Sunday, November 27, 2016

Odds and Endings: WFC 2016 Part Three

My notes become much sparser for Saturday and the half-day on Sunday, which may in the end be merciful. Nonetheless I'll put down here for posterity such highlights and attended agenda as I have marked in my program.

First it seems that my final event on Friday was the Starlit Wood release party put on by the editors or the publishers or some such folks. It's an anthology of "New Fairy Tales" by Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone and about a dozen others. The party was very loud and crowded. They had decorated the suite by putting some nifty out takes up on the wall. Here's an example. I also hung out for a bit with some other Writing Excuses retreat alumni, which was cool.

Saturday started a little too early after the party but I wanted to catch a reading by Larry Hodges at 10:00 and I'm glad I did. Larry's short stories are pretty humorous and it's a good way to kick off a day. After that was "The Fantasies of James Thurber" panel. Thurber was a Columbus native and apparently his "13 Clocks" is not to be missed, or so said the panel and also Neil Gaiman who wrote an introduction for a recent reprinting that I heard him read on the drive home from Columbus as I was listening to "A View from the Cheap Seats". Mostly I remember Thurber because my dad loved watching "My World and Welcome To It" on TV.

Next up I listened to artists and Guests of Honor Larry Dixon and Randal Spangler in conversation. Spangler is a pretty regular seeming guy and his art is fantasy but not what I'd call high fantasy. Dixon on the other hand is a character and the combination was entertaining. Dixon has done lots of book covers, been around film and TV (he has a gamers targeted series on YouTube) and is an aviary expert -- that is, he works with birds. He told us about an African Gray parrot that made up a word. It could recognize and say "banana" and "berry" but when given a piece of apple, something it hadn't had before, it said "banan-erry". He also told us that "laughter is a self-massage, electro magnetic pulses run through your muscles when you laugh" and that "calligraphy is swordsmanship writ small".

We also learned that a (fantasy book) cover artist's job is to slow a customer browsing through a store down from 3/4 second per book to 2 seconds; by 4 seconds they are picking it up.

I attended panels on new archaeology finds and how they inform fiction and on middle grade fantasy. I went to a reading by Guy Gavriel Kay. And once again to a panel that tried to define Weird fiction and mostly failed again. Horror editors Ellen Datlow and weird editor Mike Kelly couldn't quite agree. It has something to do with chthulu and the Old Ones (Lovecraft). Or maybe see Van der Meers "Anthology of the Weird". Steve Rasnic: idiosyncratic strangeness of individuals; impossible/improbable but a ring of truth -- not vampires and werewolves. Other thoughts: "bizarro" adds humor. Weird can come from a sad place. Horror must be dark. Weird has deadpan. Sounds a bit like some of my stuff, but not quite on the nose.

Saturday I ate dinner in the hotel restaurant, on my own, which was a nice break from the press of people. Afterwards was the Art Show Reception with coffee and dessert. I broke brownies and had a nice chat with David Boop and Peter Wacks (Peter likes to write amongst activity, like at Perkins Pancake House, one of the only places open late in his town.)

Sunday morning I think the only panel I went to was "Atheist Fantasy? Is God Dead?" The panelists (Larry Hodges, Max Gladstone, Auston Habershaw, Kevin Minerd and L.E. Modesitt) were careful not to tread on faiths, beliefs, or a lack thereof in their fellows or the audience but still managed to be interesting. Someone noted that the latin roots of the word "religion" has to do with a binding of will/self to something larger. I think Auston noted that Fantasy tends to contain powerful magical beings that can create life or grant wishes and sagely asked, "Isn't a god just one of those with a fan club?"

There was another panel with a great title that I ended up skipping out on: "How to Make a Small Fortune in Specialty Publishing (Starting with a Large Fortune)". I packed up my books and commemorative 42nd World Fantasy convention glass and checked out. On the drive home I stopped for a Skyline Chili in St. Matthews, Kentucky.

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