I’ve perused the programming for PHXCC this year and I’ve made my tentative list of panels to see. I’ve pored over the convention center maps. I’ve dug out the books I want to get signed by attending authors. I am READY! Let’s have a look at some of the fun stuff scheduled to go down this year…
While there don’t look to be as many traditional fantasy authors as there were last year, there are still many authors I love whom I’m excited to see, and plenty more I’ve heard of but haven’t yet read their books. Richard Kadrey, who writes the Sandman Slim novels, Max Brooks of World War Z fame, Michael A. Stackpole, prolific author whom I most often associate with Star Wars books…the list goes on, with many familiar faces from years past, as well as new-to-PHXCC authors joining the fun. Here’s a smattering of some I’m really looking forward to seeing on panels/getting my books signed by them…
- Ann Leckie!!! Hugo and Nebula award-winning Ann Leckie!!! I’m reading Ancillary Justice right now, and it is sooooo good. It’s not the kind of book I’m tearing through, but I’m taking my time and savoring it (and, to be honest, trying to make sure I keep everything straight in my head). So excited to meet this lady!
- Max Gladstone!! I haven’t picked up any of his books yet, but people really, really love him. I’ve been trying something new this year, where I download a Kindle sample of books from all the authors at the con I’m interested in but mostly unfamiliar with, to get a feel for their writing and try to decide if I should pick up a copy of their book at the con to get signed, or just wait and check it out at the library. Last night I read a sample of Three Parts Dead, and I liked it—it felt fresh and complex, and even though the sample wasn’t really long enough for me to get a full grasp of the world, it was enough to make me want to read more. Very intrigued!
- So, Cherie Priest—I already know I like her writing, right? So why haven’t I already bought and read Maplecroft?!? Good question. This is another one I decided to read a sample of to aid me in my purchasing decisions, and those were the questions I was asking myself when I’d finished. I remember her talking about this Lizzie-Borden-fights-Cthulhu-with-an-ax story the first time I saw her at PHXCC in 2013, but I never got around to picking it up when it came out last fall. The sample, however, hooked me—it ended and I wanted moooore! Will probably be picking this one up.
- Naomi Novik! I have a pile of her Temeraire books at home that friends have recommended to me but I just haven’t started yet. Last year at PHXCC, though, I was given a sample of her forthcoming standalone novel, Uprooted. Fast forward to now—here’s what the back of the book looks like:
ALL OF THE BEST PEOPLE HAVE GREAT THINGS TO SAY ABOUT THIS BOOK. Seriously, the only endorsements that could’ve bumped it up even higher on my insta-buy list are Holly Black, Megan Whalen Turner, and Elizabeth C. Bunce. So…I bought it. Of course, right? Can’t wait to dive it!
- Pierce Brown! He was at PHXCC last year, but I hadn’t yet read Red Rising. Quite soon after the con, I dove into the free copy of it that I got at the Del Rey booth, and though I wasn’t that into it for the first 150 pages, the rest of the book was so good that I loved it even with the beginning that had been blah for me. And then when Golden Son came out this year…man, that was a phenomenal book. None of the things that I hadn’t liked about the first book were present in this book, and everything that I loved about it was there and made even more awesome! It was relentlessly paced (so much so that I couldn’t allow myself to read it on nights when I had to be at work early the next day), and just plain riveting. It’s sci-fi, but in my head it’s more like historical-fantasy-sci-fi…I love all the Rome-ish stuff, and the political maneuverings are reminiscent of some of my favorite historical fantasies. Would it be too much to hope for a sneak peek of Morning Star at PHXCC…?
That’s just a smattering of the authors I’m most excited to see on panels, but there are sooo many more! As for the panels themselves, there aren’t as many on my absolute-must-list as there were last year, so I’d been hoping my schedule might be a little less jam-packed this year, but as I look over it again, I’m realizing there will be more than enough to see and do, and a few tough decisions when panels conflict. Here are my top 5 panels I’m looking forward to as of now (not counting author spotlight panels), with the descriptions from the PHXCC website. Any of them sound intriguing to you?
- Historical and Fantastical and Maybe a Little Magical (featuring Cherie Priest, Django Wexler, Joseph Nassise, Michael Martinez, and Viola Carr). “What happens to history when reality is breached by more than just a person or 2 that never really existed? How does it stand up when strange, mystical, and/or magical occurrences take hold? Spice up history, make it more enjoyable with un-reality.”
Yay for historical fantasy! Or at least, fantasy taking place in a time in history…?
- Here on Earth (featuring Ann Leckie, Chuck Wendig, Jason Hough, Jay Posey, Myke Cole, and Pierce Brown). “Science Fiction doesn't always have to take place in unknown space on unknown worlds. This panel celebrates Science Fiction on our planet Earth. Discussions and comparisons on how Earth-centric Science Fictions compare to the typical space opera.”
I like Science Fiction. I like Earth. I like Science Fictions involving Earth. I’m not sure how I feel about this capitalization. Should “science fiction” really be “Science Fiction?” I’m not sure, and now I’m way off topic.
- Author Batsu with Sam Sykes (featuring Cherie Priest, Delilah S. Dawson, Myke Cole, Peter V. Brett, Pierce Brown, Scott Sigler, and Sam Sykes). “Our hapless authors join Sam Sykes for another batsu game! (Batsu: the Japanese word for 'punishment,') Each panelist is charged with performing a task under pressure. If they fail, they will be subjected to a 'horrible' punishment. Sounds fun! Right?”
Who doesn’t like a little schadenfreude? (Yeah, try to tackle that one, spell check!) The Sam Sykes panels are always amusing.
- Unashamed Full Frontal Nerdity (featuring Django Wexler, Jason Hough, Michael Martinez, and Naomi Novik). “A panel for authors to gush about the facets of their research that surprised and delighted them.”
I love supernerding, and especially supernerding about research!!
- Del Rey Superfight (featuring Jason Hough, Naomi Novik, Peter V. Brett, Pierce Brown, and Scott Sigler). “Who would win: Starlord with machine guns as legs or an ocelot that's really really emotional? How about Iron Man who hasn't slept in three days or Godzilla with an endless supply of trampolines? The Del Rey authors battle it out in a game of Superfight.”
Um, what? This sounds amazing. And hilarious. Count me in.
And that’s it from me tonight! Any authors not on my shortlist that you’re super-psyched about? Any awesome panels you think I should check out and report back on? Hit up the comments and let me know! Only a few more days to go…