Well, this past weekend was a blur!
I attended the 47th MileHiCon, in Denver, invited back for a second year—and hope I get the lifetime subscription! This is an absolutely incredible—flat-out fun—event that anyone with a halfway interest in fantasy, science fiction, and the bizarre should attend at least once!
My first time last year I was on a couple of panels, but this year not only was I on panels, but I also moderated:
- Moderated Exploding Myths of the New World of Publishing
- Panelist on Military SF Discussion and Readings
- One of many at Autograph Alley
- Movie discussion moderator for the 1973 movie, Soylent Green
- One of several writers on The Reading Game (this was a blast!)
- Panelist on Closer & Further Than You Think
Exploding Myths of the New World of Publishing
This was an informative panel to have been a part of! We had great discussions about the state of publishing and how it has so changed with the continued flourishing (yes, “flourishing“…) of Independent (Indie) Publishing. Also once known as the highly stigmatic “self publishing.” I Indie published my first novel, Sleepwalkers, in 2001. I caught a lot of grief about that from many writers and agents and editors in the traditional publishing world, if not in word in attitude. So much so that in one panel I had been part of at another conference I’d doubted that I’d ever self publish again.
Wow, it’s the thing.
People are making a living out of it like never before and no longer is it looked down upon by the masses. I just released my fifth novel, Voice this year.
Military SF Discussion and Readings
I’ve only written one military SF novel, and it’s my UFO conspiracy theory book, ERO (though Psychic could be considered a cousin to military SF, since it is also a part of that government conspiracy theory worldview, though no “uniformed services” are involved, like in ERO). Here, I was a panelist (not a moderator) and we discussed what we thought “made” military fiction military fiction, as well as various aspects of military fiction. We read from our works.
On this panel were Kevin Ikenberry (moderator) and Robert Williscroft—two gentlemen I kept running into over the course of the weekend—Sourdough Jackson, and Kal Spriggs. Kevin and I were later on the Closer & Further Than You Think panel. Kevin and Kal are Army and Bob’s Navy. I was Air Force. Sourdough was never military, though is an ardent student of the military, having studied naval history for some 50 years.
This is an en masse book signing for authors. As I discussed with my table mate, Angela Roquet, it is interesting to see who gets all the attention at this thing…and how it changes from year to year. This was only my second, so my observations were obviously limited. I didn’t sell any books (sold two later in the weekend as I meandered about the con) but had some fun conversation…especially about my mannequin head—which I’d carried with me all day Friday and Saturday…but more on that in a minute….
Interesting to note that my MileHiCon46 crush AaronMichaelRitchey (his name is to be uttered with great reverence and in one breath, one word…) was still (true to form) talking it up and drawing the crowds. I tried to emulate him this year with chocolate—but no one was having it. Everyone seemed to be on diets. How does AaronMichaelRitchey do it? The man is just magic. And tall. I swear he gained two inches since last year.
Soylent Green Movie and Discussion
One of the fun things “they” (being “them”) do at MileHiCon is screen films, and I volunteered to moderate the Soylent Green movie discussion. So from 1 – 2:30 we watched the movie, then from 2:30 (or so) we discussed the film for about an hour. One really cool thing that came out of the discussion was that one lady had told us she had seen the original screening back in 1973 and ever since had wanted to be part of an actual discussion about that movie, because it so moved/scared her when she’d first seen it. So I’d felt quite honored that we had been part of her “bucket list,” so to speak, and had been able to fulfill her wish!
You just never know what you’re going to be a part of when you do things like this.
Point of order, however, but as I searched the Internet for “Soylent Green” for this post I found…it’s real!
The Reading Game
This was such a cool idea! The premise of The Reading Game is like The Dating Game, but only with books.
