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I was hoping for a Hotspur of a blizzard; but no.  This one's Falstaff in the laundry basket, humped, heaped, and untidily bundled.  There's a large bluff wind, booming shapelessly.  The sky is sizzling with ice; the trees are hurling down clods, like a bombardment in a squirrels' war.  The snow is all pocky.  It's a bust.

On the up side, I don't think this will blight the fruit trees.  Last year, there were no peaches in New England—no stone fruit at all—and the apples were stunted.  Frost-kill.

I loved those small apples though—the perfect size, like pippins

Nine
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Looking for something else, I stumbled (as one does) on a Latin Glossarium Zemblanum.

What isn't in the aether?

“Its gilt key turned reluctantly. All three shelves and the space beneath were stuffed with disparate objects: a palette with the dregs of many sunsets; a cupful of counters; an ivory backscratcher; a thirty-twomo edition of Timon of Athens translated into Zemblan by his uncle Conmal, the Queen’s brother; a seaside situla (toy pail); a sixty-five-carat blue diamond accidentally added in his childhood, from his late father’s knickknackatory, to the pebbles and shells in that pail; a finger of chalk; and a square board with a design of interlaced figures for some long-forgotten game.”

Nine


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Here's Michael Swanwick's tale of that tightrope-act we did at Boskone, and more:

Yet somehow Greer and I made it fly. Part of it is that we work well together. Part of it is that we respect each other. Part of it is that we're both deeply read in genre fiction. And part of it is that at least one of us (but I suspect two) has the gift of bullshit. People told us we were brilliant...

Make that a pair of jacks.

I like the snapsnot taken at my reading, an epitome of what the...?




"...nothing up my sleeve..."

Nine

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It was a pleasant Boskone, temperate of weather and collegial in spirit.  It was good to see old friends and new young faces, which Boskone of late has sadly lacked.  Let’s hope the revival goes onward and upward.  We are so fortunate to have three cons here in B—:  Arisia, electrifying and exhausting, a nightlong circus; Readercon, intense and cerebral, the engine that drives me from July to July; and Boskone, old-slipperish, a little shabby, but of lineage. 

It has an excellent con suite, which is also the green room, providing:

75 dozen hard-boiled eggs, with condiments;
a golden Alps of bread, with all sorts of butters and jams;
endless, always hot coffee, tea, cocoa.

I brought my own tea (black Yunnan); I brought chocolate.  I can live on that for a weekend; though I wish clementines were still in season.

And thank heavens for the largesse, because this con’s in the Westin Way-Beyond, and there’s nowhere else around to eat, and usually a howling Siberia between the hotel and Chinatown.

Boskone has always had a most excellent art show, leaning toward large pieces by established artists—great oaks—but with a good mix of the up-and-coming in the underwood.   It’s noted for its access to collections—this year’s special exhibition was a century (at least) of illustrations in black-and-white:  Hannes Bok, Walt Kelly (Pogo), Charles Addams, the Dillons....

The dealer’s room is not quite the bibliophile’s delirium it is at Readercon, but it has many more bookstalls than at Arisia, which tends toward chotchkes:  plushies and bondage gear, plushies in bondage gear, steampunk goggles, clockwork oranges...

I bought a stunning scholarly folio, lavishly illustrated, at rather less than half price:  Here Be Dragons:  A Fantastic Bestiary, by Ariane & Christian Delacampagne (Princeton University Press, 2003).  Haven’t yet read it, but it holds an unusual and thoughtful gallery of images, many quite new to me, from many cultures:  ancient and contemporary, sacred and vernacular, all gorgeous.  

Ruth Sanderson was there with her stunningly beautiful edition of George MacDonald’s odd numinous fairytale, The Golden Key



The programming was solid and engaging this year.  There were one or two things every hour that I wanted to hear, and (fortified with strong tea and egg sandwiches), I thoroughly enjoyed some good conversations on (among other things):  Pros on Prose; Non-Linear Narrative, an excellent history panel; one straight from the heart on the importance of libraries (now more than ever); My Gateway Book; Great Ghost Stories, &c., &c..

