Tuesday, June 11, 2013

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

The Wedding at Mythcon 2
(photos by Jack Hastings)

“Extracts (3): …the hunt continues for a fuller explanation…”  2312

When I used “…comes home” in the title for this series, I thought I knew what I meant, something like “the prodigal sci-fi fan, after wandering around in the mainstream literary world, decides to re-visit the genre he loved when he was younger”.  And I guess it still does mean that, to a certain extent.  But in reading 2312 I find myself feeling a powerful set of emotions (which I will discuss with Dr. Akrabu), most of which are very positive.  2312, at least a hundred pages in, is SO good, SO replete with what I “remember” exciting science fiction to be, that I’m filled with a kind of idiot glee.  Excellent characters, exciting page-turner plotting, great writing, and a story with a space exploration backdrop that seems to be an incredibly valiant attempt to actually extrapolate what our lives might be like in three centuries.  The other two Hugo books I read are well-done novels in their own way.  But I suppose if this science fiction home/house idea were an actual structure, Throne and Redshirts would be two small, very comfortable and enjoyable rooms (the sword and sorcery room, and the mindbender room), but 2312 looks like it’s going to be the master bedroom, or main living room, or foundation for the whole house or something. 

When I read, I usually have music on, and there are a half dozen “go-to” records (that’s right, vinyl!), cds, and/or ipod playlists I usually use.  One has to be careful with this: the music can’t be too “busy” and singing is usually out, but I will not tolerate “muzak”.  In any case, today Gavin Bryars’ The Sinking of the Titanic was 2312’s soundtrack; it’s a haunting, elegiac masterpiece.  And it seemed especially fitting as the protagonist found her way back to Earth’s New York, which, because of global warming, is now flooded and much like Italy’s Venice.  You might want to check out Bryars work even if you’re not using it as a “soundtrack”. 

Back at Mythcon 2, SK and DC arrived the following day.  They had been picked up by Wayne M, who was driving a convertible two-seat sports car, so DC had to cram herself into the back area behind the seats.  They spent the night sleeping at the beach on the way there; this was very disconcerting since we had been hearing about some recent beach murders ever since we arrived (I think there was even a sick, filthy filk song about it the night before).  In any case, reunited, we took in the con in all its splendor, attending a Mythopoeic wedding, going to panels, refreshing our thirst on what seemed like a limitless supply of Jose Cuervo from JH’s flask, and becoming embroiled that night in an out-of-control session of skinny dipping; we had no idea this was
At Mythcon with Happy Jack, the author and a Filk Singer
some kind of con “ritual” (does this sort of thing still go on?).  Wayne M turned out to be a great guy and stayed till the next day, but he was completely blown away by what he was seeing.  I last remember him perched on the Hotel’s high dive, dressed only in his tighty-whities, blowing as loud as he could on SK’s harmonica, as a dozen naked fans frolicked below him. 

I can’t remember much more.  The next day (or was it the day after that?), wasted, exhausted, and aching in some very strange places, we gathered what was left of our wits and tried to figure out how we were going to get back to Sacramento, and which con would be next.

To Be Continued    

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