|ArmadilloCon: What You Should Have Read in 2011-2012
||[30 Jul 2012|11:24am]
Books mentioned at panel "What You Should Have Read in 2011-2012, held July 28, 2012 at ArmadilloCon 34 in Austin, Texas.
Panelists: Jeremy Lassen, Bill Parker, Willie Siros, Michelle Muenzler, Bev Hale
Margaret Atwood - In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination
N K Jemisin - The Kingdom of Gods and The Killing Moon
Ian McDonald - Planesrunner
Neal Stephenson - Reamde
Bruce Sterling - Gothic High-Tech
Francis Spufford - Red Plenty
Terry Bisson - Any Day Now
Laird Barron - The Croning
James S. A. Corey - Caliban's War
Alastair Reynolds - Blue Remembered Earth
Kim Stanley Robinson - 2312
Charles Stross - The Apocalypse Codex
Lauren Beukes - Zoo City
Mark Lawrence - Prince of Thorns
N K Jemisin - The Kingdom of Gods
Jo Walton - Among Others
Michael Swanwick - Dancing with Bears
Greg Egan - The Clockwork Rocket
Kameron Hurley - God's War
Will McIntosh - Soft Apocalypse
Rob Ziegler - Seed
Rudy Rucker - Jim and the Flims
Geoff Ryman - Paradise Tales
Holly Black & Ellen Kushner, ed. - Welcome to Bordertown
Ross Lockhart, ed. - The Book of Cthulhu
John Joseph Adams, ed. - Other Worlds than These
Stina Leicht - Of Blood and Honey
Ernest Cline - Ready Player One
Haruki Murakami - 1Q84
Jonathan L. Howard - Johannes Cabal the Detective
Ayize Jama-Everett - The Liminal People
J M McDermott - When We Were Executioners
Martha Wells - The Serpent Sea
Jason Heller - Taft 2012
Kameron Hurley - Infidel
Will McIntosh - Soft Apocalypse
John Love - Faith
Stina Leicht - And Blue Skies from Pain
Rose Lemberg. ed. - The Moment of Change
Kage Baker - The Best of Kage Baker
Pip Ballantine - Phoenix Rising
Jim Butcher - Ghost Story
Rachel Caine - Bite Club
Heartless - Gail Carriger
Kendare Blake - Anna Dressed in Blood
Laura Anne Gilman - Pack of Lies
Laurie R. King - The Pirate King
Seanan McGuire - Discount Armageddon
Kim Newman - The Hound of the D'Urbervilles
Ransom Riggs - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
John Scalzi - Fuzzy Nation and Red Shirts
F Paul Wilson - Nightworld
George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, ed. - Down these Strange Streets
Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, and Mark Teppo, ed. - The Mongoliad
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter - The Long Earth
Iain Banks - Stonemouth
Forthcoming Books of Interest
Iain M. Banks - Hydrogen Sonata
Mark Teppo - Earth Thirst
Robin Maxwell - Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan
|ArmadilloCon 33: What You Should Have Read in 2010-2011
||[29 Aug 2011|09:56am]
What You Should Have Read in 2010-2011
Elizabeth Bear (moderator), Michelle Muenzler, Willie Siros, T. M. Wagner
August 27, 2011 Austin, TX
- Embassytown by China Mieville
- Clockwork Rocket by Greg Egan
- Rule 34 by Charles Stross
- Vortex by Robert Charles Wilson
- Home Fires by Gene Wolfe
- Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear
- Scratch Monkey by Charles Stross
- Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey
- Jim and the Flims by Rudy Rucker
- Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
- Noise by Darin Bradley
- No Hero by Jonathan Wood
- Blackout /All Clear by Connie Willis
- Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
- The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
- Embedded by Dan Abnett
- Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card
- The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
- God's War by Kameron Hurley
- Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht
- A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files
- Mechanique by Genevieve Valentine
- Enigmatic Pilot by Kris Saknussemm
- The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells
- Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
- Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks
- Indigo Springs by A. M. Dellamonica
- Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories edition from Library of America
- The Dervish House by Ian McDonald
- The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
- The Way of Kings by Brandon Anderson
- Hellhole by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
- Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb
- The Magician King by Lev Grossman
- A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin
- Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold
Recommended Smartphone App
- iSFFMeta - SF/F review aggregator
|Very Late ApolloCon Report
||[19 Aug 2009|12:13am]
I've been distracted over the past couple of months by various professional and personal issues, but I do want to get in a report...
