Sunday, March 21, 2010

Light and Dark in Orlando 

First, to fill in a couple details from the previous post, Nalo Hopkinson's lunchtime speech referred notably to the Racefail 2009 debate that raged online a year or so ago; she also used the phrase "people of pallor" as a nice parallel to the standard "people of color".

Friday the clouds broke up a bit, and by Saturday the sun returned full-force, just in time for the annual Locus photo of ICFA attendees out by the pool -- the sun was bright enough that we were getting uncomfortable by the time stragglers gathered to make it into the shot. (When the photo appears in Locus Magazine, I'm the one in the bright yellow polo shirt.)

The Friday lunchtime speaker was guest scholar Takayuki Tatsumi, best known for books like Cyberpunk America and the more recent Full Metal Apache. He spoke on "Race and Black Humor", discussing several examples of how racism played in the response to natural catastrophes, like Katrina, and in works of fiction, including a Brian Aldiss story from 1966 called "Another Little Boy" and the Japanese bestseller Japan Sinks... if the talk was a tad arcane, it was leavened by a film clip from a parody of the last title, clips of a worldwide disaster in which everyplace except Japan sinks, that looked like a bad outtake from 2012.

The highlight of Friday evening was another ICFA tradition, the performance/stage reading of three short plays. (The first couple times I attended ICFA, these were written and/or performed by Brian Aldiss, with supporting cast.) This time two of the plays were by Jeanne Beckwith -- "Mission to Mars", with Brett Cox and Andy Duncan portraying two astronauts who've arrived at Mars and whose backup supply ship is overdue; and "The Last Detective", with Jim Kelly, John Kessel, Kij Johnson, and Sydney Duncan as the characters and author of a story, respectively. The final play was "Driving Day" by Timothy Anderson, again starring Brett Cox, a surreal piece that involved cast members circling the room and waving their arms back and forth. They were all fun.

Then folks gathered outside by the pool cabana; it wasn't quite warm enough to be comfortable, and the gas lamps weren't supplied with propane, but we made do. Russell brought out his guitar, Charles produced a bottle of Glenmorangie, and we were fine.

The awards banquet on Saturday evening closed the weekend, and went typically long, with awards presented for service to ICFA, by Sheila Williams to students for the Dell Magazine writing contest (whose recipients included a good Rachel and an evil Rachel), the Lord Ruthven awards for works about vampires, and, eventually, the previously-announced Crawford Award winner, to Jedediah Berry for his The Manual of Detection, as the best first book by a fantasy writer from the past year. As if all those were not enough, it was then announced that two more awards will be presented beginning next year -- one, named after Nalo Hopkinson, for a story by a person of color, and another, named after Suzy McKee Charnas, for some service the nature of which I didn't quite catch. I'm sure Locus mag will get all the details in place in their official coverage of the weekend.

In between all that, I bought a couple books in the book room, bought one book in the silent auction, had some good conversations with people, met Jedediah Berry and Kit Reed and Rebecca Holden and several others for the first time, had a meeting with Liza about prospects for a PDF version of Locus Magazine and options for converting our current Blogger blogs, and attended a reading by Amelia Beamer from her forthcoming novel The Loving Dead, which continued to gather positive buzz throughout the weekend, by Ellen Klages, who read several unpublished passages from her "portable childhood" series, and by Andy Duncan, who read a hilarious story about a man conniving to outrun a bullet.

Now, Sunday morning, it is mostly overcast again, and I'm finishing up here before packing to leave for the airport.
Thanks for the mention, Mark! I should note that I first heard the term "person of pallor" from Canadian writer Susan Crean (Past President of the Writers' Union of Canada), who used it to refer to herself.
Hi, Mark -- Sounds fun. I'd counted on getting there, this year, for not only friends Nalo and Tatsumi but also for subject Cyril Kornbluth -- another writer who worked under some "color"-perception regime ... but unfortunately since I'm writing for an academic publisher I couldn't afford to go to an academic convention/conference to promote the fact. Cheers ...
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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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