Boskone 45 Wrap-Up

Since basically nobody reads my inside-baseball stuff about SF, I'll put the details below the fold. Short version: Kate and I went to Boskone this past weekend, and it was good.

Various miscellany:

-- During the week, Kate came down with the cold that I had last weekend. As late as Thursday night, she was thinking of not even going, but I convinced her that moping at home would be more depressing than making the trip. She spent most of the con in her room, though.

-- This was the second year of Boskone in the Westin Waterfront, which isn't as good a space as the Sheraton at Prudential Center, largely because it doesn't have the attached mall and food court. The food options were the very expensive hotel restaurant, a concession stand with unimpressive sandwiches, or walking some distance in the cold.

Construction is underway in the hotel that will add three restaurants soon, so next year may be better. If it's not substantially better, though, they may need to look at moving.

-- For whatever reason, the con felt both smaller and older than it has in the past. It may have been a trick of the space (which split programming over three small but widely separated areas), or just the absence of specific people (John Scalzi and Cory Doctorow weren't there), but it didn't feel like there were as many people as in some past years. The people who were there also seemed to skew older, though again, this may be a result of specific people being absent.

I was a little surprised at the "grey-er" feel of the crowd, as the guest of honor was David Weber, who writes the sort of books that I would expect to be a huge hit with teenage boys. but then, I could be wrong about that.

-- Speaking of the GoH, I once again managed not to attend a single item he was on. I did see him in the hall several times, and at some parties, but that was it.

-- Programming in general was quite good, as always with the NESFA crowd. There wasn't anything really brilliantly exciting, but there weren't any huge misfires, either, among the panels I went to. The "Who You Should Be Reading: Young Turks Edition" panel for recommending new writers was somewhat marred by the fact that the youngest panelsit was just about 40, but I did get a couple of names to look for before I ducked out to go to a reading.

-- Readings: Tobias Buckell read the opening of the forthcoming Sly Mongoose, in which a character arrives at a planet by jumping out of a spaceship with a personal ablative heat shield and an armored space suit. The planet in question is a Venusian world with floating cities and rocket-powered air ships, and the larger plot involves a zombie invasion.

Karl Schroeder read a chase scene from the forthcoming Pirate Sun in which the protagonist is saved by the arrival of a zero-gee "rainstorm" involving meter-wide balls of water. Both Sly Mongoose and Pirate Sun are going to be out in August, which looks to be a great month for swashbuckling space adventure fiction.

Howard Waldrop has a very pronounced Texas accent, and read a surreal and very funny thing about Alfred Jarre going fishing, an except of a story that I've read in some collection or another, but can't recall the name of. He also read a bit from a forthcoming short novel consisting mostly of a flashback to the narrator as a small boy attending the 1939 World's Fair, which was really sweet and charming.

-- My own panels went well. I managed to mostly dodge the fact that I don't really know much about Tunguska, because Guy Consolmagno is an expert, and Jeff Hecht writes for New Scientist which had just done an article on meterorite impacts. All I had to do was make the occasional funny comment. The "Unexpected Uses of Technology" dwelt a bit too much on expected uses of technology, I thought, but Karl and Toby and Charlie Stross are smart and engaging and I think it ended up being fairly entertaining.

My Quantum Teleportation talk was well attended for the first thing on a Sunday morning, and went pretty well. A fair number of the attendees came in late, though, and missed the dog dialogue. They probably spent a lot of the remainder of the talk going "What the hell is with all the dog pictures?"

-- In terms of general socialization, we spent Friday evening out at Kate's parents' place, and only made it to a little of the "Death to Peeps Fun Fest." I talked to some people there, and had an overpriced beer at the Art Show Reception (someone noted later that when they opened the doors, there was a big rush to get at the cake table, but no line at the bar. I suspect that the $7 beers didn't help with that...) I stopped by the Australian bid party for a little bit, and had a couple of good free beers, then turned in reltively early.

Saturday night we had dinner at the Legal Test Kitchen, then went to the Tor Books party, where I had quite a few beers, and a number of interesting conversations. I was tipped to the upcoming SFWA election train wreck (which has now been made public), and spent some time exploring the many ways that that organization is mismanaged. I finally turned in around 1am, which was plenty late enough given that I was still recovering from a cold.

