Worldcon 75 Wraps

Worldcon ended on Sunday, and as a way of saying farewell, I thought I would post this picture of the welcome sign.

I had a Kaffeeklatch on Sunday that was well attended, and included attendees of various ages from countries all over the world. They had come to drink coffee and ask me questions, so that meant I did a lot of talking. They all seemed to enjoy it, and I know I did. One local fan (I think he said he was Finnish, but it all blurs) did a little video interview with me afterward. I suppose that might end up on youtube someday.

And here’s a picture of one of the highlights for me in terms of programming I watched from the audience. It’s NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren giving a presentation on space medicine based on his experiences on the International Space Station.

Dr. Lindgren is a wonderfully entertaining speaker, and a gracious ambassador for the space program, based on a brief chat we had in the corridor. He’s also a science fiction fan. (At the Spokane worldcon, he presented one of the Hugo awards via Skype from the space station.)

Here’s a picture of him zipped up in his zero-g sleeping bag. Cozy!

Worldcon 75, Part 2

Thursday through Saturday were good days for me at Worldcon.

But first, congratulations to all the winners of the Hugo and associated rewards! You can see the full list on tor.com. Women once again dominated in the trophy winning, which might have made some people unhappy, but I thought it was great. It’s about time some of our fantastic female writers got their due. And I’m also glad to see lots of young fans, from many nations, of all and sundry genders.

The convention ran into problems with serious overcrowding, because attendance wildly exceeded expectations. Tons of people registered at the last minute, or showed up without preregistering or hoping for day passes, which they had to stop selling. Combined with this, the local authorities strictly enforced the fire laws, so that no standing room was permitted in any of the rooms. The result was crazy long lines, lots of folk not getting into panels they wanted to see, and plenty of hair pulling. The con committee rallied, worked with the convention center, and got some of the more popular events moved to larger rooms, and even added additional panels at the last minute. It was a tough recovery, but I think they did a good job under difficult circumstances.

My own panels over the last few days included one on keeping yourself motivated in writing, a topic that drew plenty of interest. Friday we were on for writing space opera and writing collaboratively, and both were well attended and fun discussions. I was moderating both, so I was revved up keeping things moving.

Today I had two big panels that I was not moderating, one on the future of physics, and one on world building. Both were a lot of fun.  Here’s a sort of blurry picture of the world building panel, with (from left to right) Jon Oliver, Alex Acks, me, and George R.R. Martin. The audience for this one was huge, as you might expect. It was a lively and interesting discussion, I thought.

There were lots of camera flashes, so if anyone out there has a clearer picture and would like to send it my way, please do!

Hei, Helsinki! Worldcon 75!


We arrived in Helsinki, Finland, early this morning for Worldcon 75, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention. At the moment, sleep deprivation and jetlag are making things somewhat of a blur. (Finland time is seven hours earlier than Boston time.) I think half the people on our flight from Iceland to Helsinki were on their way to the con.

Tomorrow, I start things in earnest, with a signing session at noon, and a panel on how to motivate yourself when writing is tough at 15:00. (Everything is on the 24-hour clock here.)

Friday I’ll be moderating a panel on space opera, and another on writing collaboratively. Saturday, I’m the one non-physicist on a panel on the future of physics (I guess I’m the wild card in the deck), and participating—in my last panel—on one on world-building, a panel that might or might not include George R.R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones, depending on what listing I believe.

Once the worldcon is over, we’ll be taking a few days to see Helsinki and Finland, and then a couple in Iceland on our way home.

I’ll try to post some updates, but don’t hold me to that. Things can get pretty crazy at a worldcon. I’m looking forward to seeing many friends!

 

Boskone 2016!

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Boskone b53-header

Interrupting The Ponce Chronicles for a moment…

The weekend is almost upon us, and that means this year’s Boskone, Boston’s highly popular annual science fiction convention, held at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel. I’ll be there Friday and Saturday. Here’s my schedule:

Dated Science Fiction
Friday 16:00 – 16:50, Marina 2 (Westin)

When the future described in an older SF story contradicts our already-lived experience, sometimes it doesn’t matter. Scientific “predictions” didn’t turn out as imagined. So what? The story still holds up, as in classics like The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine. But other tales much lauded in their time have since lost their luster. Wherein lies the difference? Does the science in science fiction truly matter over time as long as the story is well-told?

Fred Lerner (M), Ellen Asher, Jeffrey A. Carver, Tony Lewis, David Gerrold

Autographing
Saturday 14:00 (2 p.m.) Dealers Room
Seven Easy Steps to Taking Over the Universe
Saturday 15:00 – 15:50, Harbor III (Westin)

The universe would be perfect, if only you were in charge. Today’s the day to stop dreaming and start doing! What are the “must dos” and the “no-nos” that every evil emperor must keep in mind when conquering? Should you be the face of the takeover, or is it better to have a sidekick to throw into the spotlight? How do you handle pesky rebels? And is a catchy dictator name an essential accessory for success?

Leigh Perry (M), Jeffrey A. Carver, Esther Friesner, Frank Wu, Teresa Nielsen Hayden

Writing: Generating Suspense and Fear with Odyssey Writing Workshop Faculty
Saturday 16:00 – 16:50, Burroughs (Westin)

The Director and guest lecturers of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, held each summer in New Hampshire, discuss the most effective techniques for keeping readers on the edge of their seats and awake long into the night.

