My Capricon Schedule

For those of you who will be at Capricon, which begins this Thursday, here’s my schedule of programming. For those of you who will not be at Capricon, this is what you’ll be missing, you fools.

Opening Ceremonies – Thursday, 02-10-2011 – 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm – River C (Media)
Welcome to Capricon 31: Escape! Join us as we kick off this year’s event and get some idea of what to expect and to meet our GoHs and the people who make it all possible.

The Future of Cover Art in the Age of E-Books – Friday, 02-11-2011 – 10:00 am to 11:30 am – Botanic Garden B (Special Events)
As we move towards digital readers, what happens to cover art? How can you judge a book by its e-cover? Some cover art can be horrendous, so is this a good thing?
Walt Boyes
John Picacio (M)
John Scalzi
Kathryn Sullivan

2011 Hugo Awards: Potential Nominees – Friday, 02-11-2011 – 11:30 am to 1:00 pm – Botanic Garden B (Special Events)
The nomination period for the 2011 Hugo Awards is open! What books, dramatic presentations, artists, fanzines, and new writers should be nominated?
Stephen Boucher
Deb Geisler (M)
Joe Karpierz
Mary Anne Mohanraj
John Scalzi

Reading: John Scalzi – Friday, 02-11-2011 – 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm – Botanic Garden A (Special Events)

Science Fiction Films Today: More Special Effects than Science Fiction? – Saturday, 02-12-2011 – 11:30 am to 1:00 pm – Willow
Are “Science Fiction” films still science fictional? Do cool special effects make up for the lack of actual science? What about critical successes like Moon, that didn’t have blockbuster special effects? Our film critics and experts discuss where SF and film is headed.
Bob Blackwood (M)
Mark Mallchok
Paul McComas
John Scalzi

GoH Q & A: John Scalzi – Saturday, 02-12-2011 – 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm – Botanic Garden B (Special Events)
We think we know John Scalzi through his long-running blog, Whatever. But really, there’s so much more you don’t know, secrets he has not yet revealed. Come and ask your questions – you shall be answered!
John Scalzi

Autographing: John Scalzi – Saturday, 02-12-2011 – 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm – Autograph Table

Can Bacon Go Wrong? – Sunday, 02-13-2011 – 10:00 am to 11:30 am – Botanic Garden B (Special Events)
Yes, we know that in theory, everything is better with bacon. But sometimes, occasionally, can it go horribly wrong? Can there be too much of this great thing? Are some things really not better with bacon? (Sunday morning pancakes not included.)
Brian “Thee Bluebeard” Miskelley
Erik V. Olson (M)
John Scalzi
Geri Sullivan
Leane Verhulst

Closing Ceremonies & Feedback Session – Sunday, 02-13-2011 – 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm – River C (Media)
All good things must come to an end and that includes Capricon 31, the best Capricon you’ll attend in 2011. Come to Closing Ceremonies to help us ring out the old con and usher in the new when the Cap32 chair gives a hint of what will happen when we convene in 2012.


The Sun Is, Like, Totally Watching You, Man

So watch out. I’m just saying.

Big Idea

The Big Idea: Stina Leicht

Fantasy authors incorporate elements of the fantastical into the modern world all the time — the genre of “urban fantasy” is all about that. But when authors inject fantasy into the real world, and into events of the real world that have a history of contentiousness and hard emotions, there’s another level of complication… and of opportunity. Debut author Stina Leicht found out about both with her novel Of Blood and Honey, which takes place in Northern Ireland of the not at all recent past. How does one thread the path between fantasy and reality in a setting like that? Leicht explains.


One of my favourite writers, Terry Pratchett, once wrote that stories were parasites that search for people to happen to.

I still wonder why this story picked me.

