Bubonicon 42

I just got back from Bubonicon 42, the science fiction convention sponsored by the New Mexico Science Fiction Conference, held in Albuquerque August 27-29.  Interesting convention (usually abbreviated as “con”).  The theme of this year’s Con was “Life, the Universe, and Everything,” a quote from Douglas Adams’ book, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”  That’s because the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, is … “forty-two.”  I’m glad I went. 

The Con is basically a gathering of SF writers and fans, though others, such as gamers and artists also attend.  No agents or publishers, though.  The Guest of Honor this year was Peter David, who’s done a lot of comic book writing (Marvel Comics, including Batman, Spiderman, and others), and the Toastmaster was Mario Acevedo, a writer of serious SF books like The Nymphos of Rocky Flats.  Basically, the Toastmaster’s job is to introduce the Guest of Honor when he gives his hour-and-fifteen-minute presentation of all he’s done in his life, which, considering it’s Peter David, wasn’t boring in the least.

But mainly, the Con is panel discussions with guests, and an occasional solo talk.  I attended one solo talk about selling Mars, or at least parcels of it.  There seems to be a move afoot to sell land on Mars.  No kidding.  Some people have assumed that since no one (yet) owns Mars, it’s fair game for land speculation.  You can actually buy land on Mars.  I always thought you had to go to a new territory in order to claim it, but some feel you can claim it from afar.  The United Nations Treaty be damned.  I didn’t buy any land; I think I’ll wait until the legalities are settled before putting down hard cash for what seems to me to be the biggest speculative land grab in history (or at least in a long time).

Another solo talk was about the “Grand Unified Theory, the Theory of Everything,” a fascinating look at how the Universe is held together and our feeble attempts to understand it.  Sort of what’s happened since Einstein and Max Planck gave us relativity and quantum mechanics, and attempts to relate it to the real world.

I also attended several panel discussions, such as the one that discussed “Everything is recycled.”  Many ideas for SF novels and stories can be taken as older ideas, recycled.  One person suggested “Star Wars” (the original 1977 movie) was a rip-off of “The Wizard of Oz” with C-3PO as the Tin Man, and Luke Skywalker in the role of Dorothy.  Personally, I don’t see it, but … whatever.

The most interesting session to me was the one on Options in Publishing, mainly about electronic publishing (e-publishing).  Traditional publishing is (or will be shortly) undergoing a change, and e-publishing will become more prevalent.  The Kindle is a grabber.  Some pundits have suggested that traditional publishing will reach a crisis by summer 2012, and will change drastically, though one person on the panel thought it would be as soon as 2011.  (Look for it at your nearest bookstore.)  Another on the panel, more of a marketing expert, gave a good overview of things a writer can do to promote an e-published book.  Book signings are on their way out.  Radio, but not TV, is a good way to go.

One other aspect of the Con was the readings.  Several authors took time to read from their latest works, for as long as 40 to 50 minutes.  Gives you a good idea of the book, and whether you like it or not before you decide to buy it.  Several widely divergent methods of writing, too.  I never found myself nodding off even for readings that long.  I enjoyed them, and hope I can do it sometime.

In short, an interesting three days, time (if not money) well spent.  I also found a place to live in Albuquerque.

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