12:30 1:30 2:30 3:30 AM, kids! And I am being SUPER RESPONSIBLE today, people. I am writing up this con report only in the pre-wee hours, instead of the actual wee hours totally writing into the wee hours again, never mind. I’m so proud of me!
Because! Today was Day Two of JordanCon 2012 (well, it was Day One of the official con, but it was Day Two for me, and I’m the one writing this thing so neener), and as promised I am continuing to brave the wilds of sleep deprivation to tell you alllll about it.
Therefore I invite the brave of you to click on, and see!
First, a bit of a backtrack: owing to the lovely and talented photography of con-goer Sandip Mehta, I now have actual pictures for you to peruse from not only today but from the night before at the Pre-Con dinner at (as I have found out) the restaurant Pastis. Lookit:
Jennifer Liang, our amazing JordanCon Director.
Melissa Craib Dombrowski, doing her Toastmaster thing at Pastis.
Harriet McDougal and Jennifer Liang at Pastis, talking to Jason Denzel.
Author Guest of Honor Mary Robinette Kowal at Pastis.
Alan Romanczuk at Pastis.
Myself, looking very odd, and Maria Simons at Pastis.
And now on to today!
So, okay, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover here, so this might be a bit choppy. And note that due to my tragic inability to be in more than one place at a time, this will only be covering what panels/people/thingies I personally got to see. I’m sure y’all will find some way to deal.
First was visiting the registration table and picking up my shiny large badge:
Which, as you see, features the WOT e-book art of our Artist Guest of Honor Sam Weber, who I sadly do not have a picture of at this time even though I did get to share a meal with him. I’ll try to fix that tomorrow. And I have to say that Sam’s e-book art is probably my favorite of all the WOT e-book covers, and I’m totally not just saying that because he name-checked me in his post about it, so I’m extra-pleased that it is featured on the badge I’ll be wearing all weekend. That he is also an awesome person in himself does not hurt this feeling at all.
Then was opening ceremonies, stage-managed by the lovely and talented and very put-upon Melissa Craib Dombrowski. And I have to say, it’s not every day you get to see a striptease (that shameless hussy Jason Denzel), a double eviction (that shameless hussy Richard Fife), a dramatic “children’s book” reading (that uh, lovely lady Mary Robinette Kowal), a poetry slam (those shameless yet very hardworking and awesome hussies The Program Directors), and flagrant abuse of celebratory blowy thingies (yeah, you get the gist), all in one presentation.
I am dead certain there is video and/or photos of this madness in existence, but I don’t know where they might be located. If anyone is able to provide linkage in the comments, that would be appreciated. However, I can show you the reason for Messieur Jason Denzel’s striptease, which was actually not because (or not only because) he is A Shameless Hussy, but because he was ordered to show us his new tattoo:
Which, I have to say, is what the kids call badass. Awesome.
Next up for me was “An Hour with the Guest of Honor, Mary Robinette Kowal”, which was pretty much what it says on the tin. Mary is a prolific writer, voice actor and professional puppeteer, and her work has won and/or been nominated for several prestigious awards, including a Campbell Award for Best New Writer (she loved the tiara), a Hugo for her short story “For Want of A Nail” (apparently Hugo awards make awesome Christmas tree toppers!), and she is nominated again for the Hugos this year, both for her novella “Kiss Me Twice”, and for Writing Excuses, the podcast for aspiring writers she produces along with Howard Tayler, Dan Wells, and some guy named Brandon Sanderson.
She told us about the inspiration for her history fantasy series she began with Shades of Milk and Honey and now has continued with Glamour in Glass, which was that she’d reread Jane Austen’s Persuasion and cried like a baby at the proposal scene, and then had been startled to realize that this story which had so moved her revolved not around the fate of the world or earth-shaking conflicts or The Defeat of Evil, but around the very intimate and particular fates of two people and their love for one another. And she wondered, why can’t she do that too, except in a fantasy setting? How would that work? And so that’s exactly what she did. “Jane Austen with magic”: what’s not to love?
