My schedule for the Arisia science fiction con in Boston this weekend

This weekend, fans of science fiction, fantasy, anime, gaming, costuming, and filk take over the Westin Boston Waterfront for the 23rd annual Arisia convention. As usual, it's an amazing program, and this con is always fun.

Oh, and I'm on a couple of panels, so, hey, stop by.

Army of Davids: The Role of New Media
Room: Revere
Sat 1:00 PM
With the FCC suggesting taxes and subsidies for legacy media, the new media is
increasingly successful in setting the agenda and breaking news stories. What
does this new media mean for the consumer and the political world? Will online
news media, generated by an increasing number of citizen journalists, be the new standard? Or will something or someone take their place? What about quality control? Are social networks and the hive mind aggregate the best models for investigative journalism?
David J. Friedman, David Larochelle (moderator), John G. McDaid, Maddy Myers, James Zavaglia

The Legacy of Steve Jobs
Sat 7:00 PM
Steve Jobs passed away last October, but his influence will last for years to come. He was most identified with Apple but don't forget NeXT (if you use a MacBook, you can't), and Pixar wouldn't exist without him, either. How did he "think differently" and will Apple continue to do so without his guiding hand? Will he be remembered with rose-colored glasses or as the demanding perfectionist that he was? Is anyone in the tech world ready or able to step into his shoes?
William "Ian" Blanton, John G. McDaid (m), Richard Stallman, James Turner

Kolchak the Night Stalker
Sat 10:00 PM
After two TV movies, a short lived series in the 1970’s and an even shorter resurrection in the 2000’s, *Kolchak the Night Stalker* has shown its staying power with its fan base, influencing such shows as the X-Files along with graphic and regular novels. Panelists and the audience will give their views on this legacy.
Dr.Chris, Catherine Kane, John G. McDaid, Charlie Spickler, James Zavaglia

Marshall McLuhan Centennial
Sun 2:30 PM
The medium of the future is still the message. This year is the centennial of Marshall McLuhan's birth, and his views on media have had a huge influence. Let's look ahead at the future of media and in what ways McLuhan's insights may be overtaken by events or, on the contrary, continue to be relevant.
Lex Berman, David Larochelle (m), John G. McDaid, Ira Nayman, James Zavaglia

Full disclosure: Yes, I'm sometimes still reduced to gibbering awe that I get to sit on panels with people like these.

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"Umbrella Men" briefly reviewed in Locus

Locus, the trade paper of the science fiction field, reviews most of the short fiction in the major markets, and this week, Lois Tilton had a brief but positive note about "Umbrella Men"...

"A story of family and of human ties. The plot avoids predictable routes, and the characters are very appealing, especially the nascent SF writer João."

Tilton can be a tough reviewer — color me chuffed.

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Beautiful F&SF cover art for "Umbrella Men"

F&SF cover
Cover of the Jan/Feb F&SF

Here's a first peek at the cover art for the next issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction with my story, "Umbrella Men" on the cover, and ZOMG what a beautiful painting by Mark Evans.

At the heart of "Umbrella Men" is a librarian from Brooklyn and his family, who are in possession of what may be a mystical umbrella that dates back to the dawn of history. Evans did an amazing job capturing the light and shadow, the mystery and magic. (Yes, I'll admit, I got him to sign a print for me.)

You can see more of Evans' work at his web site, http://cloudmover.net/

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NYTimes video with Errol Morris explores the mystery of the Umbrella Man

Today's New York Times features a video interview with Errol Morris who coined the term "Umbrella Man" for the figure near the grassy knoll on November 22, 1963. "And then," he sez, "There's this other level where everything is really weird."

Of course, he doesn't know about this (or this).

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Slate tiptoes up to the dark secret of the Umbrella

Writer Ben Yagoda, in a post on Slate yesterday, ruminates on the origin of the term "bumbershoot" and ends up talking about one of the 20th century's iconic umbrellas:

"The year before, at the Munich Conference, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was invariably depicted holding a (furled) umbrella, in the manner of a saint and his icon. The imagery suggested a weaponlike thing that was not and would not be used as a weapon, hence its aptness and its stickiness."

Oooh, so close. The January issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction will have the real story...

