Helmuth, Friday at 5pm – Boskone’s At Con Newsletter with Updates

Hey Con-goers! The first Helmuth Newsletter is available. Check it out at Helmuth 55 – Friday Night Edition. Be sure to take a look at the Program Changes listed below:

The following people have dropped from Program:

Steve Berman
Debra Doyle
James D. Macdonald
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Karl Schroeder
Fran Wilde
Frank Wu
Brianna Wu

The following items have been added:

Meet Up: The State of Black Science Fiction Facebook Group
Harbor I – Discussion Group Westin
Friday 06:00 PM

Join Gerald Coleman for a discussion focused on the popular Facebook group The State of Black Science Fiction and visit the group online at https://www.facebook.com/groups/blackscifi/
Gerald L. Coleman

Meet Up: Emerson College Popular Fiction
Harbor I – Discussion Group Westin
Saturday 02:00 PM

Join the Emerson College popular fiction meet up for a casual discussion about writing, MFAs, and popular fiction.
Jessica Treadway

Dublin 2019 Late Night Meet Up
Galleria – Meetup Spot Westin
Saturday 10:30 PM

Join the Dublin 2019 Worldcon team for a meet up in the Galleria for some Irish snacks and music.
Vincent Docherty Erin Underwood Jackie Kamlot Ginjer Buchanan John R. Douglas

Friday item changes:

Evolution and Alien Psychology
Now begins at 9:00 pm in Burroughs. (Change from 9:00 pm in Marina 3.)

Name That Tune: What’s Next?
Now begins at 10:00 pm on Friday in Marina 1. (Change from 2:00 pm on Sunday.)
Generation Ships

Dropped participant: Jeffrey A. Carver

Saturday item changes:

Reading by Geary Gravel
Now begins at 1:00 pm in Independence. (Change from Sunday at 12:00 noon.)

Sunday item changes:

A Wizard of Earthsea
2018-02-17 – 12:00 (Harbor II, Westin)
Now begins at 12:00 noon in Harbor II. (Change from 12:00 noon in Harbor III)
New participant: Jeff Carroll

Stories for Themed Anthologies
Now begins at 12:00 noon in Griffin. (Change from 12:00 noon in Harbor III).

Reading by Tamora Pierce
Now begins at 12:00 noon in Harbor III. (Change from 12:30pm in Griffin.)

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Boskone, Travel, Traffic, and the Boat Show!

For those of us who are driving to Boskone, and that includes cabs as well as Uber and Lift, please be aware that the New England Boat Show is happening at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, which shares a driveway with the Westin.

When driving, please be aware that traffic will likely be heavy at times, especially during the opening and closing hours of the Boat Show. On the bright side, this means that their parking lot will be open during the day (and I believe that parking is around $18 per day, but you should verify that with the BC&EC’s attendant). Since their lot does close at night, please also be sure to also ask how late they will be open (each day that you use their lot) so that you can retrieve your car.

A nice alternative to driving is to take the Silver Line, SL1 or SL2, to the World Trade Center Station. For details on how to navigate the MBTA system see the Boskone website. We also have parking information listed as well.

Please be sure to plan some extra time to arrive at the convention before the first program item that you would like to attend. Safe travels! We look forward to seeing you there!

Posted in Boskone 55, Logistics | 3 Comments

Remembering Ursula K. Le Guin at Boskone

This year at Boskone, we have several items that are either dedicated to the work of science fiction icon Ursula K. Le Guin, including a few items that also touch on her contributions to the SF field. We hope that you will be able to join us and to share in these events.

Ursula K. Le Guin
21 October 1929–22 January 2018

Photo © Marian Wood Kolisch

Saturday, February 17, 10:00 am-8:00 pm
Memory Book for Ursula K. Le Guin
In the Maker’s Space, located in the Galleria, we will have a memory book for fans and friends to write memories and notes dedicated to our dearly departed friend Ursula K. Le Guin. At the end of the convention, we will send the book to Ursula’s family with a note of thanks for all she has done for our community.

Friday at 6:00 PM
Exploring Gender in Speculative Fiction
Julie Holderman, Inanna Arthen, Stephen P. Kelner Jr., Suzanne Palmer, Stacey Berg (M)
Harbor III · 60 min · Panel
In 1969, Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness famously featured an androgynous culture. More recently, Ann Leckie’s celebrated Ancillary series and her latest novel, Provenance, treat readers to a society in which gender doesn’t matter. What other SF/F/H writers offer us gender-expansive characters or societies? Why and when should gender matter?

Friday at 8:45 PM
Opening Ceremony: Meet the Guests
David G. Grubbs (M), Gay Ellen Dennett (M), Catherine Asaro, Mary Robinette Kowal, Craig Miller, Tamora Pierce, Marianne Plumridge, Nat Segaloff
Galleria – Stage · 15 min · Event
Welcome to Boskone, New England’s longest-running convention for science fiction, fantasy, and horror! Whether you are attending for the first time or the fifty-fifth, we invite you to join us in the Galleria to meet this year’s guests. Guest of Honor Mary Robinette Kowal will also say a few words acknowledging our departed friends, including SF icon Ursula K. Le Guin.

