My second in-person convention of 2021 will be in Raleigh, North Carolina, where I will be attending GalaxyCon Raleigh at the aptly named Raleigh Convention Center at 500 S. Salsbury Street from 29 July – 1 August. I’ll be at the Bard’s Tower booth, which will be Booth #500, alongside fellow word-slingers Jody Lynn Nye, Melinda M. Snodgrass, John Jackson Miller, Dan Wells, Guy Hutchinson,Christopher Ruocchio, Rick Heinz, Megan Mackie, and Chris Irving.
I might also be doing programming. No word on that yet, but will update this post if I get a panel schedule. EDITED TO ADD: See schedule below…..
There will also be tons of actors (live-action and voice actors), comics creators, wrestlers, and cosplayers there. So come on by if you’re in NC at the end of the month!
Here’s my panel schedule, all of which will be in the “Creator Cave” (room 304)…..
7-8pm: “Star Trek in Prose and Film,” w/Carlos Ferro, Rick Heinz, and Melinda M. Snodgrass
12-1pm: “Writing in Comics, Prose, and Games,” w/Rick Heinz, John Jackson Miller, and Jody Lynn Nye
12-1pm: “World Building,” w/Brian Anderson, John Jackson Miller, and Jody Lynn Nye
For the second year in a row, Shore Leave is going to be virtual, running for two days this weekend, Saturday the 10th and Sunday the 11th of July. While some conventions are back up and running, the folks who run SL didn’t think it would be safe and so decided to go virtual again this year, with the hope that 2022 will be the year for Shore Leave 42.
I will be doing a bunch of panels, which you can observe by registering for free on Zoom:
11am-noon: “The New Age of Star Trek,” w/Derek Tyler Attico, Kirsten Beyer, Kelli Fitzpatrick, David Mack, and Dayton Ward — register here
4-5pm: “New Release Party,” w/Christopher D. Abbot, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Michael Jan Friedman, Heather E. Hutsell, Paul Kupperberg, Joshua Palmatier, Roberta Rogow, Aaron Rosenberg, and James Swallow — register here
11am-noon: “eSpec Books Presents,” w/Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Christopher L. Bennett, Russ Colchamiro, Mary Fan, Robert Greenberger, Aaron Rosenberg, Jenifer Purcell Rosenberg, and Hildy Silverman — register here
2-3pm: “Characterization in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” w/Derek Tyler Attico, Mary Fan, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Glenn Hauman, and Amy Imhoff — register here
4-5pm: “How Did I Get in This Mess?” w/Christopher D. Abbot, Robert Greenberger, Joshua Palmatier, Howard Weinstein, and Richard C. White — register here
Hope to see folks on my monitor!
My first convention since the apocalypse started was a resounding success. It was really wonderful to be back at Bard’s Tower with Alexi Vandenberg and a whole mess of my fellow word-slingers. We had Melinda Snodgrass, Peter David, Dan Wells, J.B. Garner, Brian Anderson, Megan Mackie, Rick Heinz, T. Allen Diaz, Marion G. Harmon, and Christopher Ruocchio, as well as actor Carlos Ferro. Oh yeah, and me. Plus we had able and excellent assistance from Morgan and James (who very kindly drove Alexi to Mobile to retrieve the mis-shipped banner tower, yes really) and the magnificent ToniAnn (who was an able assistant to all the authors, dashing about with iPads and checking on things and fetching and carrying and all kinds of stuff, all while cosplaying delightfully as Daria, Wednesday Addams, and Velma).
There were a lot of great moments, from one reader coming up and asking me to sign his well-read copy of Star Trek: Articles of the Federation, which he cited as one of the best Trek novels ever written in his opinion, to the little kid who wants to grow up to be a writer and who really enjoyed talking Trek and writing with an actual professional in the field to all the people who bought entire sets of all six Precinct books to the five people who enthusiastically picked up my special advance copies of Systema Paradoxa: All-the-Way House.
It was so good to actually interact with humans who aren’t small rectangles on my computer monitor. I did it entirely masked while I was in the convention center, as Florida’s lax standards means I have no way of knowing who’s vaccinated and who’s just being a jerk. I know everyone working the Tower was fully vaxxed (Alexi made that a requirement, bless him), but I had no clue about the other folks at the con, and while it’s extremely unlikely that my Pfizer-emboldened self will get enough of a viral load to catch it and transmit it to someone else, it’s still possible, and I’d rather not risk it.