She talked about many other things as well, including the tidbit that fan language (which WOT readers may associate with a certain Saldaean lady) was a real thing back in the day, the awesomeness of the Oxford Historical Thesaurus, which not only gives you synonyms but tells you the order in which they entered the English language (so cool), her executive decision to exchange the modern word “blink” for the actual word they used in Regency times, because she just refused to use a sentence like “She nictated at him in confusion”, and I can’t say I blame her (someone commented “that sounds illegal”), and the drama surrounding Glamour in Glass‘s initial print run, which somehow managed to come out missing the first sentence. Holy crap.
She handled this catastrophe with remarkable aplomb, I must say, and laughingly handed out to us not only her promotional fans, but a temporary rub-on tattoo of the missing first sentence, as well as an offer to manually write in the sentence on any books she signed this weekend. I fully intend to take her up on that.
So that was very cool. Then in the break between panels I wandered into the art show room, which featured among many other things I need to get a closer look at later the original concept sketch the late and lamented Darrell K. Sweet produced for the cover of A Memory of Light before his passing, and which you can see for yourselves right here on Tor.com. (I’m going to talk more about this at a later point, because it is already 2 AM and I still have half the day to get through.)
Next up was “Is it Fantasy or is it Sci-Fi?”, empaneled with the formidable talents of (once again) Mary Robinette Kowal, Special Guest Dr. Michael Livingston, a professor of English at the Citadel (Robert Jordan’s alma mater) and champion of fantasy literature in the mainstream, and Emilie P. Bush, journalist and author of two steampunk novels, Chenda and the Airship Brofman and The Gospel According to Verdu.
This was a great discussion that ranged over a number of subjects related to the endlessly debatable question posed in the panel’s title which I cannot possibly hope to do justice to right now, but the discussion ranged from Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series to Ken Scholls’s Songs of Isaac to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series and beyond, and touched on topics like the importance of genre in marketing as opposed to your audience, the importance of adhering to the rules of your world no matter what genre you write in, the possible role of steampunk in transitioning the public’s tastes from fantasy back to science fiction in recent years, and the issues involved in gender biases when pitching and writing and marketing speculative fiction in general.
And of course, I asked the inevitable question (mostly because someone had to): Star Wars: science fiction or fantasy?
Mary answered, “Star Wars is fantasy set in the future.” And yep, pretty much.
And THEN there was the first panel I myself was participating in, namely “Who Lives and Who Dies?” which is also pretty much what it says on the tin. And it was pretty crazy, y’all.
I and my fellow panelists Ted Herman, Thomas DeSimone, Jeffrey Daniel, Jen Halbman, and Aubree Pham fielded the oft-contentious, er, contentions of the audience and offered our own opinions on who was and was not making it out of this pony show alive come AMoL, and the results were sometimes a little surprising.
First it should be noted that the following predictions are predicated on the assumption that the Light wins. Because if they lose, then it’s the “Rocks fall, everyone dies” ending, and that would have (a) sucked, and (b) been a pretty short panel. So take that as your baseline. Because I said so.
Given that, also note that this is all reconstructed after the fact, so I may be a little off/wrong/forgetful in some places, but the gist of what we and the audience decided (or, in some cases, failed to decide) for our life/death predictions are more or less as follows:
Rand: Very much a split decision, in multiple ways, which probably isn’t that surprising. Some think he lives, some think he dies; some think he dies and comes back as someone else, some think he dies and comes back as a Hero of the Horn; some think he pretends to die but doesn’t really, some think he really does die but is then really resurrected three days later; and some think he dies, gets resurrected, and then pulls a JD Salinger and becomes a hermit for the rest of his life.
Okay, that last one was me. But basically any possible combination of lives/dies/pretends to do either was promoted by someone, so I guess the end result is: Dunno.
Perrin: Lives. Rebuilder dude, flowering trees, etc. A number of people, though, think that Faile is going to die. And most everyone agreed that Tenobia and Davram are totally toast.
