This past Saturday Jim Macdonald and I went down to Boston to see Penguin Magic’s traveling expo, which was there that day. The route and the area were familiar to us, since the Readercon site is in the same general neighborhood, but this time it wasn’t science fiction that brought us there, but Jim Macdonald’s other freelance avocation, stage magic – which isn’t as far a cry from writing sf and fantasy (or writing in general) as one might think. Both jobs involving entertaining, and sometimes enlightening, the public by creating believable illusions . . . and both of them take a lot of hard work and practice.
Jim had a good time watching the demonstrations. I don’t do stage magic myself (my job, in my role as Magician’s Significant Other, is to be the test audience and general critic for new tricks, old tricks, and routines under development), but I had a good time anyway. The event had a lot in common with various other specialized meetups I’ve attended or spectated at in my time – rock and mineral shows, mustache-growing contests, sf and fantasy conventions, and yes, writer’s workshops. There’s a peculiar pleasure to be had in the company of a bunch of other people who all share the same obsession, and who can be counted on to understand why a person might spend all afternoon working on a new method of cutting a deck of cards, or trying out different ways of punctuating a particular sentence.
(Do I want a comma here? Would a period and a new sentence work better? How about two independent clauses and a semicolon? No, that doesn’t work – the heck with it, why don’t I just cut the whole thing? Can’t do that either, dammit; it’ll ruin the pacing, and besides, that’s an important bit of information I’m trying to slip in. Let’s look at it with the comma again….)
As is often the case at these specialized events, there’s also the pleasure of cruising the dealers’ tables and trying not to spend more money than one had absolutely budgeted for the purpose. The setup to the left there belongs to Diamond’s Magic, which is local to the area (up here in the north country of New Hampshire, we count Boston as “local” for certain purposes. Montreal is actually closer, but we don’t need a passport to get to Boston, or at least not yet.) We highly recommend them for all your magic-related shopping needs.
And a final note: speaking of specialized groups and shared obsessions and the company of other people who understand why that comma is important enough to spend an afternoon fretting over it: The application period for the Viable Paradise workshop remains open until 15 June. If you’re planning to apply, why not get your application in now and avoid the last-minute rush?