::WARNING: THIS POST MAY PLACE HIGH PRESSURE ON YOUR TBR PILE ::
For avid bookworms, if there is a panel moderated by or with any connection to Mysterious Galaxy bookstore, clear a path for that panel. Bookstores may be blinking out of existence but stores like Mysterious Galaxy shine on. They are dedicated and passionate bookstore that celebrates authors and the works that we all cherish. Galaxy is hours away but I have driven through heinous and stereotypical LA traffic to see Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid Chronicles) and John Scalzi (Red Shirts). Mysterious Galaxy is always a prominent booth during the cons because they bring it. There are always authors and books to just go nuts on!
A panel of high interest on my radar was the Authors of Fantasy Fiction. Including TODD MCCAFFREY, son of ANNE MCCAFFREY. I have always wanted to meet him since he’s my only connection to the Pern series (although…a teaser hint was dropped that his sister may take the mantle). Oh yes, I was starstruck and it took all of my willpower not to run up the podium and bawl into his shoulder with sheer unabashed fangirl glee.
Alongside him were other authors that were new to me but who I have already sought out their works to add to my TBR pile. These authors were entertaining to watch with all their personalities and weirdness. Especially when Greg Van Eekhout (writer of California Bones) described creating fantasy fiction as “slathering bubbling goo of fantasy” upon himself. When the rest of the panel kept up the “goo” analogy, I was sold. These authors had my attention.
The panel immediately began with talk about a recent article in the Guardian in regards to fantasy fiction today. Some of the panelists, Arwen Elys Dayton(writer of Seeker) and NaomI Novik (writer of the Temeraire series) were pretty livid at the “snobbery of the article” or how exclusionary they were. They pointed out how little academic circles really affect the fantasy genre since the genre is huge. The readership reflects that and the diversity that it evolved from it. Not to mention the severe lack of female authors on this article (of which I direct you to this link here to correct for those omissions). McCaffrey gave mention of respect to George R.R. Martin and how after years of hard work, he earned every single profit from the franchise. McCaffrey is just glad if academia invites in more readers towards his direction, then he’s happy with that.
This conversation about which fantasy author is better or worse or has no place in whatever has been a recent focus which echoes the geek girl debate of last year. Let’s get one thing straight: everyone is entitled to enjoy whatever they hell they want. Period. Fandoms are just imaginary meeting spots where fans share in their joy of loving the same characters. They do not establish strict boundaries. Someone can like “50 shades of Grey” and also devour books by Patrick Rothfuss. In the voice of a jaded valley girl: WHAT-EVER. Just read. Read, read, read. I may not agree with your selection but you are just as crazy as I am. Both of us are ignoring the real world to dance about in our imaginations. Whatever the music you hear in your head, just enjoy it. Don’t point fingers or bash other people for their music. Leave the snobbery in vapid,superficial land of material goods.
My favorite part of the panel came from when the inevitable question “where do you get your inspiration?” was asked. McCaffrey mentioned that sometimes it’s an answer to a challenge. A colleague of his was bemoaning the lack of purple unicorn stories to add in an anthology. Challenge accepted, McCaffrey writes a story that can be seen in the One Horn to Rule Them All:The Purple Unicorn Anthology.
The rest of the panel was sharing of what influenced them, what interested them, and such. It began to read like a long list of more works that I should be reading. Here were the list of works that were mentioned ( in a 45 minute panel).
- Strange Horizon by Katherine Kurtz (This received a lot of mention especially during the discussion about the Guardian article. Every single panelist had high praise for the author. Nice article from iO9 about Kurtz can be found here. Although this may hard to find online. Good luck finding it at used bookstores…)
- The Dragon and the George by Gordon R. Dickenson
- works by Mercedes Lackey (I especially enjoy the Five Hundred Kingdom series)
- work by Tamora Pierce (great for young women, which I second.)
- “Bridge of Birds” by Barry Bughart
- Chris Claremont (comic book writer noted for Uncanny Xmen)
- works by Ray Bradbury
- “Earthsea” by Ursula L. Le Guin
- works by Octavia Butler
- works by Arthur C Clarke
- “Breakfast of Champions” by Kurt Vonnegut
- “So You Want to Be a Wizard” by Diane Duane
The best end note for the panel was the mention of the worst swear word in history: C-A-N-‘T. Whatever you want to do, you can do it. You may need to work on it, it may take practice, but you can. Once again, another enjoyable panel with authors doing what authors and readers do: share the love of the written word.