Around the Worldcon
September 20, 2013 1:40 AM   Subscribe

In the weeks since LoneStarCon 3 (the 71st annual World Science Fiction Convention) took place, videos of just a few events have appeared online: the complete Hugo Awards ceremony; the WSFS business meetings; Brandon Sanderson's video AMA; a clip of a Dalek wandering the exhibition hall. The pocket program listing the schedule of public events offers further insight into what went on. And many attendees have posted their written/recorded personal reactions. A selection of the programmed content itself might be evoked with an old-school smorgasbord of links.

Selections from Day 1 Selections from Day 2 Selections from Day 3 Selections from Day 4 In 2014, Loncon 3 in London, England, will be the 72nd Worldcon. When Worldcon takes place outside North America, a NASFiC takes place. The 2014 NASFiC is Detcon1 in Detroit.

In 2015, Sasquan in Spokane, Washington, will be the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention.
posted by Monsieur Caution (36 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you for keeping the spirit of the megapost alive! (I've got two or three half-finished ones I keep meaning to polish up....)
posted by JHarris at 2:16 AM on September 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Excellent post.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:29 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wow thanks for this most excellent post.
posted by newdaddy at 3:07 AM on September 20, 2013

I'll be at Loncon 3... still too far away!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:20 AM on September 20, 2013

Novels You Should Have Read Since Chicon 7. Panelists recommended novels that had (more or less) appeared since the last Worldcon ... Good Man Friday and, more generally, the Benjamin January series

I don't know if I want more people reading the Benjamin January series.

I mean, okay, I do, because they're freaking amazing, but I worry that there'll suddenly be an influx of long and overly weepy Ben/Hannibal where Hannibal finally succumbs to his tuberculosis and it's all very La Boheme where he breathes his last in Ben's arms and whispers something dramatic and loving as a faint trickle of blood escapes his lips.

Mostly because my daydream of Rose running away to live with Chloe Villiard and Dominique in a sapphic threesome of delight will never happen.
posted by Katemonkey at 3:24 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sir, your smorgasbord is veritable.
posted by Segundus at 4:27 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wait, I won WHAT?!?

(checks the video)

Man, I GOT to stop huffing freon before awards ceremonies.
posted by jscalzi at 5:21 AM on September 20, 2013 [15 favorites]

Novels You Should Have Read Since Chicon 7.

Only recognised Hydrogen Sonata out of that list. So erm, which ones of those do people agree with the panel on?
posted by MartinWisse at 5:28 AM on September 20, 2013

How am I supposed to read all them books when I got this super megapost to go through? *shakes fist*
posted by rtha at 5:55 AM on September 20, 2013

Elizabeth Bear recommended Night of the Comet.

This is a fantastic movie. Just so many layers of awesome. Plus, it is totally 80s.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:05 AM on September 20, 2013

So, what ended up happening with that spectacularly idiotic plan to screen Song of the South?
posted by kafziel at 6:15 AM on September 20, 2013

No time to watch these. I have to go to a concomm meeting...
posted by jiawen at 6:37 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

So, what ended up happening with that spectacularly idiotic plan to screen Song of the South?

They canceled almost immediately after announcing it. Not to nitpick you personally, but this is one of the things I don't like about internet outrage. The retractions and apologies are usually ignored as people move on to the next thing.

Now, in the spirit of more negative links, a series of posts about the graying of Worldcon:

The End of Fan-Run Conventions?
The Inevitable Graying of Worldcon
Memento mori. (Or, how Worldcon’s youth problem will resolve.)

Oh, and the usual right wing brigade accused Scalzi of hatching a conspiracy to get the award or proof of the degradation of the Hugos by Trotskyites. Mr. Scalzi, how do you get your enemies?
posted by zabuni at 6:38 AM on September 20, 2013 [6 favorites]

Oh look it's everything I like in one place.
posted by The Whelk at 6:47 AM on September 20, 2013


"Mr. Scalzi, how do you get your enemies?"

Oh, just lucky, I guess.

As noted on my own site, no matter who wins the Hugo, there are always people or groups who express discontent and point to the win as an example of How There's Something Wrong With The Hugo, etc. This year is my turn in the barrel. I suppose the only thing worse is not getting a turn in the barrel. In any event, it's mine now and I'm not giving it back.

For those who seemed especially exercised about it, I made this image macro. I felt it was an appropriate response.
posted by jscalzi at 6:55 AM on September 20, 2013 [7 favorites]

This is one of those things olds do, right?
posted by happyroach at 7:20 AM on September 20, 2013

So erm, which ones of those do people agree with the panel on?

