The 47th Nebula Awards were present this evening, May 19th, 2012, at a ceremony held in the Hyatt Crystal City hotel in Arlington, VA. The Toastmaster was Walter Jon Williams.

Keynote speaker, E. Michael Fincke, Col. USAF (Ret) NASA Astronaut, gave an inspiring talk that thanks the science fiction and fantasy community for their imagination, because so many engineers believe that what they write is not only possible, but actually work to bring it to fruition. His talk was highlighted with pictures of the international space station and some outstanding film of Earth from space.

The Service to SFWA award was presented to Bud Webster for his work in tracking down the estates and heirs of writers who are no longer with us, to help protect their works.

Solstice Awards were presented to Octavia Butler and to John Clute.

The Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy went to Delia Sherman for her book The Freedom Maze.

The Ray Bradbury Award for Dramatic Presentation went to Dr. Who: The Doctor’s Wife written by Neil Gaiman and was directed by Richard Clark. (BBC Wales).

James Patrick Kelly presented the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award to Connie Willis, who gave a humorous and touching acceptance speech.

The short story award was presented to Ken Liu for “The Paper Menagerie” published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction March/April 2011.

The award for novelette was presented to Geoff Ryman for “What We Found” published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction September/October 2011.

The award for novella was presented to Kij Johnson for “The Man Who Bridged the Mist” published in Asimov’s Science Fiction October/November 2011.

The award for novel was presented to Jo Walton for Among Others published by Tor.

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We had a few stops to make on our way to Balticon but we actually managed to get here at a reasonable time. We’d passed a long line of police cars along the major highway all lined up — some with their hoods up. We realized it was for the funeral procession of a state trooper.

It seems we were lucky. Later people were saying how the drive was the longest ever to get here. Some people ended up taking 3 hours to drive the last 20 minutes of the route here because of that parking lot that was the highway due to the funeral procession. Everyone was trying to put a good face on the delays because of the reason for it, but for many it was a very trying experience. If you’ve ever been on a major highway that suddenly turned into a parking lot on a 90+ degree day with humidity — I’m sure you’ll understand.

Anyway, we arrived and got our room. Walked around to find the Capclave table — no one was there yet so it wasn’t set up. Managed to get our registration materials. Then we went to eat lunsup (lunch/supper combination — too late for lunch, too early for supper). Once we got back marked my panels in the pocket program, we decided to check the Capclave table again. Now there were people and Dodo’s — the village dodos to be precise. I’ll try to get pictures up once I can get things set up for a download. We had people stop to talk and ask about our Dodo’s but no one bought a membership to Capclave yet.

At almost 6 PM, I headed out to my first panel, Luddites of Fandom? The moderator was Carl Cipra, who did a marvelous job of seeing we all got a chance to contribute and kept us on track. Panelists were Ray Ridenour, Grig “Punkie” Larson, and me (Gayle Surrette).

The panel description was: Why do some fans persist in doing things the old-fashioned way — not getting an email connection or publishing fanzines on paper instead of posting on the Web? Are the people who still use real paper a handful of misfit cranks who won’t get with the? Wait — did we actually SAY that? The real question may be what medium will serve best in a particular case: a phone call or a letter or a flower. (And maybe, too, how to get along while trying to figure that out.)

Turns out most of us while we’re comfortable with technology do have some hesitancy about some aspects of it. Discussion was wide ranging and covered some of the reason people are reluctant to let go of older technologies and some drop the old for the new immediately. Why do we save things?

One interesting thing was on the topic of books and ereaders. Book give a tactile pleasure when reading — the paper, the typeface, the smell, the look, feel, weight — etc. On the other hand eReader are just not the same tactile pleasure. Do we save books we never intend to read again as trophies or status symbols. It’s going to make me think about why I hold onto my books — even though I’ve decided we really need to cull our shelves at home.

9:00 PM — Fantasy Motifs in SF Literature. Panelists: Douglas Fratz, Gayle Surrette (moderator), Izolda Trakhtenberg, Michael Swanwick, and Bernard Dukas.

