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World Fantasy 2019 & Writing Fantasy for Television

November 9th, 2019

Following close on the heels of Sustefest X, this year’s World Fantasy Convention provided a marked change of scenery – from Valle de Santiago’s old-world streets and dormant volcanoes to LA’s multi-lane highways and active wildfires. Fortunately, skies around the Marriott Airport Hotel (the site of this year’s convention) were clear despite the proximity of the Saddleridge fire fewer than 20 miles north. Nevertheless, some attendees commented on fire-related road closures and long detours.

One of the major gatherings centering on fantastic literature (the others being science fiction’s WorldCon and horror’s StokerCon) World Fantasy offers the solitary writer a chance to check-in on the state of the genre, do a panel or two, and (most of all) kick back at the bar with friends and colleagues.

This time around, programming kicked off at noon on Thursday with a panel on Writing Fantasy for Television, where I got to join fellow panelists Eldon Thompson and Gillian Horvath in a discussion moderated by Craig Miller. After an initial discussion of the current boom in original fantasy programming (thanks to Netflix, Amazon, Disney Plus, Apple TV, Shudder, et al), the discussion turned to the craft of scriptwriting and the best ways for new writers to enter the field. Specifically, one member of the audience asked what books new writers might read to learn the craft. Among the panel’s recommendations were Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting by William Goldman and On Directing Film by David Mamet (which, despite its title, offers some excellent insight into the screenwriting process). Beyond such titles, the panelists agreed that the best way to learn to write scripts is to read them. That’s easy to do these days, since many screenplays are currently available through sites such as The Internet Movie Script DatabaseThe Black List, and Screenplay.com. Indeed, the website Script Reader Pro recently advised apprentice screenwriters to carefully study their favorite films through a process of re-reading and re-viewing. It remains some of the best advice out there.

As always, the convention culminated with the awards banquet and the naming of this year’s best works of fantasy. A complete list of awards appears below.

Next year’s WFC 2020 will be held over Halloween weekend in Salt Lake City. I’ll hope to see you there.

  • Lifetime Achievement: Hayao Miyazaki and Jack Zipes
  • Novel: Witchmark by C. L. Polk (Tor.com)
  • Novella: “The Privilege of the Happy Ending” by Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld, Aug. 2018)
  • Short Fiction (tie): “Ten Deals with the Indigo Snake” by Mel Kassel (Lightspeed, October 2018) and “Like a River Loves the Sky” by Emma Törzs (Uncanny Magazine, March-April 2018)
  • Anthology: Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction, edited by Irene Gallo (Tor.com)
  • Collection: The Tangled Lands, by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell (Saga Press/Head of Zeus UK)
  • Artist: Rovina Cai
  • Special Award – Professional: Huw Lewis-Jones for The Writer’s Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands (University of Chicago Press)
  • Special Award – Non-Professional: Scott H. Andrews, for Beneath Ceaseless Skies: Literary Adventure Fantasy

 

A Season for Book Events

September 21st, 2013

bmorebookfest-602x1024Some of the best book-related events seem to come in the fall and early winter. It certainly has something to do with promoting book purchases for holiday giving, but I suspect it’s also related to the changing weather and the need to stock up on books before falling temperatures drive us indoors.

The 20th Century Scop will be doing a number of appearances in the coming weeks, and I hope to blog about all of them as they approach. That’s my intention, anyway. We’ll see how I do as each one comes and goes.

For now, here’s a brief overview of where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing between now and the end of the year.

First will be the 18th annual Baltimore Book Festival, a huge book event scheduled to take over Mt. Vernon Place near the center of the city. I’ll be appearing there on Saturday, September 28, doing a signing at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America tent and giving a musical performance at the Festival’s main stage.

