[cancer] Being there, at the Nebulas
So, the Nebs. I’m still processing a lot, specifically in the context of my cancer journey. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m going on my farewell tour these days. Which is essentially true, barring some extremely unexpected developments. Even if I hang on past the current prognosis, I’ll either be wrapped in the misery of treatment or I’ll be wrapped in the misery of my terminal decline. I don’t expect to travel again much if ever after this summer. That means that while it’s reasonably possible I’ll still be alive at the time of next year’s Nebula Awards Weekend, it’s highly improbable I could attend.
Everyone who knows me knows this, too.
I received an amazing amount of well wishing. Almost all of it was delivered tactfully. I got to have worthwhile conversations with most of the people present whom I know personally. I got to see a lot of a few people, and a little of a lot of people. I had hella fun, as did my family and friends. But all of those memories are overlain by sadness.
At least I lived long enough to go as one of the nominees. This is something I’m quite proud of. And it was very gratifying to be able to give Aliette de Bodard her well-earned short story Nebula.
But beyond that rather pointless melancholy, I can’t yet tell you what it means. I can only tell you I was present, at this time my life.
Sometimes that’s enough.
Posted: 6:34 am Mon May 20 2013 | Comments(16) |
[conventions|photos] My day two of the Nebula Awards Weekend
Yesterday was my second and final day at the Nebula Awards weekend. Not to bury the lede, the award in my ballot category of Best Novella went to the excellent Nancy Kress for After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall.
My parents and the_child were there, along with my Aunt B— and Uncle L— from Texas.
Dad and Mom
Jersey Girl, Dad, Me, Mom
There was a comic convention going on next door, so some crossover happened.
These are not the SF writers you are looking for
Still we had fun.
Me and Jersey Girl, who’d never attended an SF event before
And though I did not win, I got to give away the Best Short Story Nebula to a charmingly shocked Aliette de Bodard.
I’ll post more later about the emotional experience of this weekend, and how it has intersected with my illness. For now, suffice to say I had an amazingly good time. My family was pretty happy to be there. My thanks to chair Dave Gallaher, SFWA President John Scalzi, and everyone who worked so hard to make this all come together as fantastically well as it did.
Photos © 2013 N. Schaadt and others. All rights reserved, reproduced with permission. As usual, more at the Flickr set.
Posted: 5:31 am Sun May 19 2013 | Comments(19) |
[conventions|photos] My day one of the Nebula Awards Weekend
Yesterday, Jersey Girl in Portland flew down to San Jose. We ran into Richard Lovett on the plane, and shared a cab to the convention hotel. Once there, the afternoon became a blur of old friends and new that I couldn’t possibly do a sane job of listing. At the author signing, I was seated between John Scalzi and Joe Haldeman, with Connie Willis and Stephen Gould on the far end, safely out of range from me. Signing was busy and a lot of fun
DNA transfer between myself and John Scalzi
After the signing, Jersey Girl and I went to dinner with C.E. Petit, Catherine Shaffer, and the Locus crew, led by the indomitable Liza Trombi, along with Francesca Myman, Tim Pratt and Heather Shaw.
DNA transfer between myself and Francesca Myman of Locus while Catherine Shaffer looks on approvingly in the background
Post-dinner, we hit the reception at which the Nebula nominee certificates and pins are handed out, along with drinks and photography. It was fun to stand with Aliette de Bodard, Ken Liu and Lawrence Schoen. We were only missing Nancy Kress. And I am in awe of both Aliette and Ken for their across the board strength on the award ballots this year.
(Most of) the Best Novella ballot lining up to be photographed for the later restraining order
Eventually I retired early for a crappy night’s sleep.
Today my parents show up, as does my aunt and uncle, as does the_child. My profound thanks to Crystal Black for making her trip possible. Plus a ton more friends.
Tomorrow, I am off to Rio Hondo at the crack of doom.
Photos © 2013 N. Schaadt. All rights reserved, reproduced with permission. As usual, more at the Flickr set.
Posted: 6:33 am Sat May 18 2013 | Comments(41) |
[writing|travel] Off to the Nebs, then Rio Hondo
Yesterday Lisa Costello departed for New Mexico, where she is attending a conference in Santa Fe. This morning, Jersey Girl in Portland and I skedaddle to San Jose for SFWA’s Nebula Awards Weekend. My Dad and (step)Mom will be there tomorrow, as will my Aunt B— and Uncle L— from Texas. the_child also flies down to San Jose tomorrow to attend the Nebula Awards banquet and ceremony with the able assistance of Crystal Black.
