World Fantasy Con 25

This is a web page with pictures from the World Fantasy Con 25, in Providence, Rhode Island, Nov. 4-7, 1999.  My wife and I flew up and had a pretty nice time.   It's a small con, and almost completely literary.  There were no actors or movie people, just writers (although you could argue that Brian and Wendy Froud are movie people!)  The writers were very friendly, and since the con was pretty small they weren't too swamped to talk to people.  In particular, we had very nce conversations with Brian Froud (an artist my wife likes) and Paul di Fillippo (a science fiction writer I like.)

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Charles de Lint
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Paul di Fillippo
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Brian Froud
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Wendy Froud
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David Gemmell
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H.P. Lovecraft's grave
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Robert Silverberg

We found out from Paul di Fillippo that Lovecraft was buried in Providence, so we got a taxi and took it to the graveyard where he rests.  But it was HUGE!  We couldn't find Lovecraft's grave!  The cab driver started asking everyone he saw where "H. T. Lovecraft" was buried.  We finally corrected him.  Eventually we found a homeless guy who knew where the grave was located.  He said to the cabbie that he'd show us if the cabbie would split the tip with him.  I figured the cab driver wouldn't go for that, and given the cab fare what was a few more bucks?  So I told the homeless guy I'd give him five bucks if he'd hop in the cab and take us to the grave.   Which he did. 


So on to the McKillip stuff, since I pretty much went to meet her (the rest was just bonus.)  McKillip was on several panels that I attended.  The first one was called "How does the magic work?" and was devoted to whether the author's magic had a consistent logic under it or not.  Charles de Lint, Thomas Harlan, J. Gregory Keyes, and Patricia McKillip were on the panel.

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de Lint, McKillip, Harlan

This was the first time I'd seen McKillip, and I was pretty excited.   My impression of her is that she is a quiet person, but very personable, friendly, and humourous.  (As I saw her throughout the weekend, that impression stayed intact.)   Her thoughts in this panel was that magic in her books was expressed through language.  For an example, she mentioned a Norse mythological story where someone threw a knife, and Odin stopped it with a word.  To misquote her, she said that "magic is in the word, and in the language."  After the panel, I talked to her briefly.  She very kindly signed about ten books for me and even posed for pictures.  She also introduced my wife, Debra, and I to David Lunde, a close friend of hers.

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The next panel I saw McKillip at was a panel on the image of "Home" in fantasy.  Kara Dalkey, Patricia McKillip, Richard Parks, and Tamora Pierce attended.  The main focus was what happened to the character at the end of the story when he or she returned home.  My main recollection of this one something McKillip said about Corleu from The Sorceress and the Cygnet - "I always wondered what happened to my Gypsy".  She also seemed to feel that some of herself had made it into this novel.  She mentioned that she never felt like she had a home, even now.  I think she felt that the feeling of not having a home manifested itself in the nomadic lifestyle of the Wayfolk.

The last panel I saw McKillip on was called "The Story as Quest/The Quest as Story".  (She was on one more panel the next day called "Growing Old With Me - Aging Your Characters", but I was flying out that day.)  This one was a fun panel.  The authors on it were Jefferey Ford, Patricia McKillip, Sean Russell, Robert Silverberg, and Walter Jon Williams.  The pictures below are of McKillip, then McKillip, Sean Russell, and Robert Silverberg on that panel.  McKillip had one nice quote, I think from this panel, in which she said that she liked putting symbolism and fairy tales in her novels, but masked them until the end of the novel, where what the reader is looking for and what she is looking for come together.

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Walter Jon Williams made this panel quite lively.  He started it off by saying that the quest was overdone, and that he would like to see a twenty year moratoriam on quest stories.  McKillip responded by asking if that meant she should stop writing for twenty years.  The talk then ranged over what was a quest, and hit on Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces (naturally!).  It also touched on Disney, and how formulaic that was.  Silverberg came to the defense of the formula, saying that Disney used it because it worked quite well.  He also mentioned that his novel, Lord Valentine's Castle, was written exactly to the formula laid out by Campbell.   Silverberg seemed quite egotistical, I wasn't too impressed with his personality.   The general consensus seemed to be that the quest is a great novel form, but lends itself quite easily to be done poorly.  At the end, Walter Jon Williams said they had convinced him, and he would no longer call for a 20 year moratoriam on quest novels - just BAD quest novels!

Later, McKillip did a reading from her forthcoming novel, The Tower at Stony Wood.  She said it was inspired by the Loreena McKennitt song "The Lady of Shalott", which is a song McKennitt did to Tennyson's poem.  Afterwards, I spoke to her again, and was going to take a picture of her and David Lunde, but ran out of film.  Lunde gave me a roll, and I took these pictures:

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David Lunde is a poet, by the way, and has several small books of poetry out.  I picked up three of them - they are pretty good!