It’s to help connect readers and writers! A reader sat on one side of a screen, while three writers sat on the other side. The reader then asked questions of the writers, and based on their answers the reader selected a writer they thought they might like to read. That author would give a book of theirs to the reader—and of course autograph it. I was one of the writers, and I was selected by a reader (most or all of the authors were selected by readers). My reader selected The Uninvited, my supernatural murder mystery and a “whydunnit” (versus a “whodunnit”). We all had a blast, on both sides of the screen. It didn’t have a huge audience, I think, because it was its first time offered and not well understood, so we hope next year it fills the room with roaring attendance! I feel this has huge entertainment potential on many levels! Afterward all readers were asked if they would post reviews of the books they read…and help publicize The Reading Game.
Closer & Further Than You Think
This was a discussion about what hard SF possibilities are actually right around the corner, despite being depicted as far out, and vice versa. Now, admittedly, I felt just a leettle out of my league, here, sitting on panel that sported Big Brain scientist types whose hands are still “in the pie,” as it were, so I went all conspiracy theory (I had to!)—and found a fellow conspiracy theorist in Dr. Tim Slater (knuckle bump!), of the University of Wyoming.
You see, whenever I talk about this kind of stuff it’s hard for me to not go all conspiracy theory! I don’t follow technology all that much anymore, but when I wrote ERO I had done a lot of conspiracy theory research and did try to keep somewhat up on technology…and what a lot of that “keyed” into me was that what we see and what might actually exist are three different things. And one of the books I’d read, whose author and exact title I couldn’t recall during the panel, but which I now present here for the Big Brains to pick apart, discussed about already existing hyperdimensional, anti-gravity (electrogravitics), faster-than-light travel. That book is Secrets of Antigravity Propulsion, by Paul A LaViolette, Ph.D. So, there you go, Kevin, Doug, Tim, and J. L., have at it! Love to hear you thoughts on the [anti]matter, if you’ll pardon the pun….
So, really, who can you trust when you talk about this stuff?
No one. Trust No One.
I attended other sessions on which I was not a panelist:
Copyright for Authors and Artists
Trends in Publishing
Remember That Thing Called Privacy
The Year in Science (the tail end)
There is so much to say about these and the other panels, but this post is already long enough. All the sessions were quite informative. Except for MileHiCon, I’ve been out of the writer conference circuit for about two years, and I realized that I’ve missed it. There’s only so much an individual can do, and when you throw in trying to get your own writing done that really limits how “up” on things you can be. And of all the above sessions I attended, the Privacy session was perhaps the most unsettling…but I’d expected that…the so-called “eroding” of our personal privacies. There’s the “legal” definitions (a lawyer was on the panel, one who’d “argued” before the Supreme Court on just such issues) and what we think we understand to be our own human privacy rights. It’s a little unsettling. But the more we give away or “don’t care about,” the less we’ll have and the quicker it will all erode away. As long as there’s one guy or gal out there willing to create these kinds of technologies and actually use them…and gee, factor in the science and science fiction of technology, and well…
We’re all screwed.
Some arguments might well be made that it’s all only a matter of returning to where we all started…tribes and clans of everyone knew everyone’s business and there were no secrets so we’re really just coming full circle…but I could also use the argument that why don’t we just return to living in abject poverty and disease-ridden streets? Just “returning to a previous state” doesn’t make it “right.” No, I’m not of the mindset of “it’s just a return how it used to be.” Why are people so uncaring of all this? I enjoy my privacy. I know others who feel the same way. Call us Neo Luddites, we don’t care. I like having a little mystery about a person. I don’t want to know nor care to see how one wipes their ass or masturbates or picks their noses on a YouTube video, and, quite frankly, it disturbs me that others would want to know this about other people. Because—keep this in mind—what you’re seeing about other people…other people will also see about you.
When you continually enable Big Companies and the government by using things like Google (which I avoid—I’m told DuckDuckGo is as good at Google without the tracking) or smartphones without thinking about just what it is you’re doing…that bothers me. We all need our personal space. I don’t need to know your most-intimate of details. Yet we find all people continually posting all manner of minutiae on all manner of social media. I’ve talked to a few of those of other generations, and it is disturbing the “I don’t care” I get from some…”I don’t care if they track me going to the store.” Or “I don’t care if they track what I buy.”
