On Shore Leave 2008

Last weekend was Shore Leave. And after a week, I think I’m finally ready to talk about it. So, let me put Elbow in the stereo, and I’ll tell you about it.

It’s not that I had anything to hide; it’s that this was a pretty jam-packed week at work, and the last thing I wanted to do was to cobble together my thoughts on the convention. πŸ˜‰


Friday I had to work. No way around that. And by mid-afternoon, my brain was well and truly ready for the convention to begin. I would get something to proof, I’d look at it, and my eyes would go glassy as I was thinking of the excitement at Shore Leave that was in the offing.

There were some interesting things going on at Shore Leave on Friday — like the premiere of Star Trek: Phase II‘s “Blood and Fire” — which I didn’t go to. Instead, the early evening was spend relaxing in the bar (including Kevin Dilmore’s comment on the relationship between the TARDIS and female anatomy), and then a little later came the Pocket Books presentation, which was marred by technical glitches.

Afterward was the annual Meet the Pros event where writers sit around, autograph books, and mug for the camera. Well, maybe not the latter. Unlike past years, Meet the Pros was not held entirely in the hallway outside the ballrooms — the Baltimore County Fire Marshall said, “No, you can’t hold a big event like that in the hallyway, because it’s a fire hazard.” Thus, part of the event was in the hallway, and part was in the ballroom.

My autograph table was myself, Nea Dodson, Peter David, and Kathleen David. I saw how the table was set up initially — Peter was in the middle, with myself on one end and Nea on the other — and I decided to move names around. Thus, Nea took one end, I sat next to Nea, Kathleen was next to me, and Peter was at the far end. Reason? Based on previous years, Peter draws a massive autograph line, and I didn’t want that right in front of me. Traffic control, basically, and it worked out fantastically well.

In total, I signed one copy of No Limits, one copy of Grand Designs, four copies of Constellations, and maybe thirty copies of The Quality of Leadership. A couple of people stopped to tell me how much my story, “Make-Believe,” in Constellations meant to them.

I met a couple of people that I’d met online. One, MJ, told me that she was mad at me because “Make-Believe” made her cry.

My inscription in The Quality of Leadership was some variant of “I really hate philosophy now.” Sometimes it would be “I so hate philosophy.” Occasionally, “I fucking hate philosophy.” One book got “God damn sodomite Greek porn stars.” (No, I don’t know what that means, either.) And my favorite may have been, “It’s a bonkers story because I’m a bonkers kind of guy, and every word is true.” (Which is actually true — the cosmology of “Spindle” is accurate for what was believed at the time, and Aristotle really did write a lost dialogue called “Eudemus,” which was about the nature of the soul.)

I got my own copy of The Quality of Leadership autographed by the various authors. I also got several other books autographed — Jim Swallow autographed Peacemaker (his tenth Doctor/Martha Doctor Who western) and Short Trips: Dalek Empire (which featured his story, “Museum Piece,” which I thought was a sharp piece of work, and I was happy to tell him how impressed with it I was). I also got Aaron Rosenberg’s autograph on one of his WarCraft novels, and a friend of mine autographed his most recent book for another friend of mine (for which I’m being vague, on the chance she’s reading this).

The one problem with a mass autographing like this is that, by the time all is said and done, I can’t sign my name accurately. My name takes on weird Shakespearean spellings, with random and/or dropped letters. Allyn’s signature — never the same twice. πŸ™‚

(Also, on the chance that Ross is reading this — your favorite Borders clerk was manning the book table Friday night, the only time I saw her this weekend. No blue hair this year, and no Keira Knightley costume from Pirates 3, either. She actually looked… normal.)

Afterward, the bar beckoned. And it was pretty well full. I had a couple of Guinnesses, and all was good with the world. Because there’s nothing better than having a Guinness in the bar with friends.

Also, I discovered that there is someone in the world who appreciates — no, getsAlien 3 as much as I do. Alien 3, as I am so fond of repeating, is the most nihilistic film Hollywood has ever produced.


Saturday began, as many Shore Leave mornings do, with brunch in the hotel restaurant. I love the omelettes they make. I had one with tomato, onion, ham, and cheese. It was yummy goodness. I’m getting hungry now just thinking about it. πŸ˜‰

I attended a couple of random panels in the morning on the future of Star Trek: The Next Generation novels and the Sky’s the Limit anthology from last year. I also went in search of lunch — there was a Panera Bread across the street, and also a liquor store — and then I scoped out the Dealer’s Room.

I was looking for something specific in the Dealer’s Room — I hoped that one of the vendors would have had a copy of Doctor Who Magazine #396, the issue that reviews The Quality of Leadership. (None did; I eventually found the magazine at Borders locally on Wednesday.) It bugs me every year how rampant the video piracy is. In general, there wasn’t as much being pirated that’s currently available commercially as in years past, but the sheer number of vendors selling bootleg DVDs of Doctor Who, Torchwood and Sarah Jane was bothersome, as that’s all stuff that’s going to be available commercially in just a few months.