The Milkweed Triptych starts out like, "Hey, let's steampunk up some Nazi superheroes!" and turns into an insane (in a good way) meditation on how we live with ourselves (individually and as a society) after we do horrible things for the greater good. It's so, so good.
posted by Etrigan at 7:37 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is Just To Say

I have huffed
the freon
that was in
the air conditioner

and which
you were probably
to keep cool

forgive me
I won a Hugo
it was so sweet
and rocket shaped
posted by vibrotronica at 8:02 AM on September 20, 2013 [9 favorites]

At An Hour with Lois McMaster Bujold, she made a comment about attending a Worldcon back in the 70s (when she was just a fan and not yet a published author) and how she felt she had to push her way through the greybeards to get to any panels. Lillian Stewart Carl quipped that we should watch what we say - some of those greybeards are still here.

LonestarCon3 was just such a strange mix of wanting to respond to the need for media programming (with fan panels on TV and movies, anime, and a film festival) without embracing the idea of being a modern media convention (like SanJapan the weekend before, held in the exact same convention center). Maybe that's a sign of steps in the right direction, though.
posted by muddgirl at 8:13 AM on September 20, 2013

Now, in the spirit of more negative links, a series of posts about the graying of Worldcon

I guess I should read the links but I recently attended a local con for the first time (Boskone) and while interesting it was very ingroup. The panels seemed somewhat, hmm, straining at new topics, I think all the good stuff (FTL, timetravel, clones) had been done. Well 'new' folks need some basic topics covered. The 'cons' may need something like a reset. Start over, find a new path.

Or maybe just more Sailor Moon vs Wonder Women or have folks like Hatsune Miku as panelists.
posted by sammyo at 8:23 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have to say that my immediate reaction to the Worldcon title was "This is going to be about sexual harassment, or something stupid a GoH said about women or race."

Good job avoiding that guys, nice hustle.
posted by happyroach at 8:42 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Excellent post. I had a good time at Worldcon this year, despite falling on my ass while roller skating (at the launch party for the Glitter & Mayhem anthology) and overloading on the fried pickled beets at the Esquire Tavern.
posted by RakDaddy at 9:23 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

So erm, which ones of those do people agree with the panel on?

Self-Reference Engine
Haven't read this but I have read Toh En Joe's story in The Future is Japanese anthology and it's one of the best in that volume. I'm intrigued by the structure of this, and one of the stories in it is online.

I liked this a lot, if you liked Harkaway's previous book The Gone-Away World this is more of the same, a little less gonzo but not much. It's got mechanical bees and ninjas and a WWII secret agent. Abigail Nussbaum reviews it here (with spoilers), I'm a little more positive overall but agree on the strengths and weaknesses of it.

The Shining Girls
Lauren Beukes mystery with a time-traveling serial killer, it's lots of very well-done portraits of the "shining girls", the women that are exceptional in some way and the killer is drawn to them to murder them, which was undermined a bit when I realised I was going to get to spend a chapter with lots of interesting women whose purpose is to get murdered at the end of that chapter. Broadly recommended but I was slightly underwhelmed - it hasn't stuck with me at all a few months after reading.

Necessary Evil or, more generally, The Milkweed Triptych
I second etrigan on this one, it's good.

The Best of All Possible Worlds
This is a weird one. It's a romance between a sparky, headstrong woman and an alien who is basically Spock. It's interesting and character-focused, but also really episodic and strangely reminiscent of a set of Star Trek episodes if the driving theme between the episodes was a romance. And that's set against the backdrop of a planetary genocide, but it's still quite light and fun in tone. I recommend it but it seems to be a love-hate book.

and The Republic of Thieves
Given this isn't released until October, tricky to say if you should have read this or not.
posted by penguinliz at 9:24 AM on September 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

and The Republic of Thieves
Given this isn't released until October, tricky to say if you should have read this or not.

The first two in the Gentleman Bastards series are terrific, bloody fun -- imagine a fantasy-world Ocean's 11 with more violence. If you like caper movies and/or Joe Abercrombie, you'll like Scott Lynch.
posted by Etrigan at 9:31 AM on September 20, 2013

Thanks for the book recommendations, they sound worth checking out and maybe- wait, did you say a NEW Gentlemen Thieves novel!? SQUEEEEEE! MINEMINEMINE!
posted by happyroach at 9:37 AM on September 20, 2013

Jebus, that paragraph that listed all the books I should be reading. I'm like a good 15-20 books behind on my reading pile and now I just added a bunch more to my Amazon wishlist. I am so fucked.
posted by Ber at 10:00 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd lost the list of books I should be reading, so thanks for dredging it up (I think--my list is too long anyway ...)
posted by immlass at 10:22 AM on September 20, 2013

Woo! This is great. I have various thoughts, because I was actually at a lot of these panels.

Day 1:

- Seanan McGuire's music is, in fact, generally great. I was slightly skeptical - folk music was my first scene, and I'm picky - but she's a strong songwriter and it was a good show.

