Keycon Econ Report

Well, there it went.  The first and hopefully the last Online Keycon was held over the May long weekend. How was it? A bit wobbly here and there, but on the whole, it worked out just fine.

I think people don’t really realize how demanding a Convention is, and how much work and dedication goes into running it.  The people who work on and volunteer for these conventions are really a breed apart, they put a lot of time and energy into it. You have to acknowledge that.

This was a pretty unusual Keycon, due to the Coronaclypse.  Last year, Keycon cancelled entirely, hit full bore only two months into the Coronaclypse, and amid a provincial shutdown. There was no way it could go on.

As people adapted to the Coronaclypse, we saw the rise of online Cons, E-Cons including When Words Collide in July, and World Fantasy Convention in October.  Unfortunately, Keycon was too early into the pandemic to make that jump.  There just wasn’t enough time to revamp  and reformat the entire Con, and the list of precedents and innovations that allowed for E-Cons wasn’t there yet. Still, the Keycon organizers set about planning for the next convention in 2021, and they kept their eyes and ears open, learning the ins and outs of E-cons, just in case.

I think by March or April, they’d figured out that things weren’t going to be opening up, and they were able to switch gears and reformat their convention.  The revamped online Keycon E-con, or as I like to call it kEycon would be free to anyone who signed up, and considerable thought and effort went into adapting the normal activities of a convention – panels, hospitality rooms, social events, etc., into an online format.

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Axis of Andes, Part One

Axis of Andes, an alternative history of World War II in South America will be released in May, 2021

And I have a book cover!  Check it out.  Nifty, eh. It’s a little busy, but it’s patterned on the style of history texts.  So there’s a dominant image of South America at War, with Soldiers trudging along the bottom, and a collage of war images in right and left hand columns. I’m pretty happy with it. I might ask for a tweak here and there.

In other news, Axis of Andes has been broken into two books – Part 1 and Part 2. Simple reason, it was simply too massive for one volume.

The book opens in 1937, as a delegation from Peru meets with Hitler and his cabinet in Berlin, looking for his assistance. From there, the narrative winds back and forth through the history of the region, through the societies and economies of the various nations, as events set nations on a path to war.

Inspired by an actual war between Peru and Ecuador that lasted less than a month in the 1940’s, this new version of history has this war gaining momentum and force, until literally every country in South America is dragged into the conflict and a continent is in flames.

Part One features the origins and early phases of the conflict to the point where the three countries of the Andes – Ecuador, Peru and Chile are locked in a ferocious death struggle.

Part Two sees the conflict escalate steadily engulfing one country after the other, extending from Bolivia and Argentina, to Colombia and the rain forests of Brazil.

LEXX – The Thrill of the New

LEXX Unauthorized, the final volume!  The amazing behind the scenes chronicle of the most brilliantly surreal sci fi series ever made.  Twenty years in the making.  Releasing next week! Be sure to get your copy and don’t forget to buy the previous books.

I remember the first time I saw I Worship His Shadow.

Forgive me, I’m trying to promote the final book, so that means talking about it and the other books. But I’m coming to the end of my run with LEXX, this thing that’s shadowed me for twenty years, and I think that makes me contemplative.

So… the first time I saw I Worship His Shadow.

It was amazing. We kind of forget that sometimes. We are so awash in stories, in film and television, books and games, there’s only so many ways to play something. After a while, we just get used to it, we get jaded, and there’s so much that becomes so predictable. Genuine surprise and wonder eventually gets dulled.

Ever have a moment where you’re watching a film or television show for the first time, and it’s so utterly formulaic, that you can literally shout out the lines before the actors do? Because even though this is the first time you’ve watched it, it is so dull, so much a part of things we’ve seen over and over, that there’s no surprise. Watching it for the first time, you can recite the actor’s dialogue and the story beats.

But what about those times when an actor says something, when the story does something that you didn’t see coming. When it’s honestly new and unexpected. Remember that thrill?

If any of you are writers or artists out there, then take this as a suggestion. Be unexpected, do the unexpected. The most interesting thing for people is not knowing what happens next. That’s what people watch for. Because if they know what’s next… why do they need to bother watching or reading? Maybe there are other reasons, but if there are, you damned well need to deliver something.

I Worship His Shadow? It was absolutely brilliant. Things happened that I wasn’t expecting or anticipating, everything was new. It was that ‘first time’ sense of wonder and excitement. I literally had no idea what was coming next, who was going to live, who was going to die, where the story was going to go, who was even important to the story, what anyone was going to say. I just had to keep watching to see what happens, I was watching without a net.

