Part 2 went up today, which includes the gentleman with the thistle-down hair, 19th c. mansplaining, and my attempting art history without a license.

I keep forgetting to post about it, because Friday nights, but: look for it on Friday mornings.

(Please take substantive comment there, thanks.)

At almost one month:

image )

At almost eleven months:

image )

At almost three years (i.e., today):

image )

(The face is because he's asking me to open my mouth and I'm being silly and refusing.)

Like the subject line says: unconfirmed reports of the plot for Captain America 3 are behind the cut.

Variety is reliable, probably? )

I keep meaning to post a poll about this and my brain is AWOL, so let's do it now:

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 100


How do you treat your email inbox?

View Answers

I move everything out as soon as I can.
34 (34.3%)

I leave all actual email in it.
37 (37.4%)

I reject your forced binary and substitute my own.
28 (28.3%)

Ticky?

View Answers

Ticky.
37 (38.1%)

GMail
71 (73.2%)

AOL
1 (1.0%)

Yahoo
10 (10.3%)

Local ISP
8 (8.2%)

Own domain
25 (25.8%)



my view )
I made SteelyKid three dragons for her room, which were done a few days before she was born.

The Pip's two polar bears, by the same designer (Laila Ansbergs) . . . well, I took them to be framed today, and they'll be ready by his birthday too! Just, uh, his third birthday.

Anyway! They came out really cute, and he's very excited about them, so in some ways the delay is good. And this time I remembered to take pictures before I got them framed:

two pictures, click to enlarge )

Now that's done, and time to think about the next project! I think I am going to do this winter bookmark to see if stitching in the hand works for me—if I can get the tension right, it would be so much faster, though I still don't know if I'd like it for big projects, which are what's truly up next. (Also have to ponder colors for it. Thoughts, anyone?)
1. Con or Bust is currently auctioning a signed maunscript of Mary Robinette Kowal's forthcoming (April 2015) conclusion to the Glamourist Histories series, along with signed hardcovers of all the books in the series, thanks to the author & the Ada Initiative (which I have just about trained myself out of writing as ADA, because Americans with Disabilities Act).

2. This Friday, the first substantive post in my reread of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell goes up at Tor.com (covering chapters 1-4 and clocking in at a hefty 4500 words); here's the series index for bookmarking.

Should one or both of these be relevant to your interests, I hope you will take a look or spread the word!
I have two Moto G phones, one bought in the UK (locked to Vodafone UK, but you can get unlock codes on eBay for trivial amounts of money) and one bought in the US on Verizon (which is apparently unlockable for free?). I want to give them away for free!

. . . of course, they're both broken. But they're broken in easily-fixable ways!

Specifically, they both need new screen/digitizers. I broke the glass on the US not once but twice, leading to this. And I tried transplanting the screen/digitizer on the UK one but I broke the cable running from the digitizer to the motherboard because I'm clumsy.

The US one still works even though the glass is a disaster, and the UK one was fine until I went messing with it. Both have been factory reset.

You can get the screen/digitizer unit for about forty bucks. Of course, the whole phone was $80 on Verizon here in the US, which is why I didn't bother to replace the US one, but if you're on a tight budget or you want parts for a science experiment or whatever, one or both of them are yours; I'll ship anywhere.
There's very cool new content in your Lodgings (edit: now the "A Visit" card) and a (new) opportunity card, a conversation with the Wry Functionary; it's an exploration of how you can do conversation in this format, written by Emily Short, and it's zero-action so it's very standalone.

to validate my belief that I don't want to watch Agents of SHIELD: that's the length of the previously-on for the season opener and it just made me want to yell "WRONG! WRONG!" and then flip my desk over.

(I wanted to see the flashback, of course. I have extremely grave doubts about the ability to make a satisfying Agent Carter series post-Cap 2, but, Peggy!)

. . . I suppose this post should have some actual content. *pokes at bookmarks* Here, have some fic I bookmarked to rec a long time ago and don't have time to re-read now.

seven recs )

There's more, but I don't have time to sort through the maybe-rec tag now.

Episode 51, "Rumbling": I completely forgot the existence of this episode until I was checking a list for titles. On skimming the transcript . . . yeah, no wonder I forgot it, though it has an extremely cute Carlos/Cecil moment at the end.

Episode 52, "The Retirement of Pamela Winchell": we were asked at the LonCon panel who our favorite character was, and she was the first one to come to my mind (besides Cecil, I mean). So this was great.

Episode 53, "The September Monologues": I was thoroughly unimpressed with the middle one as a character, and the voice that Steve Carlsberg's actor uses makes my ears itch.

Episode 54, "A Carnival Comes to Town": (spoilers) )

And hey, a weather by a band I knew already! We'd seen PigPen Theatre Co.'s "The Old Man and The Old Moon" (NYT review) on a trip to NYC a few years ago. It was generally charming but I spent every minute that the female character was onstage thinking (a) this guy is doing a very nice job of playing an old woman but (b) could they really not have found a single female actor to guest in this role, even if they didn't want to have her be in their company/band?
I have been sadly absent from, uh, everything as I try to get my feet back under me, but here is 15 seconds of the Pip dancing while eating his toast this morning, apparently just because, because you all need to see what a trial it is, living with a somber and undemonstrative child. (Contains open-mouthed chewing.)

I am so busy that I don't have time to tell you how busy I am. Also operating under a fairly serious sleep deficiency. But, very quickly:

  • Tobias Buckell has a post about the panel he was on that I found uncomfortable, Imagining Fantasy Lands: The Status Quo Does Not Need Worldbuilding.
  • User error ate my notes from the post-colonialism panel, which is too bad because at this point all I remember is the boggling bit (Brenda Clough unironically recommended Kim—yes, the one by Kipling, that one), and not any of the actual useful recommendations. Anyone else there who wants to chime in?
  • My fanfic & queer desires panel was fine after all—I'd been concerned beforehand because the moderator, though clearly well-intentioned and conscientious, was also entirely unfamiliar with the topic. But he set out broad questions that were clearly implied by the panel description and then got out of the panelists' way, which worked for this topic though I still disagree with that general philosophy of moderator assigning. The only thing I want to really highlight from that was the concept of anti-fandom: the universe doesn't consist of just fans and non-fans of X, there can be anti-fans of X, who engage in all the acts of fannishness than fans do, except from a position of loathing X (see: Twilight). Which I find fascinating.
  • Uh. Hello, wall, I have just hit you. I want to say more about the con overall, but: it was good. Thanks, everyone, for putting it on.
Today Chad & I went with some friends on a bus tour to Newgrange and the Hill of Tara. The advantage of taking a bus tour (or possibly just this particular tour, I'm not sure) is that (a) you don't have to drive there yourself—major advantage, twisty narrow narrow roads; and (b) reserved time for a tour of Newgrange (again, I don't know if all buses get this).

Newgrange is really fascinating. It's a passage tomb that's over 5,000 years old and that's aligned so that the burial chamber in the center is lit by the winter solstice. The passage in is very narrow and low (we had at least one person decide that they were that claustrophobic after all), but being inside this vaulted chamber, that has stood water-tight for all this time, that was decorated by the builders (and then, alas, defaced by vandals over decades before the site was properly excavated and controlled), well, it's kind of hard to describe how amazing it is. The art of the interior and also the exterior kerbstones that circle the base is also mesmerizing.

Here are a few pictures of the exterior:

Chad outside the heavily-carved entrance stone

the reconstructed front wall—this is controversial, because fairly early in the tomb's history it stopped being used and the stones and earth on the top slid down and covered everything, and so while the big dark stones on the bottom were in place when it was excavated, the white quartz stones were on the ground. Wikipedia says that critics think the technology to put a retaining wall at that angle wasn't available at that time and that a plaza/path is more likely (Chad heard someone describe it today as kind of a classic 1970s over-reconstruction). The reconstruction is very visually striking, from a long ways away, and I'm sure a plaza would have been likewise.

Carved kerbstone roughly a third of the way around to the back.

Then we had basic sandwiches & soup, and rather good pie (there's a caramel and banana pie which is apparently very good if one likes banana) at a farm just down the hill, and then we piled back in the bus and went to the exhibition center that's been built to control visitors to Newgrange, which is 1/2 mile directly but our bus had to go the long way. This did a nice job of context, though its reconstruction of the passage is way too wide and its reconstruction of the chamber leaves out the left-side chamber that opens off the main one, which was the biggest and apparently most-important (two basins instead of one). I also bought some art from a local artist who was part of a craft fair that's held there for a few weeks in high tourist season.

Then we went to the Hill of Tara. Considering it's relatively low, the view is amazing; I can absolutely believe you can see 20% of the island on a clear day (which we did NOT have) and that it would be hugely symbolically important.

We had a tour guide meet us there and heard about the church & the Rath of the Synods, which is a very lumpy area that was a ringfort, a circular fort surrounded by walls or embankments, which was dug up by a bunch of unscientific types hoping to find proof of some religious theory I can't remember the details of now, and it took about three years (?) to rally public opinion enough to get the means to stop them. We peeked into another Neolithic passage tomb, this one much smaller, called the Mound of the Hostages, and heard about the full skeleton of a teenage boy that, unusually, had been buried there (cremation was the norm) with grave goods suggesting high status; the guide said that he was believed to have been a visitor who was being accorded an honor?

And then we went over to the Forradh (Royal Seat) which is the current location of the purported Lia Fáil, or Stone of Destiny, where the High Kings were crowned. (At this point the rain, which started over at the Mound, was blowing sideways and we got pretty soaked, but it didn't last long.) What particularly fascinated me about this is that the stone was moved in the early 1800s allegedly to mark graves of Irish fighters in the Battle of Tara in 1798, but our guide said that that part hadn't been excavated so it wasn't clear whether those burials did take place. That was not that long ago! Anyway, we were able to admire the view with clouds but at least without rain before we squelched back to the bus.

We went back to the tapas place from last night for dinner because it was only 5:00 and we knew they'd be open and would be good for a group, and shared round many dishes and enjoyed it very much. Then Chad & I came back to the hotel so I could drop off my art and change into dry socks, and we walked around some more.

First we went to Merrion Park, which is near-ish and which has some very nice public art, some colorful and some quiet. There's also a great Jester's Chair that's a genuinely fun tribute to Dermot Morgan, an Irish comedian and actor (Chad will be uploading pics of both of us in it, I think) and a monument to Oscar Wilde that shows him lounging on a big rock, with choices quotes hand-written (etched) into two columns that have statues on top.

Then we discovered that the National Gallery of Ireland is open late on Thursday nights and went in for a half-hour wander. I took a bunch of pictures which I briefly put up on G+, but I was able to find them all on the Gallery's website, so I will just link directly:

"Banks of a Canal, near Naples," Gustave Caillebotte, c.1872. I find this weirdly compelling.

"The Castle of Bentheim," Jacob Isaacksz. van Ruisdael, 1653. I'm fairly sure I've seen this cover art before, and I mean that in a good way.

Things that need to be captioned by the Toast: "Bathers Surprised," William Mulready, 1852-1853; and "Saint Mary Magdalen," Felice Ficherelli, c.1640 (which made me want to bust out laughing).

"The Artist's Studio : Lady Hazel Lavery with her Daughter Alice and Stepdaughter Eileen, 1909-1913," John Lavery. It's a huge work and the photo can't convey how creepy the looming dark space over the actual people is.

"The Cottage Girl," Thomas Gainsborough, 1785. Chad says this is the face of "They gave me this puppy but I really wanted a cat."

"Ophelia", Margaret Clarke. An extremely good Ophelia from Hamlet.

"The Taking of Christ," , Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 1602. It's stunning.

And tomorrow we'll do another museum or two here and then fly back to London, and then Saturday morning I head back to the States (and SteelyKid and the Pip! I miss them so much. No delays for weather, volcanos, or other disasters, universe, please.).
What, I answered comments instead of starting this report right away, I'm losing steam now. (The sangria's probably worn off, though.)

So today we tramped around Dublin and saw All the Old Things. We started at Trinity College, to see the Book of Kells and the Long Room.

Now, I have been to see these things before, in 1997 with [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel and possibly also [livejournal.com profile] papersky. And it might be just my terrible memory (I have a journal from this era, but it's in a format and possibly a location I can't read right now), but what I remember is looking at a couple gospels from the Book of Kells, open to whatever page they decided for that time period, and then looking down the Long Room and saying "yup. Long."

Things have become considerably more informative since then. There is a couple rooms worth of displays before the Book of Kells about the history, what materials were used to make it and what the illustrations meant, the scholarly theories on how many people worked on it, what they did about errors, all kinds of things. My favorite tidbits were two: (1) there's a whole page that was copied twice, which in a remarkable show of restraint is merely marked with red crosses in the margins; and (2) the illustrations sometimes went out of their way to emphasize the Latin meaning "he (Jesus) said", including once drawing a lion, which formed the first two letters, with its paws held to its mouth, which was surprisingly adorable.

Also, because the exhibit blows up all the illustrations so you can see the detail, it's all the more impressive to see the actual thing, which is bigger than a standard hardcover these days but not that much bigger, and all the exquisite artwork is tiny.

The Long Room had a display about Brian Boru which was told with text banners on one side and the most amazing art banners on the other: you can see all of them at the exhibit's webpage, and I highly recommend looking (they're by Cartoon Saloon, a local animation studio). It also had relevant original documents and artifacts as well as other pop-culture things about Brian, like a Mexican comic book.

And, of course, it's a really long room filled with books. And the very narrow ladders needed to reach the top shelves.

(It was very crowded even pretty much first thing on a week-day morning, but with some patience and willingness to maneuver, you can read and see everything. And they send you through the gift shop on the way back out too, not just on the way in, though weirdly I was prepared to buy a big pack of postcards with images from the Book of Kells (I was going to rotate through them with the diptychs from Bath), but the gift shop would only sell me individual ones, and only 7 different ones at that.)

Before we left, we saw workers restoring the cobblestones, which involved re-laying the stones themselves and then pouring asphalt or suchlike around them with what looked all the world like gravy boats.

Then we walked over to Dublin Castle, which I was also at in 1997—I went to the Eurocon, which was held in the convention-center part of the complex. Have some pictures:

On the way: stained glass over the Olympia Theatre

An example of the conglomeration that is Dublin Castle: a medieval tower joined to a more modern building, electricity included.

Two bits of the Royal Chapel (which dates from about 1814): how you did ventilation back then, and child(-like?) faces judging you from the ceiling.

One of a set of cool sand sculptures.

Did I mention, conglomeration?

The accompanying gardens are not very interesting in the center (flat grass laid out in a circle with spiraling brick paths to look nice from above), but in each of the four corners around the circle was something hidden: a memorial, a glass snake, another sculpture, and an overlook with garden and more statuary. It was pretty great.

There was also a free exhibit on the Ulysses Cylinders, which doubtless would have been more meaningful to me if I'd read Ulysses, but the process of making the glass cylinders themselves was pretty neat: a painter sketched designs, glassworkers recreated them in very thin rods of glass, and that glass design was then impressed on the hot unblown glass that would become the cylinders. (This involved a big team of people, none of whom are credited at the opening of the exhibit, but which are mentioned in the second room, which has the details on how it was done.)

After that we had an undistinguished lunch at the first place that appeared to be open (though it was serving drinks but not food for another fifteen minutes), and then we went Christ Church and St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Christ Church was not as interesting to me, and I can't put my finger on why? I mean, both of them have needed heavy repairs over time, and Christ Church has actual crypts, but St. Patrick's must play on some prejudice of mine regarding what "old" looks like. Also, it has better stained glass and is well-supplied with anecdotes about Jonathan Swift, who was Dean there for over thirty years.