Saturday  at 12:00 NOON
A Wizard of Earthsea
Catherine Asaro, Vandana Singh, Robert V.S. Redick, Max Gladstone (M)
Harbor II · 60 min · Panel
Ursula K. Le Guin’s masterpiece was published 50 years ago. A classic coming-of-age story, A Wizard of Earthsea continues to cast its spell over teens and adults alike. Why is Ged such a compelling character? What makes the story as fresh and appealing today as in 1968? What does it have to say about words, magic, ambition, patience, truth, death? Our panelists share their insights — and favorite parts.

Sunday at 12:00 NOON
Women Who Write Science Fiction
LJ Cohen, Victoria Sandbrook (M), Catherine Asaro, Erin Roberts, Marianna Martin PhD
Marina 3 · 60 min · Panel
Mary Shelley, Leigh Brackett, Ursula K. Le Guin, Connie Willis, N. K. Jemisin — women have been in the thick of writing science fiction for a very long time. Let’s discuss some of their landmark publications that captured our imagination. Why do we love these stories? What works should we look for the next time we’re browsing the shelves?

~

As Boskone’s Head of Program this year, I hope you are able to share in some of these program items that acknowledge the work, life, and contributions of Ursula K. Le Guin. She was a force within the genre and her loss was felt throughout our community and beyond its borders. Many people have already shared their thoughts and feelings than I ever could upon hearing that Ursula had passed away. Since nothing I can say would be nearly as elegant or touching, I am sharing a short interview that Nancy Holder and I did with Ursula K. Le Guin in 2011 for our column in the SFWA Bulletin, which  focused on diversity in SF.

Diversity is a topic that has always been important to both Nancy and me. So, when we had the opportunity to talk with Ursula, we jumped at the chance because she has always included characters who were not white, and in some cases none of her characters were white. Given that covers don’t always reflect the characters within the story, we wanted to know what experiences she had with cover designs and diversity. Ursula responded without mincing words.

URSULA: I hardly know where to begin about covers. The most egregiously silly one was the first British Wizard of Earthsea, a Puffin paperback. Ged is a skinny, dead-white-skinned fellow in a nightgown in a drooping Pre-Raphaelite pose. You sort of have to laugh. Puffin did better later, but never was my bronze-skinned Ged shown as anything but white.

The only early Earthsea covers where everybody wasn’t white were the beautiful cover paintings Margaret Chodos-Irvine did for the joint Houghton-Mifflin/Atheneum hardcover set of the first four books — but that edition was a well-kept secret; it got no PR, and hardly anyone seems to have ever seen it.

As I got more clout, I began demanding cover approval, and sometimes got it, and sometimes it made a difference. Mostly my people are people of color, and mostly the cover picture whitewashes them. Dips them in the Clorox.

…[T]he arrogance of any illustrator or designer who insists on a right to contradict and thus betray [emphasis Ursula’s] the text is unforgivable. Especially when something as genuinely, morally important as skin color is involved.

When asked if  she had experienced any challenges portraying/including diversity in young adult fiction, she responded with an equally thoughtful answer.

URSULA: No. Partly because I have been very fortunate in my choice of agent and my luck in editors. Partly because during a good deal of my writing career there was no diversity bandwagon to hop on. And partly because right from the beginning, which would be in the late 1960’s, in my SF and fantasy books, at least one of the main characters was not white, and sometimes none of them where white. I made no big deal out of this–the societies in the books made no big deal out of it. That made it easier for the editor to just pass over it. (The problem came with the Cover Department–sheeeeesh–you want some growling and snarling about covers??) Making my main people brown, bronze, black, etc. (green once) and doing it quietly was a conscious and deliberate ploy. I was just so sick of thinking–What is it with this far future, or this alternate earth, where everybody is named Jim or Bob or Joe and is as white as Shirley Temple? I mean, what the hell?

I hope you will be able to join us at Boskone and that you too will have an opportunity to appreciate and celebrate one of the great women of science fiction. I also hope you have enjoyed these short interview answers from Ursula K. Le Guin. If you have time, please stop by the Maker’s Space in the Galleria and leave a note for Ursula in the Memory Book dedicated to her.

It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.
– Ursula K. Le Guin

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B55 Mini Interviews with Allen M. Steele, J. Kathleen Cheney, Adam Stemple & Michael Swanwick

Allen M. Steele

Allen Mulherin Steele, Jr. became a full-time science fiction writer in 1988, following publication of his first short story, “Live From The Mars Hotel” (Asimov’s, mid-Dec. `88). Since then he has become a prolific author of novels, short stories, and essays, with his work translated into more than a dozen languages worldwide.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

Way back in 1987, more than a year before my first story was published in Asimov’s, I had my first novel, Orbital Decay, in submission to Ace. At Boskone that year, I happened to run into the editor who’d contacted me some time earlier, Ginjer Buchanan. We went off to have coffee together, and it was then that Ginjer told me that Ace wanted to buy my novel … my first fiction sale, after many years of rejection. I managed to take the news calmly, as a professional should; it wasn’t until I got back to my room that I began screaming and jumping up and down on the bed. Don’t tell me a science fiction convention can’t change your life.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

Close Encounters of the Third Kind, opening weekend, Thanksgiving 1977, at the Zeigfield in Manhattan. One of the biggest and best movie theaters I’ve ever been to, with an enormous screen and an amazing sound system. I stood in a block-long line, in a cold downpour, for an hour or more to get in, and it was worth it. When the alien mothership descends on Devil’s Tower, the speakers were cranked up to full volume and the theater walls themselves seemed to shake. No movie has impressed me on such a visceral level, before or since.

