Monday, August 14, 2006

I'm Back

ArmadilloCon Day 3:

I was entirely too bright-eyed on Sunday. I'd expected, from that first panel on Friday, that this would be an ultra-party con, but it was not so much (or maybe it was, but the parties all revved up after I left). They seemed to anticipate big party action on Saturday night, else why delay the panels until 11 a.m. on Sunday? Which is not to say there weren't parties when I left Saturday night, but just a couple.

Went to a couple of good panels on Sunday. One, on 19th Century Fantastic Fiction, was very informative, and I came away with titles of several things I want to look up and read. The other one was on Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan. This is the 100th anniversary of Howard's birth, and they're planning big doings at World Fantasy Con this year (also being held in Austin). I won't be there, both because it's during November Sweeps and because I can't afford it. But this panel was good and informative, and once again, I came away with some titles of things I need to hunt down and read.

I've only ever read one thing by Howard, a Conan novella in some anthology I can't remember (I'm sure I've got it packed away somewhere). I remember sort of dreading it before I tried to read it, just because I anticipated some muscular but dreadfully clumsy pulp prose. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the writing was. Not perfect, but better than I'd anticipated. I'm in a reading phase right now (currently reading A Hymn Before Battle by John Ringo - in this first book, at least, he's obviously knowledgeable about the military, but the prose and characterization are clunky, and 5 chapters in, I'm getting impatient for the action to start), so I want to take advantage of it by reading some classics as well as new stuff.

I'd planned to attend another panel at 3 p.m., on using current scientific discoveries in writing, and attending the legendary Howard Waldrop reading after that (I heard him recite the opening sentences to the story in the first panel of the con, and it sure sounded intriguing), but about 2 p.m., I decided I'd had enough and decided to beat feet for home. The drive was mostly uneventful, except for traffic jams in Austin and Fort Worth. I listened mostly to music rather than talk radio.

When I left Tulsa, gas here was $2.95 a gallon. When I got to Austin, it was $2.84 in places. As I was driving back, I made sure to refill before I got back home, so I could save that 10-ish cents a gallon. Got back here and discovered that gas was $2.75. Doh! It dropped 20 cents a gallon here while staying basically the same in Texas. And the weird thing was, while I was on the road, I was hearing news reports that gas had hit an all time high, with the lowest gas in the nation costing $2.82 in North Carolina or someplace.

Anyway, I'm back, and I even got some novel work done while I was gone. I also got bored at the friend's house while I was waiting for the Mobile Command Center to recharge, so I got out their copy of The DaVinci Code and started analyzing the structure. The book is clumsily written on a prose level, to be sure, and you can pick it apart endlessly on its errors of fact and its wooden characters. But on the structural level, where it introduces mysteries and weaves together parallel plotlines as it doles out small answers and clues while deepening the mystery further, it's actually pretty sophisticated. If I could do that with Hero Go Home, I might have a page-turner on my hands. I only got through about the first tenth of the book, but I think I learned some things that I might try to apply on the third draft of Hero Go Home (and there will be a third - I'd hoped to clean it up sufficiently in the second to submit it, but I can already tell it will need further polishing).

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