Saturday, June 8, 2013

PHXCC 2013 Report: Panel Potpourri

Here are mini-reports on a jumble of some of the other panels I attended:

The Unfettered Panel: New Tales by Masters of Fantasy

This panel focused on the upcoming fantasy anthology, Unfettered. The anthology’s editor, Shawn Speakman, was present, along with 4 other authors who contributed to it (Terry Brooks, Brandon Sanderson, Kevin Hearne, and Peter Orullian). The story behind the anthology is that Shawn Speakman was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma a couple years ago. As is often the case with writers, he had no health insurance, and over the course of his treatment has incurred a massive medical debt. This isn’t really the place for me to get on my personal soapbox about health insurance, but it’s kind of ridiculous, right? Shawn is a member of the SFF community and he runs Terry Brooks’ Shannara website (I believe), so when Terry heard about what was going on he offered to donate a short story to help cover some of those medical bills, and suggested that Shawn might ask some of his other author friends to do the same.

And a good suggestion it was! There are a total of 23 stories in the anthology, with the proceeds going to help defray the medical costs accrued by Shawn’s treatment and also to help author Dave Wolverton, whose son was in a terrible accident and is experiencing the same problems with healthcare costs. Shawn talked a little bit about the story behind the book, and then he and the other panelists discussed their stories and how cool it is that the SFF author community is able to come together to support one of their own. There was a special preview of the anthology containing the stories of the 5 panelists on sale at the convention, with the full anthology available for order here and shipping at the end of June.

I found it was very touching that the SFF community is so supportive of its own when they come up against tough times. You can read more about the anthology here on, and they also have articles about the stories from the preview.

The Awesome Hour with Wil Wheaton

Not strictly book- or author-related, but I felt it was awesome enough that it needed to be mentioned. Wil Wheaton, actor, author, and all-around famous geek, did basically a stand-up set in the biggest auditorium at the convention center on Friday night. It cost $10 extra to attend, and it was completely worth it. He was hilarious, and also so kind and genuine. I won’t try to recap his jokes and stories here, but I do have an audio recording and I’m sure there’s video floating around the internet. After the comedy portion of the evening, he spent some time answering questions. I had wanted to ask him about what it was like to record the audio book for Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, but did not get the chance. Next year! If you ever get the chance to see him, I would completely recommend it, and also to check out his Geek & Sundry show, Tabletop. I hadn’t heard of it until that night, and I just recently watched an episode—basically it’s Wil Wheaton playing various tabletop games with friends and famous people. Interesting and entertaining! :D

Brandon Sanderson Spotlight Panel

On Saturday I attended another Branderson panel, this time one not focused specifically on the Wheel of Time. WoT did come up (I remember a fan thanking him whole-heartedly for completing the series…awww), but he also talked about his own series and books and projects and things. He read us the prologue of his newly-released debut YA novel, The Rithmatist, and touched again upon how he really enjoys creating new and different magic systems for his books. Other points of interest include that he envisions his Stormlight Archive series to be two sets of five books, that he’s planning on expanding the world of his first published novel Elantris with a new book to take place 10 years after the first one (hopefully to be released in 2015), and that he is a fan of the BBC Sherlock. Another thing I found interesting is that he talked about how he knows how hard it is to wait for new books by authors you love to come out, which is why he has progress bars for all his projects on his website that he makes an effort to keep updated, to keep the process transparent. Very cool!

Following the panel, we naively headed downstairs to the exhibition hall to go get books signed by him, not having any idea what we were in for. And let me tell you, the line that awaited us was EPIC. I should have figured, since it was Saturday and all the people who couldn’t attend the prior 2 days would be there, but just…whoa. We were near the end of the line, and must’ve waited at least an hour. But it was okay, and we passed the time by people-watching (which takes on a whole new dimension at a comicon) and chatting with our neighbors in line. When we finally made it to the signing table, the exhaustion of the past 3 days had fully sunk in, and I am ashamed to say that when Branderson asked if I had any questions for him, I drew a complete blank and said, “Uh…no, actually, I don’t. I’m sorry. I’m very tired.” Very smooth... But he was very kind and gracious, and wrote nice things in my books and gave me cool swag. See?

Since we chose to wait in line for Branderson, we ended up missing the panel for Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong’s new middle-grade novel, Loki’s Wolves. Instead of dashing upstairs for the last 5 minutes of the panel, we stayed down in the underbelly of the convention center to wait in line for their signing. I am happy to say we were third in line this time. :) Unfortunately, exhaustion was still plaguing me, and while Marr and Armstrong seemed very nice, I just babbled at them about the hot Phoenix weather the whole time my books were being signed. I also felt bad that, a) I did not have the funds to purchase the book they were promoting, and b) I had nothing for Kelley Armstrong to sign. Oh well, I guess that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes. Anyway, Melissa Marr signed some of my books of hers from a while ago:

And then I went home and slept, in hopes of being a little more coherent on Sunday. :)

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