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Boskone 45

I spent last weekend (the 15th through 17th) in Boston, attending Boskone 45. In short, it was a fun convention, and I definitely had a better idea what to expect and how to enjoy it as fully as possible this year, which was a nice change from a year ago. I didn't book my days solid with panels, I tried to attend more readings and literary beers and kaffeeklatsches, and I made an effort to talk with more people. Overall, I had a good time.

The attendees in general seemed to be on the older side; I felt like one of the young people there, and I'm in my late 20s. There were some little kids and the occasional teenager, but I would guess that the average age was 40 or higher. On the one hand, this meant I had some conversations with people with lots of interesting life experience and a perspective on SF that I don't really have; on the other hand, I occasionally felt like an inexperienced little whippersnapper.

That reminds me of another thing: as much as my interests effectively dovetail with the interests of everyone else at this convention, I'm just not as serious about it as many of them are. I was in conversations where ideas and authors and book titles were tossed about that I had absolutely no experience with, but everyone else seemed to not only have read them, but retained concrete enough memories of the stories to be able to debate the various social, political, technological, and philosophical points they raised. My brain doesn't retain these things so well, and the depth of my SF reading experience is lacking. At the pace I read, I don't think I can ever catch up with all the classic SF that I ought to read as well as keep up with the current releases -- not to mention that I'm actively trying to establish a better knowledge of classic and modern horror literature, and keep up with trends in YA fiction at the same time. Phew.

Friday I left home around 11 and drove down to Boston. When I go to Boston these days, I park at the Alewife Station (the northern end of the Red Line) where parking is $5/day, and then ride the T to wherever I need to be. It's awfully convenient and relatively cheap, if a bit slower than driving all the way in. The weather was gorgeous (sunny and around 50° F) so I deposited my stuff in my room (on the very top floor of the hotel, with a gorgeous view of the bay and Logan Airport, so I could watch the planes land and take off all day and night) and then walked to Fanueil Hall and had a late lunch of clam chowder and a lobster roll, which was fun. I got back to the hotel around 4ish, and attended a couple panels.

I think it was Friday night that I ran into Richard Stallman, which was pretty neat. I shook his hand and told him I appreciated his work, and he sold me a plush gnu to support the FSF.

I also saw Skott Klebe that evening. He's been at all three Boston-area SF cons I've been to, so we say hi whenever we see each other.

The parties Friday night weren't great, or maybe I just wasn't in the mood to party. I stopped by Cecilia Tan's book release party (for an anthology she edited) for a bit, and then dropped in on the Australia 2010 Worldcon bid party, but I wasn't, for whatever reason, able to get over my inherent shyness and get into conversation with anyone, so I turned in before too long.

Saturday was by far the best day of the convention, for me, which makes sense I guess since it's also the fullest day of the convention. I met liamstliam early in the morning and picked up the great LiveJournal username sticker he had printed for me, and chatted with him and some of his friends for a while waiting for the Con Suite to open (which took them an extra, unexpected half hour for some reason). I signed up for a literary beer with Tobias Buckell, who I met last year at Boskone and have corresponded a bit with since then. The beer was scheduled for noon, but as many others have noted, the hotel totally screwed the pooch wrt the literary beers, so there was no room for us in the restaurant, the hotel bar was closed, and things were in disarray. Tobias and Charlie Stross (autopope) ended up holding their gatherings together in the bar area, which was fun -- two authors for the price of one! -- but a bit crowded and less of an intimate gathering than I had expected. Still, listening to Tobias and Charlie bounce ideas off each other was pretty neat.

I got a chance to drop into the Huckster's room on Saturday, and saw Adam Golaski (golaski), and bought the two issues of New Genre that I didn't have. Adam introduced me to Joy (squbbly_vanilla), who was pretty nice, but I didn't really get a chance to chat with her, and I didn't see her again after that.

I had told myself that I shouldn't buy many new books, so I left after picking up just those two issues.

In the afternoon I was taking a break between panels and joined Tobias and Neil Clarke (clarkesworld), who is the publisher of Clarkesworld Magazine in the bar for a chat. Nick Mamatas (nihilistic_kid) dropped by briefly to say hi too. Neil is a funny guy and a great conversationalist, but I wanted to catch another panel so we didn't chat for very long at this point.

For dinner I gave the hotel restaurant a try, even though I hadn't heard wonderful things about it. Their conceit is that they have a set of unique sauces for you to choose from to add to any of their entrees. The yellowfin tuna steak I ordered turned out quite well, and the green peppercorn and morel mushroom sauce was a fantastic addition. The other sauce I chose didn't match too well, though.

After dinner, I got a drink at the bar and found Neil talking to a bookseller and Patricia Bray (pbray), so I hung out with them for a while, and ended up talking to Neil for another couple hours about publishing an online magazine and running a bookstore, and small-press publishing, and various other things. That conversation was really one of the high points of the convention for me. Neil's a great guy, and I hope to run into him again in the future.

At some point we headed upstairs to the party block. I had enjoyed the Bronx Babes' party last year, so I checked it out again, and ended up spending a couple hours chatting with a woman who spent several months last year working in Antarctica, which I found really interesting. She had lots of good stories about the experience, and she appreciated Scotch, so we spent a while talking with an older British man who showed up at the party with a bottle of Canadian maple-flavored whiskey, something like Sortilège but not that particular brand.

