Looking Back at 2016: A Few Fun Things

It’s April and well past the time for a “looking back” post, but since a few fun things from 2016 have popped up, I thought it was worth a quick note.

The Grimm Future

In February 2016, my anthology The Grimm Future was published by NESFA Press and featured as the Boskone 53 Book. Since then, The Grimm Future has also had some notable successes:

2016 Locus Recommended Reading List
Anthologies: The Grimm Future, Erin Underwood, ed. (NESFA)

The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year (Volume Eleven)
edited by Jonathan Strahan, Apr 6, 2017
Honorable Mentions: 2016
– “Pair of Ugly Sisters, Three of a Kind” by Garth Nix
– “Origins” by Carlos Hernandez

The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2017
edited by Paula Guran, July 4, 2017
Story Reprinted:
– “The Iron Man” by Max Gladstone

Journey Planet & the 2017 Hugo Nominations

Last year, I guest edited one of the 2016 Journey Planet fanzines. My edition was Journey Planet: Boskone, which featured 54 years of Boskone history, and the layout design was done by the very talented Errick Nunnally.

A few days ago, I found out that Journey Planet made the 2017 Hugo Ballot for Best Fanzine, which means that I am among the Journey Planet editors who are listed on this year’s Hugo Ballot. (My name is on a Hugo Ballot. I still can’t quite wrap my mind around that fact!) It’s an incredible honor to be nominated and to have been a part of Journey Planet last year, especially since my edition allowed me to focus on a topic that is near and dear to my heart: Boskone.

Congratulations to all of the 2017 Hugo Nominees and good luck to everyone! I look forward to seeing you all in Helsinki for Worldcon 75 and the Hugo Awards Ceremony.

 

Posted in Boskone, Hugo Awards, The Grimm Future | Leave a comment

You Can Help Change the World! Join MIT’s 24-Hour Giving Challenge

Happy Pi Day, Everyone!!!

In honor of Pi Day, MIT is holding a 24-Hour Giving Challenge for friends as well as MIT community member, and I have signed up to be a Giving Ambassador.

While I work at MIT, I am not a fundraiser. My normal job is setting up meetings and managing logistics for the MIT Alumni Association’s Executive Vice President and our Board of Directors. So, doing a fundraising challenge is a bit beyond my wheelhouse. I just believe so deeply in what we do at MIT that I wanted to be a part of the 24-Hour Giving Challenge in order to ask my friends around the world to become friends of MIT today by giving some small amount to support the work that MIT is doing to make the world a better place for everyone.

Even if you are not a student or alumnus of MIT, I hope you will consider giving something to this challenge because MIT is an incredible institution.

Join the 24-Hour Giving Challenge Today!

There truly is no place like MIT. It is unique in so many ways, and we are fortunate that MIT exists. When I show up to work everyday, I know that I’m helping in my own small way to discover new things, to find new breakthroughs, and to bring these solutions to the world. MIT gives away information and education for free online through its OpenCourseWare program as well as through MITx (via EdX). So, no matter where you are in the world, you can learn about science, technology, math, business, literature, and more!

MIT Alumni Association & Resource Development, International Women’s Day, 2017

Whether it’s supporting MIT’s staff and students during special events like International Women’s Day or bringing special water collection devices to drought stricken areas,  finding new techniques to target cancer cells, figuring out how to make wireless energy possible, MIT has truly become the world’s Institution for technology and learning. I cannot even imagine our world without MIT.

Currently, MIT is in a campaign to raise money that will allow us to truly create a better world for everyone, not just for the people who live or work on the school’s campus. The 24-Hour Giving Challenge is a great way for people outside of the MIT community to interact with and support the work that MIT is doing.

The 24-Hour Giving Challenge is your chance to make a gift to an institution you can trust and that you will know your money is going directly to the priorities that will help make the world better. If you’re curious about MIT’s priorities, here they are as listed on the Campaign website. These six priority areas span the full breadth of MIT:

  • Discovery Science: Transforming our world through fundamental scientific research
  • Health of the Planet: Addressing critical environmental and sustainability challenges facing humankind through science, technology, design, management, and policy
  • Human Health: Defining the future of health through advances in basic science and engineering—informed by expertise in disciplines such as management, economics, and political science
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Accelerating the path from idea to impact
  • Teaching, Learning, and Living: Reimagining education for the 21st-century learner
  • The MIT Core: Attracting extraordinary students and faculty and providing them with the resources they need to thrive

If you can give, please do let MIT, please know that you’re doing a wonderful thing to help support its mission. Please give to the 24-Hour Giving Challenge, which ends March 14, 2017 at 12:00 midnight (Eastern Time).

This really is just me asking you to give to MIT because it truly is an amazing place and it is doing amazing things. Thank you guys so much!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

HGTV is Great, but How About Some New Ideas?

One of my favorite television stations is HGTV. I have really enjoy several of the past shows like Design Star, Design on a Dime, and Color Splash as well as current shows like Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, and Love It or List It. They are all great shows that have interesting takes on home improvement, but more than that, they also feature a pair of hosts who clearly enjoy what they are doing and have an interesting relationship/friendship with each other both on and off screen.

Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines are a married couple who work together in the Waco, TX area, helping people to find fixer uppers that can be renovated into their dream home. Chip and Joanna are married with kids, they have dozens of animals, and their farm is gorgeous. They work well together and respect each other even when they are goofing off on camera. Plus, they have great design taste. Joanna can take weird little run down houses and turn them into something cozy, warm, and wonderful. Chip does a great job bringing Joanna’s visions to life by building those dreams, repairing the cracks, and retaining the old charm despite the need for new updates. He is completely ridiculous and she often plays the straight man next to Chip, but do not be fooled. She’s just as funny. Together, when they get designing, they are truly a delight to watch.

Property Brothers Jonathan and Drew Scott are twin brothers who work together to help people find their fixer upper dream home. The premise is similar to Fixer Upper. However, Drew comes at the process as the real estate agent who shows people the exact kind of house they want, but it is far outside of their price range. Then he shows them some fixer upper homes and Jonathan tells them how he can renovate it to be exactly what they want. It’s a nice angle that does a great job of setting expectations for buyers, and viewers don’t feel like they’re watching the same ‘0l show. Plus, Jonathan and Drew clearly have a lot of fun working together and are a joy to watch. You also get a taste of how difficult it can be to do a renovation and get it  in on time and under budget when the homeowners are either indecisive or constantly changing their minds. In addition, you’ll actually learn quite a lot about construction since Jonathan does a great job of explaining why they make the decisions that they make.

Love It or List It rounds out my top three favorite programs on HGTV. Hosts Hillary Farr and David Visentin put their own special twist on the dream home theme. Hillary takes a look at the homeowner’s current house and based upon their desires, redesigns their home into their dream home while realtor David takes them out to look at possible dream homes to purchase that also fit all or their wish list items. David and Hillary are a quirky team that are very much in friendly competition with each other, and it can be hilarious. One homeowner is on Hillary’s side and one homeowner is on David’s side, and it is a contest to the end to see if the homeowners will love what Hillary did or prefer the home that David showed them. Thus the title of the show: Love It or List It! One thing you also get from this show is a taste for the unexpected during the construction process that can upend even the best laid plans for turning your house into your dream home. I should also note that there is a cookie cutter spin off of this show, but it just doesn’t capture the relationship and fun that David and Hillary have on camera.

But wait, there’s more!

These three shows do a great job of having fun and breaking barriers in their own way, which keeps them feeling fresh and new from season to season to season. For me, these shows are the reason I keep watching HGTV. However, the network has an annoying habit of trying to replicate the working shows by creating cookie cutter programs that just don’t feel all that creative or interesting.

Another show I enjoy is Flip or Flop , it’s not my favorite show, but I do like seeing how investors choose a house and then turn it into a really nice piece of property that they then sell on the real estate market. While I like the show, I miss the homeowner interaction, but on the positive side you get to see how this houses are acquired at rock bottom prices and then turned into incredible dream homes. Sometimes they make a little money; sometimes they make a lot of money. In every case, the houses that Flip or Flop hosts Tarek and Christina el Mousa take on are truly scary endeavors. Tarek seems to have a talent for finding money maker properties while Christina’s design skill is truly superb. However, (perhaps due to their marital woes?) HGTV is now coming up with some cookie cutter spinoffs that don’t just have the same premise, but the hosts look like carbon copies of Tarek and Christina, which I truly dislike.

