Friday, February 24, 2012

Boskone 49 or "How I Spent My Winter Vacation"

I'm back from Boston (with a side trip to NYC) and catching up, finally!  Boskone 49 was fun and, as usual, a very worthwhile trip for me as a writer, a SF fan, and someone with lots of friends in Northeast fandom.  It was great catching up with people, and the weather cooperated this year.  In fact, it was so lovely when I got off the train at South Station that I walked to the Westin, rolling my bag behind me.

Let me start by saying congratulations to the Program staff for once again pulling together a great mix of people and ideas.  I wish I'd had a chance to attend more of the other panels.

My first program item was Friday night, "Dressing the Parties--Regalia and Symbolism" on rank, attire, clothing colors, sumptuary laws and more.  I was moderating, and the other panelists were Leonid Korogodski, Walter H. Hunt, Ellen Asher and Elizabeth Bear.  We each brought a unique background and perspective, which always makes for the most interesting discussions. In my case, I could talk a bit about pirate lore, and at one point veered off to mention the attempts by the US Navy to keep the Revenue Marine (now the US Coast Guard) in ugly uniforms to undercut their morale and appearance.  You can read more about that in Smuggler's Bride.

Then I dashed off to "A Study of the Humours--Medieval Medicine" with Laurie Mann moderating, and Elaine Isaak, Kenneth Schneyer and James D. Macdonald as the panelists.  I was there because of Sea Change and the upcoming Castaway Dreams, novels about surgeons in the early 19th C.  It was an opportunity to share information about how medicine has changed, and a little bit about how it hasn't.  It was also fun to mention how the "humours" that were once believed to control health still color our conversation, as when one is said to "vent her spleen" or "he is full of bile".

Friday night continued with a quick bite with longtime fan and friend Laurie Mann, who with her husband Jim was part of the well-organized program staff.  Later that evening was the Art Show Reception with a dessert spread that had fans lined up and drooling well ahead of the event.  I snagged a piece of Ben Yalow's chocolate-and-more-chocolate birthday cake but made an early evening of it.  I've learned over the years to pace myself at conventions.

Saturday morning I had a reading, sharing a scene from Castaway Dreams.  I remembered my friend Janice's advice and refrained from reading about amputations, focusing instead on humor. I also attended a panel on "Medical Myths and Errors in SF/F" with some medical professionals who've written on the subject and who likely spend a lot of time screaming at their television sets when people get stuff wrong.

On Saturday afternoon I moderated "Trends in Young Adult Literature".  The other panelists were Jack M. Haringa, Susan MacDonald and Jordan Hamessley.  Even though I don't write YA, I read it for pleasure--Sharon Shinn and Maggie Stiefvater are two of my favorite authors--and we had a lively discussion about the roots and causes of dystopian lit for teens, Twilight, Harry Potter and coming trends.  We can't predict the future, but the YA paranormals do not yet seem to have run their course.

Saturday night was supper with friends, then some of the parties promoting various future conventions, topped off by Maltcon, a gathering for fans of Scotland's finest export.  It was educational, and tasty.

My last panel was Sunday morning, "Romantic Comedy in Science Fiction and Fantasy" with Ellen Asher, Paula Lieberman, Toni L.P. Kellner and me moderating. We talked about Connie Willis, Jayne Anne Krentz, Lois McMaster Bujold (A Civil Campaign) and a few other authors, but mostly came away with the thought that while there's plenty of SF romance and SF comedy, there aren't a whole lot of authors combining the two in a classic romance novel format where the relationship is the central plot point.

I had to leave Boskone 49 a little early to catch a train to NY, but I'm already planning and looking forward to Boskone 50 next year.


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