Note: If you are here to find a copy of my alternate history presentation, see below!
I spent a lovely weekend in Rockville, Maryland, as part of Capclave 2019! Highlights included being on panels with both guests of honor (Robert Sawyer and Martha Wells) and giving my alternate history presentation to a small but participatory crowd. I also caught up with lots of friends.
After a half-day at work, I headed for the convention hotel. I’m in commuting distance for this convention, but I decided to treat myself to a weekend away and stay for the whole weekend (sleeping in without cats demanding breakfast at 6 AM is pure bliss).
I had two panels that evening, and my mom drove down to see me on them! First up was a discussion on psychos and psychopathy/sociopathy in general and how it relates specifically to Robert Sawyer’s novel Quantum Night. After a short break, I was back on the hot seat for a fantastic conversation about “nontraditional protagonists,” both in terms of diversity and representation and how flipping audience expectation can result in an interesting and original story.
I spent the rest of the evening hanging out at the hotel bar and chatting with fellow authors.
My schedule started late on Saturday, so after the aforementioned lie-in, I ate lunch with a friend and then prepared for my alternate history presentation.
This convention advertised it as a workshop, so I ended up with a small crew of attendees. They were all very engaged in the content and crafted some wonderful potential worlds. Our nexus point alternate history considered a world where antibiotics were never developed, and our more speculative true alternate history posited a fictional world in which Jesus Christ exhibited broader magical abilities and was embraced by the Roman Empire. You can download a PDF version of my presentation here:
After a quite lunch with another friend, it was time for my Saturday night panel: Beyond the Hero(ine)’s Journey. We discussed how speculative fiction has grown beyond Campbell’s traditional adventure arc, how women and men characters are often treated differently in stories, and how story arcs should fit the narrative.
The mass book signing followed, in which I got to chat with lots of readers, and then I headed to my late-night reading slot. I actually had an audience, despite the late hour! After a short reading from Steel Shadows, I lured them back to my natural habitat, the hotel bar, to close out the night.
After another lovely lie-in, it was time to pack up. But not to head home quite yet! Before my final panel of the day, I did the requisite shopping in the dealers room and snagged some lovely holiday gifts for family members (and one gorgeous present for myself). Then, it was off to a discussion on female villains! This became a bit of a sociological conversation, where we analyzed how many women villains are often punished for either embracing their sexuality or for not embracing the traditional role of motherhood. We also touched a bit on how to create well-rounded characters of any gender.
Finally, time to head home through the rain. The spouse treated me to a lovely post-con dinner of ramen and then I spend the rest of the evening reading and watching the first episode of HBO’s Watchmen (it was an intriguing alternate history and I’m looking forward to further episodes).
I’m home for the next few weekends, then you can find me at my debut appearance for Starbase Indy, the weekend following Thanksgiving!
The final haul:
- All Systems Red (Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells (signed by author)
- Pearl necklace, Undiscovered Treasures