Almost two years ago, I was in a very crowded room in Chicago, watching a looping video of aliens and monsters destroying various London landmarks. The committee bidding to host Worldcon in London had won, and what better way to celebrate their hard work by showing us how easily their city could be smashed to pieces by unfeeling terrors from beyond?
I was stoked because it meant an excuse to go to London for longer than twenty-four hours. In 2001, my dad, my brother, and I had a day’s layover on the way home from Lithuania, and Dad insisted we see as much of the city as we could. It was, as you can imagine, a very exhausting day, but it sure as hell beat sitting around Heathrow. This time, we won’t be in as much of a rush.
Also, I get to babble with a bunch of people about comics and movies, so that’s going to be a hoot.
So! If you’re going to Loncon3 and want to say hi, here’s where I will be:
THURSDAY: 18:00 – 19:00, Capital Suite 4
Extrapolation on Screen
SF on screen, even or perhaps especially at its most political, seems reluctant to extrapolate directly from our present time. Instead, politcal works such as The Hunger Games or Defiance are often set after a radical change; or avoid extrapolating at all by dealing in secrets and conspiracies, like Orphan Black and Person of Interest. Possible contemporary exceptions include Continuum and Almost Human, but why are they so uncommon? Are important questions being dodged, or can the absence of extrapolation be a strength (and if so, how)?
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (M), Juliana Goulart, Michael Morelli, Adam Rakunas, Jacey Bedford
FRIDAY: 13.30-15:00, Capital Suite 13
Best 21st Century Comics: Predicting the New Classics
Which comics published in the 21st century will be quoted as the ‘classics’ in the decades to come? Will Y: The Last Man, Saga, Attack on Titan, Lazarus, Ms. Marvel, Grandville, Snowpiercer, or The Wake be remembered by future readers? What are your bets for the titles 22nd century comic book aficionados will consider comic book canon?
(I just got invited to this one, so I don’t know who else is on the panel. Still, getting to burble about Saga for ninety minutes is going to be grand.)
First, as of Saturday, June 21, 2014, I am now a member of the board of the Wilshire Montana Neighborhood Association. I look forward to getting sued over this.
Second, I am volunteering for two different city council campaigns in two different cities. In Costa Mesa, where I grew up, I’m helping Jay Humphrey get re-elected. In Santa Monica, where I live now, I’m helping Richard McKinnon get elected. Both have the experience and temperament to help their respective cities thrive in the upcoming weirdness that is the Mid-Twenty-First Century, and I hope you’ll check out their campaigns and give them your time, money, and votes.
Third, I have yet to find a taqueria that will support me in my endeavors, but I’m totally open to talks, people.
That is all.
In November of 1996 (oh my God, that feels so long ago), I made a website on Geocities. I felt like I had things to say, and the web, in all its HTML 1.0 glory, made it possible for me to say them to the entire world. Or, rather, to that chunk of the world that bothered to read that tiny piece of the web that I occupied.
A lot of that stuff I wrote is still sitting around, maybe even on this server. I don’t want to look at it now because it’s probably terrible and embarrassing and could be summed up thusly: I was lonely, and I wanted not to feel alone. My dream job had turned into a crap job, I hated where I lived, and my friends had all graduated and scattered to the four winds. Writing on the web helped me to connect to a whole bunch of other people, and it eased that crushing loneliness.
Jump eighteen years to now (oh my God, was it that long ago?), and I’m writing full time. Yes, I take care of the kid when she’s not at school, but my job is writing fiction. I have gotten paid to make up stuff. I hope to get paid to make up even more stuff. I’ve got one book out on submission to publishers, one waiting for edits, and one that I really should have finished last month (hey, entropy happens). I have all these words, man, but they’re not ready for you to read. That kills me, ’cause I think they’re some pretty good words. I want to share them with you. I want to connect with you. Yes, you.
And, yes, I also want that instant gratification that comes with hitting Publish and getting comments and notes and little smiley faces (note: we had to make our own smiley faces back in 1996). So, inspired by Jeff Noon‘s occasional tweets (which you should totally read), for the past two weeks, I’ve written tiny, tiny stories on Twitter right before I shut my brain off for the night. I’ll let an idea pop into my head, and then I run with it. I haven’t mastered getting a whole story into one hundred forty characters, but I am getting a handle on wrapping things up with enough punch to satisfy. Plus, I know people are reading them.