In the realm of “truth is stranger than fiction,” what experience from your past would people never believe if it were written into a story?

Being knocked down twice by Secret Service agents. Both incidents happened back when I was a reporter. The first time was by the agents escorting Chip Carter, President Carter’s son, during a campaign stop in New Hampshire, February 1980. I stepped in front of Chip to get his picture for the college paper for which I was covering the New Hampshire primary, and his security detail knocked me on my back and broke my camera. The second time happened five years later, while I was working in D.C. as a Capitol Hill correspondent. I was in a hallway on the House side of the Capitol, on my way to a hearing, when Casper Weinberger, President Reagan’s defense secretary, unexpectedly came around the corner with his security detail. I tried to step out of their way, but once again, I was knocked off my feet by Secret Service agents. Weinberger thought it was funny, the bastard. No one ever believes me when I tell them this — how could the same thing happened twice? — but it’s true.

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes. Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

Doc Savage, The Shadow, and Captain Future. And if you have to ask who these people are … well, then ask me.

J. Kathleen Cheney

jcheneyJ. Kathleen Cheney taught mathematics ranging from 7th grade to Calculus, but gave it all up for a chance to write stories. Her novella Iron Shoes was a 2010 Nebula Award Finalist. Her novel, The Golden City was a Finalist for the 2014 Locus Awards (Best First Novel). Dreaming Death (Feb 2016) was the first in a new world, with the related books of The Horn coming out in 2017 and the first sequel to Dreaming Death, In Dreaming Bound, debuting in 2018.  Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @jkcheney.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

I was invited to come in 2018 and I jumped at the chance to meet new writers and fans from outside my usual region. (Plus, I’ve never seen Boston before!)

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

Ah, Star Wars, my old friend. When this first came out in ’78, I fell in love with this movie with the passion of…well, a junior high student. I scrimped and saved my chore money and managed to see the movie 26 times in the theater that summer. No one in my family was a fan of speculative fiction, so I was wandering into a new world, unlike anything I’d ever seen. I loved the characters, the set, the music, the whole thing!

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

I wrote a short story called “Whatever Else” that I have inordinate affection for. It was one that editors either held for a long time…or instantly rejected. Mostly because the main character isn’t perceived as doing ‘protagonist’ things. She’s a young woman in a very patriarchal world, though, and even considering some of the things she does is a huge step for her, so despite being told to change it (and her), I doggedly stuck with the story I had.

Adam Stemple

Photo credit Lisa Jaster

Adam Stemple grew up in western Massachusetts but emigrated to the frozen wastelands of Minnesota in the late 80’s. He writes mostly fantasy, but has had historical fiction, non-fiction, and poetry published, as well. His most recent works are a novel, The Seelie King’s War, third in the Seelie Wars trilogy (Viking), a graphic novel, Stone Cold (Graphic Universe), and a collection of animal stories written with his entire family, Animal Stories (National Geographic). Visit his website or follow him on Twitter @hatfield13.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

I grew up in western Massachusetts and Boskone was my very first convention. I moved to the midwest in 1987, but I love coming back for this convention.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

The end of Lloyd Alexander’s The First Two Lives of Lucas Kasha and the midpoint of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Alexander’s was just pure emotion, and Hitchhiker’s revelation about the Improbability Drive made me put down the book and say, “Wow.”

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

I believe my song, “One Night in Boston” is the best song I’ve ever written. Deceptively simple, words that seem to resonate with people.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I just finished a new novel that is currently on submission. It’s a real departure for me, tech thriller/zombie novel rather than fantasy. It was very fun to write, with three viewpoint characters, and a hero who is a very bad person.

Michael Swanwick

mswanwickMichael Swanwick has received the Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, World Fantasy and Hugo Awards, and has the pleasant distinction of having been nominated for and lost more of these same awards than any other writer. He has written ten novels, over a hundred and fifty short stories, and countless works of flash fiction. His latest novel The Iron Dragon’s Mother, the capstone of an accidental trillogy, is forthcoming from Tor Books. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Marianne Porter. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @MichaelSwanwick.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

The strong possibility of getting snowed in. I grew up in Vermont but now live in Philadelphia and I miss blizzards terribly.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

Reading The Fellowship of the Ring. I was sixteen and a junior in high school, when I picked it up out of a box of books my sister Patty had sent home from college. It was eleven o’clock at night and I’d just finished my homework, so I thought I’d read a chapter or two before bed. I stayed up all night, reading. I read through breakfast. I read all the mile-long walk to school, and I finished the book just as the home bell rang.

I’ve said this before, but it’s true. That book rang me like a bell. Overnight, it made me determined to become a writer. It’s the reason I’m taking part in this mini-interview right now.

When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

A friend has a themed costume party, where everyone has to dress up as something beginning with that year’s letter. It was T this year, so I went as Tom Terrific. It’s an easy costume to put together once you locate an enormous white funnel for his Thinking Cap.
On reflection, I probably went as grown-up Tom Terrific. Young Tom didn’t have a beard.

