Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Also at WindyCon —

So, the Court and Country Concert by an a capella group on Friday evening was fantastic. I do think a capella is hard to pull off, but this ensemble made it look easy. I expect they practice A LOT.

Also, in the middle of their concert, a Klingon came in and demanded real music. So they sang a song in Klingon. I bet that doesn’t happen in many concerts of medieval and renaissance music.

I do want to look for a cd in the Dealer’s Room today, even if there is little chance of a Klingon drinking song being included.

Saturday, I attended a panel on summaries vs reviews vs critiques. The panelists included several reviewers — someone from Locus, I think, and someone from Black Gate. Also Elizabeth Ann Hull and Mark Oshiro.

The panel was good, but I’m afraid I didn’t take notes. The kinds of things Mark does when he reads a book a chapter at a time are quite different from what other reviewers are doing. Everyone was like: Oh, synopses are boring. And then Mark was all: I totally do detailed synopses! That’s exactly what my readers want!

Anyway, though the panel was good, I do think the panelists missed a couple of types of reviewers and a couple of reasons readers look for reviews:

1. There’s a social aspect to reviews and reviewers, particularly when a group of readers with similar tastes review books that all of them hope to enjoy.

2. Sometimes what you most enjoy reading is not a review of a new title — which was mostly the focus for several panelists — but a (positive) review of a book you particularly enjoy. There’s a social aspect to that as well, if you know the reviewer at all. It’s like getting a friend to read a book you love so you can enjoy her discovery of its wonderfulness.

Okay, moving on.

My first panel concerned the difference in designing nonhuman species in SF vs fantasy. I think it went well. I suggested the topic, actually, because when the WindyCon staff asked for panel suggestions, I had just read Kate Elliot’s Spiritwalker trilogy. Her feathered people are so distinctively science-based, virtually unique for a fantasy setting, and I loved them so much.

We talked about the difference in designing a nonhuman species that is, you know, nonhuman, vs a species that thinks and acts just like a human. Sometimes that is a very serious flaw and sometimes you’re doing it on purpose, but it is peculiar when people who are immortal feel and think and act just like mayfly humans.

Then a few hours later, I was on another panel on depth in worldbuilding. Jo Walton did a great job as moderator, but — disappointing many people, I’m sure — Gene Wolfe missed that panel. Conveniently enough, I and the other writers on the panel go about world design in very different ways. Other writers: We do all this world-building ahead of time, sometimes for years. Me: The world emerges by itself as I write the first couple of chapters, usually influenced by whatever I’ve been reading lately.

Always better when the attendees at a panel get a good look at how very different the writing process is for different writers.

Later:

The masquerade was fairly . . . well . . . it was kind of . . . let me just say it was not NEARLY as impressive as the masquerade at Archon. I guess Archon is The Masquerade Convention. What other conventions have impressive masquerades?

However, Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff did entertain the audience while the judges made up their minds, and indeed, they were quite entertaining. I want to pick up one of their cds later.

Oh, and earlier, Tom Smith was a delight. He’s such a natural performer. I’d heard “I had a Shoggoth” before, but it was great hearing it again.

Okay, and, unexpectedly, the art auction — which I’d never attended before — was really funny. The auctioneers could really work the crowd. If I were an artist, I’d price all my stuff really low to try to get three bids on things so they would go to auction, because it was unbelievable how much some items sold for during the auction. Little items that had a $4 opening price went for thirty or sixty or a hundred dollars.

Alas, the one print I really wanted went up too high for me. I would have gone higher except I’d put bids on several other works that didn’t go to auction and I still don’t know if I bought them, so it was impossible to guess how much of my buy-art budget was actually available at the time of the auction.

Really good art show, I have to say. I’ve never put bids on three (four? Can’t remember for sure.) different items before. I didn’t like anything enough to bid on it at Archon. I mean, not in my price range.

If I get any of those works, I’ll post pictures for you.

Today is Sunday and I have one more panel, on which I will not be the expert, because it involves self-publishing. I need to remember to take a pen and paper so I can take notes.

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2 Comments Also at WindyCon —

  1. Elaine T

    I went over to Mark Oshiro’s page and looked. I wouldn’t call what he does detailed synopsis. Detailed synopsis is what I call what Kate Nepvue did at Tor.com’s LOTR reread. Or Mari Ness’ various rereads on the same site.

    I enjoy that sort of critique and synopsis for what the person picks out to highlight and connect which may be different from how I read the book and illuminate it differently.

    Yes, definitely on the social aspect, and not only of a book we enjoy, sometimes of a book we’re trying to figure out why it didn’t work for us.

  2. Rachel

    > not only of a book we enjoy, sometimes of a book we’re trying to figure out why it didn’t work for us.

    Yes, that’s true. It’s interesting to hear what’s in the head of a professional reviewer, but their intentions and priorities and expectations are just different from those of the zillions of people who, for example, write the occasional review for Goodreads and like to read their friends’ reviews.

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