Sunday, February 24, 2008

Boskone 45!

The trip started with an uneventful flight to Newark. This time I took the AirTrain into Penn Station, and appreciated the convenience. It was a little difficult wrestling my luggage on and off the train, but I arrived safely. When I got outside Penn Station I was thinking “Hey! It’s the middle of the afternoon and traffic will be light.” But I managed to time my stepping outside with a Sesame Street production concluding at Madison Square Garden, and there were school buses and hordes of small children blocking the taxi lane. Fortunately, the weather wasn’t too bad. Cold, in the 30's, but sunny.

My son left the key with the doorman for me and I made myself at home in his apartment, then headed out for a bite to eat and some leg stretching. As I’ve mentioned, one of the advantages of his living on the Upper West Side is everything is right there. All kinds of food, liquor stores, drug stores, clothing–whatever I wanted it was within five blocks of his apartment. I got a bowl of soup at a veggie restaurant and window shopped for about an hour, then walked back, stopping at a liquor store to get a bottle of scotch for his apartment, something I figured he and his roommates might appreciate.

Since I knew he wouldn’t be home until after 8 p.m. I settled in with some hot tea and my computer and got some work done. We went to the Popover Café for supper, with him remarking that spending Valentine’s Day with his mother wasn’t exactly what he had in mind.

“Maybe people will think you’re with me because I’m a really hot cougar.”

Being a dutiful son he gave me his bedroom and slept on the couch. I was awake when he got up at 5:30 and I saw him off to school, then ate a healthy breakfast at a café around the corner and caught my Acela train at Penn Station. Unlike last year, I had no trouble getting a cab so I got to the station in plenty of time to relax.

The train had a few delays but I again enjoyed the comfort of traveling by rail compared to flying. I plugged in my computer and worked on A Sea Change, and when that palled I read an ebook and relaxed. Truly the civilized way to go.

Back to the Westin Waterfront on a day that was mild by Boston winter standards, but I’d seen the weather and I knew that was going to change by Saturday. But I got checked in to the hotel and to the con, picked up Darlene Marshall’s material and reviewed my panels before heading out to see who was around. Saw a lot of my favorite people right off the bat–Mark and Priscilla Olson, Deb Geisler and Mike Benveniste, Laurie and Jim Mann, Ian Stockdale and Ruth, and of course, Janice and Stephen. Since I didn’t have a panel until 9 p.m. we planned on supper at the hotel, even though last year’s service had been so bad in the sole restaurant that we ended up missing a panel we’d been scheduled to be on. This year, the service was no better, but at least we didn’t miss our programs.

Before I hit my 9 p.m. panel I stopped by the “Death to Peeps!” event in the con suite. The imagination of those who wish to destroy Peeps knows no bounds. My evening panel was “Writing Erotica That Appeals to Most Sexes” with Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Cecilia Tan, Beth Bernobich and me as moderator. I especially enjoyed seeing Beth again, since I’ve been following the progress of her sales and fledgling career with a great deal of interest.

We talked about whether Erotica can be written in a one-size-fits-all form, and I mentioned a couple of my favorite gender bending books, like Carole Queen’s The Leather Daddy and the Femme, which is now in a new expanded edition.

At the end of the panel an attractive young woman came up to me, and I recognized her from my son's description.

“You’re Natalie!”

He had told me some months back that one of his fellow teachers was a SF fan who’d be attending Boskone and Worldcon in Denver. I contacted her, at her request, and we talked about her volunteering at Denver, and I suggested a few volunteer jobs she might enjoy. Her husband and child were settling down in the hotel room, so I invited her to come to the Australia 2010 bid party with me. It was a fun party, and I hung in until 11:30, but had to call it a night after that.

Saturday was a busy day for me at the con, but I enjoyed it immensely. My first panel was “A Universally Acknowledged Truth” on Jane Austen (‘natch) and why she appeals to so many people, and SF fans in particular. The panelists were a lively and opinionated bunch of ladies who love “La Austen”, including Beth Bernobich again, Esther Friesner, Beth Meacham and Teresa Nielsen Hayden again.

We talked about the themes of the books and why they resonate with SF readers, how authors continue to seek inspiration from Jane Austen (Esther Friesner has written stories with her as a character) and mentioned in passing Colin Firth in a wet shirt.

I raced from that panel to my next one, where I was the moderator, on “The Storyteller’s Bowl: Making Money Off The Web”, which is about whether or not a subscription service is a viable method of selling stories on the Internet. A couple of the panelists had experience doing this, but we agreed that if it’s going to be a viable model, it’s only going to work for established authors with a following, and the most likely scenario is a novella or short story in a universe where there’s a strong readership that enjoys filling in the gaps. For example, something in the Honor Harrington universe.

I had a kaffeeklatsch scheduled but got no takers, so I opted for lunch for myself and a trip through the dealers’ room and the art show. As usual the quality of merchandise was good for a con of this size, and one of the things I’d remarked to my young fan friend was that a regional convention like Boskone is good preparation for Worldcon–you’ll see the same sorts of things, but scaled down. I admired a jewelry set by Patricia Olson, but didn’t want to bid on it since I knew I’d be leaving before the auction Sunday. However, I spoke with her about purchasing it after the con.

My books were available at Old Earth Books so I stopped by to thank Mike Walsh and wave hi at my books, then I navigated a maze in the Mezzanine level to make it to my reading. To my pleasure, there were total strangers who showed up to hear me read from “The Bride and the Buccaneer”!

Saturday night we had a dinner excursion outside the hotel, which wasn’t too bad. It was cold but clear, and I’d prudently packed my longjohns. A group of us checked out Legal Seafoods Test Kitchen (I prefer the original), shared some wine, and smoffed like madmen (is that redundant?).

I’d intended to go to the Anticipation bid party, but ended up at the Tor party and got so involved with conversations there that most of the evening flew by. I also managed to score an invite to the infamous single malt lovers’ gathering, and finished the evening in fine style sampling quality distilled products with other fans of Scotland’s famed exports.

I was hopeful that my 2:30 a.m. bedtime meant I’d be able to sleep in Sunday morning, but no such luck. At 6:30 my eyes popped open, just as always, and I got up and packed and did some work until 10, when I met Janice for some girl gossip, catching up on the family and breakfast.

My last panel of the convention was whether 2008 would be the breakthrough year for ebooks, and this was a lively and contentious discussion. I was the moderator, and our panel ran the gamut form Ellen Asher, who said she didn’t have a cell phone much less an ebook reader, to Charles Stross, who was a proponent of a broadband tax similar to what the UK does for its broadcasting tax on televisions.

I checked out of the hotel after that, but promised myself that in the future at Boskone I’d try to stay over Sunday and make it to the Dead Dog Party--and the rest of the programming. I thought the programming was a great success, and kudos to the programming staff for pulling it all together.

New York trip highlights in the next segment!

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