I heard only three readings, all excellent:  Theodora Goss, with her memoirs of the daughters of the great mad scientists (the piece she read was by Justine Frankenstein); Margaret Ronald, with a good, thoughtful, sciencey story; Jo Walton, doing Mansfield Park on Mars.

And I managed to keep my end up on my own events, thank heavens.

Achilles Needs a Heel: The Problem With Power

I’m rooting for the grass, I said, to break through the pavement.

Poetry and Performance

Moderated by Bob (“Spoken Like a Gentleman”) Kuhn, who asked for a brief verse bio; I supplied:

Tiptree, World Fantasy,
Greer, of the Gilman kind,
Writes—and has written of
Jonson and Cloud;

Gives airy nothing a
Life and a larynx, in
Mythopoetical
Ink, and aloud.

Panelists were each to do a brief piece; and as it fell out, I was to follow three showstoppers:   C. S. E. Cooney, being vibrant and  gypsyish; Ada Palmer and Lauren Schiller, singing deep myth in complex harmonies; Linda Addison, rocking out in dreads.   All I had were words.  I gave them a brief bit of “A Crowd of Bone” where narrative changes to performative ritual:  Whin telling a death.  I couldn’t say how well it went over—there was at any rate, applause—but afterwards Bob (who knows whereof) said it was well-spoken, with good control, and good timbre.  That made me very happy.

Design Your Own Mythology

Lively and hilarious.  (Doyle, Bear, Friesner, Sarah Beth Durst.)  My takeaway:  When building a mythology, you need to ask “What do my people fear? What do they desire?”  Belief must not be decorative:  if you yourself can't sense the numinous, if you can't imagine a cult enwoven in the daily lives of your characters (Doyle:  "the Spiderian altar guild"), then your world will be flat. 

Reading by Greer Gilman

I had just three listeners:   but they were Michael Swanwick and Marianne Porter, and my old friend Sarah Thompson who curated that fabulous Hokusai show at the MFA, and they were marvellous.  

How Stories End

In the penultimate hour of the con, this turned out to be a dialogue between me and Swanwick, three others having fallen off:  a very nice thing, if only we’d known beforehand.  Still, we managed to tap dance.  I found myself babbling about favorite styles of ending:  “The words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo. You that way: we this way” and how Bertie surrenders his purple socks.  We talked about how the endlessness of Discworld is so much more satisfying than your endless (n-1)-logy, unfolding like a bolt of a fabric, whump whump whump.  Prachett’s work builds in space-time:  it fits together like a puzzle map.  We talked about arrowy SF; we talked about fantasy and infinite regret; about how LOTR closes door after door:  from the great gates, down to the Sam’s round wooden one, with the fire within;  “Well, I’m home.”  We talked, of course, about further in, about Narnia and its discontents, and Little, Big.  It was a lovely ending to the con.

Can anyone remember what novel I called “a bildungsroman for the planet”?

Nine

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Woman's voice:  May I speak to Nineweaving? (impressively)  This is Alice Lloyd.

Me:  On what business, please?

Voice:  (portentously) To speak to Nineweaving.  Are you his spouse?  (in the voice of Ozymandias)  This is Alice Lloyd.

Me:  I'm afraid you have the wrong number.

Voice:  (business-like) I'm sorry.  Please confirm this number, and I'll remove it from the list.

*****

What the hell was that?  Was she hunting down her daughter's seducer, crossing off names as she went?  As far as I know, I am the only Nineweaving in this country.

And why did she introduce herself as if she were Nemesis?  From her intonation, she was expecting me to fall flat in the dust, whimpering.

There's an Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Kentucky, but I didn't go there.  I don't think I owe them back tuition.

Or maybe this Lloyd had glad tidings of great joy?  I'm reminded of Octavia Butler's story of being called by the MacArthur Foundation and thinking they were trying to sell her something.

So who do you think Alice Lloyd is?  Any scenarios?

Nine




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Huzzah!  They're doing this year's Boskone blizzard before the con, so we can shovel out.  I can't remember how many Boskones I've panelled at, but it must be getting up toward 25.  This year's posy of panels:

Achilles Needs a Heel: The Problem With Power
Friday 19:00 - 20:00
Michael Swanwick, Greer Gilman, Paul Di Filippo, Vincent O'Neil (M), Brendan DuBois

Would Achilles be as valiant if he were truly invulnerable? (Or, instead of dying a tragic hero, would he still be acting like a psychopathic adolescent 30 years after Troy?) Can power without vulnerability keep your interest? Do some stories turn into mere puzzle pieces about searching for the chink in the protagonist's armor? What sorts of weakness make the most engaging heroes or heroines?
 

Poetry and Performance
Saturday 11:00 - 12:00
Linda Addison, C. S. E. Cooney, Ada Palmer, Bob Kuhn (M) , Greer Gilman

Reading a story aloud and reading a poem aloud take different skills. Or do they? Our panel of poets proffers tips and advice on performing poetry. They will also share some of their own poetry for your listening pleasure.


Design Your Own Mythology
Saturday 15:00 - 16:00
Esther Friesner, Greer Gilman, Elizabeth Bear, Debra Doyle (M) , Sarah Beth Durst

What goes into mythmaking? Panelists share their experiences in creating mythologies and pantheons — offering up dos and don’ts, tips on resources, and things to think about as you try creating a coherent mythology of your own.


Reading by Greer Gilman
Sunday 13:00 - 13:30
Greer Gilman

How Stories End
Sunday 14:00 - 15:00
Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Michael Swanwick (M), Greer Gilman, J. M. McDermott

Heinlein often rushed his finales. Planet of the Apes ends with a truly monumental twist. Rowling took seven books to set up the boss fight with Mr. Slitsnout. What’s your favorite finish? How do writers finesse the final strokes of their stories? How do readers respond? (Warning: by definition, this panel is Spoiler Central.)
 

Why on earth am I not on Words Have More Than Meaning?  Not to blow my own ophicleide, but I'm rather a recognized expert on such.

Nine


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Coming down into the T out of a furious slush-storm, I heard a small, sweet, smudgy voice, the perfect timbre of the thirties, like a ghost.  She had to be illegal:  the licensed buskers all have amps, they have assured performance and repertoire.  Some have real talent. Other just have loud.  No wheedling here.  This lady rambled—not quite like an un-self-conscious child with her mind elsewhere, but like the woman in the corner after closing time, conversing with the past:  here I am.  Here we are. You couldn’t tell whether this were a sad song in a hopeful voice, or a cheerful one sung poignantly.  Actually, I couldn’t recognize her song at all, neither mumbled words nor tune. Yet everything about her style said remember, which gave it all the oddest air of alien nostalgia, like hearing the old standards of an alternate history

She turned out to be a short ashes-of-roses bundle of a woman, with a cart full of other bundles, and one of her hats turned upward for the coins.   “Lousy day, innit?” she said.  I agreed, and fed the hat paper.  Stepping away as she went on, I caught a clearer word or two, and suddenly realized what she’d been singing all this while:  “You Are My Sunshine.”  

I turned round, and as if encouraged by the recognition, she began “Over the Rainbow,” in a haze of feeling, a light-dividing mist.  Again, not a note fell where it ought to—she didn’t even follow the contours of the tune—but every scattered note was pretty-ish.  They had a sort of smutched purity, like raindrops on a drooping clothesline.  I applauded.  And as if she’d conjured them, down the platform came two young bearded fellows from the Outdoor Church pulling a neatly-made, well-laden wagon.  They offered her (and a sudden small cluster of other homeless folks) a choice of sandwiches (I liked that) and no sententiae.  I hope there was coffee.

