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Kaleidoscope, Strange Horizons, Outer Alliance, and some other things

I recently went out to nineweaving's book launch party, and then to asakiyume's house, and I was reminded that quite several people I know and like use LJ, even though I seem to have stopped. Hello, friends!

I don't expect I'll be posting very often here, but I wanted to give a general life update all the same. Here are some things I've been busy with lately:

1) Kaleidoscope: This is a YA anthology of contemporary fantasy stories with diverse protagonists. I'm co-editing it with Alisa Krasnostein of Twelfth Planet Press (an Australian small press that publishes some great books). Right now we're in the middle of a fundraising campaign, which is seriously one of the most nail-biting, nerve-wracking things ever. I had heard this from others who'd done crowdsourced stuff like Kickstarters and so forth, and I thought I understood, but I realize now I never truly did. There's a special kind of horrible nervousness that comes with hoping that fundraiser will inch upwards to the fully funded mark. Will we get to make the project? Is all our work going to have been for naught? *bites nails* I hear we're doing well at about 1/3 of the way to the funding goal, but I can just tell I won't rest easy until we get all they way there. If you want to learn more about the project, take a look the Pozible page. You can back it if you'd like to help ease my fragile nerves. You could also share that link with your friends and followers and whatnot if you think the project is worth sharing. Either of those things would make me happy!

2) Strange Horizons: I'm still editing short fiction for Strange Horizons, and it's pretty wonderful, but also takes a lot of energy. We had the great honor of being nominated for a Hugo award this year, which meant I got to go to WorldCon and collect a shiny rocketship pin. I was very happy to be able to attend the awards ceremony along with Jed Hartman, who worked on Strange Horizons for 12 years, and with Mary Anne Mohanraj, who started the magazine to begin with. I also got to meet an astronaut. Coolest thing ever! She was intrigued by my animatronic cat purse. Because I am the kind of person who carries an animatronic cat purse to a formal awards event. Yes. I also got to hang out with other nominees like rarelylynne and  michaeldthomas, and Howard Tayler even let me hold his Hugo, which was very cool. And also very heavy. After WorldCon, we had the annual Strange Horizons fund drive, which hit its target--yay! Now we'll have artwork with one story per month starting in January! This is very exciting. If you want to read the magazine, you can do that here.
Me with my animatronic cat and astronaut, Cady Coleman
Here I am at the Hugo Losers Party with my
animatronic cat purse, and Cady Coleman,
who is wearing her uniform!

3) Podcasting: I'm still hosting the Outer Alliance Podcast, so if you'd like a monthly dose of QUILTBAG SF chat, there it is. These days I'm also a regular on The Skiffy and Fanty Show. I'm usually on the Torture Cinema episodes (where we talk about bad movies), but I sometimes also participate in other episodes with interviews or discussions, too. The Skiffy and Fanty Show also recently started having a much more active blog, so I have a weekly column on Fridays called This Katamari. I basically round up a few things I'm thinking about and talk about them a little bit. It's mostly silly and fun. I've also been narrating the occasional story for PodCastle and Pseudopod, and poems for the Strange Horizons Podcast. So, that's me and podcasts!

4) Family stuff: I have a nephew who just turned one-year-old! His birthday party was last week, and he proved to be a total anomaly in our family by NOT LIKING CAKE. Yeah, I have no idea how that happened. Meanwhile, my mother has become quite the quilter in the last couple of years. In addition to two throw quilts Moss and I use to keep our laps warm while watching movies, she's sent us a few potholders, a small table runner, and most lately, some Halloween themed pillowcases. Here they are:
halloween pillowcases

So, I think that's a pretty good general update. I've also been very social lately with multiple parties, book launches, dinners with friends, etc. All of this conspires to keep me offline except for work most of the time, but I still think about you guys! How are you? What's been up in your life recently?
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Boskone Panel Notes: Podcasting a Wide Net

This panel happened on Sunday at 11am. It was my last panel of the con, and a very pleasant one to end on. Heather Dale was the music guest of honor, and she was astonishingly bright and cheerful despite it being the end of the con, and despite the fact that she hadn't even been awake long enough to eat a meal. In fact, everyone on the panel and in the audience was lovely.

This is not a true transcript. As always with my panel notes, it's just whatever I can remember based on my scribblings. These notes are incomplete and likely full of errors. Please feel free to offer additions or corrections in the comments.

Here's the official blurb:

It started with monologues and interviews, but panel shows and fiction readings now generate the most buzz for SF/F/H's new-tyme "radio." It's like a con in your computer (or your pocket), whenever you want! What are today's must-listen podcasts? How can you create, distribute, and promote your own? How do first-class casters keep the talk flowing?
Bob Kuhn (M), Heather Dale, Elizabeth Bear, Julia Rios, Kate Baker

Bob Kuhn is a professional voiceover artist with scads of impressive credits, and a gorgeous voice. You can hear samples of his narration on his website.

Heather Dale, Boskone's music guest of honor, is a Canadian musician who writes "songs for modern dreamers" (inspired by fantasy, history, and legend). She also has a podcast which has some of her songs along with commentary about them. You can listen to the first episode here.

Elizabeth Bear is a Hugo-winning writer and podcaster. Her most recent novel is Range of Ghosts (a sequel is coming out in March!), and she's won two Hugo Awards for short fiction (for "Tideline" in 2008 and "Shoggoths in Bloom" in 2009), and one Hugo Award in the fancast category for the SF Squeecast.

Julia Rios is me. I am a writer, editor, podcaster, and narrator. I am a regular on The Skiffy and Fanty Show (most frequently on the Torture Cinema episodes, wherein we discuss bad SF movies), and I host the Outer Alliance Podcast (celebrating QUILTBAG speculative fiction). I have also narrated stories and poems for PodCastle, Pseudopod, and Strange Horizons.

Kate Baker is the Hugo-winning Podcast Director for Clarkesworld Magazine. She's also narrated stories for several other publications, including Starship Sofa, Escape Pod, and The Drabblecast. In 2011 her narration of "The Things" by Peter Watts was a finalist for the Parsec award.

Bob: Started panel by introducing panelists, then talked a bit about what a podcast is (something you can download free--can be video or audio, fiction, or non-fiction). After that he gave some equipment tips. He mentioned draping the recording space with moving blankets to reduce echoes, and recommended the Harlan Hogan Voiceover Essentials product line.

Heather: As a musician, she's a fan of doing things on a shoestring budget. Not everyone can afford moving blankets, for instance. She's done professional recordings by throwing comforters over mic stands to get the same sound-absorbing effect.

