Boskone on the Horizon

Two weeks from now at this time, I’m going to be going over the household master packing list for Boskone, our other midwinter cabin-fever preventative convention, all the while keeping an eye on the weather predictions.  (The blizzard that hit Boston missed us, thanks to the White Mountains acting as a barrier, but we’ve got snow scheduled to come in from the Great Lakes tomorrow.   This time of year, anything can happen – we got snowed in at Arisia during the Blizzard of 2005, to pick an extreme example.)

Herewith, an advance heads-up for the unified Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald Boskone convention schedule:

Saturday, 14 February, 10:00 AM

Marina 2

The Future of Forensics

Advances in science and technology are driving the future of forensics. How will these changes affect the future of crime prevention and detection? What crimes committed today or yesterday might be solved in the future, and how might it be done? What relationship do these advances have to the future of crime fiction? And how do we keep it feeling “real” without wandering into science fantasy?

John P. Murphy (M), James D. Macdonald, Alison Sinclair

Saturday, 11:00 AM

Harbor III

Mythic Love and Epic Romance

Some of the greatest love stories come from ancient mythology, such as Psyche and Cupid or Odysseus and Penelope. However, great love stories that span the fantastic and (in some cases) the centuries also come in more modern tales, featuring couples such as Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese, Bella and Edward, Wesley and Buttercup, Dr. Frankenstein and Elizabeth, and Count Dracula and Mina. What do these tales of love and romance tell us about love? What do these epic love stories tell us about ourselves? And why are we drawn to them?

Darlene Marshall (M), Debra Doyle, Max Gladstone, Chris Jackson, Ada Palmer

Saturday, 2:00 PM

Marina 2

The Walking Dead: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Walking Dead opened its fifth season with a literal bang and seems to be going strong despite the occasional halting plot, erratic pace, and poor choices made by several characters in past seasons. Still, it remains the most popular show on cable television. What is it about TWD that compels 17 million viewers to keep watching a show that is possibly one of the most violent on television?

Erin Underwood (M), James D. Macdonald, Jennifer Pelland, Thomas Sweterlitsch, Steve Davidson

Saturday, 3:00 PM

Galleria-Discussion Group

The Hollywood Historical Past

Sleepy Hollow is not the first TV show with a historical backstory that diverges from real-world history. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Highlander also presented us with some highly dubious flashbacks. Is this a recent development, or only the latest product of the ahistorical approach to the past-as-story that gave us Shakespeare’s Italy and medieval writers’ fanciful versions of ancient Greece and Rome?

Debra Doyle

Saturday, 4:00 PM

Marina 3

Writing Fight and Combat Scenes

You can learn fencing, stage combat, or martial arts, but these skills are neither necessary nor sufficient to write compelling, realistic fight scenes. What does it take to write a fight scene that creates tension and drama without turning it into a play-by-play? Panelists will explore how to bring their readers into the fight and leave them gasping for air.

Myke Cole (M), Chris Jackson, James D. Macdonald, Ken Mondschein, Jen Gunnels

Saturday, 5:00 PM


Autographing: David L. Clements, Debra Doyle, James Macdonald, Allen Steele


Sunday, 15 February, 11:00 AM

Marina 3

Writing Workshops: What’s Right for You as a New Writer?

Thinking about attending a writing workshop or an MFA program? Wondering how to pick which one is right for you? Once you do, then what? There is no magic formula to elicit an acceptance letter, but a solid application is a good place to start. Join representatives from various writing programs and learn how to present the best of what you have to offer as a student.

Kenneth Schneyer (M), Debra Doyle, Theodora Goss, Shahid Mahmud, Jill Shultz

Sunday, 12:30 PM


Reading: James Macdonald and Debra Doyle

The reading very likely will be “Silver Passing in Sunlight” from the upcoming DECO PUNK: The Spirit of the Age anthology published by Pink Narcissus. A world premiere!

A note in passing:  The Hollywood Historical Past is a “discussion group”, not a panel, which at Boskone means that I’ll be holding down a table in the Galleria, and interested parties are welcome to join me there and have a lively conversation about the topic.  If you’re at Boskone and are an interested party, do show up; if the topic isn’t your cup of tea, but you know someone who might enjoy it, please feel free to pass the word along.

For Your Amusement

A trio of links, from the useful to the odd.

Table Scraps — a food history blog, with more blog links in the sidebar.  (Including one to Pass the Garum!, a blog about Roman cookery.)

Three-Panel Book Reviews, a webcomic that says entirely truthful and funny things about works of literature.  I especially liked the one about Jonathan Franzen, but they’re all good.

And finally, a performance of “Lord Barnard and Little Musgrave” (as “Little Matty Groves” was known before it crossed the Atlantic) sung in Esperanto.

Now I’ve Heard Everything

Among the other things I did over the past weekend, in addition to having a lovely time at the Arisia sf/fantasy convention,* was to purchase a tablet to replace my color Nook. Why? (Other than sheer neophilia, that is.)  To make a long story short – Intuit finally came out with a mobile Quicken app to sync with the desktop version, which is something I’ve been missing ever since Intuit yanked the license to make Pocket Quicken away from Landware.  And my husband/co-author was on board with the idea because it would mean that I could use the tablet’s camera to take videos of him doing stage magic.

So I picked up a refurbished Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7-incher from NewEgg, and then I went looking on line for a cover.

And that’s when I discovered that none of the online dealers in mobile accessories are talking about artificial or fake leather any more.

No – their products are made of “vegan leather.”

* The guy who usually cosplays on stilts was in fine form this year . . . he came as Groot, from Guardians of the Galaxy.


