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Sunday, August 31, 2014

On Robin Williams

You have probably already heard about the death of Robin Williams by (apparent) suicide.  Given the public nature of celebrity deaths, I have a feeling a lot of people are somewhat desensitized to the whole thing.  I, however, feel inclined to say a few words about Robin Williams.

I was born in 1983.  Basically, I was a 90s kid.  I grew up on 90s cartoons.  I grew up on 90s movies.[1]  Among my fondest memories are those films which featured Robin Williams.  Hook (1991), FernGully (1992), Aladdin (1992), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumanji (1995), Jack (1996), and Flubber (1997).  My siblings and I watched a number of these films many times over.  They brought us joy.  Robin Williams had a way of making us laugh -- his greatest gift.

In a small way, Williams helped make our lives better.  Those that know me are probably aware that my childhood was pretty crap.  I wrote about some of that here.  Movies and video games were some of the methods through which I survived that growing-up experience.  Robin Williams was a part of that.  And so, for me, his death had a personal feel to it.  The man who made us laugh.  Who brought joy and wonder.  He's gone.  Forever.

I'll never forget the laughs.  It's just sad that we won't have any new laughfests from Robin Williams.  We'll only have the memories.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Anonymous Comments = Off

A quick note for readers:  I ran a bit of an experiment with comments to see if turning off registration requirements (even with something like Open ID) would affect the activity on this blog.  Unfortunately, all that seemed to happen is that spammers got more comments into my moderation queue than real people with real things to say.  For that reason, I'm turning off anonymous comments.  It'll prevent my statistics from being skewed and it'll make my life easier, since I won't have to delete mountains of annoying spam comments from my inbox.

Hopefully, this won't be a problem for anyone.  You should be able to use any social media account to leave a comment here (via Open ID), which I imagine almost all of you have.

Anywhoodles.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Book Review: All Those Vanished Engines (2014) by Paul Park

"It occurs to me that every memoirist and every historian should begin by reminding their readers that the mere act of writing something down, of organizing something in a line of words, involves a clear betrayal of the truth." -- All Those Vanished Engines by Paul Park (Pg. 173)
Of the novels I've reviewed in the last year, this is by far one of the most difficult.  All Those Vanished Engines (2014) by Paul Park is not your typical SF novel.  It is layered, divergent, and postmodern.  If I were to describe this book in a single phrase, it would be "a destabilized metanarrative about art and history with mindscrew tendencies."  Though I appreciate the ambitiousness of Park's narrative styling and prose, All Those Vanished Engines is a somewhat cold work.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

5 Don'ts of Panels (and Podcast Roundtables)

I'm officially back from Worldcon/LonCon3, which marks my third convention this year (preceded by ICFA and CONvergence).  Having had a few experiences as a panelist, I've learned a few things about what works and what doesn't.  The below list is not exhaustive by any means, but it reflects my fairly new experiences as an panelist and audience member.

Here goes:

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Taxonomy of Genre: Science Fiction as Supergenre

I recently stayed with Maureen Kincaid Speller and Paul Kincaid, two wonderful people whose book collections would make almost any sf fan drool.  One of the brief discussions we had before I headed off for my final days in London concerned the often pointless debates about what science fiction “is.”  Paul suggested that thinking of sf as a “genre” in the narrative sense is not accurate to the use of “genre.”  Unlike romance or crime, there is nothing unique to the narrative practice of sf that can be separated from everything else.  This might explain, for example, why there has been so much discussion about the nature of sf as a cross-pollinating genre – crossovers being so regular an occurrence that one would be hard pressed to find an sf text which does not cross over into other generic forms.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

On LonCon and Thanks

I'm currently in Bristol after a long, exciting weekend at LonCon, resting up, seeing some touristy stuff, and generally dropping the weight from my shoulders.  Overall, this trip abroad has been beautiful.  I'll talk about some of that here (warning:  this will be more rambly and random than usual).

LonCon!
I still have a few days to look forward to in the big magic city, but my experience at the convention was overwhelmingly positive.  First, the LonCon staff put together a fantastic convention.  Though I could not attend every item I wanted to for all sorts of reasons, there were so many incredible panels this year, including a whole sub-track on World SF.  Clearly, the con runners heard all of the complaints and concerns about San Antonio (and previous cons) and took it to heart.  The international presence was phenomenal, in part served by the location (LONDON!) and by the smart programming staff who wanted to highlight the contributions of non-US/non-UK authors and fans.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Adventures in England: A Primer (Worldcon / LonCon3 Schedules and the Yorkshire Secession)

If you didn't know this already, I will be in the lovely country of England tomorrow morning.  There are two reasons for this.

First, I'm attending Worldcon / LonCon 3, partly because of the World SF Tour on The Skiffy and Fanty Show and partly because I happen to be nominated for a Hugo.

Second, I have been hard at work on the secession of Yorkshire from the United Kingdom with other like-minded individuals who believe in the necessity for the return of the Ormian Republic and its attending empire (the Yorkshire Empire, as it were).  I will be meeting with several leaders of the Yorkshire Secessionary Front and coordinating the process of land allocation and touristic public relations.

Only one of these things is true.  I'll let you guess.

In the event that the first is true, I should let you know that I may be on programming.  As such, my schedule would look like the following: