Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Philcon Schedule . . . I Think


Look what I got for my birthday! Two taxidermy cat's-eyes and a coyote tooth, from the one woman on earth who always knows what I want. I love you, Marianne.

And Speaking of Philcon . . .

This has to be some kind of a record. Philcon starts tomorrow and Programming still hasn't notified me as to what I'm scheduled to be on.

However, I just now discovered that they've put the program online, so here's what's probably my schedule. Odd. I was very careful not to agree to be the moderator for anything. Also, I'm not at all sure I'll be able to manage to attend the Microfiction panel. Which is a pity because it looks interesting. I'd be able to wing it,too, which is a plus. Some of the others (that first one, for example) look like they'd benefit from a little prep. But it's a bit late for that now.

Well, I shall simply do my best. If anybody wants to quickly suggest what might be the "core books and concepts for an understanding of the Science Fiction genre," that would be an enormous help.

For the reading, I'll either do "Goblin Lake," if I've been given a half-hour or "The Pearls of Byzantium" if I've been given an hour. The latter I created by taking the first three chapters of my Darger and Surplus novel, revising the ending to make it a stand-alone story, and then cutting it ruthlessly from 16,000 words to slightly less than 10,000. It's a story that may never be published -- and certainly not in this exact form. So if I have an hour, the reading will be unique in the old, unspoiled sense of the word.

Fri 7:00 PM in Plaza III (Three)—A Science Fiction Curriculum For New Comers

Science Fiction authors list the core books and concepts for an understanding of the Science Fiction genre.
Michael J. Walsh (mod), Walter Hunt, Ted Rickles, Gail Z. Martin, Michael Swanwick

Fri 8:00 PM in Plaza II (Two)—Zombie Jamboree

Jane Austen spinning in her grave. The current fascination of all things zombie.
Tony Finan (mod), Michael Swanwick, D.E. Christman, James Chambers, Jonathan Maberry

Sat 1:00 PM in Executive Suite 623—MIchael Swanwick Reading

Sat 8:00 PM in Plaza I (One)—Insert Tab B Into Slot A

The treatment of sex in Science Fiction.
Victoria Janssen (mod), Lawrence M. Schoen, Michael Swanwick, Stephanie Burke, Lee Gilliland

Sat 9:00 PM in Plaza I (One)—The Art Of The Collaboration

What is it like to write with another writer and develop a unique voice which is not that of either partner but something new? Various authors who have collaborated explain how it is done.
Michael Swanwick (mod), Keith R.A. DeCandido, Mike McPhail, Chris Pisano, Brian Koscienski

Sun 12:00 PM in Plaza V (Five)—Why Isn't Science Fiction More International?

We aren't seeing many translations. We aren't seeing many stories from non-English speaking authors. What are we missing?
Michael Swanwick (mod), Darrell Schweitzer, Michael F. Flynn, Phillip Thorne

Sun 2:00 PM in Executive Suite 823—Microfiction: The Next Big Thing?

A number of magazines have opened dedicated to the art of the quick-fic. Pros and cons of flash fiction (under 1,000 words), nanofiction (under 40 words), and Twitter fiction (under 140 characters).
Nathan Lilly (mod), Michael Swanwick, Ef Deal, Dina Leacock, Jared Axelrod

I'll see y'all there! Don't be too shy to say hi.



Keith Ferrell said...

Wish I was going to be at Philcon so I could say "Hi!"

Wish even more that I could be a fly on the panel at the Core Texts discussion.

My recommendations would be

Wells's The Time Machine (for its vistas of time and space, and the matter-of-factness of even poetic tone that Wells brought to -- invented? -- sf)

Stewart's Earth Abides (for its ability to hold non sf-readers, as well as it themes, still unsurpassed)

Bester's Demolished Man or Dick's Ubik< to show one side of where modern sf came from, and Herbert's Dune and Clarke's Childhood's End to show the other. It would be nice to have a bit of Simak, simply to help keep him from being forgotten

Anything (almost) by Wolfe, Malzberg, or Aldiss to show what the field can be.