I don't have a lot of pictures, because they're dark inside and the cameraphone can't cope with stained glass, alas, but here's a few:

Flying buttresses at Christ Church—I can't remember if this is the side that's 18 inches off plumb? It's incredibly disorienting.

A well-loved cat outside Christ Church.

A rare face on the exterior of St. Patrick's: no gargoyles, no statues, just this little face and, on the window below, two looking inward at the end of the surrounding direction, which are not nearly as prominent (and not in this picture). If anyone knows more, please chime in.

Anyway, we stomped around those, and then we stomped around by the river, and then we came back to the hotel and took a short nap before dinner, being thoroughly stomped-out.

We had tapas at Zaragoza for dinner, which was very tasty and a great value—we were there just before 6:30 and thus got their early bird special, which was a plate of 6 dishes for €17 and which would have been more than enough for just me. Chad & I split one of those and also had a single extra dish, and it was all delicious. (It was often difficult to get a server's attention, but when we did, they were pretty prompt.) Recommended if you're in the area.

Tomorrow, Newgrange and Tara.
I have two more panel reports to do, but I am so, so tired and I have promised myself that I will go to bed before 10 tonight. So have some tourism instead.

Monday we blew off all panels in favor of conversation with people and wandering around the dealers' room & exhibits (more on that later). And that was excellent and restorative. Then we had a reservation for the extremely touristy event of afternoon tea at a fancy hotel.

Specifically, The Wolseley, which one of our guidebooks said was good and fancy and also about half the price of afternoon tea at most other places. And indeed it was: here's our two-person tier of sandwiches, desserts, and scones (under the dome). It was all great: the sandwiches were not flavors I want a lot of, but they were a nice base for the scones, which are (a) ballast and (b) a delivery vehicle for copious quantities of clotted cream (mmm) and strawberry preserves. And then there were the desserts; turns out I hate marzipan with an unholy passion, which is what the checkered cake is flavored with, but everything else was excellent. (I had green tea because I don't much like tea and I rarely drink caffeine. It was hot.)

So that was delightful, which was good because we had a not-very-fun adventure getting there. [profile] mari_ness came with, and though the TFL website assured me we could be step-free all the way, it specified that to go to Green Park you had to get on a particular car number on the Jubilee Line. Well, we didn't see any numbers, but it seemed like a high number so we went toward the back and hoped for the best. Turns out that access at Green Park is in the form of a "hump" in the platform, and the door we initially tried to use had a several-inches step down. We could have managed it—Chad could have helped Mari lower her chair out backwards, or she could have walked the couple steps necessary—but we had no notice of why we needed a specific car and we kind of froze for a moment, while the train was all the while getting ready to leave. Fortunately Chad, who'd gotten out first, saw that the next door down from us was at the platform hump and we made it out, but it was an unpleasant jolt. And then to get to the lifts involves this endless set of sloping hallways, and getting out of Green Park itself is extremely steep, and I was feeling pretty terrible by the end of it for suggesting that we take the DLR/Tube just because it was half as long as the bus.

tl;dr: accessibility on the Tube sucks.

After our tea, we waved Mari into a cab (they all have ramps built-in and capacious interiors) and wandered around to work off some of the food. We headed down to Trafalgar Square and past Westminster, and I took some pictures along the way:

The current art on the Fourth Plinth at Trafalgar Square, which is a giant blue rooster ("Hahn/Cock," 2013, by Katharina Fritsch).

A somewhat odd memorial to the women of WWII.

Sunlight glinting off gilt with ominous background clouds.

"Big Ben! Parliament!"

Then we picked up laundry and found people at the tail end of the con and drank and talked, and then I packed, fretting all the while that I was missing something because I had so much space—even though I knew that I'd vacuum-bagged some stuff and put it in a different suitcase—and had a hard time getting to sleep because I was all anxiety-ish.

Unfortunately the—not brain weasels, that's too serious, what's a smaller critter in the same family?—were still running around this morning, even though objectively everything went very well until we hit Dublin: no significant delays, no hassles, luggage came through.