Jeanne Cavelos (M), Jeffrey A. Carver, Alexander Jablokov, Allen M. Steele

Worldcon, Spokane, and Wildfire Smoke

We’re enjoying the start of Sasquan, the 2015 World Science Fiction Convention (aka worldcon) in lovely Spokane, Washington. The Spokane (rhymes with can) Convention Center is located right next to the aptly named Spokane River, with a beautiful riverside park. We’ve already seen a number of friends, and I listened to a great talk by a Vatican astronomer on astronomical models that were almost right, but not quite—usually because the astronomers of the time didn’t make the leap from the data they had to imagining the right questions to ask.

The air, however, is a bit thick here. Washington state and neighboring Canada have a lot of wildfires going, and it makes for uncomfortable breathing at times—and eerily red sunsets. My phone camera failed to catch the effect, so I don’t have a good picture. But here’s a map of the fires currently going, and you can see that the U.S. Northwest and Canada are getting the brunt of it. But the smoke is actually carrying all the way across the U.S. on the jetstream.

http://www.smokeybear.com/wildfire-map.asp

On our drive from Seattle to Spokane, we stopped off to see the Grand Coulee Dam, and I talked to a U.S. Forest Service guy who had also stopped to see the dam. He was on his way to a fire. I asked what his role was. He said he manages a group of helicopters that takes firefighters in to rappel down close to fires in hopes of cutting them off before they can spread. Gottta hand it to those guys!

Meanwhile, if you’re attending the con, I hope you’ll stop by one of my events and say hello. Today (Thursday) I’m on a panel about Book View Cafe, an author collaborative. Saturday I’m autographing, and also participating on a panel on Space Opera.

Odyssey Story Slam in New Hampshire!

Are you planning to be in the vicinity of Amherst, New Hampshire on Sunday, November 2? Good! Because there’s going to be a fun event at the LaBelle Winery, which is a Bonfire Story Slam! A group of twenty SF/F writers, including moi, will be reading short-short stories (or, in the case of a few of us, excerpts) around a bonfire. What better setting for stories than a winery?*

This is not only a great event, but also a fund-raiser in support of the terrific Odyssey Writing Workshop, which I have visited on several occasions as a guest lecturer. Come enjoy some stories and s’more stories!

*My best book signing ever was at my favorite local wine store, during a wine tasting.

Back from London, But a Bit Under the Weather

We returned from England a couple of days ago, after going to Loncon 3 at the Excel Center and then spending another five days seeing London, Greenwich, and Nottingham (where lives an old friend of Allysen’s). It was quite an adventure, starting with staying on a sailboat (more on that in another post), and ending with a very nice train ride into Robin Hood country, where we ate at what is reportedly the oldest pub in England. The worldcon was a bit of a wash for me in professional terms, but Allysen and Julia had a fantastic time and I did enjoy myself despite a couple of wardrobe malfunctions that I’ll also save for another post.

Overall, it was a memorable trip, with one major downside. I picked up a nagging cough at the con, and by the time I got home I was pretty nonfunctional with a great, hacking cough and pneumonia. A bit of a setback there. Also, it was kind of a lousy way to celebrate my 65th birthday, which was the 25th. On the other hand, the wonder of still-functional antibiotics was a great way to celebrate my birthday. I’m doing much better now, though I’m still a little sub-par in terms of mental focus and concentration. Not up to writing much yet, but I’m turning into a mean movie-watcher.

There may be a lesson in there, though I can’t be certain. Prior to the trip, I had a bunch of really nasty poison ivy (or something) rashes, which were taking forever to clear up. The dermatologist put me on a short dose of prednisone, which did a remarkable job of clearing up the rashes. But it also may have suppressed my immune system just enough to lay me open to the pneumonia. My take-away from this is, try to avoid travel while taking prednisone.

Also, when in London, have the fish and chips!

London parks are beautiful.

 Did you know they have 500 miles of canals in London?
I didn’t, either.

 The Tower of London, complete with lions. 

Upcoming Appearances!

I haven’t posted about this in a while. I’ll be showing my face in public in two very different events in the next couple of weeks.

This coming weekend, August 7-10, I’ll be conducting several workshop sessions in science fiction writing at the Cape Cod Writers Conference, in Hyannis, MA. It’s not too late to sign up! (At least, I don’t think so.) This one is for the general public, and last I heard, there was still room in my workshop, which is just part of a much larger conference. So if you’re in the area, and you’re interested, check into it right away!

After that, I’ll be in London for Loncon, the annual World Science Fiction Convention! This will be the first worldcon I’ve attended in a number of years, and I’m looking forward to it. Cool fact: My wife Allysen went through Air BnB and got us a place to stay on a boat on the Thames! How can you beat that? I was late in registering, and apparently too late in asking to be put on the program—because they didn’t schedule me for anything, not even an autograph session. Ah well, that may make it a more relaxing trip, after all. 

If you’re at Loncon, keep an eye out and say hello if you see me!

EDIT: I’m signing at 3 pm Friday. Please stop by!

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