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Bibliography Update.
groove, by martinlivings
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Trip Report, Fit the Second
groove, by martinlivings
Sober on Bourbon Street.

I’ve loved New Orleans since I attended World Horror Con here in 2013, and wasn’t about to pass up an excuse to spend the week between WFC and AtomaCon enjoying the weird and often macabre history, the architecture, the live music, and most importantly, the food in this unique city. My visit could have been timed better – there was an omelette festival the weekend before I arrived, a gumbo festival the weekend after I left, crawfish were out of season and Johnny’s Po-Boys was still being repaired after a fire in October – but even so, the place was still fantastic.

As well as three excellent walking toursfood, ghosts and voodoo-themed – I visited the aquarium, browsed the shops, ate too much (at least, too much that wasn’t crawfish etouffee or catfish: if you want to read my restaurant reviews, check out TripAdvisor), and took in a voodoo burlesque show at Déjà Vu on Bourbon Street... which was great fun, though I could have done without the last dancer wearing a live boa constrictor as a g-string, and was very glad that my front row seat had wheels so that I could retreat out of range. Hats off to the geek spruiker outside another of the strip clubs, who recognized the artwork on my T-shirt from five metres away and told me there was free entry for Blade Runner fans (possibly the same man who spotted my Shadowrun t-shirt in 2013 and enthused about having played the game): I wore my Seven Samurai t-shirt the next night to see whether he would recognize that as well, but he wasn’t there.

Even as a teetotaller, I really enjoy the party atmosphere in the French Quarter, which starts in mid-afternoon even on weekdays, and was probably still going when I caught my shuttle to the airport at 4 am.

One minor quibble I have about the French Quarter is the shortage of bookshops: I’d hoped to pick up one of James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux novels to read in situ, but I discovered only one bookshop in the quarter (accidentally, while on the ghost tour), and they didn’t have any Burke, nor any of Barbara Hambly’s Benjamin January series (though the ghost tour guide was a huge fan, and collected the entire series in first edition hardcovers). Another good way of enjoying the city vicariously is the film The Big Easy. But unless it comes with gumbo or crawfish etouffee, there really is no substitute for the real thing.

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Trip Report, Fit the First
groove, by martinlivings
From the City that Never Sleeps, to the City that Likes to Sleep In

So here I am in San Francisco, and I thought I'd take advantage of the way it seems the only businesses that open before noon are there to sell you breakfast (to be fair, there are three 24 hour places in this city block; I can recommend the Omelet Del Mar at Lori's Diner) to write a somewhat belated trip report.

The flight on Etihad was remarkably pleasant, despite the best efforts of the small child who sat next to me on the trip from Abu Dhabi to JFK (after spilling water on me, he whined repeatedly that he wanted my window seat; I refrained from suggesting he'd have an even better view sitting on the wing). Tne inflight entertainment system enabled me to cross Ant-Man and Terminator: Genisys off my Quickflix list, quickly confirmed my suspicion that I didn't need to see the Fantastic 4 reboot or San Andreas, and also showed Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, which AFAIK wasn't yet showing in Perth.

Security theatre at Abu Dhabi was intense - I've never seen anyone so worried by a compressed t-shirt - but considering that the TVs were showing newscasts about the Russian airliner being brought down by a bomb, it was easier to understand than usual. Best of all, going through this procedure in Abu Dhabi meant that I didn't have to do it all again at JFK: I could just pick my bag off the carousel and catch the subway to Penn Station, which gave me a few hours to stomp around midtown before the train to World Fantasy Con.

I liked Saratoga Springs, though I was disappointed that most of the trees had lost their brilliantly multi-coloured foliage by the time I arrived: it was chilly at night, but at least the dire predictions that it would snow before the con was over proved wrong. The motel, two blocks from the convention centre, was pleasant, as were the locals I met, and it was wonderful catching up with so many old friends - including Gay and Joe Haldeman, Ellen Datlow, Jim Minz, Beth Gwinn, Rob Killheffer, Scott Edelman (far too briefly), David Hartwell, and the large contingent of fellow Aussies who I don't see often enough, including Garth Nix, Marianne de Pierres and Janeen Webb. I also met people who I'd only known electronically, including artist Kathleen Jennings and my Zombies v Robots editor Jeff Conner. It was an unusual WFC in that there were frequently more attendees at the panels than there were in the bar, possibly because the bar was unusually small (the hospitality suite did its best to compensate, and there were some wonderful parties after the panels were over.) I signed a lot of books (mostly anthologies, and many of them for book dealers who seemed to optimistically believe that my signature might add to the saleability) but it was wonderful that there were so many people there who remembered who I am, or at least who I was. Having my ARCs of North of the Dragonlands to show people, and being able to promise them that my expanded thesis on American SF and the US military would be published next year, made it even more enjoyable.

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The trip back to NYC on Adirondack Trailways was less so. The drivers apparently realized that the only reason we caught the coach was that the trains didn't run often enough for us to get to the city when we wanted to, and acted like drill sergeants reduced to driving school buses. Then it was a rather frantic scramble for the subway to JFK, and Jet Blue to New Orleans, which I will cover in Fit the Second.

The Visible Man
groove, by martinlivings
I will be traveling for much of November and attending World Fantasy Con and AtomaCon.

I will be appearing on two panels at WFC: Collections: Useful Tools, Private Archives, Grendel-like Gloat Hoards or Manifestations of Disease, on Friday at 2pm, and moderating Dark Carnivals on Saturday at 4pm. I will also be giving a reading on Saturday at 1pm and attending the mass autograph session on Friday evening.

