Lizard Brain is a shared blog about Science Fiction and Fantasy from Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.

MileHiCon 2010, or That Which Does Not Kill Me

by Daniel Abraham

Sadly, much of a glorious weekend has been scrubbed away by what followed.  I shall do my best to reconstruct.

As best I can recall, I arrived in Denver Thursday night.  Ty and Melinda Snodgrass and I had made the trip — Ty and myself starting from Albuquerque and meeting up with Melinda in Santa Fe.  The drive up was pleasant enough, or so it seems through the veil of history.  Little did I know . . .

Friday began late — a slow morning of work, lunch at the Baker St. Pub, and then a bit of programming.  I was on a panel titled something like Finding Your Voice in which we talked about what a “distinctive voice” is and what editors mean when they ask for one.  My opinion was they that “distinctive voice” was a code phrase for “competence” but not everyone agreed with me.  We ranged from there to questions of diction in epic fantasy (the From Elfland to Poughkeepsie problem, a conversation made more interesting as Katherine Kurtz — one object of LeGuin’s disapprobation — was actually on the panel).  We also made a stab at a glossary of what editors mean cataloged by what they say.  So, for example, “The story is too long” translates to “I got bored” and “the story’s too short” translates to “I got confused.”  Like that.  All in all, Ms. Kurtz was the shining moment, and I was mostly being snarky with Sarah Hoyt who is, I’m sure, a lovely woman.

I missed the part of the opening ceremonies where Paolo Bacigalupi talked about me (I’m told he said nice things), but I sat beside him and Carrie Vaughn at the autograph alley, and then went to the genuinely wonderful Midnight Hour panel in which Carrie — standing in for her werewolf talk radio personality Kitty Norville — interviewed Paolo in his role as a zombie rights activist.  It was hilarious in part because it was almost impossible to tell who exactly was being made fun of.  The take away moment for me:  “Some people use loaded words like ‘apocalypse’ to try and control the conversation.”

Saturday morning, I did something.  I remember it was at around 10, and I think it was a panel, but I think the neurons that coded for that memory died on the drive home.  Which I will come to.

A new feature at MileHiCon was the “Speed Date an Author” event which needs a few kinks worked out.  In its best form, it’s a chance for authors and readers to have a bunch of (fairly brief, well-regulated) conversations, and could be fun.  In practice, it was a cross between a poorly attended signing and musical chairs.  Next year will, I’m sure, be better.

After that, there was a long, interesting conversation with a fella I met at the speed dating, followed by a panel on surviving Clarion (and Clarion-like experiences) which served to cement some of my prejudices, and about which there is little to say.  I thought the Clarion workshops were a force for good when I went into the panel, and I thought the same when I came out.  Any other confirmations of my worldview would be impolitic.

That evening, Carrie Vaughn was kind enough to conduct a half-hour taped interview with James S. A. Corey which I am going to be sending off the promotional forces at Orbit this afternoon.  It went very well, apart from the camera’s utter fascination with the roll of fat under my chin.

Sunday was a reading I split with Carrie Vaughn.  She read from her new superhero book After the Golden Age.  I did a sampler plate of reading from The Dragon’s Path, Leviathan Wakes and the fourth of the Black Sun’s Daughter books Killing Rites.  The reaction to that last one pointed out some things about urban fantasy that I’d only half understood before, and I’ll talk about them next time when I’ve put my thoughts in order.  Short form: I think rape maybe the third rail of urban fantasy.

And then there were the ribs.

I cannot entirely blame them.  Ty ate them too, and he didn’t get sick.  God knows they tasted fine at the time.  I’d have had more if there’d been any.

It’s about an eight hour drive from Denver to Albuquerque, and I made almost seven hours of it before it became clear this wasn’t going to work.  My chest still aches when I breathe too deeply or cough.  I’ve burst blood vessels in both eyes.  I lost some time on my projects schedule that I need to make up now.

Briefly, MileHiCon is a great convention and a wonderful time.  Skip the ribs.

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