eldritchhobbit: (Pumpkin face)
Just a couple of weeks ago I had the very good fortune to be part of A Long-Expected Party 4 at the exquisite Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.

(You can see my photos from the event here and from the last ALEP three years ago here.)


While I was there, I heard some wonderfully spooky ghost stories, several of which revolved around faces seen in the topmost windows of the West Family Wash House (1842), shown below, the building in which I gave my presentations and workshops for the event.


Since then, I’ve indulged in Shaker Ghost Stories from Pleasant Hill, Kentucky by Thomas Freese (2005) and learned some more spooky lore from the place. Here is one of my favorite anecdotes from the book, which is about the Meeting House and told by Bill Bright, a former Pleasant Hill employee:

Since I was a bit bored, I walked over to a spot between the two front doors to sing a little. I was next to a gap in the wall benches, facing the back wall. I started to sing sets of three (triads). Since I had spent plenty of time in high school band, I figured that it’s be a neat exercise to try the acoustics in the large room of the Meeting House.

As I was singing, something appeared in the middle of the benches to my right, on the sister’s side. For lack of a better explanation, it looked like a human form, very similar to the special effect done in Star Trek when they beam up somebody. It seemed to rise up from the floor to my height. At that point, the hair on the right side of my body stood on end, while the left side was not affected. I immediately got cold chills, like I had just walked into a meat locker. I just wanted to get out of there. I left the building immediately…

When I saw Randy [Folger, the music director], I told him about the experience and he simply asked me if I knew what I had been doing. At that point I had no idea. Then Randy asked me to sing as I had been singing in the Meeting House. After I sang for him, Randy explained to me that I had unwittingly been singing the “Angel Shout.” The Angel Shout was a set up notes that were sung like: “Lo…lo…lo…” and were sung in descending thirds. The Angel Shout was supposed to call the Shakers to meeting.  

This photo is from the Shaker graveyard at the village (1811).

eldritchhobbit: (SW/Luke/What You Take With)
My guest scholar talk (from the recent A Long-Expected Party 4 celebration) on the relationship between J.R.R. Tolkien and Star Wars storytelling is now up in full for free here on the latest episode of the StarShipSofa podcast.

If you listen, I hope you enjoy!

eldritchhobbit: (Default)

I’m looking forward to being a literary/scholarly guest this weekend at ConGregate 4/DeepSouthCon 55!

I’ll be on several panels and wearing my moderator hat. Here is my schedule.



5:00pm – 5:50pm: Writing in Multiple Tie-In Universes 

Moderator: Amy H. Sturgis

Guests: Alexandra Christian, Barbara Hambly, Melissa McArthur, Richard C.

Our panelists have written official novels for Star Wars, Star Trek, and Beauty and the Beast, as well as Sherlock Holmes pastiches. Given that they also write a lot of other fiction, the panelists discuss the differences between writing original fiction and writing for pre-existing franchises/worlds.

6:00pm – 6:50pm: Writing Sherlock Holmes and Other Icons

Moderator: Amy H. Sturgis

Guests: Nicole Givens Kurtz, Misty Massey, Melissa McArthur, J. Matthew Saunders

Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Superheroes… What are the challenges with writing these iconic characters? And if you change them, how do you make sure to capture their essence? When writing an iconic character, how do you determine what makes them iconic?  Is it Sherlock Holmes being a detective, or Bond working for MI-6?  What happens if Holmes is a demon, or Bond is set in a fantasy world?


9:30am – 10:20am: Mixing Historical Research with Genre Fiction 

Moderator: Amy H. Sturgis

Guests: Barbara Hambly, Kim Headlee, Tally Johnson, Linda Robertson

Given that historical fiction itself is a demanding genre requiring a lot of effort if one wants to do it right, our panelists discuss the challenges they’ve faced and choices they’ve made in blending historical work with the fantasy and mystery genres.

1:00pm – 1:50pm: Writing from Different Perspectives

Moderator: Amy H. Sturgis

Guests: Samantha Dunaway Bryant, Barbara Hambly, Larry N. Martin, Michael G. Williams

Authors often try to write about protagonists who are different from themselves. Our panelists discuss why they feel it is important to capture these characters’ perspectives; the challenges faced in trying to be authentic, respectful, and sensitive in their portrayal; and what they think about current debates and controversies about the importance of diversity, authenticity, and representation in fiction.

eldritchhobbit: (SF/Exploring space)
I'll shortly be on my way to MidAmeriCon II/the 74th World Science Fiction Convention. If you're attending, I hope you'll say hello!