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B55 Mini Interviews with Jane Yolen, Nik Korpon, Ginjer Buchanan & Bracken MacLeod

Jane Yolen

jyolenThis year (2018) Jane Yolen’s 365th and 366th book will be published so you can (literally) be able to read a Yolen book a day for a year–even if it’s a Leap Year. She has won by the numbers, 2 Nebulas, 3 Mythyopoeic Awards, 1 Caldecott, 2 Christopher Medals, 1 World Fantasy Award, 1 Jewish Book Award, 2 Massachusetts Book Awards (as well as being named a Massachusetts Unsung Heroine and New England Public Radio’s 1st ever writer to be given their Arts & Humanities Award), 2 Charlotte Award, 1 California Children’s Book Award, etc,, etc. and is a SFWA Grand Master, SFPA Grand Master, World Fantasy Grand Master, 6 colleges and universities have given her honorary doctorates. And Boskone’s Skylark Award set her good coat on fire. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @JaneYolen.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

I can drive there. I have been going for years so I know a lot of people. (I am actually quite shy.)

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

Various birthday events since my birthday is February 11 and is always close (if not right ON) the weekend of the con. Getting to see the latest pictures by artists I admire in the art show. Being on a panel (any pane) with Bruce Coville. Winning the Skylark award. And watching son Adam perform with the music guest of honor, Lojo Russo last year.

In the realm of “truth is stranger than fiction,” what experience from your past would people never believe if it were written into a story?

First you have to know my married name is Stemple, not a common name in Massachusetts.

It was 1960. My husband and I had just returned from a year camping in Europe. He got a job at UMass Amherst, we bought our first old house (7 rooms), moved in and had our first baby all within several weeks. But we only owned three pieces of furniture because we’d sold everything else before going on our long camping trip. We had a brass bed, a roll top desk, and a single dresser. It was time to go to homestead auctions where house contents were being sold. At one–new baby in pram–I bid on a bunch of stuff I didn’t get to look at closely since we got there on baby’s schedule–not mine. One was a dresser for our guest room for which I paid $7. When I got it back home and wrestled it out of the VW van, it was too heavy for me to get it into the house alone and up the stairs. Besides, it was UGLY! Probably overpaid. When I checked the drawers, it was filled with the underclothes of the newly-deceased old man who’d owned the house. A bank! Maybe I could recoup some of the money! But it was made of iron and there was no key. When my husband got back from work, he took a chisel and hammer out of the toolbox. (We had a toolbox????) And cracked the bank open. In it were fifteen dollars in one dollar bills and an obituary for someone named Stemple!

When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

This past Halloween I wore a tiara. Not exactly cosplay. But every year Holly and Theo Black have a dress-up New Year’s party. The year it was all about high class British folk, my family and I went as marauding Scots in kilts, swords, targes, and blue face paint. Last year when it was a Bad Fairies theme we went as Red Caps.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

Really working on #Yolen365, since in 2018 my 365th and 366th books will be published so you will be able to read a Yolen book a day for a year–even if it’s a leap year! To be honest, by year’s end I will be up to 375 books as I have (we think) 12 books out next year. They range from picture books, to a fantasy novel in verse, to a Holocaust novel hung on the armature of Hansel & Gretel, to a nonfiction book from National Geographic about birds, to a book of adult poetry. . .you get the picture.

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes. Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

I would choose a writer (Emily Dickinson), a politician (Elizabeth Warren), and a dancer (Misty Copeland) all kick-ass women blazing trails and taking no prisoners along the way. Who needs fantasy figures when we have them? Though we might want to see them dressed as superheroes–my challenge to any illustrator out there. On the sidelines cheering–the Notorious RBG, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and a kick line of suffragettes.

Nik Korpon

nkorponNik Korpon is the author of The Rebellion’s Last Traitor (Angry Robot), Queen of the Struggle, and The Soul Standard, among others. He lives in Baltimore. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @NikKorpon.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

I’ve been writing crime and mystery stories for a while and have gone to many of those conferences, but I’ve only just started writing science fiction. I’ve heard from a lot of people that Boskone is one of the best science fiction conventions around. Plus, Boston, in mid-February—what’s not to like?

When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

This past Halloween. My son and daughter were a jellyfish and a butterfly, and my wife was a flamingo. I wore a gorilla mask and chased all the neighborhood kids around. I looked like a maniac. It was a ton of fun.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

“I just turned in the final draft of Queen of the Struggle, the second book in Memory Thief series (the first being The Rebellion’s Last Traitor) and thinking about the one. I’m also editing a science fiction thriller that I keep describing as Die Hard meets The Shield but in space.

With Queen of the Struggle, I’ve never written a series before so it’s challenging to keep in mind what’s come before and make sure it informs what’s coming in the future. And the thriller is just an out-and-out thriller, so it’s a challenge to keep one-upping myself. ”

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes.  Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

“Sarah Manning (Orphan Black) because she’s a straight-up bad ass and she always finds a way to get out of a situation. Sydney Bristow (Alias) because, well, see Sarah Manning. Tim Bisley (Spaced) because, while he’s pretty worthless at fighting (except that finger-gun shootout), he knows everything about science fiction and fantasy and could help me figure out how to destroy the baddies.”