Description: Fantasy is about elves, and SF is about spaceships, and ne’er the twain shall meet, right? Or is it? It has even been noted that an “enchanted forest” exists in “Against the Fall of Night” but…but that’s SF…not fantasy! So what happens when SF uses fantasy motifs? Is it no longer SF, or at least not “real” SF? Is Yoda Merlin? AKKA the One Ring? How does a writer take a classic fantasy motif and make it SF–or it more than just dressing it in hardware? Are there any fantasy motifs which have not been used…or cannot be used? Why do hard sf writers bother to play with folkloric images: What do they get out of this miscegenation, (and why?)

I thought this went pretty well. The discussion was pretty wide ranging but on track. At the beginning, I mentioned Clarke’s Law that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. I then asked if magic in fantasy just became technology in SF. Of course not — it’s not a one-to-one substitution but it gave the panelists something to hang their own theories on. Discussion cover the tropes of fantasy and how they have been used in SF and to what degree. How folklore and folk tales get updated for space — I wish I could remember the details but I found myself enjoying the discussion and the various additions and exception and possibilities suggested by the panelists and the audience.

This panel just seemed to take off on it’s own — everyone was excited by the topic. If only all the other panels this weekend go so well and fuel the imagination so much.

Then we stopped in a few parties and now we’re winding down for the night.

If you’re at Balticon, (or even if you’re not), leave a comment and let me know what you think about the above topics and/or what you’re panels were like. When I’m here I can’t see or sit in on anywhere near as many items as I’d like to so I’d love to hear about your experiences.

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Here’s my schedule for Balticon 45 starting Friday, May 26 to May 30 in Marriott’s Hunt Valley Inn, Baltimore, MD.

Fri. 6:00 PM: Salon B, Luddites of Fandom
Fri. 9:00 PM: Belmont, Fantasy Motifs in SF Literature

Sat. 1:00 PM: Belmont: Favorite Shared Worlds.
Sat. 4:00 PM: Salon C: How Plausible is Today’s Hard SF?

Sun. 9:00 AM: Salon B: Writers We Don’t Understand.

There may or may not be another panel — it was on one list I got and not on the others but I don’t have the final, final list yet. Anyway, I expect to have a good time and hope to meet many of SFRevu’s readers while I’m there.

I’ll also be spending some time at the Capclave fan table, so check there for me. Capclave is Washington D.C.’s local annual science fiction and fantasy convention held in October. Check the website for details. This year’s guests are Catherynne Valente and Carrie Vaughn.

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SFWA, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of American, announced the winners of the this year’s Nebula Awards at their annual Nebula Awards Weekend held in Washington, DC. You can read the full list of nominees and winners on the SFWA website.

Best Novel: Blackout/All Clear, Connie Willis (Spectra)

Best Novella: “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window,” Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Magazine, Summer 2010)

Best Novellette: “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made,” Eric James Stone (Analog Science Fiction and Fact, 9/10)

Best Short Story (a tie):

“How Interesting: A Tiny Man,” Harlan Ellison (Realms of Fantasy, 2/10)
“Ponies,” Kij Johnson (Tor.com 1/17/10)

Also presented:

SFWA Service Award: John E. Johnston III
Solstice Awards:

Alice B. Sheldon / James Tiptree, Jr.
Michael Whelan

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation: Inception Christopher Nolan (director), Christopher Nolan (Screenplay) (Universal)

Andre Norton Award: I Shall Wear Midnight, Terry Pratchett (Gollancz, Harper).

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As readers of this blog may or may not know, we collect bears.  We also have a number of Tigers living in our house.  If any of you also have stuffed furry friends in their abodes, you may know just how often having a few critters about can be handy when things go wrong or are out of place — after all they’re home all day when you’re not.

So, did you ever wonder what they get up to when you’re not home?

Well, I work at home so I’m here most of the time.  But, I’ve noticed that things go missing.  Things are often not where I put them.  I swear I put things back after I use them but somehow I have to search the whole house to find what should have been on my table/desk or near my reading chair.

So, imagine my surprise last week when I went upstairs to get my phone (I’d left it on the shelf by the bed) to find this little scenario.

Photo of stuffed tigers trying to figure out a sock pattern book

Well, this finally explains the missing knitting needles, yarn, and the occasional pattern book.  What I really can’t figure out is why I don’t have extra hand-knit (excuse me tigger-knit) socks in my drawer.

Sometimes I think I live in an alternate dimension — or the Twilight Zone without the weird music.

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A friend pointed me to this YouTube Video about the sameness of urban fantasy book covers and the poses of the female protagonists. Go ahead take a look.

