I know. I know. My first convention was the WorldCon in Los Angeles in 1996. I went to Clarion, I wrote SF, and I corresponded - in those days "for real," primarily - with a few people, both inside and outside of the SF/F community. I was, at the time, going back to Chapman University to get my MFA, based on the encouragement of two decidedly non-SF writers and teachers, Jerome Brooks from the University of Chicago and Carol Bly, who I recently learned had died last year of ovarian cancer. Looking at that picture of Carol, tears come to my eyes. It is a marvelous article. Yes, Carol was married to Robert Bly - and as the article said, they had four children and did not say anything bad about each other whatsoever - reminiscent of me and Mike (I was married for 15 years to Mike Casil and we are still friends and co-parent our daughter Meredith). I guess I can look back and say I did at least one thing right, in that case. As to Carol and Robert - each continued on their own creative paths. She was - the best. As to Jerome Brooks, a beautiful writer and human being - Jerry taught me the value of language, and he taught me that I could believe in myself.
So, here I am at the World Science Fiction Convention in Denver twelve years later. Meredith is about to turn 16. She'll always be "bal" to me (her baby nickname). But she's her own person now and, fantastically, her art talent just began to explode when she was fourteen. As I told my friend Brad Templeton yesterday, she's beginning to get "the dreams" and - I didn't tell Brad, but she's - well, I think she could have more talent than my mother. It isn't that I'm an untalented artist. I'm a facile one - and that is not the same thing. Meredith has blinding talent and it's the real deal. Nothing can, or will, stop her.
This is John Moore, who was moderating the panel on Genetic Engineering that I participated in yesterday. I hadn't realized before that John was a chemical engineer - I knew him as the handsome princely author of very funny, cool fairy tale books with a "twist." Other panel members were Mary Rosenblum and Tom Trumpinski (who I hadn't known before). Mary has, of course, written for Asimovs for a long time now, and I had met her - on or about that 1996 "these are conventions?" year. She has a book out that I saw, I think at WorldCon two years ago - an actual Standalone Sci Fi Novel, which makes her one of the very few and proud. Mary's current book looks to be out from Fairwood Press (yay, Patrick and Honna!). Tom is a professor at the University of Illinois - Champaign, and has a new nonfiction book of essays.
So, this incredibly long digression is just to say: after twelve straight years. After at least three "Let the Lady Speak!" panel experiences (this is where the all-male panel talks, all together, all at once, uninterrupted, for forty minutes - until someone on the audience stands up and yells, "Let the Lady Speak!), after any number of other boneheaded panel nightmares (people will fill in the blank here - don't forget that I both get along with and like David Brin, though I know David has chewed plenty of scenery in his day) ----
I was, hold your breath everyone -
THE EXPERT ON THE PANEL.
I was, yes, the most knowledgeable person about genetic engineering. I get the impression from the panel description that programming wanted us to talk about frog-men and kitkat women, and Mary did mention "glow in the dark" cats from France. This looks, actually, to be three kittens from Korea.
However, I don't really believe that people will genetically modify themselves in such freakish ways for a very long time, if ever. So, I think I was able to answer some questions about the types of research in genetic treatments or techniques that are currently being conducted, such as cancer vaccines and treatments for specific conditions. There was a nice lady in the first row who was trying to assist me in saying "hypoplastic left HEART syndrome." Yes, she was right and I just had -
y'all know I'm psychotically shy, right?
Hypoplastic left heart syndrome or HLHS, as portrayed in "Perfect Stranger." Here is a link to the Biology in SF blog (she lives in Yucaipa - isn't that awesome?) discussing these exact issues. And to "Perfect Stranger," a perfect match for the once-in-a-lifetime - I was the actual expert on the panel experience. Story is also on the right-hand side of the page and I expect will go up on Book View Cafe (WHUT? WHUT'S THET? - LEARN MORE IN SEPTEMBER!). Unlike some people, I actually have material written in recent days, weeks and months, rather than . . . OK, I went to the WorldCon in LA in 1996 as a newbie, just having published a couple of stories, with a few others in the pipeline.
There's people with tip jars who've neither written nor published anything since that time! And they even have "fans." Goes to show you there does need to be some cleaning out of the gene pool - I'll say that. I am certain my bud Brad Templeton would agree with me. I've known Brad and a great number of other people, such as Kris Rusch and Dean Smith (Dean said he did 2 yrs. of the Senior PGA, but it didn't work out, and then he turned to World Series of Poker - now he's back writing again) since '96. Some people who haven't worked in the industry since, oh, I guess 99 or so - they thought I was a "fan."
Uh, no. Sorry about that. I very much admire and enjoy the field - but I'm a writer. I never wanted to send my work out too discriminately - considering what I know about some former editors, I thought it was a poor idea. The Helix disaster was a very public manifestation of this problem. In private, genuine lunatics have had these jobs here and there, with horrible educations and worse taste.
So, I know exactly what to do now with The Fire Gryphon. It makes me very happy to know I will be able to work with people with great educations, who are supportive, kind and brilliant. In the words of the Doctor - "brilliant!"