Pensacon is an excellent convention, full of good people who are enthusiastic about their nerdity. We had a ton of people come by the Tower, we had packed houses for all our panels — I only did one, on the endurance of Star Trek with myself, Peter, Melinda, and Tony Isabella — and a fantastic time was had by all.
Now if they could just not blast the entire charity auction over the vendor room PA….. (Seriously, I was ready to hit myself over the head with a ballpeen hammer after fifteen minutes of that, and it lasted for 90….)
This week, I’m doing my first two in-person events since the apocalypse started. There’s the Rooftop Readings at Ample Hills Creamery Tuesday night, and then Thursday I fly down to Florida to do Pensacon at Bard’s Tower.
Between that, and the fact that I’m back to training and teaching in the dojo, I needed a better mask. Conveniently, Wrenn and I were given as birthday presents RZ Masks by the generous and awesome ToniAnn and Kyle. These masks are heavy duty, can be used either for germ protection or simple dust protection, have fancy-shmancy carbon filters that last for about two days of continuous use, are adjustable, sit comfortably without moving on your face, AND DON’T FOG UP MY GLASSES!!!!!!!
That last part is the biggie for me, with the penultimate part particularly important, too. Both in the dojo and at conventions, I’m going to be indoors with lots of other people at various (and unknown) stages of vaccination, from not at all to fully and every stage in between, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll all be masked and that those who are masked will wear them properly. All being vaccinated does is keep me from getting a bad case of COVID-19, it’s not full immunization, so I’m going to need a good mask for a good while, and I’m so grateful to have this one.
Especially since it’s red, which is my favorite color. And yes, it makes me look vaguely Deadpool-ish, but I’m okay with that…..
Anyhow, I’ve spent the last few days doing more work for the tie-in project I can’t talk about yet, and I will be spending the next few days getting a bit ahead on the Voyager Rewatch so I can do Pensacon with a clear conscience, and also getting a new Kickstarter going that I’ve been meaning to get going for the better part of a year. (Sigh.)
How’s your weekend?
Totally forgot to post this when it went up on the Tube of You, but at the virtual Farpoint in February, David Mack, Derek Tyler Attico, and I had a discussion about how and why Star Trek has endured for more than five decades, and is still thriving today, what with the five TV shows currently in production. Check it out…
The last in-person convention I did before the apocalypse last year was Pensacon in Pensacola, Florida at the end of February/beginning of March 2020.
Fittingly, the first in-person convention I’ll be doing post-vaccination will also be Pensacon! The Florida con will be held this year from the 21st to the 23rd of May 2021, and I will be there, slinging my wares (while fully masked) at Bard’s Tower. I’ll be there with fellow word-slingers Peter David, Melinda M. Snodgrass, Dan Wells, James Garner, Megan Mackie, Christopher Ruocchio, Marion G. Harmon, Rick Heinz, T. Allen Diax, and Brian Anderson and voice actor Carlos Ferro.
Hope to see folks there!
An open letter to the folks who run Balticon:
I’m afraid that I must decline the invitation to be an author guest/program participant at Balticon 55, and have no plans to return to the convention any time soon.
The convention’s handling of the multiple harassment complaints against convention chair Eric Gasior is disappointing. All the more so because my wife Wrenn Simms and I were witnesses to the incident spelled out in one of those complaints. We were at Arisia 2016, and we observed Eric’s behavior toward one of the complainants. At the time, we thought it was an isolated incident due to a particular set of circumstances. We have since learned that there were at least three other complaints against Eric of a similar nature to that of the one we were privy to. Our names were passed on to the investigator that Balticon hired to look into the allegations, but we were never contacted. Now the investigation is said to be complete and finished, even though Wrenn and I were not questioned, despite being witnesses to Eric’s harassment in January 2016.
This is massively unacceptable and I cannot in good conscience support the con. Balticon is a favorite convention of ours, and I am disappointed to not be attending, but to attend now would be to give my tacit support to a convention committee that has proven to not care about the safety of its attendees.
