Lunacon is an annual convention held by the New York Science Fiction Society. For the past few years, it’s held literally 15 minutes away from where I live in Rye Brook, NY. Unfortunately, I didn’t know this. It kills me a little, looking at past guests I could have met (Tanya Huff, Mercedes Lackey, Jacqueline Carey), but this year, I was aware, and I bought a weekend pass.
Lunacon has a lot of programming – filking, gaming, reading, writing, movies, anything to do with science fiction, you will probably find it (there were even panels on lifestyle and health). There’s enough there that I could pick a “bookish” track for myself. The only complaint I would have is that the programming schedule wasn’t put up until the weekend prior to the event, which made it tougher to plan things ahead of time, but I made do. Here are the highlights:
Reading: Sara Beth Durst: This is a YA author I hadn’t read before, but I recall seeing the cover of her book, Enchanted Ivy, and loving it. She read from Drink, Slay, Love, which is out now, and from Vessel, which is to be released in September. Drink, Slay, Love is a teen vampire story about a vampire who is stabbed in the heart by a wereunicorn(!) – love the idea, but I think I am burned out on teen vampire books. On the other hand, I’m very interested in Vessel which his a fantasy centering on a girl who is supposed to be sacrificed to a goddess, but for some reason, her goddess never comes. Also there is an Asian girl on the cover, which gets bonus points from me.
Reading: Tamora Pierce: Tamora Pierce read a big chunk of her work-in-progress, and it was good. This was from Battle Magic and had Evvy, Rosethorn, and Briar in the court of Yangjing, and discovering the consequences of being seen as less than perfect before the Emperor and his guests. There is some cool magic involving plants described and I didn’t want her to stop reading. There was a bigger group (about 20 or so) of fans there and they had a lot of questions about the books and her writing in general. Currently she’s reading a lot of stories set in/after World War I, like Jacqueline Winspear’s books. About separating characters in her books: some of her characters had to go their separate ways and then come back together later. Someone in the audience said they liked that the characters were separated so they could grow, then come back and grow some more together. Pierce said that if you do it right you are always growing. I was very impressed by her answers to questions and her pro-girl stance.
Reading: Barbara Ashford: I read and liked Spellcast last year (my review here), so I was eager to see what she’d be reading this time. I also brought my copy of Spellcast just in case. Barbara is a friendly person and a very engaging reader. She did the voices of different characters (with accents) and spoke with the right emotions (it was great). She read from Spellcast, but the next book, Spellcrossed is coming out in June and there will be a third book after that. The POV will mostly be Maggie’s in the second book, like the first, but the third sounds like it will have more of Rowan’s POV. The plan is currently for it to be a trilogy but it could be continued after the third book. I also found out that she’s in an anthology that somehow didn’t hit my radar, The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity which I went and bought immediately afterward.
Crazy thing – only about 2-3 people at the readings (except for the Tamora Pierce one). I think if the book bloggosphere had been aware, there would have been a lot more. Next year I will try to see if I can do something about spreading the word.
Guests of Honor Speeches – John Ringo, Tamora Pierce
After the readings, I caught the tail end of John Ringo’s Guest of Honor speech. Another author I haven’t read but he was telling some funny stories about his Ghost series, and I’m sort of interested in them now even though he was adamant that they’re awful! Ha! It was interesting to hear that they came after writer’s block and he wrote one book and started the next within 5 days. Wow. He had a mostly male audience with a few women in the mix, which is amusing because after his speech was Tamora Pierce’s which had the opposite mix.
Tamora Pierce’s speech was one where she talked about the influences of her writing (her answer to “Where do you get your ideas?”) and that she’s discovered over time that her obsessions throughout her life showed up later in her stories. She told the story of her first series (the Alanna quartet) where a review said that she had depicted medieval life accurately – except she hadn’t done any research when she was writing those books. Then she remembered her obsession with the medieval when she was 8. She also uses a lot of real life in her books – a lot of characters are real people (she mentioned Brendan Fraser, Sigourney Weaver, her best friend’s mother), and pets have turned into fantastic creatures. Plots come from news stories and her life experiences.
I got my copy of Trickster’s Choice autographed
The Alternate Regency (Byron P. Connell, Meredith Schwartz, Susan de Guardiola, Karin Rita Gastreich): this was a panel about the Regency period and stories that are based in this era. I found this to be a very interesting history lesson. They covered general history and dress of the time period, Jane Austen versus Georgette Heyer, common historical mistakes (confusing gentry with nobility, corsets were not very large or tight in this time period, surgeons were considered butchers and gentlemen were physicians, not surgeons), and corresponding periods in the world (Napoleonic in France, Federal period in the U.S). Just a very informative panel all around and it got a lot of discussion going between panelists and the audience (which was maybe 15 people).
What’s Hot – Alternate History (Alexis Gilliland, Carl Fink, Byron P. Connell): This was another panel about Alternate History, but this time not limited to one time period. I noticed in this panel they tried to give examples of books that were alternate histories that were also clearly science fiction – the story is based on science fact. It was interesting that steampunk and time travel were categorized as fantasy by panelists. I hadn’t seen it that way but they had a convincing argument. Anyway, there was a lot of discussion about Alternate Histories that have been based on a turning point event (in technology, leadership, etc), and how wars and their outcomes are often explored in Alternate Histories. World War II and the Civil War are particularly popular in American (U.S American) literature, but in France the Napoleonic Wars are very popular in Alternate History stories. There was some discussion as to why these wars are so popular as well as a lot of examples of books.
What makes Y.A, Y.A? (Tu/Lee & Willow Books, Esther Friesner, A.L. Davroe, Sarah Beth Durst, Tamora Pierce): This started off with what Y.A. was, which seemed to be basically stories about teens and their experiences, then it just grew into an interesting discussion about YA in general. This feels like a “you had to be there” discussion to report on, but highlights included the idea of taboo topics in YA (there really shouldn’t be any), the belief publishing seems to have that boys won’t read books about girls but girls will read books about boys (much scoffing), Harry Potter and justice – your government can fail you, current politics and women’s issues, and minorities in YA (including recent #racefails). I was interested in the books with minority protagonists, so I came away resolved to look into Esther Friesner’s upcoming Spirit Princess, which is about Japan’s Princess Himiko, and into Tu Books which is a YA imprint with multicultural protagonists.
So, I was an idiot and somehow brought my camera without my memory card in it. I took 3 pictures which were saved to the camera’s HD memory, but I can’t get it off my camera without errors. Fail! Next year I’ll do better. I did take pictures of my haul at home though:
- A Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity (Bought at dealer’s room. Signed by Joshua Palmatier and Barbara Ashford)
- Trickster’s Choice (my copy, signed by Tamora Pierce)
- Enchanted Ivy (Bought at dealer’s room. Signed by Sarah Beth Durst)
- Yesterday’s Dreams by Danielle Ackley-McPhail (Bought from author at dealer’s room. She signed it for me – P.S. has a cooler cover than what’s on Amazon)
- The Hidden City by Michelle West (Bought from dealer’s room)
- The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells (Bought from dealer’s room)
- Finder by Terri-Lynne DeFino (Bought from dealer’s room, signed by author – this looked like an interesting fantasy book. Didn’t get a chance to meet the author, but grabbed the book when I saw it for sale)
- Not shown – my copy of Spellcast signed by Barbara Ashford