03 Feb

Travel report: St. Mary’s College and Chattacon!

I did a poor job reminding everyone on the blog and online that I was about to do some public speaking and signing in the Bay Area. Please keep in mind, I’d been dealing with sick kids on vacation, then was sick for a couple weeks, and recovering, then catching up on a month of lost work. Then I hopped on a plane to head West!

Fortunately, thanks to the magic of Seat Guru, I scored awesome seats on the way out:

IMG 5649

I was invited to St. Mary’s College California, at the invitation of professors Dana R. Herrera of the Department of Anthropology and András Margitay-Becht of the Economics Department.

It was weird to walk around campus and see posters up with my own goofy face.

NewImage

We had a great turn out for the lecture, and a spirited Q&A session (including a gentleman who asserted that the Caribbean was the most racist place he’d ever visited because everyone there noticed the color of your skin. It was hard to unpack the assertion that seeing skin color is not the same as being racist and talk about colonial attitudes that *do* leave vestiges of power to lighter skin at the same time while also rejecting the assertion that the Caribbean is more or less racist when that’s such a simplistic framing of the question as well, but I tried to push back in the small amount of time I had [the gentleman’s experience was also 30+ years old]. One could do an entire semester on that, really).

I also got to sneak out to the fancy fancy mall near the hotel I was staying at and visit a Tesla dealership for the first time.

Oh yeah. I’d say this would be my next car, but I’d have to sell way more books than I am these days to snag one of these. I did, however, touch it:

IMG 5651

In addition to the big lecture, I chatted with the class on SF and sociology that Dana and András have been teaching, and also chatted about the business of writing at another session. Dana and András were a lot of fun to chat with as well, as they’re both very familiar with all my work.

After that, it was back on a plane for Chattanooga. A year ago I was to be Guest of Honor at Chattacon, but I slipped on ice and hurt myself badly enough to end up unable to travel. The organizers were amazing enough to invite me down again for Chattacon 40, along with many other Guests of Honor.

IMG 5688

The event was held in the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo, an old rail terminal turned into a large hotel complex. About a thousand fans packed into this place and took it over.

I got to chat with Julie Czerneda, Kathleen Ann Goonan and Adam-Troy Castro. I also did a reading very early on morning. Not many people showed up, but that wasn’t a surprise because Chattacon is known for their con suite, which has beer on tap (delivered, I saw, because I got there a day early, by a giant beer truck).

This is the con suite, it used to be an ice rink and is now a place for traveling bands to perform in:

IMG 5703

I was well-treated by Chattacon and enjoyed getting to explore the city a little thanks to Cherie Priest, who took me on a brief tour. Here’s a view of the entire metro area from up on Lookout Mountain:

IMG 5665

While in transit, I revised an entire novella and worked on freelance work, so it was rather a hectic one. I’m a bit zonked, more than I realized, so I’m mostly catching up on paperwork that was waiting for me when I returned home and emails I ignored while bouncing around.

12 May

Whole Earth Festival

I’m currently hanging out in Davis, CA. I was invited to come out for the Whole Earth Festival and speak about my novel Arctic Rising on a panel with Kim Stanley Robinson.

The Whole Earth Festival is a yearly event in the quad of UC Davis:

Whole Earth Festival was born when an art class taught by Jose Arguelles had an “Art Happening” on the University of California, Davis campus in 1969. The students used art to involve visitors in the ultimate goal of learning about activism, wellness, and the environment. Whole Earth Festival aims to ignite passion, propel creativity, and leave visitors with inspiration.

Yesterday I had breakfast with Stan, which was a blast (both to get to meet him and also because I am almost never up for a proper breakfast, but when I go to the West Coast I get to order things like Waffles. And Brunch!). We planned out our presentations. After that he took me around Davis, which is a pro-bike, pro-pedestrian town. I fell in love a little with it.

I also wandered around the Whole Earth Festival a bit before my presentation:

Image

Dude:

Image

Sculpture:

Photo

The bookstore Avid Reader handled book sales (hi Nick!), and I was grateful to get to sign copies of Arctic Rising for readers.

After the reading I met Andrea Stewart briefly, who just won a Writers of the Future quarter.

I got to meet Andy Stewart and his wife, Mary (no relation to Andrea). Andy just recently finished Clarion and has a cover story (!) in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

And I spent many hours at dinner talking to Andy and Mary, Stan, and Stan’s family (who joined us: one of his son’s was reading A Long Way Gone). Fantastic people, all, and much nourishing conversation. Very invigorating. I’m grateful to Whole Earth Festival for having me out here.