Kate: Records in a recording booth that's painted to look like the TARDIS [how awesome is that!?] with wooden walls outside and foam lining inside. It's good to have a hard surface outside to reflect sounds, and soft surfaces inside to absorb sounds. If you don't have a recording booth, you can also talk into a box lined with soft material.

Bear: If you know a drummer, borrow their practice room. Drummers have a lot of experience with soundproofing. The Squeecast has a different challenge though, since they have 5 people who meet via Skype. They don't have one central recording location.

Bob: The human ear is remarkably good at recognizing different environments. Post production is important.

Bear: The Squeecast has a sound editor who tries to minimize non-vocal noise in the podcast, but their goal is mainly to be clear and audible, not to sound like they are in one place. They had a pretty steep learning curve. If you listen to the first episodes, you can hear how far they've come.

Julia: I also do a lot of podcast recording over Skype, and I often record panels in large convention rooms with an iPad. None of these are great for voiceover quality recording, but the content is the main thing. I produce all the Outer Alliance podcast episodes, and try to edit for clarity in GarageBand (because I have a Mac, and that's the default recording software). I also often run files through The Levelator, especially if participants are speaking at different volumes.

Bear: Common Skype problems include, skipping, lag, distortion, and weird robotic sounding voice. Sometimes it helps to stop the recording session and have people restart the program before continuing.

Julia: I tend to also ask people whose words are being mangled by the Skype connection to stop and repeat their sentences. If I can't hear them well, I know my listeners won't be able to either.

Bob: Do you ever have people record their side of the conversation and send you the file?

Julia: That's a great idea in theory, but in practice, no. I'm usually happy if people I'm interviewing manage to get on Skype in the first place. I can't count on others having recording software, or the knowledge of how to use it.

[Speaker not listed in notes]: recommends Podcasting For Dummies as a good guide to starting a podcast from the ground up.

Bob: How do you promote a podcast?

Heather: Start a mailing list and e-mail subscribers whenever a new episode is up.

Bear: For the Squeecast, getting George R. R. Martin on the show as a guest was a major thing. Their audience doubled.

Bob: How long is a good podcast?

Kate: There is no one good length. It depends on content, style, etc. That said, 15 minutes to one hour is a pretty good ballpark.

Bear: Enjoys the Titatnium Physicists Podcast, which always runs for half an hour. When she was a guest, they had so much fun they talked for 90 minutes, but for the show, the podcasters whittled it down to 30 minutes and then released an outtakes file.

Julia: I like podcasts of many different lengths. For podcasts that run longer than one hour, I tend to listen in chunks. I'll do dishes, put the podcast down for a while, then take a walk later and turn it back on. For people who are creating longer podcasts, it's good to recognize that a lot people will likely not be listening all in one go. A hard limit for me is probably around two hours, though.

Bob: Last tips for podcasters, or mistakes beginners make?

Heather: On the topic of microphones, you can go to a music store and rent a microphone for a day. This is pretty cheap, and a great way to really test how the microphone will sound with your voice and in your recording environment. Good idea to do this before spending a lot of money on buying a microphone.

Kate: Have an image that people will see when they play the podcast on their phone. Visual reminder is good.

Julia: One thing that pains me as a listener is if there are big interruptions in the flow of the conversation. If a dog barks for several minutes, or there's a phone ringing loudly in the background, it can really distract from the content. Good idea to re-record things said during those points and edit the noisy parts out in post-production if possible.

Bear: For group discussions, it helps to have a moderator (like the Lynne Thomas on the Squeecast) whose job is to keep the conversation on track and make sure people aren't talking over each other.

Bob: Which podcasts do you like to listen to?

[I didn't write down speakers, so here are podcast names in no particular order]

*Quirks and Quarks (science)
*Grammar Girl (grammar tips)
*Writing Excuses (writing tips)
*PodCastle (fantasy stories)
*Escape Pod (science fiction stories)
*The Drabblecast (strange stories)
*Fantasy Faction (story reviews)
*Ask Kaylee Frye (Tumblr Podcast)
*Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo's Film Reviews (film reviews)
*The Coode Street Podcast (general discussion of SF)
*Titanium Physicists (science)
*The Writer and the Critic (specultive fiction book reviews)
*SciShow (science videos)
*Galactic Suburbia (feminist SF discussion)

We all like more podcasts, but that was the end of the panel time, so we had to cut our recommendations short. Please feel free to share your favorite podcasts and/or podcasting tips in the comments. To see more panel notes, click the panel notes tag. This is the last of six panel notes posts from this year's Boskone. I will, however, be putting the QUILTBAG panel online for the next episode of the Outer Alliance Podcast.
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Boskone Panel Notes: Steampunk Is a Way of Life

This panel happened on Sunday at 10am. It snowed that morning, so the con was possibly a bit quieter than it might have been, but the panel was still fairly well-attended.

As always, this is not a true transcription, just whatever I could make sense of based on the things I hastily scrawled down during the panel. These are incomplete and likely full of errors. Please feel free to offer additions or corrections in the comments.

Here's the official blurb:

Steampunk fans don't just read the stuff. We also rock the goggles -- and the cosplay cons, and the Victoriana motifs for everything from our tablets to our tattoos. Does the lifestyle circle back to influence the writing? What's changed since the start? What's the current state of the field, and what further enthralling developments are even now in gear?
Jim Frenkel (M), James Cambias, Margaret Ronald, Julia Rios

Jim Frenkel is a senior editor at Tor. He has over 35 years of experience in the publishing field. Jim edited Infernal Devices by K. W. Jeter (the first novel to be called steampunk) in 1986.

James Cambias is an American science fiction and fantasy writer and tabletop game designer, whose stories have been nominated for the Nebula Award and the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. His website is here.

Margaret Ronald is the author of an urban fantasy trilogy set in Boston (Spiral Hunt, Wild Hunt, and Soul Hunt), and numerous short stories, including several which might be considered Steampunk, or Industrial Fantasy. Her website is here.

Julia Rios is me. I'm one of the three fiction editors at Strange Horizons, an online magazine of SF and fantasy. I hover at the outermost tangential edges of Steampunk fashion and DIY maker culture.

Jim: What is Industrial Fantasy?

Maggie: Instead of focusing on the punk aspects of Steampunk (class/race/colonialism/deep analysis of alternate history and science), more involves aesthetic of that stuff while handwaving things a bit--machines powered by magic, etc.

Jim: What are the punk aspects of Steampunk?

Julia: Aside from what Maggie mentioned, from a fashion perspective, a lot of Steampunk aficionados are into DIY fashion and maker culture.

James: There's the sense of Spirit of the Century, and coming into the 20th century we have Dieselpunk (with more combustion engines, etc.). Alternate paths of possibility in human achievement, but not all light. Jules Verne actually made some apocalyptic predictions in his fiction.

