In Which Humility Is Shown to Be a Virtue, and I Get a Fabulous Blurb from a Fabulous Author

Every social system evolves its own hierarchies and indications of status. Science-fiction conventions are no exception. One of the jobs that's often seen as just a tad less prestigious than being on a panel is moderating a panel. You haven't necessarily done anything jaw-dropping in the speculative-fiction world; you're just willing (and confident enough) to help things go smoothly. You don't get to be famous; you just help other people be famous. Still, it's a job that usually needs doing, especially at bigger cons, with bigger rooms full of more people whose needs must be coordinated with those of the panelists and the con in general.* I enjoy doing it, and I'm told I'm good at it. And it's also got some benefits: you get to meet and talk to the more-famous-than-you panelists, and 99 times out of 100 they are utterly wonderful, kind people, well worth knowing even without the shimmering mantle of fame that billows about the shoulders of each of them. And sometimes even cooler things happen, as I shall now relate.

At the Chicago WorldCon in 2012, I moderated a panel on "Page to Stage" (performance writing and "transmediating" works from prose into scripts, that sort of thing; there's a photo of the panel on this page if you scroll down a bit). As we were setting up, we noticed there was a missing microphone (or some such; it's five years ago now and the details are getting a bit tattered). James Patrick Kelly and I collaborated in a bit of clandestine equipment-pilfering from another room; we bonded just a little bit in that moment of shared and gleeful iniquity. (Yes, we put the equipment back when we were done — we're not common street thugs, after all.)

Fast-forward to early 2017, and my new novel, Mud and Glass, is being prepared for release. I begin to search out blurbers (you know, people who agree to say nice things about your book). Blurbing is a terrific example of why I love the spec-fic community: the more-famous cheerfully, and without earning a nickel from it, help the less-famous become more famous. Just for friendship's sake, and because we all like it that spec-fic writers all over the world genuinely enjoy helping each other out. Figuring nothing ventured, nothing gained, I ask Jim Kelly, best accomplice ever, if he will blurb my forthcoming book. And he does. And here is the blurb:

Mud and Glass is a glorious screwball comedy that propels readers headlong through college classrooms, mysterious underground passages and the halls of a retirement home with insouciant abandon. Along the way we meet a charming cast of heroes and rogues all chasing after a lost manuscript, which may either be a McGuffin or the font of all knowledge. A motley cast of wacky academics, rogue librarians, ninja students, insubordinate security guards and clueless bureaucrats is presided over by the winsome geographer Celeste, a protagonist who puts the luck in pluck. Join her for romance and intrigue, purloined theses and homemade cookies in Laura E. Goodin’s hilarious new novel. — James Patrick Kelly, winner of the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards

Isn't that amazing? Many thanks, Jim!

And the moral of the story is: every job at a science-fiction convention has honor and glory in it. Turn not thy nose up at moderating, for in such tasks are the seeds of friendships. Be not an asshole, considering thyself too famous now to do this or that thing. Observe thy heroes in their good cheer and their concern and respect for newbies. Go thou and do likewise. And perhaps thou, too, shalt gain a surprise return on thine investment in good karma and community.

*I did up a guide to moderating con panels that some have found useful; you can read it here.


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