- Mark's bad fanfiction reading was fucking hilarious. I love his site (big tattooed dude has emotions!) but his more practiced readings of terrible, terrible fanfic are well worth seeing if he happens to be in your town. People brought him new stuff to read, too, so we got the best of both worlds. (Batman and Robocop in love! Jesus in the Hunger Games!)

- I tried to do the BarCon thing, ended up talking for some time with the very baffled business traveler next to me, and then glommed on to someone I had met once just to get away. Turned out she didn't know a ton of people there either, and we had a fabulous conversation.

Day 2:

- I went to Mary Robinette Kowal's shadow puppet workshop sort of accidentally (I thought it was a performance, not a workshop, and so did the person I was hanging with) but I made an adorable kitty puppet! (And I got to meet Monsieur Caution!)

- Let's see, that night was the Tor party, wasn't it? I sort of knew a couple of people - I am, completely randomly, friends with Steve Brust's new collaborator, among other things - so I went there and hung out and may have accidentally inspired an anthology entitled Lesbigeddon. If it actually hits Kickstarter, I'll let y'all know.

Day 3:

- Novels you should have read: Oh, I Have Opinions about this. Read these:
- The Drowning Girl: If you haven't been listening to my ranting, you suck. Just go read this.
- The Best of All Possible Worlds: Agree with penguinliz that it's sort of an odd duck, but I quite liked it.
- Midnight Blue-Light Special or, more generally, the Incryptid series: Haven't read these yet, but I have been reading (listening to, actually) McGuire's Toby Day series, and can heartily recommend those if you like urban fantasy in general.
- Libriomancer: It's sort of pure genre fanservice but it's fun as hell.
- The Incrementalists: This is Steve Brust's collaboration with a friend of mine. Haven't read it, but it should be deeply weird and probably awesome.
- Three Parts Dead: Necromancer contract lawyers take a case on behalf of a dead god. What's not to love?
- The Fractal Prince: Actually the second book in a series, although it might not matter. They're both great - crunchy hard-ish SF, wild ideas, and engaging characters.
- The Republic of Thieves or, more generally, the Gentleman Bastard series: Fuck yes. That is all.
- The Glitter and Mayhem launch party was at a local roller rink. I landed on my ass a couple of times, and the third time I tried to get up and fell, tried to get up and fell, four times in a row while thirteen year old girls whipped past me openly snickering. It was still great.

Day 4:

- When Will Zombies Die was a great panel, and notable especially for Seanan's iron-fisted moderation when the participant amusingly not listed above wouldn't fucking shut up and let anyone else talk. Coulda been a disaster. But other than that dude, everyone was great - sharp, witty, and had interesting things to say.

- The Hugos are still surprisingly fun to watch.

- I did not go to bed until... god. Much too late. I am too old for the party scene.

Anyway, short version: for all of the griping about Worldcon, I personally had a ton of fun and am sad that LonCon isn't likely to happen for me.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:55 AM on September 20, 2013 [7 favorites]

Only recognised Hydrogen Sonata out of that list. So erm, which ones of those do people agree with the panel on?

I had read ten of those listed by name and thirteen if I count the first of a series where they named a series. None were bad books, IMO, so that's a vote of confidence, though I'll admit I set one of them down and haven't returned to it, and I might call some of them just OK. Twelve more were familiar to me from positive reviews, so (based on some massive cognitive bias) it seemed like a pretty legit list.

If I had to be picky, I'd vouch for these:
  • The Hydrogen Sonata: Maybe not the Culture book I'd want to have read first, but nonetheless a very, very good one, and pretty much essential if you're curious about galactic history and the Sublimed.
  • The Last Policeman and Countdown City: Police procedurals set less than a year before an asteroid will hit the Earth and destroy civilization or worse. Folks can see it coming, but the sense of dread is counterbalanced by the protagonist's very understandable will to just hold things together for a little while longer. I liked the sequel even better than the first book.
  • Nexus: Near future transhuman/posthuman thriller; sometimes heavy-handed, but still a fairly gripping page-turner with gobs of scenes highlighting the technology.
  • The Gentleman Bastard sequence: Nthing this. I'm not usually fond of slow-building caper stories, so the first ~150 pages of The Lies of Locke Lamora had me wondering, but the payoff actually was worth it.
I was mildly surprised these books didn't get mentioned. I'd have put them ahead of a half-dozen decent books/series that did:
  • Seraphina: Technically about a month and a half too old to make the list, but technically so was The Last Policeman. Maybe it got mentioned a lot last year? Anyway, it's a terrific YA fantasy, loaded with fun throwaway details about the setting.
  • Neptune's Brood: The sequel to Saturn's Children, but it stands alone. Somewhat inspired by David Graeber's Debt: The First 5000 Years, it's SF about interstellar banking and finance. Delicious infodumps abound.
  • The Glamourist Histories series: They're very, very light Regency fantasies, but that's a lot of the charm; also, in spite of magic being just an art form, it always winds up being central to the plot, which is a neat trick.
  • The Split Worlds series: These sort of combine contemporary urban fantasy and Regency fantasy by putting the Regency stuff over in the faerie netherworld. I'm accustomed to urban fantasy novels over-explaining their premises in book one, and that doesn't happen in these at all.
  • The Golem and the Jinni: A Jinni and a Golem meet in late 19th C. New York. Very polished writing and evocative imagery. There were aspects of it that didn't work for me, but I can imagine this being a favorite for a lot of people.
I either haven't read or wasn't as fond of these, but just based on word of mouth and spectacular reviews, I think maybe there's a different audience for them out there, not represented on the panel: Blood Song, The Red Knight, and Promise of Blood.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 5:55 PM on September 20, 2013

