I am fairly hmmmm about this piece on empaths, and wonder if some of those consultant empaths are employing the cold-reading tricks attributed to psychics, but buried in it is actually an interrogation of how useful quivering responsiveness to emotion is and the suggestion that 'empathy alone is not a reliable way of coming to a moral decision', and
Empathy is not action. It’s much more useful to be knowledgable about what’s happening so you can effect structural change. If everybody’s swimming in a sea of feelings, it’s an impediment to action.
And possibly somehow related to this, on the advantages of scheduling over spontaneity.
See also, review here of Selfie by Will Storr: 'This engaging book links the ‘self-esteem’ industry to Ayn Rand and neoliberalism. But is the selfie-taking generation unusually narcissistic?'. And is there not something problematic about making a big deal out of a single young woman who takes a lot of selfies? (shoutout here to Carol Dyhouse's Girl Trouble and the constant motif of young women's behaviour epitomising what is supposedly wrong with These Here Modern Times.)
And in Dept of, Countering National Stereotypes, the French minister who wants sexual harassment fines and is annoyed by the cultural myths about Frenchwomen.
Born in 1799, Anna Atkins captured plants, shells and algae in ghostly wisps and ravishing blues. Why isn’t she famous? - how long have you got to listen to my answer?
A book on hares which is, it sounds like, more about hares than the writer's journey and epiphany from their encounter with nature
Well, not literally.
But I have finally managed to have a discussion with the editor at the Very Estimable and Well-Reputed Academic Press whom I had hoped to get together with during the Massive Triennial Conference the other week, which did not happen for, reasons.
And they are very keen about a book I have been thinking about for ages, which is not the Major Research Project of the moment, though somewhat tangentially related, and I'm hmmmmmm about it.
Because it's a book where I haven't done more than research rather a small part of one angle of the bigger picture, but on the other hand, I do know what has to be in there and where to look.
And unlike the Major Research Project, which is large and contains multitudes, this would be a discrete project that wouldn't (I hope) keep starting yet more hares for me to go baying after.
[R]ed tape also means regulations that protect citizens, at a certain cost to companies that otherwise have little incentive to sacrifice some profit to mitigate risk. It is because of red tape that you cannot buy a flammable sofa, and that you are very unlikely to die in an air crash.
Much red tape, indeed, is the frozen memory of past disaster. Modern regulatory regimes as a whole came into being in the late 19th and early 20th centuries because of public outrage at the dangerous practices of unrestrained industry.
This is perhaps partly similar to the phenomenon that having effective infrastructure and ongoing regular maintenance of same is not as dramatic a story as horrendous accidents.
It's possibly also analogous to people becoming anti-vaxxers, because vaccination programmes have been so successful that there is no notion of the risks there used to be from common diseases of childhood.
For the first few years of 'there were no new cases of polio in the last twelve months' this is news. And then that becomes the default setting.
For those who decry 'Elf and Safety, I recommend a salutary reading of the London Medical Officer of Health reports from the C19th, freely available digitised and searchable online.
There are some Victorian values one can get behind, and the rise of public health is one of them.
On other Victorian values, however, and those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it, this person seems unaware that providing tied housing contingent upon working for a particular employer is nothing like a 'welfare state':
it was recently reported that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is spending is around $30m to provide short-term, prefab housing for 300 of its employees because Silicon Valley housing is in such short supply. Tech giants helped cause a housing crisis in Silicon Valley, now it seems they are becoming landlords. It’s feudalism 2.0.Not so much feudalism as C19th model towns, e.g. Saltaire, founded by businessmen to keep their workers contented and (I hypothesise) spurning the trades union movement (having had to do with a late C19th enterprise with some of the same elements of benevolent paternalism towards the workforce).
And, looking at that article, was New Lanark really quite the same thing? Enlightened capitalism not quite the same as utopian socialism.
Also had the thought that people who are 'regulation BAD' seem to reverse this opinion when it comes to panic measures against terrorism that are often symbolic rather than proven efficacious.
What I read
Finished Binti. Reminded me a bit of other things I have read over my sff reading life, but well-done, may well go for the next one.
Sarah Gailey, River of Teeth (2017). Okay, everybody mentions the hippos, but isn't it, underneath that, a combination western/caper tale where an unlikely team is brought together and has its own tensions besides the issues with what it has to do? (not that that isn't a good armature). Enjoyable, but ended abruptly and cliffhangingly, and is the new thing (see Binti above) of issuing novellas which are only the beginning of a longer story arc the new allotrope of serialised fiction? (but hey, it worked for Middlemarch, though at least Ms Evans indicated that it was an ongoing story.)
