and I spent a week in Montreal, ending with the Farthing Party; adrian_turtle
joined us Wednesday evening. ( touristy stuff here )
The three of us had dinner Thursday night with mrissa
(who I've been getting to know mostly via email, though Adrian and I met her briefly in May) and her partner timprov
. We went to an all-you-can-eat "Asian fusion" place, which was decent east Asian food (it mostly felt Chinese, but there were Vietnamese-style summer rolls and Thai noodles). That was where I discovered that there is cooked spinach I'm willing, even happy, to eat, because it doesn't have the slimy texture spinach usually gets when cooked. They called it crispy spinach. It's light, a bit sweet, looks like bright green folded paper, and has a texture somewhat akin to nori. We talked at length there, and then a while at Suite 88, after which we all decided it was time to go back to our rooms, maybe read a bit, and fall over.
Before the con, I'd been looking forward to spending more time with mrissa
, and had no idea what I'd think of Timprov. I knew he was a decent person, but that didn't guarantee we'd connect. I had a very good time talking with both of them, that evening and later in the con, about all sorts of stuff: it's good to deepen a friendship, and it's good to make a new friend.
Bees are soft. I learned that Friday afternoon, from jonsinger
, who explained how to stroke one gently while it's on a flower.papersky
's pre-con post on Friday afternoon activities included "Or, well, other options." At brunch, I was waxing enthusiastic about my, Cattitude, and Adrian's outing to the Jardin Botanique the day before. gerisullivan
and Davey expressed interest, so I offered to take a group. (The groups she and rysmiel
were leading were to Ile Ste Helene and the Musee des Beaux Arts, which I've also been to a few times, so it wasn't a sacrifice: nor a financial one, as I'd bought a yearly membership this spring.) It wound up being us, Jon Singer, Cally, and zorinth
as my co-guide. (I was more or less in charge, but he knows his way around the garden better than I do.) We spent more time in the Alpine Garden, which I'd truncated on Thursday because we were tired by then. I'm getting fonder and fonder of the Alpine Garden, at every season. We sniffed lots of roses, of course, and other flowers; wandered through the First Nations Garden (I think that was Davey's suggestion); and looked at the lanterns in the Chinese Garden. The lanterns are a special exhibit for autumn. The exhibit officially began that evening, though some of it was there the day before: lots of paper lanterns in different colors and illustrations, some lit even in the day, plus a paper model of a dragon boat and similar follies floating on the pond. We liked it. On the way out of the Jardin Botanique, we stopped in the Aquatic Garden, where a lotus that had been almost open the day before was open enough to smell clearly when we edged onto the barrier between two pools and leaned over. I'm not good at describing smells, and lotus doesn't remind me of another flower: sweet, and deep, but not especially strong, nor cloying. There were many good things about that visit, but it might have been worth it just for that. Taking my beloveds there on Thursday, and time with just them, had been delightful; this was again delightful, in a slightly different key.
My favorite panel was--again--the Sunday morning "joy of reading" one, eight or ten people each reading short pieces they liked, or excerpts from longer works. Rysmiel did a piece of Peter Fleming that I'd heard them read before; pnh
gave us the bit about "The Tragedy of Leonid Brezhnev, Prince of Muscovy" from Ken Macleod's Newton's Wake
did two of Italo Calvino's invisible cities; I think it was TNH did a piece of Mike Ford's The Last Hot Time
; and James Macdonald read a short story about a writer whose characters demand better stories to be in. I don't recall the rest offhand, but it was all good.
Conversely, I don't think "A Good Read" came together as well as the version last year had; the panelists said they had been rushed in their preparations, and it showed in that I don't think anyone had had time to read, let alone read and digest, all four books. Weirdly, the asterisk panel at the other end of the con also didn't work as well as usual. Cattitude suggested later that the problem may have been too much familiarity with each other: that panel works in part by having an audience prepared to say "what's that?" a lot. [It's worked very well at Minicon, where it started, as well as at last year's Farthing Party.] Mostly what we got was some cool stuff about book restoration and preservation, from Rush, and more than I expected about comics.
