Heading to Readercon this week. Burlington, Mass. Doing lots of things, as it turns out, including reading a short story about a visit to the Mount Palomar Observatory that Ben Loory, Kit Reed, Rick Wilber and I took last fall during World Fantasy. (Except that the story may not in fact be about said visit. It may, in fact, be a story that has been “loosely inspired” by events. Very loosely. Kit’s, however, is about feral girl scouts. My story definitely has some blood in it, but otherwise, fuck if I know. We will all be surprised.
My other reading, on Sat, is of Ossifer Bone, a ghost story i’ve been working on. I am excited to read it, not least because this will force me to finish it.
And I’m leading a panel about political storytelling, which I think should be very interesting.
Come to my kaffeeklatsch or I will cry. That is all.
Thursday July 12
8:00 PM F Unfinished Symphonies. Erik Amundsen, C.S.E. Cooney (leader), Maria Dahvana Headley, Natalie Luhrs, Sarah Smith. One of George R. R. Martin’s fans threatened to camp out at the author’s house with a shotgun and an espresso machine until Martin buckled down and finished the Song of Ice and Fire. Recent years have seen Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time continued by Brandon Sanderson, a fourth book in Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast completed (from only a fragment) by Maeve Gilmore, and younger writers completing some of Philip Jose Farmer’s works, for only a few examples. Are such projects merely opportunistic attempts by publishers to extend a franchise, an exalted form of fanfic, or legitimate works of creative literary scholarship? Should unfinished series remain unfinished, or should the reader’s (and bookseller’s) desire for more trump notions of literary “purity”? And why do readers care so much about seeing series through to the end?
Friday July 13
4:00 PM NH Group Reading: Mt. Palomar Stories. Maria Dahvana Headley, Ben Loory, Kit Reed, Rick Wilber. Four writers were on their way up Mt. Palomar to visit the Observatory when the driver said, “The first person to write and sell a story about this excursion gets dinner on me at TGI Friday’s.” Four minds went racing in four wildly different directions, and these stories are the result.
6:00 PM CL Kaffeeklatsch. Helen Collins, Maria Dahvana Headley.
8:00 PM G Uncle Sam Wants You to Write Better Books. Richard Bowes, Paul Di Filippo, Maria Dahvana Headley (leader), Barry B. Longyear, Paul Park.In About Writing, Samuel R. Delany wrote, “The general population, day in and day out, is not used to getting good stories. This… probably accounts for why there is so little political sophistication among the general populace. Political awareness requires that people become used to getting rich, full, complex, logical, and causative accounts of what is going on in the world, and, when they don’t, regularly demanding them.” There are some obvious examples of fiction that led to political engagement and change: Abraham Lincoln thought that Uncle Tom’s Cabin started the Civil War, The Well of Loneliness and Lady Chatterly’s Loverchanged the sexual climate in Britain, and The Female Man shaped the language of feminism. But did those books have political effects because they were what Delany calls “good stories,” or for other reasons? If we accept the causative relationship that Delany posits, how do we get past the chicken-and-egg situation of readers not wanting (or being willing to spend money on) good stories until they’re used to getting good stories?
Saturday July 14
2:30 PM VT Reading. Maria Dahvana Headley. Maria Dahvana Headley reads the short story “Ossifer Bone.”