Stone of Remembrance

May 30, 2006

Marcon 41, Columbus OH (2)

Filed under: Commentary, Travel — admin @ 15:38

The convention is over and I had a great time. Copies of The Dark Crusade in paperback were available and sold well. I had a chance to talk to, do a panel with, and hang out with George R.R. Martin, Guest of Honor for the convention; aside from being a very good writer, he’s a very well-spoken, erudite and friendly man. He has a very large fan base and deserves it.

I also did panels with David Drake, another talented and intelligent writer whose work lies primarily within my own subgenre (”military science fiction”). I’ve almost collected the whole set: Weber, Drake, Flint, Stirling – I just have to cross paths with John Ringo and I’ll have met the whole Crew O’ Baen.

So. I did panels on a number of the usual subjects, as well as one I hadn’t intended to do (on the paranormal in science fiction: I tried my best not to be the skeptic, and was called upon to be the moderator instead. I behaved myself. :-)) Regarding moderators, Marcon seems to have a sort of Social Darwinist attitude toward the idea: panelists must decide on the spot who’s going to do the job. This works sometimes.

The only panel that really didn’t work was the one hijacked by one Marshall Barnes, who bills himself as a “private investigator” – and he’s a good one, don’t get me wrong: his particular hobby-horse is the so-called Philadelphia Experiment, which has become an X-Files-ish story about invisibility’n’stuff. Mr. Barnes asserts – with considerable evidence – that the subject matter is far more mundane, but indeed actually happened with some successful result. That’s fine; but the panel was regarding the “skeptical movement”, and it spent most of the time of the panel and energy of the panelists reacting to the manic Mr. Barnes and his investigative findings. Believe what he’s written or don’t . . . but it became abundantly clear to me (I turned out to be the moderator; Social Darwinism in action, I guess) that Mr. Barnes was there to huckster for his book.

I try to sell myself – and thereby my work – by appearing on panels, talking intelligently, charming the audience, etc. Writers do that. We should neither be ashamed of nor apologetic for it. The object is to be entertaining and informative; if an audience member or even a fellow panelist goes to the dealer room and buys a book, so much the better. By the time the panel was over, however, we were all exhausted from the antics of this panelist – and whether his points were valid or not, I suspect that more of the audience determined to avoid him, his research, and his book than would be compelled to listen to him or read his work. Count me among them.

The kicker to this story is something I turned up on a google search, at this page. As soon as I saw the name Art Bell, I knew I’d wandered into the land of the wacky. Case closed: right or wrong, I’m not the least bit interested in it anymore.

Otherwise, I’m very pleased with my choice of Marcon and hope to come again. We’ll be flying home early tomorrow; I’ll put up a couple of pictures from the con.

Walter.

May 29 update: We arrived home safe and sound. A good trip, with a good outcome. Here I am at the autograph table with David Drake – loads o’fun.

May 30: A reader and fellow-panelist writes, regarding my comments above:

I should have warned everyone about Barnes. He’s a nice guy, but his clock does not keep the same time as the rest of us. My wife says I’m too easy on him, but he has done some interesting work on the inside of the “believers” network, and has pointed out some of the frauds in the UFO bunch and, of course, the Phil Project, which he is the most proud of. His mental lapses are most noted when he is on stage — as you saw. The hardest thing is to get him to actually say something and not talk in circles.

That’s the impression I had as well.

May 24, 2006

Marcon 41, Columbus OH

Filed under: Travel, Writing — admin @ 22:28

I will be attending Marcon in Columbus Ohio from May 26-28. This is my schedule for the convention.

Friday, May 26

No programming scheduled. I’ll be around the con in the afternoon and evening.

Saturday, May 27

1130: Myth and Language: The Language of Fantasy, with Lynn and Evans.
1300: Morality, SF, and Positive Futures, with Conly, Kramer, and Adams.
1600: Building Character, with George R.R. Martin, Tiananow, Mead, Coulson and Rudolph. That should be fun – I’ve never been a panelist with George before.
1900: What’s Wrong With the Skeptical Movement These Days, with Barnes, Martinek and Siegling.
2030: Heroes and Villains, with Franklin and Wyatt.

