Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cut Myself on Angel Hair

Steven King's son took a picture of me this morning!

Then Jennifer 8 Lee took one of me at lunchtime. Ok, ok, so they were audience shots taken by authors who don't generally get full rooms of a couple hundred fans coming to hear them talk. But still. My friend and I were centered and might show up in their scrapbooks. Hopefully not on the voodoo page.

My plans to see David Brin went up in smoke, or a cough, or something as he was feeling under the weather and didn't show. The other author I hoped to See, Raymond Feist, had a family emergency. Harry Turtledove stood in for them last minute with good humor. I have read an HT book or two, but not recently. The other two authors were Kevin J Anderson and Joe Hill (aka Joe King). It was a Sci-Fi/Horror panel and was the one thing we both wanted to see. KJA has worked on a lot of TV/film stuff and extending the Dune stories (I never got through Dune. Tried twice. It's his holy grail.) My friend loves Stephen King's work and has checked out Joe's stuff too.

One question was about building Sci-Fi readership in the last decade and the authors talked a bit about removing the geeky stigma enough that Sci-Fi fantasy elements are intermixing with mainstream fiction without too much comment, in a nearly omnipresent manner. There was some talk about the pendulum might swing back since there's currently rather a lot of paranormal elements in various genres. JH mentioned that ghosts are "a great metaphor for leaking the past into the present." There was another discussion about how some horror/sci-fi tends to be apocalyptic (this is the extrapolation of our road to hell), vs Promethian (look where this great idea/tech can take us!). They talked about why they write in the genre: it's a way to talk about the world we live in only using a funhouse mirror; it's a way to imagine a life less boring than theirs; the stories excite them.

Most of the guys (all male authors on panel) talked about the very important role their wives play as first readers. JH told a fun story. He was getting reamed by the wife about something he'd written and thought was brilliant but his wife disagreed. She was listing the negatives, including "it has a plot but no story" and "bad dialogue". He said "but it's story driven dialogue not reality driven". She thought for a while and said, "I don't know what that means, I just know it sucks." JH writes without the King name so that "publishers won't publish crap because the name sells." According to my friend, his recent novel, Heart Shaped Box is a fine read.

I'm going to look for HT's non-fiction historical coming out next year about how the "Germans" fought off the Romans or some such and managed not to be integrated into the Roman empire. Some recommendations were for Kelly Link's Specialist Hack and author Kristine Catherine Rush (names may need altered spellings).

It was a hot, hot day. But not like Africa hot because it was a nice dry heat. I still sucked down (after a glass of water and large tea to start the day) a 16oz bottle of water, a 20some ounce lemondade, another 16oz water, then a medium Jamba Juice (Surf something, very tasty) between 11 and 3. We ate a bit but mostly it was the icy drinks, carrying icy drinks, and, well, a giant bag of fresh kettlecorn.

It might not have helped that there were kettlecorn vendors everywhere (sadly no funnel cakes) and our second panel was about food. J8L talked about Chinese food being more American than Chinese, and knows a surprising amount about peanut butter. (Skippy and Spaghetti anyone?) The other speakers talked about the history and politics of food or the current politics of food. It was all very fascinating even though the moderator tended to drone on. I didn't take notes due to the sun having baked my brain, even with my little hat I picked up a couple weekends ago at the super hot street fair. The one guy talked about how the Puritans used food (feasts and fasting) to control the populace and how obesity and anorexia are two halves of the same issue - how does one deal with so much abundance? At the extremes, either try it all or reject it all... If I can remember who he was, I might get his book from the library. The other guy said some good stuff too, but I'm blanking on it as I kind of focused on the chinese food, which is my comfort food.

Anyhow, it was good to connect with my friend again and take in the california sunshine while dodging a large mass of humanity. I didn't have as much patience for prowling through the booths this year. I mostly bought board books that I can give as gifts to new parents to push a fruit and veggie agenda on their kids. I did buy one young adult book for the cover art and the autograph, and a Japanese pickling cookbook. I'm looking forward to the West Hollywood book fair (should be in a few weeks, I should find out) which tends to me less mainstream, edgier, and fiction oriented. I'll have a bigger problem not buying stuff there, I think.

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