Welcome one and all to the, “Damn it, I’m still dating half my checks with 2012,” portion of the New Year! With any luck, you should be writing the appropriate year on documents by April. It’s tradition!
Speaking of which, we Foes decided this year to indulge in the time honored New Year’s tradition of reflecting back on our favorite science fiction and fantasy related moments of 2012, as well as looking ahead to potential highlights in 2013. While none of us actually came out and said it, you can be certain that each of us is looking forward to our individual quotas of cake, cookies, and other assorted baked goods.
Dan: Hmmm, favorite moment. I’m going to go with Chicon 7. That was the first time we three Foes were able to sit around a table together, breath the same air, share a meal, and geek out in unison. It was also my first time as a Worldcon convention staffer. Joining the Press Relations Department full-time was the last thing I thought I’d be doing at Chicon 7, but I’m glad I did. The experience really afforded a unique vantage point to see the intersection between fandom, the media, SF&F writing professionals, and what exactly goes into managing a massive, multi-day event catering to thousands of people. Add the Hugo Awards ceremony and various parties into the mix and nothing else I did or saw last year in the SF&F realm compares.
Steve: 2012 was a big year for me in terms of SF&F, in the sense that it was the year that I said “okay, this is what I’m going to write, moving forward, and I need to dig in.” In a lot of ways, that decision was “the” moment. Chicon 7 was fun… it’s also tempting to mention The Avengers. When all is said and done, though, I’d have to say that my favorite moment was reading The Darkness that Comes Before because that moment was about me enjoying an epic fantasy novel in a way that I haven’t enjoyed one in a long, long time.
Dan: Interesting choice. What exactly about reading The Darkness that Comes Before made it the defining SF&F moment for you in 2012? Was there something specific about the book that restored your faith in epic fantasy?
Steve: I wouldn’t say it restored my faith, more that it reminded me of the possibilities. When you think of your “best” SF&F moments of all time (literary, especially), aren’t they defined by a sort of emotional experience you had, probably for the first time as a kid? For me, this has to do with layered work that really transports me. When I think of LoTR for example, I think of The Council of Elrond, and the way it created this tremendous sense of depth and reality – or Sam, alone, fighting Shelob (think of the way Tolkien provided context, reaching all the way back to Ungoliant and Elbereth Gilthoniël to add additional resonance). The Darkness that Comes Before has that sort of complexity to it and as a result, had a power to transport me that I hadn’t experienced yet in 2012, though I’d read some darned good books
Turning it back to you, Dan, I was wondering if you could speak a little more about Chicon, specifically being shoulder-to-shoulder with the conference organizers. Aside from the administrative stuff, how did the whole these people around me are all SF&F fans part of it impact your experience, even when what you were doing wasn’t directly related to SF&F?
Dan: The impact played out on several different levels. For one, being a middle-aged SF&F fan means wandering around adulthood with a lot of pent up enthusiasm for highly specialized knowledge that doesn’t naturally lend itself to frequent conversation. That cultural divide heightens my enthusiasm once I am among other adult fans speaking the same language. Attending a major science fiction/fantasy event and actually having a hand in keeping it up and running–well, it doesn’t get much better than that. Fandom’s built-in sense of camaraderie makes working with others behind the scenes at an event like Chicon an amazing experience.
Working the Press Relations department also meant that I got a really deep cross section of exposure to the place where the “fan” side and the “professional” side of SF&F begin to blur. A lot of people forget that pretty much every writer and journalist covering the literary beat started out as fans of other writers. That inner fan never really goes away unless the business side beats it out of them. Similarly, the fans running Press Relations were either seasoned veterans or, in my case, people who had enough of a background working similar gigs that they could get up to speed in a hurry.
Ran: (Swoops down on her T-16 Skyhopper) Hey guys, sorry I’m late. Been a hectic day at the lunar clinic.
I’d have to join Dan in including Chicon 7 as a highlight SFF-wise. Mostly, because I got to hang out with you Foes for the first time and that was really the “launch” of Foes of Reality. But also because I got to meet Joan Vinge, author of Catspaw, a book that was my best friend for a bit many years ago.
My favourite surprise was seeing Looper. It thrills me to know that clever speculative story-telling isn’t dead. I love a smash’em up superhero story as much as the next fan, but it doesn’t thrill me to the extent that a great yarn does. In Time and Inception back in 2011 were that for me, Looper was that for me in 2012. I hope 2013 will bring a few more of those gems, but I am not optimistic. It might be that they are just harder to find. ATTENTION FoR READERS – please suggest titles I may have missed!
Dan: How about things we’re looking forward to this year? There is a documentary called Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, set to air on PBS during the 2013-2014 season that has me pretty excited. The series will run in three installments covering a comprehensive history of comic books, their place in American culture, and their evolution and adaptation across media. I saw the documentary’s initial preview back during the 2011 New York Comic Con and have been anxious to see the final product ever since. Screw the Dust Bowl. I want me some comic book action on my PBS.
I am also very excited to see Jeff Salyards’ follow-up to Scourge of the Betrayer, currently titled Veil of the Deserters. That reminds me, I should check in with him soon and see how the current manuscript is coming along.
Steve: That’s something I need to keep an eye out for: follow-ups to things I read in 2012. That documentary sounds really cool – there are a lot of interesting SFF related documentaries and programming on Netflix that I have yet to dig into. Moviewise, in the new year I’m thinking about Iron Man 3 of course – I’m a lot more cautious about Man of Steel. I’m looking forward to stepping up my reading in 2013, at least I’d like to, and that means stepping up my reviewing and maybe doing some interviews: essentially, more digging into the stuff I’m most interested in. Oh, and more short fiction reviews. The next issue of Shimmer is coming out in a few weeks, and I have a feeling it’s going to be right up my alley. Oh, and in 2013 I’d like to get over this @#$@$ flu I’ve had for the last week!
Ran: I hope 2013 brings another space opera TV series. I miss BSG. And please gawd, I don’t mean another urban fantasy. I mean spaceships and aliens. I’ll even take another Star Trek spinoff if I must. Speaking of which, I am MUCH looking forward to the new Star Trek film.
Dan: I can ask about any new space opera series on the horizon. One fellow member of the old high school student lounge irregulars is a visual effects artist in LA now. He might be working on just such a new series, not that he’d be able to say much about it, but maybe so. I know Space: 1999 is getting a re-boot called Space: 2099. There’s a brief Variety article about it here. There’s also a crowd-sourced project called Space Command that has hit some bumps since its initial Kickstarter campaign reached goal on 14 July, 2012. I’ve been meaning to dig into that more, too.
Ran: Ooh! Yes, please ask. And again, anyone out there reading this…
I just got my very first gaming system this Christmas (Wii), so I hope to be exploring the world of SFF gaming and reviewing some games too. Maybe joining Steve in his exploration of Why We Play. My favourite computer game ever was the Myst series, so I’m open for suggestions on any similar “adventure” games out there.
Dan: Oh, how I loved me the first three titles in the Myst series. That reminds me, the boys got Skylanders Giants for our Wii system. Methinks I’ll need to play me some of that one of these days and review…
Ran: Speaking of gaming – it’s really a fascinating field for writers. I’ve just met a dude that designs games as a hobby and am going to explore not only how it’s done, but how creators of many disciplines come together to create interactive story-telling.
Steve: Ran, I’d love to dig into that, too, both for gaming purposes, and because of my own interest in new(er) forms of storytelling. Who wouldn’t love to write for an RPG?
Dan: Good news for us. Looks like we should have plenty to talk about this year. Fellow Foes, stay tuned.