--Some discussion of trends and people adopting Steampunk aesthetic without clear understanding of meaning. Mentions of this send up of steampunk from Hark, A Vagrant! and the Just Glue Some Gears On It and Call It Steampunk YouTube video.

Maggie: Steampunk devotees use elaborate devices and show their workings overtly. Celebrating/interrogating mechanical wonders and Victoriana.

Julia: Definitely in mainstream at this point. Art installation at Versailles called Lilicoptère "helicopter fit for Marie Antoinette" with very steampunk aesthetic.

James: Does it work?

Julia: No idea. Probably not, but it's very much in keeping with the fashion and the DIY aspect of steampunk art.

Jim: What do you mean by DIY? To me that's people remodeling homes.

Julia: It is that, in part! In steampunk culture it would be remodeling home to fit with steampunk aesthetic. In my case, today I have an ostrich feather in my hair. It was not sold as a hair clip or anything like that, so by choosing to use it that way, I have done a tiny bit of DIY fashion.

Jim: At Convergence when there was a Steampunk theme, 7,000 people attended. Obviously very popular.

--discussion of steampunk literature as SF about alternate history that never was (see this article about the possibility of Babbage's analytical engine creating Victorian computer age). Victorian England very fraught time and place, full of pollution and other health hazards, with industry completely unfettered. Modern steampunk, especially in fashion, often takes high points and disregards lows. Jake Von Slatt's Steampunk Workshop does a lot of that, imposing romantic Victorian vision on modern convenience, for example: The Steampunk RV.

Maggie: Doesn't see the literature trend fading, so much as changing. Steampunk has opened a new milieu of historical fiction--SF/fantasy no longer limited to modern or medieval. Can explore times in between.

James: So fairyland is allowed to have an industrial revolution.

Jim: Katherine Addison does that in her forthcoming novel, The Goblin Emperor.

James: L. Frank Baum did that with the Oz books. There is a lot of machinery in Oz, and a seamless blending of magic and technology.

Jim: Science fiction is always about today, so makes sense that Baum would write about machines at turn of 20th century. More examples of steampunk in modern culture outside of literature--steampunk ballet in Madison, where Jim lives.

James: There is also the steampunk apartment in New York.

Jim: What is steampunk music? Is there a modern revival or late 19th century music?

Maggie: There is Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band.

Jim: What is literature doing that is new/not new?

Julia: Well, some stuff is specifically challenging the problematic aspects of colonialism and empire. SteamPowered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories anthologies edited by JoSelle Vanderhooft are deliberately digging into the different perspectives. Other stuff can fall into a safer area, fluffy adventure that doesn't really think too much about the grit underneath.

Jim: Give an example?

Julia: Maggie mentioned earlier her Industrial Fantasy, which I think is that sort of thing. One book I read and enjoyed, but would put in the less interrogating and more fluffy adventure category is All Men of Genius by Lev A.C. Rosen. Fun steampunk retelling of The Importance of Being Earnest and Twelfth Night in steampunk version of Victorian London at a school for mad scientists. Handwaves a lot of science--has automatons (very cool), but is not about how they truly work, more about how creepy killer robot army would be. Also doesn't really delve very much into the deeper ramifications of colonialism or classism.

Jim: People don't always want to read about colonialism and classism.

Julia: No, and I'm not saying it's bad to have some fluffy fun books that don't get into that, but I do think it's good to have stuff that acknowledges it, and engages in deeper conversation. I did read and enjoy All Men of Genius. I also often like to come home after a long day and watch a fluffy sitcom, but I don't think that those are usually groundbreaking or boundary-pushing. Sometimes I want a challenging drama which does make me think about things from a different perspective. I'm a complex person, like most everyone else.

Jim: Where does Cherie Priest fit in?

--Some discussion of themes of race/class in Priest's work. Panel agrees it does embrace the punk aspect of Steampunk.

Maggie: Uprising of the masses. Game that touches on this 9as far as she can tell from trailer) is Bioshock Infinite, which plays with political ideas churning at turn of 20th century in USA.

Audience: Is Frankenstein steampunk?

James: Novel is not, but the 1930s films might very well be.

Julia: The novel does come from some of the same roots of simultaneous human fear of and wonder at technological advances.

Jim: Subtitled "a modern Prometheus"--appalled by modern progress. Not a steampunk book.

Maggie: Dealing with Romanticism, and Gothic hero/villain roles. Different track from Steampunk, which tends to be less Gothic, but draws on some of the same roots.

James: Modern at its time--very SFNal because the idea of electricity as spark of life was a very modern notion.

Jim: Jules Verne was having fun with modern ideas and speculation. Shelley wasn't.

James: And Verne was concerned with things that can be built. Two streams of steampunk literature seem to be: 1) real possibilities explored--what if history had gone differently? The Difference Engine is very analytical, and 2) What if all the wacky dreams of science turned out to be true?

And that was time.

I realized later that examples of fun and fluffy steampunk that doesn't much interrogate the time might include Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, and the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies.

Please feel free to share your favorite steampunk things (books, art, fashion, etc.) in the comments! To see more panel notes, click the panel notes tag.
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Boskone Panel Notes: Crowdfunding and a Community of Caring

This panel took place on Saturday at 3pm. I was a bit nervous going in since I was the only panelist who had no experience running a fundraiser, but it turned out that was a good counterpoint because I could speak comfortably as a backer and participant, and I also had relevant questions. The other panelists were all great, and I learned a lot in this panel.

These notes are (as always) incomplete, and not meant to be taken as true transcripts. They're just based on whatever I happened to scribble down during the panel. Please feel free to offer corrections or additions in the comments.

Here's the official blurb:

The SF/F/H community has a long, strong history of supporting its members. Now, with the rise of crowdfunding sites (Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Peerbackers) and our community of caring projects (auctions to help people in need, the World Travelers Fund, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund), we can tap into our community in powerful new ways. Panelists who have conducted successful campaigns share experiences and advice while discussing crowdfunding pros and cons.
Elaine Isaak (M), John Picacio, Julia Rios, Erin Underwood

Elaine Isaak, our fearless moderator, began by asking us to introduce ourselves. Elaine is a fantasy writer with three novels and numerous short stories out. She ran a kickstarter for a project, and it didn't meet its funding goal (oh no!), but she learned a lot in the process. Her website is here.

John Picacio is a successful book cover artist. He was Boskone's Artist Guest of Honor in 2010, and he's won several awards for his artwork. He launched a very successful kickstarter for a calender full of his artwork just a few months ago. His website is here.

