Back from WFC, now comes WindyCon

Okay, I actually did take notes from some of the panels at World Fantasy so I could write posts about them. Then I lost the notes. So…yeah. No posts about panels I attended, I guess. Perhaps shortly a post about the one panel I was on as a panelist.

The theme for World Fantasy this year was Alternate History / Secret History / Forgotten History and so there were a good many panels about related topics. From time to time a panel seemed to let those terms elide, so that elements of forgotten history — real world things people tend to forget about, such as the contributions of women to literature — would get confused with elements of secret history — fictional explanations for visible historical events, such as Hitler’s secret attempt to create a zombie army or whatever. This is regrettable, as it’s better to stick more or less to the official topic of the panel, since that is the panel people came to see.

Still, it’s a great theme, regardless of such details. So much one can do with all of those types of real and non-real history. Alan Smale was there, but I didn’t happen to go to any panel he was on — too bad, as I love what he’s done with his alternate history in his Clash of Eagles trilogy.

Favorite Alternate History: At the moment at least, my pick is indeed Smale’s trilogy.

Favorite Secret History: I must admit, I am pretty fond of the secret history embedded in the Black Dog world.

Favorite Forgotten History: I am having fun dipping into the Rejected Princesses site, though I have to say, the name seems less than great to me. I would prefer Forgotten to Rejected, since really that is what the site emphasizes. Also, some word other than Princesses, since almost none of the women in question is actually a princess.

Still a great site, though.

Okay, I will add: the Riverwalk in San Antonio is just beautiful. I loved walking along the river after breakfast every morning. Here’s a picture of a tiny amphitheater on the Riverwalk.

Tiers of grass-covered stone seating occupied space on the other side of the river, for the audience. I would love to watch some performance there sometime. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, for example. That would be a perfect performance for that setting.

Also, lots of great Tex-Mex restaurants. Acenar was very good. So was Iron Cactus. You must order guacamole if you visit either place. They make it right there at the table; it’s great. If I lived in that area, I would so have avocado trees in my backyard.

It was great hanging out with people I know, including Sharon Shinn, and great being able to do that at excellent restaurants. Plus I had a good conversation with my agent and think (hope) I have a better idea of which projects might be best to work on over Christmas Break. Which is coming up, after all, so that’s something to think about at this point.

Okay, what else? … All right, you know the bag of free books you get at WFC? Here are the ones I mailed to myself at the end of the convention:

That one by Mari Ness is poetry. I love her posts at, so it caught my eye. Heartstone — I was quite pleased to pick that one up, because the sample from Amazon is dreadful. You get hardly any text; it’s all preliminary material. Lots of the others look intriguing. I bet it takes a while — years — for me to read them all, though.

Also, this pendant, which was far from free but which I like a lot:

Nice, eh? I am wearing it now with a black turtleneck.

This coming weekend: WindyCon!

I will be on four panels, moderating two —

Friday at 5:00 PM — Young Adult SFF — Why are so many of today’s popular stories and movies centered around teens and tweens?

Saturday at 10:00 AM — Overlooked Writers — Even with Google, you may not have heard of these writers or books.

Saturday at 2:00 PM — Dystopian Childhood — When did dystopia invade children’s literature and why is it so popular?

Saturday at 10:00 PM — Sex Sells — Do you really have to put sex into everything to make it sell?

Nice variety of panels; I’m moderating the last two so I better come up with questions about those topics. I’ve already started generating questions, of course. You should feel free to chime in:

What is one reason so many of today’s movies aimed at teens and tweens? — I have a reason in mind that does not flatter Hollywood.

What is one book / author you would like to add to the “most overlooked” list? — I definitely have several in mind.

What is one reason dystopia so popular with younger readers? — I suspect *one* reason is that various books are being called dystopia when they really aren’t.

What is one really popular SFF series that does not include explicit sex? — I can think of any number and I bet you can as well, but what I really want is urban fantasy series that do not include explicit sex. Not Jim Butcher’s series; I already have that one in mind. Extra gold-plated bonus points if you can think of a paranormal romance series that does not grade into erotica. I have one in mind, but it does include occasional explicit sex. I’d love to have a popular, best selling example in mind that does not ever do that.

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13 thoughts on “Back from WFC, now comes WindyCon”

  1. Regarding dystopias, I agree that they’re frequently mislabeled, but also, popular fiction tends to reflect the real world. The world’s a pretty scary, uncertain place of late, so it makes sense that that makes it into fiction for people who are trying to make sense of all that uncertainty and fear.