Dana Stabenow, Bad Blood (2013). Not quite as good as the last one I read, I think, but ended with A Thing that makes me want to go on to the next quite shortly to see how that pans out for Kate Shugak.
Two short pieces of Barbara Hambly's 'Further Adventures': Hazard (2017) (Sunwolf and Starhawk) and Elsewhere (2017) (Darwath).
Picked up in booksale, Arthur Ransome, Missee Lee (1941). I remembered very little about this, even though I later discovered I already had a copy on my shelves. I don't think it was ever among my favourites of the Swallows and Amazons books; but I've found, on re-reads of these books, that somehow they do not do for me what they did in youth - something about the style? I don't know. Also, early C20th rendering of Chinglish, sigh.
On the go
Elizabeth George, A Banquet of Consequences (2015). I was considerably off these when they were turning Lynley's Epic Manpain up to 11, but this one was very cheap in a charity shop and promised mostly Havers. And really, do we not want more of the scruffy maverick with constant disciplinary issues who is also a woman? - the 'top brass not pleased' is massive at the beginning of this one. Okay, it's got a standard E George riff on 'all unhappy families are different in baroquely complicated ways, and there are no happy families' (the misery handed on is not so much a coastal shelf as the Mariana Trench), but I have stuck with it, though have just been irked that over 500 pages into the narrative they are only just looking into how anyone might have got hold of the somewhat unusual toxic substance involved.
Also, on the ereader, because I don't want to tote around a damn great fat paperback, from the romance bundle, Ivory Lei, How to Wed an Earl (2013) - not got very far, but seems as, 'be betrothed in infancy by respective parents' is how...
Well, in another charity shop found the preceding volume by Elizabeth George, Just One Evil Act (2013), which, I daresay, will reveal what got Havers into the deepest of disgrace and quite possibly the depths of depression, but I'm not sure I really want to commit to going straight on to another of these. Or maybe the next Stabenow in the series.
Or I could look through my tbr piles, actual and virtual.
The projects are:
1) a serial-web-fiction space opera, designed to kick me out of the writing rut I'm in and have been for the past couple of years. I miss writing, I miss finishing things, and I have that problem right now where I have such a massive proliferation of ideas that I don't have time to write them all and then get bogged down doing no writing whatsoever. The way I have this in my head would help solve that problem (basically, create a massive universe, drop every single idea I have into it and let them start to merge around the edges), and, if I could build an audience for it, would also be a "throw myself in the deep end and start writing rope" kind of project. Has the potential to support a Patreon, again if it finds an audience. Startup costs: several months of worldbuilding, committing all my spare energy to writing. Web hosting, which I already have. Would give me the chance to play with marketing, different story lengths/types, and as many aliens as I want.
2) a podcast on end-of-the-world movements and cults. I've been kicking this idea (or something related to it) around for years; I have been known to talk the ear off of coworkers, friends, and random strangers on the subject whenever it comes up even marginally. And the more podcasts I listen to, the more I want to make one. Also has the potential to support a Patreon, depending on audience. Startup costs: lots of research and writing, time spent re-learning audio editing, probably some trial-and-error time in the recording studio. (I have two libraries within reach with recording studios available, so that shouldn't be a cost issue.) Web hosting, which I already have. Committing all my spare energy to research and writing. Would give me the chance to learn a new medium, play with marketing, talk endlessly about and learn more about things I am already interested in.
3) re-opening my Etsy shop. I like to make things, but eventually I build up a large stock of things I've made and have no actual use for. Right now it's stitch markers for knitting, relatively low-end blank books, and now I'm looking at yarn dyeing. Fortunately, these are all things that have a reasonable price point and do well on Etsy. The last couple of times I did this I sold only a handful of items, but I think I have a better handle on how to do this properly this time. Startup costs: supplies, time to perfect designs, business registration fees and the hassle of dealing with paperwork and taxes, committing all my spare energy to making things instead of writing. Would give me the excuse to play with new and different materials, learn product photography, help me straighten out my craft situation, bring in a little money if it takes off.
I started writing this thinking that each one of these was a solid six-month commitment, but looking at it now I can tell that that's just to get the thing off the ground - it'd need a year after that probably to see if it's got legs. This is the part that scares me: what if I put a year and a half into a project and it goes nowhere? (Well, that doesn't leave me worse off than I am now, putting a year and a half into nothing in particular and having it go nowhere.) What if I spend a year and a half on the wrong project, and one of the other ones would do really well right now but won't in the future? What if I can't focus on one project and run myself into the ground again trying to do everything? What if I pour myself into a creative project for a year and a half and nobody likes it?