The panel on "A Different Magic" was partly from the writer's point of view: ways to make magic new and interesting rather than just another technology or "be careful what you asked for" story. The panelists also talked about writing magicians/wizards/what-have-you who weren't from the very familiar mold of either trained-as-such or specific creative professions. Fantasy is full of magically talented people whose other jobs or previous life is as musicians and writers; there aren't a pot of painters or actors, and where are the magically-talented architects, choreographers, and jewelers? Where is the really creative bureaucrat or taxi driver? (That last was my contribution, with notes on the potential magical or practical value of always knowing the landscape around you, and how to get places in the fastest possible way. james_nicoll
came up with an example of one in a story he'd read.)
"Writing for All Ages" and "Making Real Things and Making Things Real" were also largely from the writer's viewpoint (rather than primarily from the reader's, though of course all the panelists do read the stuff). "Fantasy of Manners" mostly left me with the feeling that there is no agreement on what the term includes, or the characteristics of the subgenre; pameladean
mouthed an eloquently silent "What?!" when someone suggested her novel Tam Lin
as an example.
I found Sunday's programming more appealing than Saturday's (from descriptions ahead of time), but a person still needs to eat. It turned out that james_nicoll
felt similarly, so we carried him off to a nearby cafe; all I really remember of the conversation was the US-Canadian bit of the Napoleonic wars, and James noting that yes, the Americans had burned York (Ontario, now Toronto) in that war, but so had the Canadians.
"Kings, Seventh Sons, and the Lamentable Absence of Millers' Daughters" was about the politics of fantasy--specifically, the long-standing question of whether,and in what ways, all those fantasy monarchies and lords are inherently undemocratic. I don't have notes, unfortunately, so can't really say much beyond that it went well, and that I was reminded of, but didn't try to interject, Le Guin's idea that the kings in fairy tales are genuinely good and, in those stories, fit for rule in ways that real kings are not. (Her specific example was Gwydion son of Don. Le Guin is also the woman who described a character as "one born, for once, king of the right country.")
Saturday night I mostly spent in outside-the-party room conversation: more good time with Mrissa and Timprov. Adrian and M'ris were both having problems with the lighting and other physical atmosphere in the party room, so we, and a changing group of other people, talked in the hall outside and listened to the music from a distance. There was a good discussion of relationships of various sorts. Adrian noted that the things that are needed to maintain and nurture a long-distance relationship are somewhat different from those needed for a live-together or other local relationship. gerisullivan
said that she hadn't really thought of that, and it made sense and would probably be useful to her. At the same time, some of what's less obvious, or less necessary, can still be useful: I'm not going to shop with Adrian, or Q, as often as with Cattitude, of course, but I'm glad to have done things like buy groceries together, and to know where their grocery stores are. That conversation also included Davey and Pamela, and I think dd_b
for a bit. I did go into the party room long enough to see James get the Singer bowl, and look at it under UV light.
I got to taste both mangosteens and green Darjeeling at the Sunday night "Survivors' Tea Party." I ate probably about 3/4 of a mangosteen in the course of a couple of hours; I'd happily have had more, but it seemed unkind, since there were fewer mangosteens than people, and I wasn't the only person who liked them. I had stopped after two sections, but it eventually became clear that they weren't being gobbled up, so I took more, as well as doing the peeling so others could try them. As Singer had mentioned earlier in the weekend, green Darjeelings taste quite different from the black Darjeeling I'm used to. I like them, and should find one I like to keep here. (For the most part, I strongly prefer black tea, but it will keep me up at night.) Also some good chocolate, because chocolate is good, but it was a kind I already knew and liked, the Cote d'Or Noir de Noir that Singer introduced me to four years ago in Montreal.