So erm, which ones of those do people agree with the panel on?

I enjoyed The Last Policeman muchly. Fun noir fusion, file next to The Yiddish Policeman's Union.

Ima go against the grain there and un-recommend Milkweed triptych. Calling the characters skeletal would be an understatement, only one genuine female character (I don't mean genuinely female), very misanthropic, whole book is people doing horrible things and being depressed about. Narrative had some structural problems, I thought.

Also disrecommend age of steam series. Weak writing, you could make a great consomme from the stock characters. Felt like a marketing exerciseto me. The Native Star by MK Hobson was stronger in every single way if you want a steampunky western.
posted by smoke at 7:38 PM on September 20, 2013

Addendum, having now clicked through several of the recommended books. Holy frijole, independent presses, would it frigging kill you to offer an ebook, better yet offer an ebook that an Australian can buy in one or two clicks, better yet, offer it for under ten bucks?

I see so many independent presses that are still junk at selling their ebooks and I just don't understand. Either they don't have ebooks at all, or I can't buy them here in Australia, or they are expensive. It's like guys, if it's six bucks or less that is an impulse buy for me. It doesn't even have to sound great, it it just sounds interesting I will buy it at that price, if I can. If I can buy it from your website and avoid giving money to Amazon, even better!

Do they not like money or something? It's bizarre.

A corollary to this is Start Publishing decision to reprice all Nightshade books at 9.99 and with DRM, when they used to be six bucks and no drm from Baean. Obvs, the Nightshade peeps are someone you should be looking to for business advice, but there are tonnes of interesting fantasy novels out there for between $0-$7 bucks, and they've effectively guaranteed I won't be buying any more of their books unless it's an author I already know or the premise 100% hits the things I enjoy and I see a good review from Publishers Weekly or somewhere similarly trustworthy.

I mean, I can get a Paizo Pathfinder novel for six bucks. I know what I'm gonna get for six bucks. It's easy to buy, classic sword and sorcery and having read three, I feel they aren't just push-publishers, but have a bar all the writers must clear (unlike Angry Robot, shit. I will never buy anything from them after reading the Nekropolis books which were not only terrible as writing in every single way [like, jaw-droppingly bad, with absolutely no editing], but actually feature generous cutting and pasting from the author of earlier paragraphs and passages. They got shitty when I bought it up on their facebook, tried to deny it. If they don't read their own frigging books or or happy to publish shit like that, they can kiss my dollar goodbye).
posted by smoke at 7:54 PM on September 20, 2013

unlike Angry Robot, shit.

Really? I just read one of theirs - Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, who, granted, is not exactly a random unknown - and it was great. Had some relatively minor typesetting issues, admittedly. But she probably doesn't count, because that was not its first publication.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:02 PM on September 20, 2013

Oh I'm sure they publish some great books - half the catalogue looks terrific to me. But when I paid good money to not only get served up garbage (and I am a somewhat forgiving reader), but garbage that was a) unedited and littered with mistakes (tense confusion, switching between first and third person narration plus regular grammar mistakes) and b) copies and pastes paragraphs to bulk out content, I just can't support a publisher with those kind of practices - can't do it, and it's not like there's a dearth of great small publishers wanting my dime (would help if a few more published ebooks and sold them for their sites, but there's still plenty).

I've heard great things about Zoo City, and Beukes is one of their biggest successes. But having gambled with several of their books, to me it's obvious they'll publish anything that remotely ticks a few genre boxes. I like my publishers to be more a brand, preferably, with a unique voice and a reputation for consistency if nothing else. Small Beer Press, Paizo like I mentioned above, Prime Books, Masque Books, Nightshade etc etc.
posted by smoke at 8:12 PM on September 20, 2013

(Batman and Robocop in love! Jesus in the Hunger Games!)

The Running Man/Hunger Games MUSICAL SPECTACULAR
posted by homunculus at 6:35 PM on September 23, 2013

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