I am home from Readercon and I have fed the cats and I think Autolycus has even forgiven me for not being around the last few nights to provide a keyboard for him to walk on, since he just sprang up and left the comment "ggggggggggggggggggggggggggcfghhhhhhhhh" on Facebook. (It was surprisingly apt in context. More people have liked it than have liked the actual-words comment I'd left just above.) Hestia has rubbed her head all over my shirt in order to reclaim me as part of the household rather than a hotel that doesn't even smell like cat. I had a really good weekend.
I had five program items on Friday. The first was my reading, which I think went well; it was recorded by both Readercon and Jim Freund of Hour of the Wolf
, so I'll link to either or both as they're made available. I read from my recently completed, as yet unpublished short story "The Face of the Waters" with new poetry on either side and wore glasses in public for the first time, which was less a cosmetic issue than a matter of figuring out how to negotiate eye contact with my audience without bifocals. Of the panels that followed, I don't think any of them were trainwrecks: "I Am Become Death . . . No, I Mean Literally" went off-script almost immediately, but in an abstract, ethnographic way that the audience as well as the panelists seem to have enjoyed, and "The Works of Tanith Lee" was as wide-ranging as the literature we were talking about. I feel bad about overstating the degree to which I believe Owen Davies
is a parental fuck-up during "Classic YA Book Club: The Dark Is Rising
by Susan Cooper," but I regret nothing about rhapsodically anti-recommending Kathleen Sky's Witchdame
(1985) in "Terrible . . . but Great
" because somebody turned to me abruptly in an elevator the next day and complimented me on my flailing. More seriously, someone else told me that they had scoured the dealer's room for Lee's work because of the way I talked about her on the panel and been rewarded by everything they had read so far. That was really nice to hear.
In the one non-programming group activity I managed all weekend, I joined rushthatspeaks
, and kate_nepveu
for dinner at Taipei Cuisine
, with dessert at Yocha
afterward. There was sweet corn with salty egg yolk and chili-fried shrimp with peanuts and lotus root with mushrooms and sesame chicken and a couple of dishes that didn't work out but were worth ordering just to see what they were like, although "with bones in" is not how anybody was expecting the popcorn frog. I hope I can get a coconut smoothie with lychee jelly other places than Yocha, because it's a really nice dessert. I would not be the person to write it, but I hope someone does
a serious critical survey of that phase of '80's fantasy when it was all idtastic, all the time.
I do not know if I can promise a Patreon
review of it, but I nonetheless recommend "Level Seven
" (1966), a formerly lost episode of Out of the Unknown
(1965–71) adapted by J.B. Priestley from Mordecai Roshwald's 1959 pre-and-post-apocalyptic novel of the same name; it is more streamlined and more of a parable than its source material, but pulls no more punches when it comes to the likelihood of surviving MAD. Young David Collings turns out to remind me of Peter Cushing. I think it's the cheekbones and the breakdowns.
The rest of Friday night was terrible. Between four and five in the morning, I had some kind of severe allergic reaction to an unknown trigger. It was like anaphylaxis with violent nausea: I took Benadryl as soon as I realized that my throat and mouth were prickling and swelling and I had suddenly stopped being able to breathe through my nose and for all I know it saved my life, but did not prevent the rash all over my body or the wheezing when I breathed. Sleep was not so much a thing for the rest of the night. I took Benadryl conscientiously round the clock until this evening and the symptoms gradually subsided, but it took a full twelve hours for my mouth to stop being numb. I have no known food allergies; I am hoping I have not suddenly developed any. The best medical guess right now is either one bad shrimp or some kind of slow-building reaction to a medication I started a week and a half ago. I will be calling my doctors about it on Monday. It was scary.
I had one panel on Saturday at noon and I feel slightly as though I hallucinated my way through it, but I remember talking about Phyllis Gotlieb and Yoon Ha Lee and The Robots of Death
(1977), because the panel was "Life, Love, and Robots," and then I drifted briefly through the dealers' room with my mother and ran into aedifica
for a very careful lunch (I dissected the chicken out of a chicken sandwich) and then I slept for the rest of the afternoon. I did not manage to have dinner with yhlee
. I did not manage to have dinner at all. I did manage to spend portions of the evening hanging out with Yoon and choco_frosh
and Rush-That-Speaks and Ashnistrike and nineweaving
, cautiously drinking herbal tea and eating my way through the pocketful of ginger chews I stole from the green room. Instead of attending any of the con's numerous room parties, I went back upstairs and answered some e-mail and continued reading Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising
(1973), which I had brought in hardcover to the previous day's panel. spatch
came out after his evening show and stayed with me just in case I stopped breathing in the middle of the night. I didn't.
I got the news about Jodie Whittaker's Thirteenth Doctor
right before arriving for "Disturbed by Her Song: Gender, Queerness, and Sexuality in the Works of Tanith Lee," so Rush-That-Speaks and Steve Berman and I talked about Doctor Who
for the first five minutes and I maintain gender-changing, self-reinventing immortals are totally on point for a discussion of Tanith Lee anyway. It was an enormously fun panel and may have repercussions.
This was a good year for books. I came away from the convention with Michael Thomas Ford's Lily
(2016), L.A. Fields' Homo Superiors
(2016), John Maddox Roberts' The Seven Hills
(2005), Michael Cisco's The Wretch of the Sun
(2016), Yevgeny Zamyatin's The Dragon
(ed. and trans. Mirra Ginsburg, 1967), and five pulp novels by Fredric Brown all courtesy of alexxkay
: The Fabulous Clipjoint
(1947), The Dead Ringer
(1948), The Bloody Moonlight
(1949), The Screaming Mimi
(1949), and Compliments of a Fiend
(1950). I could not afford the first edition of Nicholas Stuart Gray's The Apple-Stone
(1965) on display at Somewhere in Time Books
, but I am going to look for it in libraries because either I've read the Nesbit-like scene in which the children bring a Bonfire Night guy to life and it takes its face and voice from all of them by turns or someone once described it to me and either way it gave me the same jolt of half-recognition as Eleanor Farjeon's The Silver Curlew
(1953), so I need to figure out what happened there. This was not a good year for seeing people, but I am glad to have caught the people I did, like lesser_celery
and Gillian Daniels
and briefly rosefox
, and especially pleased that I managed to snag a conversation with Michael Cisco
and Farah Rose Smith
on Friday before my corporeal manifestation blew up. I did not take notes on any programming, but Kate Nepveu did
(Can Martin Landau
have played one of the first queer characters I ever saw in a movie? We can argue about the positive representation of "Call it my woman's intuition, if you will" Leonard in North by Northwest
(1959), but he's not even subtext: I always read him and James Mason and Eva Marie Saint as a triangle. I found out he had died as soon as I got home; I had already seen the same about George Romero
and Maryam Mirzakhani
. Jeez, Sunday.)
Either to sum up or really bury the lede, I can now announce that Steve Berman of Lethe Press
will be publishing a collection of my short fiction in 2018. Details are yet to be determined, but it will be my first fiction collection since Singing Innocence and Experience
in 2005 and I am incredibly happy about it. I will share the details as soon as they exist.
My plans for the immediate future involve sleep.