Below is my schedule. I'm delighted and privileged to be on panels with some stellar folks in the SF community. Each event title links to its official description and list of participants.


Thursday, August 18
2pm: "His Fordship in the Capitol and Big Brother in the Districts: How The Hunger Games' World of Tomorrow Builds on SF's Classic Past"
This is my stand-alone academic presentation, which is part of the Campbell Conference/Academic Track.

Friday, August 19
11am: "Queer Star Wars"
This panel is part of the 40th Anniversary Star Wars Day programming.

Saturday, August 20
10am: "Alienation and Science Fiction"
I am the moderator of this panel.

12pm: "Inspiring the Creativity"
I am the moderator of this panel.

2pm: "Magazine Group Reading: Escape Artists, Inc."

8pm: The Hugo Awards
I am honored to be the official representative of Hugo nominee Tales to Terrify at this year's ceremony.

Sunday, August 21
12pm: "Criticism in Speculative Fiction"

I plan to post updates and photos on my Twitter feed.

Catch you on the flip side!
eldritchhobbit: (DS9/Science Fiction)
I'm very excited about heading off shortly to a convention that never fails to be great fun, ConCarolinas.

This year's planned events look great!

I intend to post updates from the con on my Twitter feed.

Here is the schedule of my events at the con:

3pm: "Star Wars Literature: New Canon and Legends" (I'm moderating this panel.)
5:30pm: "Star Trek and Diversity" (I'm moderating this panel.)

12:30pm: "Fifty Years of Star Trek"
2:00pm: "Where's Rey?"
6:30pm: "We Are SHERLOCKed!" (I'm moderating this panel.)

1pm: "Disney-Era Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One" (I'm moderating this panel.)
eldritchhobbit: (Sherlock/John and tea)
I'm very excited about heading off shortly to a truly fantastic convention, RavenCon. This year's schedule looks terrific! I'm looking forward to seeing some of you there.

I plan to post updates from the con on my Twitter feed.

Here is the schedule of my events at the con:

5pm: "Sherlock Holmes and Science Fiction" (This is my solo presentation.)
7pm: Opening Ceremonies

11am: "Star Wars Literature: New Canon and Legends" (I'm moderating this panel.)
2pm: "Going Where No Man Has Gone Before: Roddenberry's Star Trek vs. Abrams' Star Trek" (I'm moderating this panel.)
5pm: "Podcasting"
eldritchhobbit: (Star Wars/No Try)
It's official! I'll be a guest speaker/program participant at the following science fiction cons this spring/summer: RavenCon, ConCarolinas, and MidAmeriCon II/The 74th Worldcon.

My most recent "Looking Back on Genre History" segment is my third (and last for now) discussion of Star Wars inspirations. This is a stand-alone segment discussing the inspirations behind the Republic's transformation into the Empire, and you can find it here on Episode 419 of StarShipSofa. (My two-part look into the science fictional and historical inspirations behind the Jedi of Star Wars include Part 1 here and Part 2 here.) This is my 80th "Looking Back" segment! If you listen, I hope you enjoy!

eldritchhobbit: (Lovecraftian)
Thanks to everyone who helped make SofaCON 2 a most amazing experience. I had an absolutely brilliant time with my fellow Sofanauts.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all who celebrate!

And now, my friends, the stars are right for announcing my online summer course for Mythgard Institute:
"'Literary Copernicus': The Cosmic Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft"

In tales such as “The Call of Cthulhu” and At the Mountains of Madness, H.P. Lovecraft – the disciple of Poe and the champion of the Weird – pioneered a new kind of fiction. Fueled by an astronomer’s insights and an antiquarian’s aesthetic, Lovecraft turned his readers’ focus “from man and his little world and his gods, to the stars and the black and unplumbed gulfs of intergalactic space,” leading author and critic Fritz Leiber, Jr. to dub him “A Literary Copernicus.” More than seventy-five years after Lovecraft’s death, his path-breaking work is more popular and influential than ever. Join me as I explore Lovecraft’s stories and the meaning behind them, the shared universe of his mythos, and the lasting impact of his cosmic vision on the contemporary landscapes of literature and popular culture.

Registration is open! More information is here.

The class promo is here.

eldritchhobbit: (A is for Amy)
Of possible interest!

* Critical Insights: The Hunger Games is a volume in a Grey House literature reference series. The target audience is undergraduate and advanced high school students seeking deeper insight into the primary work(s) and literary study in general. The essays will be divided into two sections: Critical Contexts, consisting of essays relevant to the cultural and historical context of the primary work(s), and Critical Readings, consisting of essays offering various interpretations of the work(s). More information is available here.

* Here is the Lovecraftian Call for Abstracts for this year's Dr. Henry Armitage Memorial Scholarship Symposium (previously the Emerging Scholarship Symposium) at NecronomiCon in Providence. In 2013, this symposium was one of the highlights of the convention, and we're excited to bring it back this year, bigger and better. Deadline for submission is May 23. All accepted presenters will receive a free convention pass and access to a special reception for guests. However, space is limited, so all submissions will undergo a review process. For the full CFA and more details, go here. (Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] ankh_hpl!)
eldritchhobbit: (Holmes/Paget)
Here's some great news: "The Man in the High Castle, Amazon's Biggest Pilot Ever, Greenlit for a Full Series."

And here's more great news: "Lost Sherlock Holmes Story Discovered in Man's Attic." (Then again, the story's authorship is disputed. Nonetheless, this is a very interesting find!)

Recreation of the Sitting Room in 221b Baker Street

In addition, I hope you'll be joining us online on March 14-15 for SofaCON 2, a weekend of virtual, live, interactive SF convention goodness. Tickets are now available and are expected to sell out this weekend.

Here's the lineup. Please note that the schedule is listed in London time, and you may need to adjust for your time zone.

SATURDAY, March 14 (Tickets are here.)

5:00 PM - Welcome
6:00 PM - Cheryl Morgan in Conversation with Joe Haldeman
7:00 PM - Lightspeed Magazine panel
8:00 PM - Kim Stanley Robinson talks to Diane Severson
9:15 PM - Cyberpunk Panel - Paul Di Filippo talks to Bruce Bethke, Pat Cadigan, Marc Laidlaw
10:00 PM - SofaQuiz featuring Geek's Guide To The Galaxy vs. Stupefying Stories

SUNDAY, March 15 (Tickets are here.)

5:00 PM - "Women Destroy Science Fiction" panel
6:00 PM - Dr. Amy H. Sturgis in Conversation with Guest of Honour David Brin
7:00 PM - Gareth Powell reading from Ack Ack Macaque
7:30 PM - "Sherlock Holmes and Science Fiction" with Dr. Amy H. Sturgis
8.30 PM - World Science Fiction panel featuring Rajan Khanna and Aliette de Bodard
9:30 PM - The British Empire panel - Dave Robinson talks to Adam Roberts and Peter F. Hamilton
eldritchhobbit: (Tori/I was here)
It's time for one of those end-of-the-year stocktaking posts. This is more for my benefit than anything else. What have I accomplished this year?

My 2014... )
eldritchhobbit: (SF/Weird Tales)
Remember the good old days of 2013? Back then, no matter where you were in the world, you could join with fellow science fiction fans for a day of talks, interviews, readings, trivia, and fellowship. Back in 2013, StarShipSofa sponsored its first-ever international, interactive SofaCON. That was a great day, wasn't it?

Wait a minute. We're science fiction fans. We look AHEAD, not BEHIND.

And that's appropriate, because the good old days are getting even better.

Coming in 2015, StarShipSofa will bring you not one day but two: two days of fantastic talks, interviews, readings, trivia, and fellowship with some of the most stellar names in the SF scene. That's right, SofaCON is back: twice as long and twice as brilliant, with twice the SF attitude. From the comfort of your own home anywhere on Earth (and possibly other planets as well), you can be a part of the most innovative and exciting convention there is with an unbeatable guest list and schedule. Guests include David Brin, Charlie Stross, Cheryl Morgan, Joe Haldeman, Kim Stanley Robinson, Diane Severson, Paul Di Filippo, Bruce Bethke, Pat Cadigan, Marc Laidlaw, Rajan Khanna, Aliette de Bodard, Dave Robinson, Adam Roberts, Peter F. Hamilton, and others - including Yours Truly.


