Tuesday, August 30, 2011

ArmadilloCon Roundup

Alright! ArmadilloCon was this weekend, and it was both a hoot and a holler. Now we begin a veritable orgy of name-dropping and promotion.

The writer's workshop, organized by Stina Leicht, was fun. There were some great writers' workshop presentations: Lou Anders Hugo Award Winning Editor of Pyr Books gave very thorough talk on Hollywood story structure, and the panel on publishing traditionally vs. electronically (also including Mr. Anders) was very thought provoking. There was also a hack-for-hire group game where one of the editors on the panel went through our three sentence story ideas and "improved" them with ideas like "this would be better if it had mexican wrestlers" and "this needs a redemptive arc, and a mecha robot made of bread", which was a nice exercise in writing to spec.

(incidentally, mine is as follows: An overworked female baker trying to make a new cupcake flavor accidentally creates a highly addictive flour-based narcotic that, in excess, has effects much like leprosy. Before the side-effects come to light, the baker buys herself deeply into debt with a mansion, a yacht, a gold-plated dog, and a trophy husband. When her baking is outlawed she has to bake gingerbread men for the mafia to pay off her creditors, all while being pursued by a vigilante celiac hit squad (note: food fight over industrial ovens a la Terminator 2). The baker escapes by diving through an industrial mixer that chops off some of her limbs (in the original version she ended up in a cupcake rehab house, already creating a recipe for her next drug, but the editor said redemptive arc and bread mecha). At her lowest point she constructs herself a biscotti mech armor suit/prosthetic shell in order to go on a revenge killing spree. She defeats the mafia boss and his thugs, but is greviously wounded. Standing over the ill gotten fortune she helped create, she decides to use the last of her time for good, and bakes the money, prosthetic recipes, and instructions for a foundation into a stripper-sized cake to get it past the police. The story ends with her trophy husband receiving a cake delivery. (My guess is this would be about 5000 words, and I really should write it))

For my group instructors I got J M McDermott and Matthew Bey, both of whom were full of trenchant comments. I'm hoping to get the story edited and out tonight.

I also got to hang out a bit with Nate Southard, Scott A Johnson, and Marshall Ryan Maresca, all of whom are very sweet gentlemen.

The toast was also darling, and you can see it on Lou Anders webpage. No one can accuse the toastmaster of not being literal enough.

Of the panels, my favorite hands down was the one on Class with Maresca, Will Shetterly, Scott Lynch, and the fabulous, fabulous Joe R. Landsdale, who talked at length about his own childhood in poor East Texas. It doesn't hurt that I could sit for hours and listen to Landsdale, but everybody brought some interesting points to the panel, with Lynch making the point that he tried to set his fantasy full of con artists in the middle ages and then realized that the middle ages lacked the social mobility and range of classes that would be necessary for confidence crimes.

Also exceptional was the world post fossil fuels panel, in which guest of honor Paolo Bacigalupi really got to shine. He was also good in Building Societies from the Ground Up.

The Erotic Writing panel was a barrel of laughs, and I got to use the phrase "cock-holster" in appropriate context in public conversation (the question being worst/best genital circumlocution). I really enjoyed the poetry panel, even if it was a touch slim on attendance (I was not expecting McDermott to be as awesome as he was there, but I especially enjoyed, of all things, his football poem). The late night ghost story panel was creepy in the best possible way. Scott A Johnson is the kind of person you want to be around a campfire with, far enough away from civilization that no one can hear you scream. The Pyr books presentation was unexpectedly delightful, and I really want to get a copy of Black Dog by K. V. Johansen. I also wish I had a book to sell to Pyr, so that Anders could bubble over with enthusiasm about it the way he did about every one of the titles he was promoting. It's really awesome to watch someone enjoy books that much.

The Elizabeth Moon/Wiscon discussion was... interesting. I'm somewhere between Lee Thomas and Scott Lynch's positions (basically, Wiscon as an organization totally has the right to disinvite a guest over a public statement they feel either does not conform to their core principles or threatens the financial stability of the con, and Elizabeth Moon has a right to say what she likes on her personal blog, and both do have to accept the consequences of it. Frankly I really like Wiscon's new mission statement, and I feel like there's a big difference between telling Moon she's no longer welcome at Wiscon (which they did not do) and expressing that they are no longer comfortable having her specifically as a guest of honor), and it was kind of heartbreaking to see how discouraged Thomas got with how many people were putting Wiscon totally at fault as the bad guy.

That's ending the post on kind of a down note, which really wasn't my experience of the con. I had a great time, the panels were interesting, the readings were cool, and the people were, without exception, lovely to speak to and open to talking. It was a great time and I encourage everybody to get out and mingle with the fandom.

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