Mat: Lives. Not only do we have the inadvertent spoiler of the planned outrigger novels, which were supposed to have featured Mat and Tuon’s adventures in Seandar after the Last Battle, but also the prevailing opinion is that he’s just too badass to die. Plus he already did it once, so he has fulfilled his quota.
Nynaeve: Lives. The room was surprisingly universal on this one. Where everyone was split was over whether Lan survives or not. I personally think he dies, but I would be happy to be proven wrong.
Elayne/Aviendha/Min: There was a lot of argument over Rand’s three women. Several argued that Nicola’s Foretelling of “three on the boat” argues that they all live, but others pointed out that there’s no guarantee that part doesn’t happen before the Big Ass Ending, and one or all of them could die afterwards. Aubree Pham opined that she thought Elayne would die in childbirth, but most seem to think that she will end up ruling Andor after.
The room was pretty evenly split on Min; some argued that once she has figured out Callandor for Rand, her purpose is fulfilled, and therefore she is toast. Others thought that it was more likely that if Rand survives, she is the one who’s going to go off with him and be his functional wife, while Elayne and Aviendha go to deal with their respective nations (cue inevitable jokes about scheduled “conjugal visits”). I feel like there are equally strong arguments either way, personally. I don’t want Min to die, of course, because she is awesome, but I put her chances thematically at about 50/50.
No one thinks Aviendha is going to die. Which, on reflection, should probably worry us.
The Dark One (no, really): Several people argued that the Dark One was going to “die”, based on Rand’s statement that he would kill him rather than just re-imprison him, but if I may hijack the opining here for a moment, I don’t buy this at all. Can’t have good without evil, after all, and just because Rand says he’s going to do something doesn’t mean he can actually do it. I can declare I’m going to be the President of the United States all I want; doesn’t mean it’s ever even remotely going to happen. (Especially not if they bother to Google me first.)
Lanfear/The Forsaken: Most were of the opinion that, assuming the Light is going to win, all the Forsaken are toast with the possible exception of Lanfear. But this is based on the idea that she’s going to turn back to the Light, which I really don’t believe (or maybe I just really don’t like), so I think they are all goners. At least I really hope so.
Moridin: There was actually a lot of argument over this one. The logical thing is to suppose he dies, being Chief Bad Guy and all, but his weird connection to Rand is a possible mitigating factor there. The eventual consensus turned out to be very similar to Rand, i.e. Dunno.
Padan Fain: Dies. In a volcano. After biting off Rand’s finger.
Cadsuane: Dies, most likely in a some kind of blaze of glory. (Ted: “She’ll pull something out of her hair at the last second and take out someone major and die doing it.”)
Logain: Lives, has glory, etc.
Taim: Killed, a lot, by Logain. (This theory was universally approved by the room.)
Egwene: Somewhat split decision. Some argued that she dies opposing Rand, but most agree that she is almost certainly going to live, mostly because she is the only figure who has any chance of bringing together the myriad factions that are or will be littering the landscape in the wake of the Last Battle. Some disagreed, saying that her prejudice against the Seanchan is too strong, but I pointed out her Dream of a Seanchan woman helping her up a cliff as evidence against that.
Aaand there were more characters discussed, but my brain is fading, so we’ll wrap that up and move on to the last thing that happened as far as I was concerned, which was my drink with Leslie Annis, Tricia Grantz Irish, and Jay Dauro (aka Lannis, Tektonica, and JDauro on Tor.com, respectively) and their presentation to Yours Truly with what is possibly the best terrible gag gift ever received by anyone ever, courtesy of a certain posse of Re-read commenters who know who they are and are TERRIBLE AWFUL PEOPLE who kept me giggling for a good thirty minutes this evening with their TERRIBLE, AWFUL, awesomely inappropriate gift.
Because well, see for yourself:
Those who follow the Re-read know why this is so VERY VERY WRONG, and if you don’t, well, you’re probably better off.
I swear, you guys. SO WRONG. I love y’all.
And now I collapse and sleep like dead person. More tomorrow!