Monday, December 4, 2017

World Fantasy Convention, 2017, Part V: Day 4

World Fantasy Convention, 2017, Part V: Day 4

Last day. I'll begin with some mentions of people I talked to earlier, whom I had forgotten when doing previous writeups. I talked to Michael Damian Thomas for some time -- about his and Lynne's recent move to Champaign (where I went to college), and (with Sarah Pinsker, as previously mentioned) about music -- Tom Petty, and other concerts we've attended, and other people who are, well, getting on a bit (as are we all). Of course I've known Michael for years and years. I also had a good talk with Tegan Moore, who had a really good story in Asimov's last year ("Epitome"). She mentioned some frustration with selling her recent work, which sounds pretty ambitious -- I think she'll make it, and pretty impressively, before long.

I also had a good talk with Brad Denton, and Caroline Spector, and I managed to put in a request for a song at "Roomcon", the traditional room party at ConQuesT where Brad (as "Blind Lemon") and Caroline play excellent music. (The request was for another song about a Texas city: Robert Earl Keen's great "Corpus Christi Bay".) Others I met (some quite briefly) included Robert V. S. Redick, Jenn Reese, Caroline Yoachim, Rajan Khanna, Greg van Eekhout,  Gary Wolfe, and doubtless several more I'm embarrassed to have forgotten.

Sunday morning I came downstairs and ran into (not literally) Charlie Finlay, along with three of his F&SF writers: Austin Habershaw, G. V. (for Gemma, I think) Anderson, and Nebula winner William Ledbetter. Ledbetter's Nebula was for a story in F&SF last year, and I was impressed with stories by Anderson and Habershaw in the same quite recent issue. Indeed, Anderson went on to take the World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story later that day. I had forgotten that story, perhaps because the title is in German: "Das Steingeschöpf", but I looked it up again (it was in Strange Horizons late last year, and I first read it on a morning walk when I was in Southern California for work about a year ago), and it's pretty impressive. We talked about things like the San Antonio climate and baseball.

We skipped breakfast (grabbed a snack in the Con suite), and there were panels at 10 and 11 I wanted to see. The first was on Pulp Era Influences: The Expiration Date. Panelists were James Stoddard, Gary K. Wolfe, Betsy Mitchell, and Jeffrey Shanks. Most agreed that lots of Pulp Era writers remain influential, and they mentioned as well some contemporary work explicitly in the "Pulp" mode. Betsy mentioned her ebook project, Open Road, which brings a lot of out of print work back at least electronically.

The second panel was on the Best Fantasy Novels of 2017. Willie Siros, Liza Groen Trombi, Jim Minz, and Joe Monti were the panelists. I always find these worthwhile, and there was a good discussion. I also had a good talk with Joe after the panel.

Finally, we attended Karen Joy Fowler's reading, from her upcoming novel about the John Wilkes Booth family. It was very intriguing. I did get a chance to introduce Mary Ann to Karen a bit later -- as I've mentioned before, Mary Ann doesn't read much SF, but she does read Karen Joy Fowler.

I took one more swing through the dealers' room, but didn't buy anything more. I was quite restrained this Con as far as buying books: the Crowley chapbook ("An Earthly Mother Sits and Sing"), Kij Johnson's The River Bank, Walter Jon Williams' Quillifer, a couple of old magazines, one Ace Double; and a couple of books given to me (Threshold of Eternity by Brunner and Broderick, and Tales from a Talking Board, featuring a Joe McDermott story).

So we headed out. One goal was to eat at Schlotzky's, long a favorite sandwich place of ours. Alas, the St. Louis franchises all closed over a decade ago. We've been to one in Seneca, SC (near Clemson) a few times, and to one in Joplin, MO, a few times, but we had noted that Texas, including San Antonio, has Schlotzky's, so we stopped at one on the way out of town. The sandwiches were a bit disappointing: sloppily prepared, and they were out of onions. Hey, I know there's great food in Texas (and we had some pretty good food!), but we had some disappointments too.

