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It Felt Good to be Out of the Rain

Back from WorldCon. Still recuperating, which is to say "still falling asleep at the drop of a hat." Actually, the hat drop comes after the falling asleep, but that's just a technicality. Whatever it was, I went along with erick_melton to the closing ceremonies and did just that, whilst simultaneously hallucinating that I had a massive nosebleed. No, seriously. Seven percent relative humidity for a week will do that to you, at random. It took one day in sauna-sweaty DC to reverse the damage however, if not the sleepiness.

Why the WorldCon? Mostly, it was a great chance to get together with the anticiworkshop crowd, and there were a handful of evenings of the same with much partying in my room for the most part, but with some nice side-trips for various Asian fare and conversation. The final one of these en-suite evenings ended with me falling asleep to the sound of my airplane flying above without me on board. No regrets to that one, but feeling very idiotic nonetheless. It was great to meet some of the group in real life for the first time, or the second, or the third. It's rare to get such a purposeful crowd, and most everyone getting along really well with everyone else. And busy, too: from the number of new sales, I think we've got something that works.

But I did go to a few panels. In all, the best panel experience was the inventing a new language workshop, which was hosted by David J. Peterson, reverse-engineer of the Dothraki language for the miniseries A Game of Thrones. It was more lego than dissection, beginning with sounds possible with the human mouth, building up through root words, conjugations and modifiers, cases and tenses, and on to contractions and so on. We were broken into four teams, and our team (the rainforest group) was hosted by none other than David's SO, a linguist herself. Fascinating stuff, and an excellent primer for DIY in your own fiction. The final bits of language we did work out were passably realistic, although it would have been interesting to have had the chance to field-test. But at 9:30 after five nights of 4 or less hours of sleep, this was not likely to happen. Nevertheless, the materials for the workshop have been generously made available.

It was also good to see some people who I've only seen wandering the halls of LJ up to now. aliettedb read and was interviewed as I looked on, and I had some rather inferior chinese food with peadarog (Reno folk DON'T do vegan, not even in Korean, sadly). Got to have a nice quiet sitdown and coffee with robin_hobb and another online friend+other. Dragons in ancient narrative was discussed as well as Loreena McKinnett. Ironically, I ran into her with Kim Stanley Robinson, and had been under the impression, based on pen names, that HE was a SHE and SHE was a HE, so the coincidence tickled me to my natural colour. Some others I don't see as much around LJ were there. The most interesting convocation of these was the previously mentioned "F*** your knight and the horse he rode in on". And in others, Cory Doctorow remained the intellectual weight on the rubber sheet of all panels he appeared on—Although he prematurely twijaculated that Assad had been toppled in Syria, Khaddafi in Lybia, and that the mad old Colonel had been shot. Twitter does live up to its root word, clearly. "Neither a twit nor a twitter be," says I still.

First day in DC involved a get-together with a dear old friend at our standard watering hole, Lauriol Plaza, that some of you sampled when in DC earlier this year. The ceviche is not quite as good as it once was, and I don't recognize any of the waiters/waitresses anymore. All good things must pass. But some standards are still the same, and a good time was had by all.

Also in DC, an earthquake was held in my honour, although I missed it. In actual fact, I was smarming: pointing out a shopfront with the windows clearly bowing and rattling to what I thought was MuchTooMuchMusic inside, but was actually the shifting of terra firma. Being Georgetown, I assumed the vibration under my feet was just a large truck passing by. I'm an ass that way, clearly. But the PANIK, OMG CHICKENLITTLE NINEELEVEN STYLE emptied the offices into the street. We were two hours late for a meeting with a friend because the metro trains were running... no, walking at a mere 5MPH in case of OMG ALKAYDA CONCRETE COULDHAVE FALLED! Taking this into account, I got up for the airport three hours early (because the trains weren't so scared after sleeping on it) and spent two of these hours twiddling thumbs in Reagan (How DARE you, Mr. Boxer) National Airport.

And then detroit-toronto-unionstation-kingston-taxi-> home, and to bed. Bad news on arrival. Ol' Jack Layton is suddenly dead, having just led his party out of the wilderness and into the opposition. It does well to pay witness to his final letter to us Canuquois.

And now, having slept seven hours, I'm still officially on vacation and am taking time for fat fantasy again. Only just finished Inda an hour ago. But first I must air my prejudices, since they apply to nearly all fat fantasy in one way or another: There is a lot of author-research intrusion in this first volume, especially when it comes to linguistics and tall-ship sailing, and I found some modernisms that rankled, e.g. I'm always wary of very similar gender rights and roles in a gender-sequestered society, and with the magical modernization in such things as control over reproduction and sexual recreation, faeces disposal, and convenient light sources. Nevertheless, the story is one of the most thought-through and plausible pieces of fat fantasy I've read in a long time. The societies are realistically conflicted with each other, the histories are many-layered and multiple in viewpoint and narrative, the action is exciting without grabbing the wheel of the story-carriage, and the motives are human and tie the fantastic to the honest narrative.

The most endearing quality, which will probably make it a repeat read for me, and will certainly take me through the rest of the series, is the non-judgemental style of the narrative. Everyone has their own point of view, their own motivations, and yet despite the fact that the narrative itself breaks with current style and has head-hopping between multiple characters in a single strophe of text, it carries off the "why" of everyone on the same level of intuition that we're born with. We see people thinking. People behave believably, and grudges and friendships turn on the slightest of events, just like they do in real life. The characters are fleshed and real, even in memory, and the vagaries of fate are probable in their unfolding. Exposition is properly couched in discussion, giving it that quality of viewpoint that true omniscient narrator can't deliver without divulging author bias.

A lot of people carry off an interesting plot. A lot of people manage fully-fleshed characters. A lot of people do amazingly inventive worldbuilding. A lot of people handle epic-level conflict. Being able to do all of them evenly, with humor and care is a real achievement, so kudos to sartorias, who is becoming a favourite fantasist very quickly.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
peadarog
Aug. 26th, 2011 04:11 am (UTC)
Are you familiar with Declan O'Rourke?
barry_king
Aug. 26th, 2011 01:02 pm (UTC)
Not have been, but from youtube, I gather he has an interesting voice. Was there something of his you had in mind?
peadarog
Aug. 26th, 2011 01:07 pm (UTC)
Not really. It's list the title of your post reminded me of pongee of his lyrics.
sartorias
Aug. 29th, 2011 10:53 pm (UTC)
:-)
barry_king
Aug. 29th, 2011 11:14 pm (UTC)
[Bows]
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )