kate_nepveu: The One Ring on green background (LotR (The One Ring))


Tolkien as a Horror Writer
There are scary bits, undoubtedly. Did Tolkien have any coherent horror aesthetic?
Christopher Cervasco, Jeanne Cavelos (m), Douglas Anderson, Ysabeau Wilce, Nicholas Ozment

This got delayed and delayed, so it's very uncertain in spots.

cut for length )

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)


The Pre-Christian Ghost
Ghostly fiction and apparitions before the European Middle Ages. A starting point for this might be L. Collison-Morley's Greek and Roman Ghost Stories. How were the ghosts of the ancients different from the more familiar ones? For one thing, they certainly didn't wear trailing white shrouds, which are a product of the Industrial Revolution. For another, they were more readily attracted by blood sacrifices . . .
Gene Wolfe, David Drake, Diana Paxon, Noreen Doyle (m), Joel Ross

This, like the taboo panel (on which discussion has been very lively), was packed.

(Oh, and as I get further into panel reports, I do less in the way of putting in pronouns and such, for the sake of my time and hands. Feel free to ask if things remain too compressed. Unfortunately I didn't go over this one while it was still really fresh, so I have some more gaps and uncertainties. Anyone who can clarify, please do.)

cut for length )

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Wow, this won the poll in a landslide. So:


What Are the Taboos in Fantasy Today?
They shift with the times. Is the writer ever really free to write about ANYTHING?
Sharyn November (m), John Grant, Tom Doherty, Steven Erikson, Lucienne Diver

November ([livejournal.com profile] sdn) is Editorial Director of the YA line Firebird. Grant is a novelist and co-authored the Encyclopedia of Fantasy with John Clute. Doherty is in charge of Tor and Forge (I'm not sure of his precise title). Erikson writes the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Diver is a genre fiction agent.

panel notes, cut for length )

Anyone got any more taboos to offer? I'm sure there are, but the nature of the things is that it's hard for me to think of them.

kate_nepveu: ocelet in profile, lying on shelf with head hanging slightly over edge (my daemon)

Wiped out for no obvious reason today, so no new panel reports. Here's a poll to help me decide which to do next:

[Poll #1084855]

Also, the "tell me which fictional character I am" meme is very much fun, even if I absolutely suck at coming up with answers. (I've been thinking about it on and off most of today, and the only person I've decided on is [livejournal.com profile] veejane, who hasn't even asked and might not appreciate my answer anyway.) But the accumulated results are like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen game that went around a few years ago: [livejournal.com profile] yhlee is Iskierka from the Temeraire books, and [livejournal.com profile] oyceter is Fuu from Samurai Champloo, and I am Kate Somerville from the Lymond Chronicles [*], and together we fight crime! In the person of . . . someone who has unleashed a plague of locusts, because they would all be very upset at the wrecking of the food supply.

Okay, I said I wasn't very good at this.

[*] According to [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija, but if you have another idea, go ahead.

And now I go off to gather strength for the morrow by reading Qwan.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)


World Fantasy Con: Urban Fantasy—Beyond the Usual Suspects
It seems as if most urban fantasy uses the familiar European myths. What other possibilities are there? Which authors have successfully exploited them?
Ekaterina Sedia, Ernest Lilley (m), Marie Brennan, Melanie Fletcher, Jenna Black

(In post-panel conversation, Sedia and Brennan noted the problems with using "exploited" in that description.)

The vast majority of this panel was not about existing or possible non-European urban fantasies, but about cultural appropriation. The responsibility for this rests with the moderator. Not only did he seem to want to talk a lot about cultural appropriation, his comments—well, my most charitable interpretation was that his phrasing and manner were deliberately exaggerated to provoke discussion and, possibly, as an attempt at humor. (He specifically introduced his most offensive remark as a joke.) And they were certainly provoking.

This report is not about that part of the panel, because I do not want to host a discussion of cultural appropriation at this time. If the topic interests you, there's much to read already (try starting with International Blog Against Racism Week's posts), and of course you can always start a discussion in your own space. However, after the writing-and-cultural-defaults discussions this summer, well, I'd say I have PTSD on writing and race discussions except that it would trivialize actual trauma. Regardless: discussion of cultural appropriation: DO NOT WANT.

Here's what my notes boil down to, then:

Urban fantasies using non-European myths:

  • Lilith Saintcrow, Dante Valentine series (Anubis features prominently)
  • Neil Gaiman, American Gods ("mythology fanfic"—Brennan) and Anansi Boys
  • Liz Williams, Detective Chen series (Chinese Heaven and Hell as two other locations that characters move between routinely)
  • Sergei Lukyanenko, Night Watch trilogy (translated from the Russian and set in Russia; Brennan commented that the mythology felt much more generic than the mundane aspects)
  • Paper Cities, an anthology edited by Sedia
  • Jenn Reese, Jade Tiger (Chinese-American protagonist)
  • C.E. Murphy, the Walker Papers, starting with Urban Shaman (American Indian themes, maybe protagonist? (first is on the to-read bookcase))
  • Tim Powers, Last Call, Expiration Date (American fantasy; though Last Call is the Fisher King in Las Vegas)
  • Sean Stewart's non-secondary-world fantasy [with varying degrees of urbanity, I think]

General comments:

  • Brennan: there are two extreme poles of approach: on one hand, there's the American Gods diaspora, and on the other, why can't I do urban fantasy set in India?
  • Sedia: re: filing serial numbers off cultures: that's probably easier in secondary worlds, since urban fantasy takes place in urban, contemporary, real places.
  • Brennan maintains an extensive list of multi-cultural fantasy.