Obviously some of this is bog-standard creative anxiety, but some of it's also my total loathing for long-term planning. I've never been very good at thinking long-term, and even worse at making commitments. If I've stuck with something for any length of time, it's been out of momentum, not dedication. (Ask me sometime about the number of times I've decided to buy a condo and then changed my mind.) Large projects are awesome, I know I could do something better with a large project than I could with one that just took a couple of months, but I'm terrifically afraid of making that commitment. I can always come up with reasons why it doesn't make sense to plan that far ahead, now more than ever. (Hell, what if civilization doesn't exist a year and a half from now?) I know that's pointless, paralyzing worry, but I haven't been able to stop it.
This is the part where I start wondering if it's possible to prioritize one project and low-key work on the other two, which is where I always start to fall apart. I mean, yes, it probably is, but I have never been good at that and starting that way is never going to go well. So instead, this time, I'm going to take a hint from Designing Your Life (I knew that reading trendy self-help books would come in useful at some point) and plot out a timeline and series of next actions for all three of them, and see if that helps me decide.
(Thanks for listening, y'all, and being part of my public accountability process. If one of these things makes it big, you'll be able to say you were in on the ground floor.)
I was responding to someone else's post and saying that I'm actually quite hesitant about recommending some of the writers/works that I love, because I can see that they have very individual and distinctive styles and that these may not work for everybody.
Some while ago (but failed to save the link) read a post somewhere pointing out that if you write a book or make a movie or [whatever], that people really really LOVE it is pretty much certain that there will be some people who really really HATE it; and that people who are aiming to make something that will appeal to everybody end up with a bland mush* that nobody HATES perhaps but nobody goes raving enthusiastically about either.
For some people, and maybe in some genres, this is a feature and not a bug: I have lately been reading various romance authors and a lot of them seem fairly interchangeable to me, i.e. I would not pick up a work and immediately know it was by YX rather than XY. See also some of the comments I have made about the reissued 'Golden Age' mysteries I have been sent as freebies and made myself read. Sometimes e.g. Allingham may irritate me intensely, but you know that you're reading a book by her and not Any Old Person.
Me myself I am a sucker for a distinctive voice provided that it is fresh rather than derivative (suspect this may account for why I like the Flashman books but not the various works that have tried to do the same thing, without, I depose, anything like GMF's abilities).
Though I am also generally twitchy about people who proselytise for authors/works/movies; possibly the flipside of that is people who diss on something you're reading or have on your shelves, which is rude. (Plus, if you a person who reads ALOT, you are going to have books about that are not favourites of your heart or indeed anything but something you are reading, because reading is what you do, they are at least a step up from the back of the cereal packet.)
As I have heretofore remarked, there is no book that everybody SHOULD read.
*Though is there not a proverb about porridge and no danger of world shortage of oatmeal?
I was synchronicitously pleased to find this blog post crossing my line of sight earlier today: Prospecting for kryptonite: the value of null results, because I had been thinking about incrementality and the time it takes for things to see results, and this is not just about scientific research.
Lately, at a symposium-thing I was speaking at, in the question/discussion bit somebody asked, was [change in the law] down to its being the Permissive Society at the time. And I was, actually that change in the law was made by people who had been working towards it for several decades, and had finally got into positions of power and influence and had the clout to bring it about, and it was more the final outcome of stuff that happened in the 30s than something that can be attributed to its beneficiaries, the Sixties Generation.
I think I've moaned on before about the 'Spaceships of the Gods' hypothesis and the idea that certain forms of knowledge came from Out There, because Infinite Regress: who found out how to build pyramids in the first place? why couldn't they have
put on the show right here in the old barn gradually developed the capacity to do so over time and trial and error. The pyramids did not grow up overnight. So it might just as well have happened here as Somewhere Else and been brought to us by ?benevolent aliens.
There was also a good post somewhere I came across about archival research and how it is not opening a file and DISCOVERY!!! it is looking through files files files and putting little pieces together.
Yes, there are moments when everything comes together, and when the outcome of the process finally surfaces above the horizon: but it doesn't Just Happen. There was history.
Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Miracles. Gods are apparently like ants in a California apartment complex in this Bennett trilogy: you think you’ve killed them all and there’s always one or two coming back again, so put your miracles in sealed containers. This is definitely a third book of a trilogy, not a stand-alone; I do not at all recommend starting here, but it does end things nicely. (The first book is City of Stairs – ed)
C.J. Cherryh, Convergence. This, on the other hand, is a sawed-off chunk of an ongoing thing. I wrote to another friend who has also read all twenty books of this series with a character’s name in all caps followed by “???” after reading this book. There is plot again, it is not like the trilogy within this series that was essentially focused on Bren getting his apartment back and furnishing it. Is it better for that? I’m not sure. I’m still reading as of book twenty, which tells you something, but for the love of Pete, do not do not DO NOT start here, it will be confusing and boring and generally awful, which it is not when you have read the other nineteen. On the other hand: will you want to read nineteen of these to get to this? I don’t know. It is very much science fiction about alien interactions, and it is very psychologically medieval in ways that I appreciate, and there are moments (like the name in all caps with the ???) where I feel like this is a very long game she has been planning in intricate detail all along and other moments where I am fairly sure it is the equivalent of going out for a morning nature walk with Auntie Carolyn and having her point out which tiny flowers and mushrooms grow under that big leaf and which ones are poisonous (most of them). On the other other hand, I do like nature walks.
Kathryn Evans, More of Me. Discussed elsewhere.
John M. Ford, The Scholars of Night. Reread. I picked this up for my Cold War Fantasy panel, and it is made of love for Christopher Marlowe and Anthony Price and intricacy. It is exactly what this panel is all about, but I reread it not that long ago; I just wanted the excuse.
Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones. Reread. This is the last of my old Natalie Goldberg books, and honestly it is the one to get if you’re getting a Natalie Goldberg book for a new writer. It is straightforward and cheerful and does not self-aggrandize particularly; it quotes her teachers without acting like they hung the moon, it has ideas for what to do but sort of shrugs through them like, yep, try these and if they don’t work try something else, just try stuff. I am no longer at a point where I think it’s a good use of shelf space for me to keep this book, so I will set it free for some newer writer to enjoy, but it did not make me snippy with Batman the way the others did. (…if you didn’t read that blog post, maybe we should just draw a veil over it.)
Paul Gruchow, Letters to a Young Madman: A Memoir. Gruchow is a Minnesota nature writer and observer of the land, farming, people…he overlaps with my interests enough that I have been reading his books in an essentially random order from the library, and then I came to this one and it blindsided me. Because the present tense in that first sentence is inaccurate. Paul Gruchow. Oh God. Paul Gruchow did not survive his last bout with depression more than a decade ago. I had been darting merrily through feeling so much kinship with this man, and he was gone the whole time I was reading him, painfully and horribly gone, and he suffered so much before he went, and this is the memoir of how. I recommend it under only two circumstances: 1) If you have not read a memoir of depression and mental health treatment and hospitalization in this country. This is a keenly observed and fiercely intelligent example of its genre. It is not heartening. It is not uplifting. It is not the work of a person who managed to find his way out, to see brighter days ahead, to kick at the darkness, as the man said, until it bled daylight. The man I was starting to think of metaphorically as “cousin Paul,” struggled and fought with himself and hurt himself and his family and was hurt by himself and the world, and then he died. This is that book. If you are not yourself depressed and/or have not otherwise experienced the mental health system up close and have not read anyone’s detailed modern account of it, I think you should read at least one, and you could do far worse than letting it be Paul Gruchow’s. You also owe it to yourself to choose very carefully when you subject yourself to it. It does not have to be today, tomorrow, next week. You can look with deliberation when you must look. 2) If you have read such a book before but have come to love the other works of Paul Gruchow, you can choose to look again even if you know the facts and figures of modern mental health care. That would be me. You can see how some of his other stories are changed, cast in different lights, by these stories. By the stories of his illness. You may decide that you don’t want that of a writer whose work you love. And you may decide that you owe it to a writer whose work you love to have his whole work, not to look away. If it was me, I would want some of my readers to look away, to only have the brilliant and lovely things I said about frogs and rocks and farming. And I would want some of my readers not to look away, to read all my work, even the hardest and darkest. It is not me. But we come from the same places and the same people. It could have been. I am glad I didn’t look away. It has been a very long time since I cried so hard over a book as I did over the opening and closing pages of this book, and also many, many times over the middle, and it was not a very long book. Proceed with caution if at all.
Marvin Kaye, ed. The Fair Folk. Reread. Vividly told tales, most of which did not hit me particularly personally. The opening story from Tanith Lee is a really great example of a story that feels like it is going to be a wonderful story for someone else, a story that will go right to someone else’s heart and stay there. I think it’s easier to recognize those with experience.