I attended ApolloCon, which was held June 26-28, 2009 in Houston, TX. This was the convention's sixth year, and I've been to every one. I had arrived in the Houston area a day early to visit with family. On Friday morning, I shopped at mystery bookstore Murder by the Book and sf bookstore Dark Matter Books before arriving at the con.
Registration and hotel checkin went swiftly, and I headed to the Dealers' Room to do a bit of shopping. At 6 PM I moderated the panel "Comic Books: More than Pretty Pictures", which was well-attended and a lot of fun. Other panelists included Caroline Spector (a longtime acquaintance from Austin), Artist Guest Pat Rawlings (whom I'd never met before but was a tremendously nice guy), and A. Lee Martinez and Erika Frensley, with both of whom I would share several more panels over the weekend. Afterward I was hungry, so I tagged along with a likely-looking dinner group (mostly writers from Austin) and went out for a nice Cajun dinner.
I returned back in time for my next panel, "Undiscovered Gems", with Scott Cupp, Bradley Denton, Erika Frensley, and Chris Nakashima-Brown. It also had a decent turnout. Afterward I visited people in the Con Suite for a bit, and then headed to my room to retire for the evening.
Saturday morning I got up, got some exercise, showered, and then headed to the hotel restaurant. Two friends from Austin got there about the same time, so I joined them for breakfast. Afterward I attended the readings by Rosemary Clement-Moore and Martha Wells, shopped more in the Dealers' Room, and watched the impressive Artist Guest Slide Show by Pat Rawlings. I didn't have much time for lunch, so I headed to the Con Suite and foraged for food.
In the afternoon I attended the presentation by Special Guest Astronaut Stanley Love. He gave a fun talk, accompanied by funny stories of his training and recent space mission. He showed lots of video from his mission. After his talk, he signed autographs for a very long time, all with good humor. Guest of Honor Will McCarthy was also signing then, so I collected his autograph.
Later I sampled a few more panels, visited with people, and then showed up for my next panel, "Media Roundup 2009". I moderated, with fellow panelists A. Lee Martinez, Katy Pace, and Lawrence Person. Lawrence and I are longtime friends and we regularly watch movies and TV shows together, so I had to work hard to keep if from being "The A. T. and Lawrence show". No one on the panel or in the audience liked the movie Twilight, but several (including me) had good things to say about the Norwegian vampire film Let the Right One In.
Afterward I met some friends for dinner, and we had a wonderful seafood meal at Pappas Seafood. Lobster was the special of the day, and most of us had it. I got back to the con in time to catch the end of the Masquerade.
I briefly visited some room parties, but it seemed that every party was identical to one I'd been to before. Maybe I was just not in the partying mood, or I've just been to too many cons. Anyway, I spent a lot of time in the Con Suite, which had good food, friendly people, and conversations that didn't give me quite that same sense of deja vu. I headed to bed at a reasonable hour.
Sunday morning I got up and ran into two more friends from Austin in the restaurant, so I had breakfast with them. Afterward I was on the "Batman Turns 70" panel with Tim Frayser, Erika Frensley, Rocky Kelly, and Katy Pace. It had good attendance for a Sunday morning, and we talked about Batman in all his incarnations: comics, TV, movies, animations, etc. Afterward I shopped more in the Dealers' Room, visited with more people, collected lots of autographs (I like a well-signed program book) and attended the convention-ending feedback session.
I stayed over Sunday night, so I got to attend the Dead Dog Party and visit more with the fine folks who ran the convention. I also finally got to meet the filk guest, Amy McNally. There was a late night fried chicken dinner. On Monday morning I joined a handful of the concom for breakfast at IHOP, then drove home to Austin.
Overall I had a great time at the convention. It was well-run by first-time chair Kim Kofmel and the rest of the committee. The guests were accomplished individuals and good people, and I enjoyed meeting them all. I look forward to next year.
|InstaCon Trip Report
||[08 May 2009|08:39am]
I attended InstaCon, a symposium for Texas con-runners, on April 18, 2009. I’d been assigned to participate in two panels, both as moderator. I prepared write-ups for each of these panels in advance, which were printed in the conference proceedings. I also participated in a teamwork exercise, SF Pictionary, where I produced the clues and served as judge.
I arrived at the convention at 9:15 on Saturday morning, picked up my registration materials, and attended a presentation by Houston Fan Brent Morgan: Comprehension Convention Engine (CCE) on Microsoft Live. Morgan presented software he’d developed to assist in many areas of running a convention. The primary focus of this software is to aid in the task of programming a convention: assigning people to panels, assigning panels to rooms, communication with program participants, and various reports to be used in publications. The software requires Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. So far it seems to have been used by only one convention, Conestoga in Tulsa, for the past two years. The software seems interesting, has some nice features, but has some significant missing functionality. It is almost complete print-oriented, with no reports suitable to be posted on a convention’s website. And it does not produce any concise print reports suitable for a traditional short pocket program.