Or...is this the real story?

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Coming attractions: "Umbrella Men" teased in F&SF

There is nothing quite like seeing your story teased in a magazine to make your head spin, and the current issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction has a little squib about my upcoming short, "Umbrella Men."

And there is nothing that brings you back to earth faster than a good proofreader. Just finished and sent off the edits, and boy, am I sloppy with commas. Sigh. It's always a humbling experience, and I'm deeply grateful for those sharp editorial eyes.

No matter how many stories I write, I will never, ever, lose my sense of wonder at the process. There's a large measure of slack-jawed amazement that I get to have this much fun, and it's coupled with a deep sense of how much I owe all the people who helped me get here: my parents, my teachers, the friends who put up with a million amateur words, and my amazing workshop colleagues who keep me from making (more) dumb mistakes. And of course, Karen, always my first reader.

Story should be out in January. Sure, you can pick up a copy of F&SF at the bookstore, but why not buy a subscription? Like your texts digital? You can get a sub on your Kindle. That's how I read it, and it works great.

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Congratulations to the 2011 Hugo Award winners!

Last night, at Renovation, this year's World Science Fiction Convention, in Reno, NV, the winners of the 2011 Hugo Awards were announced, and congratulations are due all around.

Connie Willis won best novel for the Blackout/All Clear books, Ted Chiang took best novella for "The Lifecycle of Software Objects," best novelette went to "The Emperor of Mars by Allen M. Steele, and Mary Robinette Kowal's “For Want of a Nail” got best short story (beating out Peter Watt's "The Things," which I'll admit I was rooting for.

Lev Grossman took the John W. Campbell for best new writer (which is, technically, not a Hugo), and Inception won for best dramatic presentation. You'll want to go check out all the results on the Hugo Awards site.

This was just a wonderful year for sf, with great stuff in every category, and everyone, whether they went home with a rocket or not, deserves a big round of applause. Thank you, all, for continuing to push the boundaries of our field, and sustaining our sense of wonder.

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My Clarion Write-a-Thon wrap-up and thank you

Clarion Write-a-Thon
Clarion Write-a-Thon

The annual Write-A-Thon to benefit the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy writing workshop wraps up tomorrow, and I'm proud to say that with the help of my my awesome sponsors — Wylie Goodman, Charity Shea, Karen Blocher, Bill Bly, and Adam Chinitz — we raised $320 for this very worthy effort.

I matched their donations dollar-for-dollar, and spent the last six weeks cranking text alongside the participants in this year's workshop. While I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped (unlike the cloistered dormitory sweatbox of Clarion, I had to fit five out of the six weeks of writing in around my day job) I did finish a solid draft of the first three chapters of my novel-in-progress, Fist of the Ape.

Regular readers will know that I am deeply indebted to Clarion. The six weeks I spent there in 1993 literally changed the direction of my life, and I came away from the experience with the knowledge and tools to write at a professional level. I sold two of the stories I wrote there, and, 18 years later, am still workshopping with several of my classmates.

So you can expect to find characters in this book named like Wylie, Charity, Karen, Bill, and Adam. :)

I thank you, and the future writers — and readers — of speculative fiction thank you as well. Arigato gozaimashita.

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Clarion Write-a-Thon begins; novel sprint underway

Click to find out more about the Clarion Write-a-Thon.

Starting today, June 26, and for the next six weeks, I will be writing along with the participants in the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy writing workshop, and if you're a regular reader, or a fan of the science fiction genre, I hope you'll consider sponsoring me in the second annual Clarion "Write-a-Thon."

Like all *-a-thons, the goal is to raise money to support the Clarion workshop which, every year, brings a group of budding authors together with established pros for six weeks of intense work on the craft and business of being a science fiction writer. Like most educational programs these days, it always needs financial help.

So, to do my part, I'm committing to crank out the final 30K words of my novel-in-progress, Fist of the Ape. And if you'd like to support me — really, support all the fantasy and science fiction writers who benefit from Clarion — you can make a donation on my Write-a-Thon page.

I'll be posting progress updates here and will tweet snippets under #writeathon.

Good luck to all this year's participants at the workshop. Can't wait to see the amazing things you write!

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