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BOUCHERCON 2017: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY


THE GOOD:
1. Getting hugged by Louise Penny!
2. Attending some great panels:
THURSDAY: 1:00 P.M. 2:00 P.M. Grand West Best Paperback Original Meet your Best PBO Anthony nominees Patricia Abbott, Eric Beetner, Matt Coyle (M), Jess Lourey, Jay Stringer, Jim Ziskin

2:30 P.M. 3:30 P.M. Sheraton B So Many Books, So Little Time How to determine what to read, what to read next, and shelving tips Robin Agnew (M), Bill Crider, Marvin Lachman, June Lorraine Roberts, Peter Sellers

5:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M Grand Centre Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine is Honoured Celebrating 75 years of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, featuring an interview with Janet Hutchings, and vignettes from many contributors. Host – Art Taylor Art Taylor, Janet Hutchings, Laura Benedict, Jill D. Block, Michael Bracken, Dana Cameron, Bill Crider, Brendan DuBois, Lee Goldberg, Richard Helms, Marvin Lachman, Josh Pachter, Twist Phelan, Naben Ruthnum, Jennifer Soosar, Steve Steinbock, Marilyn Todd

FRIDAY: 10:00 A.M. 11:00 A.M. Grand Centre Three Good Friends: Three classy women just having a chat Rhys Bowen, Deborah Crombie, Louise Penny

2:00 P.M. 3:00 P.M. Grand Centre Best Short Story Meet your Short Story Anthony nominees Megan Abbott, Alan Orloff (M), Johnny Shaw, Art Taylor, Holly West

5:00 P.M. 6:00 P.M. Grand Centre Megan Abbott Interview Our American Guest of Honour is interviewed by Laurie King

SATURDAY: 8:30 A.M. 9:30 A.M. Sheraton E The Experienced: Long writing careers make for great stories P.M.Carlson (M), Bill Crider, Howard Engel, Francine Mathews / Stephanie Barron, Sara Paretsky, Kathy Reichs

10:00 A.M. 11:00 A.M. Grand Centre Best Novel Meet your Best Novel Anthony nominees Megan Abbott, Reed Farrel Coleman, Chris Holm, Laura Lippman, Louise Penny, Hank Phillippi Ryan (M)

2:30 P.M. 3:30 P.M. Grand Centre Hidden Past Writing characters with secrets Debra H. Goldstein (M) , Laura McHugh, Louise Penny, Mark Pryor, Michael Stanley (Michael Sears), Heather Young

SUNDAY: 9:30 A.M. 10:30 A.M. Sheraton E Louise Penny Interview Our Canadian Guest of Honour is interviewed by Ann Cleeves
3. Scoring a ton of FREE books!
4. Spending time with Jeff & Jackie Meyerson, Bill & Angela Crider, Patti & Phil Abbott, Maggie Mason, George Easter, and many others. Jeff & Jackie snuck us into the Elite Lounge each night for great conversations.
THE BAD:
1. Driving in Toronto where you can’t make LEFT HAND TURNS and are forced to make U-TURNS on busy streets in dense traffic. Nightmarish!
2. Maggie Mason falling off a hotel treadmill and ending up in the Emergency Room.
3. Skimpy refeshments (a few cookies) and few cans of soda between panels. Lame.
THE UGLY:
1. Jeff & Jackie & I all got our dinners in Shopsy’s restaurant, but Diane didn’t. We spoke to three waiters about the problem and they all went away, but nothing happened. Finally, Jackie told the Manager about the problem and Diane finally got her dinner…an hour after the rest of us finished! The Manager was apologetic and told us our meal was FREE and then gave us FREE desserts. That was nice, but the experience was a bummer.
2. The New Orleans BOUCHERCON innovated the free book process by allowing attendees to choose their own books. Toronto regressed by going back to shoving a bunch of random books in our backpacks.

The BOUCHERCON in Toronto was one of the Top 5 BOUCHERCONs I’ve attended (I’ve been to 20). It was great fun to hang out with friends and great writers!

BYE WEEK!


The 3-2 Buffalo Bills stagger into their Bye Week with plenty of injuries and questions. How can they fix their non-existent Offense? Will their excellent Defense break down from being on the field too long? Maybe a week off will improve things. How will your favorite NFL team perform today?

VICTORIAL AND ABDUL


Dame Judi Dench stars as a declining Queen Victoria who meets a clerk, Abdul Karim (played by Ali Fazal), and begins a decade long relationship. Abdul becomes Queen Victoria’s munshi (teacher) and instructs Victoria how to speak and write in Urdu. Of course, this friendship causes the royal family and staff to panic. They hate Abdul because he is a commoner and a Muslim. And a competitor to their influence and access to the Queen.

Comedian Eddie Izzard is terrific as Victoria’s greedy and apoplectic son, Bertie. Director Stephen Frears, who also directed Helen Mirren in The Queen, knows how power and privilege works in the Palace. As Steve Oerkfitz pointed out, Victoria and Abdul resembles a Masterpiece Theater episode. That’s a Good Thing. GRADE: A-

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #445: HOW TO WRITE TALES OF HORROR, FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION Edited by J. N. Williamson


