Capclave Love Affair
This time I splurged for a room. Howard wasn’t there. Neither was George. But Gordon was everywhere. So was Scott. And Sarah. And by “there,” I mean all over the Capclave 2015 program.
This year wasn’t the sweaty, packed-hallway, over-filled extravaganza of Capclave 2013 when George R.R. Martin was the Guest of Honor. Capclave 2015 was just a normal year of science fiction and fantasy convention awesomeness in the Washington, D.C. area. I had a great time. It started with a panel about Frank Herbert’s novel Dune. My love of the Dune series, even God Emperor of Dune, is well known.
February 9, 2015:
Me: Do you know what my favorite book is?
Cake Man: Other than Dune?
Me: No, not other than Dune.
Cake Man: Dune, then?
Late in the panel’s hour of Dune-chat, something went terribly wrong. The moderator started a game of f#@k, marry, or kill, and no one had Lady Jessica on the kill list. I started to doubt the room’s dedication to and understanding of Dune. Had they not read all the original Frank Herbert books? Did they not know what a horrible person Lady Jessica is? If you’re going to cause civilization to stagnate for thousands of years, and you know ahead of time you’re going to do that, you need to own your actions! Lady Jessica attempts to disown them. She’s a villain! The panel needed to know. The room needed to know!
It turned out I was in the presence of Dune purists so true they had read only the first book. Harrumph!
I was all fired up by the time the next panel started. I was able to contain myself though. Dune wasn’t mentioned. Instead, Sarah Avery, Gordon Van Gelder, Scott H. Andrews, and Sarah Pinsker talked about publishing and the writing process through the lens of “The Right Length for Your Story.”
I’m not a stalker, but I’ve been stalking Sarah Pinsker’s short story writing for awhile. At Capclave, attendees can actually talk with editing, publishing, and writing celebrities like Sarah. We also get to listen to said celebrities read from their work. Sarah Pinsker did so the following day with a mesmerizing reading of “And We Were Left Darkling” about a woman and her alien ghost baby.
Gordon Van Gelder, former editor of the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and current publisher, was Capclave 2015’s Guest of Honor. His panel discussion about the history of the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction was my favorite of his appearances.
This panel could have been 3 hours long instead of 1, and the audience would have stuck around to hear even more quirky, entertaining tales about former editors and past goings-on. There was “The Unperiodical” – the newsstand version of one issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction that was missing all its periods. An enterprising, inexperienced proofreader removed all those “stray marks” from photocopies of the text before it went into production. There was also the magazine’s longest-lived subscriber, who bought a lifetime subscription in 1951 for something like $50. Every year, the king of good deals (the subscriber) sends a letter to the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction to tell them he’s still alive. I believe he signs it “The Immortal.”
In a convention that often found itself discussing how old paid publications were adopting to a modern era of free content and how modern publications could still get good content to publish, this panel offered hope at least on the first count. Fifteen years ago, magazine sales were slumping. By 2007 or so, sales had bottomed out across the publishing industry. Amazon’s kindle turned that around by providing a platform and a pricing mechanism to deliver electronic content. That discussion was in contrast to publishing industry’s concerns about certain Amazon services.
Oh, and there was the Saturday night production of Bill Powell’s “The Punctuality Machine, Or, A Steampunk Libretto.” I was invited to play Jacquenette, Personal Automaton to Lady Cadence. French. Mobility Somewhat Restricted by the Hose Providing her Steam Power. My hose was invisible, but everyone still knew it was there. I killed it and not just because I almost caught Villager 1 as he leaped off the stage or because I collided spectacularly with other cast members.
Capclave 2015 was a whole weekend of interesting topics, varied discussion, unique perspectives, and occasional outbursts. There’s a lot to love.