Finally, we had the Doctor Who: The Quality of Leadership panel, which lasted two hours, much of which was spent on random Who discussion. The depressing thing about the panel was to learn who was to have written the follow-up to “The Scream of the Shalka.” (I thought that “Shalka” was only adequate, but I liked the Richard E. Grant Doctor a great deal. What might have been…)

Afterwards, a nap. Because I needed a nap. Naps at conventions are good things.

The Masquerade was mildly entertaining. There weren’t a lot of entries this year, maybe twenty. Nothing really stood out for me, except for the “WhoHarmony” dating skit. (And there was an impressive looking sixth Doctor costume in the skit.)

And then, the bar. Because days at Shore Leave end, obviously, with the bar.

Fortunately, no crappy filk bands in the bar this year. And no crappy house band, either. Thus, no heckling was required, as it was last year.

Based on the Masquerade, I’d have pegged Shore Leave’s attendence as being up this year over the past few years. But based on the bar Saturday night — which was virtually deserted as compared to Friday night — it seemed down.


Sunday was panel day, as I did three panels. Okay, more like I sat on three panels. I feel like I didn’t get a lot in edgewise. πŸ™‚

First up was a general Doctor Who panel, for which I don’t remember a great deal. We covered Torchwood and Sarah Jane as well.

Then, “Comics to Film.” This panel started out well, and then about halfway through we stopped talking about anything specific. We sort of stalled out around Incredible Hulk and Wanted; did The Dark Knight even get a mention as something coming up? Nevertheless, it was a fun panel to be on — panelists included Bob Greenberger (former DC Comics editor), Glenn Hauman (ComicMix guru), Dave Galanter (proprietor of ComicBoards, a BBS devoted to comics), and Kevin Dilmore (all-around raconteur). With a panel of heavyweights like that, no wonder I didn’t get a word in. πŸ˜‰

Afterward, I went and made some purchases in the Dealer’s Room. First, I bought the Horton Hears Cthulhu t-shirt. Then, I bought some old Doctor Who fanzines. (In particular, one was the first issue of Jelly Baby Chronicles, which had the first chapter of Peter David’s The TARDIS at Pooh Corner, another Who/Pooh crossover by a different author, and a Peter David story that was a Whovian variant on the famous Star Trek fanfic story, “Visit to a Weird Planet.”)

Then, I caught the last half of the “Farewell to the Starfleet Corps of Engineers” panel. A panel which was notable for having as many panelists and SCE authors in attendence as it did audience.

Finally, in the early-afternoon, I crashed the “Morality in Doctor Who” panel. I found a role on that panel — I was the person who could pull out random continuity points from the forty-five year history of Doctor Who and make it relevant to whatever was being talked about. Also, I got into the discussion on the use of Retcon in Torchwood. (For readers unfamiliar with Torchwood and who know the word in its usual context, Retcon is a drug used by Torchwood to remove memories.) In particular, I had some insights into Gwen’s use of Retcon so that she could confess her affair with Owen to Rhys; she could use the Retcon to make a confession and salve her conscience, and then once that was done and Rhys forgot the confession due to Retcon doping, she couldn’t confess again as she had lost the emotional authenticity. Which, when you think about it, makes Gwen look really bad; she’s having her cake and eating it, too.

At that point, Shore Leave was essentially done for two hours, until Mystery Trekkie Theater. So, I sat in the lounge, read my fanzines, and caught pieces of Gryphon, a really shitty looking original Sci-Fi Channel movie.

Also, I had a long conversation with someone who had a copy of The Quality of Leadership. I noticed her reading it, and I said to her, “Did I sign that?” And she was, I kid you not, reading my story at that very moment. So naturally she had questions about how I wrote the story. We had a good conversation, and then it was time for Mystery Trekkie.

This opened with a song-and-dance number by George Takei. I could have gone my entire life being happy, but then I had to see George Takei singing a Patsy Kline country-western song, and now that image is seared into my memory.

Peter David, Bob Greenberger, and Keith DeCandido (substituting for Mike Friedman) riffed on the original series episode, “Catspaw.” I was, honestly, a little bored by it. It’s a boring episode to start with, and there’s not a lot of material to riff on. They gave it a good try, though.

And that brought Shore Leave 2008 to a close. πŸ™‚

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One thought on “On Shore Leave 2008

  1. Next time you are on a panel that says “if you just want a copy of the book, raise your hand” DO NOT keep passing over them.

    It makes you look like a bunch of a-holes, and some people just say frak it and get their copy online – without your vain signature.

    My husband needed to take his medication, but wanted your book and raised his hand many, many times during your panel on the q of l and CONSTANTLY – to the need of leaving the room – he ended up not being able to purchase your book right then.

    I know a bunch of authors, and none of them are as callus as you creeps. Being around the NESFA people does that to you.

    Next time, let the guy who WANTS YOUR BOOK be the one who can JUST GET YOUR BOOK.

    Just be a flipping leader and say “let the guy get his book so he can leave”.

    … and yes, he likes the book.

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