—Keith R.A. DeCandido
Farpoint 2020 was my first convention of 2020; it was also my penultimate in-person convention of 2020 — after Pensacon the week after, the apocalypse hit, and that was that. Lots of virtual conventions, of course, and that tradition is continuing with Farpoint 2021, which will also be entirely virtual, held online from 19-21 February (this coming weekend). Here’s what I’ll be doing (all times Eastern):
1-2pm: “Cons: Online vs. Real Life,” w/Don Sakers and D’Manda Martini (register here)
2-3pm: “Still Discovering Discovery,” w/Mary Fan and Kelli Fitzpatrick (register here)
1-2pm: “How Does Star Trek Thrive?” w/Derek Tyler Attico and David Mack (register here)
There was, obviously, a lot of bad in 2020, most of it centered on the global coronavirus pandemic and the spectacular botching of how to handle it by the corrupt, incompetent administration, which had a trickle-down effect of people being overwhelmingly stupid in the face of this virus.
After a pretty good January and February, March brought upon lockdowns from COVID-19, and since then, there have been very few humans I’ve spent any time within six feet of while unmasked. The ongoing dumpster fire that the world has been this year has been a nightmare, from the obvious big things related to the pandemic to more direct impacts on us, such as the hurricane that took out our power for four days in August, not to mention the appalling number of deaths of people we know.
Thank fuck for the Internet, and in particular for Zoom, Skype, Streamyard, Google Hangouts, et al, which enabled me to be in contact with other folks even if I couldn’t be in the same physical space. Not to mention the utility of Amazon and Etsy and other online shopping sites, most especially Instacart, through which we’ve been buying all of our supermarket groceries since March.
There were good things about 2020, and I want to remember them as we ring in 2021.
We start with my family, both blood and chosen, about whom I cannot say enough good things and whom I love immensely. My wife Wrenn, obviously, as well as our housemate Matthew, the Forebearance (Mommy, Daddy, the Tall Fuzzy One, and the Infomancer), the Godmommy, ToniAnn, Kyle, Meredith, Sas, and Anneliese. Plus, of course, the various fur creatures, our own Kaylee and Louie, as well as Hima, Spot, Professor Zoom, Loki, Thor, Jazz, and Tempura.
Through the magic of Zoom, as well as the web site PlayingCards.io, we were able to have a weekly poker game. Being able to play cards with my dear friends most every week was a joy, and huge thanks to Glenn, Peter, Pete, Lucienne, Dave, Aaron, and Ian, as well as Dave-Dave and Jack. It was especially nice to have Pete & Lucienne back in the game, as they hadn’t been part of our monthly poker games since they moved to Florida a while back, and thanks to this setup, they could rejoin us, which made us all hugely happy.
Zoom has also enabled our dojo to continue to function. From March to July, all our classes were virtual, held over Zoom with each student in their homes over the screen. In the summer, the dojo reopened, but the classes were hybrid, with a limited number of in-person students allowed and others able to take class over Zoom. I’ve been sticking with Zoom, myself, as it just feels safer to me, and it’s been going well. (Leaving aside any other considerations, I’m saving myself two fifteen-minute drives to the dojo, not to mention trying to find parking….) Unfortunately, my teaching has been curtailed — my afterschool karate classes stopped in February, and I have no idea when, or even if, they’ll pick back up. I have been doing some one-on-one karate tutoring however, both in person and over Zoom.
I started a YouTube channel this year, KRAD COVID readings, which has 169 subscribers, and which seemed to be quite the hit. I read almost all of my short fiction over the course of 90 episodes (plus some extras, like an essay and a holiday reading of Dylan Thomas), which ran three times a week most weeks. My plan for 2021 is to cut back to weekly, and to cover the only short fiction I didn’t read. More on that in another post…..
My writing for Tor.com didn’t slow down even a little bit. The debuts of Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Lower Decks, as well as the third season of Star Trek: Discovery, kept me busy writing reviews each week there was a new episode, plus I reviewed comic book adaptations Warrior Nun and The Umbrella Academy, and continued “4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch,” catching up to real time in January, then reviving it in June and December to look back at the new superhero adaptations in the prior half-year. And, of course, the big project, which I kicked off in January of this year in time for that show’s 25th anniversary: the Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch. I got through most of the first four seasons this year, and am looking forward to diving back in in the new year, starting Monday with “Demon.”