It just feels so unoriginal and thoughtless in its creation. The utter lack of originality and creativity bores me. Since this isn’t the first time that HGTV has done something like this, it truly makes me wonder how the network can continue without updating itself a bit, especially since there are so many fantastic ideas that they and their production companies an pursue. Truly, the more I see commercials for this new version of Flip or Flop series, the more I wonder “Couldn’t they think of something interesting and now…or something that features some non white hosts?”

The lack of diversity within the HGTV hosts got me to thinking…

I went looking for ways to suggest shows and (of course) they don’t take suggestions for legal reasons. Still, I have some ideas that I’d like to see on HGTV and since I can’t officially submit them to the network, I thought sharing my ideas here would be fun. I’d love to know what you think of these ideas. So, here are my ideas are in no particular order:

Rebuilding New Orleans: I’d love to see a series that features the houses and neighborhood in parishes that are still trying to recover from Hurricane Katrina or other natural disasters. I’d like to see homeowners who get help to bring their homes back to the original (or better) standard. I’d like to hear about how they can refit and reinforce houses to withstand different natural forces. I’d also like to hear some of the stories about when then house was damaged an the struggles involved with getting the house rebuilt or repaired. Plus, there would be a lot of potential for sharing history and architecture from this unique and interesting region.

Saving the City:  It would be so interesting to see a show that focuses on restoring neighborhood blocks in a place like Detroit. There are hundreds of homes that have fallen into the category of derelict houses and the show could take this dying structures, renovate them, and then give the house to a family in need. It would be a really wonderful way to revitalize a struggling neighborhood. Plus, viewers would see what it takes to save these houses and why it’s important. We could even learn the story of the houses, the neighborhood, and the new owners who would pitch in to save these homes.

Local Style: A show that dives into a region with a really strong design esthetic from season to season would be fascinating. One season could focus on a place like Miami to feature Spanish and Latino design and architecture. It could look at these both residential and business properties in order to really dive into something new and unique. Another season could take us to a place like Chinatown in New York City, the southwest style in Albuquerque, or the Victorian gingerbread cottages on Martha’s Vineyard. The show would only be limited by the number of unique cultures and architectural styles that are available to feature, and that supply is pretty broad in scope.

My direct plea to HGTV:

Dear HGTV production companies, I would really love to see shows that step outside of the current set of series that stay very firmly in the safety zone for home improvement. I doubt that I am the the only person who is looking for some new HGTV shows that delve into a wider variety of of structures, styles, themes, and people. While I do love shows like Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, and Love It or List It, I think it’s time to explore a wider market of home improvement shows.

Posted in HGTV, Television, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Setting the Narrative in Politics and Defining the Future

One of my business mentors once told me that “to win” you must be the first to establish the argument (setting the opposition up to be on the defensive), to choose the terminology (so that they are using your words as defined by you), and to keep the dialog going until you get the answer or resolution you want (even if that is just establishing the narrative the way you want it to read in the future).

I have seen this play out time and again in the business and academic realms, and I am now seeing it play out on a national level in politics. So, from this point forward, I refuse to use terminology that is misleading and that softens the actual events that have occurred.

Words have Meaning.
Statements have Consequences.

This means that EVERY time I see a new incident citing “alternative facts” or outright falsehoods, I will repost it with the words “This is a LIE.” because I refuse to promote the use of terms that will lead to confusion in the future or the softening of the seriousness of what has been done/said.

One example of this is the use of the term Obamacare. There is nothing called Obamacare. There is no law or statute that says Obamacare. This is a term that the Republicans concocted and it has negative connotations because there are a lot of people who do not like the idea of the government providing assistance to the poor, they don’t like the idea of a black man being President, and they don’t like feeling as if they are “paying” for someone else’s healthcare. The result is that Obamacare makes a large number of people upset and they want it repealed.

48853031 - stock imgage doctor in surgery examining little girlHowever, the Affordable Care Act is much more well received. It’s a positive term. It makes people feel like they have a realistic health plan alternative, it makes them feel like the recipient is paying for the health care and not just leaching off of the government, and it makes people feel like their existing health issues will not go untreated if they have to change insurance providers.

Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are the same thing. One is positive and one is negative. The Republicans had a big meeting to discuss how to dismantle Obamacare and to tie it’s demise to the Democrats. They also agreed to keep the negatives of Obamacare in the public eye so that the Republicans didn’t get tied to the loss or dismantling of the Affordable Care Act because that would look bad for the Republican Party. You’ll notice that they talk about repealing Obamacare and replacing the Affordable Care Act with something better. It’s a very subtle manipulation of words and meanings. This keeps the negative/Democrat/Obamacare words together while also pairing the positive/Republican/Affordable Care Act words together.

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This is just one example of how the Republicans have been masterful in defining the arguments and the terminology in our current political sphere. They are doing the same thing with “Alternative Facts.” So, regardless of WHO is making up false terminology and facts, I am going to call them on it because I am choosing to put Nation above Party in this instance and I do not want false narratives to continue to take root because a year or two from now, many people won’t remember what was real or false without looking it up.

So, please, help me in ending the term Obamacare and help me by posting the word “lie” when you repost notes that include “alternative facts”… because they aren’t a true alternative. They are false.

Posted in Activism, politics | 1 Comment

Journey Planet: Boskone is Here!!! (Available 12/31/16)

jp-boskone-page-01_origWhat is Journey Planet: Boskone? It is a fantastic new fanzine published in December 2016 by the Hugo Award-winning Journey Planet and this issue features Boskone through the years!

When I agreed to chair the 54th Boskone convention, I really wanted to do something special to share and to celebrate Boskone, its history, and fandom with as many people as possible…especially people who may not be able to journey to Boston for a winter convention.

That’s when the idea for Journey Planet: Boskone was born! I reached out to Journey Planet’s regular editors James Bacon and Chris Garcia with my idea to do a Boskone themed edition of the fanzine. They loved the idea and invited me to be the Guest Editor. So, I jumped at the chance, pulling in author and graphic designer Errick Nunnally to pitch in and help out.

The real beauty of Journey Planet: Boskone is that it is very much like a convention in a box…or a convention in a PDF fanzine to be more accurate! 🙂 This amazing fanzine celebrates the past 53 Boskone conventions and features a variety of reprinted guest introductions, cover images, and other historic tidbits from past Boskone Souvenir Books for you to enjoy.

With Boskone 54 coming up in February 2017, I hope you enjoy this edition of Journey Planet: Boskone that reflects Boskone’s unique personality, spirit, and style. If you are not able to attend Boskone this year, hopefully this special fanzine will provide a little mid-winter fannish fun for you to enjoy.

Special thanks to all of our contributors, to Boskone, and to Tony & Suford Lewis for access to their complete collection of Boskone Souvenir Books. YOU have all helped to make this fanzine possible. Thank you!!!

SIGNAL BOOST: Please feel free to share Journey Planet: Boskone with anyone who might enjoy it. If you have any questions, please let me know.

  • Journey Planet: Boskone
  • Publication Date: December 31, 2016
  • Guest Editor: Erin Underwood
  • Designer: Errick Nunnally
  • Available: Online as a free PDF
  • Publisher: Journey Planet
  • Executive Editors: James Bacon & Chris Garcia
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Thoughts on How Winners Lose and Losers Win

As previously mentioned, I’m thinking through some things in regard to politics and our political system. The one thing that keeps sticking out like a sore thumb is the fact that a presidential nominee can lose the race and still receive the highest number of popular votes by the electorate. What is the point of voting, if your vote doesn’t count, and that’s the feeling a lot of people have right now.

This is the second time in only 16 years that a candidate has lost the Presidency despite having won the popular vote. There were two other instances in 1801 and 1824 when none of the candidates receive the required number of Electoral College votes, primarily because there were strong 3rd party candidates running. So, the vote was sent to the Senate to choose the President. (This is a very simplified version of how the voting process works.)

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However, in today’s political climate, it is highly unlikely for a 3rd party candidate to ever win the Presidency. If the vote goes to the Senate, the majority party in the Senate will choose their party’s candidate, and that is a forgone conclusion. This outcome is a combination of simple math and party politics. I believe that this is why both Trump and Sanders chose to join one of the two major political parties in order to mount an effective campaign. They knew they had no chance to win outside of the two party system.