Then the train arrived.

Nine

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“Don’t say ‘learn ‘em,’ Toad,” said the Rat, greatly shocked. “It’s not good English.”

“What are you always nagging at Toad for?” inquired the Badger, rather peevishly. “What’s the matter with his English? It's the same what I use myself, and if it's good enough for me, it ought to be good enough for you!”

“I’m very sorry,” said the Rat humbly. “Only I THINK it ought to be ‘teach ‘em,’ not ‘learn ‘em.’”

“But we don't WANT to teach ‘em,” replied the Badger. “We want to LEARN 'em—learn 'em, learn 'em! And what's more, we're going to DO it, too!”

 
 
 
Thinking both of cosmic justice and the niceties of grammar, a friend asks:  Why can’t I say, “He’s got to be smote”?
 


God-s computer.JPG

 
Because it’s ungrammatical:  smite smote smitten is conjugated exactly like write wrote written.

Jane wrote a letter.

God smote a sinner.

A letter was written.

A sinner was smitten.

In contemporary English, smitten is the only correct past participle form of smite—and that’s that.  Nowadays, it’s all but inseparably linked with love—Oooh, he’s smitten—and it just sounds foolish when we speak of righteousness.  Yet smitten has an ancient and resounding history:
 
Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched foorth his hande against them, and hath smitten them: and the hilles did tremble, and their carkeises were torne in the midst of the streets: for all this, his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still—Isaiah 5:25.

And the fourth Angel sounded, and the thirde part of the Sunne was smitten, & the third part of the Moone, and the third part of the starres, so as the third part of them was darkened: and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise —Revelation 8:12.

There’s good secular stuff as well (all OED):

1610:  His head smitten off, and the truncke of his body throwen into the fire.
c1650:  For when his leggs were smitten of, he fought vpon his stumpes.
1668:  A Dog Barketh, & Baugheth, being smitten Yelpeth.
1820 (Shelley):  Six the thunder has smitten, And they lie black as mummies.

 
LEME.jpg
 

In his Dictionarium Linguae Latinae et Anglicanae (1587), Thomas Thomas defines percussus as “Striken, smitten, beaten, hit, wounded, murdered, blasted, striken with lightning.”

In John Florio’s A World of Words (1598), he glosses the Italian Battuto as “beaten, smitten, striken, knockt, thumpt, bumbasted, threshd.”  Bumbasted!  Now that’s more like it.  Cupid was rougher in those days.

Nonetheless, to some discerning modern ears, smitten is flimsy.

Compare:

The LORD GOD “Who smote the first borne of Egypt: both of man and beast.”

And:

All the fourth form were simply smitten with Miss Baxter, who smote the ball for six.

Smitten is giggly and coy.  It’s kittenish.

Whereas smote hath gravitas. It has authority and weight.  It nails it:

"Then Iael Hebers wife, tooke a naile of the tent, and tooke an hammer in her hand, and went softly vnto him, and smote the naile into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: (for he was fast asleepe, and weary;) so he died."—Judges 4:21.
 
In a famous crux, Old Hamlet “smot the sledded Pollax on the Ice.”

Milton’s Cain

Smote him [Abel] into the midriff with a stone
That beat out life; he fell, and deadly pale
Groan'd out his soul with gushing blood effus'd.
 
Smote is the chosen verb of tempests and Arthurians:

Down came the storm, and smote amain the vessel.

He rode a-tilt and smote the scaly Dragon.

I smote you with heate, blastinge & hale stones.

Kyng Arthur..smote hym ageyne with Excalibur that it clefte his hede.

Thenne Geffray smote hym the giant with his swerd.

He hurled vnto sir Tristram, & smote hym clene from his sadel.

I caught him by his beard, and smote him.
 
