BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Boskone 2012

Isn't that gorgeous? I love the colors in it and it has a slightly mysterious look to it. It's a Daniel dos Santos original and graces the cover of this year's Boskone program cover.

I attended my first Boskone con yesterday, with Avangyline from Kelley Armstrong's board, her husband X and their daughter A. Avangyline, X and I went to Arisia last year and had so much fun, that though we couldn't go to Arisia this year, we met up for Boskone. Their daughter didn't come last year but when I met her this year, it was if we'd met before. Avangyline has been talking about her for years on the KA board and facebook, and posting pix on facebook. She was a sweetie, and full of energy despite an encounter with a sword during the sword fighting demonstration. (she was perfectly OK, no worries.)

Anyway, Boskone runs Friday night through late Sunday afternoon this weekend, every February (it's a three day weekend here in the US). It's put on by New England Science Fiction Association. I confess, I hadn't heard of them before, but if Boskone is an indicator, they do good work.

The con is at held at the Westin Waterfront, the same location as Arisia. Getting there should have been easy enough but Oh. My. God. the Boston MBTA was NOT cooperative. Though, I should confess that I didn't check their website first. I don't go into Boston often and usually take the T when I go so I didn't expect a problem. Turns out the station I parked at was open ONLY for parking. That station and corresponding trains are closed on the weekends for remodeling. Two helpful employees later, I was on a free shuttle to the next open station, three stops away. From there it was a smooth, standing room only ride to the station where I needed to transfer. That's where I had more problems. I couldn't find the correct track for the direction I needed to go. An employee saw me looking confused and offered to help. It went downhill from there. He was rude, and insisted that the line I wanted didn't exist, and acted as if I was an idiot for thinking it did. Meanwhile, I'm thinking that I've ridden on the damn line so I know bloody well it exists. I nodded and when he walked away, ignored what he told me and eventually found what I needed.

Anyway, I finally made it to the hotel. I tried to check my coat, as I had last year at Arisia, but was snootily informed by a man at the front desk that "coat check is not provided for Boskone participants" Oookay. Guess our money isn't good enough. I went upstairs, registered, got my badge and program, and began plotting what workshops I wanted. The con is a medium to small sized one but they had a selection of panels, even a knit-along. No description was given and I didn't go, but hey, talk about variety! There was one on ebook publishing (tempting but I ended up passing), the making of book covers (again, tempting, but skipped), trends in YA lit (interesting, more below), readings by a wide assortment of authors, an art show (pieces ranged from meh to OMG that's amazing), a kids area that A really enjoyed, filk panels and a concert, etc. The focus naturally was on science fiction but fantasy was there too along with horror.

I attended, with avangyline, a panel on all of the SF/F/H shows currently on TV. We talked about what was good and why, what wasn't and why, new ones in development, etc. It was late in the afternoon, and I'd been up late the night before, so I drifted off a few times but it was good.

I also went to a FAB event with author John Scalzi and artist Daniel dos Santos. The idea was that John would be interviewed while Daniel painted a portrait. This is the program description:

In this unique mega-mixed-media event, our Official Artist Daniel dos Santos will both interview and simultaneously create a fabulous painting of our Guest of Honor John Scalzi. We considered requesting that John also be suspended facedown in a tub of Coke Zero and Daniel ride a unicycle, but you can only take fan service so far.
Daniel dos Santos, John Scalzi

Audience members asked questions, nothing was off limits, as Daniel quietly sat and painted. John was effing hilarious. If you ever have the chance to hear him speak, DO IT!!!!!!!!! That event alone was worth the cover charge and the hassle of getting there. I didn't get a close up look of the final painting but it looked excellent from my seat at the back of the room (the event was packed).

The YA trends panel was very interesting. There was a lot of discussion about speculative fiction in YA - is it too dark (no, was the general consensus), it's appeal, and what it's lacking (issues; it tends to be relationship driven, heroic quest driven, or both), and is it on the way out (no, but dystopian is becoming a hot subgenre). YA spec fic books can be very dark but they are still not as dark as the issues books which deal with rape, incest, drug abuse, death, etc. Mention was made by some panelists that they'd like to see the YA spec fic books incorporate more of these issues, while one panelist described them as "sanitized" compared to issues books. It was mentioned that many YA books offer hope that you can overcome anything, that you move forward and grow, and even the spec fic YA books have their own type of HEA. There was also discussion about the marketing of YA books. There's been a marked upswing in marketing YA books, even older ones such as The Giver by Lois Lowry and Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, to both young adults and adults. It's becoming common to have marketing campaigns for both populations. Along those lines was a discussion about how lines between young adult books and adult books have become blurred. Basically, the topics and contents are the same whereas before they weren't. One panelist said her definition of a YA book is one that has an adolescent protagonist. It was an excellent workshop and could easily have gone several hours.