Although this volume was published in 1987 (and a paperback version came out in 1991), I found the essays on writing enlightening. Most of the essays in this Writer’Digest Book publication focus on the writing process and getting published. But, the essays are also a window into the individual writers and their methods of writing. Copies of this book are available online for a pittance. But there’s a lot here to enjoy and learn from. If you’re a fan of Horror, Fantasy, or Science Fiction you’ll find How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction fascinating. GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Editor’s Foreword – Certain of what We Do Not See.
Introduction – How to Write Horribly for Fun and Profit by Robert Bloch.
Chapter 1: Run Fast Stand Still by Ray Bradbury,
Chapter 2: Plotting as Your Power Source by Williamson,
Chapter 3: Reality and the Waking Nightmare by Mort Castle,
Chapter 4: One View by Steve Rasnic Tem,
Chapter 5: Oh Just Call me Cuthbert by Thomas Millstead,
Chapter 6: Involving Your Reader by William F. Nolan,
Chapter 7: Freedom of Originality by James Kisner,
Chapter 8: Creating Fantasy Folk by Ardath Mayhar,
Chapter 9: Keeping the Reader on Edge by Dean R. Koontz,
Chapter 10: Stepping Into the Shadows by Charle L. Grant,
Chapter 11: Innocence and Terror by Robert R. McCammon,
Chapter 12: World Building in Fantasy by Marion Zimmer Bradley,
Chapter 13: Sword and Sorcery by Darrell Schwitzer,
Chapter 14: Science Fiction by Michael A.Banks,
Chapter 15: Researching Science Fantasy by Sharon Baker,
Chapter 16: Avoiding What’s Been Done to Death by Ramsey Campbell,
Chapter 17: Why Novels of Fear Must Do More than Frighten by Dean R. Koontz,
Chapter 18: The Supernatural, Naturally! by J. N. Williamson,
Chapter 19: Sexist Stereotypes by Jeannette Hopper,
Chapter 20: They Laughed when I Howled at the Moon, by Richard Christian Matheson,
Chapter 21: The Psychology of Horror and Fantasy by Katherine Ramsland,
Chapter 22: Fantasy and Faculty X by Colin Wilson,
Chapter 23: A “Do” List for Getting Your Literary Agent by Mary T. Williamson,
Chapter 24: Putting It on the Editor’s Desk by Alan Rodgers,
Chapter 25: The Mechanics and Mystique of Submitting Your Novel by Patrick LoBrutto,
Chapter 26: Darkness Absolute aThe Standards of Excellence in Horror Fiction by Douglas Winter,
Chapter 27: Overview of Horror, SF and Fantasy A Long-range Market Study by Janet Fox.
Contributors to This Book
The Top Ten “Favorites” List–in Horror, Fantasy & SF (Novels and Short Stories)
Recommended Reading Library in Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction
Index

SAINT JOAN By George Bernard Shaw


Each season, The Shaw Festival revives one of George Bernard Shaw’s plays. In 2017, Saint Joan, Shaw’s blistering critique of war and religion, stars Sara Topham as Joan. Joan leads the underdog French armies to victory over the invading British forces. Despite saving the country, Joan is betrayed by both the religious bureaucracy and Charles VII, who wouldn’t be King without Joan’s bravery.

I first read Saint Joan in the late 1960s while I was a student at Marquette University. I went to dozens of plays on and off campus during those years and was drawn to Shaw’s plays. I listened to an audio version of Saint Joan with Siobhan McKenna as Joan. Electrifying! This Shaw Festival version was compelling and thought-provoking. Do you have a favorite George Bernard Shaw play? GRADE: B+

BOUCHERCON 2017 in TORONTO


Diane and I will be driving to Toronto by the time you read this. The drive to Toronto takes about two hours. The variables are getting over the International Bridges (Customs can provide extensive delays at times) and Toronto traffic. If you’ve driven in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, or LA you know what Big City traffic can be like. We’re looking forward to seeing Patti & Phil Abbott, Bill Crider, Jeff & Jackie Meyerson, Maggie Mason, and many other friends. Diane can’t wait to hear Louise Penny, one of her favorite writers. I’ll be hanging on Megan Abbott’s every word! And FREE BOOKS!

I’ll be posting a BOUCHERCON report on Monday. I’m sure others will be posting BOUCHERCON reports in Real Time. Hope to see you there!

BLADE RUNNER 2049 [3D]


Blade Runner 2049 takes place after The Blackout where all electrical systems fail and there’s also an ecological disaster (all trees seem to be dead). Ryan Gosling plays K., an LAPD Blade Runner who tracks down replicants (aka, androids) who are treated like slaves. Gosling discovers a secret that becomes a quest between him and the Wallace Corporation (who manufactures the replicants). Gosling finally tracks down Harrison Ford (who played Deckard, a Blade Runner, in the original Blade Runner). Action sequences are unleashed!

At 163 minutes, Blade Runner 2049 is too long. While production designer Dennis Gasner (The Truman Show and Skyfall) makes Blade Runner 2049 look cool and futuristic, it’s not enough. The Coen Brothers’ cinematographer, Roger Deakins, captures some eye-popping images in this movie. But the meandering script and the lack of surprises in the plot hamper Blade Runner 2049. Expectations for an opening weekend Box Office of $40 million fell short (only $31 million). Word-of-mouth might not help this film. GRADE: C+

BUFFALO BILLS VS. CINCINNATI BENGALS


The 3-1 Buffalo Bills travel to Cincinnati to take on the 1-3 Bengals. Vegas has made the Bengals 3 1/2-point favorites. This is a classic “trap” game where after defeating two quality teams–the Denver Broncos and the Atlanta Falcons–the Bills are prone to losing to an inferior opponent. The Bills have followed this pattern for the past 17 Playoff-less years. Will today be different? We’ll see… How will your favorite NFL team do today?

BANNERLESS By Carrie Vaughn


Carrie Vaughn’s latest Young Adult novel is set in near-future society that has been devastated by disease and super-storms. Enid, a young investigator, is brought to a rural town to investigate the death of a handy man named Sero. The community has a lot of secrets that Enid slowly unravels. I’ve enjoyed Carrie Vaughn’s work, especially Martians Abroad (you can read my review here). If you’re in the mood for a clever SF mystery, give Bannerless a try. GRADE: B+