Next was my first panel, Technology: Threat or Menace. I was moderator, and the other panelists were Houston fans Jonathan Guthrie and Brent Morgan. We provided an overview of technology currently in use at conventions (for publications, communication, presentations, and more) and talked a bit about possible directions for new technology in the future. We had lively audience participation, and the room was filled with people with strong ideas about technology (All Microsoft! All Adobe! All Open Source! Web 2.0! etc.) The discussion of technology to be used in the future was interesting. More than one person came up with the idea of putting RFID chips on the participants’ badges.
Afterward was a short lunch break. The rain was pouring hard outside, so I (and most of the rest of the con) ate in the con suite. Con suite organizers Chuck Coshow and Valerie Villareal provided a nice selection of food.
The next item I attended was the Con Suite Roundtable, led by Chuck Coshow in a room adjacent to the con suite. Many good ideas were presented on budgeting, planning the food selection, and efficient and cost-effective shopping.
At 3 PM was my next panel, The Great Balancing Act: Programming for SFF Cons. I was moderator, and the other panelist was Houston fan Katy Pace. We had a good discussion of all aspects of programming: inviting participants, gathering ideas, assigning people to program items, communication with the participants, interactions with the rest of the concom, and schedule adjustments during the con. We had good questions from the audience, and a couple of programming veterans offered informative anecdotes.
For the next programming session I spent a little time in the panel Bodycount: How Many Fans Does it Take to Run a Con? I also visited the convention art show (in Kurt Baty’s room) and networked with area fans in the con suite.
During the dinner break, I ate at Blue Nile Ethiopian restaurant with several fans from Houston and Dallas. Dining companions included kgkofmel , markbhall , geogal , and several others who are not on LJ.
Next was SF Pictionary. Kim Kofmel was MC, and I was judge. We had excellent participation. I provided the clues, which all had something to do with Texas science fiction. Among the harder ones to guess were InstaCon and Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom.
At this point, programming for the day was complete. I went to the con suite and talked with other fans for a bit, and then left the con.
Thanks to FACT for providing financial assistance in attending this convention. I was active in the program, and got a lot out the event.
|Hugo nominations and comments
||[21 Mar 2009|02:26am]
The 2009 Hugo nominations have been announced. Locus Online has posted the ballot .
Several nominees have a local connection. Nominees who were former major guests at ArmadilloCon include Charles Stross, John Scalzi, Neil Gaiman, Mike Resnick, Ellen Datlow, Stanley Schmidt, Gordon Van Gelder, Sheila Williams, Ginjer Buchanan, David Hartwell, Beth Meacham, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Bob Eggleton, John Picacio, and Brad Foster. Nominees who live or have lived in Texas include Lillian Stewart Carl, Bill Willingham, Guillermo del Toro, John Picacio, and Brad Foster.
There is a strong youth movement this year. Two of the nominated novels were published and marketed for younger readers: Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Game and Cory Doctorow's Little Brother. Another, Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi, is told from the point of view of a young girl.
|Amusing on Inauguration Day
||[20 Jan 2009|10:35am]
I read a story about a church service President-Elect Barack Obama attended this morning. One of the speakers, Bishop T.D. Jakes from Houston, tried to inject a pop-culture sf reference into his message. He didn't quite succeed. Here's a quote:
"I say to you as my son who is here today, my 14-year-old son -- he probably would not quote Scripture. He probably would use Star Trek instead. And so I say, 'May the force be with you.' "
|After Christmas Update
||[31 Dec 2008|10:30am]
I had a nice holiday visit with family in Sugar Land. We were busy giving gifts, preparing and eating good food, shopping, making a day trip, seeing an IMAX film, and celebrating three family birthdays within a week of Christmas. I was pleased that the gifts I gave (mostly purchased at REI and the Texas Book Festival) were appreciated. I liked the gifts I received, which were mainly literary or electronic. On Saturday I shopped at some of Houston's best specialty stores, including Murder by the Book, Texas Art Supply, and Tennis Express.
On Christmas Day, I saw the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still in IMAX. The new movie has a few positives (the cool computer-generated Gort, Jennifer Connelly's lovely presence) but overall is an inferior film to the original. I'm not sure I would have even understood the plot had I not seen the Michael Rennie version. And, stunningly, the new version omits the famous line "Klaatu Barada Nikto".