Julia Rios is me! I'm a writer, editor, podcaster, and narrator. My experience with crowdfunding is all from the donation side. I've backed a lot of kickstarters, donated to several causes, and offered goods or services for auctions. My website is here.

Erin Underwood is a writer, editor, and publisher. She ran a successful kickstarter for a YA SF anthology, and also had one failed attempt before that. She had a lot of useful tips. Her website is here.

John: His first kickstarter was in November of 2012 for a 2013 calendar. He asked for $12,000 and ended up getting $28,000. Although he's won the World Fantasy and Hugo Awards, and although he's been successful as a book cover artist, he feels times are changing and that in order to keep making enough to sustain himself he needed to investigate new modes of marketing and promotion.

Julia: I've backed a lot of different projects, and also donated to different causes. I think there are two main strains of crowdfunding. The ones that are there to fund the creation of a specific project, and the ones that are there to raise money for a specific cause. For the second kind, there are lots of options apart from Kickstarter, like the online auction of donated goods and services. Right now I am offering a short story critique for the Con or Bust online auction so I can help raise money to send people of color to conventions. [The auction ends Sunday the 24th of February, 2012, so if you want to bid on a critique, there's still time!]

Erin: Her successful Kickstarter was for Futuredaze, an anthology of YA science fiction. The Kickstarter funded in June of 2012. She asked for $1,700 and got $2,600. Futuredaze is available for purchase as of February 2013.

Elaine: Her unsuccessful Kickstarter was for An Author's Grimoire: a manual for fantasy writers. The Kickstarter ran from the end of February to the beginning of April, 2012. She asked for $6,500 and got $2,600.

Erin: Her first experience with crowfunding was actually running an online auction for the Interstitial Arts Foundation. She was overwhelmed by how supportive the community was for that. When she tried her first unsuccessful Kickstarter for Pop Fic Review, though, she asked for $2,000 and got only $18. She realized she had no idea how to reach out and build a community from scratch. The IAF had an established community, which made a giant difference.

John: Going into the summer of 2012, he'd talked to his friend, Lou Anders. Lou suggested a Kickstarter, but John was worried about the stigma of self-marketing. What if people thought he was desperate and a failure? But then he won the Hugo Award in September, and that was enough outside validation that he decided to brave the Kickstarter. Budgets for book covers are starting to disappear, and he worries about getting enough work, not because publisher don't like his work, but because they're tightening budgets. The market is changing, so he has to change, too. Even now that the Kickstarter was wildly successful, he admits he still worries sometimes about the potential stigma, though.

[Edited to add: John notes that I have his reasons for worrying wrong here. I was basing them on very sketchy notes, and projecting what I have heard other people worry about in the context of self-publishing vs. publishing with a large publishing house. John says:

I don't remember saying the word "desperate" or "failure" in reference to my career prospects, or that I was worried about getting jobs. That seems off-key? What I did feel going into Kickstarter is the possibility of diminished credibility because most of my work has been done through traditional publishing thoroughfares, and I've worked years to earn that credibility. I wasn't sure if doing KS would subvert that cred, and therefore wasn't sure if I was a good fit for the platform. The truth, much to my relief, is it hasn't been a problem at all, and in fact, my cred has been part of the foundation of my KS success so far.

As far as getting jobs, I'm in a great position and I'm constantly offered cover gigs, but what I was telling the audience was I worry about the next generation of artists, and what their prospects will be. Even though I'm in a good position right now and the market wants what I do, I also believe in not being content or feeling like I'm in a safe position. So using Kickstarter to build my own creator-owned brand is part of my new equation for being diverse in a shifting marketplace. But if I gave the impression that I was worried about being broke or jobless tomorrow -- no, that's not the case at all.

Sorry for the misrepresentation! This is what I mean when I say these panel notes are ALWAYS incomplete and likely full of errors. --Julia Rios, 22 February, 2013]

Audience: One member is here because she wants has founded a charitable organization. Gentle Hugs 4 Paws hopes to give companion animals to people who live with chronic pain. The founder is hoping to run an auction of items like signed books at some point in the future. Donations are welcome any time.

Panel: Agrees that this is a cool idea.

Audience: Another audience member is upset about the lack of access for disabled people at science fiction conventions and wants to kickstart a project to make hotels and conventions more accessible.

Erin: This is a great idea. The next step is to come up with a clear and measurable goal. One thing she learned in her Kickstarters is that the potential backers need a clear concept and solid end goal to grab onto. What is the next step in this plan? Does the audience member want to start an advocacy group? Does the audience member hope to raise funds for pamphlets or other literature to raise awareness?

John: Agrees with Erin that the cause is great, but also that having a solid concept for backers is important. He did the calendar kickstarter to raise funds so he could produce a deck of Loteria cards, but when he did the calendar Kickstarter, he didn't mention the Loteria project. He focused on the smaller project, and then put his profits into the Loteria project after the fact.

Elaine: Going back to what John said about the market changing for creators, she muses that Kickstarters may replace advances in the future. Advantage of traditional publishing: you send book, and they send money. In indie publishing, you have to raise the funds to create the book before you can send it out.

John: You do get to keep your rights with indie projects, but then there's the question of how you let people know your work exists. Not just for the life of the Kickstarter, but indefinitely.

Elaine: What makes you back a project?

Julia: Well, for the causes, it's a case of a) do I support this cause, and b) do I have any money right now. For projects, it's a case of a) do I want this particular thing to exist? and b) do I have money right now? If yes, for projects, I consider it kind of like a pre-order. Many projects have a backer reward level which includes the item, so I usually sign up at that level. Since I know my contribution alone will not fund the project, the other thing I do is tell others, "Hey, look at this neat thing! I want it to exist! If you do, too, consider backing it!"

Erin: Friend everyone! Fostering community is essential, and if you lay that groundwork, you'll have a much better chance of succeeding when you apply to that community to back your project. Also, Facebook was a ke instrument in the success of her Futuredaze Kickstarter.

John: Has always felt that he should say something once and then shut up, but you really can't with a Kickstarter. You need to promote it a lot if you want people to pay attention and back it.

Julia: There is a big difference between just saying, "Back my project!" over and over, and engaging ith your audience, though. I get really annoyed by constant repeat notices. I don't mind when they are showing me interesting things or asking for audience input, though.

John: Yes, this is helpful. When he did the calendar Kickstarter, he put some process type stuff out there, like sketches, etc.

Erin: Did interviews with people about YA SF, and that was offering interesting content instead of just saying, "Buy my anthology."

John: For products, it's important to move away from "Please support me!" and toward "Here is a cool thing I would like to make for you!" Show backers what their money will buy them.