You may read in a thousand tales how X smote Y on the helm, through the neck, in the eye’s socket, “vnder the fift ribbe,” “hippe and thigh.”

Now look at smitten.  In 170 citations in the OED, beings and things are smitten with admiration, amazement, various diseases, charms, an absurd patriotism, love, giddiness, death, the blonde beauty, sorrow, Lavinia Orthodox, some withering and irreparable curse, muteness, mussel-poisoning, the Eternal Mind, an aria.

What happened?  The inflected word was taken over by the figurative.  One can be struck with something impalpable—an idea, an infatuation.   If swords and hammers smite, then so does lightning.  So does love.  Pepys was among the first to use it of lust.  By now, smitten has migrated to the metaphorical, all but entirely; smote remains archaic and physical.

What’s to be done?  I fear that smitten cannot be restored to its ancient vigour:  languages don’t work that way.  One could of course avoid the passive, not say,”the government was smitten by the people,” but “the people smote the government.”  But that’s restrictive as a work-around.  Why not embrace what people want to say?   “He was smote” was perfectly good English from the 15th through the 18th centuries.  I suggest that it be revived—and that smite be divided in two.   There’s some vanishing distinction made in English between struck and stricken (struck with a hammer; stricken with guilt).  Why not distinguish between smitten and smote, between besotted with her charms and clobbered by her handbag?

Young Corydon, with Phyllis smitten,
Woo’d with flow’rs—got the mitten.
Bold Hobbinol on her did dote,
Tried kissing her—was soundly smote.

By widespread, active, thoughtful usage, English-speakers everywhere could forge a new distinction between smitten and smote.  They will of course be corrected by pedantic grammarians; they will be edited; they will be mocked.  But if thousands do this?  “Friends, they may think it's a movement.”  And if precisians object, we can always cite Melville:  “The ship's forecastle bell, smote by one of the grizzled oakum-pickers, proclaimed ten o'clock, through the leaden calm.”

Nine


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How do I friend-lock on Dreamwidth so it carries over to LJ? I don't think the two circles are all the same people. When I select "Custom" on the drop-down menu, I do see my LJ sub-groups appearing, so maybe "Access List" just works, but this is something I'd hate to screw up.

Nine
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"The women’s march organizers estimated that 4,797,500 people took part in 673 marches around the world, including Malawi, Iceland and Chile, all the way to Thailand. Trump’s inauguration had an estimated 160,000 attendees, according to the New York Times."


Nine

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As promised, many many pictures of the march.  (Open with care.  This is huge.) 

...and friend with friend )

Nine
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Of a women's choir singing Ethel Smyth's "The March of the Women." Thomas Beecham visited the old warrior in Holloway Prison and reported that he found the activists in the courtyard "...marching round it and singing lustily their war-chant while the composer, beaming approbation from an overlooking upper window, beat time in almost Bacchic frenzy with a toothbrush."

This group is doing it properly!




Nine

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I don't ever march—I'm a vote-and-donation sort of person—but as the gentleman of our party's board neatly proclaimed:

Not Usually a Sign Guy, But Come On Now!

I met [personal profile] teenybuffalo  and a Somervillian party on the platform at Davis at ten, and waiting for them, watched a Niagara of pink surge down the stairs.  The Red Line was packed like tribbles in Tokyo, and the doors sliced our group in two—part of it ended up going out to Alewife, just to get a car to come in on.  Mid-car on the underground, we chanced on a congenial soul, a omni-capable-looking—you'd want her on your school board or in scrubs in the ER—woman of color in a Siberian tiger hat, and she and Teeny (in a long scarlet coat and low top hat, with a Bread & Roses sign) burst into song, and all of us anchovies joined in on "This Land Is Your Land" and "If I Had a Hammer."  That was totally swell.

Our snake re-united at Charles/MGH.

