Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Monday, June 30, 2008

yesterday's tomorrow at apollocon

The most interesting panel I attended last weekend at ApolloCon was about SteamPunk. (I was not on the panel; I was in the audience, and rightfully so for this topic. I am not an expert about SteamPunk.)

Chris Roberson argued effectively for a “Big Tent”, wherein all of Yesterday’s Tomorrows are included under the umbrella term.

However, when discussion of SteamPunk went on, the focus was more on airships (for instance the magical airships of Martha Wells’ Hugo-award-winning trilogy…) and objects and anime. Only a touch of the discussion focused on the word “Punk”, suggesting that this was just a throwaway word accidentally coined in large part because of the proximity of CyberPunk on the timeline of the zeitgeist. What little discussion that did involve steam focused on the tactile, tinkerer technology before the digital age. Almost no discussion of either “Steam” or “Punk” took place, compared to discussions of all other things.

I still believe that what everyone is calling “SteamPunk” is actually just Victoriana spread out among the various forms of literature. (For instance, Martha Wells’ fantasy novels, Hayao Miyazaki’s films, and books like “The Prestige” and “The Somnambulist”.)

For my money, SteamPunk, by itself, doesn’t exist.

Thus, when Chris Roberson talks about “Yesterday’s Tomorrows”, he’s describing a completely different subgenre of alternate history entitled “Yesterday’s Tomorrows”.

Other then that, I thought ballroom dancing with Anne K. G. Murphy was really nifty. Ballroom dancing is fun. I sure wish I knew how to do it better.

Space Squid is a really cool Austin LitMag, and I hope everyone gets a chance to read it. I picked up a couple extra to give away randomly out and about, so if you see me, ask me if I have a copy to spare.

I finally had a chance to actually play one of the cool games that people bring to Cons, and my hungry monster cats devoured some really nice people after I turned traitor. Sorry, but the cats thought you were tastier than you were nice, though I’m sure it was a close call.

My favorite reading was done by the talented and underrated short story writer Mikal Trim. (What do you mean you’ve never heard of him? How many pro sales do you need before people hear of you? Well, now you’ve heard of him. Go forth and read.) It was really strange that he was paired up with Mel White. Mikal read a story about a cursing, drunken Texan burning all of his alcoholic wife’s stuff as part of a spell to cause her spontaneous human combustion at the feed store. Mel White read a very YA-friendly story about a bardic pig in fairy world facing fairy tale-style problems.

My panels were pretty quiet. The ghost story one was – for me – just an excuse to do a reading, since no one scheduled one for me. The other folks on the panel told some great stories, too, though theirs were less *ahem* off a computer screen directly, and more actual “story-telling” as the panel was likely intended.

The Anime for SF/F fans was… odd. I wish the moderator guided the discussion towards more interpretation of the intersection between SF/F and Anime than just listing out cool Anime. We had a room full of hardcore Anime fans, and they didn’t really need to be convinced to watch AdultSwim, nor did they really need advice about how to find good Anime. I wasn’t surprised to see people walking out before the end. The second time someone cut off Jessica Reisman – who is very soft-spoken, but also very, very knowledgeable – I kind of wanted to walk out, too.

HOWEVER: There was a really cool mini-panel that happened at the bar afterwards, because our bartender just happened to be a chair of a large, Houston-area Anime convention, and some of the people who walked out of the panel were at the bar as well. That discussion was very interesting indeed between the bartender, Chris Roberson, yours truly and some cool fans that joined us. It was enough to make me wonder why our bartender wasn’t moderating the panel, with Chris on it. I am reminded of a good rule of thumb for conventions: often the coolest things happen at the bar.

Other then that, work will be very, very hectic the next four months, and I will likely miss a day here or there at this little blog. I wasn’t even able to attend the complete convention last weekend. I had to duck out early Sunday morning and go directly to work from Houston. I think I only have one day off this week.

I will be pre-dating entries to try and keep things going, but I will not be quick in the comments for a while. Also, I might just miss a day or two here or there.

If you’d like to make me a full-time blogger, please encourage folks to purchase my books, my stories. Or, just give me lots of money and tell me to blog with it.

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