On Monday I was far happier seeing Bolt in 3D. The computer-animated film is about a girl and her dog, both stars of an adventure TV series, who get separated and try to find each other. It's a clever road film with compelling characters, lots of humor, and intelligent use of 3D. And as a bonus, a good new 3D Pixar short film is shown before Bolt. I give this a strong recommendation.
I've been visiting with friends and taking care of household tasks this week. Tonight I'm going to a friend's New Year's Eve Party. Tomorrow I'll eat my traditional good luck black eyed peas and buy some fonts on sale from my favorite foundry. Friday I return to work.
|Local Restaurant News
||[10 Dec 2008|08:18am]
AAA has published its list of outstanding restaurants. Six in Austin earned the Four Diamond Award:
I've eaten at the Driskill Grill, III Forks, and Jeffrey's. I've been looking for an excuse to try Trio, in the Four Seasons hotel. The others are unfamiliar to me.
- The Driskill Grill
- Hill Country Dining Room
- III Forks
- Restaurant Jezebel
College Station has one Four Diamond restaurant: The Republic. Dallas has ten, San Antonio has seven, and Houston has four.
AAA's highest rating, Five Diamond, went to only one place in the state: The French Room in Dallas. Twenty restaurants in the country won this designation, and the only cities with more than one were Las Vegas (5), New York City (3), and Boston (2).
Thanks to the Austin American-Statesman and the AAA website for the info.
||[03 Dec 2008|10:43pm]
I spent most of the holiday weekend in the Houston area, visiting family and friends. On Thursday I had the traditional turkey dinner with my mother and brother, and we watched sports afterward. Friday I visited favorite bookstores. The trip to Bedrock City, my old comics shop, was wonderful. Less successful was my visit to Murder by the Book, where the employees were oddly distracted. Saturday was a day trip to the Texas Renaissance Festival with kgkofmel and markbhall . The festival was fun but rainy, and we ran across familiar Houston fans all day.
It's been a busy week at work. We're trying to accomplish some end-of-the-year milestones, and we have a pretty aggressive schedule to get there. Two new employees started at my company this week, so I'm no longer the new guy.
My book club last night had its largest attendance in years: 17 people. No one was there for the first time, but all the regulars and most occasional attendees were there. It was probably some combination of luck, the book (Kitty and the Midnight Hour), and that we were picking new books for the reading schedule. The book was generally well-received, and we picked a diverse group of books to read well into next year.
My first Xmas card arrived on Monday, so I guess the holiday season is upon us. I've already done a bit of shopping, but I need to start on my Christmas cards soon.
||[27 Nov 2008|12:17am]
It's a season of thanks, and there are many things in my life for which I am grateful: my friends, my job (which I found after the shortest job search of my life), my dog, my house, and my relative prosperity.
Today is also the birthday of my late wife, Lori. This is the fifth one since she's been gone. She is still much missed by me, our dog, and a huge group of friends and family.
||[02 Nov 2008|07:38pm]
My dog likes to greet trick-or-treaters, so I stayed in Friday night. About 50 kids visited us between 7 PM and 8:45. I saw one Iron Man costume, but otherwise costumes were old standards: skeletons, vampires, fairy princesses, Darth Vader, and Harry Potter. I asked the boy in the Harry Potter costume if he'd read all the books, and his response was "What books?"
I spent much of Saturday at the Texas Book Festival. First I saw the entertaining (and packed) interview of Christopher Buckley. He discussed his endorsement of Barack Obama, his resignation from National Review, and the fake concession speech he wrote for John McCain. And then he talked about his new book Supreme Courtship, a humorous story about a popular TV judge being added to the US Supreme Court. Buckley autographed for a long time afterward, and I managed to get some books signed. I then did some browsing in the exhibitor area and grabbed a gyro for lunch.
Later I visited the thriller writers' panel, which was held in the Texas Capitol in the Senate Chamber. Authors on the panel were Joe Lansdale (from Nacogdoches), David Liss (from San Antonio), Christopher Reich (from California) and Martin Clark (from Virginia). Despite having a lame moderator who asked worn out questions ("Where do you get your ideas?"), the panelists were interesting enough to keep us entertained. I have all the recent Lansdale books, but I bought books from each of the other three and got them signed.
I did a little more browsing and then headed home. Later I had dinner with friends and saw the unfortunate end of the Texas/Texas Tech game.
Sunday's been a pretty quiet day of reading and laundry. I took time out to watch the latest Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode. I enjoyed the episode, but wonder what fraction of its audience will get the Mad Men references in the second segment.
|New Fall TV Shows
||[20 Oct 2008|12:13am]
This year I've sampled several of the new shows with sf/f content. Here's a quick take:
I've also recorded but not seen all 3 episodes of Sanctuary on SciFi. Any suggestions on whether it's worth watching?