Ugh, I can't even bear to rehash all the details. Suffice it to say that we walked with our luggage for way longer than we should have trying to find our hotel, at least half of which was my fault, so, awesome; and our smartphones are completely useless as phone-and-data devices for the duration of this part of the trip [*], so we had to buy the cheapest call-and-text-only phone possible just to give us a way to be reached here in Ireland.

[*] We're on pay-as-you-go, somehow got out of Heathrow without "topping up", i.e., paying to add credit to our phones, and (1) Vodafone IE can't add credit to Vodafone UK phones and (2) Vodafone UK won't accept credit cards with zip codes rather than post codes. So we have no way to pay for roaming here.

But then we had good food and drinks at the Porterhouse [*], which also established that I am now spoiled for easily-available cider in the U.S., because I like the darker, richer stuff from Ireland (and one of the kinds I had in Bristol) much better, and then we stomped around looking at St. Stephen's Green (very pretty), and noticing Captain America's Cookhouse and Bar and Writers' Tears Whisky, and now we have something like a plan for the next days of tourism, so all is well.

[*] Its Oyster Stout is literally made with oysters, which Chad did not know before he tried it. He said it was very good.

(Apologies to Dublin for the entry tag; I created it before I knew we were coming to Dublin, and to change it now would break links elsewhere.)
A list. I see at least one of those being retweeted by people I trust to know those involved (the #OperationHelpOrHush PayPal)--news searches are not coming up useful for me right now, maybe because I'm in the UK?
I have just discovered that not only am I solo-parenting for the week after I get back from this vacation, but that daycare will be closed for two of those days, the Thursday and Friday before Labor Day. (Chad gets back probably mid-day the Sunday just before Labor Day, assuming no delays.)

Yeah. See the subject line (half-day trips! Extended projects! Lots of time at the swimming pool! Comprehensively getting over missing them a lot now!), with an addition of "think of the motivation to be stunningly efficient at work!"

. . . right?
It's late but I'm jazzed from good conversation and think I can quickly make this presentable before I go to bed.

Description:

Strictly speaking, there's no reason an artificial intelligence should express gender in human terms (or at all). Yet in much recent film and TV -- such as WALL-E, Her, Person of Interest, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Caprica -- gender and/or sexuality has been integral to the vision of AI. How have such portrayals affected what stories are told? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What would it mean to imagine a genderless AI -- or a queer AI?

Charlie Jane Anders, Abigail Nussbaum, Nic Clarke, Michael Morelli,Jed Hartman

Nic: reviewer, watched all the programs being discussed

Jed: former fiction editor for Strange Horizons, now consumes media; fascinated by gender for long time

Mike: Masters student, giving paper on sexuality in Banks tomorrow, feminist literary critic

Abigail: blogger & reviewer, Reviews editor at SH, writes lot about film & TV from feminist perspective

Charlie Jane: writer, blogger at io9, including AIs in some of work (including one forthcoming resolutely ungendered one)

notes, with no fail that I recognized! )

So this was fun! If I've mis-identified anything let me know.
This was the panel immediately before the prior one and it was lovely, which is why I saved it for last.

Description:

Who is the narrator? Where and when is the story being told? These are just a few questions a reader may ask at the start of a new story. For many years, third-person has been genre's preferred narrative form, but lately it seems first-person narratives are having a resurgence. How do writers choose their viewpoint, and how does it affect the sorts of stories they can tell? Why is YA so often told in first-person, and epic fantasy generally (but not always!) third? To add another layer of complexity, the present tense also seems to be increasing in popularity -- Lauren Beukes' Zoo City and Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus are just two notable examples. How does the use of present tense change a reader's experience?

Kate Nepveu, Robin Hobb, Patrick Rothfuss, Edward Cox, Maureen Kincaid Speller (m)

(I don't know how the order of names is generated on the program list.)

I think the con generally is having a lot of trouble with its available spaces, because this was in one of the smaller rooms and there were likely as many people waiting in line outside hoping to get in as where outside.

