ConFusion Schedule 2018

Happy New Year!

In a few weeks, I’m heading to ConFusion in Detroit, MI. It’ll be my first time at this convention and I’m excited for it! The literary programing team was kind enough to include me on some panels. I also have a reading with the fabulous Marissa Lingen and Izzy Wasserstein.

Here’s my schedule:

11am Saturday Charlevoix – Using Real Scientific History To Enhance Fantasy World-Building
Secondary-world fantasies often draw on an ahistoric view of the past, intermingling technological, scientific, and social advancements that span thousands of years in the real world. The effect is quasi-medieval societies that are in some ways anachronistically modern, but in many ways far less advanced than the real-world cultures on which they’re based. Let’s talk about the real science and technology of the world’s post-classical eras and how we can use the real history of science and technology to build deeper and more interesting worlds.

4pm Saturday Charlevoix – Reading
A. T. Greenblatt, Marissa Lingen, Izzy Wasserstein

5pm Saturday St. Clair – Autograph Session (5 PM)
Come meet your favorite authors, artists and musicians and have them sign things! (Please limit your signing requests to 3 items per person.)

12pm Sunday Interlochen – The Setting As Character
In Science Fiction and Fantasy, settings can literally come alive–be it via the talking flowers of Through The Looking Glass or the rage of Peter Quill’s creepy dad-planet in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. In Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch universe where ships have minds, main characters can be both people and places at the same time. Are living settings a science fiction/fantasy extension of the classic “Hero Vs. Nature” story? How do they exist in conversation with real-world beliefs about whether the world around us has a will of its own?

2pm Sunday Charlevoix – A Novel Look at the Short Story
Short stories require a different approach to pacing, character, world-building, exposition, and plot than longer works. Let’s explore the tools we use to convey important information to the reader when we have a lot fewer words to do it with.

If you’re coming to ConFusion this year, I hope you’ll stop by at one of these panels and/or the reading and say hello.

A Book Lover’s Tale

I am a book creeper. I love looking over strangers’ shoulders to see what they’re reading; whether they borrowed it from the library or it’s worth buying in hardcover, whether the author is a household name or someone that is still mostly unknown. E-readers are the bane of my existence.

Public transportation is the best place for this, particularly trains and subways. I’m usually reading too, so the way I see it, it’s fair game.

But a few weeks ago I was on the train to Baltimore and the unimaginable happened – I had no book to read. I tried to keep myself entertained during the ride: I fidgeted with my phone, scanned the emergency procedure pamphlet tucked in the seat in front of me, studied the scenery. It worked for about twenty minutes.

I was also trying to figure out which book the guy next to me was reading. I knew it was one of the Millennium Series novels, but I couldn’t figure out which one without being completely obvious. So, I broke the rules of book creeping (desperate times called for desperate measures) and I asked him.

Turns out, he was one of those bookworms who didn’t mind being interrupted from his book.

Honestly, I can’t remember what his name was, but let’s call him Matt. Matt was on a mission to read the book before he saw the movie. He’d realized that Hollywood rarely did justice to the original story. Which was why he was reading The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo.

As we talked I realized that Matt was a late bloomer, in the bookworm sense at least. He admitted that he never really liked books until recently and he talked about the novels he read with a new found excitement. He was probably one of those guys in high school who scanned Sparknotes and asked kids like me was the major themes of the book were.

“It’s kinda a shame that I didn’t read more sooner,” he said, “books are really great.”

It was actually a really nice conversation. I think I recommended I, Robot and I am Legend as well as The Girl Who Played with Fire. But it made me wonder what makes reading a passion for people. Why do some people gravitate instantly to it as soon as they have a basic understanding of letters while others discover it later? And why do some people never find it at all?

I think it’s partially attributed to attention span. But mostly I think it’s based on the reader’s ability to believe in someone that doesn’t exist and to be able to empathize with that imaginary person. Books become a passion when you’re not just reading words on a page, but taking them in and believing them without reservation.

Right before the train got to the station and we gathering up our things, Matt leaned over and said: “You know the Harry Potter movies? They suck compared to the novels.”

And so J. K. Rowling welcomes another fan to her legions.