Donald Keene, ed., Anthology of Japanese Literature from the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century. Reread. This is something I purchased for a college class and kept. It is not the very last word in Japanese lit, but with twenty years’ experience it turns out to still be a quite decent first word and well worth keeping; there were things I was happy to quote and discuss with friends. I haven’t done a survey of survey anthologies, so I don’t know if this would be the one I would recommend above all others, but as the one I already have on my shelf, it had many things worth reading in it and I am glad to keep giving it space, which is a quite nice feeling. There were several place where I rolled my eyes at Donald Keene himself and his notes–his handling of notes on periods where there were predominantly women authors were not, shall we say, deft and sensitive–but most of the material was the material and could just be enjoyed for that. Good mix of poems, stories, diary excerpts, novel excerpts, play treatments.
Naomi Mitchison, Sea-Green Ribbons. This is a strangely spare novel of a young woman printer during Cromwell’s time. I enjoyed it except for the ending, which I found unsatisfying in its handling of Quakers and slavery, and I spent much of the experience cocking my head and squinting sideways at it and thinking of Gillian Bradshaw’s London in Chains and A Corruptible Crown. They are really, really, really, really similar. Young woman printer, era of Cromwell, sexual trauma, various details…I don’t think that one is cribbed from the other, their style is quite, quite different, and their endings are, and there is something like four times as much of the Bradshaw. It was just very strange. I want more novels of the Interregnum, but it’s okay if the others are not specifically about young women printers with sexual trauma, variety being the spice etc.
Toni Morrison, Jazz. Lots of people failing to make their relationships work, but the language is rich and improvisationally jazzy, very successfully evocative of the ’20s urban setting and newly urbanized Black American culture of the Great Diaspora. If someone other than Toni Morrison had been writing this, the petty, angry despair of the major characters might well have put me off, but Morrison’s writing is so beautiful it was worthwhile for me.
Jim Northrup, Marcie R. Rendon, Linda LeGarde Grover, and Denise Sweet, Nitaawichige: Selected Poetry and Prose by Four Anishinaabe Writers. Highly varied voices and forms, but the traditions they’re drawing on are very recognizably Anishinaabe in their own ways. A very short chapbook, definitely worth the time if you can find it. Hilarity and anger and pathos and beauty all represented here.
Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight and The Shepherd’s Crown. Rereads. After long hiatus, I have finished the Tiffany Aching series. Last first: The Shepherd’s Crown is Pratchett’s last book, and you can see that he was not quite done with it, that it is the bones of the book he meant to write rather than the full book, with its gestures toward third-wave feminism and a love letter to the geezerhood the author himself would never achieve. It has some great things to nod at. It makes me wistful. As for I Shall Wear Midnight…I find myself ambivalent about books with the “they persecute us for our virtues because they are stinky jerks” plots right now, and this is one. And yet it is a pretty good one, and sometimes “they” do. And the virtue in particular in this one is being willing to step up and help where help is needed, and I want more of that in fiction and in life.
Frederick Taylor, The Downfall of Money: Germany’s Hyperinflation and the Destruction of the Middle Class. This sounds a bit dry but is very, very human–it’s very much about how the German people experienced the interwar hyperinflationary period, what played into it and what it created. Interesting and a much quicker read than one might expect.
Catherynne M. Valente, Deathless. Reread. This is far and away my favorite Valente novel for adults. I picked it up because I misremembered the time frame–I had thought, for some reason, that the ending was long after it was, deep in the Stalinist period, instead of 1942–and so I thought it might be of interest to my Cold War Fantasy panel at 4th St. Well, this is why we do panel prep, and of course 1942 is the exact right year to end this book. It is so vivid, so food-oriented and so full of myth and relationship and history. It is not for my panel. I still don’t regret the reread.
Martha Wells, All Systems Red. Murderbot! I was one of the last on the Murderbot train, but I do like Murderbot. All Murderbot wants is to be let by to figure things out and watch videos, is this too much to ask? Apparently so because humans, ugh. We are with you, Murderbot! We are with you through the rest of your adventures among humans, ugh, and whoever else you may encounter. Intimate voice far future SF, hurrah, more please.
Review copy provided by Amulet Books.
Some spoilers are our friends, although I will not visit them upon you unsought. This is the first time I remember in ages flipping to the last few pages of a book to make sure that a particular concept was not how a book ended, because if it was, I did not want to be there for that experience. It wasn’t. I kept reading. In fact, I turned the pages compulsively.