Can’t you look beyond your desire for the latest smartphone to what you’re enabling? Can’t you look past your privacy nonchalance to the far larger picture? Are you really so self-involved you can’t see past your freaking iPhone?!
All kinds of arguments can be made for companies and governments having always been doing this, etc.—but does that make it right?
Think about your actions…their logical conclusions. Think.
Yet…I can also make the case that on a metaphysical level (yes, here I go…) such developments are also the physical manifestation of a kind of metaphysical and spiritual “singularity.” In this case, we are all approaching an “event” where we realize just how intricately connected we really are and how nothing is really hidden from another on an incorporeal level. So, our corporeal existence is more and more mirroring our incorporeal existence.
Transitions can really be a bitch.
Another conversation of note involved a panel I was on about the advancements in technology. In that discussion we touched upon the soul, the spiritual, and I was amused that science (well, one of our panelists) quickly went hands-off, and even went so far as to say that he wouldn’t touch that with a 10-foot pole (or words the effect)…yet “discussions” of physics and technology with an audience member who took issue with some of our panelists assertions were directly and most ardently faced head on.
I get it.
Certain things are more easily and apparently “proven” so “discussions” are considered useful.
But here’s the thing. And I said it in my own closing remarks on this particular panel: I worry about the advancements in technology without the corresponding advancements in ethics. Just because we can do something does not mean we should.
What is happening to our collective moral compass?
We do need to have more spiritual and metaphysical discussions bookending our advancing technologies…we should not shy away from them, ignore them, be unwilling to “touch them with a 10-foot pole”…yet continue to create more and more invasive and frightening advancements in technology that seem to stretch the limits of—hell, ignore—moral and ethical considerations.
MileHiCon48: panel for next year: the ethics of advancing technology.
We need to be more mindful of just what it is we’re allowing into our lives. Yes, the Government and Big Business is going to do what they do behind our backs, but let’s not make it any easier on them. A more aware public, or better informed and “ethically aware” (choose your term) public, is a stronger public that can actually push back on the nano-intrusions into our lives. At least make informed decisions. The unbridled advancements of “bombs and bullets and lasers” and all that involves. We create our reality…technology does not. I’m all for Human advancements…but to create advancing technology just because we can “finally get the numbers right” is not the answer. Is not a right. Let’s get the ethics right, too.
Let’s not destroy ourselves with our own hubris.
A Knot and a Head
Okay, to end on a lighter note!
Oh, and this insane, Eldredge Knot.
I found it most curious that very few actually asked me about “my friend” (“the head” has a name, you know, had you asked: “Becka”). I’d even brought her into the hotel’s “Root 25 Taphouse and Kitchen” restaurant with me, and none of the server staff said a peep about her. And of all the panels I was on, I surely thought someone in the room—or at the very least on a particular panel itself–that of the Military SF Discussion and Readings—would have asked “Hey, dude—what the hell?”
A few brave souls did inquire, however, one notable individual was author C. R. Asay. Christauna, which is her given name, came up to me as I hung out by a table in the hallway between Thunderpass and Bristlecone conference rooms, and asked straight out about what was the deal with the head? As we talked, she chuckled and told me she wasn’t sure what kind of response she was going to get from a guy carrying around a mannequin head! But she thought there must have been “something there” [mentally, we’re talking…] since I was dressed up kinda nice (bright, royal blue Kenneth Cole shirt and gold Jacob Alexander tie) and had this rather intricate tie knot (yea, verily, the mythical Eldredge Knot), and I wasn’t smelly, nor looking at all scraggy or disheveled!
This goes down as the coolest introduction EVER.
Well, here’s the deal: a character in my novel, Voice, sports a gold tie in an
But, by the same token, it was so cool that I didn’t “freak out” anyone at MileHiCon (though a Facebook friend or two felt a little nervous about my sanity/apparent predilections…). Mainly because I wasn‘t the craziest looking thing out there that weekend!
And that was most amusing!
