INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair: in which I write up more notes

Continued from the previous post:

Doing some more wandering around the fair floor, I found my way to the geek corner of the book fair, where SFWA and ChiZine had booths right beside each other. Since I was sticking around for the SFWA Showcase on one of the small stage areas at 1700, this was serendipitous, and I made the acquaintance of Matthew Johnson, as well as that of Alyx Dellamonica, her wife, and Karina Sumner-Smith, with all of whom I had absolutely delightful conversations, and with all of whom I deeply regret not being able to spend more time in conversation.

The 1700 SFWA Showcase consisted of a series of short readings from Alyx Dellamonica (reading from very intriguing short story), Ed Hoornaert (my notes say: “sexist. Middle-grade? Indie-published? WHAT AUDIENCE?!” It is possible my notes were a bit cranky that evening.), Robin Riopelle (reading from debut novel Deadroads, sounds pretty good, my notes add: “find publicist, try to acquire copy for column reading”), and Karina Sumner-Smith (reading from debut novel Radiance, excellent reading, will read the book).

Thereafter, I was a touch on the tired side, and returned to my hotel room to stare at the internet, drink half the can of courtesy beer I’d been provided by Tourism Toronto (something called “Steam Whistle,” really not to my taste but it was that or go looking for caffeine), and arrange dinner plans en group via Twitter – where I learned that we would be joined by the most excellent Michelle Sagara/Michelle West/Michelle Sagara-West, who I’d had the very great pleasure of meeting at LonCon3. So of course I went to the hotel restaurant far too early from eagerness to talk to ALL THE PEOPLE again – but that was okay, because there was a very nice member of the hotel staff from the Ukraine there, who commiserated with me on how incomprehensible baseball and American football are.

Then dinner with Ana, Thea, Jane, and Michelle – I cannot remember if Kelly was there too: my memory grows faulty, and it was dinner so I took no notes, of course. It was delightful. I was still full from breakfast and lunch, but there was a delicious soup, and a plate of things called “sliders”: tiny burgers in tiny buns. Very delicious. All the talking. So much talking. So much excellent talking in marvelous company that I wound up talking to Michelle in the foyer of the hotel until after midnight, after all the others had headed off for sleeping.

That was Friday. I slept well in the gigantic hotel bed and rose in time to do a tourist thing and find a Tim Horton’s to eat doughnuts for breakfast. Delicious, delicious doughnuts. You don’t get doughnuts like that around here.

Then it was closing on 1100 Saturday, and I went to Deborah Harkness’s panel even though I’d never read any of her books. According to my notes, I found her talking about being a historian much more interesting than her talking about her books: all the notes I took were to do with history, not books. “As a historian, I’m concerned with errors of interpretation,” she said. “As a historian, my goal is to use history to teach empathy.” Writing fiction gave her “permission to imagine the past.” Harkness is an engaging speaker, and listening to her talk almost made me want to read her books – although from the sounds of them, they are strongly marked Not For Me.

I had a lunch (I think) and wandered back over the the Geek Corner of the fair floor, where I fell into conversation with Jaym Gates, Matthew Johnson, Robin Riopelle, Crystal Huff, and Michael Matheson (not all at once, but over the course of the afternoon), in between attending William Gibson’s and Kathy Reichs’ respective panels at the main stage. I do not have any notes for the Gibson panel bar: “haunted by the idea he was working with a 1984 idea of contemporary weirdness” “change in human society is now driven by emergent technology,” and re: the future, “I navigate by looking for resonance,” while for the Reichs panel I wrote one thing down: the interviewer/host is a boring ass.

Back at the Geek Corner of the fair floor, Michael Mathesen extolled to me the virtues of David Nickle’s Rasputin’s Bastards by telling me it was a “Cold War spy novel with X-men powers and telepathic giant squid, and I wrote down titles of books that also sounded interesting: Nancy Baker’s Cold Hill Side, Caitlin Sweet’s The Door in the Mountain, and Gemma Files’ new collection/not-mosaic-novel, We Will All Go Down Together.

Then at 1700 there was another SFWA panel, “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be,” with Andrew Barton, Stephanie Bedwell-Grimes, Julie Czerneda, and Douglas Smith, for which my notes are mostly illegible, but at which I recall being entertained. Then there was “Y(oung) A(ncient) Literature,” which was a discussion/set of readings featuring Patrick Bowman (my notes say: “Classicists, only read his book while drunk”), Christian Cameron (“has done research, but sounds very grimdark”), Beth Goobie (“literary”), and Caitlin Sweet (“Minoan retelling: sounds like a good book, but probably not to be recommended to Bronze Age Aegeanists like your supervisor”).

After this, I found myself generously enfolded into the dinner plans of Michael, Jaym, Crystal, two Andrews, and at least one other person whose name I embarrassingly do not recall. ETA: Matthew Johnson. (I am extremely grateful for their welcoming friendliness.) Dinner was at a sushi place, where I would never have ventured solo, and I paid the learning-new-things tax to discover that no, sushi is really the very wrong texture for my mouth. But gyoza udon is fucking amazingly delicious.

I still cannot use chopsticks, though. Seriously. I know how you’re supposed to hold them, but damn if I can pick anything up with them. (It is not like one gets a lot of practice in Dublin in general or at my dining table in specific.)

I ate dessert in the hotel, because I was craving chocolate and they had a chocolate cake thing. And then I went to my giant comfy hotel bed and slept like a dead thing until Sunday morning

Old Men Yelling At Clouds

…is now the official name for people yelling about progress and censorship dammit.

I’m not weighing in on the SFWA kerfuffle: I’m not an author, I’m not an American, it’s none of my beeswax when the SFWA Bulletin hosts a pack of asshats whose outdated chauvinism is no longer in the least amusing. Foz Meadows, however, has a lovely takedown of the ridiculous stuff.

(Some evil person linked me to Sarah Hoyt’s take on the mess. Nasty gender essentialism and wrongheadedness there.)

Meanwhile, Tansy Rayner Roberts has interesting things to say about gender in A Song of Ice and Fire:

What intrigued me most, to tell you the truth, is that whenever the big discussion about female characters in epic fantasy fiction starts up again, ASOIAF (Game of Thrones is SUCH a better series title, just saying) is frequently cited on both sides of the argument – that is, as an example of a male writer writing a variety of female characters in a rich, nuanced and substantial way, AND a male author writing female characters in an extremely problematic way.

Looking at the books from the other side, I have to say – well, yep. Both those things are true.

At A Dribble of Ink, Kate Elliott and Aidan Moher are Reading Katherine Kerr. Go! Look!

And in more Game of Thrones news: It’s a nice day for THE RED WEDDING. Billy Idol, meet the King in the North. LITTLE SISTER CROSSBOW. It’s a nice day GET REVENGE.