I was a little nervous about being on this panel, because look at those other names! But everyone was generous toward other panelists conversationally and it really was a conversation, it was so much fun. (You all know I could talk about point of view and narrators basically forever.)

Maureen had us introduce ourselves in our preferred POV. IIRC, Ed tried third and found it surprisingly difficult; Robin and Pat both used first; and I (who had the advantage of going last) started in first and then switched to third, and ended with "she may or may not be fascinated by unreliability in narration."

We talked about a million things. The limitations of first-person, and how they'd got around it by the frame story in the Kvothe books or the found documents in the first Assassin's trilogy. I talked about floating first and concrete first, where it's never explained how the words get on the page or where a specific mechanism is mentioned. Pat said that floating first will always get the author asked how the words are getting on the page, that someone will care; toward the end, we had a talk about the history of POV in novels that I can't reconstruct now, but that I think came down to the origin of first-person in face-to-face storytelling, was carried through in the frame story idea that was once obligatory and since has been dropped (I met a mysterious stranger who told me this story, I found this manuscript), and it's been recent enough that the obligatory frame story was dropped that people aren't quite accepting of "the words just get on the page somehow, darn it" as the price of admission to that work.

There was the obligatory shout-out to Peter S. Beagle's The Innkeeper's Song, which is multiple-first and brilliant; Pat said it was currently out of print but "I'm going to fix that."

We talked about multiple viewpoints; Pat blamed the sudden explosion of really-multiple-third on A Song of Ice and Fire, but Martin has been honing his craft for decades, new writers are allowed a maximum of three. Also, people try to go right to the action by shifting POVs but that can actually remove suspense. Robin choose POV for the best-situated character and then stayed pretty tight with them, but also employed an omniscient sometimes to show competing understandings of situations and so forth. I mentioned an unpublished friend who generally constructs their multiple-POV book on the theory of "who in this scene knows least," because that allows for dramatic irony and the reader making connections and so forth, and how I'd suggested that maybe at plot or action-heavy moments might be a time to step back from that principle. (But I don't know how they solved it yet because the W is still IP.)

(In terms of cutting to the action, I mentioned _Ancillary Justice_, of course (booklog discussion of POV.))

Uh, what else? We talked about omni with a present narrator and how fun that can be: Catherynne M. Valente's _Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland . . . _; _Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell_; Lemony Snicket. We talked briefly about sex: I observed that romance is generally in third, while "chick lit" is in first, and while I don't know about professionally-published erotica, I don't see a lot of first-person fanfic. I sort of thought this might be because for people who read with themselves in the place of the first-person narrator, there would be too much of a disjoint if a scene was very physical or physically-based emotional, but that was just a theory--which can't account for "chick lit." (Pat had previously said that he made a distinction between character-based stories and plot-based stories, and that the former got first-person and the latter got third, but that he's working on two things now that are in third and follow female characters from his trilogy, and he thought possibly that he instinctively went to third was because they were female.)

Someone in the audience asked about really rare POVs like second-person or future tense; no-one seemed particularly enthused by them, but as writing exercises to stretch your craft, sure.

There was a lot more, but I'm stumped now, and for some reason it's a million degrees where I'm writing this and I desperately need to hydrate before my next panel. If you were there, chime in, and if not, feel free to comment! (Seriously, could talk about this forever.)
This was my last panel of the day, but I'm going to write it up before the other remaining one, because it had an upsetting thing at the end that I'd like to clear off my list of things to talk about.

Description:

On the one hand, initiatives like the SF Gateway are helping to ensure the SF backlist remains accessible to today's readers, and an increasing number of "classic" SF writers are receiving the establishment seal of approval in series like the Library of America (Philip K. Dick) and the Everyman Library (Isaac Asimov). On the other hand, the SF readership is increasingly diverse, with fewer readers who have come to the field via those "classics", and many who find little of value in them in any case. In other words the traditional SF canon is no longer tenable -- but the history is still out there. So what alternative models and narratives should we be using to understand the field's past? Should we be working to expand the canon, or to describe multiple overlapping histories -- or something else?