I mean, had I seen someone like me, I would have gone up and asked out of total curiosity! To me, that “presentation” would be a weird “look.” One not in line with a fantasy and science fiction convention (though I’d spotted a cross-dresser or two, here and there, not that there’s anything wrong with that). I’d be compelled to ask. So not being asked was both a pleasure and a curiosity, if you get my reasoning.
I’d actually fit in into the whole Weltanschauung that is MileHiCon!
And though I did get looks—just like every other costumed attendee—no one steered clear of me. And I did get quit a few smiles!
Originally I’d just intended to use the mannequin as a prop at Autograph Alley (not that that made any difference…), but when I thought about it, I thought, this be the perfect opportunity to well…play. And I so rarely do that. “Cut loose,” and do something weird like this—or even dress up on Hallowe’en anymore (I did it once at work in my entire adult life). I just don’t do that kinda thing. Yeah, go ahead, analyze. So, this was the most perfect place and time to do such a thing, and I decided to “let it all hang out”… and just “own it.” My story, that is. It was all for promotion of Voice, my newest release. I’m pretty sure someone will remember “that guy with the head” and Google/DuckDuckGo me to see what’s up w’dat.
So that, readers, was my Evil Plan. There you go, Robin and Kathleen.
I had a blast meeting up with my writer friends…making new ones. I had a great
conversation with Laura Deal and Leonore and David Dvorkin (and thanks, again, Leonore, for all of your support! You are so kind and gracious!). Her and David are also doing some book publishing efforts, and one of them sounds quite interesting is Red Eyes. I liked the look and feel of that book (she had a copy with her). A creepy feeling murder mystery. At this Con I met their son, Daniel, who’s been coming to this Con since he was a wee lad, but he’s “wee” no longer and now sat on some of his own panels. It was cool to meet them all.
How nice and sweet and kind were many I met and talked with! I know I’ve said it a lot already, but it really was pure fun!
There are so many to mention, so forgive me if I don’t specifically call you all out, but know I do value our conversations and friendships.
Angie Hodapp–you are so kind and gracious! Thank you for our conversation and for that “introduction” (be nice if it really pans out)! That was “funny” and well-timed, given our conversation only seconds prior!
C. R. Asay—again, I have to mention, yours was simply the coolest introduction EVER–“I wasn’t sure what kind of response I was going to get from a guy walking around carrying a mannequin head, but…!”
Ed Bryant and John Stith—so good to see and catch up with the both of you!
Bob Williscroft…wow, a fascinating life you’ve lived! Was a pleasure making your acquaintance, sitting on panels with you, and running into you multiple times this weekend!
Kevin Ikenberry—wish you well on your upcoming retirement! Also was a pleasure making your acquaintance, sitting on panels with you, and running into you multiple times this weekend! Wish you all the best on your novel, next year!
Kristi Helvig—I’m sure we’ve met before at another writers conference—you are so familiar (could be a past-life thing…)—but in any case, it was fun talking with you (again)!
And to everyone else I haven’t specifically mentioned (Shannon, the other Aaron, J.T., Mario, Carol, Alicia, Matt, OMG, OMG, vapor lock! Vapor Lock!) thank you for taking time out of your weekend to chat and interact! I wish you all well with all of your efforts!
Thanks to Rose Beetem and ALL the volunteers! Awesome effort!
Man, I’m looking forward to MileHiCon48!
Do try to make my first dedicated book signing for Voice, November 7, from 1 – 3 p.m., at The Bookman, on 3163 W. Colorado Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80904.
Voice is a sexy, emotional thriller about a guy who falls in love with a voice in his head (and there are mannequins…)…but is so much more. It’s about what defines “love”? What defines a “relationship”? How are we all connected? Yeah, I do get metaphysical on your asses, but I also get sexy, uncomfortable, and gritty. Come on, stop by…I can pretty much guarantee you haven’t read anything like this. But it’s not for the easily offended. Just sayin’.
MileHiCon46…or This Blog is Really All About Aaron Michael Ritchey (fpdorchak.wordpress.com)