This will be a busy, busy day. Hope they let me stop to eat.

Sunday, May 28

1000: War and Science Fiction, with Drake, Martinek and Siegling. Should be a natural for me.
1300: The Gods of Science Fiction and Fantasy, with Kramer, Souther and Conn.

I’ll be in Columbus through Monday morning, so there should be lots of relaxation time after my last panel.

In addition to books already in print, The Dark Crusade paperbacks will be available from Larry Smith Bookseller.

Hope to see many of you there. They’ve been trying to lure me out for years and I’m looking forward to my first Marcon.

Walter.

Good sign.

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 15:23

A reader writes: “I look for him (his books, that is) in every bookstore I enter, and when I am on the road that is often. I’ve been seeing him a lot lately in Atlanta and MSP.”

Seems like a good sign to me.

Sword & Sun: Excerpt 4

Filed under: Sword & Sun, Writing — admin @ 12:54

This is the fourth chapter of the prequel, Sword & Sun, which is the story of how the Solar Empire came into existence. It’s not presently on submission for publication.

This material is Copyright © 2006, Walter H. Hunt.

Chapter 4

In men of the highest character and noblest genius there is to be found an insatiable desire for honor, command, power, and glory.

- Cicero

The civilians arrived on time – for civilians, at least: it meant that they were a mere forty-five minutes late. It really meant very little to John Nason: he could have predicted what they were going to say, and what his responses would be.

The meeting was no more than a formality to satisfy appearances. Except for the way it would have read in his official report to the Joint Chiefs, he would have avoided it altogether.

Theodore and Geraldine Marion were shown into Ajax’s observation deck, where a steward had laid out refreshments. He waited for them, his back to the door, looking out at Marion’s outer gas giant where his flagship Ajax, the heavy cruiser Duke of York, and the pocket carrier Provençal had just refueled. A holo of Marion System was displayed over a conference-table.

“Admiral Nason,” Theodore Marion said. Nason turned around putting his best face on as he did so.

“Proprietor,” he said. “Proprietor,” he repeated, nodding to Geraldine Marion as well. Brother and sister, they were hawk-faced, suspicion and arrogance mixed in their expressions.

“We expected you two weeks ago.”

“I go where I am ordered, when I am ordered, sir and madam,” he answered. “I assume that nothing has changed.”

“No,” Geraldine Marion said. “Nothing has changed.” She surveyed the room, arms crossed in front of her chest: spartan accomodations, the side-table with food and drink, the view port mostly showing Marion VI.

“Won’t you sit down,” Nason said. He gestured to the conference-table. The two proprietors sat on one side of the table; the admiral sat opposite.

“I assume you’ve been briefed on the current situation,” Theodore said.

“I’d be happy to hear your perspective.” Nason knew he’d be getting it anyway; best to hear it now.

“The Society continues with its illegal work stoppage,” Theodore answered. “As of today, there has been little or no production for thirty-seven days.” He spat out each syllable. “This is intolerable.”

“Further negotiations have been unsuccessful, I take it.”

“There have been no further negotiations, Admiral. That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?”

“To negotiate?”

“Don’t be coy with me, Admiral Nason. Now that you’re finally here, my sister, brother and I expect you to enforce the law.”

“Meaning –“

“To end the work stoppage,” Geraldine Marion said, folding her hands on the table. “Every day the Society holds up mining and refining operations, every day they flout the law, costs the European Union money. They have to come to understand that.”

“I see,” Nason said. He was considering the matter quietly and patiently, which was clearly driving the Marion sister to distraction. “What are the guidelines for my operations against the Society, as you see it?”

“I assume you have orders, Admiral Nason,” Theodore Marion said.

You’re damned right, he thought. “I do. I merely wished to have an understanding as to your expectations. But let me be completely clear: once I have commenced operations, I will have no interference from the proprietors of Marion Colony.”