I’ve told myself I’m going to write fifty of these bedtime stories and figure out what to do from there. In the meantime, I’m going to start cross-posting them to a separate Twitter account, along with the dozen or so I’ve already written. I hope you like them. You should probably ask your parents before reading, though. Yes, even you.
The best part about being a writer is that you get to be a reader before everyone else.
Late last year, Daryl Gregory sent me a draft of his latest book, Afterparty. I had a cold and was high as a kite on sinus meds, which is a pretty good frame of mind for reading a book about designer drugs and God. Not that I would recommend you do that when you pick up the finished product. You’ll probably want to have as clear a head as possible, because Afterparty is going to kick the top off your skull.
What’s in the book? Well, I already talked about drugs and God. There’s also guilt, a discussion about the neuropsychology of the soul, hot sex, canoes, and bison. Tiny, tiny bison. I’m very happy to see them there.
Should you read this book? Hey, do you like sex, drugs, and tiny bison? The answer is yes. Yes, you should read it.
Dear City Council-
My name is Adam Rakunas, and I live in the Wilmont neighborhood. I ride all over the city with my daughter in our cargo bike, and I am excited about the possibilities that will come with the Michigan Avenue Greenway. Right now, the ride to Virginia Avenue Park is a little hairy; people use Michigan and Delaware as shortcuts to avoid Pico, which means watching out for speeding cars in a residential area. We also have to dodge cars when we’re heading anywhere east of the Civic Center, even though Olympic Drive should be a safe, easy way for us to connect to the bike lane on 11th Street. Right now, I wouldn’t think of having my daughter ride solo on any of these streets.
However, if the MANGo, with its diverters, raised crosswalks, and other traffic-slowing measures, is constructed, I think it will make an incredible and positive difference for my daughter and for every other kid in Santa Monica. By creating a safe cycling route to get to Edison Language Academy and SaMoHi, more parents will feel better letting their kids ride to school, thus putting fewer cars on the road, thus making it even safer. It’s a virtuous cycle, one that’s been repeated around the world as cities make the commitment to creating safer streets. And if the MANGo works, then that means other bikeways around the city will work, and that can only make for a safer, healthier city.
I realize it’s a bold and scary move to make a street that demands slower car traffic, and that there are editorialists and pockets of resistance who think that doing anything to impede auto circulation is a bad idea. We’ve had one hundred years of car culture, and it’s split the city in half, made the skies smoggy, and hurt and killed too many people. The MANGo is the first step toward changing the way we get around the city, and it’s going to set the tone for the next fifty years of how Santa Monica works. What kind of city do you want? One for cars, or one for people? I hope you will choose the latter and cement your legacy as the city council that said yes to the MANGo and everything that will follow.
(Note to everyone else: if you live in SM, please take a moment to email the city council and ask them to approve the MANGo. Feel free to cannibalize this email as you see fit. Thanks!)
When I was a kid, forty was the age that the adults joked about. Forty was when you began the long decline to death. Forty was black arm bands, “Over the Hill” banners, and jokes about mid-life crises.
As of now, I am forty. And I am going to make my forties be the most righteous decade yet.
All I would like for my birthday today is for you to make a difference, not just in your own life, but in someone else’s. If you ride a bike, I’d like you to join your local bicycle coalition. If you’ve been putting off writing an angry (yet polite and well-written) letter to your elected representatives, write it and send it today. It would make me ridiculously happy to know that you donated to a charity you like. And, if you don’t have one yet, here are some I really like:
I am forty. To hell with black arm bands, cheap gallows humor, and all of that crap. This is the decade to change the goddamn world.
So, I got a story published last year, and I quite like it. I hope you read it and liked it, too. I hope you read it and liked it so much that you’d consider nominating “Oh Give Me A Home” for a Hugo Award for Best Novelette. I hope that you’d also consider nominating me for the John W. Campbell award for Best New Writer, ’cause my little tale of family, farming, and miniaturized bison now makes me eligible for the glory that is the Campbell Diadem (with matching cheese board). (Note: I’ve submitted “Oh Give Me A Home” to the 2014 Campbellian Anthology, so check back here on January 15th for a link. EDIT: here it is!)
And now back to work.