Ad Astra 2012

     I had a book launch at Ad Astra 2012, Friday evening, for my new novel, Nukekubi. We set up the suite along a paranormal theme in keeping with the book. It looked good and had a spooky but fun atmosphere. There were lots of decorations, posters, nukekubi heads, teeth, creepy, fun and mystic theme music, short readings, lots of food, snacks and drinks, including various types of coffee and tea.

     3 panels, book launch with readings and book signing.

  • End Time for 2012 Stories? Saturday 12 pm
    The end of Mayan Calendar has given rise to several pseudo-scientific theories, books, films and other media depicting and predicting the end of the world. What is the attraction to these beliefs and why do superstitions about 2012 persist? Will fictional stories built around or inspired by these theories have any value in 2013?
    Marie Bilodeau, Timothy Carter, Miriam Harrison, Stephen B. Pearl.

  • Paranormal Romance or Urban Fantasy Saturday 6 pm
    You got romance in my fantasy! You got fantasy in my romance! How do you distinguish between urban fantasy and paranormal romance?
    Karen Dales, Stephen B. Pearl, Peter Halasz.

  • Ghost Stories from Around the World Sunday 10 am
    Many different cultures have stories about ghosts. Learn about some of the different ghost stories of various countries and cultures.
    Elizabeth Hirst, Stephen B. Pearl.

Ad Astra 2011, Number 30

     6 panels, reading, book signing.

     My blog has the details about my activities at Ad Astra 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I spent most of my time in the dealer's room, selling my books, and on panels, discussed below.

     Before the dealer's room even officially opened I had the first of my panels.

  • Flap you bugger, flap! Friday 5 pm
    From Pegasus through the dragons of Pern mankind has dreamed of a flying steed. What are the potential up sides and drawbacks of this mode of transportation?
    Stephen B. Pearl (m), Jana Paniccia, Karen Wehrstein.

    This was fun, but not well attended. Much was said about Dragons in general. Sadly physics and aerodynamics don't really bear out a flying steed on Earth, though the possibility of one on another world with lower gravity and a higher atmospheric pressure still intrigues. Of course PSI dragons like in the Dragon Riders of Pern books might still make sense.

  • How Would You Survive an Apocalypse? Friday 10 pm
    Stephen B. Pearl (m), Don Shears, Karina Sumner-Smith

    This was fun and had a huge turnout. We discussed how we'd prepare for a disaster and the key elements. The funniest bit was when Don and I started pulling handy little items that we kept close out of our clothing. I had my vest, so I had my micro first aid kit. I'd remembered to put on pants ;-) so I had my utility knife and other toys. One of Don's toys was a great, sparking tool for starting fires. I've got to get me one of them. The audience were a hoot as their eyes just kept getting bigger. I have to wonder if they were thinking, 'what do these guys know that I don't?' It was fun. We also discussed basic skills like fire building, the advantages and disadvantages of isolationism and what a good balance was. In the end it more or less came down to the fighting chance scenario. You can't be prepared for everything but there are simple ways to improve your odds of survival.

  • Sex Scenes Friday 11 pm
    Cheap thrills, plot device, realistic portrayal, offensive smut, sex scenes can be all of these things and many more. Authors read (5 minute maximum) and analyse erotic passages from their own fiction discussing the purpose of the scene and the functions it serves in the work as a whole. Persons must be eighteen or older to attend this panel.
    Stephen B. Pearl (m), Sephera Giron, Michael Rowe, Sarah Zettel, Claude Lalumiere.

    This started with a chuckle as Michael told me I had to move because the new panel was coming in and I answered, "I know, I'm moderating it." The audience nearly filled the room and weren't all weird guys wearing trench coats either. It was interesting to hear what other people thought about their sex scenes and the work they did. In the end the idea that a sex scene is an action scene and needs to be treated with the same reasoning and respect seems to have prevailed. Just when I start to think I'm a bit extreme somebody pulls out two zombies having sex in a mud pit.

  • Book Signings Saturday 12 pm
    How to present yourself. Preparation. Ways to succeed. Dealing with store managers and staff and the all important bathroom break. Horror Stories, success stories and would anybody like an autograph?
    Stephen B. Pearl (m), Timothy Carter.

    Tim and I kicked it back and forth telling war stories and giving hints about how to get book signings and how to make the most of them. The audience was small but appreciative and engaged. Over all, a pleasant panel.