As a regular citizen, I personally found it strange that both the Republican and Democratic Parties accepted these two candidates just so that they could have a chance of becoming President. Frankly, I don’t think the Republicans knew how to get rid of Trump because of their political structure paired with the fact that he became a lightning rod for a large portion of their base who desperately wanted change. However, the Democrats have a much tighter political structure, and (my personal feeling is) they did not want a third party candidate using their platform in order to run for president. So, they voted for Clinton. Again, this is a much more complicated process than the simplistic way that I have described it here, but I think this sums up how we arrived at a Trump vs. Clinton election in 2016.

Now, back to my original point. Twice in the last 16 years, the Presidential nominee with the highest number of popular votes lost the election because of how the Electoral College votes are distributed to the states. More people wanted Clinton, her policies, and the path that was set by President Obama. As a result, she received nearly 1,000,000 more votes than Trump. That is a lot of votes!

Yet, Clinton lost. Not because we didn’t want her and not because she didn’t receive the highest number of votes. She lost because of an outdated mechanism that was written into the voting process for our elections — a mechanism that has proven to elect the second most popular candidate and a mechanism that effectively eliminates any potential for a 3rd party to win the Presidency. That means the kind of change people want just isn’t possible.

While I don’t want to be hasty, in saying that it is time to end the Electoral College, I do think it is important that the President-Elect receive a majority of the votes cast by the electorate. The emerging pattern of Presidential losses caused by the Electoral College is disturbing. This rule was created to help us choose a candidate when there was no clear winner. However, it is now caused us to elect the runner up, not once, but twice in fewer than two decades. This is one of the primary reasons that the people who voted for Hillary Clinton are so upset. Their candidate WON the popular vote and still lost.

True change within a democratic system comes with fair rules and equality in the voting system, and the Electoral College may have outlived its original purpose and could now be causing more harm than good as people begin to distrust the process and outcome. However, if we were to get rid of the Electoral College, we may end up with something worse. Perhaps we just need to adjust it to more accurately reflect the voting public’s choice.

I am not sure of the answer here, but I do believe that it’s important for us to think about these things and for people who voted for Trump to empathize with the frustration that Hillary voters have in losing the election despite having nearly a million more votes. Quite simply, it does feel like a rigged system, and I hate saying that since it was one of Trump’s favorite lines when he thought he might lose.

2016-dems-repsSo, please remember that a Trump Presidency was not a mandate by the people, endorsing his policies. He lost the popular vote. In other words, more people voted against him than for him in 2016:

  • Hillary = 61,279,925 Votes
  • Hillary + 3rd Party = 68,287,994 Votes
  • Trump = 60,586,111 Votes

Trump’s win is not the American people’s endorsement of his Presidency, his policies, and his choices. Therefore, we must remain vigilant and protect the policies and practices that a majority of American’s actually desires. This is not something we can do every 4 years. We need to participate much more actively on a regular basis.

Posted in Activism, politics, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

An Update on the Underwords Press Blog aka My Blog

I have not been using this blog very often due to lack of time and a change of focus. I’ve still been writing and publishing, but I have also been learning how to run fan conventions like Boskone and Worldcon. My latest anthology, The Grimm Future, is now an eBook, I’m chairing this year’s Boskone, and I’m trying to figure out what comes next.

I VotedThe whole “figuring out what comes next” is what brings me to writing this blog post. I still plan to write, publish, and plan conventions. However, after this election, I also plan to become politically active in the service of women, minorities, and the poor. I am not happy about the election results and I am struggling to come to terms with having Donald Trump as our next President.

I don’t have a TARDIS or a Time Turner. I can’t go back to change the result or do things differently. Instead, I can only move forward and protect our country against the damage that is likely to be done with Trump as a President. The election has changed something in me. It has galvanized me, changing me from victim to something more. So, I’m going to over share here to help you understand why this change is happening.

I was raped as a teenager, I was sexually abused as a child, and I was sexually harassed at work in my twenties — all by different men. I also dealt with all manner of other sexist remarks from catcalls to being told that I couldn’t be a fighter pilot in the Air Force because I was female. A college recruiter also told me that my family was too poor to attend his college. I was also hired because I was pretty and my boss liked my look despite the more qualified candidates.

When these things happened, I was young and scared. I didn’t know how to stand up for myself because the few times that I tried, the results were not good. So, I just kept it all inside of me. I got tough. I learned how to fight and I learned how to write. I protected myself and have been very careful about what I say publicly as well as how I say it.

This election changed me. I am not a victim. I am going to fight for women, for minorities, and for the poor in any way that I can…even if it’s only through words on my blog. However, I plan to go beyond the role of blogger and to become an activist in these areas. I want to let you know this now because I want you to have the opportunity to unsubscribe from my blog, if these are posts that you don’t want to receive.

Yes, I will still blog about science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I will still write about books and conventions. However, I will also voice my opinion and share my experiences…and you may not want to be a part of that. I am tired of being half of a person online. So, I will be sharing and over sharing upon occasion. You don’t have to agree with me, and I don’t have to agree with you. However, I will not be silent or silenced. I’m done being quiet about issues that need to be pulled out from under the rug where we have left them for so very long.

As I get myself moving on this front, I’d love to hear about groups, organizations, and people who would align with my goals. I have a lot of research to do on how to be most effective, and I would deeply appreciate any suggestions — even if I am not able to take them all.

Also, if you don’t agree with my choices or you have unkind things to say about this post, I will delete your comment. This is not a post for those kinds of comments and I ask you to respect my choice. Again, you are welcome to unsubscribe from this blog, if these topics are uncomfortable for you.

Posted in Activism, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“The Grimm Future” is now an eBook

At Boskone 53, NESFA Press introduced its new hardcover science fiction anthology The Grimm Future, edited by me. 🙂 NESFA Press received a number of requests for an ebook, which is now available to purchase online for $9.95 at:

GrimmDJ-Front-FINAL

Book Description:

Blending fresh new science fiction with a futuristic dash of magic, The Grimm Future is a unique anthology of reimagined Grimm fairy tales from some of today’s most exciting authors—along with the original stories that inspired them. The Grimm Future examines our humanity and what that term might come to mean through the eyes of future generations as society advances into an age when technology consumes nearly every aspect of our lives or has ultimately changed life as we know it. How might these timeless stories evolve? Given the relentless onrush of technology, there is even greater need for fairy tales and Grimm magic in our future. Read on!

Table of Contents:

  • “Introduction” by Erin Underwood
  • “Pair of Ugly Stepsisters, Three of a Kind” by Garth Nix, based upon multiple Grimm fairy tales, including “Little Brother and Little Sister,” “Rapunzel,” “Little Red-Cap,” and “Cinderella”
  • “The Iron Man” by Max Gladstone, based upon “Iron John”
  • “Zel and Grets” by Maura McHugh, based upon “Hansel & Gretel”
  • “For Want of a Nail” by Sandra McDonald & Stephen D. Covey, based upon “The Nail”
  • “The Shroud” by Dan Wells, based upon “The Shroud”
  • “Long-Term Employment” by Mike Resnick, based upon “Death’s Messengers”
  • “Swan Dive” by Nancy Holder, based upon “The Six Swans”
  • “The White Rat” by Dana Cameron, based upon “The White Snake”
  • “Origins” by Carlos Hernandez, based upon “The Star-Talers”
  • “Angie Taylor in: Peril Beneath the Earth’s Crust” by John Langan, based upon “The Brave Little Tailor”
  • “The Three Snake-Leaves” by Jeffrey Ford, based upon “The Three Snake-Leaves”
  • “The Madman’s Ungrateful Child” by Peadar Ó Guillín, based upon “The Bremen Town-Musicians”
  • “Stories of the Trees, Stories of the Birds, Stories of the Bones” by Kat Howard, based upon “The Juniper Tree”
  • “Be Still, and Listen” by Seanan McGuire, based upon “Little Briar-Rose”
Posted in Books and Literature, Science Fiction | Tagged | Leave a comment

Free Comic Book Day is Awesome!

IMG_4657There is this thing in the comic book industry that is pure gold…and it’s called Free Comic Book Day. On that special day, comic book shops in a bunch of different countries designate certain comic books to give away for free. They even bring in authors, artists, colorists, editors, publishers, etc. to sign the comic books and to talk to fans. Okay, it sounds a little crazy to just give a bunch of comic books away for free, buy truly…Free Comic Book Day is true genius.

On Sunday, May 8th, I decided to pop into my local comic book shop in Salem, MA. Harrison’s Comics & Pop Culture is a pretty big store with lots of variety.The staff is also very knowledgeable and helpful.

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Harrison’s is also well-kept, bright, and clean. There’s a game room down stairs, and you can literally get lost for hours wandering from rack to rack looking as comics, posters, and toys.

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I really wasn’t planning to buy anything, but while I was there, I found some great comics that I just had to have in addition to the freebies.

One of the freebies was the PREVIEWS comic magazine for the “DC Universe Rebirth” series that will be launching soon, which will also include the new Wonder Woman comic book series by Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp, Nicola Scott Art, and Paulo Siqueira.

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Regarding the Wonder Woman “Rebirth” series, the story, the art, and the coloring all look amazing. It comes out in June 2016 and should be fantastic. There are a bunch of other articles, artwork, etc in the PREVIEWS issue. It’s literally packed with every superhero that is going to be part of the “Rebirth” series. I’m definitely thrilled to have picked this up!

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Some of the other comics that I bought include the new Dresden Files comic (which should be fun!), Lock & Key #1 by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodrigues (which only cost $1), and a couple of Justice League of America comics that (I admit) I bought because I loved the old skool art work on the covers, which feature my favorite girl–“Wonder Woman.” All in all, a very good day!

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Harrison’s also has a fantastic Star Wars section, which I spent far too much time perusing. I would have liked to see more options that feature Rey, but I have a feeling that once the film trilogy is done, we’ll see more Rey stories in the Star Wars comics and novels.

…and they also have a great selection of Doctor Who comics!

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I am hoping that the trend will catch on with book stores. I think it would be great for bookstores to do a Free Book Day in which they give away stuff for free to help promote reading, books, etc. Plus, anything to encourage people to come into a bookstore rather than buying online is a good thing.

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If you managed to pick up a few comics at your local shop on Free Comic Book Day, let me know what you picked up. I’d love to see what you got!

Did you find any favorites? Did you get anything signed? What comic book shop did you end up visiting? I want to know!

Posted in Comics | Tagged | Leave a comment

Come to Boskone (Feb 19-21, 2016) in Boston, MA!

Hey Everyone! The Underwords Blog has been quiet for awhile, and I am taking this moment to break the silence and share with you one of the projects that I have been working on over the last six months. BOSKONE!!!

As you may (or may not) know, I also help to plan and organize science fiction and fantasy conventions. The one I love most is Boskone, which takes place in Boston, MA from February 19-21, 2016 at the Westin Waterfront Hotel.

If you love books, movies, games, and anything connected to science fiction or fantasy, you should consider coming to Boskone this year. We have have a fantastic line up of Guests as well as over 150 other authors, artists, musicians, scientists, and publishers who are coming…and it is going to be a fantastic event.

Online registration is open through midnight on Saturday, February 13, 2016. So, if you want to save some time, definitely take a moment now to register online. However, if you miss the window, you can still buy your membership at the door.

Membership Registration Information:

Full Weekend Rates
Adult Full Convention: $65
College Student Full Convention: $40*
K-12 Full Convention: $25*

One Day Rates
Friday One Day: $25
Saturday One Day: $45
Sunday One Day: $25

* Valid school ID may be required.

Boskone’s Signature Evening Events Include:

Boskone Reception & Meet the Guests: Step it up, and join us in the Galleria for an upscale social mixer where with Boskone’s Guests and program participants. Come meet this year’s guests:

  • Guest of Honor:  Garth Nix
  • Official Artists: Richard Anderson
  • Special Guests: Arnie & Cathy Fenner
  • Featured Filkers: Vixy & Tony
  • NESFA Guest: Bob Eggleton

The Videri String Quartet will be performing in the galleria from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM! Cash bar available. (Friday)

Featured Filkers Concert with Vixy & Tony: Vixy & Tony (disguised by day as Michelle Dockrey, mild-mannered officemouse, and Tony Fabris, mild-mannered codemonkey) are award-winning musicians with an easygoing style, catchy songs, accessible lyrics, and energetic performances — enjoyed by both SF fans and mainstream music enthusiasts alike. (Friday)Noir at the Bar

Noir at the Bar – Special Edition: Noir at the Bar is a popular literary series that has “sprung up all over the country.” Boston’s Noir at the Bar series comes to Boskone on February 19th for a special night of readings, fun, and prizes with our noir, crime, mystery, and horror writers.

Hosted by Chris Irvin and Errick Nunnally. Cash bar available. (Friday)

Boskone Book Party: Join the party, buy books, grab some swag, and have a fantastic time adding new material from nearly 20 of your favorite Boskone authors to your bookshelf.

Publishers and authors come together to in the Galleria to share what’s new since last year. This year NESFA Press is also launching two anthologies: The Grimm Future, edited by Erin Underwood, and Conspiracy!, edited by Tom Easton and Judith K. Dial.  (Saturday)

Boskone Rapid-Fire Theater and NESFA Awards Ceremony: Tonight’s presentation: a fast-paced theatrical extravaganza, featuring a set of mini-shows that resemble live-action “podcast experiments.” This special Saturday night program has something for everyfan. We hope you’re entertained, amused, soothed, gratified, provoked, intrigued, informed, or if possible all of the above in swift succession. Hosted by Boskone’s very own David G. Grubbs. (Saturday)

  • Music with Vixy & Tony.
  • NESFA Awards Presentation: The New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA) presents its annual Skylark and Gaughan Awards as well as the winner of the NESFA Short Story Contest.
  • The Wesley Chu Interview.
  • At the Movies with Boskone (Dan Kimmel and Garen Daly)
  • Mystery Radio Play (Bruce Coville, David Grubbs, Bob Kuhn, Laurie Mann, Melinda Snodgrass).

Superhero Open MicSuperhero Open Mic: Kapow! Live from Boskone … enjoy the knock-out stylings of our program participants and audience members who share their open mic skills in the first-ever Superhero Open Mic. Each person gives his/her best 5-minute superhero performance – story, poem, song, skit, interpretive dance, or whatever! OPTIONAL: For extra appeal, feel free to come dressed as a superhero! Cash bar available.

THE RULES: Boskone members are invited to join our participants in the open mic by signing up for one of the eight open slots at the door to the event, which opens for sign-ups at 8:30 pm. Each performer is given a firm 5-minute time limit (max), including set-up time. So a quick transition between acts is key. (Saturday)

In addition to these signature events, we also have over 350 other program items . . . and much, much more! You can view the Boskone 53 Program Schedule here.

We also have more than 150 amazing writers, artists, publishers, scientists, and editors coming back to Boskone. Some of our program participants include:

Ginjer Buchanan, Wesley Chu, Neil Clarke, C.S.E. Cooney, Bruce Coville, Gardner Dozois, Brendan DuBois, Esther Friesner, Charles Gannon, David Gerrold, Christopher Golden, Theodora Goss, Joe Hill, James Patrick Kelly, Thomas Kidd, Flourish Klink, John Langan, Ken Liu, Darlene Marshall, Cerece Rennie Murphy, E.C. Myers, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Robert Sawyer, Melinda Snodgrass, Charles Stross, Django Wexler, Fran Wilde, Gary K. Wolf, Walter Jon Williams, Brianna Spacekat Wu, and E. Lily Yu.

You can view the full list of program participants here.

AN INCREDIBLE ART PROGRAM AND ART SHOW!

Bob Eggleton doing an art demo.

This year’s Art Show is truly amazing, featuring work by our Official Artist Richard Anderson, a retrospective by NESFA Press Guest Bob Eggleton, and a Spectrum inspired exhibit in honor of our Special Guests Arnie & Cathy Fenner (organized by Edie Stern and Joe Siclari), which includes work by more than 35 artists that spans more than 20 years of speculative art.

There are also dozens of speculative art program items, demos, and discussions. In addition, we also have a number of artists who are attending as program participants as well as members this year, including Tommy Arnold, Rick Berry, Kristina Carroll, Scott Grimando, Stephen Hickman, Ingrid Kallick, Tom Kidd, Gary Lippincott, Sheeba Maya, Omar Rayyan, Ruth Sanderson, Dave Seeley and many others!

There is so much more to share, but let me finish by saying…. I love this convention and I am so happy to be able to share it with you. If you’re going to be in Boston, MA from February 19-21, 2016, it would be awesome to see you there.

Remember to register for Boskone! You can either buy your membership online by midnight on Saturday, February 13, 2016 or you can buy your membership in person at the convention.

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