Ginjer Buchanan

While a student at Carnegie Mellon University, Ginjer Buchanan helped start the Western Pennsylvania Science Fiction Association. In the early 1970s, she moved from Pittsburgh to New York City where she made her living as a social worker, while doing free-lance editorial work. In 1984, she took a job as an editor at Ace Books before becoming an acquisitions editor for Penguin USA, which includes Putnam, Berkley and Ace Books. Ginjer is now retired and will be on of the Guests of Honor at the Dublin 2019 – An Irish Worldcon.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

When I was working, it was a convention which a lot of my authors attended (It was the one time a year I could reliably expect to see Charlie Stross) Now that I’m retired, I have a lot of fan friends who attend. It’s a great con, with the absolute best art shows!

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

There are a lot of years of memories. From way back when the con was at the Pru Center, getting blizzard-ed in. That may sound odd but it was kinda magical. More recently, being given the Skylark Award. What an honor!

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

Hmm– I guess the first Star Wars movie. To recapture the sense of wonder. There are a lot of books I re-read, but I remember how The Stars My Destination. It absolutely blew me away when I first read it. I loved the scope and sweep of the story and the strong female characters, particularly Jisbella McQueen. It would be be great to have that sense of first discovering a kind of sf that really spoke to me.

When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

A couple years ago, at the last company Halloween party. The editors were zombies and I was a zombie hunter, vaguely modeled on Woody Harrelson in Zombieland.

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes.  Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

Buffy because–well,she’s Buffy. Wonder Woman, because–well, she’s Wonder Woman. And Wolverine,because–well,he’s Hugh Jackman.

 

Bracken MacLeod

Bracken MacLeod has worked as a martial arts teacher, a university philosophy instructor, for a children’s non-profit, and as a trial attorney. He is the author of the novels, Mountain Home, Come to Dust, and Stranded for Tor Books which is in active development at Warner Bros. Television. His short fiction has appeared in several magazines and anthologies including LampLight, ThugLit, and Splatterpunk and has been collected in 13 Views of the Suicide Woods by ChiZine Publications. He lives outside of Boston with his wife and son, where he is at work on his next novel. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @BrackenMacLeod.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

Boskone has been strongly recommended to me by several friends in the industry for quite a while now. I’m looking forward to my first experience there.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

I wish I could see Alien for the first time again. It wasn’t just seeing Alien, but the fact that I was 10 years old and was sneaking it on late night cable. That movie completely captivated me and I made a note in the cable guide of every time it was going to be on so I could try to watch it as much as possible (we didn’t have a VCR, but we had stolen cable). I’d already been reading scary books, but this was my first experience with several different things that blew my mind as a kid. First, I’d never seen a frightening *space* movie before. Up until then, it was Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and Battle Beyond the Stars. I had no idea the two could go together. Also, that was my first look at H.R. Giger’s work and it revolutionized how I thought of both aliens and terrestrial monsters. Even though it was a guy in a suit, it was so convincing and unworldly the age of believing people in monster suits pretty much ended for me right there. Finally, and probably most importantly, I was the only child of a single mother, and seeing Ellen Ripley fight to survive resounded with me considerably. At the end she was protecting a cat, not a kid (like in the sequel), but for 10 year old me without any real strong male figures in my life beyond my grandfather, I really identified with her as a child who relied on a mother. Her as a survivor, but also as an unapologetic and enthusiastic fighter, meant a ton to me. 1979’s Ripley still informs the kind of stories I like to tell. Yeah, I wish I could see Alien again with 11 year old eyes.

When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

I dress up every year. This year I went as David S. Pumpkin’s lesser known (but much funnier) twin brother, Bracken (NMI) Pumpkins. David’s got more hair, but I wear the suit better.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

After two supernatural books in a row (Stranded, a science fiction thriller, and Come to Dust, a straight-up horror novel) I am working on a a “secular horror” thriller more like my first novel, Mountain Home. Closing Costs is a home invasion thriller about a couple who buy a house with stolen money from a man who isn’t ready to give it up. His secrets and theirs collide in a way that could cost all of them everything. It’s about all those little expenses that aren’t part of the asking price, and can sink the deal if you aren’t prepared for them.

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B55 Mini Interviews with William Hayashi, Jen Gunnels, Auston Habershaw & Elaine Isaak (E.C. Ambrose)

 

William Hayashi

whayashiWilliam Hayashi is an author, screen writer and radio personality who hosts the Genesis Science Fiction Radio Show Friday evenings. His Darkside Trilogy tells the story of what happens in the U.S. when it is discovered that African Americans have been secretly living on the backside of the moon since before Neil Armstrong arrived. He is currently preparing a second trilogy in his Darkside Universe, which will culminate with a seventh volume that winds up the whole saga. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @WmHayashi.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

The program committee makes the event very welcoming and provides a well-run convention.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

Meeting so many like-minded attendees.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

My first viewing of 2001: A Space Odyssey in the theater was majestic and awe inspiring, nothing else had ever looked like this movie.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

The second installment of my Darkside Trilogy, Conception, is my favorite of the series because it is populated with such extraordinary/ordinary characters.

In the realm of “truth is stranger than fiction,” what experience from your past would people never believe if it were written into a story?
The story of how I began in the IT industry, a story I only tell, not commit to paper at this time.

When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

I dressed up this last Halloween. I wore my normal street clothes and went as a Serial Killer; they look like everyone else.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I am working on the second trilogy in my Darkside Universe. I just completed the second installment and will be starting on the third shortly. I plan to release all three volumes at the same time in late 2018. What excites me most about the second trilogy is extending the scope of my creative universe.

Jen Gunnels

jgunnelsJen Gunnels is an editor at Tor Books, where her authors include L. E. Modesitt, Jr., Richard Baker, Kit Reed, Emily Davenport, and F. Paul Wilson. Before coming to Tor she served as dramatic critic and Theater Editor for the Hugo nominated New York Review of Science Fiction and a contributing editor for performance for the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction online. She contributed book reviews to Foundation and Science Fiction Studies and she has written essays for the collections Practicing Science Fiction and Popular Entertainment in Theater, Film & Television. She has also edited a special edition on performance for the Journal for the Fantastic in the Arts and contributed articles on fandom to the online journal Transformative Works and Cultures. In 2014, she co-edited with Erin Underwood, Geek Theater, a collection of science fiction and fantasy plays. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @jengunnels.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

I had a great panel on writing fight scenes moderated by Myke Cole that was honestly one of the best panels I’ve ever been on. The give-and-take with all the panelists was phenomenal, and Myke kept it rolling with a cohesive through-line.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

I actually got to in a very weird way. I remember seeing Star Wars–the first one, the good one, the ORIGINAL one–when I was in 4th grade. Everything changed after that–that good guys can shoot first was HUGE, or that the mentor can sacrifice and die for the pupil, that a princess can rescue herself and shoot. It was just amazing. Then Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out. I took my son, who was in 4th grade, and watched him as those opening credits rolled, and had a really emotional experience realizing that my look of excitement and awe must have been similar.

oqBP__127855When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

I was Phryne Fisher. With the hair and my usual clothes, I tend to look like her anyway. I had this great cloche hat, a chiffon dress, and stadium-style maryjane high heels. With a long scarf and drop earrings, it looked awesome.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I’m working on a translation of a German fantasy novel titled, Drachenjaeger. It’s essentially Moby Dick with dragons. Pretty much awesome in all regards. Working with a translator has been amazing, and we’ve looped in the author as well. The result is a dynamic three-way creation that’s energizing and keeps me excited.

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes. Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

So John Wyk. Because. John. Wyck. Is he a superhero? Maybe not, but I need a guy who gets it right the first time with no need to double tap. River Tam because she can kill you with her brain. My final pick would be John Constantine from Hellblazer. It’s like getting a competent version of the Winchesters, but in one body. I retain the rights to any film or tv or fanfic that comes of this.

 

Auston Habershaw

ahavershawOn the day Auston Habershaw was born, Skylab fell from the heavens. This foretold two possible fates: supervillain or science fiction and fantasy author. Fortunately he chose the latter, and spends his time imagining the could-be and the never-was rather than disintegrating the moon with his volcano laser. He is a winner of the Writers of the Future Contest and has published short stories in F&SF, Analog, and Galaxy’s Edge among other places. His fantasy series, The Saga of the Redeemed, is published through Harper Voyager–Book 3, Dead But Once, will be released in March of 2018. He lives and works in Boston, MA. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @AustonHab.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

Well, the obvious answer is that it is held in Boston and I live in Boston–it’s convenient that way. Beyond that, however, is the fact that Boskone, despite being a fairly small convention, attracts some of the best talent and biggest names to it, most notably from England and Europe. Every time I’ve been to Boskone, I’ve been very impressed with the kind of people they get to do panels and participate in Kaffeeklatsches and so on. It’s some of the best bang for your buck!

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

Seeing the Return of the Jedi in the theater for the first time was a seminal experience for me. It really opened my mind to the limitless scope of the human imagination. There was something about how Lucas build the aesthetics of the movie that has stuck with me to this day–the set pieces, the size of the world, the variety of its inhabitants. I loved it, and even now–for all Jedi’s flaws–it still inspires. It’s that kind of storytelling experience I want to duplicate in my own work, because I want to crack open the imaginations of people just like me.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

I have a special place in my heart for all of my work, of course, but if I had to pick one, I’d pick “The Masochist’s Apprentice”–a novelette I published in F&SF in the July/August 2017 issue. It’s one of those stories that just felt right the whole time I wrote it–I felt like I was doing something kind of new, kind of a special blend of humor and very serious discussions about cultural divides. That is currently reigning as my favorite. That’s subject to change, of course.

In the realm of “truth is stranger than fiction,” what experience from your past would people never believe if it were written into a story?

I used to work for a person who used profanity in its truest sense–to be truly profane. Everybody swears, but when he used all the f-bombs, there was a real venom to it that I don’t think I can wholly describe. He made you feel dirty by listening to him, and I don’t know that I could make that believable in a story. It was too nuanced–something in his tone, something in his posture–that made you realize how much hate he had for the world around him.

