Monday, October 13, 2008

Necronomicon 2008

Necronomicon 2008 Badge

Steampunk was this year's theme for the 27th Necronomicon -- hence the "ScientiFiction Exposition" descriptor. The Achilles H.E.E.L.S. (High Earth Extraterrestrial Liaison Station) button comes courtesy of Sci-Fi Times TV.

I got back from St. Petersburg on Sunday night, after a stopover at the Achilles space station to do a couple gigs as Commander Mal. Got out of bed at, oh, about one on Monday afternoon. After a weekend of the usual convention sleep-dep, a single bottle of Guinness Stout had me out for the night and then some.... (continued)

LaQuinta St. Petersburg, Room 101

I had a lovely room at the LaQuinta on Rt. 19, about 6-1/2 miles from the Bayfront Hilton, where Necro was held. In this shot I checked e-mail while watching Game 1 of the ALCS.

Games 1 and 2 of the playoffs between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays occurred at Tropicana Field, which lay between LaQuinta and the Hilton. The ballpark shown on my TV screen was only a few miles away from this room.

My home is about 85 miles from this location, but that still makes the Rays my "home team" in Florida. Before my move here, I lived in the Boston area for 20 years, which means the Red Sox were also my "home team." I have therefore taken the attitude: May the best club win.

This year's galivanting has turned me into a bargain hunter where conventions are concerned. In addition to my room costing 43 percent of the Hilton's "special convention rate," I enjoyed free WiFi and free parking -- the Hilton's guest-only lot ran $12/day. Public parking near the convention ran me $4 on Friday over at Progress Energy Park and $5 on Saturday at a public parking garage, when PE Park held its farmer's market. I lucked out on Sunday, getting a free spot (metered only on weekdays) around the corner from the Hilton, the only one left of about six available for those early enough to arrive. Having to be at a 10 o'clock panel helped.

Progress Energy Park has a wonderfully antiquated payment system for parking that led to my rolling four singles one at a time into tiny coils and jamming them into the narrow slot corresponding to parking spot #351. The slot was one of many set in a rusted metal box sporting a heavy padlock on the back. Mary later told me she'd seen the same arrangement in Tacoma Park, but at the time I stopped and questioned a groundskeeper, wondering if that payment system was for real. I finally decided that four bucks for peace of mind was a bargain and a half. The rusted box is one of those shots that in retrospect I wish I had taken, but schlepping a bunch of books and then some on a hot and humid day made me forgetful.

Farmer's Market

You can see the stadium behind Saturday's farmer's market. None of the stalls had opened for business yet, or I'd have picked up my lunch before setting up my table and doing my first of three panels. Progress Energy Park is now the location for minor league games, but it had been the home of the Rays before Tropicana Field was built.

Elissa Malcohn at Necronomicon

Depending on the event, sometimes Aisling Press has one table where all of its authors share space. Other times, as at Necro, each author has a table. We and other vendors were situated in an open area, so we had daily set-ups and break-downs and stored our wares overnight inside the lockable dealer room. What with added publications, my display has grown considerably since the one I had at Necro last year.

Bo Savino at Necronomicon

Bo Savino (right) and Amanda.

K.L. Nappier at Necronomicon

K.L. (Kathy) Nappier. Her centerpiece is a little motorized Halloween carousel complete with the skeletons of horses and riders.

Bo, Kathy, and I were authors at the Aisling Press tables. I was stationed between Bo's table and Michael Darling's.

Michael Darling at Necronomicon

On Saturday morning I moderated "Defining Romantic Art and Literature." From the program description: "In literary and artistic terminology, 'romance' is not a Barbara Cartland thing. Our authors and artists discuss the real meaning of 'romance.' Joining me were Glenda Finkelstein, Will Ludwigsen, Philip McCall, and Paul Vincenti.

After introductions I cited a couple of definitions of "romance" from Webster's online dictionary:

  • A prose narrative treating imaginary characters involved in events remote in time and place and usually heroic, adventurous, or mysterious

  • An emotional attraction or aura belonging to an especially heroic era, adventure, or activity

  • One of the panelists defined romance as inspiring a sense of awe. We talked about how even gritty realism can be romanticized. Among other things, we tossed around a dead rat (figuratively, that is) -- discussing how such a stark image can be romanticized through lighting and perspective. In addition to writing, painting, and photographs, we explored the ways in which a class of movies has changed from romanticized "black and white" character depictions to more complex but still romanticized characters dealing with internal as well as external conflicts.

    Later that day I was on the panel "Linking Poetry and Art" ("Poets and artists suggest ways in which their creative pursuits can accentuate each other"), moderated by Marge Simon and joined also by Bruce Boston and Malcolm Deeley. First, we talked a bit about ekphrasis (poetry based on art forms -- see, for example, "Ekphrasis: Poetry Confronting Art" at and read poems inspired by art works. Space and Time #104 contains poems that Marge and I had written based on art show pieces we'd seen at last year's Necronomicon.

    Marge and Malcolm demonstrated how the art-poetry relationship can be bidirectional. In their collection Legends of the Fallen Sky, each installment fueled the next, poem inspiring painting, which then inspired the next poem, and so on. (Malcolm's blog entry "When a poem becomes a painting" describes the process of ekphrasis in reverse.) On Saturday night up to eight of us gathered in Marge's and Bruce's room for an informal and fun, wine and cheese-fueled sharing of poetry.

    Before the reading I was able to get in a few costume shots:

    Sci-Fi Times TV Meets Ghostbusters

    Co-host "Nikto" (Glenda Finkelstein) and Tom Savino (the "Tech Guy") from Sci-Fi Times TV speak with a Ghostbuster.

    Steampunk costumes

    Pirates at Necronomicon

    Ghouls at Necronomicon

    Archer at Necronomicon


    Musicians at Necronomicon

    Marge, Malcolm, and I also put in an appearance at 10 AM on Sunday for "Creating Alternative Worlds" ("Authors give their tips on how to create a believable and yet very different world for fictional works"), joined by William R. Logan and moderated by Michael L. Joy. Our discussion included transplanting real-life details into fictional forms and settings, the uses and abuses of invented language, and methods of distilling and presenting the details of one's research into a story without bogging it down. Among other citations, I mentioned this collection of Patricia C. Wrede's Worldbuilder Questions.

    Later that day, Glenda and Tony Finkelstein interviewed me for "Andromeda Library" (launch date TBA), which will join the roster of shows on Ad Astra Radio, "the world's first talk radio network devoted to science fiction entertainment."

    On my way home I stopped at the Achilles Space Station to be Commander Mal for a bit, and afterwards took some shots of the set:

    Sci-Fi Times TV, the Achilles Space Station

    This is a two-part panorama. Here's a close-up of a section:

    Sci-Fi Times TV, Achilles Close-up

    Another recurring "character" on the show is Fifi, a rescued orphan of an alien species called the Grock. Fifi is still young, small, and cute, and has a special fondness for the taste of superhero action figures (as evidenced in Show #2).

    Sci-Fi Times TV, Fifi

    A composite shot of the viewscreens:

    Sci-Fi Times TV, Achilles Viewscreens

    The Achilles Space Station set resides in this yurt. I took this shot around 7 PM, before taking off for home.

    Home of Sci-Fi Times TV

    This coming Saturday I'll give the keynote at the Florida State Poets Association convention.

    Covenant, the first volume in the Deviations Series, is available from Aisling Press, and from AbeBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Territory, Borders,,,, DEAstore,,,,, Powell's Books, and Target. Deviations: Appetite is now available for pre-order at Barnes and Noble. The Deviations page has additional details.


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