After the panel:

  • K.J. Bishop, The Etched City
  • Catherynne M. Valente, The Orphan's Tales
  • Ian McDonald, River of Gods (set in India)

So: let's do the panel here. Comments on the books listed above? Recommendations of other books? Really cool things that haven't been written yet but should be? And if people want to give their definitions of urban fantasy, go ahead—though I'm not particularly interested in picking a definition as long as I know what you're using.

[Edited to promote a link from the comments: [livejournal.com profile] swan_tower has broader questions over in panel, take two.]

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Very quick notes on the Joseph Bruchac performance. Much of this will be in reference to the Native American Spirits panel report.

He told five stories, about two different cannibal skeletons, Toad Woman, a wendigo, and a snake. The first cannibal skeleton story was about a man who got eaten by said cannibal skeleton as a direct result of his treating his wife poorly; the wife and baby escaped by being aware and clever and going to a local village for help. The second was about a lazy uncle who was so lazy that he ate his own flesh rather than go out to find food, and then ate his sister and brother-in-law. The two children escaped and destroyed the skeleton with the help of an elder who they were polite to—"Oh, one of those, we get a lot of those around here," which was very funny. And then their parents were brought back to life by the tree-on-house method. However, the skeleton is just smashed at the bottom of a falls, and they say that whenever someone is lazy and greedy, there are noises at the bottom like a little more of the skeleton coming back together . . .

(These sound really didactic, but I'm stripping them way, way down, because I'm trying to get this written while Chad is in the shower.)

Toad Woman is a tale that parents tell their children to keep them out of the swamp, and he told it in the way that parents would do so—basically, as I recall, a "bad things are in the swamp" story. The wendigo story was again more of an educational discussion rather than a pure tale, about the variants of the tale. He said his favorite was one where the wendigo burst into a house where a woman, thinking quickly, embraced it, called it grandfather, and gave it a big pot of soup; the wendigo, being greedy and not knowing how to react properly, gulped the soup all down, choked, and died—turning back into an old man, who coughed up an ice-heart in the shape of the monster. The woman threw the heart on the fire and the man was saved.

The snake story was about a narcisstic woman who saw only beauty in a man who approached her and then discovered that he was a snake who lived at the bottom of the river. It was about that long, though, because we were out of time.

And now I am too.

kate_nepveu: stained-glass depiction of autumn foliage (autumn)


Native American Spirits.
How are they different from transplanted European ghosts?
Linda Donohue, Lawrence Connolly (m), Laura Ann Hill, Adam Niswander

Joseph Bruchac (bio) was added when the moderator spotted him in the front row and asked him to join them, which is a damn good thing because otherwise the panel on Native American spirits would have had not a single Native American on it. (Donohue grew up near a reservation, and Niswander did a great deal of research for a series of novels; I missed the biographies of the other panelists in boggling about the panel composition.)

I mostly only wrote down what Bruchac said, so this is not a complete report. These notes are based on what I was able to take down on a portable keyboard/PDA combo; I've done some cleaning up of them, but if an article or verb is missing still, that's why.

notes, cut for length )

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

An attempt to do a quick (later: hah!) overview of the con before I crash completely. Responses to comments on the last post, panel reports, and miscellaneous substantive stuff forthcoming.

Organizational Problems: My problem with this World Fantasy Con was not what everyone warned me about, people spending all their time networking and not having any fun. Instead, it was that the organizational problems robbed the con of much of its potential.

Things like the free book bags, which had books from two publishers left out; Night Shade's books were at least added later on, but Tor's books were returned to sender (!). And the autograph reception: I might have gone and used the opportunity to say hi to people I hadn't run into yet, but no-one knew who was going to be autographing. I mean that literally: I asked someone about it three hours ahead of time, and she said, "I signed last year and I've heard nothing this year. Is it tonight? I didn't even know that." Since that filled me with no confidence at all, I just went home early that night. (I'm told that the con ended up addressing the "not sure who's signing" problem by printing name signs for every single member of the con. This seems sub-optimal.)

But most importantly, there was the programming. I'd already observed that it looked pretty thin, and I'm told that it was so even by WFC standards. And some really baffling decisions were made. For instance, [livejournal.com profile] truepenny was not on a panel on ghosts in Shakespeare, despite having five books out, being a runner-up for the Campbell, and, oh yeah—having written her dissertation on the revenge tragedies of early modern England, including a whole chapter on Hamlet's ghost! And a panel on Native American Spirits had no Native Americans on it, until the moderator saw Joseph Bruchac, an Abenaki Indian author and storyteller and one of the Special Guests, in the audience and invited him up. How do you schedule a panel on Native American spirits and not include him from the start?

There was some good programming, about which more later. But I don't think anything near the full potential was fulfilled, and that's too bad.

I should say that the hospitality suite had a lot of good food, and that the Saratoga Hotel and Conference Center seemed to be doing very well by the con. At one party, I saw a hotel staff member come by—not to ask people to keep the noise down, but to ask whether the party needed anything else! At another, I saw someone come by early on to empty the trash and bring more ice.

Readings: I heard Tamora Pierce read from the forthcoming Beka Cooper book, Bloodhound; Scott Lynch read from the forthcoming Gentlemen Bastards book, The Republic of Thieves; and Guy Gavriel Kay read from Ysabel. cut for length )

Socializing: some large proportion of the good bits of cons is hanging out with folks, and I was lucky enough to find plenty of people who weren't hyper-focused on business. I got to spend a good bit of time talking with [livejournal.com profile] batwrangler and [livejournal.com profile] oracne, who is as good a conversation-accretor as Scalzi; have dinner with [livejournal.com profile] truepenny; meet [livejournal.com profile] lnhammer, [livejournal.com profile] janni, and Patrick O'Leary; and fangirl [livejournal.com profile] 1crowdedhour. And I usually don't do the name-dropping bit because I find it weird and uncomfortable, but that's the shortest possible version of the list of people who made the con fun for me, so I feel like I ought to give y'all shout-outs.


  • Shaun Tan is a fabulous Australian artist, my most exciting discovery of the con. After seeing images from his books The Arrival and The Lost Thing at the art show, I went straight to the dealer's room to see if I could buy them (the prints being gorgeous but out of my price range, and anyway we don't have much in the way of wall space). Unsurprisingly, the dealer's room was sold out.

    Go look at his books page to see some of the images. Seriously, you won't regret it. (I think my favorite is "The City" from The Arrival.)

  • If you ever get the opportunity to see Joseph Bruchac (website, presently down) perform, definitely go. He did a wonderful performance of American Indian ghost and monster stories, including not one but two cannibal skeletons. Fabulous storytelling, plus informational bits about American Indian culture.
  • The cover for Jhegaala, the next Vlad Taltos book, was in the art show. It is very cool, and Stephen Hickman happened to be standing right there, so I got to tell him so.

    (I haven't been reading Brust's LJ so I don't know how much is public about this book yet. I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to say, though, that we will finally learn what happened to Vlad's little finger.)

Oh, and Chad posted a picture and list of the final haul. And here's live-blogging of Kay's Master of Ceremonies speech and the list of World Fantasy Award winners (we didn't stay for the ceremony—why they hold it on Sunday afternoon is beyond me.)

kate_nepveu: (con't) http://community.livejournal.com/book_icons/121545.html ; painting of bookcase with light slanting from window (happiness is a full bookcase)

Here's what our free-books bags at World Fantasy Con contained:

  • The First Betrayal (The Chronicles of Josan, Book 1) by Patricia Bray (2006)
  • The Curse of the Raven Mocker by Marly Youmans (2006)
  • Undertow by Elizabeth Bear (2007)
  • Carmen Dog by Carol Emshwiller (2004) (two copies)
  • The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm (2006)
  • 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill (2007)
  • Wizardry and Wild Romance: A Study of Epic Fantasy by Michael Moorcock (2004)
  • Things That Never Were: Fantasies, Lunacies & Entertaining Lies by Matthew Rossi (2003)
  • The Leopard Mask (The Guin Saga, Book 1) by Kaoru Kurimoto (2003) (two copies)
  • The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld, complied by Stephen Briggs
  • A miscellany of samplers, Fantasy & Science Fiction issues, and other stuff.

I was vaguely planning to read The Faery Reel and 20th Century Ghosts already, so that was good. Any comments about the rest?

Also, on the topic of free books: Chad has posted about the Fantasy Novel Scavenger Hunt we came up with: "participants would be given a list of things to find, and sent to the Dealer's Room or free book bags to find them and bring them back." Here's what he's got to get things started:

  • One book featuring a telepathic bond between a human and an animal.
  • Three books with dubious guilds (Thieves Guild, Prostitute's Guild, etc.)
  • Three characters with D'Read A'Postro'phes in their names [no kidding, one of the Aussie books had a single name with three apostrophes in it!]
  • A book with a map in the front, in which the characters visit every single country on the map.
  • A book with a faintly insulting "Exotic" setting.

I think participants should automatically win if they come back with a copy of The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, myself. But what else?

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

So, who can tell me about World Fantasy Con? Specifically: Is this a thin year for programming, or is it always like this? Are there announced parties, or just generally social stuff that doesn't require waving your publication credits to get in? Anything we should particularly plan to do or to avoid?

And, of course, who's going? =>

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
The tentative schedule for World Fantasy Con has been posted, but it doesn't include any panel descriptions, and I had to look hard to find the draft panel descriptions. So I cut and pasted the two together for my own use, and the result is behind the cut.

ETA 10/29: updated to final version.

World Fantasy Con, a useful schedule )

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