I’ll do some socializing and maybe some business whilst in San Jose, then I’ll have the fun of watching myself lose the Nebula. Let’s put it this way: I don’t even have an acceptance speech prepared. In the extremely unlikely event that I win, I’ll wing it. Luckily for both me and my potential audience, I am ferociously good at winging it.
Crack of Sunday, I light out for New Mexico my own self. This trip is completely unrelated to Lisa’s, as I am heading for Rio Hondo, but our automobile will pause whilst passing through Santa Fe on the way from Albuquerque to Taos for us to have a snack and visit with Lisa, who by amusing coincidence will still be there. After that, I’m for a week at Rio Hondo. (I’m not sure about the connectivity at Rio Hondo, so blogging may be erratic next week.)
All in all, a very good ten days or so coming up.
Posted: 4:50 am Fri May 17 2013 | Comments(19) |
[events] JayFest sponsored by Powell’s Books
Mark your calendars! Powell’s Books will be hosting JayFest, a group signing and book fair in support of, well, me.
DATE: Thursday, June 13, 2013 (two days before JayCon XIII)
TIME: Book fair 6:00-9:00 pm, group signing 7:00-8:00 pm
PLACE: Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing in Beaverton, Oregon
Authors in attendance will include David D. Levine, Phyllis Irene Radford, Devon Monk, Barb and J. C. Hendee, Shannon Page, Mark Ferrari, J. A. Pitts, M. K. Hobson, Diana Pharaoh Francis, and Tina Connolly.
Ten percent of the proceeds for each book sold during the book fair will go to the Clayton Memorial Medical Fund, which helps professional science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery writers living in the Pacific Northwest states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska deal with the financial burden of medical expenses.
Please see http://www.powells.com/events/5348/ for more information and updates.
Posted: 4:42 am Fri May 17 2013 | Comments(16) |
[awards] 2013 Locus Awards Finalists
Our friends at Locus have posted their list of 2013 Locus Awards Finalists. Congratulations and good luck to all the finalists, including the many friends of mine who are on the list.
I am pleased and proud to note that my Asimov’s novella, “The Stars Do Not Lie”, is on this ballot. That makes the third award nomination for this work, as it is already on the final ballot for both the Nebula and Hugo awards for Best Novella. If you’ve not yet read the piece, Asimov’s is currently hosting it as a free download here.
By many measures, this has been my most successful piece of fiction ever. It has received multiple Year’s Best reprints, a fair amount of positive critical attention, and now a trifecta of award nominations. Like most writers, I am always surprised at which piece of my work do well, but this is a story I like a great deal, and so seeing it succeed in the world beyond even my high expectations is a great deal of fun.
Though I’d love to take home an award (or three), the magic has already happened. Given the trajectory of my life and health, I’m lucky to see this year of recognition for my work. I’ll be at the Nebula Awards Weekend, I’ll be at the Locus Awards Weekend, and health permitting, I’ll be at Worldcon in San Antonio for the Hugo Awards Ceremony.
So thank you. Thank you for reading the story, thank you for writing it, and thank you for supporting it. It doesn’t matter what happens at the ceremonies. I’ve already won the prize that counts.
Posted: 5:28 am Thu May 09 2013 | Comments(29) |
[cancer] Scanxiety, like paranoia, strikes deep
This morning I am going in for the CT scan to confirm what we know from the recent bloodwork. This will be the test that drives tomorrow’s oncology consultation. From which I fairly reasonably expect to receive my terminal diagnosis.
In other words, I feel like I’m going before a firing squad. CT scans always make me very uptight, even when we have no specific reason to expect bad news. That’s where my stress is focus and inflected. My state of mind can best be described as ‘scanxiety’.
In that vein, my trip to San Diego was awesome. Gaslight Gathering took excellent care of me, kept me very entertained, and (mostly) out of the cancer headspace. Except for about the last ninety minutes, I loved being there the entire time.
In that last ninety minutes, I nearly lost my shit at the airport.
Those of you who know me in real life know that I place a very high value on being kind, polite and pleasant. I don’t always live up to that value, but it’s a strong element of my self-directed character. Stress will strip those things away from me, unfortunately.
Even getting into the airport was a bit of a trial. Several emergency response vehicles were in the drop-off area. This meant someone was having a much worse day that the rest of us, unfortunately. It also meant that the excellent Greg van Eekhout had to let me off well away from the terminal and I had to walk quite a while, swaddled against the sunlight and with my injured foot aching.
