Faithful readers, I, your helpful feline host, have managed to convince the Thin Man that, since he has to fill blog space anyhow (i.e. non-billable words) to give an extended convention report and spread it over several days. He’s still not 100% after the trip (he still has the painful stress/medication reaction rash) but he’s close and so, without further delay, we present an extended discussion of Midsouthcon 27.
Stupid cat, acts like everything should be announced with trumpets. Let me set down a few rules first. I met several folks that I want to talk about separately so I’m going to give you the chronological story and then go back after and talk about the individual people. I also want to make clear that the reason I say so much about things and people is because I have all this space to fill so I can go into it in depth. In no way should this be considered a slight on my long-time home convention ConClave—a people I consider family and love dearly. And I fully intend to discuss this year’s ‘Clave as well.
Anyhow, She Who Must Not Be Named and I left Friday early. She drove, I slept, and we reached Memphis (actually, Olive Branch Mississippi but basically still Memphis) just after mid-day. I settled her into a hotel room and set off up the road to the convention. (Miserable bugger to try to find. Here’s a tip: if you build a convention center, put up a blasted sign—and not one that says ‘Private Drive’; that confused me even worse.) The sight was good although seriously shy on parking.
Going into this, I was stressed like I haven’t been in years. I’d never been to this convention and I didn’t have any ‘inside people’ to look after me (and I only have 5 total hours of programming) so I was scared to death. She Who Must Not Be Named was afraid I was going to be sick before the con; apparently I looked that bad. Gray, to use her term. Needless to say, I was walking soft and timid but, there are certain commonalities to all conventions and I was quickly and efficiently checked in, issued a badge and schedule, and released to my own recognizance. That, of course, was the root of my problem—I don’t know what to do ‘on my own recognizance’ other than leave. I like structure and the familiar. Lacking any clue what was proper social protocol, I opted to swing by the dealer room and talk to my publisher.
It was at this point that my weekend went from scary to very good. Not only was Bill Snodgrass (my publisher) there and happy to see me but so was my favorite Nordic heretic and brother in Christ Jeremy Lewis. I love Jeremy (even if he does eat sushi) and I humbly think he’s fairly fond of me. We get along swimmingly and could talk life and writing for hours on end. Plus, he’s just as non-neurotypical as me.
But it got even better. I discovered Bill’s booth was in the middle of what I jokingly called ‘incest row’ because everyone there was a familiar face from the ill-fated Omegacon. Meadowhawk Publishing was on one side and that means Dan and Jackie Gamber (wonderful people with the ability to make you feel at home in moments) along with their very talented children. (Bill’s two sons were there too but I didn’t get to see much of them.) On the other side was Kerlack Publishing (whose website I can’t get to open up—frustrating since Allan wants to see manuscripts). Not only was Allan Gillsbreath there but his entire rouge’s gallery including such caring and gentle people as Joy Ward. Now I had a place to retreat to and people who knew me.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
We rarely talk about specific short stories but there’s one that deserves a special mention. Originally copywritten in 1928 and published in The Eternal Moment and Other Stories, The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster is worthy of designation as a masterwork. It’s prescient sight of modern society, it’s delicate treatment of a subject that could, in a lesser work, degenerate into a sermon instead of a story, and the author’s ability to strike that all-to-rare balance between dystopia and hope all combine for a truly powerful effect. It is also a layered piece, on of the few stories that benefit from immediate rereading. The Thin Man read it twice, once to himself and then again to SHE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED aloud. Each reading was a different experience, the difference in cadences and retracing of steps with fresh eyes revealed nuances and truly artistic touches that are the mark of a truly great piece. We strongly recommend you seek out a copy of this work and read it, at least once. It is, after all, quite fitting for the “spirit of the age”.