mneme and I caught the 4 pm Fung Wah bus to Boston. This was a reasonably comfortable, but slow ride, as we hit rush hour traffic. We got to the hotel by about 9:30. Check-in was acceptable, but odd. The woman was quite friendly, and noted that we had 2 double beds, party floor. We asked if we could have a king sized bed, and she said that we could, but the room we were given had 2 double beds. We didn't mind, as these were genuine queen-sized beds, not the smaller double beds I've been seeing more often, even in hotels that I could have sworn used to have bigger beds.
We were too late for registration, but we found the con suite, and got the last lonely piece of cake. We also found the filking, and Lee and Barry Gold. Much good singing. I wanted to read the maze scene from Growing Up Weightless, but didn't have a copy with me, so I took full advantage of my sidekick to get to Harry of Five Points on Making Light and read the first two installments of that. mnemex and I sang N'im Ineteen for Ben and Sarah, who have not yet seen The Muppet Frog Prince. Lee and Barry sang "The Childish Edda", and mnemex, Ben, and I sang Tom Smith's "Falling Free", which, I am assured, sounded fine. I closed one ear so that I would not be pulled off whatever line of music I was singing, which I gather worked, but did mean that I couldn't hear everything as it sounded.
We crashed out at about 3 am or so.
I think we woke up about 11 or noon. We did the Dealers' Room, and managed the Art Show as well, due to the interesting layout of space. There was one large space subdivided into three parts. First was the Dealers' Room, then the Art Show, then the Con Suite. No one required bag checking for the Art Show, which meant that it was easy to spend at least a little time looking at the art.
It was well worth looking at. I doubt I appreciated it the way I ought to have. Guided docent tours are the way to go, especially with Teresa Nielsen Hayden and Ctein. Still, it was good to see how much 3-dimensional art the art shows get these days.
I managed to find spare copies of John M. Ford's Growing Up Weightless, Princes of the Air, and Timesteps at Larry's table, the last place I would have expected that, but this is why one asks the friendly book dealers. I got a line on a possible other copy of Growing Up Weightless, a trade paperback edition. I wanted one as a present, and one as either a present or to have a spare so I could loan out my copy.
I also got a spare copy of Weirdstone of Brisengamen and Elidor, and a copy of Elizabeth Hand's latest anthology, as well as a book on forging, as in smithcraft. I got 2 cds, one of Neil Gaiman reading his work, and the Flash Girls cd Maurice and I. I'd been searching for that latter for years, since foolishly not buying it at the Arisia they played at years ago. I also foolishly didn't buy Robin Anders' drumming cd. Ah well, maybe it'll come back into print, too. And, I got some of Auntie Arwen's lovely jalapeno chocolate fudge and chocolate covered coffee beans.
At 2 pm, mnemex and I made Lee and Barry's concert. After that, I discovered that the panel on blogging was in the same room. This had been a panel I'd thought about making, so I stayed. John Scalzi spent the first few minutes saying that he thought the topic was now obsolete, though the panelists would be entertaining for the hour. This suited me, as I learned years ago that the panel topic is nearly irrelevant. The important thing is who the panelists are. With John Scalzi, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Jim Macdonald, and Kathryn Cramer, I knew I'd have a good time.
John Scalzi noted that he got folks who commented on his blog that they wouldn't read his books any more unless he stopped saying things they didn't like in his personal blog. mnemex whispered to me, "I'm in UR blog, not reading UR books."
Teresa said that her mother taught her that if you get a threatening letter, you publish it at once.
And lots of other cool things I don't recall right now were said. Oh yes, Elise noted that blogging and the online culture in general was great for people who, like her, are hard of hearing, and therefore, at a disadvantage in conversations where the participants did not know how to communicate so as to be inclusive. (She said it more elegantly than that.)
Sometime after that, I discovered the Mike Ford Silent Auction, which had things like the Capture Coloring Book, which my roommate at UCLA had shown me once (I think that's where I encountered it), the Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues, and other Ford and non-Ford items.