The first seeds of Liam’s tale were planted during a Science Fiction convention panel about culture and myth appropriation. The question posed was: Is it ethical for fantasy writers to strip-mine traditional stories and characters from minority cultures? During the ensuing battle, one panellist stated that the reason fantasy had ventured into foreign cultures was because the Celtic myths were tired and overdone. I walked away with the impression that what had actually been overworked were concepts based on other writers’ works—not ancient myth. My hunch was that genuine traditional Irish myths would be as foreign to most American readers as a Martian landscape.

Irish fairy tales come in two varieties. The first are no different than our Tall Tales of Paul Bunyan or John Henry. The second, according to Eddie Lenihan, traditional Irish storyteller and author of Meeting the Other Crowd—the Fair Folk—are dark, terrifying and ghostly. In fact, they have more in common with creatures from a Stephen King story than a Disney film. In addition, I wondered what it would be like to return those traditional myths to their native soil but in an urban setting. Unlike the United States, Ireland strikes me as a place where Christianity exists side by side with the Old Ways—maybe not always comfortably or peacefully, but they both exist. I wanted to write a story that treated those elements equally.

Not long after that I was working at BookPeople as a bookseller and found a nonfiction galley left in the employee lunchroom. The ARC was for Those Are Real Bullets, Aren’t They?: Bloody Sunday, Derry, 30 January 1972 by the British journalists Peter Pringle and Philip Jacobson. Like many Americans, “Bloody Sunday” meant nothing more to me than a popular U2 song. Out of curiosity, I picked up the book. The more I read Pringle’s and Jacobson’s firsthand account, the more horrified I became. To think that a government—the British government, mind you, not a third world dictatorship—could get away with such a terrible lie in spite of photographic evidence, film evidence, forensic evidence and eyewitness accounts in my lifetime was beyond belief. When I told close friends about it they thought I was exaggerating. I couldn’t blame them. Who would want to believe it?

So it was that I decided to use fantasy elements to understand the conflict. I started writing about Liam—a Catholic growing up in Derry, Northern Ireland who is told his father was a Protestant who abandoned his mother when she became pregnant. However, his Grandmother’s lies conceal more than an illegitimate birth, and he grows up with no knowledge of what he is—one of the Fair Folk—nor his true potential. Like other teens, he deals with the day to day dangers of coming of age in the middle of a war, and like others in his community, he’s traumatized by it, but Liam inherits other problems from his real father: fallen angels, the fey, a sect of Catholic priest-assassins dedicated to protecting humanity from the supernatural, and a sworn enemy. Of course, then there’s the possibility that Liam might be more than a little bit… crazy.

The Troubles is a complex subject, and Americans are infamous for treating it with little respect. That’s why I was thorough and careful in my research. The novel definitely took me into some uncomfortable places, and it wasn’t always easy to write. However, I soon began to see similarities between the Britain of the 1970s and contemporary America. In fact, I was already a good way into writing Of Blood and Honey when the news hit about the arrests at the 2008 Republican National Convention. The video of American police kicking in the front door of a student protest group in Minneapolis was both eerily familiar and downright chilling. I began to wonder if I was going to finish before history tragically repeated itself. I still worry about our vast political divide, the resulting hostility, and where America is ultimately headed. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from writing this book it’s that frightened people make terrible, stupid mistakes. Frightened people with guns make deadly ones.

It’s important to note that the British government apologized for the massacre at Bloody Sunday last summer—thirty-eight years after British paratroopers shot and killed thirteen unarmed civilian protestors and then labelled them “terrorists.” Most Americans believe the situation in Northern Ireland was resolved with the 1998 Northern Ireland Peace Agreement. However, Belfast now has more walls separating its communities than it did during The Troubles, and the recent economic situation has resulted in a resurgence of tension. So it is that the legacy of that Sunday in 1972 continues to tragically affect new generations. It’s why I believe we shouldn’t turn away from its lessons. Above all, we shouldn’t forget.


Of Blood and Honey: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|IndieBound|Powell’s

Visit the author’s LiveJournal. Follow her on Twitter.

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