We hope you'll mark your calendars for March 14 & 15 and plan to join us online for SofaCON 2!
eldritchhobbit: (Halloween)
Are you ready to get this party started? I am!

I'd like to begin by sharing some photos I took last week. The historic Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill in Kentucky is the country's largest restored Shaker community, and its gorgeous grounds had everything needed to put me in the Halloween mood. Pumpkins? Check. Cornstalks? Check. Black cat? Check. Hay-bale spider? Check. (Click the photos for larger versions.)

Taken at the Shaker Village during A Long-Expected Party 3 in 2014 Taken at the Shaker Village during A Long-Expected Party 3 in 2014

"The Ghost of a Flower" by Anonymous

"You're what?" asked the common or garden spook
Of a stranger at midnight's hour.
And the shade replied with a graceful glide,
"Why, I'm the ghost of a flower."

"The ghost of a flower?" said the old-time spook;
"That's a brand-new one on me;
I never supposed a flower had a ghost,
Though I've seen the shade of a tree."

The Shaker graveyard was beautifully situated at the top of a hill.

Taken at the Shaker Village during A Long-Expected Party 3 in 2014 Taken at the Shaker Village during A Long-Expected Party 3 in 2014

The rest of my photos from the trip are here.

Now let's set the tone for the month with some chilling mood music. I just discovered violinist Samantha Gillogly last week at A Long-Expected Party 3, where I heard her play live and bought her CD. She's absolutely fantastic. Here is Samantha Gillogly with "Danse Macabre."

eldritchhobbit: (LOTR/Boromir/Life is Good)
A Long-Expected Party 3 was a fantastic experience I'll never forget: reuniting with old friends and making new ones, enjoying brilliant music and costumes and food (enough to satisfy the most gluttonous hobbit!), and endless discussions with my colleagues and fellow attendees. I was delighted by the attendance and participation at my talks. The final night, the recreation of the Baggins birthday party under the stars and the trees, was truly magical.

Taken at the Shaker Village during A Long-Expected Party 3 in 2014

Taken at the Shaker Village during A Long-Expected Party 3 in 2014

Thanks to everyone who voted in my poll about October. September is almost over! Starting tomorrow, please join me for a month of daily posts as I celebrate the spirit of Halloween. If you know of anyone who would enjoy these posts, please pass along the word. Thank you very much!

If you'd like to see the posts from past years' countdowns to Halloween, go here.

You may want to check out other blogs that likewise are celebrating Halloween all October long. The wonderful Countdown to Halloween 2014 is a clearinghouse site that links to this and other blogs with similar month-long post-a-thons.

eldritchhobbit: (LOTR/Bilbo/Not at Home)
On this day ten years ago, thanks to encouragement from dear [livejournal.com profile] thrihyrne, I started this blog. Ten years! How time flies... Thanks to all of you who have shared this space with me and touched my life in such wonderful ways. {{{GROUP HUG!!!}}}

A Long Expected Party 3

I am off to the Shire for A Long-Expected Party 3: Ever On and On. I'll catch you on the flip side. Have fun, my friends!

Here's my speaking schedule for A Long-Expected Party. )
eldritchhobbit: (Autumn)
It's beginning to feel like autumn around here. Pumpkin lattes, anyone? (They're heeeeeere!)

Virginia's ears perk up every time she hears the honking of the migrating geese as they fly overhead. I managed a couple of photos during our morning walk today.

Migrating geese Migrating geese

I've just accepted lovely invitations to be Scholar Guest of Honor at Mythmoot III: Ever On (Baltimore, Maryland) and an Author Guest at ConCarolinas (Charlotte, North Carolina) in 2015. It's hard to believe, but the new year will be here before we know it!

I hope you're enjoying a great day.

Departing summer hath assumed
An aspect tenderly illumed,
The gentlest look of spring;
That calls from yonder leafy shade
Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,
A timely carolling.
- William Wordsworth, "September"
eldritchhobbit: (SF/Space travel)
I had a marvelous time at this year's Worldcon (which, the last I heard, was in the running to be the largest Worldcon in the event's 72-year-history with well over 10,500 attendees).