Kate Nepveu (m), Connie Willis, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Chris Beckett, Joe Monti

I saw criticisms of my moderation from a person on Twitter, who thought I talked too much. I will not apologize for one of those instances (or for believing that I have things to contribute to the panel beyond just setting discussion in motion), but there were some points where I could have been more concise, especially since this was another 50-minute panel.

I asked by asking why we want to convey genre history: is it different for readers and writers, or between fantasy & SF? I said that I thought it was genuinely useful for fantasy readers to read _LotR_--though less so than twenty years ago--but I wasn't sure the same was true for SF, since the commercial genre can't be traced back to a single book that way.

I think the general consensus was that it was more important for writers. Connie said that when she teaches Clarion she hands out a 50-book list, because her least favorite critique is "this is a really good story that Bradbury did in 1952." Generally people agreed that writers should know the most famous plot twists/types; something of the genre conventions (insert here the thing about genre being distinguished, if not defined, by way information is conveyed to reader); and something about the major works in your topic area, otherwise you get mainstream writers thinking that they're saying something profound about robots etc. when genre readers are like, "done that back in 19-whatever."

(But tropes are different; just because someone's done "Adam & Eve in space" before, as one of the panelists, I think Chris?, had done, doesn't mean you can't. It's the gimmicks that only work once because of surprise, and even then if they're not well-known now . . . )

Somewhere pretty early people said that readers shouldn't read the canon because it's (medicine/work/homework--I forget the exact phrasing). They should read the canon because it's good (or the good bits of the canon).

I mentioned the rare works specifically in explicit dialogue with an identifiable thing: Peter Watts' "Things" (the movie _The Thing_); Neil Gaiman's "A Study in Emerald"—which I embarrassingly called "A Study in Scarlet" until the audience corrected me, thank you, audience—the latter of which doesn't work at all if you don't know Sherlock Holmes canon. But besides those, which are pretty easy to spot, what benefit can there be for readers to know genre history?

Connie said that every work is in some way in dialogue with others, because that's what storytelling is, all the way back to its origins. When she started writing her time travel stories, she made a list of all the things she disliked about existing time travel stories. Possibly here, Joe said that Ann Leckie hadn't read _The Left Hand of Darkness_ before writing _Ancillary Justice_, which both do things with pronouns and gender, but she was aware that _Left Hand_ existed and what it did, which he found surprising, but maybe it was hard to say what reading it would have added.

In response to a question, the panelists were generally not in favor of authors making that kind of inspiration/works-being-referenced explicit to the reader, in afterwords or suchlike, because it's so much fun for readers to make those connections themselves, and if they don't, the works ought to stand on their own anyway. It's to enrich the understanding not to create it. (Somewhere prior to this I'd said that I was of the view that The Author Is Dead, and though I heard some objection to that from the authors on the panel =>, at this point I believe at least one person said okay, maybe The Author Is Dead after all, at least somewhat.)

I'm fairly sure about this point we were running very low on time, so I said, here are the other things I was hoping we'd talk about, let me rattle them off in case they spark questions from the audience. (This is the bit I won't apologize for talking.) They were: what multiple overlapping histories (mentioned in the description) might consist of: subgenres, groups of authors working together, publishers . . . ?; other ways these genre histories might get conveyed: reviews, Wikipedia, Encyclopedia of SF?

I learned a lesson about myself as a mod here: because the panel was on the same level as the room, I stood up to see people and point at five people to ask questions in order. But when it was time for the next person I should have stood back up, because it turns out I rely on physical locations of people and I couldn't remember who was next, which was awkward.

Unfortunately the only question I actually remember at this point was the thing that was upsetting, a.k.a., In which Connie Willis and I disagree whether the historical formation of the canon excluded women and minorities )

Until that point I had been enjoying the panel quite a bit, and I do think there was fodder there for more discussion. So further thoughts would be welcome, from anyone. However, I am going to screen anon comments out of an abundance of caution: if you're new here, please review my commenting policy. I will unscreen comments as soon as possible.

October 2014

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