Saturday, February 14, 2015

Boskone 2015

Boskone is the one local convention I’ve never had a chance to visit. It usually occurs at an awkward time for me in the calendar (seriously, Valentine’s Day?) but on the other hand it offers a chance to see all of my favorite authors gathered together in one convention - Laird Barron, Elizabeth Bear, John Langan, Ken Liu, Scott Lynch, Charles Stross, etc. If you want a quick list of authors to track down to find out what’s happening in speculative fiction right now, you’d be well-served just looking through the participant list of Boskone.

What to do, what to do.

The snowy wasteland surrounding the Westin Hotel. Morgan Crooks (2015)

This year I decided to give it a try before the impending blizzard closed down Boston again. In a nutshell I am going to have to go back. Although Boskone is a smaller convention than Arisia (which I’ve gone to for several years) I had a blast.

First off I’d just like to point out that the smaller size for Boskone probably works to its advantage. The focus here is more tightly centered on speculative fiction and the publishing industry, but unlike Readercon in the summer, Boskone also includes panels on media and fandom, which makes for an entertaining and distinct blend. The stand-out for me was Joan Sloncsewski's talk on spending a year in Antartica investigating microbial life there. I could’ve sat through another three hours of her travelogue, honestly. The portrait she gave us of a rugged, inhumanly barren moonscape contrasted with the strange ad hoc community that’s grown up at McMurto Station was just enormously appealing. She took a few videos of flying from the Research Station to her base camp in the desert valleys across the Ross Sea, and the views were simply staggering. As Joan pointed out, these are places where no megalife can survive, and to be clear what Joan meant by mega life was anything bigger than cyanobacterial mats. It has been pointed out that the frozen deserts of Antartica are the closest things we have to visiting Mars, and although the color of the sky looks different, the rugged and sterile slopes of the mountains gave plenty of evidence supporting that.


I also enjoyed the panel called Apocalypse How? with Jeffrey A. Carver, Scott Lynch, Steven Popkes, and Michael Swanwick. As detailed in one of my year-end posts, Swanwick wrote one of my absolute favorite short stories last year, “Passage of Earth,” and so I was compelled to do the whole star-struck fan thing and thank him for the story. I also got a chance to hear Elizabeth Bear talk about her process of writing “Covenant” which was another favorite of mine in a later panel. So, as far as the basic fan dynamic of conventions, Boskone pretty much delivered.

Neil Clarke wound up moderating a very well-attended panel on how "Not to Get Rejected" which was entertaining. As someone who has an Inbox stuffed with form rejection letters it was reassuring to hear from the other side of the equation. I guess my basic take-away is the biggest mistake in submitting stories is stopping. Clarke said plenty of stories he passed on got picked up by other markets and vice versa. It’s all about supply and demand. Oh, and don’t send zombie stories to Clarke, not even as a joke.

I also ran into a fellow panelist from Arisia, Gillian Daniels, and shared our mutual fandom for Agent Carter in a quick escalator conversation. Who knows what’s going to happen with that show but I agree with Gillian that it deserves/demands a second season. What a terrific show.

And that’s about it. I did brave the Boston T system to get to the Westin hotel but that worked out pretty well, actually. No delays either inbound or out and the folks at the Alewife parking garage were very nice not charging me a full amount when I misplaced my ticket. I’m going to add Boskone to my list of conventions next year but I really want to find out a way to be on a panel or two. I’m going to have to do some investigating.
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