After spending the next week in New Orleans, which should remove any need to eat for the rest of the trip, I will be appearing on four panels at AtomaCon: Pirates, Rogues and Blackguards: Why Writing Bad Guys is Fun, on Friday at 9pm, Erotica Writing on Friday at 10pm, Short Stories: The Road to the Next Great Novel on Saturday at 9pm, and Using Real Places and People in your Fiction on Sunday at noon.

I will then be in San Francisco from the 15th to the 18th of November, and Japan from the 20th to the 25th. I should probably book a ticket for the Miyazaki museum, neh?
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GenghisCon 2016 - panel suggestions and panelists wanted!
groove, by martinlivings
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I will be at this event, looking for panelists for:

"From Ripley to Furiosa - Feminism in Action Movies"

"Peter Capaldi - A Return to Old Who?"

"Youtube Party!"

"Religious influences on SF and Fantasy"

"Let's Plays - Why so Popular?"

"Future Sex and Love"

Also looking for volunteers to run Trailer Park, and more ideas for panels (including panels on anime, comics, and computer games), indoor workshops, etc.

I met a traveler from an antique world
Who said: Four vast and trunkless legs of gold
Stand in the desert... Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a fallen banner lies, whose stars
And wrinkled stripes, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its maker well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"Richard Nixon, President of the United States:
We came in peace for all mankind."
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

KILLER at GenghisCon 2016
I enjoyed GenghisCon 2015 so much that I volunteered for two positions for GenghisCon 2016: running a Killer game, and co-programmer of panels. There will be at least one programming meeting later, but if you have any ideas for panels or want to volunteer for any that have already been suggested, please contact me, either by replying to this post, or emailing me at dedmans (at) iinet.net

Meanwhile, here are the draft rules for the Killer game to be held over the duration of the con.


The place
: Mawson Station, Antarctica.
The scenario: An alien shapeshifter, accidentally released from ice where it has been trapped for centuries, has infiltrated the base by replacing one – and possibly more – of the personnel. The aliens are invulnerable to gunfire, knives, and other conventional weapons, but there may yet be a way to detect and defeat them before they have taken over completely…
Gameplay: On the Friday evening of Genghiscon, all players will meet with the GM, and be issued with a sticker to place on their badges. This sticker marks them as Killer players: anyone without a sticker is an innocent bystander. At the same time, 1d6 players will secretly be informed that they have been replaced by Things.
At this meeting, everyone will be told the code word that enables Things to take over their victims. The game will run until midnight, and then recommence at 8am. Some areas (such as the panel room during panels) will be off-limits for attacks. Things will also be restricted by the need to not have any human witnesses when they attack, and can’t attack when outnumbered by humans.
On Saturday afternoon, all players, including any new players who missed the meeting on Friday night, will meet again and be informed of how to identify Things and destroy them. New players will be issued stickers: a truce will be active for long enough to allow humans and Things to disperse.
If any Things remain alive at the end of GenghisCon, the Things will have won; the winning player will be the surviving Thing with the greatest number of victims. If not, the humans are victorious, and the winning player will be the surviving human with the greatest number of kills.
Weapons: Not needed.

More details will be provided at and before the con.

greenpeace bp logo 2
I was just re-watching The Godfather, and noticed an uncanny resemblance between Corleone hitman Luca Brasi (requiescat in pesci) and a certain Federal treasurer.

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As William Shatner would say, "Weird or what?"

Some modest proposals
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So, there's been yet another spree killing in the US, and as predicted, many Americans are refusing to admit that easy access to guns and ammunition facilitated this.
Unfortunately, I don't have a miracle cure for this particular sickness. People who self-identify as "good guys" want guns because the "bad guys" have them. People who will admit to being "bad guys" want them because other "bad guys" have them. I acknowledge this and understand it. These suggestions are only offered as possible ways to slowly, incrementally, reduce the number of guns and bullets available to individuals such as Dylann Roof.
(1) Close the gun show loophole, enforce the Brady Act, and repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. ASAP. Apply the RICO Act to serial violators.
(2) Reinstate some version of the Federal Assault Weapons ban, based on magazine capacity and rate of fire.
(3) Make gun licenses as difficult to obtain, and as easy to suspend, as driver's licenses: at a minimum, require written and practical tests, background checks, proof of safe storage facilities for the guns, and limit the number of guns per license-holder unless they are a registered dealer. Allow doctors to ask victims of domestic violence whether their abusers have guns, and confiscate guns from anyone who is under a restraining order.
(4) Ban the importation of firearms without the equivalent of a valid End User Permit. If a police department or military unit wants to use Glocks or Berettas or other foreign-made guns in preference to US-made guns, okay, but make them justify this in writing. Likewise for private individuals. Follow this up after some suitable length of time with restrictions on sale of these weapons.
(5) Impose production limits on American gun manufacturers - enough to meet government quotas and a reasonable expectation of demand for hunting weapons. As with the same of imported weapons, give manufacturers and dealers adequate time to reorganize so that mass layoffs of staff will not be needed.
(6) Ban the production and sale of firearms and ammunition that do not meet the needs of the military, police, or hunters: .25 and .32 caliber, for example. Again, give manufacturers and dealers adequate time to reorganize.
Would these measures stop the next Dylann Roof, James Holmes or Adam Lanza? Maybe, maybe not. Will any of them be implemented? I doubt it. But the next time there's another mass shooting of that type, Americans shouldn't need to ask, "How could this happen?" Forget all the Fox News and NRA bullshit. YOU KNOW HOW THIS WAS POSSIBLE, AND YOU KNOW WHAT YOU COULD HAVE DONE TO PREVENT IT.
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If this goes on...
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(Author's note: I wrote this many years ago, before the Port Arthur massacre and the gun buyback scheme, but despite the changes here, I've decided not to rewrite the story with the setting changed to the USA.)

The Big Bang Theory, RevisitedCollapse )