Some of the highlights of the con for me were the following.

- Meeting in person several of the StarShipSofa crew with whom I've worked for the last six plus years, including Tony C. Smith, Diane Severson Mori, Steve Bickle, and others, as well as many of our long-term listeners.

- Attending the 1939 Retro Hugo Awards Ceremony, which was presented like a 1939 radio broadcast, complete with a live band, ads, and breaks for newsflashes about approaching Martians. (Fortunately for us, the "con crud" killed the invaders before they penetrated the ExCel Centre where the ceremony was being held.) It was a loving extended tribute to Orson Welles' adaptation of The War of the Worlds, beautifully realized. My friend Diane Severson Mori, who was representing Amazing Stories editor Raymond Palmer (who was nominated for Best Editor), kindly invited me to be her "plus one," so I also got to see the other representatives at the pre-awards reception and enjoy the ceremony from choice seating. It was moving for me to see classic works I've loved and taught honored in this way.

- Officiating at the Prometheus Awards ceremony, where it was my privilege to present "Best Novel" awards to Cory Doctorow (for Homeland) and Ramez Naam (for Nexus), both of whom gave stirring speeches, and a "Special Award" to the representative of Leslie Fish (for her novella “Tower of Horses” and her related filk song, "The Horsetamer’s Daughter"), as well as to accept on behalf of Lois McMaster Bujold the "Hall of Fame" honor for her novel Falling Free.

- Giving my two talks, "Sherlock Holmes and Science Fiction" and "Millennials and Worlds Gone Wrong: These Aren't Your Grandparents' YA Dystopias." I'm grateful to A.J. Hall for her wonderful (and hilarious) introduction to my Holmes talk, and to everyone who attended - even those several dozen who were turned away after the doors were closed due to overcrowding. (What a turnout! I was amazed.) I'm also grateful to the many who came to my YA dystopias talk and stayed with me, contributing great comments and questions, even though the tech specialists were unable to get my PowerPoint up and running. (So it goes...)

- Participating in stimulating and thought-provoking panels. It was great fun to sit side-by-side and converse with some truly gifted authors, scholars, and journalists. I particularly enjoyed the "Young Adult SF on the Big Screen" panel, where we had just the right balance of agreement and disagreement to make for a vigorous and fruitful discussion. I also attended several excellent panels as an audience member. Two of the standout examples were "My Beautiful Dystopia" (with a stellar panel of authors including the always-awesome Peadar O'Guilin) and "Reluctant, or Just Not Interested?," a panel about reluctant readers, the education system, and publishing, which featured more terrific guests (including Gray Rinehart, whose appearances are always "must sees").

Here's my obligatory selfie with my Loncon 3 badge, taken just before the Retro-Hugo Awards ceremony, and a photo of the ExCeL Centre at the Docklands, where the con was held.

Here I am before the Retro-Hugo Awards.The ExCeL Centre in London in 2014

Click here for my photos from Loncon 3/Worldcon, including close-up pictures from the "50 Photos for 50 Years of Doctor Who," "A Brief History of Worldcon," and "The Destruction of London" special exhibits.

My next con appearance is in September at A Long-Expected Party. At this point I'm not sure about next year's Worldcon, but I know I will be attending MidAmeriCon II/Worldcon in 2016.
eldritchhobbit: (Cabin Pressure/Airport)
I'm off to London for research and adventure before Loncon 3/Worldcon begins. I'll catch you on the flip side, my friends!

Here is my updated Worldcon schedule. )

eldritchhobbit: (Cabin Pressure/Dames and Horses)
It's official! I've happily accepted the position of Department Chair of Literature and Language at Signum University. Speaking of which, registration is open for my online "Science Fiction, Part I" course for Fall 2014 at Mythgard Institute at Signum University.

I'm getting ready to head out for a quick trip south to offer guest lectures on intellectual history and The Hunger Games, Serenity, and YA dystopian fiction. (It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it.) Here is a quick look at my upcoming speaking schedule.

Science Fiction, Part 1 at Mythgard Institute

Where I Will Be Speaking When

"Life Is Improv" Seminar at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia

Loncon 3/the 72nd Worldcon in London, UK
Here is my updated schedule. )

A Long-Expected Party 3 in Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

A Long Expected Party 3


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