Records/Milestones from my London trip

My proper travel posts (and pictures) are still in the works, but some records/milestones from my trip:

–Longest flight ever: Chicago to London
–Second Trip to London and first for 23 years
–First Worldcon
–First Hugo Award ceremony
–Furthest East ever traveled: Excel Center, London
–First Trip to England where I left the city limits (Bath, Salisbury, Stonehenge)

My Loncon3 schedule

My Loncon3 schedule

Not with a Bang, but with a Metaphor
Thursday 12:00 – 13:30, Capital Suite 2 (ExCeL)
From Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ to McCarthy’s ‘The Road’, apocalyptic and dystopian futures are a perennial favourite with writers who might be labelled ‘mainstream’ or ‘literary’. Why do such scenarios have an appeal that goes beyond a genre readership? What does a non-genre apocalypse have to offer that a science fictional one might not, and vice versa? Do we all share broadly similar nightmares, regardless of what ratio of science to sensibility we prefer?

That’s it. One panel. WhodoyathinkIam? (And of course, the Hugo Ceremony. Because Hugo Nominee!)
Its likely though, you will see me in the company of the Skiffy and Fanty crew there at the con as well–Shaun, Mike and Julia. We’ll be around. We are going to be doing interviews. Come meet me. I’m shy, but friendly.
My dear friend Felicia will also be around. She’s much more gregarious than I am, and wants to meet all the lovely SF people I talk to. Don’t disappoint her, okay? Come say hi.

Traitor’s Blade, by Sebastien de Castell

Traitor’s Blade, by Sebastien de Castell, contains some of the virtues of Musketeer fiction. High paced action and adventure rule the first portion of the story of a disgraced set of swordsman of justice for a King who has been killed, replaced by a set of squabbling Dukes who would rather rule their petty little fiefdoms with an iron fist rather than offer justice. Falcio and his companions have become outlaws, swords for hire, dreaming of better days. The first act also shows us how Falcio got on his path in the first place.
The book misses, however, a good bet with a very questionable structure choice. Midway through the book, the action focuses on Falcio, alone, and someone he has sworn to protect. The novel completely abandons the fresh banter and interplay that is one of the best things about Musketeer fiction, and replaces it with a base-under-siege sort of storyline. I felt cheated by this. When I read Musketeer fiction, I want fast paced action and adventure. As said above, Traitor’s Blade has those in spades. I also though want that Musketeer dynamic, and Traitor’s Blade takes that away from me, the reader and replaces it with something lesser. Similarly, the movie The Musketeer, often having D’Artagnan go solo, completely gets this wrong as well.
However, ‘fridging’ a female character to provide motivation to the protagonist to go on his life path is more than just lazy writing, its a perpetuation of a very tired and sexist trope. There were any number of ways to get Falcio to meet the king and resurrect the Greatcoats. To do it this way helped set the book on the wrong foot for me early on, and the book never recovered. There is also a brief encounter between Falcio and another female character in that second act that was frankly offensive to me.
The denouement of the book is a muddled mess as well. The already murky motivations of the antagonists compounds with a lot of coincidence and hand waving. Worse, while the first part of the book reveled in swordplay, and the second, while questionable structurally, at least provided some action beats, the third act has the wheels go off entirely. A crucial fight scene in the end of the book is not described at all. The big battle at the end is a wet firecracker. The book feels like an imperfect but entertaining first act, and then loses its way as soon as Falcio goes off on his own.

Done with the Blue SF crowd

I’m done with the Blue SF crowd.
Really, I’m done with them.
All of them.
Today was the breaking point. Tom Kratman suggesting Western Civilization could only survive by killing every felon in the US, and the progressives as well, was genocidal and bad enough.
Teddy Beale, Vox Day, suggesting the USA would have been in the right to machine gun down the children at the US-Mexico border is a whole new level of evil. Congratulations, Teddy. Theodore Beale, Vox Day, you are an Evil Sick Fuck.
So I’m done with reading anything they do. Any of them. I was banned, once, twice, at Sarah Hoyt’s blog. I should have taken the message, then and there.
Now I have.
I read what they say no more.
John C Wright, if you read this. I know you’ve considered me a friend. So has your wife. I’m sorry. Your publisher speaks evil. Evil as bad or as worse as you condemn “The Left” for.
Can you not see this? Can you not stand against this?
Will you say nothing? Silence IS assent.

“Back to School” and the Problem of Time

Bear with me on this one.
I’ve been thinking about the time investment of novels lately versus other media. A post by Damien Walter [http://damiengwalter.com/2014/07/13/novels-are-losing-the-narrative-arms-race/] and my comment on it
got me to thinking about the problem in terms of a movie scene. I recognize the irony.
In a scene in the movie Back to School (Starring Rodney Dangerfield), there is a conversation between the lead, Rodney Dangerfield’s uneducated but wealthy Thornton Melon and Sally Kellerman’s Dr. Diane Turner. Turner argues that a movie version of a novel gives you only the director’s point of view, and why would you want the director to dictate that point of view. Melon on the other hand, points out it does allow you to “get in and out” of the story in a rapid fashion, without having to make the time investment.
I think, in our time-pressed culture today, Melon’s point of view is winning out over Turner’s, or threatening to do so. The rise of the HBO Series is a way to try to bridge the storytelling weaknesses of episodic series and movies to provide strengths novels have had to themselves. And, more to the point, marry the advantages of the visual medium to them.
And that doesn’t even touch the narrative potential of videogames like the Dragon Age and Assassin’s Creed series, either.
Can the novel continue to succeed in this day and age on a mass scale, when it does require such a time investment as compared to other narrative forms?