I got checked in easily enough, but the security lines were hideous. TSA only had two of the inspection lanes open, despite having hundreds of people queued up. I don’t know if this was the sequester, their lunch hour, or just good old-fashioned poor management, but it was a mess.
Once inside, I discovered that the only water fountain in the entire concourse was out of service. I couldn’t fill my water bottle in the bathroom, because San Diego is the only airport in America where the bathroom taps run hot water. More to the point, they run hot water only. And the line at the one concession selling water bottles was fifteen or twenty people deep. Since it was the coffee shop, that was also a very slow-moving line.
I finally found an open seat, which was nontrivial. My laptop wouldn’t connect to the supposed free airport wifi. AT&T kept dropping signal on my iPhone, going from four bars to ‘No service’ and back again randomly. A minute or two after I sat down, the woman next to me was very sharp with me about the empty seat being taken. I started to apologize, then lost my temper and became rude back to her. Given my state of mind at that point, there was no graceful way to apologize or extract myself from the situation with social nicety. So I just got up and left.
This is not like me. This is so not like me. While I was legitimately having a frustrating day, my frustration was being compounded by scanxiety. It led me to behave rudely and inappropriately to a total stranger.
So I found another seat. I decided to take a Lorazepam, only to then discover we had forgotten to pack that particular medication. Perfect. Just fucking perfect.
I did take a Lorazepam last night to help me go to sleep. I am considering taking another this morning to keep me mellow on heading for the scan. But, yeah, this is a tough, tough moment. The inside of my head is a mess. My body is firing off physical stress symptoms like crazy, which for me mostly express as lower GI distress. I know what’s coming. I hate it and fear it. But it’s coming. And so I fixate on the scan because that is the moment when the unknown becomes known. The uncertainties are collapsed, and then we get to find out what happens next.
Unfortunately for me, at this point there are only bad answers and worse answers. We left “good” behind a long time ago.
Cancer is a lousy hobby.
Posted: 5:41 am Tue May 07 2013 | Comments(17) |
[conventions] Why steampunk cons can be confusing for genre authors
I had an excellent time at Gaslight Gathering this past weekend. This is the fourth different steampunk con I’ve attended (speaking off the top of my head), the others being GEAR Con in Portland, Steamcon in Seattle, and the now-defunct World Steam Expo in Dearborn, MI. I’ve noticed some things about steampunk cons that make them rather different from print-oriented fantasy and science fiction conventions, and in many ways more similar to anime and comic conventions. These differences can confuse authors.
Fundamentally, so far my experience of steampunk conventions is that they are not book-oriented at all. For example, at World Steam Expo, Gail Carriger and I were the only two out of town pro author guests in attendance, with something over 2,000 fan there. Here at Gaslight Gathering, I believe I was the only out of town pro author guest. (In point of fact, I was Guest of Honor.) People are here for a wide variety of experiences. Print publishing is basically a grace note for the steampunk fandom I’ve encountered. As Kevin Hull said in a discussion here at Gaslight Gathering, “Steampunk conventions are costume-driven.” Costumes, yes, and I’ll add art, maker culture, re-enactments, and music to that list.
But steampunk cons are very much about story, about narrative. 80-90% of the people you see are in costume. The tradition of hall costumes at SF and fantasy cons is relatively minor these days, but they are nearly de rigueur in the world of steampunk. And unlike the prevalence of cosplay and tribute costumes in the SF, fantasy, anime and comic worlds, steampunk costumes are mostly original work. Almost very one of those people in costume has a story and and character to go along with their creations. Most of them will be happy to explain in great detail, in character, what they are wearing, how it works, and why.
Like I said, very much about story, about narrative. Just not story and narrative the way a book dinosaur like me thinks of it as being packaged and delivered. In effect, the flow of primary creative endeavor is reversed, the fans becoming the creators. This significantly displaces the role of the author.
Hence the confusion. Because superficially, steampunk cons resemble SF and fantasy cons. They are run by many of the same people. They have the infrastructure of programming, the dealer room, registration, con ops, and so forth. Everyone’s wandering around wearing badges, most of them with ribbons. It all looks very familiar.
And it’s all very different.