[Speaker not listed in notes]: Travis Heermann wrote a story in the world of his novels as a bonus stretch goal in his successful Kickstarter. He asked for $4,000 and got $6,000.

Erin: For things like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), backers know they are going to help a specific person stay out of jail.

Julia: But they also raise that money by doing things like online auctions of rare Neil Gaiman manuscripts and things. Some people will give out of the goodness of their hearts, but it never hurts to entice them with stuff that they really want to have.

--Some discussion of different options for fundraising. Kickstarter is big one, but there is also Indiegogo, which allows for the option of setting a goal, but keeping the money donated even if you don't reach that goal.

On the non-product side, there are also multiple options.
*Many causes in the past have used LiveJournal communities to hose auctions.
*The CBLDF has used E-Bay for online auctions.
*Con Or Bust uses its own website.
*The World SF Travel Fund uses Peerbackers.
*The Sequence a Science Fiction Writer fundraiser to sequence Jay Lake's DNA used You Caring.

John: One thing you should think about is how you are going to fulfill your orders. He often has workdays that start at 5am and go till 11pm. Where is the time to fill orders in that schedule? Luckily his wife, Tara, was there to help him with that aspect of it. Important to plan for helpers, or for another alternative.

[Edited to add: John notes in the comments that Tara is not his wife. Oops! My apologies. --Julia Rios 22 February, 2013]

Elaine: It's important to think about when you'll be able to produce work. A solid timeline is good, and it's also good to think about scale (how many can you reasonably make?) and the cost of shipping. Also, think about types of rewards you offer. Mugs might sound like cool rewards, but they are expensive to produce and to ship, so they may not be practical.

Erin: Used to run order processing for software company. Did all her own administrative work, and did a good job, but still didn't think of everything. Did not account for international shipping being much higher than domestic shipping. It meant she took a loss on every international order. Since then she has noticed people having specific international backer levels with higher shipping factored into the price.

Audience: Is a game designer, and wonders how to deal with limited production runs.

Elaine: One option is to create a stretch goal, and say if you reach that, you'll make more copies. Your base goal should be enough to fund your limited run, but if there's demand, you can effectively use the stretch goal to meet it. One thing you need is a video!

John: Yes! Really didn't want to make a video, but people told him he needed to, and it really helped bring backers in.

Erin: Her video was just powerpoint slides, but it still helped. Need visual component so people can see what they're backing.

Julia: What are some of the mistakes that you made in your unsuccessful attempts? Or common mistakes you see others making?

Erin: Your minimum should be the absolute minimum of what would make the project worthwhile to you. If you need $5,000 to make it happen, but you'd like $10,000, ask for $5,000 and make the stretch goal $10,000. Otherwise, the project might not happen at all.

John: This is a key reason why he didn't use Kickstarter for his Loteria project. It would be too much expense, and he worried e would not meet his funding goal. There will be a Loteria Kickstarter later, but he'll be able to ask for less money than he would have at first because some of the funding came in from the calendar's sales.

Elaine: Spent a lot of time thinking about how much to ask for, and it ultimately ended up being too much for the backer based. If she'd had time and money from other sources, she might have been able to ask for less.

About incentives, Tobias Buckell said not to have more than 4 reward levels, because too many options confuse backers. However, Elaine learned that it would have been a good idea to have a backer level from the start for people like family and friends who just wanted to support her personally and didn't want her product.

Erin: It's very important to do regular, honest updates.

Elaine: Offers two great resources for people who are looking into this type of fundraising.
*Hacking Kickstarter is a giant tutorial explaining exactly how one project raised $100,000 in 10 days.
*Kicking It: Successful Crowdfunding is an e-book by Shanna Germain and Monte Cook, both of whom have had successful crowdfunding projects.

That was the end of the panel. To see more panel notes, click the panel notes tag. I will post the last two panels I have notes for (Steampunk and Podcasting) by the end of the weekend.
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Boskone Panel Notes: The Changing Face of SF -- Editorial Viewpoints

This panel happened on Saturday at noon. My notes are pretty incomplete, but I tried to write down key points and book titles. Please feel free to offer additions or corrections in the comments.

Here's the official blurb:

If you want the widest possible view of the ever-evolving science fiction landscape, ask a bunch of editors to tell you what's really happening. (And who, and why.) So we did.
Jim Frenkel (M), Ellen Asher, Shahid Mahmud, Beth Meacham, Julia Rios

Jim Frenkel is a senior editor at Tor. He has over 35 years of experience in the publishing field.

Ellen Asher was the editor-in-chief for the Science Fiction Book Club for 34 years (1973-2007).

Shahid Mahmud runs the small press, Phoenix Pick. He is also the publisher for the forthcoming online magazine, Galaxy's Edge (edited by Mike Resnick).

Beth Meacham is also a senior editor at Tor. She, like Jim, has been working in the publishing industry for over 35 years.

Julia Rios is me. I'm one of the three fiction editors at Strange Horizons, an online magazine of SF and fantasy. Strange Horizons has been publishing free fiction online since 2000, but the entire fiction editing team changed in 2012, so this is my first year as an editor.

Jim: Begins panel by reading blurb, and talking for a few minutes about trends.

-- Jim edited Infernal Devices by K. W. Jeter (the first novel to be called steampunk) in 1986. Steampunk is a big trend now, but goes back to Jules Verne. Jim notes that Cherie Priest is a great author who wrote several very good novels that didn't get much public recognition, then had a breakthrough with Boneshaker, which is steampunk. Not sure why that was the breakthrough, but steampunk definitely seems to be a trend.

Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance are two similar subgenres. Both trendy right now.

The New Space Opera is another trend, and Jim mentions Alastair Reynolds and then jokes that all the authors seem to be Scottish.

Ellen: Points out one really big change in SF is that it's now a popular mainstream thing. Back int he day there was Doubleday publishing hardcovers for libraries, and then there were mass market paperbacks, mostly for youngsters, and adults who seemed not to have grown up. SF was looked down upon by mainstream. Books like 1984 were "not SF" because they were considered to be good, and SF couldn't possibly be good.

Julia: We're seeing a lot more e-books and online magazines now.

Beth (I think): Newsweek no longer publishes a print edition, for instance.

Jim (I think): Talks about a quote by J.G. Ballard that stayed up in the Tor office for a long time. "Far from being a small, obscure offshoot of lit, SF will be the mainstream of lit in the 21st century." [I can't find a source for this, and am not sure I have it right.]

Shahid: We live in the future, so this influences SF authors and makes them push the envelope. He is also seeing a lot of cross-genre stuff right now.

Ellen: Literature seems to be evolving back to the 19th century when genres weren't separated.

