WorldCon/ChiCon 7


Because all the cool kids are doing it….

Here’s my WorldCon/ChiCon 7 schedule, for those who are interested (don’t blink):

Fri Aug 31 10:30:am Fri Aug 31 12:00:pm Violence in Fantasy
Wright The use and misuse of violence in SF and fantasy. How much is too much?
D.H. Aire  Doug Hulick  James Enge  Scott Lynch


Fri Aug 31 4:30:pm Fri Aug 31 6:00:pm Autograph Session 6
Autograph Tables
Charles Stross  Doug Hulick  Gra Linnaea  Hanna Martine  James Patrick Kelly  Jay Lake  Paul Genesse  Sharon Shinn


The above may look light, but it’s actually about what I was shooting for. This being WorldCon, and it being in Chicago, I figured two things would happen: 1) I’d be low man on the totem pole when it came to panel slots/topics, and 2) I’d be spending a good amount of time catching up with friends (new & old, from near & far), hitting some of my favorite Chicago eateries, and just generally keeping things low stress. Another panel or two might have been nice, sure (and I was half hoping they’d let me teach my Practical Rapier For Writers panel), but I’m content with this. And really, the one panel I am on? ACES!

As for a reading slot: I specifically didn’t request one. Since I knew Sworn in Steel wasn’t going to be out in time, and wasn’t even positive it would be in a presentable state, I didn’t want to walk in and read something from the book I had released a year and a half ago. Some people may not be pleased by that (and I do appreciate you wanting to hear me stumble over my own words, honest :), but if I’m going to read, I’d prefer it be from something you can look forward to, rather than something you’ve already read. Maybe that’s more of a me thing, but I feel like I ought to roll out the new model at things like this, rather than try to slap a fresh coat of polish on last year’s offering. Plus, it leaves more time for pizza, which, let’s face it, is just about the best reason there is to go to Chicago.

So where can you find me at the con if I’m not in my panel or at the signing? Well, I’m stupid tall (6′ 7″) and have been known to haunt the bar at events like this. If you see me (or someone you think is me), feel free to come up and say Hi.

Seems to be Noir Day on the ‘Net

Two bits on noir news today: one that makes me cringe a bit, and one that makes me happy:

The Cringe:
Apparently, Henry Holt has decided to publish a new Raymond Chandler novel featuring Philip Marlowe. The hitch is, this isn’t a recently discovered manuscript or unpublished work written by Chandler: it’s a new work to be written by John Banville. Now, I admit to not having read Mr. Banville’s work as of yet, so I can’t comment on his ability to pull this off. However, the Chandler fan in me cringes at the idea of someone picking up Marlowe and trying to run with him.

Chandler’s voice, especially when writing Marlowe, was unique. It was hard hitting, and along with Dashiell Hammett, helped define what we now think of as the quintessential hard boiled pulp PI. That’s not to say no one else can write in that style (heaven knows I’ve played with it myself), but there’s a difference between homage and reanimation. When you’re talking about one of the most distinct voices in early & mid 20th century American literature–a voice that arguably helped define a literary movement–not to mention one of that author’s signature characters, well, I find myself becoming more than a bit dubious when it comes to the impending effort & the choices involved.

Understand, this isn’t about Mr. Banville’s writing ability; likewise, I understand the commercial decision behind the move (after all, people are going to be talking about it, which can only help sales). Rather, it’s about taking a literary icon, putting on his suit, and walking about as if it were your own. Do we really need another Raymond Chandler novel, especially if it isn’t by Raymond Chandler? His body of work stands just fine on its own, with a clear and definite legacy. Does this taking on of a legend’s trappings do anything other than feed the bottom line and, perhaps, authorial vanity? After all, even if the book features Marlowe, it’s not going to be placed along side the rest of Chandler’s works. Even if the book is remarkable, it is still going to be Banville’s, not Chandler’s.

The thing is, I get loving an author and their world(s) so much you want to play in them. Fanfic is ample testament to that. And in some cases, especially with the author’s consent, I can even see it being made a going concern (Eric Flint’s 1632 series is a prime example). But there’s a difference between a shared world and an add-on. I, for example, would LOVE to be able to play in Corwin’s Amber; to dig deeper into Maurid Audran’s Budayeen; to help Aramis and D’artagnan dance with steel again; to walk the shady streets beside Marlowe and Spade and the Continental Op. But the creators of those worlds are dead, and the spark that made them truly shine have gone with them. Yes (ignoring for a moment the legal & artistic hurdles that would be involved, let alone the chutzpah it would take on my part to even consider attempting it), I could play there, but it would never be the same, would never be the true world I fell in love with because it would now be my world, not their creator’s. And no matter how hard I tried to hew close to the original, it would never quite fly.

I’ve often been accused of being a purist, and in this sense, I will fully claim that mantle. I love the idea of more work by Chandler and Hammett, by Dumas and Zelazny, by Effinger and Tolkien and Shakespeare and a host of others. But there isn’t going to be any more, and any effort to create it is just going to end up being a pale shadow, no matter how well done. Chandler is dead, but Marlowe still lives in the pages of his work: why must we try to create anew what was already done right the first time?

And now, since I promised you something noir that made me happy, I simply give you this without commentary, as I’ve gone on long enough: