The Pleasant Exhaustion of a Job Well Done

Well, at least I hope it was a job well done.  There’s no question about the exhaustion.

I refer to my one day marathon attendance of Boskone 54, Chaired by contributor and friend Erin Underwood.

Despite my short attendance, I will say right now that I believe Boskone 54 is a success, at least by the customary and normal standards for conventions:  there was what appeared to be good and growing attendance as the day wore on, the panels went off on schedule, there were no long lines at registration (though the real test for that is today…right now actually as I write this), and I saw, overheard and met with a lot of smiling and apparently happy fans.

Not being able to attend the full convention, I asked programming to put me on as many panels as they thought appropriate on Friday.  I’d originally been scheduled for panels scheduled throughout the duration.

Con programming answered the call with four back-to-back panels from 4 pm until 8 pm, including two I moderated.

Note to convention panelists:  do not do this – unless you are a masochist, in need of a strenuous mental vacation, or are trying to establish some kind of public speaking record.  That’s advice, not criticism.

Attendance at all four panels was never less than 16 and in the majority of cases, a full room – which can be nervous-making but also rewarding.

Due to that panel schedule, I did not have much time to schmooze/conduct business, but I managed to maximize what little time I did have, hanging and talking this and that (I’m not free to reveal details yet) with Allen Steele – who was giving me some inside dope on Arkwright, which I am reading now and already intend to nominate for a Hugo – Michael Swanwick (hopefully much more about that later), Vincent O’Neil – I’ll be reviewing the next two books in his Sim War series (ARC for the fifth one);  Vincent and I had a very interesting conversation about science fiction, military history, specifics in science fiction and why you might not want to be all that specific;  Frank Wu – missed Brianna except a wave up the escalator);  said hi to Ginjer Buchanan who appears to be enjoying retirement, several others who are a blur at this moment…

As for the panels:  the day began with a panel on Temperment and the Writer with Leigh Perry, Esther Friesner, Ian Randall Strock and Richard Shealey, representing authors, editors, publishers;  I got a few laughs (one of my goals during panels – humor injected appropriately).  The initial question was essentially, how do you keep your ego from being crushed while being a writer.  I commented that I thought the process was ego-boosting, as eventually you learn to be satisfied for yourself and any success that follows is a bonus.  Side note:  Esther Friesner is a very funny lady and you should check out her Chicks in Chainmail series.

Next up was Geek is Chic – Or Is It?  With Flourish Klink, Leslie Turek, Frank Wu and Dan Moren.  I mentioned my concerns that since being a geek is socially acceptable these days, we’re losing a sense of community, because one no longer has to pay a price for their involvement.  I got thanked (thanked!) for bringing up the puppy kerfuffle, which was used as an example of what happens when people claim to be of fandom but have not familiarized themselves with the traditions or history.  We all agreed that The BIg Bang Theory had gone from being respectful of geeks to ridiculing them and, while we didn’t solve any major societal issues, we did give the audience some things to think about.  Shout out to Amy who sat in the front row and politely became an unofficial panel member with her informative contributions.  Note:  Flourish is an excellent moderator, even if I can’t get images of Col. Klink out of my head every time I see the name.

My first moderating gig was A Cataclysm of Cats Redux with Esther Friesner and Bruce Colville.  This was a follow-on panel from last year, which neither I or anyone else in our decimated group had attended, so we really had no clue as to what had gone before.  I opened with my solution for herding cats;  we each shared endearing cat stories, discussed our favorites (Bruce insists that Griffins are cats and we allowed that expansion), talked about whether or not cats are taking over, decided that they already had and somehow managed to fill the scheduled hour with a decent amount of audience participation.

And finally, My Favorite Monster with  Vincent DiFate, Bob Eggleton, Julie Day and Adam Stemple.  Wow.  What a panel.  It was preceded by a 5 or so minute talk with Mr. DiFate, consisting of my basically saying “I really love your stuff” and him saying “Thank you very much”.  We talked some old convention history for a bit – the last time I actually talked to Vincent was, I think, 1978 or thereabouts.

We talked monsters, from Grendel to Godzilla and beyond.  We all agreed that the unseen monster of the mind’s eye was potentially the most terrifying.  We definitely established that Bob Eggleton REALLY gets off on Godzilla and that Vincent DiFate is very enamoured of The Creature (from the black lagoon); Julie offered up the very on point point that we can get far deeper into the head space of literary monsters than we can the ones in visual; Tooting my own horn, I got compliments from panelists and audience members both.  So maybe Boskone will have me back again next year.

My apologies to the Geek/Chic panel members for briefly hijacking the discussion with my presentation of a poster to Frank Wu.  I didn’t realize he was going to open it up until it was too late, but I think I made the saving throw when we pointed out that our reaction(s) to the poster was very geeky….

I had a wonderful time, a much needed break from mundane life and I strongly recommend this convention.

Now I have a small TBR pile I’ve got to get through….

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