Jim: Brings up alternate history, and notes that a lot of steampunk is alternate history. Books like Pavane and Bring the Jubilee ask what might have happened if something had gone differently in history.

Ellen: Interesting thing about history is not just what happened when, but why? Can examine that in SF through tracing a different path.

A lot of SF is more Biologically based now, like Blood Music by Greg Bear. There's a shift away from space travel to science we see changing a lot on Earth because now we have hit some limits on space travel within our lifetime, so some of the things that seemed possible 60 years ago seem less plausible now.

Beth: Literature pretends to be about the future, but is actually about today. SF writers don't pretend to predict future. SF has always been about social commentary.

Julia: But at the same time there is a definite history, especially in the magazines of the 30s, of people specifically asking authors to try to imagine and predict the future in SF, so as to inspire people to invent that technology.

Jim: We can explore social issues on a secondary world without upsetting people.

--discussion of dystopian novels and disaster novels. Paolo Bacigalupi dealing with climate change, and Cory Doctorow with security and oppression. Charles Stross and Vernor Vinge are also mentioned.

Jim: SF has always been political. H.G. Wells was a socialist.

Julia: This goes way back. Rabelais was commenting on the French monarchy in Gargantua and Pantagruel, for instance.

Audience asks what the next big trends will be.

Jim: That's impossible to predict.

Julia: probably good to keep in mind that if it's already in the movie theatres, the trend is probably at its peak or past peak, whatever it is. What are some specific recent or forthcoming titles the other editors are excited about?

Jim: Billy Moon: 1968 by Douglas Lain, a magical realist novel about A.A. Milne's son.

Beth: David Brin's novel, Existence. A first contact novel.

Jim: Thieves' Quarry by D.B. Jackson, a fantasy mystery novel set in Boston.

Beth: Elizabeth Bear's Eternal Sky books. Secondary world epic fantasy in a non-western setting.

Shahid: Robert Silverberg's Born With the Dead (expansion in collaboration with Damien Broderick) is forthcoming. Also very excited about the Stellar Guild series, all available through Phoenix Pick. Stellar Guild is a POD (print on demand) series by established authors. Shahid may be first person to publish Larry Niven as POD.

Beth: Suggests it might be more profitable to take pre-orders and do an initial print run before settling on POD.

[Speaker not listed in notes]: Mad Scientists' Guide to World Domination.

And that's all I've got. For more panel notes, click the panel notes tag. I will be posting more in the next day or so. I still have Steampunk, Crowdfunding, and Podcasting to write up.
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Boskone Panel Notes: "The Paper Menagerie:" Anatomy of a Winning Story

This was the only panel I managed to attend without being a panelist. I was really curious to hear what the panelists would have to say about why they thought this story appealed to so many people, and what in general made a story award worthy. The panel went in a different direction than I expected, but it was still fascinating. I love the story, and I have been very interested in seeing the various love, hate, and meh reactions to it from others.

If you haven't already read the story, I recommend doing that before reading these notes. They might not make a lot of sense otherwise. You can read it free online at io9, or listen free at PodCastle.

These notes are not complete, but merely whatever I hastily scrawled down at the time. Please feel free to offer additions or corrections in the comments.

Okay, here's the official blurb:

Ken Liu's 2011 short story "Paper Menagerie" is the first fiction to win all three of SF's major honors: the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards. Let's all read it beforehand, then talk. How does it do what it does? What makes a story so popular? What makes a story great?
Theodora Goss (M), S. C. Butler, Elizabeth Bear

Theodora Goss is the author of The Thorn and the Blossom, and many other stories and poems. She won the World Fantasy Award in 2008 for her short story, "The Singing of Mount Abora".

S.C. Butler
is the author of the Stoneways Trilogy (Reiffen’s Choice, Queen Ferris, and The Magicians’ Daughter).

Elizabeth Bear is the author of many novels and short stories. Her most recent novel is Range of Ghosts (a sequel is coming out in March!), and she's won two Hugo Awards for short fiction (for "Tideline" in 2008 and "Shoggoths in Bloom" in 2009), and one Hugo Award in the fancast category for the SF Squeecast.

Butler: Personally feels it is harder to write short stories than novels.

Bear: There's no room for white space in short stories.

Goss: What are panelists experiences with this story? She hadn't read it until assigned to moderate panel. Made her cry. Feeling and intense and complex emotional response while also trying to decide to how to talk about it intellectually was a very interesting experience. Also felt this story might have easily been published in a mainstream literary venue.

Bear: Read originally because it was nominated for the Hugo, and she wanted to do her due diligence before voting. Read it again before this panel. On the first read, she found the main character too unsympathetic, but on the second read she felt the main character was an intentionally unreliable narrator, and also possibly more forgivable because he was a teenager.

Butler: Didn't like the story. Beautiful on the sentence level, but felt the end was giant info dump, and also didn't think the story felt like fantasy. Because of that, the magic threw him out of the story, and the characters' reaction to magic felt untrue to him. The other boy should have been intrigued at the magic existing, or, if magic was just normal in that world, there should not have been magic at all.

Bear: Thought it seemed to be coming out of the Magical Realism tradition, where magic is something that happens and is generally accepted by characters.

Goss: Skipped over any feeling that reaction was untrue because they were kids, and kids accept a lot of weird things.

Butler: David Hartwell says that Literary world doesn't understand that in SF and Fantasy, we take things literally. [This note is not entirely clear, and I might have gotten it wrong. If anyone has a source, please feel free to share it.]

Goss: Came from an immigrant family, so this story spoke to her because magic was part of the Old World (in this case, China), and not part of New World life. As child of parents who escaped from communist Hungary, this difference between things from Old World and New World resonated, but she also felt a little worried about the idea that the mother was the magical Other. [Similar usage to magical negro, I think.]

Bear: Also not sure how to feel about it. Also from immigrant family, but not first or even second generation American. Parents both born here, grandparents not all born here. Both parents completely assimilated and the only traditions they still have are food-related. Bear had to look for and research her heritage, and so this spoke to her because the main character was a first generation American trying so hard to assimilate, and only later realizing he'd lost something really important because of that. That realization of the loss made him more sympathetic on second reading (and also the feeling really bad about being a dick to his mother).

Butler: Didn't see that. Felt narrator completely reliable and just a total dick. Only had sympathy for mother.

Bear: Felt the story was infused with regret.

Goss: It seems to be told from the boy's perspective, but it's really told from her perspective.

Bear: Agrees.

Goss: Ending sad because boy doesn't have magic she could have taught him, and cannot reach her now.

Bear: That's ambiguous. There's some suggestion that she may be able to come back to him.

