I admit I entered into my first panel with some trepidation: the idea of litigating zombie civil rights is hilarious, but I greatly feared that I was going to do a bad job. And, as it turned out, I lost. But not because I didn’t zealously represent my client! That smarmy southern-drawling huckster Michaelbrent Collings just played to the anti-life-challenged bigotry of the jury, and I shall appeal virtually all the rulings of Judge Nybo. Apparently the Dungeoncrawlers Radio guys videotaped it, so with luck I’ll eventually put up a link. My second panel was a discussion of religion in science fiction and fantasy. It was ecumenical (the religions of Tolkienism, Cardery, the Lewisites, and the Kingsmen were all represented), civil, and deep. It is always a pleasure to sit on or watch a panel with Michael Collings, who is sensitive, wise, and profound.
During the day, fellow authors Scott Taylor, Jaleta Clegg, Sarah E. Seeley and I rotated through the Table of Awesome. We sold books and made friends, and I advertised the TV shows in development I’ve worked with.
In the evening, Craig Nybo, Scott Taylor, and an intimate group of new and future friends sat down to discuss music and novels. Despite the title Punch in the Face (my fault), this panel turned out to be a sensitive and nuanced comparison of the crafts of songwriting and novel writing. I’d do that again in a heartbeat.
Day two in Artists Alley meant more new friends (Stewart, Logan, Jason, Laura — hello!), old friends (Paul Anderson, Larry Correia, Howard Tayler), and selling books.
In the afternoon, my panels started with a discussion of the Hero’s Journey, moderated by Lisa Mangum. I was pleasantly surprised to be part of introducing Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces to virtually the entire audience. Then I sat on a panel of old friends. I was already aware that Paul Anderson, Nathan Shumate, Carter Reid, and Michael Collings are all my superiors in Lovecraft knowledge; now I know they also know more than I do about Edgar Allan Poe. Sometimes, it’s a pleasure to realize how little you know. In the evening I was invited to crash into a discussion of steampunk. Friends Dan Willis, Scott Taylor, and James Wymore were on the panel, and I had the great pleasure of meeting Kevin Anderson, a steampunk pioneer, prolific writer, and formidable entrepreneur. I finished up Friday with a gang improvisation of a science fiction story. Johnny Worth, Craig Nybo, Dan Willis, and I did our best, but I think Eric James Stone provided the key insights that got us through an appropriate and interestingly symbolic climax, with our protagonist dissolving herself into a sea of sentient and benevolent water in order to kill it, a massive crime that also saves the innocent citizens of the galaxy from a worse evil.
On Saturday Steve Peck and S.A. Butler joined us at the Table of Awesome.
My opening gambit at my Saturday afternoon panel on advice for aspiring writers, moderated by Brad “R is for Rictus” Torgersen, was “never call yourself an aspiring writer.” I stand by that advice. I met Peter Wacks of Wordfire Press and later circled up with him and Kevin both at the publisher’s booth. I led an alien force — beings of pure thought — in a game of rival apocalypses against Bob Defendi (robots) and Michaelbrent Collings (zombies), James Wymore moderating. I wish the panel had been taped; it was antic and epic both. Especially the poetry round. Michaelbrent emoted powerfully through a slam performance about zombies and Bob rhymed Schwarzenegger with Schwarzenegger. I improvised: Roses are red / Violets are blue / As I take over, zombies starve to death / And I simply unplug you. It was not enough to win. Finally, I sat with my friends Rob Wells and John Steiner on a panel discussing dystopian fiction, moderated by Brad “R is for Righteous” Torgersen. Rob’s looking fit, and has a beautiful dog, Annie.
Big shout out to Blake Casselman and all the organizers of FanX and the Salt Lake City ComicCon. I had a great event, and look forward to next year.