I spent the rest of the night hanging out at the Tor Books party, talking with Chad Orzel about his forthcoming book in which he explains quantum physics to his dog; and, later, discussing art and SF with Thomas Nackid and an appreciative fan of his. I got to bed around 2 a.m.

For some reason, it seems that no matter how late I stay up, I wake up naturally between 6:30 and 8 a.m., and if I go back to sleep I feel like crap when I wake up again. So both Saturday and Sunday I was up long before the con got underway, and I spent quite a while sitting in the lobby reading and people-watching. There were a couple guys in the lobby, probably around my age, chatting, and I overheard part of their conversation. One of them commented how he liked the hotel but didn't like that "they let all these sci-fi geeks in here," which (of course) bugged me. The other guy agreed, but then proceeded to start discussing Heinlein and Haldeman, and the other guy had a lot of intelligent comments to make, and brought up some Asimov and Orson Scott Card works, and HEY YOU GUYS, YOU'RE GEEKS JUST LIKE US.

Anyway, I went to a kaffeeklatsch with Karl Schroder (whose book Sun of Suns I am in the middle of and enjoying immensely) where I pretty much sat quietly, since the rest of the participants were doing their best to imitate an episode of Hardball with Chris Matthews, including periods of loudly trying to talk over each other and constantly interrupting each other, and when that sort of conversation is going on I totally clam up and withdraw since it really just annoys me, and I didn't get a word in for the whole hour and left disappointed, since I thought of many interesting things to say. I think I will email Karl if I can get those thoughts out.

Immediately after that, I caught Jack Haringa (mssrcrankypants) who I had seen and talked to several times throughout the weekend, and asked him to recommend a horror novel for me to read to continue my horror education. We wandered through the Huckster's room for a while and he found me a copy of Floating Dragon by Peter Straub, which I've moved to the top of my reading pile. Saturday morning I had picked up a copy of issue 2 of Dead Reckonings from Jack, which I'm looking forward to.

I went to a kaffeeklatsch with Sarah Beth Durst, who I'd also seen a few times through the weekend. Sarah is such a fun and funny and enthusiastic person, being around her is just a constant pleasure. shadesong was there with her daughter Elayna (who is a budding comic writer), and I got a postcard from Lis Mitchell, another artist, who was sitting next to me. Sarah discussed her writing process and her path to eventual publication and how she found an agent, and her upcoming writing plans.

Shortly after that, I attended Sarah's reading, where she read us several fun selections from her upcoming novel Out of the Wild, a sequel to Into the Wild which I bought from her and read last summer and enjoyed quite a bit -- and apparently I wasn't the only one, since it's a finalist for the Andre Norton Award! (Congratulations, Sarah!)

I had a great time at the convention. It felt like it was over way too quickly, which generally happens with fun experiences like this. However, I feel encouraged about many things: I had an easier time finding people to talk to in general, several people remembered me from last year and said hi, and I am motivated to work more on my fiction writing. One of these years I'll be a program participant, not just an attendee. And I'll definitely be at Readercon this summer, and Boskone again next February!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 24th, 2008 05:00 pm (UTC)
*waves* Saw you at Sarah's kaffeeklatsch, and just never got the chance to talk to you... swear I've seen you all over LJ.

Maybe at Readercon!
Feb. 24th, 2008 06:19 pm (UTC)
Hi! Yeah, I saw you there too, but I would have had no idea who you were if not for liamstliam's handy sticker.

You've probably seen my name because I put together a handful of popular LJ toys a few years back, and the trick-or-treat and 12 days of Christmas ones still get a lot of use around those holidays. Also it seems like we have a not-insignificant friendlist intersection!

Anyway, yeah, I'm sure we'll run into each other at Readercon. :)
Feb. 26th, 2008 04:26 pm (UTC)
*waves hello*

Yeah, the Boskone crowd seems to be aging rapidly, while the Arisia crowd has much more diversity both of age and other demographics. Boskone has more of the patrician roots of old school fannishness while Arisia was more or less created as a break from that/reaction against that.

I had a thought about what you were saying about people who seem to be able to go into very concrete detail about various books and authors while conversing at the con. I would bet that some of them at least have held forth on those same authors and books before, so they've had years to build up their conversational knowledge of various works, and/or also they are very very into that particular author but if you asked them about some of the other things they read they might draw a blank. I can hold forth on Harry Potter but not so much The Golden Compass, though I read both. (I only read the Pullman books once, though, and the HP series I'm on my 4th? 5th? time through it?)

See you at Readercon!
Feb. 26th, 2008 04:37 pm (UTC)
Hi! I enjoyed your Friday night panel on writing erotica. Seems like everyone had a good time talking about it, and I picked up some reading recommendations. I never really thought much about erotica until meeting oracne at Boskone and then Readercon last year, but now I'm much more into it.

Sorry about sort of insulting your party; I'm sure it was just that I wasn't in the mood, not that there was anything wrong with the party itself.

You're probably right about some people being extra-knowledgeable about certain authors -- I could definitely hold my own in a discussion of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, for instance. I guess I just felt a bit alienated when it seemed like everyone participating in the discussion besides me knew the authors or works being discussed. Your hypothesis might be largely correct, but I still have to acknowledge that there are large gaps in my SF reading history.

People keep telling me I should attend Arisia. I suspect that eventually I'll make it there, just due to the sheer social-gravity of all the invitations!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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