I have just returned from Charlotte where I attended ConCarolinas, a multimedia convention focused on speculative fiction – fantasy, horror, and science fiction. This year’s guests of honor were Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Nana Visitor, Ursula Vernon, This Way to the EGRESS, and Rich Sigfrit. The convention organizers seem to have a deep commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for the attendees.
This is one of my favorite conventions, because of the quality and variety of their offerings: writing and publishing panels; a film festival; paranormal panels; gaming room; costume contest and cosplay panels; author tables, signing, and readings; Dealer’s and Art rooms; Charity Auction; SCA people; and more. I immerse myself in the writing/publishing tracts, and my husband finds plenty to occupy himself. I’m still hearing about the hour of conversation he enjoyed with Michael Hogan in the hotel bar last year while I was at a panel!
The variety of offerings could be overwhelming, but the convention organizers have taken steps to mitigate the potential chaos. The panels are clustered by subject, so for example, the writing and publishing panels are usually in two rooms and the book tables of the authors and editors who sit on the the panels for those tracts are set up close to those rooms, minimizing the running around for the panelists and allowing the panels to run right up to the hour. Those interested in writing and publishing quickly learn where to hang out.
The experience wasn’t perfect. A few glitches occurred in the schedule, leading to a little confusion but given the clustering of the panel rooms it didn’t seem to cause too much trouble. The hotel air conditioning gave out, and Saturday got more than a bit hot in some of the event rooms and hotel rooms, but convention organizers can only do so much where hotel problems are concerned.
I was impressed this year by the quality of panels I attended. I can’t speak for them all – I mostly attended writing/publishing panels, but the ones I saw were on topic with the panelists offering quality insights. The moderators this year seemed particularly well prepared. They had questions or structure in mind before the panels began and took pains to include all of the panelists in the discussions. One of my pet peeves involves one panelist speaking so much they dominate the panel preventing me from hearing a variety of views, but that didn’t happen on any of the panels I saw. So kudos to the panelists, moderators, and organizers!
Myke Cole is rather infuriating but I mean that with all admiration. Each book I’ve read of his was better than the last, and the first was excellent. He is the creator of the Shadow Ops universe (first trilogy: Control Point, Fortress Frontier, and Breach Zone) and the second, which is set previous to the events in his first (Gemini Cell and Javelin Rain). Mr. Cole draws on his experience as a military officer, security contractor, and cyber warfare specialist to imbue his books with a gritty military realism that is reminiscent of Griffin’s Brotherhood of War series and Bunch and Cole’s Sten series, the difference being that one was realism and the other science fiction. The Shadow Ops universe is military and magic.
What happens when humans in the world as we currently know it discover how to use magic? How would our government and military react? How would people, both collectively and individually, react to a sudden influx of magical power? The military aspect of the books interacts with a creative magical system to form a compelling backdrop, but the soul of these two series is how people cope when everything they thought they were changes and everything they thought they had is gone, often with no warning. The books in the Shadow Ops universe are entertaining and thought provoking, and I highly recommend them. For more information, check out Myke Cole’s website.
A study just published in PLOS One sheds new light on the Calusa tribe of southern Florida and how they used their discards. A hunter-gatherer tribe who subsisted primarily on seafood, the Calusa used the discarded shells from shellfish to form habitable islands.
Mound Key was the capital of the South Florida Calusa when the Spanish first interacted with them in the 1500s. Thompson et al. ran a series of radiocarbon dating tests on the midden (or discarded trash) on Mound Key and discovered that the island was deliberately formed and shaped from discarded shells and bones, an early form of landscape engineering.
Victor D. Thompson, William H. Marquardt, Alexander Cherkinsky, Amanda D. Roberts Thompson, Karen J. Walker, Lee A. Newsom, Michael Savarese. From Shell Midden to Midden-Mound: The Geoarchaeology of Mound Key, an Anthropogenic Island in Southwest Florida, USA. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (4): e0154611 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0154611
Happy upcoming Book Birthday to David Coe! The third installment in the Case Files of Justis Fearsson, Shadow’s Blade, will be released Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016. The series begun in Spell Blind and continued in His Father’s Eyes follows the adventures of Justis Fearsson, a private investigator and runemyste. The full moon robs him of his ability to use his magic just like his father who eventually went mad. Will Justis follow his father into insanity? Head over to David Coe’s site for more information.