  • Reading: Stephen B. Pearl Sunday 11 am

  • My God They're Slamming You Again Sunday 12 pm
    Minority religions worship many gods that most consider myths. How much sensitivity is appropriate to show in using these figures in fiction? Are the gods of another fair game for slander or is it fair to portray them as in the myths or better to avoid them entirely?
    Stephen B. Pearl, Derwin Mak, Moira Scott.

    This went well and reviewed some of the shows that were really insulting to various religious groups as well as acknowledging those that have tried to be fair and are deserving of praise. The most telling statement was that in a vacuum of information people believe what they see on television. That and that the producers of TV don't care about a relatively small group of people, if they can milk the majority for cash. Over all, a very good panel with a simple message. Be honest about people and if you don't know, crack a book.

  • I'm Very Flattered, But Sunday 1 pm
    The challenge of writing characters and scenes that reflect a sexuality other than your own. Showing proper respect, author comfort zone, understanding the other, fear of inadvertently offending and or giving real people the wrong impression. A discussion of these and other factors.
    Stephen B. Pearl (m), Sephera Giron, Michael Rowe, Gemma Files.

    This was another panel about tolerance and respect. It was generally agreed that getting the emotion and personal dynamics right, for a sexuality not one's own, was the difficult part. Also, that there is a tendency for heterosexual writers (such as myself) to try to superimpose a heterosexual dynamic on homosexual characters and that this comes off as false. (Who knew)? Oh and an added bit of stupidity, apparently the proper English term, homosexual, is now only acceptable in scholarly works. If you know my view that proper English must be the safe fall back from political correctness, you can guess how I feel about that one. If I offend someone using the proper English term, it's their problem! English is a beautiful expressive language and this PC BS is destroying it. Grumble, Rant, grumble. Wiping the rabid foam from my mouth now.
    It was a good panel with some good points.

zombie - horror
Guesome zombie

zombie - horror
Zombie - need a hand?

Ad Astra 2010

     6 panels, reading, book signing.

     I have written in my blog about my fun and experiences at Ad Astra 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Below are some photos I took at the convention. I gave an author reading of the first chapter of Tinker's Plague and the discussion panels that I was a panelist on, with comments in my blog, were:

  • Disasters and Apocalypses
    All the ways our civilization could perish, and the best ways to avoid it or to minimize the damage -- with comparisons to how it has been treated in SF.
    Panelists: Stephen B. Pearl, Karina Sumner-Smith, Jason Bourget. (Tinker's Plague being post-apocalypse, this was a good match.)

  • The Electric/Alternative Car
    Because of the price of gas people want a cheap alternative to gas guzzlers. Will these alternative cars really take off?
    Panelists: Hayden Trenholm, Al Katerinsky, Stephen B. Pearl. (An area of long term interest for me.)

  • The Energy Mosaic
    Why We Don't Need to Freeze in the Dark An examination of sustainable energy technologies, from solar panels to methane composting sewage-treatment plants, and the parts they can play in saving our society.
    Panelists: Hayden Trenholm, Al Katerinsky, Gillian Clinton, Don Shears, Stephen B. Pearl. (Another area of long interest to me.)

  • Launch Systems
    Gene Roddenberry conceived the transporter because he needed a way of getting his spacemen on and off the planets they visited. Given that the first step in going to the stars is getting off the Earth, how can this be done cheaply, safely and effectively?
    Panelists: Paul Roberts (m) Eric Choi, Gillian Clinton, Don Shears, Stephen B. Pearl.

  • Romance or Porn?
    At what point does romantic fiction become pornography? The number of sex scenes? The emphasis? The tastefulness of the writing -- but how do you define a taste?
    Panelists: Kelley Armstrong, Stephen B. Pearl. (I should know about this too, as ... yes you guessed it, I write this too.)

  • Sex Bots
    Oh those sexy robots that look like us and function too. From Red Dwarf to Star Trek we've all seen them. Now that companies are producing primitive sex bots that can have a basic conversation as well as lay there and think about their shopping list what are the implications of this technology in fiction and the real world? Why date when you've already got a sure thing? Participants in this panel should be 18 or over.
    Panelists: Stephen B. Pearl (m), Rick Wilbur.
steam punk - science fiction
Steam punk

red blur - author autograph signing
Red blur - convention organizer, never seemed to stop moving
Star Wars - science fantasy
Star Wars in Toronto?

Star Wars - science fantasy
OK! Definately Star Wars in Toronto.