-- In terms of books, it was a fairly disappointing haul. The Dealer's Room was really kind of sparse this year, with a couple of dealers apparently backing out at the last minute. Larry Smith was the only one with a significant selection of new books, and there wasn't that much there that I wanted.

In the end, I wound up coming home with only two new books: Matthew Jarpe's Radio Freefall (because it looks enjoyable, and he's a good guy), and an ARC of Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, a YA novel about teenagers who take on the Department of Homeland Security. I looked for Paul Melko's Singularity's Ring, but they sold out on Friday, which had him doing the Happy Dance at the Tor party.

All in all, a good time. I was pretty beat by the time we got home Sunday night, though, and spent most of my Monday in a fog (the perfect state of mind in which to prepare my NSF annual progress report...), but it was well worth the trip.

(Kate is collecting con reports on, which saves me the trouble of cut-and-pasting a lot of links...)


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looked for Paul Melko's Singularity's Ring,

That reminds me, I need to order that from Amazon.

By John Novak (not verified) on 18 Feb 2008 #permalink

David Weber and teenage boys, really? I think of MilSF as appealing to the sort of 40-year-old bearded engineers who have hex-and-counter wargames setup in their basement and subscribe to Jane's (or, better yet, complain about why Jane's is rubbish these days, not nearly as good as it was back in the day).

Teenagers read fantasy.

I'll have you know I read everything you post. Though I admit to skimming some of the heavy physics posts.

I wish we'd had time to talk to you guys. Last night Jordin and I were sitting in our room going, "How did it get to be Sunday night already?" This con just flew -- even more than most. It was nice of y'all to invite me to your table at LTK. Our group of 8 only had to wait about 10 minutes though. It took 3 hours for us to have dinner though.

I read Michael Chabon's new book on the plane home Gentlemen of the Road. It's slight but I found it completely delightful. We picked up a number of NESFA Press books and a mere handful of paperbacks at Larry& Sally's table.


I absolutely love your "inside-baseball stuff about SF" both in general, and in this Boskone postscript. My sympathies to Kate, may she get well soon. You took the sting out of my not being able to attend for medical reasons.

Specific pharmacological analogy: the combination of prescription Vicodin and a large serving of hot high-quality sake takes the sting off an infected major surgery incision. I'm not allowed (dietician's orders) to eat any raw fruit, any raw vegetable, any fiber, nor any fish except well-cooked, but the aforementioned self-medication plus a dinner order of 4 bowls of white rice and a dinner order of roast river eel in that eeliscious sweet sauce, at Ichima Sushi in Pasadena, quite hit the spot, for a combination of son's delayed-birthday party and wife's 22nd wedding anniversary dinner.

Howard Waldrop's story sounds like either "God's Hooks" or a companion story.

Howard Waldrop: Fly Fishing for Stories
November 2003:

"Fishing is one of the main things in my life. Writing and fishing -- that's about it. Explaining the attraction of fishing is like trying to explain the attraction of SF to somebody who has never read it. My family moved to Texas when I was four years old, but I went back to Mississippi every summer for six weeks or the whole summer, to stay with one or the other set of grandparents, and that's what I did -- fish from the time the sun came up to when it went down. I had to teach myself out of books, because nobody fly fished in Texas in the '50s and there were no trout within 600 miles of where I was back then. One of the reasons I moved back from Washington State after living there seven years was because they started closing the river down from March through June. I lived 100 feet from the river and I had to drive 20 miles to a lake to fish. I had enough of that after three years."

* "I write about stuff I love -- dodos, the 1939 World's Fair, fishing..."

It was nice to see what you looked like even if we didn't get to talk. (I caught you on the way out the door from one panel to simply say I liked your website.)

I noticed Boskone being grayer myself - in particular I noticed how many of my college friends now were sporting gray hairs.

My personal favorite panel was the "Morality in the YA market", but in general the panels seemed less interesting than in years past. Part of that was definitely poor selection on my part - friends who went to competing panels seemed to enjoy them more.

By Larry Lennhoff (not verified) on 19 Feb 2008 #permalink