While at Schlotzky's, we saw on TV the news about the shootings at the church in Sutherland Springs, only about 40 miles away from the restaurant. I'll avoid any overtly political statements in this forum, however.

We headed up to Dallas, this time saving 20 minutes is Austin by taking a huge loop around the city. We also avoided a long delay in Waco thanks to our GPS guiding us off the highway to the frontage road to miss an accident-caused backup. We got to Dallas early enough to go out for pizza with Paul and Diane and the twins, David and Christopher. I can't remember the name of the pizza place -- the food was good but the service was incredibly slow. (The people at the table next to us made a bit of a scene about that.)

In the morning, first we had another of Diane's spectacular breakfasts. We decided we had time for one antique mall, and we (more or less randomly) picked one in Sherman, TX. It was a fine place, and I found a copy of Black Alice, by Thom Demijohn (Thomas Disch and John Sladek). Alas, a Book Club edition -- apparently the true first is pretty rare. We took the more normal way home, through Oklahoma to I-44, then into Missouri. We stopped in Joplin at Schlotzky's again -- it was better than the San Antonio one.

We had been playing various different Pandora stations along the way, some of mine and some of Mary Ann's, and we ended, for most of the way across Missouri, by playing a station I have intended to focus on show tunes -- based on my fondness for big cheesy tunes like "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" and "I Dreamed a Dream", not to mention lots of Sondheim. Mary Ann tried to prove that the phone listens to us by asking for songs from the likes of My Fair Lady -- and sure enough, not long after, "I Could Have Danced All Night" popped up -- the for Disney song, which took a while longer but eventually the phone got the hint and played something from The Little Mermaid.

We got in latish but not too late. I have to say, World Fantasy Convention lived up to what many people have told me -- that's it's a favorite convention of a whole bunch of people, for its literary and professional focus, and its relatively small size. I had a really wonderful time. As ever, the key to any Con is the people you meet -- old friends and new -- the conversations. I'll be back again as soon as I can swing it. (Alas, Baltimore next year might be hard, given we already have plans to go to San Jose for Worldcon, and to Montreal for Jo Walton's Scintillation.)

Finally, I need to mention the World Fantasy Award winners. We missed the award presentation, but here are the nominees and winners. Congratulations to them all, and I am particularly happy with Kij Johnson's award for the utterly magnificent Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe. And I should also add special congratulations to Neile Graham, another old friend from the much-missed Golden Age of the SFF.Net newsgroups. I did have a chance to finally meet Neile in the flesh, and talk with her for a bit.


  • The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North
  • Borderline by Mishell Baker
  • Roadsouls by Betsy James
  • The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
  • Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff


  • The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson
  • The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
  • “Bloodybones” by Paul F. Olson
  • A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson



  • Dreaming in the Dark edited by Jack Dann
  • Clockwork Phoenix 5 edited by Mike Allen
  • Children of Lovecraft edited by Ellen Datlow
  • The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016 edited by Karen Joy Fowler & John Joseph Adams
  • The Starlit Wood edited by Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe


  • A Natural History of Hell by Jeffrey Ford
  • Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie
  • On the Eyeball Floor and Other Stories by Tina Connolly
  • Vacui Magia by L.S. Johnson
  • The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu


  • Jeffrey Alan Love
  • Greg Bridges
  • Julie Dillon
  • Paul Lewin
  • Victo Ngai


  • Michael Levy & Farah Mendlesohn, for Children’s Fantasy Literature: An Introduction
  • L. Timmel Duchamp, for Aqueduct Press
  • C.C. Finlay, for editing F&SF
  • Kelly Link, for contributions to the genre
  • Joe Monti, for contributions to the genre


  • Neile Graham, for fostering excellence in the genre through her role as Workshop Director, Clarion West
  • Scott H. Andrews, for Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Malcolm R. Phifer & Michael C. Phifer, for their publication The Fantasy Illustration Library, Volume Two: Gods and Goddesses
  • Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, for Uncanny
  • Brian White, for Fireside Fiction Company

Here are links to all five installments of this con report:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

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