Category Archives: Boskone


Note that older posts under this thread are further down. Look for the time/date stamps for section breaks.

Also note that there are all sorts of Typos. Sorry about that. Typing on an iPad with large fingers is rather difficult.

19FEB 4:00 PM

I always find myself running out of time on the last day of a con to speak with everyone I want to. Struggled as i did to find folks, I wanted to take a second before the final posting of this year’s Experience to thank people who took time themselves from their schedules to chat with me. In no particular order:

John Chu, Jeanne Cavelos, C. S. E. Cooney (Claire), Carlos Hernandez, Phil Merkel, Walter & Margo Williams, Milton Davis,
Paul Di Filippo, Allen Steele, Max Gladstone, Theodora Goss, Jim Kelly, J. M. McDermott, Brandon Sanderson, and Paul Tremblay.

Also an incredible shout-out to Melanie Meadors and Cerece Rennie Murphy for the laughter and the kindness.

And Erin Underwood who is a rock star.

This conference feels like the extremely well organized hippy cousin to ReaderCON–which is strange, since Boskone is older and actually spawned ReaderCON back in the day. I liked the variety of activities and the diversity of the programming. I liked the venue–way more than the Quincy Marriott ReaderCON has moved to. It felt as though the authors really wanted to connect to their fans, to meet upstart writers like myself and to make genuine new friends. In many ways, this was way better than I’d expected.

I think I’ll go back next year.

But let us away to Sunday’s program (my bit of it, anyway) before I reduce us all to uncontrollable sobbing.

(Return of) The Ten Worst Ideas in SF and Fantasy
Vincent Docherty (M), Daniel P. Dern, Paul Di Filippo, Cerece Rennie Murphy, Julie C. Day

We barely scratched the surface from the list of bad/overused ideas in Fantasy and Science Fiction before the panel ended. From the “Christ figure”–especially the white Christ figure through to invading aliens and the damsel in distress (and scantily-clad metal bikini-wearing princesses), each topic spun off more bad ideas. I’d like to point out here that when the metal-bikini-wearing shot was taken at Princess Leia, I pointed out that she (so far) is the ONLY Skywalker not to be tempted to the dark side and who ISN’T an asshole…also:she’s a freakin’ GENERAL. But I digress.

Horror and the Happy Ending
Jack M. Haringa (M), Paul Tremblay, Hillary Monahan, James Moore, Grady Hendrix

  Are you giggling at the title? We all were. However, the discussion was around use of the “Hollywood ending” in horror and had nothing to do with illicit massage parlors nor cash-only services. Putting aside the seemingly endless number of inappropriate questions I had, the discussion around all media (not just books) was fascinating–real inside into how to either give the reader/listener/viewer hope, or to destroy what would have been a good horror story. King’s preference for the “happy ending” was discussed, as were Jessica Jones, The Alien movies, Mist, Cujo and a dozen others. I was able to bring up Josh Malerman’s Bird Box which fit the discussion nicely and I’d just written an analysis for in my Contemporary Dark Fiction class with Richard Thomas.

I scheduled a reading next, as I’ve found that I can cognitively deal with only two panels before I need something different. Fortunately at this time,  Cerece Rennie Murphy (who is one of the funniest, sweetest folks I met for the first time at Boskone) was scheduled.

Although she didn’t read from herOrder of the Seers trilogy, she did read from To Find You, which I went out and bought from Amazon right after.

I was done with panels and scheduled programming after that–I though the marvelous scenes Cerece read were a perfect way to end  my first Boskone. I spent the next hour saying goodbye the the friends I could find, then Ubered home. My wife and I will be making brownies today and I will type up my notes, as they are and leave typos and all for you to enjoy. Thanks for reading!

18FEB 11:40 PM

Yes. It’s that late. Tina and I had dinner with friends last night–I think it was her way to distract me from the “overwhelming” which I have now decided to call any crowd experience from now on.

Bare with me. I had three martinis. I feel all 1950’s “Mad Men” now.

So .  The last part of my day two adventure began with a reading by one of my favorites: Allen Steele.

Allen read, not from his upcoming Avengers of the Moon throw-back Sci-Fi Captain Future story available from Tor, but from a soon to be published short from his Arkwright  tome.

I have no idea why, but Allen’s work always makes me feel like I did when I first discovered H.G. Wells or Jules Verne. He’s a great guy and a wonderful storyteller.

Massachusetts Men with Beards…

I continued a day of attending readings by joining Theodora Goss and was incredibly excited when she (as I had hoped) read from her upcoming The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter.  She has written a wonderful tale from the point of view of the daughters of Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, Dr. Moreau…and others. Trust. You will want this one when it comes out in June!

So. Loved Allen’s reading, ‘Dora is ALWAYS a delight. How could I top that?

Ladies and Gentlemen–I give you Carlos Hernandez.

I thought he might read from The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria. Which made me happy and sad, as my copy won’t arrive until after #Boskone is over and I wanted to get it signed.I mentioned the delay after the reading and Carlos reached into his backpack, signed a copy, and gave it to me right then and there.
Then he even offered to help me out with a story I’m writing that takes place at CUNY in the 80’s (he is a professor there).

I can’t even tell you how grateful and overwhelmed I am right now.

But the reading. Yes, he read from a hysterical YA work in progress. I’ll admit it now…I pee’d a little. That’s how funny the two chapters he read were.

Next was a jaunt through the art exhibit…then to a discussion of the Odyssey Workshop by Jeanne Cavelos.





From Jeanne: Since its inception in 1996, the Odyssey Writing Workshop has become one of the most highly respected workshops for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror in the world. Top authors, editors and agents have served as guests at Odyssey. Fifty-nine percent of graduates go on to professional publication, and among Odyssey’s graduates are New York Times bestsellers, Amazon bestsellers, and award winners. The workshop, held annually on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, runs for six weeks, and combines an intensive, advanced curriculum with in-depth feedback on students’ manuscripts.

I dunno. I’m not, after all the research and excitement, sure I can do this…interesting crisis of faith in my abilities. This is new for me.

18FEB 1:30 PM

Started the day with a brunch with Melanie Meadors. What a marvelous conversation about the industry and the state of publicist and writing in general. Energized for the morning.

And by energized, I mean lit on Espresso Martinis…

I’m thinking seriously of sending in my application for the Odyssey Workshop this year More on this later–but my first session today is a general discussion on Getting Ready for a Workshop
given by Victoria Sandbrook

After a good sessions that left me, I feel, ready for the discussion with Jeanne Cavelos of Odyssey–I headed for my first panel.

The Magic of Magical Realism in Literature
Carlos Hernandez (M), Cerece Rennie Murphy, Richard R. Horton, J. M. McDermott, Gillian Daniels

Carlos, as a CUNY professor, was perfect to moderate this panel of varying opinions on the definition of Magical Realism, realizing that the original has become more of a watered down and debased “marketing term.” When it first came into use to describe the work of certain Latin American writers, and then a small number of writers from many places in the world, it had a specific meaning that made it useful for critics. If someone made a list of recent magical realist works, there were certain characteristics that works on the list would share. The term also pointed to a particular array of techniques that writers could put to specialized use. Now the words have been applied so haphazardly that to call a work “magical realism” doesn’t convey a very clear sense of what the work will be like.

If a magazine editor these days asks for contributions that are magical realism, what she’s really saying is that she wants contemporary fantasy written to a high literary standard—fantasy that readers who “don’t read escapist literature” will happily read. It’s a marketing label and an attempt to carve out a part of the prestige readership for speculative works.

Unfortunately, I asked my question about horror and magical realism rather late in the discussion–at which point the panelists agreed “it” should be discussed at greater lengths than time allowed.


17FEB 8:15 PM

Long day–and I left before half of it was done (There was a late night screening of Deadpool. I was SO tempted…but I never would have made day two)

So. Where was I?

Yes. Panels, Readings and such.

First, let me say that the logistics around Boskone were handled superbly. There are way more things going on here then at ReaderCON. The Dealer room is massive. There is a game room where hundreds of board games, card games and video games can be played. There are video screening rooms. There are art exhibitions. This felt more like one of the bigger conventions–not quite a ComicCON, but still quite large.

Yet, somehow, it felt less crowded. Maybe today it will be different, but Friday was pretty tame, professional and fun!

