Friday, February 22, 2008

Boskone 45 Review

Reminder: The winter contest ends in one week. Get your social network going to increase your chances.

At Boskone this year, fewer panels jumped out at me as 'must see'. This had less to do with the quality of the panels than my growing familiarity of who various authors are and with the topics being discussed. Here are notes on the more interesting panels I attended.

Regional SF, Fantasy, and Horror
- F. Brett Cox, Daniel P. Dern, Glenn Grant, Elise Matthesen, Faye Ringel

Examples of regionalism in history were cited, for example H.P. Lovecraft, Mark Twain, L. Frank Baum. For contemporary history, several 'movements' were cited: a growing corps of Canadian writers, a group emerging from Minneapolis in the 1980's.

Overall, it was agreed that there wasn't much regional flavor currently, besides regional phrases and spellings. Nothing to point to and say "Ah, that shows the UK style, or that's the difference between American and Canadian fiction, eh?"

And then began jokes about Canadians.

Hidden Biases in SF
- Tobias Buckell, Gregory Feeley, Gregory Frost, Daniel Kimmel, Pamela Sargent

Discussion focused more on historical biases. There was agreement that things are better, more could be done. Overall, I had higher hopes for the panel to get into contemporary issues more than they did. Below are some interesting points, not quite quotes, and apologies if I got anything wrong.

Sargent on writing from something other than your own perspective: Absorb enough about the culture to write honestly about it.

Buckell on exploring different cultures in SF: One resource is the Carl Brandon Society, which has on its blog some recommended reading. He also stressed that reading SF should be fun. If any particular author doesn't float your boat, there are many others out there.

He also mentioned the two anthologies edited by Nalo Hopkinson, Whispers From the Cotton Tree Root in which all the authors are of Caribbean descent, and Mojo: Conjure Stories which has Caribbean themes by authors of all different flavors.

Drug Discovery: Where Will the Medicines of the Twenty-Teens Come From?
- Matthew Jarpe

Jarpe is an expert, working in the field here in Massachusetts. He gave a very interesting presentation that cleared up misconceptions I had about the drug industry. For example, the average time to market for a new drug is 7 - 15 years at a cost of $800 million.

He also mentioned this website:
Caution: website could trigger a long period of time wasting research.

Do Sweat the Small Stuff: Writing Short Fiction
- James Patrick Kelly, Kelly Link, Jennifer Pelland

Many anecdotes about process and individual stories. What works for one story may not work for another (e.g. workshopping/critiques). Common theme of "smashing ideas together and letting the sparks fly".

And JPK gave away cool swag.

Making Language Fit the Culture
- James Cambias, Elaine Isaak, Fred Lerner, Lawrence M. Schoen, Sonya Taaffe

Much of the academic discussion went right over my head. The kind of stuff that makes me wonder how I even know how to use the english language. I did emerge from that room with the longest list of suggested reading.

Jack Vance - The Languages of Pao
Carl Sagan - Contact
Ursula K. Le Guin - Earthsea Trilogy
Ruth Nesvolt - Looking Through Lace
Mary Doria Russell - The Sparrow
John Myers Myers - Silverlock
Burgess - A Mouthful of Air

The YA Novel
- Bruce Coville, Sarah Beth Durst, Stephen C. Fisher, Tamora Pierce, Jane Yolen

Listing this one as it was the most entertaining of the weekend, although mostly due to the antics of Coville and Pierce. The other panelists looked like they might separate the two and send them to opposite corners.

How Not to Get Published
- Ginjer Buchanan, Daniel P. Dern, Paul Melko, Eleanor Wood

How not to get published? Three words: People are stupid.
[Edit: The wording here was bugging me all day. That's what I get for blogging on only one cup of coffee.

To clarify, the panel covered not-smart actions: sending a memoir to an editor that only handles SF; pitching an agent at inappropriate times or places; sending queries that make the recipients consider restraining orders.]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I could have been there.

February 25, 2008 at 8:34 PM  

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