World Fantasy Convention 2006
by Fandom Association of Central Texas (FACT)
Review by Colleen Cahill
Convention ISBN/ITEM#: WFC2006
Date: November 2006 / Show Official Info /
Over the years, I have fallen into a pattern at World Fantasy Conventions: when not in the dealers' room checking out books, I can be found listening to authors read their various works. Whether a short story or a section of a larger work, I find it interesting to hear the tale told with the author's nuances. There is a danger to readings, especially if only a piece of a whole is read, as I then head to the dealers' room to purchase the book or magazine. It could be described as a vicious cycle if the rewards were not so great.
The year I started by listening to Maria V. Snyder read passages from her newest work Magic Study, which I have read and enjoyed but was interested in hearing the author's interpretation. K.D. Wentworth read her short story "True North" which is in the August issue of Realms of Fantasy, and follows Carly as she joins other teenage "Journeyers" as they head North to answer a mysterious call. Walter Jon Williams read a part of his humorous story "Send Them Flowers" which he described as of a couple working class guys in space. Alas, he was not able to read the entire work and I will have to wait for the release of The New Space Opera, edited by Jonathan Strahan, to learn the ending. In contrast was the dark "Closet Dreams" which Lisa Tuttle gave its first public reading and I am sure she enjoyed the gasps of amazement from the audience when she got the end. Sharon Shinn also presented a work she had just finished the week before: "Unrhymed Couplets of the Universe" is a delightful story of an older man who finds random items, such as red balls, mugs and even a turtle, appearing and disappearing in his house. This work does not have a publisher yet: heads up to those looking for a good story!
One of the great advantages of going to readings means I get to learn about authors whose works are new to me. One discovery was Daniel Abraham who read from "The Cambist of Lord Iron", a story of a foreign exchange dealer whose comfortable life is thrown into turmoil when a nobleman uses him as the brunt of a sadistic joke. This will be in John Klima's 2007 anthology Logorrhea: Good Words Make Good Stories which has an interesting premise: each author has been assigned to write around a winning word from the American Spelling Bee and Abraham got cambist. I was both delighted and chagrined to learn of Mary A. Turzillo. Delighted because her science fiction story "Pride", about a young man who saves a lab animal and discovers he has a saber tooth tiger, is wonderful (look for it in the anthology Fast Forward I in 2007): chagrined because of my ignorance of this Nebula winning author.
While Katharine Eliska Kimbriel might be a new author to me, she has written several novels and her reading of a new story about Alfreda Golden-Tongue, the protagonist in Kimbriel's popular books Night Calls and Kindred Rites, made me track down used copies of these out-of-print books. Other readings introduced me to paranormal romance, starting with Cathy Clamp, who read from her latest work with C.T. Adams, Howling Moon. This prequel to the earlier works by this duo had me making the trip to the dealers room, while the short story "Dracula Night" by Charlaine Harris was the funniest vampire tale I ever heard and will make me look out for her works, a mark of esteem as I don't normally care for vampire tales.
One reading I attended was actually a panel of four young adult authors who all read from one of their works. Tiffany Trent's Hallowmere: In the Serpent's Coils is a fantasy set in post-Civil War Virginia and follows a young girl whose dreams seem to send messages of danger: this work is due out in 2007. Sarah Beth Durst's Into the Wild is also being released in 2007 and follows Rapunsel's daughter, who lives in the modern world but is fighting the plots of the fairy tales, who scheme to get the whole family back in its world. A young thief discovers he has cut the wrong purse when the Shadow Guild wipes out his family and he must run for his life in Deborah Millitello's Thief's Luck. In Escape From Arylon by JoAnne Whittemore, two junior high students are transported to an magical dimension, one that could kill both of them if they don't learn to cooperate.
I did make a point of dropping in on some of my favorite authors' readings: it is a great way to hear about their new works. Kate Elliott read from her new book Spirit Gate, the first volume in the Crossroads series. Hal Duncan presented some sections from Vellum, and then a sonnet, all delivered in his elegant Scottish accent. And I was glad to have heard Jeff Ford's reading of "The Dead Light", a short story about a couple dealing with living in a haunted house.
If there was time left after the reading, many authors fielded questions, an added bonus. There were certainly many more readings at the Convention than I list here, but demands for food, the need to stretch and, of course, desire to read the ending of a partially told tale occasionally drove me from the room. Also, there were two tracks of readings, so I had to make choices of which to hear, often a hard decision.
If you decide to attend next years' World Fantasy Convention, be sure to drop in on a few readings and discover why I think they are the best part of the programming. And you might just see me in the back of the room.