Convention, Upcoming

To wit, the Arisia sf/fantasy convention in Boston, where it’s reliably at least ten degrees warmer than it is here, and where the hotel rooms have almost too much heat in them, and where the showers have good water pressure and plenty of hot water to pressure with.

(I’m trying not to look forward to all of this too much, so as not to give the Fates a chance to laugh at me.)

Anyhow – Madhouse Manor’s Arisia schedules for this year:

Dr. Doyle’s Arisia Sked

Religions, Holidays, and Rituals in Your Fiction

Sat 10:00 AM     Hale

Our panelists discuss religions, holidays, and rituals across the genres (fantasy, horror, SF) and their creation. What are the differences in belief systems associated with traditional holidays of our world’s different cultures as compared to those in genre fiction?

Focus: From Solo Narrative to Sprawling Empire 

Sat 8:30 PM Marina 2

    Literature gives us great freedom to explore; one of the interesting choices available to writers is how to focus their narrative. Some writers give us massive epics with dozens of POV characters. Some give us two people in a locked room. Both, and everything in between, provide varied opportunities. We’ll talk about how some of our favorite writers have chosen to use broad or narrow focus to tell their stories, and how a change in focus changes the story completely.

The Many Paths to Perdition

Sun 10:00 AM  Hale
How does a villain become a villain? Is it a single traumatic event? A lifetime of adversity and desperation? Often a villain doesn’t see themselves as a villain. Is this due to a differing point of view, delusion, or denial? Our panelists discuss the many roads to ruination a character can take.

Saving the World vs. Changing the World

Sun 4:00 PM  Marina 2

    We like vast scope and terrible conflict, where the world is in jeopardy. As the narratives roll, we’re bound to see aspects of the setting that probably need to be destroyed or, at least, to change. Sometimes, the world is changed by the end of the story (as in each book in the Inheritance Trilogy) and sometimes it is merely saved (as with the Harry Potter series). We’ll talk about stories that changed their settings forever and ones where the status quo is restored.

Jim Macdonald’s Arisia Sked: 

Fairy Tales on Film and TV 

Fri 10:00 PM  Marina 1

    Between *Once Upon a Time* and *Grimm* on television, and movies like *Maleficent* and *Frozen*, it’s a good time for fans of entertainment based on fairy tales. What makes these works so effective at translating these classics into other media? Why aren’t we seeing more works based on fairy tales and folklore from other cultures? What other works are coming up that deserve to be highlighted?   

Taverns, Bars and Saloons

Sat 8:30 PM  Alcott

    Whether as the traditional location for assembling the party in RPGs, or as a venue for exposition and moving the plot along in too many SF/F novels and stories to name, taverns, pubs, and other like establishments are a fundamental aspect of literature in general and genre literature in particular. In what saloons and taverns would you most like to hang out after a long day at Arisia? What is it about pubs and bars that so links them to the conventions of SF literature?

Se7en and the Ragged Thriller

Sat 10:00 PM  Marina 1

    David Fincher’s Seven, launched 20 years ago, wasn’t the first thriller to shift from glorified police procedurals and cheap erotic suspense, but it took the dark, off-the-rails story to a more prominent level. Debuting just as the cast were hitting their popular and critical strides, it helped lay groundwork for films like Red Eye, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Fincher’s own Panic Room. We’ll discuss why Seven worked so well, its influence, and maybe even discuss the history of the thriller.

So You Think You Can Write a Fight?

Sun 10:00 AM Faneuil

    Come find out how viable your fight scene really is. An experienced panel of talented authors, martial artists, and maybe one hapless would-be victim will take your quick fight scene and act it out while our esteemed panelists help you work out the physical and literary kinks. Please no epic wave battles.

Disaster Preparedness for Fans

Sun 1:00 PM Marina 1

    In this Arisia favorite, we’ll discuss ways to protect what’s important to you from random acts of disaster, including yourself. How do I protect my books from flooding? What should I put in a disaster kit? Is renters insurance worth buying? Come learn how to prepare yourself for when the alien cyborg zombies invade!

Chantey Sing

Sun 2:30 PM   Griffin

Songs of sailing in all forms, with an emphasis on work songs from the age of sail. Open sing. Fun for all!

A Position Statement, of Sorts

In the wake of the Paris attacks, there’s been much earnest discussion going on, in those quarters of the internet where earnest discussion always hangs out, over whether Charlie Hebdo‘s political satires were, in fact, racist, anti-Muslim, and so forth, or whether they were part of a long-standing tradition in French political expression (Daumier keeps getting brought up, for example, and pre-Revolutionary cartoons about Marie Antoinette), and about whether Charlie Hebdo was punching up, or down, or sideways. These are arguments I’m not going to get into, because, one, there are few things more impenetrable to the outside observer than another country’s political humor, and two, from where I stand as a free-speech absolutist, it shouldn’t matter whether Charlie Hebdo was punching in the right direction, punching in the wrong direction, or spinning madly around in all directions like a punching top . . . shooting up a bunch of people because of something they said, or wrote, or drew is just plain wrong.

Shooting up a bunch of unarmed people is wrong to start with, for heaven’s sake. And doing it because they were saying, or writing, or drawing something that the shooter wanted to silence is a heaping big plate of wrongness with wrong sauce poured over it and a maraschino cherry of wrong on top.

It’s January

Which means that applications are now open for Viable Paradise XIX, being held this year on 18-23 October at the Island Inn on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Come for the workshop; stay for the lighthouses, the luminescent jellyfish, and the really excellent seafood.

Also:  I’m currently putting together the January issue of my newly-inaugurated newsletter.  If you’re interested in receiving what should be a monthly e-mailing, you can sign up via the link in the sidebar, or click on it here.