The problem is that often, if not nearly always, authors have no control over their book covers. That’s why a red-headed heroine might be on the cover as a blonde or brunette. Mythical creatures that never show up in the book might be featured prominently on the cover.

It’s not the artist’s fault either as some discussion with cover artists have informed me, it’s seldom within their deadlines that they are actually given a copy of the book to read before they begin the project. Often an artist gets an overview of those items that should be on the cover to make it stand out on the shelves.

The problem is that when a great urban fantasy comes along and sells well, the marketing types forget that people are buying a book with a compelling story and figure if that type of cover sells, then our cover with the same elements should sell our book. Many times the writing and author combine to sell the book, reinforcing the move toward a “look” for the newly emerging sub-genre.

I remember years ago when Fabio was on practically every cover of a romance novel in the bookstore. Some friends and I were in a bookstore, came around a corner and faced a wall of outward facing romance covers. We began to look at them. We figured there were probably about 10 poses which included: girl clutched to man’s leg, girl clutched to man’s back/side/chest, girl draped over man’s arm and so on. The only difference in these poses were the costumes that indicated the period of the romance.

This video certainly makes it seem that things haven’t really changed. That as hard as publishers/artists/authors/art directors try to be different, with the lead times they have for publications, there are bound to be a whole lot of covers that look like fraternal clones.

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Edgar Allan PoeEdgar Allan Poe was born January 19, 1809. He was a writer, poet, and critic. He wrote mysteries, horror, and just plain weird stories. His poetry was often sad and/or depressing but mostly unforgettable. Classics Illustrated #4: The Raven & Other Poems has a good selection of his poetry illustrated by Gahan Wilson.

I first read many of his short stories in a collection that my grandfather let me read when I was quite young. Some of the stories kept me up at night with a flashlight for company and to keep the shadows at bay. Many people know of Poe’s writing even if they haven’t read it themselves. I doubt there are many people in the English speaking world who don’t connect raven’s with the word, “Nevermore”.

In Baltimore, there has been a tradition that on Poe’s birthday someone in the dead of night leaves a rose and a bottle of cognac on his grave. This year the watchers who keep a vigil waiting for this person to show up reported that the tribute to Poe was not left on his grave. A tradition of over sixty years maybe at an end. There have been two visitors to the grave. The first left a note and said he couldn’t do it anymore and someone else took up the mantle. Was the mysterious visitor ill? Has this person now gone to talk with Poe in person beyond the veil? Who knows. The watchers who wait for this yearly visitor will keep their vigil for another two years before they give up hope.

Whether this mysterious visitor once again visits Poe’s grave to leave a tribute of a rose and a bottle of cognac, people will go on reading Poe’s works, and enjoying the genres that he helped to develop. There may not be any more tributes left at his graveside but his legacy to literature lives on with readers everywhere.

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Capclave Dodo -- where reading is not extinctJust today the last fiddlybits on the new Capclave 2010 website got finished up and the site is live. We even have a registration link so you can sign up for the convention on line.

The Guests of Honor for Capclave, which will be held October 22-24th, 2010 at the Rockville Hilton (1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852), will be

    Connie Willis
    Ann VanderMeer
    Jeff VanderMeer

All these guests are standouts and the convention should be great.

Capclave is the Washington, DC areas literary science fiction convention and in the past the convention has had kaffeklatches; readings by authors; a dealers’ room (lots and lots of books); space science presentations from NASA scientists; workshops on writing, reviewing, contracts & negotiating basics for writers, publicity for writers, and getting an agent; a hospitality suite, room parties, filking, and board gaming. The WSFA Small Press Award Ceremony is traditionally presented during a Saturday night event.

The membership will be capped at 500 this year. So, check out the website — bookmark it and check back often because we’ll be adding details as we delve into planning the programming schedule and invite participants. The website also has a link to the Capclave blog which will have the most recent news about what’s going on. And since I’m the chair of Capclave 2010, you’ll probably hearing a lot about Capclave here in my blog too.

Right now membership rates are the lowest they are going to be — $35 per person. Membership prices will go up on January 1st to $45 and raise again on July 1st and October 1st. Capclave does offer special rates for active military and students with proof of their status.

So, if you enjoy science fiction, fantasy, and related writings or you are an aspiring writer, or you’re a professional (author, editor, publisher, reviewer, etc.) in the genre — join us in October 2010 for a great convention.

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