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LEXX – The Clone War, An old spec script

[FREE ONLINE] LEXX CLONE WARS aka MAXIMUM CLONEAGE – D.G. Valdron (denvaldron.com)

It’s odd.  I’m not really a fan by nature.  I liked Star Trek, enjoyed Star Wars, but I’ve never really gone overboard.  I’m mostly a take it or leave it kind of guy.  I go through life appreciating things, but I generally don’t obsess.

Well, maybe two exceptions.  LEXX and Doctor Who.  I step up for those. I like the Doctor because he’s good. I like the LEXX because they’re bizarre.  Of the two, I think it was LEXX I went overboard for.  Almost to the point of obsession.  I wrote the book – the LEXX Unauthorized series. Along the way, I wrote fanfics, submitted spec scripts, watched, wrote and researched obsessively, I even edited together my own versions of LEXX episodes.

I make no apologies, LEXX was endlessly fascinating and anarchic, behind the scenes and on screen. There was an energy, a creativity, a sheer imagination and bravado to the show that still amazes me decades later. It wasn’t perfect, there’s a weird stunted sexuality, they suffered from too much ambition and too little money, and sometimes it went off the rails. But it’s best, it was brilliant. And more than brilliant, it was subversive and surreal.

I’m glad to have had had the access and the contacts that allowed me to research and write, LEXX Unauthorized.

Honestly – this post is just shameless self promotion. I’m trying to get you to by the last book – hell, buy all of them.

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Worldbuilding and other Workshops

Hey Everyone!  I’m doing workshops for the Manitoba Writer’s Guild
* World Building – May 15, 2021
* Creating Compelling Characters – June 19, 2021
* Copyright and the Basics of Publishing Contracts – July 17
The workshops will be held through Zoom.  Supporting materials and the workshop notes will be provided as pdfs through email.
To support the writing community, I’m donating my workshop fees back to the Manitoba Writers Guild.  Writing is a lonely craft, and it’s an uphill one for many of us. The Guild helps us connect with each other, it offers community, support, resources and programs.  If you’re a Writer in Manitoba, I’d happily recommend that you sign up for a membership with the Guild.  If outside of Manitoba, then I suggest you look up whatever exists for a local writers association or organization.
In the meantime, visit the Manitoba Writer’s Guild at their website.

https://www.mbwriter.mb.ca/new-virtual-workshops/

About the Workshops….

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2021 – Writing Projects, Big Plans

Never say die. So what have I got lined up for 2021?  Four, maybe six new Ebooks, a hardcore quest to find an Agent and break through with a Traditional publisher, more contest, awards submissions, workshops, panels, convention appearances, and a major effort at marketing and promotion.  So, let me tell you about what I’ve got in the pipeline:

Lexx Unauthorized: Series Four, Little Blue Marble – the final volume of the chronicles of the LEXX television series, the end of the series, the fall of Salter Street Films, and the decline of Canadian production in a new era of corporate profiteering. LEXX was a unique creation, a Canadian produced, written and starring Space Opera from Halifax, Nova Scotia by an upstart B-movie and regional television programming company. The show had amazing visuals and a sense of surrealism, as much influenced by Jodorowski and Barberella as by Star Trek and Star Wars. Back when the show was in production, I was invited by the creator, Paul Donovan, to write a book. I jumped on that, spending three years and thousands of dollars on the project, travelling across the country repeatedly interviewing everyone in sight. It was a labour of love. Ultimately the book deal fell through back then. Frustrated, I just wrote the book anyway, the way I wanted to… without any consideration of actual publication or publishers demands. Years later, after a flood, a marital breakdown, three major moves, two hard drive crashes, a career change I rediscovered the original manuscript on an unmarked floppy disk. I figured that the traditional publishing marketplace has zero interest in a book about an obscure cult TV series over a decade old. So I decided to upload it as a series of ebooks, one for each series. It’s a huge work – all four volumes together come close to 400,000 words. This is the end of the series, the final volume. I’m happy with it.

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LEXX, a personal story

Here I am working on the fourth and final book of LEXX, and it’s a bittersweet experience.

I’m going through old notes, re-reading interviews with Lex Gigeroff and John Dunsworth, hearing their voices in my head, the friendliness, the enthusiasm, the sheer joy of life, and it saddens me to know that they’re gone. That now those voices are only in my head, triggered by the words on screen. The world is a little smaller, a little duller.

With the fourth book, I’m coming to the end of my own long journey with LEXX, and that’s also a little sad I suppose. It’s been with me for such a long time, and finishing this book, setting it loose in the world, will mean the end of something personal for me.
I’ll take a moment and be completely honest. I’m doing a bit of huckstering. I’d like to sell a few books. Honestly, I’d like to sell a lot. But I’ll settle for a few. And hell, maybe even interest some of you in some of my other work. I’m a writer, so I figured the best way to do that is to write something. Offer up something to people that they haven’t seen with LEXX, something that’s just not another publicity photo of Eva or a screen cap of Michael. Offer up myself.

