I have worked as a journalist for decades, from copy editing and layout/design, to editor and editor-in-chief of a small daily, to project coordination, to scheduling and sharing on social media, etc. On Friday I was laid off. Here's my LinkedIn profile. I'm starting a job hunt this week, and I'd like to stay in journalism, but I'm open to other options. Meanwhile, I suddenly have more time than expected for WorldCon preparations, which is a silver lining. See below.
I went to my first GenCon (in Indianapolis) at the beginning of August. I attended numerous panels on the Writer's Symposium track, attended a game played by authors, went through the dealers' room several times and got some books and a gamebook, and roleplayed in two games. I had a great time, and will certainly consider going again next year, depending on other demands on my time and energy. I skipped the downtown walking tour since it was raining, but got to see a few sights anyway, including the impressive Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument. I missed the Escape Room event I'd signed up for, due to a schedule mixup, but got to play an informal sort of Escape Room game later.
Panels attended: Adding Maps to Your Writing; Objectivity in Reviewing; Who Cares, It's Magic; Sword & Sorcery Renaissance in Writing; and Imagining Alternate Futures.
D&D with Authors Liveplay was GMed by Greg Wilson (host of the ArvanEleron Twitch channel where I'm a moderator), in a special one-shot adventure that he created. The players were Brandon O'Brien, Richard Lee Byers, Gini Koch, C.S.E. Cooney, Carlos Hernandez and Karen Bovenmeyer. It featured some puzzles and some fun RP, and a good time was had by all, including the audience, which included quite a few Arvanauts (regular watchers of ArvanEleron). (The earlier link was on Twitch; here the game is again on YouTube.)
Saturday morning, I played EsperGenesis: Crisis on Kammria. This is a prologue to the Expedition from the Barrier Peaks campaign system, which imagines what happens 200 years after the Expedition to the Mysterious Peaks module published in 1980. I had backed the campaign on KickStartr, but it hasn't delivered yet, due to various circumstances, so I was excited to get a chance to play. The DM was Rich Lescouflair, listed as the creator of the campaign. This one-shot preview turned out to be basically D&D 5e with a little tech flavor, but plotwise it was not like any module I've played before. The group (7 players) meshed pretty well, and I enjoyed rolling some dice with them.
Saturday evening, my friend and I played Weird Stories, a collaborative storytelling RPG, with half-a-dozen other people who had signed up. It's card-based, and the deck includes settings, characters and story prompts. I had voted for the creepy small town setting because I thought that would be the easiest for a group of strangers to play together, but the group decided on Victorian Manor with Something in the Basement. We ended up having a really good time with this -- a lot of good RP and moments of "Yes, and...!" building off each other's moves and ideas.
On Sunday, my friend and I went to the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, primarily to see the highly recommended sculpture garden, but since it was pretty brutally hot, I suggested seeing the museum first and waiting until later in the afternoon for the sculpture garden. We spent a few hours looking at the museum, which was grouped primarily by theme rather than period, and had some interesting discussions. However, to our dismay, at 5 p.m. the museum closed -- not just the building, but the grounds. Maybe we'll get a chance to look at the sculptures if we go back next year. But something my friend commented on prompted me to go on a rant about Roy Lichtenstein's plagiarism. Please feel free to search for yourself, but here's a link to get you started: http://www.scottedelman.com/2013/04/12/another-reason-i-love-dave-gibbons-and-continue-to-hate-roy-lichtenstein/
Sunday evening, we joined Greg, his family, E.D.E. Bell, her family, and some others for a few informal games. We played a couple of rounds of Werewolf, and then we played Escape from Hoth, a combination card/online game from Fantasy Flight Games. It's the basic plot of the Hoth part of The Empire Strikes Back, but you have to solve a series of puzzles to get off the planet. Some of the puzzles were pretty obvious, some we had to use hints for, and some we gave up and looked at the manual for. We did eventually make it offplanet, but well past the deadline, alas. But we had fun anyway.
Safety: GenCon required proof of vaccination, and masks at all times at official con spaces. A lot of people whipped off their masks the second they were outside the convention center, but people were good about wearing them correctly inside. My friend and I kept ours on at all times except in our own hotel rooms and when eating outside (at a restaurant patio, or from a food truck).
