Saturday, November 01, 2008

World Fantasy Con, Calgary - Day 3, Saturday 

More panels today: Fantasy 'Zines Online, with Sean Wallace (Clarkesworld), John Klima (Electric Velocipede), and Jennifer Dawson (Flash Me), about their respective submissions processes and the limitations they face growing their publications. The most remarkable comment I heard was that the quality of slush is actually higher for e-zines than print zines, because writers are more likely to have seen an ezine site and read it than have bought and read a copy of a print magazine...

A follow-up panel on print 'zines had Diane Walton (On Spec), Jetse de Vries (just retired from Interzone), Gordon Van Gelder (F&SF), and Shawna McCarthy (Realms of Fantasy), talking about their tastes, how they select stories, and what turns them off the most (elves; talking cats). Remarkable comment: that there's so little overlap in the contents, and submissions, to these magazines.

At 2pm, a panel on Why We Write Dark Fiction, with (GoH) David Morrell, Nancy Kilpatrick, and Graham Joyce. Joyce's reminiscence about his early reading of a poem about two ravens anticipating their feasting on a dead knight's body (I missed the name and writer of the poem) greatly impressed Morrell, who talked about how his unusual childhood seemed completely normal, the way everyone feels their childhood is normal. Joyce talked about The Tooth Fairy as his darkest book; Morrell's was Testament, an early novel that resulted in his neighbors at the time refusing to speak to him ever again.

At 4pm was the inevitable Year's Best Reading List panel (actually it was called 2008 Awards Year Recommendations), with Charles N. Brown, David Hartwell, Ellen Datlow, Jonathan Strahan, and Alan Beatts naming their favorite titles of fantasy novels and collection of the year, partly reading off the current draft of Locus' Recommended Reading List [which I'd already seen and have some input to]. Strahan highlighted James Blaylock's forthcoming The Knights of the Cornerstone, Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels, and something new from Joan Aiken; Datlow, collections by Laird Barron, Christopher Fowler, Reggie Oliver, and others; Beatts, World War Z, by Max Brooks; Brown, Le Guin's Lavinia, Park's The Hidden World, Swanwick's The Dragons of Babel, and Patrick Ness' The Knife of Never Letting Go; Hartwell (stipulating that he hasn't read many novels other than those he's personally edited, which of course he likes and recommends or he wouldn't have bothered), Wolfe's An Evil Guest and Robert V.S. Redick's The Red Wolf Conspiracy. And that was just the first round...

In between all that, I had a 'bison smokie' [a fancy hot dog] for lunch, from the con suite; walked around downtown and through the TD Square mall; and actually did a bit of work on the website. Another quick workout in the hotel gym, starting the new Ian MacLeod novel. At 6, drinks with Eos editor Diana Gill, chatting about our recent holiday trips and books that we've read. After that, having neglected to make any advance dinner plans (joining any of the Locus Magazine editors or staff for dinner not being an option, as I had to explain a couple times), I hooked up for dinner in the hotel bar with a fan, Geordie Howe, whom I'd met the day before, who's a big fan of the website and even my blog (!). We talked about Locus, Harlan Ellison, running the website, and so on...

Later, after another work break, I tracked down the Tor party, which no one had told me about but which was easy enough to find, then hung out in the bar with Patrick Swenson and Mark Rich, then in the lobby with Mark and Bruce Taylor (who has a novella in a new anthology Alembical, which I'll list soon on Locus Online's New Books page) and Heidi Lampietti, talking about the space program and rocket engines...

Tomorrow: the banquet, and the awards.
The nameless poem sounds like "The Twa Corbies" or one of its variants--medieval, anonymous. Peter, Paul, & Mary did one version as "The Three Ravens" on their "In Concert" LP.
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Mark R. Kelly

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mark R. Kelly, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine.
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