As you can well imagine, it was *not* a good job.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I’m currently working on the fourth and final book in my epic fantasy series The Saga of the Redeemed. It’s very exciting coming to the end of a long story arc like this, and seeing these characters I love off in grand fashion, but there are real challenges in that, too. I’m worried that I’m not doing them justice, that I’m not reaching that emotional payoff I’ve always imagined would be there when I got this far. Am I going to convey that same sense of epic wonder that encompasses the end of Return of the Jedi, or is it going to read like The Matrix: Revolutions, you know? I’m on a tight deadline, the pressure’s on, so I’m hoping it works out. I think this is a common feeling for all authors, but as this is my last book in the series, it’s especially potent.

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes. Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

I feel that Gandalf would settle The Night King in fairly short order and, while not perfectly in-tune with the Doctor Who universe, I’m betting Thor could take care of the Master pretty easily. The Emperor Palpatine is a harder nut to crack–he does have a galaxy-spanning empire to back him up. For that heady task, I’m going to go with Baru Cormorant (from Seth Dickinson’s novel)–if anyone could out-plot a Sith Lord, it would be her.

Elaine Isaak (E.C. Ambrose)

EIsaakE. C. Ambrose writes adventure-based historical fantasy series the Dark Apostle, about medieval surgery, from DAW Books, which began with Elisha Barber, and concludes with volume 5, Elisha Daemon in 2018. Her most recent release was international thriller novel Bone Guard One: The Mongol’s Coffin. As Elaine Isaak, she also wrote The Singer’s Crown and its sequels. In the process of researching her books, Elaine learned how to hunt with a falcon, clear a building of possible assailants, pull traction on a broken limb, and fire an AR-15. The author is a graduate of and an instructor for the Odyssey Writing workshop. In addition to writing, Elaine works as a guide, teaching rock climbing and leading outdoor adventure camps. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @ecambrose.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

This amazing late-night conversation I had in the consuite with Ian Randall Strock and Allen Steele. . .I don’t know if I’m allowed to say what we talked about. But that kind of conversation is one of the reasons I keep coming back!

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

I have an inordinate fondness for Wolfram, the protagonist of my second novel, The Eunuch’s Heir. He’s so misunderstood and beaten down, yet he keeps trying to find his moral compass and redeem himself. He’s so resourceful he was a blast to write about–especially because he doesn’t care what anybody thinks!

When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

About three years ago, we hosted a Halloween party for my teenager’s friends. In order to direct them to the house, I dressed as the fairy of dark and light, wearing my wedding gown, and a pair of gorgeous black wings I bought at the Goodwill store. I waited at the end of the driveway and was illuminated by each vehicle as it arrived.

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B55 Mini Interviews with Dana Cameron, Richard Shealy, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert & H. Paul Shuch

With snow in this week’s forecast, what better way to prepare for Boskone by relaxing with our latest set of mini interviews!

Dana Cameron

DanaCameron_7Dana Cameron writes across many genres, but mostly crime fiction and urban fantasy in every possible form. Dana’s work has won multiple Anthony, Agatha, and Macavity Awards, and has been nominated for the Edgar Award. Her six Emma Fielding archaeology mysteries were optioned by Muse Entertainment, and the first, Site Unseen, was made into a movie for the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel. Dana will be one of the Writer Guests of Honor at Necon this July, and when she’s not traveling or visiting museums, she’s usually yelling at the TV about historical inaccuracies. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @danacmrn.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

Boskone is local for me, but more importantly, it covers a wide range of genres (from mystery to science fiction and fantasy to horror), and topics (panels on writing, world-building, etc.). It’s so well organized, and the Boskone folks work really hard to make an interesting convention set in a comfortable environment.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

I’m going to say Star Wars. It wasn’t my introduction to science fiction, but it was the first science fiction movie experience that blew my impressionable young mind. I couldn’t stop talking about it for months after, much to the dismay of all around me. It was also the first time I found novelizations of a ‘verse, starting with the movie novelization by “George Lucas” (really Alan Dean foster). I was totally unsubtle when I saw a kid reading A Splinter of the Mind’s Eye (Alan Dean Foster) in science class: I all but grabbed the book out of his hand while yelling “where did you get that?” Slick, that. It was also the first time realized that I was part of a fan community.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

This is tough–I’m proud of all of my “firsts” (mystery novel, UF novel, short story, etc.), but for me it’s “Femme Sole,” which appeared in BOSTON NOIR (ed. Dennis Lehane). It was the first time I really understood about how to make my emotions work for me as I was writing the story: I had a very short time to write it and a lot was on the line, at least in my mind. I was taking a chance on writing 18th-century noir and I got so caught up in my own nerves about writing this story that it wasn’t for some time after that I realized my protagonist, Anna Hoyt, was…let’s just say, she isn’t entirely a well person.

2W9R__132151When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

I try to do something every year for when I dole out candy. The trick, for me, is to find a costume that won’t freak out the little ones, but will be interesting enough to older kids and adults. A vampire bite tattoo on my neck with an apron and a “Merlotte’s Bar and Grill” shirt; Tank Girl was a lot of fun; my academic robes, a wand, and my Hogwarts mug; a long-sleeved shirt with werewolf arms and claws. This year, I dressed up all black, added some lipstick–basically what I’d wear for a night out–and then put on some horns for your basic demon. Some kids took a beat to notice the horns, and asked what they were; I pretended I had no idea how they got there. The kids got all wide-eyed and then we all laughed like hell.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I’m working on a couple of short stories, both horror and speculative fiction. I’m excited about this because I have some very interesting images I’d like to be able to use–and it’s challenging (like most projects) because I need to remember that the plot, the theme, and the atmosphere don’t necessarily all happen at once in the writing process. Get the story, then figure out the theme, then work the atmosphere in.