The other observation I’ll make is that steampunk cons, along with comic cons and anime cons, is where most of young fandom has gone. Hanging around any of these conventions, I see the average age of the attendees is easily two decades younger than the average age at Worldcon, World Fantasy or most other SF and fantasy cons. The kids and young adults are getting their creative buzz on in different way than they were several decades ago.
What does this all mean? Heck if I know. I think it does bode well for the future of steampunk as a cultural element. And these conventions are a lot of fun. But what’s going on under the hood is different in some fascinating ways that I believe SF and fantasy authors need to take careful note of and spend time thinking about.
What do you think? Have you experienced the wild, whacky world of steampunk differently? Am I misunderstanding the source and direction of primary creativity in these contexts?
Posted: 8:21 am Mon May 06 2013 | Comments(44) |
[conventions] Gaslight Gathering, day three
Yesterday was fun, if long. (Like a good date.) the_child, Lisa Costello and I breakfasted as usual. I had a late morning autograph session. We caught a quick lunch, then they headed off for the airport to return home while I geared up for the auction.
I was let off the hook of my ethical dilemma by the excellently good offices of steampunk fan and Gaslight Gathering volunteer Dave Rodger, who is among other things a cattle auctioneer. This violated one my cardinal rules of auction running, which is “Never compete for attention with a cattle auctioneer”, but moved bidding along nicely. (Longtime readers will of course recall that my other cardinal rule of auction running is “Never compete for attention with a clown in a straitjacket on a unicycle.” Experience is a bitter teacher.) As yet I do not know what the auction cleared, but some pretty amazing items went up for sale, and at a wide variety of prices ranging from painfully underbid to amazingly run up. Such is the way of auctions.
Post-auction, I hung about for closing ceremonies, then rested a while in my hotel room. In the fullness of time, concom chair Anastasia Hunter and a cast of dozen took me out to Phil’s B.B.Q., apparently a San Diego institution. Which was quite good, as evidenced by these photos:
No, I did not Eat All the Things, tempted as I was. Those are the plates of three different diners, that last being my order of boneless pork shoulder. I do find the extremely wide variation in style, presentation and meat selection of barbecue around the country to be fascinating. This was extremely delicious.
Afterward, we repaired to a suite at the hotel for a hilarious yet moderately distressing game of Cards Against Humanity, which is currently my top candidate for Most Inappropriate Game Ever. When we were done, Anastasia had me edit a couple of cards, then autograph them.
This morning I have breakfast with at least some of the concom, lunch with Greg van Eekhout, then I’m off to Portland, where I’ll reunite with the_child, Lisa Costello. Starting Tuesday, the rest of this week is dedicated to cancer diagnosis and some likely challenging treatment and life decisions.
I’m very glad I got to spend the weekend here at Gaslight Gathering. My thanks to the folks who invited me, to all the conrunners and volunteers that made this event possible, and to everyone who came to the auction. Also, my especial thanks to all my friends as well as some total strangers who made such amazingly generous donations to the auction. I love the community that is genre.
Photos © 2013, Joseph E. Lake, Jr.
This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Posted: 7:40 am Mon May 06 2013 | Comments(4) |
[cancer|events] Today’s benefit auction at Gaslight Gathering
I am the emcee and auctioneer for today’s benefit auction at Gaslight Gathering. I’ve done this a number of times before, and it’s a role I generally enjoy quite a bit. Given my affinity for being the center of attention, this should surprise precisely no one.
The auction has some very good items in it. All of them are donations. Many are from the originating authors or artists themselves, others are people putting items from their personal collections. Still others are goods or services. A couple of these things have some serious “wow” factor. As the weekend has progressed, I’ve spent time on bid ordering, auction logistics, all the things one thinks about when arranging such an event.
The thing is, the beneficiary of the auction is me. Gaslight Gathering and all these donors are generously raising funds to help me in my struggle with cancer. And that puts me in a curious position. Normally when I’m conducting a charity auction, I spend time talking up the charity, pointing out to people how much their bids will mean, that sort of thing. Except today if I take that approach, I’ll be talking about myself.
Normally I have no troubles talking about myself. Lord knows that’s not an issue. But talking about myself in a fundraising context like this feels inescapably self-serving. As always, I need to be fun, funny and fast-paced — that’s the only way to keep an auction moving along. But it feels so strange.
I am thrilled and pleased beyond measure that Gaslight Gathering is doing this for me. But this will be a very different auction from my usual approach. This produces interesting emotional and social tensions within me.
Posted: 7:47 am Sun May 05 2013 | Comments(3) |
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