ETA: I was reading a scene in a book earlier today (2/21/12) and it reminded that I forgot to include this in my post. I mentioned the art show and gallery. One artist, and I didn't write down his name, darn it, had some pieces that were eye catching, a little gruesome and thought provoking. You know how butterfly collectors like to kill and display their catches? Well, this artist (I wish I'd taken one of his cards!) made (or maybe bought) display cases and instead of butterflies and moths, made resin fairies, pixies, etc., and had them pinned and displayed in the same fashion. The detailing was exquisite and the look of agony on their faces was horrific. Each case had a metal plaque with the type of fae on it and a small card next to the box with where the collector found it, the date and some info about that species. It was well done and only confirmed my hatred for butterfly collections.

All in all, I thought Boskone was well done. The printed program was easy to read and use, signage was excellent, registering was easy, a good mix of panels and participants and there was even a con suite with free munchies (healthy food as well as snacks), comfy chairs, and tables but sadly no coat check. If you like sci fi, and live in or near the Boston area, it's worth attending.


  1. Sorry to hear about your trouble getting there Bea. It really is silly sometimes. I'm going to have to carefully plan a London trip soon and that means getting out my Underground maps, working out the various stops (to do a publisher tour) and also some heavy duty carrying equipment to haul the stuff away with. LOL.

    I would attend a con or two over here but alas they're very pricey.

  2. A publisher tour? That sounds interesting. What does that involve?

    I enjoy going to cons, they're fun. I didn't meet any authors this time or get anything signed but it was still a good time.

  3. I shall dust off my hibernating blog and post soon as well. Meanwhile, we (meaning you) should drag Sir G of Falcata Times back here to explain this publishing tour. ;-)

    1. Sounds good to me! *gets out her rope and goes hunting for dros*

  4. Oi, ropes not needed, all I meant was I'd email my contacts and arrange various visits at the publishing houses and pick up some additional reading material. The heavy haulage equipment is to make sure that I can get it all back safe. (Might have to invest in an old lady shopping cart on wheels. :p )

    One of the things that always worried me about the cons is that they are that, a con on the cost of things. I know that some people go to Supernatural Cons and it does get a little silly when you add up what they spend. Especially when it costs extra to meet the stars and you then have to pay a lot to get a signature on top.

  5. I'm glad I'm writing up the con post late, or I may have forgotten to come back here.

    There are cons and there are cons...One of the many factors that kept me from going before last year was that I would never, say, stand in a long line and pay $100 (on top of what it already cost to get in) just to take a picture with Shatner at a Trek convention. I don't know if it was because it was a FAN convention (so there was space for selling stuff, but the thing wasn't about selling stuff) or because it was more general (sci-fi/fantasy as opposed to Trek or Supernatural), but at Arisia last year I dealt with no lines, got to listen to Kelley read, and had dinner with her (and X and Bea), all for the cost of getting in (and looking like a gushing idiot in front of my literary hero).

    1. When I go to a con, they're more general like Boskone and Arisia and not soecific to a show or movie. I get more out of the con that way and am more likely to get my money's worth. And I also refuse to pay to get an autogrpah or pay an additional above the conference fee to meet with an author. There's a limit to what I can spend. I could be buying books instead!

  6. Thanks Bea and An Again,
    It just gets to me is all that I feel that there are a lot of people who are unscrupulous to the fans. It feels that they forget who helped put them where they are and its us that can quite easily rip them down again. (Weird Fact for you: Johnny Depp's autograph is one of the most common, purely for the fact that he gives it to anyone who asks.)

    Like the two of you, I'm on a tight budget so what I tend to do is wean out my money to get the most from it. I love it when authors visit my local bookstores and you get to chat with them. I know that there is a movement at the moment trying to get UK book bloggers a yearly venue to meet all publishers such as the US one, so if it happens I might go.

  7. Never been to a con, sounds fascinating and some have mentioned World Con since it's in Toronto. May just have to go check it out. Just hope the travel part goes better. ;)


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