Richard Shealy

RichardShealy_192Richard Shealy is a freelance copyeditor specializing in science fiction and fantasy work from short stories to novels but has worked in broader genre as well. He works with both traditional publishing houses and self-publishing authors. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @SFFCopyediting.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

Sitting in the lobby bar with friends off and on at the same table for over twelve hours (with breaks for panels and such; there was always going to be someone still at the table when the break-taker returned). Friends, acquaintances, colleagues and new people joined and left all through that time. This is the core of the con experience: being able to interact in a relaxed way with other con-goers for however long one wishes.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

Good Omens. The book was a constant joy of discovery.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

(As I’m a copyeditor, this technically doesn’t apply to me, but I’m taking it anyway!) I have had so many excellent, joyous, moving, etc. experiences throughout my career, but I suppose the one that stands out the most was copyediting Seanan McGuire’s Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day. I was genuinely moved to tears at more than one point. NB: I am constantly finding things to love about projects at hand, so this is a far harder question than it might be otherwise. I am regularly finding myself muttering at characters, cheering a victory and so on!

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

An indie author’s novel. It’s still too early in the project to answer those questions in any specific way, but I’ll give the answer I would give about any of my projects: discerning this particular author’s voice and determining how best to support it.

Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert

SreynoldsalpertSuzanne Reynolds-Alpert writes science fiction, horror, dark fantasy, and the occasional poem. Her short fiction had been published in the anthologies Killing It Softly and The Deep Dark Woods. Her poetry has appeared in places such as the anthology Wicked Witches, Tales of the Zombie War, The Wayfarer: A Journal of Contemplative Literature and Eternal Haunted Summer. Suzanne is a professional editor, holds down a job in marketing, and has degrees in Communication and Sociology. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @SuzsMuses.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

I attended my first Boskone years ago, as a day-only attendee. I was impressed with the programming, guests, and the serious focus on genre topics. I’ve been looking forward to the opportunity to attend as a program participant.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

The collective experience of reading Animal Farm, 1984, and Brave New World as a pre-adolescent had a profound effect on me. My reaction to these was, “Oh my God, humans will manipulate the truth and facts in order to control other humans?” I literally felt my mind being blown, which was disturbing and exhilarating all at the same time. Thus began my love affair with dystopias, which continues to this day.

Bonus answer: as an adult, reading Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, the first book of hers I’d read, gave me an adult-version mind-blowing similar to the above. She went on to become my favorite author, and I sobbed the day she died.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I’m simultaneously, slowly, working on several projects. I wrote very little the past year, due to a combination of health issues, a new job, and Imposter Syndrome. I’ve had a horror, young adult novella in progress for over a year. This has been challenging for me, because I don’t “naturally” write for younger audiences.

I also have a novelette I’ve been writing off and on for over three years. This one is also horror, has a lot of body horror involved. As it’s currently written, there is an attempted rape scene, and I’m rethinking this because of the past several years’ pushback against using rape capriciously as a plot device. I’m trying to decide if there are other ways to get one of my themes across without this scene. So this story has been challenging as well.

H. Paul Shuch

Dr. SETI is the stage name of the blatant exhibitionist who inhabits the body of noted author and educator Dr. H. Paul Shuch (rhymes with luck). A cross between Tom Lehrer and Carl Sagan, it is said that Dr. SETI sings like Sagan and lectures like Lehrer. Armed with a laptop computer and an acoustical guitar, Dr. SETI travels the world making the search for life in space accessible to audiences as diverse as humanity itself. At college campuses, science centers, public lecture halls, and on television and radio, Dr. SETI’s unique mix of science and song seeks to educate as well as entertain. He compels the listener to contemplate a fundamental question, which has haunted humankind since first we realized that the points of light in the night sky are other suns: Are We Alone? Visit his website or find him on Facebook.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

BlizzardCon 2015! My wife and I (along with hundreds of our best friends) were snowed in there for a couple of extra days, over Valentines Day weekend. It was like a second honeymoon.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

Although I’m probably better known for my science filks, I think my anti-war song “And The Band Played The Star Spangled Banner” is probably my best work. Inspired by Eric Bogle’s “Galipoli” (aka “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”), it draws on my experiences during the Vietnam War and afterward – and took me 29 years to complete.

In the realm of “truth is stranger than fiction,” what experience from your past would people never believe if it were written into a story?

Experiencing Arthur Clarke’s incredible hospitality at 25 Barnes Place, Colombo, in early 2000. His warmth, generosity, and humility will never be forgotten. I wrote him a song for the occasion (“Extraterrestrial Relays”), and after I had sung it for him and his brother Fred, Arthur called in all his household staff and bade me sing it again. Afterward, I gifted him the original draft (autographed to “Arthur Charles Clarke, the world’s second-greatest communications engineer”), which he immediately framed and hung up on the wall of his Ego Chamber.

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