I really liked the food at Cafe Patachou, but be advised that their "spicy" scrambled eggs are far from it: not even Minnesota spicy, my friend said. The corned beef sandwich from High Velocity sportsbar (to go) was also surprisingly good, with high quality meat and plenty of it.
I've known for quite a while that I wanted to go to the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention at Chicago, aka ChiCon, which will be over Labor Day Weekend this year. (Masks and proof of vaccination are required.) I indicated interest in up to 10 panels this year, but said the maximum I wanted to be on was eight. Despite Skiffy and Fanty, which I think of as my home podcast, not being a finalist this year, and despite my not doing many reviews last year, they ended up putting me on a lot, possibly partially because I was on several ConZealand virtual panels two years ago that the audiences appeared to enjoy, and probably partially because I've demonstrated interest in the history of the genre. My preliminary schedule had 7 panels from the 1946 retro track, and one modern panel on The Resurgence of Epistolary Stories. Sadly, the epistolary panel was canceled, so it's all 1946 for me.
The 1946 track is a new venture this year. Previous WorldCons have often held Retro Hugo Awards to recognize work done in years that didn't have WorldCons and thus didn't have Hugo Awards, but prizes often arguably went to big names rather than the best work of that year, and it's getting harder and harder to track down winners or their surviving relatives to receive those awards. So this year we're having panels instead of prizes. These are my panels:
Thursday, Sept. 1, 2:30 CT, Roosevelt 3: 1946: A Year in the Life of a Fan, with David Ritter (mod), Jerry Kaufman, Joe Siclari and Peter D Balestrieri. As the Second World War ended, fandom in the United States began to come back to life. What would it have been like to be a science fiction fan in 1946? How did the war change fandom? What were fans reading, who were they corresponding with, and where and how did they meet each other? (This panel is part of the 1946 project, a look back at the year in lieu of awarding Retro Hugo Awards.)
Thursday, Sept. 1, 5:30 CT, Grand Hall GH: 1946: A Vintage Season for SFF, with John Hertz (moderator), Alec Nevala-Lee, Dave Hook. As the world began to recover from the trauma of the Second World War, SFF authors grappled with atomic futures. From Chan Davis to C.L. Moore, what works have withstood the test of time, and how are these works continuing to influence the genre today? How did they reflect, respond to, or ignore social and technological challenges of the day?
Friday, Sept. 2, 11:30 CT, Atlanta: The Life and Impact of C.L. Moore, with Marta Murvosh (mod), Carrie Cooper, and Rich Horton. Among the first prominent female science fiction and fantasy writers in the United States, C. L. Moore stands as a titan of early science fiction and fantasy. Starting in the 1930s, her work regularly appeared in publications like Weird Tales and Astounding Stories, and later in life won the World Fantasy Convention Lifetime Achievement Award and was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. Our panelists will discuss the life and impact of this influential writer.
Saturday, Sept. 3, 10 CT, Michigan 3: Undiscovered and Forgotten Gems of 1946, with Alec Nevala-Lee, Connie Willis, John Hertz and Michael Haynes. I'm moderating this one. The authors and stories of 1946 that we remember and celebrate today are just a fraction of what was published. Which forgotten authors and stories captured the attention of science fiction fans in the wake of World War II? What happened, are all of them out of step with our current social values, and are they forever relegated to the dustbin of history, or is there room in modern science fiction for these older works?
Saturday, Sept. 3, 1 CT, Airmeet 5 (virtual): Leading Ladies: Women in Fandom in 1946, with Carrie Cooper, Kate Heffner and Lisa Yaszek. I'm moderating this one. From super fans to popular authors to legendary editors, women have helped shape and define science fiction since its inception. Leigh Bracket, Myrtle R. Douglas (aka Morojo), Edythe Eyde (aka Tigrina), Doris Baumgardt (aka Leslie Perri), Dorothy McIlwraith and more: our panelists will discuss the prominent female fans, authors, and editors of 1946 and the role they played in creating the science fiction community and industry we know today.
