So I’ve been stupidly busy the last little bit, doing various things and sundry. Prepping for the Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con, where I’ll be included in a panel with indie authors Bernard Schaffer, William Vitka and Alexander Maisey. We’ll be talking about independent fiction and publishing. I’m hoping that it’ll be at least a bit of a draw, though we’ll be presenting at the same time as Brandon Routh and Dean Cain. Perhaps we can draw some of the Superman crowd away to hear us talk.
This man knows what’s up.
The big positive thing for me the past few weeks was going with my wife to the University of Maryland for the 2013 Anwar Sadat Lecture for Peace – where, joy of joys, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was speaking. Now I’m not a big-huge fan of going out to see public appearances, but the Dalai Lama is one of the very very few people that I would truck out to see give their opinion on What Needs To Be Done(tm) for the future development of a sane and civil world. And so it was that Comrade Wife and I got up at dumb o’clock (well, dumb for her, usual work schedule for me) and drove through the rain to have His Holiness take us to school.
To say that hearing His Holiness speak was a novel experience would be to say that a duck likes a bath. I don’t know what I was expecting going in; perhaps some kind of mystical experience, some kind of existential revelation. I didn’t get that, though. Instead, I got something far more important: a very powerful affirmation on the potential of humanity for pure goodness and charity. The Dalai Lama does not stand on ceremony, nor does he sugar-coat what he believes. Watching him speak, it was very interesting to see how his calm broke only to deliver a specific, clear emotion – sadness, perhaps, or disappointment, or a stern rebuke – only for that emotion to be swiftly subsumed beneath that calm once more. As a fan of rhetoric and speechcraft, it was a masterful thing to witness. The humility of the ‘simple Buddhist monk’, as the the Dalai Lama refers to himself, was believable even by this cynical soul. I’m a grim sort of guy, as you may know through my work or if you’ve ever spoken to me, but when he called for the total demilitarization of the world within this century, I found myself believing that it could be possible.
Coming away from hearing the Dalai Lama speak, I consider my own beliefs that humanity will survive its own foibles, beyond the genetically enforced mandates of community and self-preservation. Though the virtues of civility, charity, and peace are certainly epitomized in the Dalai Lama, it only highlights for me their presence within every human soul. Enough to make me feel the sunshine through the heavy rain that fell that day. Something for the record books, and definitely something I wanted to experience before I passed. So that’s a nice box ticked off the list.
Also, the University of Maryland has the absolutely worst laid-out and marked campus that I have ever seen, at least for visitors. Holy shit, you guys. I very nearly never found visitor parking. Glad we came in very early.
In other news, REDEYE is trucking along. The review cycle is fairly slow this time around, but the response from reviewers and readers has been wonderfully positive – especially in my depiction of Bobbi January, which I must admit I was absolutely terrified about. So very often, male authors end up reducing their female characters – especially the Strong Female Protagonist(tm) – to caricatures of feminine ideals, and with the respect I have for women I really wanted to avoid the fuck out of that. Looks like I succeeded so far, and for that I am very happy.
I’m working on the final Wonderland novel, the title as of yet undetermined, but I’m also working on a series of novellas that I intend to self-publish in the spaces between major releases. This is being done in lieu of another project, 50,000 words of which I lost when my laptop imploded. The universe, I feel, decided to tell me STOP WRITING THAT in the most traumatic way possible, but I have taken the hint. These new stories will be primarily a series of fantasy tales, being the adventures of what is essentially a sword-and-sorcery version of the superheroine, a sort of catty, cheerfully violent Red Sonja. Lots of black comedy involved (my protagonist has just recently killed a bandit chieftain with a bar of soap) but no chainmail bikinis or cringe-inducing hysterics. Jesus. I’ll be talking more about this as the work proceeds, so I hope you’ll weigh in if it sounds like something that you’re interested in.
Speaking of which, I’m putting in a presentation for Geek Girl Con 2013! I’m submitting a panel that will explore the current state of female characters in science fiction in popular geek media, as written by male and female authors. Ideally, it would be a presentation made by myself and a sort of town-hall discussion with the audience on the subject. It’s obvious that there’s a lot of work to go on bringing women to a state of equality in how they’re depicted in fiction, so it’s my hope that this panel if accepted will bring new ideas to existing authors (or inspire new writers to produce their own fiction!) and continue to bring women away from the sort of poisonous characterization outed and discussed (often hilariously) at such websites as The Hawkeye Initiative and the Geek Feminism Blog. I identify very strongly with feminism, and coming from a background which seemed to belittle and oppress women in every fucking way possible, I want to do my part in beating back a little more darkness if I can.
Speaking of where I’m from, which is southern West Virginia (I would say ‘rural’ but that pretty much sums up 99% of the whole goddamned state so whatever) there’s this nugget of wonder. My brother (or as good as, anyway), James ‘Ogre’ Tate, runs a tattoo parlor in my hometown. On Friday night, he heard a crazy redneck threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend, in the middle of a crowded beauty parlor, and he tried to defuse the situation by escorting the dude out. What did he get for his trouble? FUCKING STABBED. Four and a half units of blood and eighty-odd staples later, he’s doing better and may soon be released from hospital, but this gives you a clear example of what I’m talking about. I can’t tell you how proud I am of him, and how relieved I am that he is going to be all right…and how pleased I am that his assailant was picked up on the same day and now languishes in jail. Best place for him to be, in point of fact; vigilante justice is alive and well in the lands of my youth, and James has always been a popular fixture.
Idiots are everywhere, though. A dude bounced me off the bumper of his car, right out front of my own house. Motherfuckers. Apart from a stiff leg and sore muscles, though, I’ll be quite all right.
It’s been an exciting couple weeks. I’d like it if things toned down a bit, though. Let’s save it for the conference.