The science fiction concept of this YA novel makes a better special effect than actual science: the cells of an entire person reproducing themselves and pulling apart fully formed, so that an entirely new version can step out and also leave the old version intact. Teva has been doing this annually, so that there is herself, age 16, but also her previous selves, known by their ages: Fifteen, Fourteen, and so on. Her mother, for reasons later made clear, has decided that it isn’t safe for this to be known, so once the split happens, the earlier version has to stay in the house all the time, and no one else is allowed in.
This is not, as you might well imagine, a long-term tenable situation.
I will not want to reread this book, because it is emotionally well-done. The claustrophobia of the well-meant captives, the panicked family turned in on themselves, the girl(s) taught to distrust the school friends and teachers who are part of her/their daily life…and inevitably led to doubt her/their own sanity. It was all incredibly evocative. There were times when I writhed reading it. The speculative conceit was not realistic. The teenage psychology was. And it was very clear that you do not have to intend to be a monster to wind up treating your loved ones monstrously, and you do not have to intend to be a jailer to put them in a prison they need to escape.
Those who have issues with reading about self-harm will probably also find this book really, really difficult. Like, you would need a serious good reason to read this book if you are a person in this category because there are substantial amounts of very vivid description of self-harm. This is for plot reasons due to the speculative conceit, but I’m not sure that will make the experience less difficult to read and may well make it more so. Beyond that I cannot honestly tell whether people whose families were less loving and healthy than mine will find this book cathartic or personally horrifying or some of each. You should tread with caution not because this is badly done but because it is well and lovingly done. This is not a hopeless book. Its ending is a substantially positive one. But I think it will be a wall-climbing experience for many readers.
Please consider using our link to buy More of Me from Amazon.
During the week: Greenstein's 100% wholewheat loaf, 50:50% ordinary strong wholemeal/einkorn flour - v nice.
Saturday breakfast rolls: basic buttermilk, 3:1 strong white flour/medium cornmeal.
Today's lunch: partridge breasts seasoned and panfried in butter + olive oil, served with rosemary jelly and damson jelly, with sticky rice with lime leaves, buttered
Bread-making during the week I expect.
Bread-making during the week I expect.
- that the plot of My Cousin Rachel is based on a very dubious understanding of English testamentary law.
According to the plot summary of the original novel here, Ambrose had never changed the will he made before marrying Rachel, which left everything to Philip.
Ahem: marrying voids existing testamentary dispositions, so, unless he had made another will embodying the same provisions after marriage (which he could have done, since there was no automatic obligation to provide for wife and children), everything would go to his wife, i.e. Rachel.
But even if he had made a new will in the same terms as the old, given that there seems to have been plausible medical evidence that he was not in his right mind at the time of death, she would anyway presumably have had good grounds for contesting the will.
At the convention I got autographs from guests of honor Gordon R. Dickson and Robert Lynn Aspirin (he was the Fan GoH, not yet a pro writer, and famous mostly for founding the Dorsal Irregulars; my badge bears the note "not a Dorsal Irregular" because I was wearing a black turtleneck) and spent most of the time playing the new-to-me game of D&D. A couple of weeks later, I got a letter from the organizers inviting me to attend a MA2OSF3 meeting. I attended, I had a good time, and I started hanging out with them. I went to a couple more conventions that year, in Chicago and Champaign-Urbana, and several more the next, including Wiscon 2. When X-Con '78 rolled around the following June I was on the committee, as co-head of Gaming.
Since then I've attended four or five cons a year. I have saved every convention badge, though I haven't counted them lately -- it probably totals something in the vicinity of 150 cons. I have been active in science fiction clubs: MA2OSF3 in Milwaukee, StLSFS in St. Louis, and PorSFiS in Portland. I have been a conrunner, fanzine editor, costumer, artist, gamer, and even dealer. I'm still involved in con running, maintaining the website and mailing lists for Oregon Science Fiction Conventions Inc., but most of my fan-related time now comes from attending conventions as a pro.
Thanks to Fandom I have traveled the world, made hundreds of fabulous friends and lovers, and met my spouse. I've laughed, I've cried, I've eaten far too many meals in hotel coffee shops. Fandom has been the spine upon which much of my life has been hung, and it is a marvel to me that I now find myself somewhere near the top of a field of which I have been a reader and fan for my entire life.
Many of the people reading this have been part of this journey, and continue to be part of it. I'd like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being there for me, and I hope I've been there for you as well.
Next stop, Helsinki!