    For non-explicit PNR, isn’t the sex in the Mercy Thompson all off-screen? Or, is that not romance-y enough to count? The Hidden Legacy trilogy by Ilona Andrews is an interesting case, because their covers are as romance-y as they come, but in the first book the main couple never gets further than a kiss. Later books get more explicit, but it’s a weird mismatch of marketing vs the actual book.

    Looking at a Goodreads list for other ideas, and Holly Black’s modern fairies (Tithe is the first book) fits the bill, and maybe Sunshine by Robin McKinley? I don’t think either has any sexual content (although you’d have to reread/skim to be sure). Also, I don’t think Holly Black’s Coldest Girl in Coldtown has any sex, and it’d also count as a YA PNR, I think.

  2. Oh! Also, Charles de Lint’s Newford books aren’t terribly romance-y, but are definitely urban fantasy. There’s lost of themes in those about characters who have abuse and childhood traumas in their past though, so I’m not sure how that fits into your topic.

    There isn’t any sex in Kelly Armstrong’s YA trilogy, Darkest Powers. But, that’s probably just her trying to adjust her content for the audience, since her adult books have a fair amount of sex in them.

  3. I think for “hidden history” the prize goes to Mary Gentle’s “Ash” quadrilogy. What REALLY happened to Lost Burgundy was Evil Pyramids in Carthage! With plenty of brutality along the way, of course–it’s Gentle, after all, and her main character is a mercenary commander.
    I think the princesses are only “rejected” in the Disney sense, in that there’s no movie about them. He writes the descriptions rather like movie “elevator” proposals.

  4. How about Seanan McGuire’s October Daye and Incryptid series? Pretty sure any sex in the October Daye series is fade to black. Incrytid may have a bit more before the fade to black, but Seanan has stated that she is intentionally not following standard romance tropes with Incrypid.
    I can’t think of any paranormal romance with no sex (and my books are all packed up for moving so I can’t check).
    I’d say The Emperor’s Edge had a UF sensibility but in a secondary fantasy world. Same as Lisa Shearin’s Raine Benares series, and Alex Bledsoe’s Eddie Lacross series. OT – is there a name for this sub-sub-genre? Any other series that fit?

  5. I wonder if books with magic or in real life non-existent creatures also count as alternate history. I absolutely love the Heirs of Alexandria series by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint and Dave Freer (The only problem is we’ve been waiting for book 6 since 2013. ) and Temeraire by Naomi Novik but when I recommend them to anyone I always wonder if they are alternate history or some kind of other genre. They do have a lot of history and a reimagining of the world under different circumstances but there’s also the magic and the dragons…

  6. Maria, I would call those Alternate History — or Historical Fantasy. Now we can debate the difference between the two. How about Alternate History doesn’t involve magic and Historical Fantasy does?

    Dragons are magical creatures, but other than adding dragons, the Temeraire world is nonmagical, right? So it still seems to me like that that series would fall right down into the boundary between Alternate History and Historical Fantasy.

  7. Thank you all for the suggestions! I’ve only read the first one of each of McGuire’s series, so it’s good to have comments about those. The Emperor’s Edge series does seem like a good suggestion as well. It’s at least UF-ish for sure.

  8. I was thinking of Mercy Thompson. There is a tiny bit of explicit sex late in the series, but maybe a small enough amount that this would count.

    Thanks for the Hidden History suggestion, Pete. Evil Pyramids in Carthage sound pretty neat.

  9. I can think of one 2 volume set of modern urban fantasy – not broken masquerade, like Black Dog – without any sex, but have no idea of popularity: C. Chancy’s Net of Dawn and Bones, and Seeds of Blood.
    In fact in #2 the main female character firmly friendzones the main male character. (Well she is approximately 2000 and he’s 26 ish. But that isn’t why – it’s religious.)

    if a secondary world setting counts, Michelle Sagara’s CAST/Elantra series.

    Just want to point out that your books sell without sex.

    I really have no idea of the popularity of most writers, any more, other than the obvious: GRRM, and maybe Sanderson. But suggestions for overlooked:

    Janny Wurts, Michelle Sagara West, Helen Lowe (although with only 4 books out she’s less overlooked than the others who each have rather more). PC Hodgell. Maybe our hostess, but see opening line of paragraph.

    I think they’re probably overlooked because I rarely find people recommending their work, or discussions of it, unless I look pretty hard.

  10. …Yeah, I could wish for bestseller status. Maybe if I put in hot and heavy sex scenes I would suddenly sell ten times better? …

  11. Rachel, thanks.
    Yes, Temeraire is non-magical. Not even the dragons are magical. There are sciency explanations about their abilities and and evolution.

  12. Yes, not very believable, but sort of handwavy sciency types of explanations. I think I would probably classify the series as Alternate History because of that — but if someone else included it in a list of Historical Fantasy, I wouldn’t argue.

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