Butler: Read it as she would only come back in letters. Opportunity irrevocably lost. Didn't feel main character really understood that loss at end.

Bear: His writing her letter is indicative of trying to make amends.

Goss: She did have a full life.

Butler: A horrible life!

Bear: But she had agency.

Butler: Would rather have happiness than agency.

Goss: In terms of understanding where I came from, took until I had kids to start seeing. When did it happen for you?

Bear: Still working on it.

Butler: Had atypical upbringing. Never rebelled. Always loved and respected parents. Not sure when family came here, but many generations ago. Very secure in American background. Maybe that's why cannot feel sympathy for main character, and only for mother. She's had a hard life and he had it easy. He should recognize that and respect her.

Goss: What did you think about the father?

Bear: He was a non-entity. Not in a narrative sense, but in a human sense. He was not an engaged parent.

Goss: Found him deeply problematic for not supporting his wife.

Butler: He married his wife in spite of her not being what he expected, which signaled that he was a good guy, but then no.

Bear: He seemed more like a "path of least resistance" guy.

Goss: Thought he really did fall in love with her, but then why did he have to move them to suburbia where she would have a really hard time. It was a horrible place. Very 1950s.

Butler: Not realistic suburbia.

Audience: Felt it was very realistic.

Bear: Irish grandmother got crap for welcoming black family to neighborhood.

Goss: Saw this in her childhood in Bethesda, Maryland in the 1970s.

Bear: Felt the story suffered from the Brokeback Mountain problem. This family would have been much better off in New York City.

Goss: Seriously, why did the dad move them there?

Butler: Really felt end too infodumpy.

Bear: Ken is early career author.

Goss: So why did it win all the awards?

Bear: There are no perfect stories. All stories have flaws.

Butler: Disagrees.

Goss: Maybe Borges, but that's more like poetry.

Butler: Then it doesn't count. If it's poetry, it's poetry and not a story. Saki wrote some perfect stories.

Goss: We tend to reward stories that are literary and fit uncomfortably into genre. Pushes boundary.

Butler: This story felt very conventional, not boundary-pushing at all.

Goss: Maybe for a literary story...

Bear: But this is a genre award...

Butler: So why hasn't Charlie Stross won? [Charlie Stross has won the Hugo twice, actually. Both times in the novella category for "The Concrete Jungle" and "Palimpsest".]

Bear: This story pushed some cultural boundaries by being by an Asian author and about Asian identity. Similar to women being recognized in 70s. Now people are starting to read and recognize people of color. Aliette de Bodard and E. Lily Yu are two more Asian SF writers gaining recognition right now. It's not that there haven't always been people of color writing SF, but right now we're starting to pay more attention.

Goss: Ted Chiang came before.

Bear: He may have paved the way for these guys.

Audience: You don't know if this is really magic, so how is it fantasy?

Bear: Have you read Among Others by Jo Walton? It won Hugo and Nebula, and in the structure of the narrative, it is entirely possible that the narrator is simply suffering from undiagnosed schizophrenia.

Audience: Jo said in interview on io9 that the magic is not metaphorical.

Panel: Yes, but trust the art, not the artist. In the narrative, it is never made clear.

Butler: What is Slan or Heinlein if not the same story as this?

Bear: In those, outsiders turn out to be special. This is the story of the put-upon, ostracized person who realizes he's been a bad person and blew it. It's a more mature perspective, and a commentary on Slan type stories.

Butler: Thinks people voting for these awards today are more well-read in mainstream literary fiction.

--Discussion of whether or not Le Guin is mainstream literary. Butler says no. Goss says yes, and she has explicitly written non-SF for literary mainstream venues. Butler says she's doing it "from our side" unlike others who are not like Michael Chabon, Doris Lessing, Walter Mosley, and Karen Russell. Those authors seem to be occupying a middle space between "our side" and "their side".

Goss: Ken's story is more conventional than Karen Russell, who is writing more experimental mainstream literary fiction.

Bear: My experience with awards is that success comes with stories that are somewhat conventional, but throw in an edgy element. "Shoggoths in Bloom" was Lovecraft pastiche, but with a black protagonist. Written because Bear was pissed off at Lovecraft.

Audience: Have to consider what else was up that year. Maybe competition was really weak. [Seriously, WTF?]

Butler: That's a judgment you're making that others might not make. [SRSLY]

Audience: Wonders if this story can't be read as triumph of mundane over the fantastic.

Goss: Mundane may have won, but did it triumph? What does reader want at end? Want Connecticut, or magic?

Bear: Agrees, and notes that we have enough strong reactions to story that we can argue vigorously for an hour.

Butler: Narrator uses same wording to describe selling himself to corporation as he used to describe mother selling herself to father. Indicates not a triumph.

Goss: This is a sign of regret. The origami is described beautifully, which is a sign of triumph.

Bear: I have such a crush on the tiger!

Butler: I want the shark!

Bear: Of note: all the origami is made of mundane stuff like used wrapping paper.

And that was the end of the panel time.

To see more panel notes, click on the Panel Notes tag. This is the second Boskone panel I have written up in 2013. I have notes for a few more, and will try to get them posted in the next day or so.
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Boskone Panel Notes: Mythology in SF

Okay! I am putting all my panel notes from this weekend up one panel at a time. This is Mythology in SF, which was Friday at 8pm. These are not transcripts, but incomplete notes I hastily scribbled down. Please feel free to offer additions or corrections in the comments.

Here's the official blurb:

How have myths and fables from our past affected SF writers' development of fictitious off-world or future-world mythology? Are most of their myth systems just the old stuff dressed up with different names, or is anybody coming up with anything truly new? Does a mere hint of myth make an SF story a fantasy?
Julia Rios (M), Debra Doyle, Greer Gilman, Margaret Ronald

Debra Doyle co-writes books with her husband, Jim Macdonald, and had stayed up until 5am Friday morning finishing a novel. They have a website here, and they are both instructors at Viable Paradise (they were two of my instructors when I attended in 2009, in fact).

Greer Gilman
writes fantasy which is very mythic, and she won the Tiptree Award in 2010 for her novel, Cloud and Ashes. Her website is here.

Margaret Ronald is the author of an urban fantasy trilogy set in Boston (Spiral Hunt, Wild Hunt, and Soul Hunt), and which draws heavily on mythic themes. Her website is here.

Mostly our output tends to be fantasy, but we all like to read science fiction. Doyle has used myth in science fiction in the Mageworlds series. Maggie has written some SF short stories.

Julia: How have myths from the past influenced and affected SF writers? Why is myth so attractive?

Greer: This has a very long history. We mapped the heaves with myth. Constellations have mythical stories attached to them. Stories are a way of mapmaking.

