and secure. There were a lot of locals at this con, so the hotel didn't sell a lot of rooms, but attendance at events was solid. Herewith, a few thoughts on what I did.

Friday's panel was "Your Favorite Book You Read since Last Inconjunction." There were only two of us on the panel, so we relied on audience participation to help out. I know I mentioned the works of Adam Rakunas, Elizabeth Bear's Karen Memory and Patrick S. Tomlinson.

On Saturday, I was part of the "Indie Publishing: Building Your Brand" panel. This was largely The Chris Kennedy Show as he was by far the biggest brand on the panel. I did learn of a site called Radio Guest List which is a way to get on podcasts.

Sunday's panel was "Them's Fighting Words: Writing Combat In Science Fiction." This was really just a romp of four authors talking about the challenges and fun of writing combat.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
This weekend I had occasion to attend the Printers Row Lit Fest in downtown Chicago. There, me and a few thousand other authors, publishers and booksellers attempted to sell our books to a million or so of our closest friends. Saturday was a bit off, largely because it was mid-90s with 100% humidity, but today was cool (mid-60s) dry and breezy. I sold a few books, about what I expected given the nature of such crowds (read "not SF readers") and spent a fair amount of time watching people. I ended up next to Luna Teague, one half of the Timebangers duo, for the duration. Thoughts:

1) Timebangers Book 1 is one hell of a funny time travel sex comedy! You should buy it.

2) Festivals seem to bring out a number of people of whom one wonders how they were capable of dressing themselves, not to say wonder if one should perhaps call somebody to return them to wherever they escaped from.

3) I'm glad I'm a fairly large guy. I watched three profoundly awkward attempts to hit on Luna over the course of the event. Needless to say, nobody tried to hit on me.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Over the Memorial Day weekend, I attended ConQuest 47 in lovely downtown KCMO (local-ese for "Kansas City, Missouri"). Due to a crush of work and book editing, I haven't had much of a chance to talk about The Con That Was.

Although not exactly the same organization, MidAmericacon 2, the 74th annual World Science Fiction Convention, will be held in KCMO in August. Many of the same people are involved in both events, which meant that ConQuest got a lesser focus and somewhat lower attendance. However, since I was invited to ConQuest I went.

I first went to ConQuest in 2012, and this year's iteration was in the same place as that con, the Hotel Of Death. (For those not clicking through, two walkways in the lobby collapsed, killing over 100 people.) Only one of the walkways was replaced, resulting in an awkward layout.

In 2012, the main lobby was being renovated, creating a dust bowl, but this year no construction was happening, resulting in a much more peaceful venue. I had a reading and several panels. Three panels of note were:

Lost in Translation: Language Barriers in SFF - Way too many SF stories gloss over the real barriers in communicating with aliens. On the other hand, spending too much time on the learning of the language means your book is about nothing but language. And no, Virginia, aliens aren't going to learn English by watching TV.

No Aliens Needed: Human-Centered Sci-Fi and Fantasy - This was an interesting juxtaposition with the panel above. The re-imagined Battlestar Galactica was cited. In many ways, this was the opposite of the first panel, in which we deplored Shakespeare-quoting "aliens" who were humans with a plastic forehead ridge.

Hard Science vs. Science Fiction - in which we discussed the idea of whether there could be too much science in a story. Prior to the book and movie The Martian, I would have said yes. Now, not sure.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I will be attending InConJunction XXXVI over the July 4th weekend. It is (to me) a new convention held in Indianapolis. My summary schedule is:

Friday 4 PM:
Favorite Book You Read since Last Inconjunction

Saturday 2 PM:
Indie Publishing: Building Your Brand

Sunday 10 AM:
Them's Fighting Words: Writing Combat In Science Fiction

More detailed information about these events available here.

I'm Back

May. 16th, 2016 10:36 am
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I'm back from this weekend's festivities at the Nebula Awards Conference. I did not attend the actual awards, which meant that when people like John Scalzi were walking around like zombies on Sunday AM I was reasonably fresh. I also didn't stay at the hotel - $200 / night rooms plus parking was a bit steep for me. Still, I had a good time.

I especially enjoyed Mikki Kendall's panels on diversity, and I've made a note to go look at Michael Livingston's historical research. I ran into a number of alumni from the Out of Excuses Writer's Workshop, and just folks I knew. I was surprised the number of people I knew in such a small con - around 250 attendees.

At any rate I'm back, and now need to work, edit my book and update my website. Go me.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I will be attending ConQuest 47, a science fiction convention in Kansas City, MO, May 27-29. Herewith is my schedule:

Reading SAT 10:30 AM

Lost in Translation: Language Barriers in SFF SAT 1 PM
As everyone knows, Universal Translators and Babelfish come standard-issue with almost any otherworldly adventure. Still, from the "Darmok and Jalad" episode of Star Trek to Daenerys Targaryen's first tentative words of Dothraki, it's clear that language-learning – and language barriers! –offers a wealth of untapped dramatic potential. Join us as we celebrate some of the most epic miscommunications in sci-fi and fantasy history!

No Aliens Needed: Human-Centered Sci-Fi and Fantasy SAT 3 PM
From Firefly and the new Battlestar Galactica to the conspicuously elf-less Game of Thrones series, aliens and strange creatures seem to be taking a turn on the bench. What's behind this interest in 'humanistic' speculative fiction, and what does it mean for the future of the genre?

Writing The Future: Imagining What We Can't Possibly Know SAT 5 PM
An SF story depends on a high level of current scientific and technological knowledge not end up dated before even hitting the shelves. And that's the easy part, because even respecting that vast breadth of knowledge an SF story needs to look beyond the known and innovate in ways that even the current engineers and scientists aren't thinking of. Panelists discuss the burden of SF to inspire, innovate and remain
relevant in a world where science and technology are accelerating exponentially.

Hard Science vs. Science Fiction SUN 11 AM
If a story has too much science does it ruin the story? Do you feel like you are reading a science textbook? Do you read a story or watch a show because the characters are interesting or because the science is accurate? How accurate does the science need to be?

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