I’ve been given my Ravencon Schedule. Thought I’d pass it along. Below you’ll find the panels I’m on, along with the program description and my commentary and pleas for help in formulating my b.s. (brilliant satire?) for each.
A Chance to Begin Again 3 PM Friday, April 20th
If you had the chance to restart/change the human race under a new set of guidelines, which book/author would you choose as a blueprint? (Think of H. G. Wells and The Time Machine.) Many writers have formed their own societiesâ€”some are considered idealistic, while others are perhaps too fantastic to comprehend.
Nice way to begin, donâ€™t you think? Iâ€™m still mulling over the possibilitiesâ€”Memoirs of a Revolutionist, Orlando Furioso, The Long Good-Bye, The Wind in the Willows, Shakespeare. Probably not the Bible, seeing how well George Bush is doing with that little experiment. Suggestions are welcome.
What I Learned From My Panel From Hell Experience! 7 PM Friday, April 20th
It seems like it is a tradition to have the Panels from Hell every year. So to change things a little, this is a panel where panelists share what good came out of their panel from hell.
As Boethius said after being on a really bad panel, there’s no such thing as bad fortune, since we learn from it. Come hear how The Fourth World was born from one such panel with the help of Rudy Rucker and some really kludgy software. Iâ€™ll also share my surefire secrets for how a sweet guy like me can piss off an entire auditorium full of people.
Autograph Session 8 PM Friday, April 20th
You know what this is. Look for the long, snaking line. Iâ€™m the guy next to the person all those people are waiting for. At Worldcon in Glasgow, I was next to Terry Pratchett. When Simonâ€™s Shoestore sent me to a huge romance writers con in Ft. Worth, I was next to Nora Roberts. Iâ€™ve sat next to some really big names, Iâ€™ll have you know. So if you want to drop by, Iâ€™ll be glad to chat you up while youâ€™re waiting for whoeverâ€™s sitting next to me. If itâ€™s like last year, the table will be conveniently located by the bar. Oh yeah. I’ll sign stuff too, but it’s not necessary.
Revenge of the Mediocre Characters! 4 PM Saturday, April 21st
Theyâ€™re not smart and theyâ€™re not stupidâ€”they are the everyday character. How do we keep them mediocre without screwing it up? Are they good enough to keep a story interesting or do we have to have larger than life heroes?
As Iâ€™ve mentioned here a couple of times, Iâ€™ve been reading a lot of Murakami lately. (Iâ€™ve just finished The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle). If you want to see what a good mediocre character can do, check him out. I try to stamp out larger than life heroes wherever I find them, but theyâ€™re tough to kill, you know, like cockroaches. Iâ€™m not sure how the mediocre feel about that exclamation mark punctuating their panel, however.
Author Slamfest 10 PM Saturday, April 21st
Moderator has authors read snippets of their work, but â€¦ the moderator selects the page number on the spot, gives the author 10 seconds to pick a line or two and has them read them to the audience. Authors must bring a copy of ONE book.
Youâ€™ve got to love the sadist who dreamed this up. I havenâ€™t chosen a book yet. I welcome suggestions. Something â€œvoicyâ€� I suppose. Sympathetic supporters to witness the spectacle are also welcome.
The Report Read â€œRoutine retirement of a replicantâ€¦â€� 9 AM Sunday, April 22nd
Killing off charactersâ€”is there a new wave or are we just exploring the same old thing time and time again? How can writers be innovative in killing off their characters?
A great topic for first thing Sunday morning when the revelers will be feeling dead already. I often have the hardest time figuring out what dead is in my fiction, though itâ€™s certainly clear enough in real life. Death, almost by definition, is the same old thing time and time again, isnâ€™t it? Seems to me I remember a novel with that title once. I suspect between Six Feet Under and CSI in its many incarnations, innovative killing could stand to take a hiatus? Maybe each death might (ahem) mean something? Just a thought. What are yours?
Sniff-Sniff 10 AM Sunday, April 22nd
Tear-jerkers in science fiction, fantasy, and horror; is this just a romance genre issue or do we have them? If so name your best and why.
Iâ€™d love to hear suggestions here as well. If I donâ€™t choke readers up at least a couple of times in a novel, I donâ€™t figure Iâ€™m doing my job. Several sf movies come to mind, like Starman. I hear the music, and I have to reach for a hankie! I cried the first time I saw On the Beach. Print sf is less fond of tears. Robert Charles Wilsonâ€™s novels always have their poignant moments. Carol Emshwillerâ€™s short stories can be quite emotional. Fantasy weeps often, it seems to me. Stories like A Portrait of Jenny, for example, are wrapped around a wistful sadness from beginning to end. So what are your favorite fictive cries? What does it say about the genre if we aren’t expected to cry over any of those innovatively killed characters in the last panel?