We couldn't get onto the Common, or hear much more of the speeches than fragments and roars——sounds like Elizabeth Warren gave 'em hell.  We stood on Charles Street, forty-deep, for close to two hours, waiting cheerfully for the man in the safety-orange bobble hat to wave us on—which meant that when the marching started, we were near the front, and stepped out with éclat, all round the Public Garden, up Commonwealth and back.  As we passed the first garbage truck marking the way, we chanted, "Public Works!  Public Works!"  And we sang!  "Roll the Old Chariot Along" with improvised verses ("A bit of human rights wouldn't do us any harm") and "What Shall We Do With the Nasty Woman?" ("Put her in the House and in the Senate.")

Sights and sounds:  people on balconies with rainbow flags; a pussy hat on the statue of William Ellery Channing; what looked like the mingled casts of Hair and Hamilton drawn up on the steps of the Arlington Street Church with a bubble machine, and a revolutionary rocking out in the bell tower; a pair of immaculately cool suffragists.  It was a gloriously fine day, which was part of why we marched:  the magnolias shouldn't be budding in January.

The only person I ran into by chance was a Parisian-born postdoc and trans activist who used to live in my building.

Some signs:

The Young Are At The Gates

Tweet All People With Respect

Build Bridges Not Walls

several longer passages from John Quincy Adams ("JQ!  JQ!"):  "The Manners of Women, are the surest Criterion by which to determine whether a Republican Government is practicable, in a Nation or not" and "Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people."

With Malice Toward None, With Charity To All

Dear World, We Are One Family, With Love, America

Immigrants Are America

I'm With Her (with omni-directional arrows)

I'm With Her (with the Statue of Liberty)

Grab Him by the Putin

Plato Was Right

Witches, We Need You

When They Go Low, We Go High (hand-crayoned by the young girl who bore it)

No Human Being Is Illegal

We Are Rising

You Have No Idea What You Have Unleashed

History Has Its Eyes On Us

Our Bodies, Our Minds, Our Power

Trump, Putin's Tiny Whiny Bitch

Our Rights Are Not Up for Grabs

Science Matters

I Will Not Go Quietly Back to the 1950s

Emperor Trump Is Not Wearing Clothes

Trump Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Hello, Highchair Narcissist

Make America Kind Again

Make America Think Again

Love Trumps Hate

Now Is the Time to Get Our Panties All in a Bunch (panty-shaped)

Keep Your Rosaries Off of My Ovaries

We Shall Overcomb

(and one small neat sign, yellow on black)

This Is Very Bad

When we got back to Charles/MGH, four or five hours later, there on the platform was our psychopomp—what else could she be?—the woman in the Siberian tiger hat.  I left them all singing down the line.

This march is dedicated to my grandfox.

Nine

Postscript:  marches on every continent (yes, Antarctica).

PPS:  175,000 marched, which is impressive, given the size of the city.    New York is estimating 400,000, and Chicago (which was too crowded to actually march), 250,000.  I know that people were coming from way out, but using the cities' official populations as a benchmark, just under 5% of New York and 10% of Chicago marched—and over 25% of Boston.








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A late welcome addition to my Arisia schedule:


Every Panel is Halloween
James Hailer (m), Hillary Monihan, Greer Gilman, Leigh Perry, M J Cuniff
Sunday 5:30 PM

January is not too early for Halloween! It's the traditional time of Ray Bradbury and Susan Cooper, but there are many other scary stories and spooky tales on the borders of fantasy and horror. It's time to celebrate the mixture of wonder and terror, chills and whimsy that mark the end of autumn (or every day, on Tumblr). Bring us your favorite bits of spookiness. Tell us where, if anywhere, lies the border between Halloween and more traditional horror or traditional fantasy.

Nine

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Speaking of objects in the mirror, good heavens! Arisia is coming up subito.  Hope to see some of you there.