My fiction writing was a bit slower. I had two collaborative projects that finally got done this year, though both took longer than expected. There was To Hell and Regroup, my collaboration with David Sherman, which I not only finished, but which eSpec Books successfully Kickstarted and published. I also finished my second collaboration with Dr. Munish K. Batra, Pigman, currently with our agent, while at the same time gearing up for the publication of our first collaboration, Animal, which will be out next week from WordFire Press.
Because of the delays getting those two finished, my goal of writing both Feat of Clay (the sequel to 2019’s A Furnace Sealed) and Phoenix Precinct (the next in my long-running fantasy police procedural series) in 2020 didn’t happen, but I’ve now started on Feat of Clay, and Phoenix Precinct will happen after that. Munish and I are also talking about a sequel to Animal, I’ve got an original mystery I’ve been wanting to write for over a decade now, and I’ve got a comics project that I can’t talk about yet that will also keep me busy for a good chunk of 2021.
I also got a few pieces of short fiction written, including “The Gorvangin Rampages,” which I supported via Indie GoGo at the end of 2019 (still have to write the second story of that crowdfund, “Ragnarok and a Hard Place”), “Unguarded” (which will be in Horns and Halos, another eSpec project that was Kickstarted this year, and which will be out hopefully in the spring), and “In Earth and Sky and Sea Strange Things There Be” (for the charity anthology Turning the Tied, to be put out by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers).
One thing the apocalypse of 2020 enabled me to do was catch up on a lot of TV and movies. I finally caught some shows I’d been meaning to see (e.g., Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels), I saw some movies I’d been meaning to get around to (e.g., Coco and Bedknobs & Broomsticks). We’ve also been rewatching some old favorites, including MacGyver (the original from 1985), The West Wing, and Stargate SG-1. This also provided me with reviewing material for my Patreon (which, despite the economic hardships of this year, got a bunch of new patrons!).
We also did a lot of stuff around the house that we’d been meaning to do, all of which are vast improvements. We bought three different shelving units for the dining-room area that are aiding tremendously with storage, we bought a bunch more containers for things, we put up two shelves in the bathroom, and then added another small shelving unit after our sink was replaced with one with a smaller footprint, giving us room for a little shelf thingie. We also got a bidet for the toilet, a new floor lamp for the office, a sound bar for the living room TV, and best of all, a chest freezer! We’re trying to do fewer shopping trips where we buy more stuff, and for most things that’s fine, but when it comes to things like meat, we needed to freeze a lot of stuff, and our fridge freezer was proving inadequate to the task. Having two freezers has been a huge blessing.
While travelling to conventions stopped happening after the calendar flipped to March, there were plenty of online events over the course of the year. Lots of folks interviewed me, there were some writers events, and many of the conventions I was going to attend (HELIOsphere, Balticon, Dragon Con, Shore Leave, Capclave, Philcon, Bubonicon) did virtual versions instead, which were very successful. In particular, I want to single out the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track, which did a series of “Quarantine Panels” throughout the year, and also had some of the best programming of the virtual Dragon Con in September.
Finally, I want to thank all my fans and readers and supporters. I’m not a person given to depression as a general rule, and my bad moods tend to be measured in minutes. That has, um, not been the case this year, and I’ve spent more time depressed and sad this year than in all the previous years combined. But when those bad moods have hit, one of the things that have gotten me out of them has been someone discovering my writing and letting me know, either through an e-mail or a Tweet or a Facebook post or a review on Amazon or GoodReads or a blog entry or a comment on Patreon or whatever. Just in general, the support that folks have shown me has always been heartening, this year more than ever.
Plans for 2021 include getting vaccinated (duh), looking forward to a new administration, hoping that things improve and progress to the point where we can gather in large groups again (hell, I’d settle for gathering in small groups), to continue writing and editing and training. There’s some karate stuff that was supposed to happen in 2020 that didn’t, and might happen in 2021 (depending on how things progress), and I have lots and lots and lots of projects, which is good.
Happy new year, everyone!