A good thick anthology such as Hartwell and Kramer's Science Fiction Century would give a broader glimpse of the field's various and varied threads and strains (in more than one sense).

And then Gardner's New Space Opera to show the real versions of what most non-sf readers think sf is.

Of course one of Gardner or David's recent Year's Best volumes would show what the field is now.

And considering how important short fiction is to the field, the core list for non-readers should include their subscribing to each and every one of the magazines.

Have a great panel!

Michael Swanwick said...

Thanks, Keith. I'll use this as my core to build around.

Ahhh, Simak! Isaac Asimov believed he would be remembered long after Asimov himself was forgotten. So it's ironic that he was half-forgotten in Asimov's lifetime. I think I'll recommend City which, though not his best-written book, is still the one that strikes deepest into the heart.

There's a great discussion to be had here, particularly if the other panelists were told about the panel in advance. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Keith Ferrell said...

I'll keep my fingers crossed for the other panelists too. Hope all goes well. (And there's a panel out there at some future con, about Simak himself -- Way Station and Time And Again would be good ones to mention after City; when Jim Frenkel was launching one of his lines he picked Cosmic Engineers for reprint; King's Under The Dome shares a ploy (sic)with All Flesh Is Grass -- and what's lost when we forget him. And others.)

Damn I wish I was going to be there this weekend. Say "Hi" to Gardner and everybody else for me if you get a chance.

And, again, have a great panel(s).

David Stone said...

"Sun 12:00 PM in Plaza V (Five)—Why Isn't Science Fiction More International?

We aren't seeing many translati We aren't seeing many stories from non-English speaking authors. What are we missing?"

Is there going to be any kind of recording of this panel? Because I would love to hear it. As a matter of fact, If there are any magazine editors present, I wish I could ask them what the chances of them publishing a translated SF story are, even assuming I had the rights to an English translation. Could you bring this up? Just tell the other panelists that a random guy on the Internet would really like to know about this, I'm sure they'll understand.

Michael Swanwick said...

There weren't any recordings, David, and I didn't read your post before the panel. But I can answer your question, because the subject did come up.

The answer is that the odds are pretty close to the same as for an English-language story. The readers are less receptive to translated stories than those from the Anglophone world, but this is made up for by the fact that editors are more open-minded and can feel good about making a foreign story available to the English-speaking world. Darrell Schweitzer observed that the editor can slip one translated story into a magazine, knowing that it doesn't take up a big enough chunk of the whole to offend the less-adventurous segment of the readership.

There were also a couple of anecdotes about editors having to do a heavier-than-usual line editing of translated stories (there is no rule that says "a blue thin line" is wrong while "a thin blue line is right," but every native speaker can hear the difference), but in all these cases, the writer understood the necessity and was happy to go along with it.

David Stone said...

Good to know, thanks for following up on that.

As for the editing issue, the official position of "professional translators" is that people should generally only translate _into_ their native language (or a language that they have virtual native proficiency in, for instance a language through which they received their primary and secondary education). However, in practice this is not really adhered to in a lot of cases, especially when the client is looking for a bargain and the translator is unwilling to limit the kinds of jobs he/she takes.

Assuming the magazine editor's time is worth a lot to them, and due to the different nature of the publishing industry as compared to translation for hire, I guess they'd do well to use translations that are already good copy when they arrive on their desk. The problem is that presumably they only learn about a story from a foreign language when it's submitted to them; so they'd either have to 1) use the copy they receive (after cleaning it up if necessary), 2) reject it, or 3) get the English publishing rights to the story and hire a better translator to translate it from scratch. My impression is that most SF magazines run on a tight budget, so it's probably going to be 1 or 2. For 3 to be feasible, they'd need to have a great deal of experience working with translators as well as plenty of contacts, which I assume isn't usually the case, due to the rarity of translated SF. I guess it's another chicken-and-egg paradox.ei