Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,


I went to Boskone this weekend, and generally had fun. It was my first North American con, and my first really big con apart from the Glasgow worldcon. Various people who I already knew were there - I bumped into an increasingly groggy autopope on arrival both mornings, and a jolly pleasant dinner with fjm, chilperic and jemck on the Saturday night, along with others including emilytheslayer and Greer Gilman. I caught up fairly briefly with pnh and marykaykare in passing. Apologies to anyone who the jetlag has caused me to forget.

There was free food in the form of bread, bagels, fruit and cheese at the con suite, which ensured that I didn't need to try the Westin's own catering. The dealer's space was not vast but offered plenty of scope for browsing; I am still looking for a copy of Fritz Leiber's The Big Time which nobody seemed to have.

I attended several panels on the Saturday and Sunday. The first of these was the Guest of Honour interview, with papersky / Jo Walton talking about writing in the bath, how poetry can sometimes be easier, and in particular the Small Change trilogy (of which I bought the second two volumes and got them signed). I then went on to a panel about the EU, chaired by Vince Docherty, where I found myself getting hacked onto the top table as a panellist. Vince had prepared a PowerPoint intrducing the EU in ten minutes, and there was a reasonably lively discussion. I rounded off the afternoon by going to a talk about Galileo by Mike Flynn, which was very entertaining ("Galileo would have been a flame warrior if he'd been on Usenet") but overran so I missed the end. The last Saturday even I attended was the launch for James Morrow's Shambling Toward Hiroshima, complete with clockwork toy giant lizards.

Sunday was a shorter day, as the con finished in the early afternoon, but I attended two great panels. The first of these was on Roger Zelazny, with two of the three editors of the six-volume NESFA complete collection of his short fiction, poetry, and other writings; Melinda Snodgrass chipped in with personal memories of Zelazny. I had, after some hesitation because of their sheer size, bought the first two volumes of the set; I reckoned I would probably get them sooner or later anyway, so might as well get them now. David Grubbs and Christopher Kovacs were very entertaining about the difficulties of chasing down obscure Zelazny writings from various sources; apparently a later volume will feature the Corwin/Dara sex scene cut from The Guns of Avalon, though we are warned not to get our hopes up about its raunchiness.

The final session I went to was on over-rated sf and fantasy books. This one was dominated by Gregory Feeley, who had obviously given some thought to what "over-rated" actually means. It doesn't really apply to well-known books of yesteryear which might have difficulty getting published as new books today, but which were none the less influential in their own time. Myself I've tended to look at those books which have undeservingly won the Hugo (Robert Sawyer's Hominids), the Nebula (Catherine Asaro's The Quantum Rose) or both (Isaac Asimov's The Gods Themselves) but of course these are not really over-rated: a lot of people seem to agree with me that Sawyer and Asaro are genuinely bad writers who happened to strike lucky with the awards procedures, and everyone agrees that The Gods Themselves won its awards based almost entirely on Asimov's pre-existing reputation. Anyway, the process of thinking about why one book is bad also helps with working out why other books are good.

Thanks to the con committee for an enjoyable time. And to wwhyte and family for conveniently living close enough to Boston for me to stay there.

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