You see, I genuinely believe that LEXX really was something special, something unique. That it was visually innovative and startling, that it plumbed depths or surrealism and absurdity. Everyone knows Vadim for Barbarella, or Jodorowsky or Bunel for surrealism, or Ionescu for the Rhinoceros or Ubu Rex. They teach courses in these guys, they have classes, they’re studied, people do Masters degrees and PhD’s, and I honestly think LEXX is that calibre, that innovative, that subversive and ground breaking. That LEXX is that significant, and the story of LEXX is fascinating and important.

So yes! Yes I want to sell books. When I released the first volume, I just wanted it out of my hard drive, and out in the world. But now, years later, putting all the work into it again and again, damned right I want people to read it!

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LEXX Unauthorized, Series Three: It’s Hot and It’s Cold

Fire and Water, Heaven and Hell

Cause it’s hot and it’s cold
It’s “Yes” or it’s “No”
It’s in if it’s out
It’s up but it’s down
It’s wrong or it’s right

It’s black and it’s white

                                                                                        Apologies to Katy Perry

SERIES THREE OF LEXX, when everything radically.  Gone were the Sci Fi adventures from planet to planet, the dark, funny, furious adventures.  In it’s place was a thirteen part serial in which the LEXX was trapped in orbit around two warring planets, Fire and Water, and the crew journeyed between them, solving the mystery of Heaven and Hell. Behind the scenes, the genesis of series three was just as topsy turvy, with story roots going back before the first series was even released, driven by the crises and struggles of the second season, and wrestling with financial cutbacks. Volume three covers everything and anything to do with the third series.

WHAT IS LEXX: A ground breaking Canadian sci fi television series, created by Paul Donovan, Lex Gigeroff and Jeff Hirschfield, shot and produced in Halifax, Nova Scotia, by Salter Street Films, that ran four seasons between 1996 and 2002.

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The Past is a Horrible Country

I was recently on an alternate history panel for the World Fantasy Convention. Technically, it was about alternate history and fantasy, to wit…

“Alternate history has long been the domain of science-fiction writers, but it is now being enthusiastically colonized by writers of fantasy, who are bringing in magic, dragons, and the full panoply of the uncanny into what used to be an orderly and rational sub-genre. Who’s doing this and what’s going on?”

Actually, I don’t think it’s that big a deal. A lot of alternate history has had or assumes magical elements. It goes all the way back to Robert Heinlein and his story, Magic Inc. I’m not one of these guys who draws hard and fast lines between fantasy and science fiction, or fantasy and magical realism, or whatever. All of Speculative Fiction simply assumes that at least one thing, and sometimes many things, goes unnatural and you take it from there.

I just want to talk about one thing that struck me during the panel, that I never got a chance to talk about.

Steampunk. I find it interesting, but the entire steampunk genre seems to be in the process of being colonized by, or is entirely colonized by Fantasy. Blame it on Kim Newman and his Anno Dracula perhaps, or the novels Gail Carriger, or the Weird West subgenre. But as often as not, when you’re reading steampunk, there’s strong fantasy elements – ghosts, vampires, goblins, weird creatures, magic, etc.

I think part of that is that when you’re writing in this genre, you’re reaching back into the literary traditions of the ‘weird tales’ of the day, and it all starts to melt together.

But there’s another element to consider.

Victorian, England was a pretty horrific place.

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World Fantasy Convention – Panels and Reading

The World Fantasy Convention is the great ‘Business Convention’ of the SF/F/H Literary World.  It’s not a Comic-Con, it’s not a fan con. There’s dealers, but they’re just one room.  Mostly, it’s Writers, Agents, Editors, Publishers and Artists, people in the trade, and people trying to get in the trade, hanging out, hobnobbing, socializing, enjoying each other’s company, and sometimes wheeling and dealing.

Go there, and odds are you’ll meet all your favourite writers.  You can walk down a hallway, and see the writers you grew up with, the writers that helped form your identity, the people you passed time with, the writers who were guilty pleasures, and the ones you’re reading now.  You can just go up and talk to them.  It’s a business Con, the panels are about writing, serious writing, genres, where the industry is going, insider views.

It’s the place to be if you’re dedicated to the craft.  This year, it’s in Salt Lake City, and due to Covid-19, it’s online.

I’m doing two panels and a reading!  Wow!  I feel like Pinochio when he turns into a real boy!

Check out the panels I’m on….

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