Next up will be a presentation of Hearing Voices – featuring stories from my fiction collections. The event will take place October 14 at PAISTA – the Pittsburgh Area Independent School Teachers Association, held this year at Sewickley Academy, right outside Pittsburgh.

sep-fish600-e1376584918760After that I’m off to England for readings and presentations at the University of Brighton on October 31 and The World Fantasy Convention on November 2. Additional Brighton events are being scheduled. I’ll have a complete list when I post the full UK preview in a couple of weeks.

Other appearances are also in the works as well. I’m looking forward to all of them . . . and to a long winter holiday when I can stay home and read the books I’ll be picking up along the way.

More soon. For now, scop on!

Airships and Sherlock Holmes

October 22nd, 2011

The master sleuth and Master of the World.

What’s not to love?

The World Fantasy Convention has just released its program schedule for 2011, one that offers an impressive blend of topics centering on this year’s theme: Sailing the Seas of Imagination.

At the con, I’ll be joining a discussion about airships and reading from my latest Sherlock Holmes mystery “The Executioner.”

First up, I’ll be joining  Jetse de Vries, Eric Flint, Charles Gannon, and Cliff Winnig for a panel titled “To Sail Above the Clouds: Airships.” Here’s the description:

With Steampunk’s popularity, airships are rising too. Sometimes they’re treated just like sailing ships. (Airship pirates!). Sometimes more like trains or planes. What is unique about this form of transportation that’s grabbed the attention of Steampunk? What has literature done with it and what does literature get wrong and right? (Friday 2:00 PM)

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about airships, working on a new story tentatively titled “Zeppelin to the Moon,” which brings together Professor Challenger (The Lost World), Mr. Bedford (First Men in the Moon), and Count von Zeppelin (the renowned airship designer) on a mission to rescue the inventor of cavorite from the clutches of the Grand Lunar. Sound interesting?

 “To Sail Above the Clouds” will mark my second appearance on a steampunk-themed panel this year. The first was two months ago when I joined my good friends Paul Genesse, Anton Strout, Gregory Wilson, and Maurice Broaddus at GenCon for a presentation titled “Make it Steamy: A Look at the Steampunk Genre.” That event really packed them in, with nearly 100 people in attendance. One of the highlights was Maurice’s account of his forthcoming “steampunk story with all black characters.” It’s title: Pimp My Airship. Looking forward to that one!

Paul and I also got the chance to reminisce about works that introduced us to the tropes of steampunk. His was the Ray Harryhausen 1961 film Mysterious Island (soon to be released in a limited-edition Blu-Ray  from Twilight Time). Mine was Karl Zerman’s 1958 Vynález zkázy, released in the States as The Fabulous World of Jules Verne. I remember catching that one at a drive-in near Philadelphia. The world has never been the same.

Also on the bill at this year’s World Fantasy will be a Saturday night book launch and party hosted by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.  This will be the big debut for Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes, the third in the critically-acclaimed series of anthologies edited by Charles Prepolec and J. R. Campbell. I understand that Paul Kane will also be there, reading from his entry “The Greatest Mystery” – one of the anthology’s standout horror stories.

And of course, as always, there will be the WFC mass-autograph session on Friday night, where I’ll be looking forward to meeting old friends, making new ones, and signing copies of Gaslight Arcanum, as well as Veins, Vipers, Visions, and last year’s collection This Way to Egress. (All titles will be available in the dealers room.) I also hope to have some preview material for the forthcoming Voices: Tales of Horror, which Fantasist Enterprises will be releasing later this year.

If you’re one of the thousand or so people lucky enough to be attending this year’s World Fantasy Convention (memberships sold out last winter, making this year’s con one of the hottest tickets around), I’ll look forward to seeing you there.

Oh yes, and did I mention Neil Gaiman is this year’s Guest of Honor? Should be a good time.

Whether you’re attending or not, please consider leaving a comment below. I’m particularly interested in hearing about when you first encountered the wonders of steampunk.

Perhaps it was Mysterious Island or The Fabulous World of Jules Verne, or maybe it was with more recent works, ones actually published under the steampunk banner. Either way, feel free to chime in.