Thursday, September 6, 2012


The illustrations for this post were drawn at CopperCon.

It was a small convention. And it was the same weekend as WorldCon and DragonCon. The attendees were mostly local. I got to talk to writers, writer wannabes, and – lo and behold! – there were actual readers there.

Some of them were even the old-fashioned quirky individual fans rather than postmodern entertainment consumers who wear off-the-rack nerd identities and are delighted to see what their favorite multinational corporations have created for them.

I miss science fiction that was a hot rod for the imagination, created and customized by renegade mad scientist-types. These days, genre fiction tends to be like mass produced commuter vehicles that safely take you in and out of your dull life. I prefer mine to send my brain soaring off with the risk of crashing and burning.

Who needs a dull life anyway?

It was a lot like small conventions from thirty years ago, only smaller. And books are becoming a rare commodity. Sigh.

For long time at conventions, what the writers talked about was what new trend was hot and how you damned well better jump on it if “they” were going to publish your books and make you rich. The hottest books right now are Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels, and there weren't any seminars on how to add sadomasochism to your genre stories as the way to bestsellerdom. No bandwagons to jump on, just advice on how to survive – or, bizarre as it seems, get started in the disintegrating world of publishing.

Writers who are experiencing success in traditional publishing – most of them admit to having day jobs – are still pushing the old ways. If I had a deal with some New York outfit, I'd probably be doing the same. Why not? The dream of being a bestselling, millionaire author is powerful, and it's not dying even though in reality bestselling authors work ten hour days, seven days a week churning out what the publishers tell them will sell.

Yeah, they get paid big bucks, but what good is it if you can't enjoy it? And if a job demanded those kind of hours – who in their right mind would take it?

Then there's the science crowd. Scientists are fans, writers, often both, and have interesting things to say. David Lee Summers writes, edits, and works as an astronomer at Kitt Peak Observatory – his presentation on the hunt for extrasolar planets was inspiring and mind-blowing.

I always hope to get my mind blown at a con.

So the New Media Bookacalypse has put us back into another hunter/gather era. Readers and writers are hunting each other. I hope we can establish the right kind of communication.

After all, there are so many worlds to explore.

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