Wizards, Warlocks, and Witches
E.J. Stevens, Jane Yolen, Cerece Rennie Murphy, Adam Stemple, Bruce Coville (M)
So, the strike-thoughs are not typos. Only Jane (who I adore), Adam (Jane’s son and who is a bit of a kindred spirit) and the lovely Cerece Rennie Murphy were at the panel.

And it was awesome.

There was some talk about witches and how women who have power were thought to have been way more evil then warlocks, Yoda, writing, politics and general stream of consciousness. I laughed for an hour–then more when I chatted with Jane and Adam in the lobby later. And even more when I caught up with Cerece in the dealer room.

Using History in SF and Fantasy
Bradford Verter, Jo Walton, Mark L. Olson (M), Dana Cameron, Ada Palmer

From alternate history to vaguely familiar settings in a unique story world, history is a great resource for inspiration. What are some of the most creative uses of history in fiction? How much research is needed before writing and fleshing out the story? Panelists discuss examples of how history has enriched some of our favorite novels. But can sticking to history hobble your creative instincts? When should we deviate from historical truths and strike out into the creative unknown?

More of a traditional panel–and was rightfully crowded. I must admit I left part-way through as the crowd was a bit much.

Some of the artwork on display
Ok. Here is a picture of Brandon. Quiet down, you heathens. Milton was WAY more accessible!

At 5-ish or so, I wandered down to the dealer room where Brandon Sanderson and Milton Davis were signing autographs. As you can imagine, the line for Brandon, as guest of honor for Boskone, was huge…I was never going to get to meet him in time to make CSE Cooney’s reading–and there was no way I was going to miss Claire (although Carlos wasn’t there—hopefully I’ll see him on Saturday)

But I digress.

Milton was at a table near Brandon, but there was no line for him–so I took the opportunity to speak with him What a charming, intelligent and funny author! I’m going to make time on Saturday to pick up a book or two of his and chat some more–fascinating man who writes fantasy series NOT based on white European cultures. Great stuff.

Reading by C.S.E. Cooney

There are a lot of writers I have met through the years whether via writing groups, conferences of classes. Claire Suzanne Elizabeth (CSE) Cooney and her partner in crime Carlos Hernandez are two of my favorites that I was introduced to as a part of the whole Mike/Anita Allen Clockwork Phoenix/Mythic Delirium team of AWESOME.

Claire’s Bone Swans collection of stories have won lovely awards and is worth a read. Or two. Just amazing stuff and she was good enough to sign my copy!

She read a short story last night–the name of which I can’t remember 9DESPITE asking for the title specifically–then I refused to write it down, apparently) that was so funny my sides hurt from laughing. I love the way Claire paints such surreal worlds in her writing.

AND she left us hanging! Somebody better pick up the story soon because I need to find out how it ends!



I know it’s early…but I head back to the train and home. Day two awaits and I must prepare to deal with the crowds…

17FEB 1:45 PM

Boskone Day One.

A Train ride. A mile walk in freezing temperatures.

An Irish pub (And those of you who know me KNEW I’d find an Irish pub).

Panels. Laughter. Lines. New People. Old friends.

I photoshopped out the frostbite

That’s the summary for day one at Boskone. This conference is wicked awesome, to use a Boston colloquialism.

I got to the Westin Waterfront in Boston and picked up my badge with 3 minutes to spare before the first panel. No chances to explore until later—I dove right in.

Steam’s Rising: A Proliferation of Punks

James Moore, KT Bryski (M), Victoria Sandbrook, Melanie Meadors

I arrived, breathless, and sans coffee (despite the fact that it was mid-afternoon, my body was craving caffeine). As it was the first scheduled panel of the free portion of the day, there weren’t, as of yet, a lot of people milling about. I knew that would change.

My friend, writer, and former Ragnarok associate editor Melanie Meadors was on this panel and I wanted to be there to support her. Moderator KT Bryski kicked it all off with introductions and the discussion began.

Steampunk, of course is the most well known of the “punks” (transgressive stories about rebellion with technological aesthetics of Victorian-era London). The integration, technology and cosplay typical of fans in this space were discussed. “Gaslamp” Punk, Deco (or “Flapper”) Punk, Diesel Punk, Solar Punk, Cyber Punk, and Dread punk were all touched upon with one question hanging over the panel—when do all these “punks” merge to be labeled just so?

Extra points for Melanie for wearing a 1920’s hat and costume to the panel!