Doyle: Myth can be really useful in establishing structure.

Maggie: One of her favorite books is The Snow Queen by Joan Vinge, which is hard SF, but uses the Snow Queen and the White Goddess for theme and structure.

Greer: SF can thrie on the tension between familiar stories and alien experiences and environments.

Doyle: Rocannon's World by Ursula K. Le Guin is a great example of using myth in SF.

Greer: "Semley's Necklace" (the short story which opens that book) -- We have taken alien object and put it it museum. Aliens come back to reclaim. [I am not entirely sure how this tied into the discussion, but at the time is made perfect sense.] Tolkien said Christianity story gets told over and over, so must have truly happened once.

Maggie: Terry Pratchett uses myth to great effect, but that's really getting into fantasy.

Doyle: All of this keeps coming back to Earth cultures and people fighting in real life because they misunderstand each others' myths. Recommendation for Mr. Bligh's Bad Language

Julia: Where is the line between fantasy and SF? Are there examples of truly alien myths, or are they all just our myths retold?

Maggie: Tried to play with alien myth in thinking about the world of "Salvage" (short story in Beneath Ceaseless Skies). Thought a lot about what sort of creation myths robots would tell themselves.

Greer: It's hard to write completely alien mythology because how could humans understand it?

Doyle: John M. Ford might have tried... If you are going to write this stuff from the inside, you have to believe it while you're writing it. Lovecraft may have done a good job of imagining truly alien, but it made people lose their minds.

Julia: One example of really alien-feeling creatures are the lobsters in Charlie Stross's story that later because the beginning of Accelerando. But I'm not sure what myths they might have.

Maggie: Lots of aliens seem to be pulled from myth.

Greer: Out of the Silent Planet -- Different perspective, but empirical presence (so that makes is somewhat familiar). But that doesn't explore the question of what the aliens would tell each other.

Maggie: In Old Man's War by John Scalzi, there's an alien race who have a myth that a planet will be redeemed by battle.

Greer: Bradbury's Martians are inversions of humans.

Doyle: Aliens as fairies.

Audience: For elves in space, what about Poul Anderson's Selenites?

Audience: For robot mythology, there's a webcomic called Freefall where robots believe if God is omnipotent, then all religions must be true.

Audience: For alien myth, Zelazny.

[Speaker not listed in notes]: A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge has echoes of The Ant and the Grasshopper.

Greer: Michael Swanwick has a story called "Mother Grasshopper", where the planet is actually a giant grasshopper.

Audience: Don't need to go into space to find alien SF. Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun has the dying sun--very alien, but on Earth.

Audience: Battle Star Galactica has aliens who seem more familiar to today's societal norms than the humans. Humans there are more open and Cylons are monotheistic and very conservative.

[Speaker not listed in notes]: Zelazny, Lord of Light [illegible] Zeus in space...

Maggie: Vorlons in Babylon 5 use myth to manipulate people and get what they want.

Audience: Fantasy, but alien feeling: Lord Dunsany's The Gods of Pegana.

Audience: Poul Anderson's "Goat Song" is an SFnal retelling of the Orpheus myth.

Greer: Stories of opposition between science and myth.

Maggie: "The Nine Billion Names of God" is a good example of that.

Doyle: Also by Arthur C. Clarke, "The Star".

Julia: So where is the line between SF and fantasy? Is there one? Is Science Fantasy a thing?

All panelists: We hate lines. It's all genre.

Doyle: It really frustrates SF authors if you tell them that SF is just fantasy where scientific method is the going mythology. Hard SF is like the ultra orthodox, pure form of genre faith. [Whole room laughs.]

Greer: And we're a literary UU. [More laughter.]

Maggie: Heard Doyle at a previous Boskone say that SF or fantasy depends on book covers. Rocket? SF. Holy Grail? Fantasy.

Audience: What makes a myth creditable/publishable?

Maggie: Have to believe it would be told again and again.

Greer: Stories are maps. Good ones get used.

Maggie: On a more meta level, depends where they are in the overall story. If they come early and seem too much like on the nose foreshadowing, it can be hard to believe in them.

Greer: Real mythologies are not consistent.

Julia: Sita Sings the Blues is a great example of this. The movie itself has some problematic aspects because it's a white American woman using another culture's mythology to process her breakup, but it also has beautiful art, and these fantastic interludes where she gets a group of Indian people to talk about what happens next in the story. There are lots of overlapping voices saying things like, "In the version I know..." and, "Wait, I thought this happened..."

Audience: Do you see many authors using mythology to make aliens understandable to humans (like Klingons having culture of honor, for instance)?

Maggie: One way to understand a person is to ask them to tell a story about themselves.

Audience: Jane Yolen is an example of an author who lets you have different versions of myth. Some of her stories end multiple ways. She writes in the text things like, "Some people say it ended this way, and some people say this happened..." She doesn't tell you the One True Ending.

Audience: Neal Stephenson deals with myth and religion from the perspective of a computer nerd. Star Wars, by contrast, is ostensibly SF, but feels very Jungian. Do panelists have examples of SF that feels like fantasy or vice versa?

Audience: There's no reason SF has to feel more cerebral than fantasy, really.

Julia: First SF-feeling fantasy that leapt to mind was Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Very strongly rooted in myth and the fantastic, but also has very academic and technical magic system, and felt cerebral. SF doesn't necessarily have to feel cerebral, but apparently my brain thinks of it that way.

Greer: Le Guin's Author of the Acacia Seeds is a good example of an alien trying to tell its story.

And we were out of time.

For other panels, click the Panel Notes tag. I will be writing up others in the next day or so.

Bloodchildren Signal Boost

This is something I learned about at Arisia. It sounds wonderful.

Originally posted by oracne at Bloodchildren Signal Boost
Bloodchildren, an electronic anthology of stories by the Octavia E. Butler Scholars, is now available!

Includes eleven original stories by recipients of the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship (2007 through 2012), plus a reprint of "Speech Sounds" by the scholarship's namesake, Octavia E. Butler. This anthology also includes a brief memoir of Butler by her Clarion classmate Vonda N. McIntyre and an introduction by Nalo Hopkinson. It's edited by Nisi Shawl, published by the Carl Brandon Society (the administrator of the Butler Scholarship Fund) and available at Book View Cafe.

Nisi Shawl is reviews editor for The Cascadia Subduction Zone, a member of the Clarion West board of directors, and a founding member of the Carl Brandon Society, which administers the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund. Her collection Filter House won the 2009 James Tiptree, Jr. Award.

January 22, 2013 $8.01 ISBN: 978-1-61138-237-2

You can learn more about the scholarship fund, and how to contribute, here.