Monday, November 24, 2008

Philcon weekend

I know this is early, but today's post is in lieu of a Thursday post for the week.

Had a good time at the con Saturday. Traffic on I-76 was bad, as usual, so it took longer to get there than Google Maps predicted. I went to the galactic empires talk, which was interesting particularly in its discussion of varying forms of empires and viable interstellar commerce. Other talks I went to included nanomaterials (some food for thought there), science fiction and romance (I came out covered with girl cooties--it didn't help that the moderator kept saying "sci-fi"), how to know when to stop revising (one panelist suggested passes for structure, content, style, and grammar; Lawrence Schoen disagreed), and poked my head into both the funny fantasy discussion (I'm not doing parody, know I'm not, so the discussion wasn't much help) and the LJ meet-up (didn't see any names I recognized).

I also went to Tim Powers' talk. He had a lot of interesting things to say, such as that he doesn't want to be pertinent or topical; he wants to entertain. He also had an amusing anecdote about the Christian neighbors whose Bible he set on fire with a magnifying glass while he was trying to read it.

One cool thing I discovered: Reno is doing a Worldcon bid for 2011. I paid for pre-support and would love it if others would support their bid as well. (

After some deep thought (and encouragement from husband), I went back Sunday.

Started off with Xtreme neurology. They discussed some interesting advances, and I'll have to look up some of the papers. I guess there are some possible advantages to a graduate degree in molecular and cell biology.

I went to two market-related panels: "Meet the editors" and "Editing anthologies." Neil Clarke says that they need more science fiction. Hildy Silverman says Space and Time could use some shorter stories--something to keep in mind if you plan to sub there before next Sunday. Marvin Kaye says that the Sherlock Holmes Magazine can use any kind of crime or puzzle story, especially if it's reader-solvable. Darrell Schweitzer and Gardner Dozois both say if you are putting together a single-author collection, please do the markets that have published you the courtesy of acknowledging them. Also, lousy market for reprint anthologies--no one's buying. Dozois also said he couldn't understand authors or agents who thought that having a story in a year's best anthology diluted the market for the author's collection.

Marvin Kaye also has strong tense preferences. Specifically, he railed against past perfect, which he referred to as the compound past. He said that the magazines are simple past (so probably not a big fan of present tense, either), and the sight of "had" just tells him that the author started the story in the wrong place. I would guess that if a single instance of past perfect were used to show that this is the moment of change that starts the story for the protagonist, it would be acceptable, but I don't know. ("Linda had written to me a dozen times about my father's increasing lack of lucidity before I bowed to the inevitable and made arrangements to go home.") Keep it in mind if submitting to him. And maybe as a general rule, too, about being sure you've started in the right place.

I caught up with Darrell Schweitzer in the dealer room and asked if he ever did anthologies with some stories solicited and some open sub. He said he's still new at the anthologies but would someday like to do an anthology that's all open submissions. He also said that the best way to get solicited to be in an anthology is to get known. For good markets, he suggested Weird Tales, Talenones, Interzone, Paradox, and Space and Time. He told me he'd never heard of Hadley Rille Books, which bummed me out a bit until I remembered Justin's story from a Hadley Rille anthology got tapped for a year's best anthology. It's not an invisible market.

The "Science fiction,religion, and reason" panel was very interesting. Lots of stuff about Jesuits. Tim Powers talked about chimps and sign language--they can lie. Does that mean they sin and should be baptized? Angels and ascended humans came in for some discussion as well, with one panelist commenting that perfection precludes conflict. I have some story seeds and at least one bunny that have to get larger for me to use.

Last panel I went to was on details and series fiction. Very charming and entertaining panelists. Prologues and appendices were discussed, as were things that have to be repeated in every book. Catherine Asaro, for example, has a spaceship drive and a double star planetary system that need to be explained every time, or she will get e-mails of complaint. No one was a big fan of series where the characters don't change.

Let me know if you have questions about specific pamels. I'm definitely looking foward to next year! (Boskone seems bigger, though.)

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