Reading: Friesner, Gilman, Schneyer
Friday 8:30 PM
Readings by Esther Friesner, Greer Gilman and Ken Schneyer

Traditional Ballad Bingo
Saturday 5:30 PM
Angela Kessler (m), Zoe Madonna, Greer Gilman, Jeremy Kessler, Lynn Noel, Sonya Taaffe

A themed sing wherein attendees take turns performing traditional ballads for the assemblage. Listen carefully to mark your Ballad Bingo cards when you detect such classic tropes as drowning, pregnancy out of wedlock, or murder of a loved one. Cards will be provided. Compete for "valuable" prizes!

The 100 Year Old Barbed Wire: The Great War & SF
Sunday 1:00 PM
Sioban Krzywicki (m), Greer Gilman, Debra Doyle, Alexander Jablokov, Sonya Taaffe

We are in the midst of the centenary of World War I. The US was not hit badly by it compared to Europe, and in 2017 the centenary of US involvement (6 April 1917) is coming up. How did the war and its aftermath change society and our idea of the future. Could
Brave New World or Things to Come or other early classics of speculative fiction been written without the war's impact? Why do so many alternate histories use earlier or later events as a changing point rather than this one?

Grounding Your Audience in a Sensory World
Sunday 7:00 PM
Ken Schneyer (m), Keffy R.M. Kehrli, Ruthanna Emrys, Greer Gilman, Sonya Taaffe

The five senses are appallingly underrepresented in modern fiction. Without sensory information, it's difficult to grab your audience and drag them into your protagonist's body. How do you portray senses other than sight? Can you use it to portray emotion? Where can you scrounge up alternatives for the words see, hear, feel, taste and smell, or "sixth sense" (psychic intuition)? Come learn how to describe your world in all of its glorious, sensory detail.

Another World, Another Time: Untapped Fantasy
Monday 11:30 AM
Cate Hirschbiel (m), James Hailer, Greer Gilman, Leigh Perry, Sonya Taaffe

We love our Medieval, Victorian, and Weird West fantasy, but there are a lot more times and places for magic and other worlds. Our panelists will talk about their favorite authors who went someplace different and what settings require more stories. How can we explore new settings and times while maintaining respect for the people and the cultures that reside there?

Nine
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A conversation with [personal profile] rushthatspeaks sent me back to re-read Gwen Raverat's Period Piece for the thirty-fifth or so time. It's one of my heart's-core collection of memoirs of quirky intellectual English families:  the Darwins here, the Knoxes, the Farjeons.  You want to seize people and read passages aloud.  Part of the intrinsic joy of Raverat's book are her wood-engravings.  I love them, as I love her illustrations of offbeat Victorian children's books:  Charlotte Yonge's Countess Kate (the sudden inheritrix of that title is hopelessly unladylike: farouche and over-ardent) and Elizabeth Anna Hart's The Runaway, with its fabulous madcap. Here's Olga, hiding in the shrubbery:

p400-2.jpg

I'd seen and admired some of Raverat's wonderful engravings of landscapes, and of work in landscapes: shepherds and harvesters, but I'd never thought to look deeper—and my heavens! Ballads, fairy-tales, and myths!

p026-2.jpg

I'll do as much for my true love as any young girl may,
I'll dance and sing all on his grave for a twelve month and a day.


p015-2.jpg

The rain beats at my yellow locks, the dew wets me still,
The babe is cold in my arms, love, Lord Gregory let me in.


p018-2.jpg

And stood at his bed feet...

p025-2.jpg

Oer his white banes, whan they are bare,
The wind sall blaw for evermair.


There are witches...

p124-2.jpg

...good folk...

p229-2.jpg

...mermaids...

p227-2.jpg

There's Death as co-author (a frontispiece for an edition of Sir Thomas Browne):

p024-2.jpg

There's a Daphnis that makes me desperately wish she could have done my crow lad:

p153-2T.jpg

And a "Child-Stealers" that is wilder and eerier than the poem it illustrates:

p007-2.jpg

Alas, most of what's for sale are real prints not reproductions, but the gallery's online.  Enjoy!

Nine
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