At 5, mnemex and I and Lee and Barry tried to eat at the hotel restaurant. Alas, it was both not open yet and fully booked for the evening. Lee suggested a sign to that effect, and we ate at the hotel's Birch Bar, which had a design your own pasta dish -- good, but not 15 bucks worth of good -- and a design your own hamburger, as long as you wanted it cooked their way, and only wanted stuff like lettuce, tomato, cheese, or onions on it. The meat was quite decent, but again, 12 bucks was a bit steep.
Lee and Barry ran the themed filking circle for roleplaying game songs, which was fun. mnemex and I did our party crawling, which was easy as the parties were on the same floor as the room, and we wanted to pick up his harp anyway. At the Montreal party, we spoke with Nathan and Elizabeth, two people I'd gamed with earlier this month at Dreamation (the write up is on the labcats blog), and thought I'd spotted earlier in the con suite. Elizabeth, at least, had been to the 2005 WorldCon.
We made it to the Con Suite in time to eat cake in honor of Rusty's birthday. mnemex read the Ford story in a gaming magazine at the silent auction, then gave a backrub. We gradually drifted to the filk, which was good. I read the maze scene, now that I had a copy of Growing Up Weightless with me, though it's probably time to retire that for a while. Gary followed (for the definition of "follow" that means "after a couple of other people did a piece"), as he had at Darkover, with his song about a home on the moon. (I think the title is "Hail to the Builders", but I'm not sure and getting rather exhausted.) Ben sang a song he'd just written, which had to do with airplanes and rubber bands. He also sang "Uplift", which I think should probably be sung once a convention. It's one of sf fandom's religious songs, in a way, even if it really is a song about the computer game Civilization. mnemex sang "Frogs", from The Muppet Frog Prince, for Ben and Sarah, and this kicked off a short run of frog songs. I know we also all sang "The Bells of Norwich", which sounded great. I sang fairly low on that and wonder if I was in alto or tenor range, as I very much doubt I can hit bass range. Probably alto. It made my stomach buzz pleasantly.
We crashed about 3:30 am, as I was utterly exhausted.
We woke up at 8:30 am to do the breakfast buffet. The hotel restaurant was open. There was room for us. The food was good, and it included smoked salmon. Yummy.
Then, we went back to sleep until about 10:30. I got to the Dealers' Room, confirmed that yes, there was a second copy of Growing Up Weightless, bought it, and made the panel on Mike Ford and learned some stuff.
Elise said that questions about decoding Mike's works are best directed towards Pamela Dean and the Nielsen Haydens, and that well.com has an interview in the inkwell where Mike explains some of what's going on in The Last Hot Time. I'll check it out when my eyes focus better.
Elise also said that reading Christopher Fry, Auden, and Tom Stoppard are useful in understanding Mike's work.
The panelists were Teresa and Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Chip Hitchcock. Chip said that deciding the order of the pieces in the NESFA Ford book was tricky, and the editors wanted to make sure that there weren't too many "agony" pieces in succession.
Someone said that there was a lot of Mike in Steven Brust's Paarfi.
One of Mike's much used phrases was "You must understand". For example, when explaining the structure of How Much For Just the Planet?, he said, I gather, something like "You must understand that the essence of farce is people who must not meet." You need near misses, and then, when the two people meet, it is at the worst possible time. I gather that this also applies to Casting Fortune, which I've not yet read.
All the people mentioned in the acknowledgements of How Much For Just The Planet get musical numbers, and almost all of the people on the planet were Mike's friends, the exceptions being one or two characters who were more or less Mike.
Patrick borrowed my latest copy of Growing Up Weightless to look something up, though I now forget what. Folks talked about how the book is one long tracking shot, with, like Alfred Hitchcock's movie, Rope, just one cut. This cut is near the end, and makes good thematic sense, and one could argue that it's not really a cut, I think.
Except... Well, there's a cut in Rope that astonished me, one no one seems to remember, a cut to the housekeeper saying that dinner is served. And, I said, similarly, there's a sort of cut in Mike's novel. Usually, it changes point of view only when the character who has it and the character who's about to have it are in the same location. But, when one character is on a trip, and the other is in a city some distance away, and they are not in communication, the scene change comes when the character on the trip thinks about the character in the city.
Elise confirmed that I was correct and said that Mike had mentioned this and had not been comfortable with it. I felt absurdly elated that I had gotten it right, although I don't think that Mike should have felt bad about it. This was just about the only way he could have done that section.
The consensus seemed to be that the novel isn't YA, which I think misses the point about YA. The best of YA novels are so, so much better than a lot of supposedly Adult Books.
The novel Mike had been working on, Aspects is not at all finished and no information could be given about its status.
At some Minniecon, someone listening to Mike, Elise, Teresa, and a couple of other people wished she could pause the conversation and get footnotes, so folks were issued an 8 1/2 by 11 inch sheet of paper with an asterisk on it, to hold up to request a verbal footnote. Naturally, folks used these all convention. Elise said that this generated a sign, basically holding up one's hand with outstretched fingers.
She also said that she and a few other people had an idea for a panel that they decided was too heavy: I'm going to die. Tell me a story.
She said that she later used this as a closing question for an interview she did with Mike, adding that she thought that one of the reasons she and Mike were together was that he liked that she asked the hard questions. So, she explained the background, about the idea for a panel that was too heavy. She said to him, "I'm going to die. Tell me a story."
And Mike, who lived with death at his shoulder, if not closer, for so many years of his life, paused, and said in a shaky voice, "No. You tell me a story, and I'll repeat it after you're gone."
We are all missing Mike again. And, I hardly knew him. I met him just once, at the second Boskone I ever attended, and his presence was no small part of why I attended that convention.
After the panel, I met up with mnemex, who won a game of M. just in time to come up with me to the room and pack up. We checked our stuff, and I went to the 1 pm panel I wanted to make, about American Fantasy and what defined it. This was quite entertaining, if hardly the last word on the subject. The panelists were Brett Cox, Elizabeth Bear, Greer Gilman, and Michael Swanwick. The best one liner came from Alexander Jablokov: Others write comedies of manners; New Englanders write comedies of ethics.
As far as I can tell, what I said when I pushed my two cents in is true: There is a Something that exists and is peculiarly American, the Good Stuff is the Good Stuff regardless of where you find it and "American" is irrelevant for that context, and everyone's drinking from each other's wells anyway, what with the world getting smaller. I mean, trace the line from Robert Nathan to Peter Beagle to Neil Gaiman.
Apart from the panellists, American authors mentioned included Frank Baum, Ray Bradbury and R. A. Lafferty. I also think of Patricia McKillip, Peter Beagle, and Ursula K. LeGuin, who are certainly good, but I don't know that their work screams "American" in the same inescapable way as the other three. Horror got mentioned as well, and the idea that in British horror, the horrific element is outside, but in American, it's inside. I don't buy that, and I don't buy it even for the work mentioned, Frankenstein. The monster is not an outsider, but the scientist's double, doing what Frankenstein himself wants.
Elizabeth Bear wrote an Arthurian novel set in the modern day. I should check it out.
The Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God sermon is important, as is Cotton Mathers.
Indeed, Swanwick's closing statement, seconded by Cox, was that we should all buy more books and read more, that none of this mattered without readers, basically. And Cox repeated what Bill Senior, whom he correctly identified as the eminent gris of the IAFA, said: Read hard.
After this panel, I met mnemex at Lee and Barry's panel on filk and fan history, which was done with illustrative filks, including "Bouncing Potatoes", Mike Rubin's "Fire and Ice Con" about the Boskone XXIV, my first Boskone, which was quite good for me, despite the problems mentioned in the song, Dave Weingart's song about Disclave '97, and Gary's song for the Escher Hilton.
mnemex, Eyal, Lee, Barry, and I went to Legal Seafood for an early dinner, returing in time for Lee to read us a poem mnemex googled for, for us to say hello to Persis, and for us to visit the beginning Dead Dog filk very briefly. I gave Lee the words to the third installation of Harry of Five Points, and she read it with a French accent, as was appropriate.
Then, mnemex and I unchecked our stuff and cabbed to the bus station. We managed to get transferred to an earlier bus, and got home before midnight. It's now somewhat after midnight, and I need to crash.