Monday, June 10, 2013

8: SciFi is Not for Sissies; Westercon 66: A Skeptic Comes Home

Art by Emshwiller

“As a newcomer to filk and filk singing, you will find that there are times when you will be the only one in the room not laughing at some remark or reference in a song; indeed, you may very well be sitting and thinking, what the hell are these morons laughing at?”  Erik Gerds

Finished Redshirts at 5:00 this morning (sometimes insomnia can be a blessing) and folks, it works on virtually all levels.  As I mentioned before, the less you know about it the better, so I will only say this: if you want a thought provoking, often hilarious, occasionally touching, sometimes mind bending sci-fi “romp”, read this book.  If you’re a “fan”, it’s a must; I can totally see why it got Hugo nominated.  If you’re not a fan, I think you would still find some pleasure in its pages. 

And now on to nominee #3 (no rest for the wicked!): just got a start on Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312.  Now THIS is what I think of when I think of a science fiction novel: it opens 300 years in the future on Mercury (!), where humans have built a constantly moving city-on-tracks that keeps one step ahead of sunrise, and where “sunwalkers” can actually traverse the planet on foot as long as they, too, don’t get caught in the daylight.  A lot of big science words and concepts.  Fifty pages in, what appears to be the protagonist, a conceptual Christo-ish landscape artist, is leaving Mercury on a journey to the Jupiter moon Io, where she has been requested to go by her now dead 200 year old grandmother.  Completely engaging, great stuff so far!

Meanwhile, back in 1971, HJ and I made it to Mythcon 2 in Santa Barbara that night.  It was getting late, but thanks to Reality News, we managed to snag a couple of con badges.  We couldn’t find SK and DC; evidently they hadn’t made it yet, which was bad news for us as they were the ones with the means to get a room.  So now we had no place to sleep and didn’t meet anyone who wanted to help us.  Luckily, HJ’s flask of tequila helped us maintain a somewhat cheery outlook, but unfortunately, the only “gathering” we could find was with a collection of filk-singing fans.  We were new to this: ‘filk music” is folk music with the words changed to reflect sic-fi/fantasy concerns.  Yes, it was as horrifying as it sounds; this was like some kind of particularly grotesque circle of hell, but we didn’t have anyplace else to go.  Finally, the tequila ran out, it got really late and we were exhausted.  The only place we could find with no people around was a foyer outside one of the men’s restrooms; we ended up crashing there. 

To Be Continued

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