Sunday, June 22, 2008

Notes from Locus Awards Weekend, 2008 

This year's weekend was a confluence of three events, up one from two in the past couple years: the Locus Awards, the SF Hall of Fame Induction ceremony, and this year the kick-off of Clarion West's six-week summer program for new writers. To highlight the last, Clarion West sponsored a live interview of (Hall of Fame inductee) William Gibson, conducted by uber-librarian Nancy Pearl, famous for her wide-ranging recommendations on NPR. That event was Friday night at Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus a few miles northeast of the Space Needle and Marriott Hotel where the other events took place. The interview last an hour, and was recorded and taped, though I don't know how or when it might become available. Pearl is an effective interviewer in that she asks a question and lets the interviewee fully respond, without interruption or redirection; she lets the interviewee determine the conversation, rather than having any pre-set agenda of her own.

Gibson talked about how he reads so little genre SF in part because the packaging is so ugly; how he's native to SF, but not a nationalist; how JG Ballard has always been far more important to him than RA Heinlein; how he's liked recent books by Charles Stross, Junot Diaz, and Michael Chabon; and perhaps most interestingly, how his own novels start with tiny seeds and then grow, like an accumulation of rubber bands into an ever-enlarging ball with a single knot at the center, in order to 'explain' and justify the initial image. The knot at the core of SPOOK COUNTRY, for instance, was the video image at the beginning of chapter two...

Saturday there were the usual panels on short fiction and the future of SF, not unlike the two panels last year, with Connie Willis, Gardner Dozois, Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Bill Gibson, Jack Womack, and moderating them Charles N. Brown. The Locus Awards banquet followed at 1p.m., with the Hawaiian shirt contest conducted a bit differently than last year. This time three 'celebrity judges' (instead of audience applause) determined finalists; then Connie quizzed them about SF and Hawaiian shirts, with the winner the finalist who answered the most questions correctly...

Though few of the actually winners of the Locus Awards were there, there were enough other celebrities and stand-ins that the ceremony was entertaining. Gardner Dozois accepted for F&SF, and for his and Jonathan Strahan's anthology THE NEW SPACE OPERA, and then for Neil Gaiman's novelette -- and for the last Gardner continued the Locus Award tradition (begun last year) of performing an interpretive dance to express the recipient's gratitude. Amelia Beamer accepted for Shaun Tan, who'd sent a cut-out action figure of himself, to which Connie applied a miniature Hawaiian shirt and lei. Jennifer Brehl was on stage most often -- she accepted for Ellen Datlow, for Joe Hill, and for Terry Pratchett, and since the Locus Awards include scrolls to the publishers of the winning works, she also accepted those for HarperCollins/Morrow/Eos for the anthology, 1st novel, fantasy novel, and sf novels (quite a sweep there; I hadn't even noticed it, and I counted the ballots!). Bill Gibson did perhaps the most entertaining acceptance, expressively reading a speech from Michael Chabon about the high standards of both Locus reviewers and Locus readers....

Saturday evening was the Hall of Fame ceremony, but I'll have to write that up later--time to pack, and head for the airport and home.
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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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