23 October 2009

Adventures in Capclave

Capclave 2009, Washington DC’s local science fiction/fantasy/horror convention, was warm, wonderful and didn’t wash away in the rain, despite the very best efforts of the weather. I think we got forty days and forty nights worth of rain in one little weekend.



SF/fantasy radio personality Jim Freund interviews
Asimov Editor and Capclave Editor Guest of Honor
Sheila Williams.

As if to make up for it, there was a banquet of panels I wanted to cover above and beyond my own. A writer’s dream, the con’s motto could’ve been “So many editors; so little time.” To cite only one example, in addition to Editor Guest of Honor and Asimov icon Sheila Williams, the Sunday morning Editors’ Panel showcased:

- John Joseph Adams, who’s been described as “the reigning king of the anthology world”,
- Christopher M. Cevasco, writer and editor of the late lamented Paradox magazine,
- Neil Clarke, editor of Clarkesworld,
- George Scithers, who’s edited EVERYTHING, including the ongoing anthology series Cat Tales: Fantastic Feline Fiction, and
- Sean Wallace, publisher of Prime Books, editor of Fantasy and co-editor of Clarkesworld.

Five of my panels featured at least one acquiring editor—to say nothing of the folks you could meet in the autograph lines. Which just goes to show small local cons can be excellent places to network. That was my selling point to two aspiring authors and would be booksellers, at any rate. It remains to be seen whether they made any useful contacts. However, they were totally won over by the jewelry venders in the dealers room.

The panels and my inevitable quest for brewed iced tea helped deliver me from temptations of the dealers room variety. Mostly. The only book I bought was Hank Reinhardt’s The Book of Swords, which I really should’ve bought at Baen’s DragonCon launch party. (Yes, I was an idiot. Your point?)


Capclave Writer Guest of Honor Harry
Turtledove.

But Capclave has come up with a new way to squeeze money—er, encourage attendees to support the con and its sponsor, the Washington Science Fiction Association. WSFA now publishes limited edition anthologies related the theme of each year’s con. Reincarnations, this year’s anthology, encompassed seven stories by Writer Guest of Honor Harry Turtledove and an introduction by Sheila Williams. The con afforded many opportunities for get GOH autographs, too, and I did not repeat my DragonCon mistake.

Another heartening development was con programming’s efforts to integrate urban fantasy and paranormal romance into Capclave’s literary universe. This represents a real sea change in the local science fiction community. Of course, it helps when the “home team” includes luminaries like Catherine Asaro and Mindy Klasky. Not only do they write fabulous books, as the saying goes, they “give good panel”. Now if I could only figure out where Catherine Asaro buys her rock star boots…

Capclave 2009 also hosted the area’s first Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading. Broad Universe is a professional organization dedicated to promoting women writers of SF, fantasy and horror. But forget the worthwhile stuff. As far as I’m concerned, the best aspect of being a Broad is participating in the group readings we call RFRs, where all the Broads at a con convene to read their fiction. It’s a fabulous way to meet great writers, discover wonderful fiction, and avoid the scary prospect of reading to an empty room. You never, ever have to read alone. It’s all about community.

Kind of like Capclave.


The Broad Universe Rapid Fire Readers. In the top
row (from left to right) are Dina Leacock (aka Diane
Arrelle), Kelly A. Harmon, Victoria Janssen,
Roxanne Bland. I'm on my own in the lower row.

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