Thursday, November 29, 2012

World Fantasy Convention Report, in which Canada confiscates my pepper spray

It's taken me a month, but here it is: my blog report on WFC 2012.


First things first. I drove to Toronto.

Detroit to Toronto isn't a bad drive even though it's international.  You go over a big bridge. You talk to a handsome, young Canadian customs official -- and no matter how good looking he is, you don't flirt because he's about to tell you that you're entering a country where pepper spray is regulated like a handgun and you don't have the necessary paperwork for that death ray dangling from your key chain.

Who knew?

So I had to pull over to the side and sign a form stating that I was "abandoning my weapon" before I could traverse the dull, bleak stretch of land that lies between the the Blue Water Bridge and suburban north Toronto. (November is a bitch; I'm sure it's charming in late August.)

WFC 2012 was billed as "in Toronto." It was in the suburbs north of Toronto. The convention center was nice. All the overflow hotels were within easy walking distance. This was good. The sad part? I actually really like Toronto-Toronto. Downtown Toronto. And in spite of my sojourn into "Toronto" I did not get to see Toronto. Alas.

All the Authors You Love and Love to Fangirl Over:

Tanya Huff is a hoot. Her Keeper novels and Blood Ties books are hilarious, but you never know if that translates to being funny in person -- with Tanya Huff, it does. She even talked about being on the set when Blood Ties the TV show was being filmed.

Anne Bishop is coming out with a new urban fantasy series starting this spring -- which she read from! -- and it sounds like an interesting new twist. Previously I've only read and reread and reread and gotten all my friends hooked on her Black Jewels Trilogy.

Patricia Briggs is putting out another Mercy Thompson novel this spring -- which she read from! -- and then there's either going to be another Mercy book or possibly a Sam book (I can't remember now) and an Alpha Omega book coming out in short order. Yesss. Patricia Briggs is also absolutely charming in person. Very sweet. And once she meets you, she'll smile at you every time she sees you. Or maybe I'm just being self-centered and she smiles at everyone. Either way, she's very nice.

Charles de Lint can play guitar. And sing. And did both. Rock on, man. Rock on.

Panels Talks:

Whither the vampire after Twilight? Conclusion: the vampire can and will whither wherever it wants. If you want to be Chicken Little, then go ahead and claim that Twilight has ruined vampires. If you want to think that Twilight is creating readers in general, and readers of vampire fiction specifically, out of people who were not previously readers, then go ahead and think that it's done some good. In sum: freak what ya feel. But the most interesting concept to come out of this panel is the idea that vampires aren't on a trajectory of getting fluffier and fluffier, but that they're on a cyclical path. And that it won't be long until the next big vampire trend is super scary vamps. Then they'll get fluffier again. Then scary. Then ... yeah.

What is Urban Fantasy? Hoo boy. You've got (what I'm calling) the "Industry Standard" which has to do more with the voice than the setting, the "Urban Fantasy Lover's Definition" which includes just about anything the lover loves, the "Reader's Not-So-Standard" which is just as precise as the industry standard but uses different language and criteria, and the "Dreamer's Warm-Fuzzy Declaration" which makes the Reader frown thoughtfully, the Lover smile and nod, and the Industry person snort. Conclusion: inconclusive, but tasty nonetheless.

The brave new world of ebooks: Choice nugget: "A PDF is not an ebook." It's worth repeating. Everything else discussed can be found with enough diligent research. Oh, and if you can't make good, attractive, well formatted ebooks on your own, you might really want to choose a small press over self-publishing.

Are revenants still relevant? Yep. For totes. ... Which is good because not only did I edit a ghost anthology this year, I'm doing it again in 2013.

Humor in fantasy: Rock on. I don't recall if there was any particular points made at this panel. I remember that I laughed a lot. And that the panelists all agreed that humor definitely has a place in fantasy -- high fantasy as well as urban fantasy. And that even humor in horror can help a story's pacing.

Do today's writers need to read the classics of their genre/tradition to be successful? No... but they should.

The Patty and Mike Show. Okay, so technically not a panel. Patricia Briggs and her husband did their stand up and talk bit. They took questions. They revealed that the literary creation of Zee, aka Siebold Adelbertsmiter, and his type of fae has roots in the fairy tales of the Isle of Man. And I plucked from the air some awesome Mercedes Thompson swag. Okay, I didn't catch it when it was thrown into the crowd, but I did rescue it from where it landed. Now to decide what to sew this awesome rose-flame-wrench patch onto...

Assorted Convention Detritus:

I did not get sick! Holla! Every conference I've ever been to I returned home to a musty apartment, angry cats, a pile of life-stuff-that-I've-ignored, and a post-conference cold. This time I managed to avoid it. It's either luck, or the fact that I downed four days' worth of Airborne lemonade stuff. I'm kind of hoping it was the Airborne, because downing it wasn't exactly pleasant.

I really thought customs was going to give me grief about the giant bag o books I was hauling back, but they just waived me through. Apparently declaring "clothes and books" doesn't make you worthy of investigation. Score one for the bookworms of the world.

So far I've read Wicked As They Come from the giant book bag o awesomeness, which is a portal romance -- you know the type, Diana Galbaldon and Karen Marie Moning have made their careers on them -- except this heroine falls through into a steampunk world populated with vampirish critters. I liked it, and I'm excited to delve into the rest of the books I acquired. Up next I'd like to dive into Carrie Vaughn's After the Golden Age.

And a brief shout out to all of the Odyssey people whom I caught up with or met for the first time. You're lovely, as always.

Highly Recommended