Sunday, Sept. 4, 11:30 CT, Atlanta: Science in Science Fiction: The Guesswork of 1946, with Daniel Ritter, G. David Nordley, Henry Spencer and James L. Cambias. I'm moderating this one. It’s sometimes easy to take for granted how much we know about technology and science today, but in 1946 much of what we know now had yet to be discovered. Authors wrote about spaceflight before we had sent a human into space, imagined exoplanets before we had confirmed they existed, and built galactic empires without the notion of the internet. Our panelists will discuss what writers would have known and not known about technology and science in 1946 and how that impacted the science fiction they wrote.
Sunday, Sept. 4, 4 CT, Grand Hall I: The Likely Hugo Nominees from 1946, with Rich Horton (mod), Dave Hook and John Stith. Hugo Awards were not presented at the 1946 Worldcon, as they were first awarded in 1953. But what did attendees of the 1946 Worldcon think of the science fiction stories published that year? Using the comments, surveys, and reviews left to us by the fans of that era, our panelists will look at the most popular works published in 1946 and what the fans and readers of the time thought of them.
I'll also be attending the Hugo Awards ceremony. And I'll be visiting numerous museums, etc., in Chicago before the convention begins. Other parts of my schedule remain TBD.
Good grief, I hadn't updated my blog since February!
Reviews: Even before my layoff, I've been itching to get back to reviewing. I have a couple of ARCs from NetGalley in my TBR already, and expect to start tackling them this week, along with my WorldCon homework.
Books currently in progress: "1946: The Making of the Modern World" by Victor Sebestyen, "The Best of C.L. Moore" (1975 collection), and, just for fun, Arkham Horror's "Grim Investigations: The Collected Novellas Volume 2."
Video/Podcast: I'm on Seth Heasley's Hugos There podcast again, for the "2022 Nominees for Best Novella – Discussion Panel" -- recorded on July 23, 2022, it's also a video, which you can watch here: https://hugospodcast.com/podcast/2022-nominees-for-best-novella-discussion-panel/
Other panelists besides Seth are Cora Buhlert, Gretchen Jones, Ivor Watkins, Juan Sanmiguel, Kristenelle, Lori Anderson, Olav Rokne, Rob Tomshany, and Scott Ullery. My top 2 favorite novellas were The Past Is Red by Catherynne M. Valente and Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky.
Skiffy and Fanty: On April 3, I was on a Patreon-only podcast from the Skiffy and Fanty Show, discussing "Conflict in SF/F" with Shaun Duke and Brandon O'Brien. A very broad topic! In other Skiffy and Fanty news, I am stepping up to help with audio editing. Basically, I do some noise cleanup and take out most of the "uh" "um" "like" "you know" etc. fillers, tack on a beginning and ending, and toss it to Shaun for a final polish. My first edited audio this year is the discussion of "The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey" https://skiffyandfanty.com/podcasts/462ptolemygrey/ and I am working on another one this week.
Aug. 15: In the latest SFFaudio podcast, Jesse Willis, Evan Lampe, Conner Kaye, Alex of PulpCovers and I discuss H.P. Lovecraft's The Doom That Came to Sarnath (and Jason Thompson's awesome graphic interpretation, and more). Spoiler: Those murderous, appropriative Sarnathians deserved what they got. https://www.sffaudio.com/the-sffaudio-podcast-695-audiobook-readalong-the-doom-that-came-to-sarnath-by-h-p-lovecraft/
July 18: On SFFaudio, Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, and I discussed Robert A. Heinlein's Tunnel In the Sky. Parts were interesting, but I found the ending dissatisfying. https://www.sffaudio.com/the-sffaudio-podcast-691-readalong-tunnel-in-the-sky-by-robert-a-heinlein/
July 4: On SFFaudio, Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada and I discussed John Wyndham's "The Midwich Cuckoos" novel that was made into movies as "Village of the Damned" and others. There was a lot to discuss in this one! https://www.sffaudio.com/the-sffaudio-podcast-689-readalong-the-midwich-cuckoos-by-john-wyndham/
June 20: On SFFaudio, Jesse Willis, Evan Lampe, Alex of PulpCovers, Connor Kaye and I discussed Robert E. Howard's "People of the Black Circle." This is probably my favorite Conan story. https://www.sffaudio.com/the-sffaudio-podcast-687-audiobook-readalong-the-people-of-the-black-circle-by-robert-e-howard/
June 6: On SFFaudio, Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Will Emmons and I discussed Robert A. Heinlein's "The Star Beast." Either this or "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel" was the first Heinlein I ever read. https://www.sffaudio.com/the-sffaudio-podcast-685-readalong-the-star-beast-by-robert-a-heinlein/
May 16: On SFFaudio, Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Scott Danielson, Evan Lampe and I discussed James Tiptree Jr.'s "The Screwfly Solution." https://www.sffaudio.com/the-sffaudio-podcast-682-readalong-the-screwfly-solution-by-james-tiptree-jr/ This is just a discussion, no readalong, so I highly recommend listening to Pseudopod's free version:
May 9: On SFFaudio, Jesse Willis, Evan Lampe, Will Emmons, Connor Kaye, Alex of PulpCovers and I discussed William R. Bradshaw's "The Goddess of Atvatabar." This was a quite colonialist planetary adventure (hollow earth) that had some interesting ideas that it basically dismissed at the end. Lots of (unintentional, I believe) humor. https://www.sffaudio.com/the-sffaudio-podcast-681-audiobook-readalong-the-goddess-of-atvatabar-by-william-r-bradshaw/
April 4: On SFFaudio, Jesse Willis, Scott Danielson, Will Emmons and I discussed William Shakespeare's The Tempest. This is such a masterpiece. I listened to or watched multiple versions of the play in the week leading up to this and never got tired of the various interpretations, although some were definitely better than others. https://www.sffaudio.com/the-sffaudio-podcast-676-readalong-the-tempest-by-william-shakespeare/
March 21: On SFFaudio, Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, Jason Thompson and I discussed H.P. Lovecraft's The Cats of Ulthar. https://www.sffaudio.com/the-sffaudio-podcast-674-audiobook-readalong-the-cats-of-ulthar-by-h-p-lovecraft/
If you're looking for me at WorldCon/ChiCon8, I'm on the program as TrishEM.
I went to WorldCon/ChiCon8 and had a great time, which I still intend to write a full post about when I have time. I had a panel added, on "The Hollow Earth and other 'SF before SF'" with Heather Rose Jones (moderator), E. Lily Yu and David Stokes.
Also, I completely forgot to write about ArvCon from Memorial Day Weekend! Once again, I had a major role in running this marathon fundraising stream on the ArvanEleron Twitch channel over Memorial Day Weekend. I ran almost all of the giveaways onstream for the chat, while the games were happening, reorganizing prize packages as needed when some game codes turned out to be broken. We raised $7,051.77 this year.
Aug. 29, 2022: The SFFaudio Podcast #697 – "Almuric" by Robert E. Howard, discussed by Jesse Willis, Evan Lampe, Will Emmons, Connor Kaye (who narrated the audio), Cora Buhlert, and me.
Sept. 5, 2022: The SFFaudio Podcast #698 – "The Dispossessed" by Ursula K. Le Guin, discussed by Jesse, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, Will Emmons, and me.
Sept. 12, 2022: "Flowers for the Sea" by Zin E. Rocklyn on Skiffy and Fanty's subcast, Reading Rangers -- Shaun Duke, and Brandon O'Brien discussed this book with me. Episode 464. https://skiffyandfanty.com/podcasts/464flowersforthesea/
I also did the initial audio edits for Skiffy and Fanty episodes 463 and 462, an Andrew Liptak interview and a discussion/review of "The Last Days of Ptolemy Gray," respectively, before handing them to Shaun Duke for their final polishes and releases. I don't talk on those episodes, however.
Sept. 17, 2022: If you're a Patreon supporter of the Skiffy and Fanty Show, you can listen to crew members Shaun Duke, Alex Acks, Brandon O'Brien, Paul Weimer and me talking about our WorldCon experiences:
Sept. 19, 2022: The SFFaudio Podcast #700 – The Door Into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein, discussed by Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Evan Lampe, and me. Interesting technical work, but none of the characters are interesting, not even the protagonist, except for his determined loyalty to his cat. I was really excited for a little while when I thought the little girl was going to grow up to become an inventor herself, but no, that female empowerment plot was only in my dreams. The cat has more inner life portrayed than any of the women in the book do.