- My Own Worst Enemy (Monday on NBC): Has possibilities. Christian Slater is an appealing lead. Basically it's True Lies: The Series.
- Fringe (Tuesday on Fox): No sympathetic characters. Too gross. Reminiscent of other shows I didn't like. Gave up 5 minutes into the second episode.
- Life on Mars (Thursday on ABC): Strong pilot. Great cast. While the premise of the show is sf/f, not sure how much sf/f content will be in each episode.
- Crusoe (Friday on NBC): Just watched a few minutes of the pilot. It looks great and has Sam Neill and Sean Bean. Story seems substantially different from what I remember of the book. Not a great timeslot.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Friday on Cartoon Network): Gave up 5 minutes into the first episode. It's a series featuring everything I hated from Episodes 1-3, produced in a style of animation I find unattractive and hard to watch.
And I should point out the drastic changes in Smallville (CW): Most of the longtime supporting cast (including Lana and Lex) are gone, and it's effectively Lois and Clark: The Next Generation. It's been fun so far.
Any other new shows I should try?
|First Day at Work
||[17 Oct 2008|08:46am]
My first day working at Stray Bullet Games went fine. My coworkers seem friendly. It's nice to be back in an office after a couple of years in a cubicle. I'll be learning a lot of new software and technology used to make the game. I was pleased to be included in the lunch group that went out to eat at Chuy's. My office is in the Far West area, so it's not too far a drive from home.
||[16 Oct 2008|09:18am]
I've enjoyed being off for the last couple of weeks. I made a day trip to San Antonio, accomplished numerous home improvement projects, had lunch at new (to me) restaurants, and saw a lot of movies.
Last night I had a nice time at the Jonathan Carroll signing at BookPeople. Several people I knew from the sf/community were there, and afterward seven of us had a nice dinner at Waterloo Ice House.
Today will be the first day at my new job. I'm looking forward to it.
|Easy TV Solution
||[03 Oct 2008|08:44pm]
The local NBC affiliate (KXAN) and my cable company (Time Warner Austin) couldn't reach an agreement by the time a contract expired last night, so Time Warner customers won't be able to watch NBC any time soon. I wasn't too thrilled about the prospect of missing SNL, Chuck, and Heroes. So I just went down to Radio Shack and picked up an inexpensive TV antenna. It was easy to set up. There are several immediate advantages:
Picture quality on the HDTV broadcast channels is comparable to cable (need further testing), but analog channels do not look as good as cable. Overall the antenna is well worth the $16.99 purchase price.
- I get NBC
- I get CW in HD (why doesn't Time Warner show this?)
- I can now record two shows on DVR while watching a third (as long as it's on a broadcast channel)
- I can now watch TV if the cable goes out
||[03 Oct 2008|06:31pm]
This week I ate tacos from three well-known Mexican restaurants in Central Texas:
My favorite was easily the puffy tacos from Taco Taco. But the others were also good. Does anyone have other recommendations for tacos in the area?
- Taco Taco Cafe in San Antonio, named "Best Tacos in America" by The Food Network
- Panchito's in San Antonio, a longtime area favorite
- Taco Shack in Austin, winner of "Best Taco" from the Austin Chronicle Restaurant Poll
|Job Search Results
||[29 Sep 2008|10:59am]
Last week was interesting. I'd been interviewing heavily for about three weeks, but when I woke up Monday morning, I had no interviews scheduled nor any leads to follow. I was waiting to hear back from several recent interviews, so I just took it easy for a few days. I saw movies, met friends for lunch, shopped for a new tennis racquet, and did useful stuff around the house.
Then the job offers started to come in. By Friday morning I had three good offers, all for graphics programming positions in the Austin area. After a lot of consideration, I've just accepted an offer to join Stray Bullet Games. It will allow me to stay in the game industry, and I can continue to mix my technical and artistic interests. Their offices are a convenient driving distance from my house. I'll start my new job on October 16, the week after Midway's severance pay runs out. So the timing couldn't be better.
My personal network was a huge help in the job search process. Half of my interviews came from referrals from former coworkers. Friends in the science fiction community pointed me toward most of the rest, including the job I accepted. Your suggestions about MMO games were a valuable help in preparing for the Stray Bullet interview. The coffee shop suggestions were helpful in setting up another interview. Thanks to everyone who supported me during this period of transition.
Now I get two and a half weeks of free time, during which I don't need to worry about looking for a job. Yay!
||most recent entries