I went to Millennicon last Saturday for a few hours. We had a bit of trouble getting there, as Kevin confidently did not print out the directions and I forgot to write them out. This year we brought along a couple of people from our gaming group, which was fun. We of course lost each other almost immediately.
Anyway, Millennicon is a small and relaxing con these days, mostly due to a very nice venue and a much more relaxed con committee. I haven’t actually attended the entire convention for a while, though, due to both lack of a ride willing to stay all weekend and lack of energy in the middle of March. (Not that I have any more energy the rest of the year these days.) We stayed a few daytime hours, which was about as long as I really wanted these days and didn’t exhaust me.
I know that sounds that I’m an old lady or something, but I’m not joking. I even got offered tickets to see Liz Carroll that night, and had to refuse from fear of exhaustion. I am tired these days, and I am prone to respiratory illnesses, and I already had a cold and a body part healing from two needle biopsies. I have to be realistic about what I can do, especially when I still have to get to church early Sunday morning.
Still, I’m sorry I dragged my lack of energy into Tom Smith’s concert, as I could tell it worried him. But I had a lot of fun at Mike Resnick’s gossipy talk on the Golden Age sf writers. The weird thing was that I really had to yell for Mr. Resnick to hear me. Since my normal speaking voice tends to carry really well, I really must’ve been half sick!
Anyway, we all went and saw Elizabeth Moon, who’s a very good writer when she sets her mind to it. She doesn’t seem to be quite so good when she’s stressed and depressed as when she’s relaxed (based on bio details she told us versus what books she was writing at those times). Still, any writer who has produced both The Deed of Paksenarrion and The Speed of Dark has not wasted her talents.
Speaking of Paks, it seems that her story was not in fact based on a D&D campaign. It was based on having a campaign running in her home, with her listening to a bunch of kids who had no idea how war really worked. (She’d served as a Marine.) Being a long-time fantasy fan as well, the frustration got her writing. However, Moon did admit to using wargaming techniques to plan her battles — like turning real topographical maps of real nearby places on their sides and using the results for terrain in various bits of battlefield), and rolling minor characters’ survival chances against her battles’ average casualty and kill percentages. (Cracked me up!)
However, the big success of the Q & A was me asking whether Moon had done a lot of research for the futuristic foxhunting in her Hunting Party/Heris Serrano series. Hee! It turned out that Moon had done a lot of riding in her past, but not foxhunting. (We have foxhunting in the US, true, but not in her part of Texas.) However, she had become a HUGE fan of our Mr. Surtees during college. (Comedy! Social satire! Only a few years off from Austen! Honestly, I agree you’ve got to love him….) So she’d re-read, done some more research, and extrapolated from that. (And honestly, although the Serrano books are okay and interesting, I was much more into the riding and foxhunting than anything else. I think most people are.)
Anyway, she extrapolated so convincingly that she inadvertently convinced the Master of the Fitzwilliam (be impressed!) Hounds that she actually was a foxhunter. And got an invitation in the mail.
In a typical fit of writerly depression, she set it aside.
Then, in a fit of Extreme Horse Love, she came to her senses. Of course she was going to accept the invitation. She explained that she was a total novice, didn’t get in much riding anymore, threw herself on the Master’s mercy, and of course was still invited. She then went into training for the six months or so of time she had before going.
She couldn’t find anyplace to get a lot of her hunt equipment until she actually got to England, but when she did go, she found the little store which had everything and was run by the old guy who knew everything and could make everything. Then she went down to visit, and got shown around a place that had been a hunting preserve for the last thousand years and more. In short, she saw an England just like what an American who reads too much would like to see!
However, when she actually went hunting, she found reason to feel grateful to every bad horse she had ever ridden. Due to various snafus, her loaned horse came straight from a horse-dealer, and hadn’t been out of his stall for two weeks — until two minutes before the hunt started! Yes, and this horse was big and strong, too! He sounded exactly like Hercules from Mr. Sponge’s Sporting Tour. So Moon managed to stay on his back and keep up reasonably well, but only at the cost of lots of saddlesoreness during and afterward. Of course, she still thinks of this as just about the most fun she’s ever had on a horse, and one of the great moments of her life. (And by the time she was done telling the story, I think even the anti-hunting types in the audience were convinced that foxhunting was nifty.)
Sometimes you feel envious when you hear stuff like that. I just felt glad for her. I love horses, too, but I have to admit that kind of thing is well beyond me. Heck, it’s well beyond my younger brother, who has done a lot more riding than I have. Kevin was just a solid wall of dropped-jaw impressedness, in fact. So he was very glad he went, and that I asked that question.
However, during the book signing, Kevin gave Moon a biography of military renaissance man and philosopher John Boyd. She was intrigued and started leafing through it right away, which is a great compliment to a giver of books. So Kevin went home very happy.
We finished the evening by going to dinner at Maharajah, back home in Beavercreek over by the mall. Maharajah is a very good South Indian restaurant. It’s family-run, and the place is very relaxing and welcoming. So we often go there after gaming. There are lots of things on the menu that are new to us, so the big danger for our gaming group is ordering too much food! All in all, a good day.