“Meaning –”

“Now, don’t be coy with me, Ms. Marion. You know exactly what I mean. My orders are to resolve this situation within five days. I intend to do just that.”

Geraldine and Theodore Marion looked at each other, then back at Nason.

“We understand,” Theodore Marion said, though it was clear that he didn’t understand at all.

•••

(more…)

The Game Table

Filed under: Games — admin @ 00:11

This game blog is an interesting commentary and review of popular Euro-style games. Ward is (like so many people) an unusual character, but he’s fun to be with – we played a few things together at the Gathering of Friends, and had some terrific Indian food.

I’ve added this site to the blogroll. Enjoy.

May 23, 2006

Dark Crusade Mass Market paperback

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 17:55

Copies of The Dark Crusade mass market paperback arrived on my doorstep this morning. They’ll be at Amazon and in your bookstore shortly. And at Amazon you can Search Inside™ :-)

I’ll be updating the web site’s review pages soon – there are some reviews of the German edition of The Dark Wing – and I have at least one newly-found review for Crusade, viz.:

The DARK CRUSADE is Walter H. Hunt’s finest writing achievement. His ability to describe a far flung human empire, examine the culture of an alien species, and his descriptions of mundane and metaphysical battles are creatively impressive and entertaining. Although this work is epic in scope, individual characters are realistically portrayed and understood by a grateful audience.

The entire review can be found here.

May 22, 2006

This is scary too.

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 20:35

Trot over to ESR’s blog and read this.

Eric sounds less worried than I would be, even though a death threat sent to a Secret Master of UNIX™® – even if he hadn’t failed to anonymize the source – seems pretty incompetent.

We have your address.

YOU WILLBE KILLED
YOU WILLBE KILLED
YOU WILLBE KILLED
YOU WILLBE KILLED
YOU WILLBE KILLED

He doesn’t call the blog “Armed and Dangerous” for nothing, but it echoes something Smith says to Jackie Laperriere in The Dark Crusade: “The veneer of civilization is very thin.”

Ingenious

Filed under: Games — admin @ 17:08

A neat little abstract game by Reiner Knizia, now in super-duper online time-wastin’ format.

Update May 23: This is too good to pass up taking a screen shot.

I’m “You”. :-)

Sword & Sun: Excerpt 3

Filed under: Commentary, Sword & Sun, Writing — admin @ 14:33

Spammed.

May 21, 2006

Facing Down Iran

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 20:45

I was having an online discussion with a reader last night about the (apparently incorrect) story about dress codes for non-Muslims. He said: “what’s the difference between Nazi Germany and the Islamist regime in Iran?”

I thought about it and replied that Nazi Germany’s inherent evil was the attempt at systematic, scientific extermination of a racial/cultural group. Islam, I thought (and said), doesn’t quite plumb those depths.

But I read this article and it got me thinking about the question and my answer. He argues, in part, that we got what we should’ve expected from the Iranians in 1979, and it’s their plan to do to the non-Islamic world what other conquerors and conqueror ideologies have always done: take it to them in the most fundamental way. That suggests why there is no Islam in science fiction – there’ll be a showdown in the near future, one in which they’ll lose (and lose cohesion in a fundamental way) or they’ll win (and there won’t be any other cultures left – and probably no science fiction either).

The author is a bit glib – it’s witty, supercilious, and syllogistic: We didn’t face down Iran because we didn’t see them as relevant, he opines; We didn’t see the real threat of Islamic fundamentalism and its contempt for international law; therefore We deserve what we get if we don’t treat them as an enemy to be dealt with right now before this goes further. I’m not sure where on the right Mark Steyn sits – it’s not as obvious as the ideological stelae some of the respondents are perched on – but I will have to think more about my original conversation.

Frankly, I hope he’s wrong and one of the respondents is right: Iran is not as much of a threat that even they think they are due to internal divisions within the country. Still, internal divisions in an unstable country that has nuclear weapons is pretty scary . . . oh, wait, that’s already happened . . . or was that a Tom Clancy novel?

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