Well, I’m back.
I’ve been away from this blog for a while due to the fact that I had two major conventions in July in the last two weeks, Mythcon 41 and Infinitus 2010. I’m glad I kept a journal during both of these amazing conferences, because I want to remember all of the interesting people I met and all of the wonderful presentations that I heard in the last two weeks. This post will be devoted the Mythopoeic Society’s recent convention, Mythcon 41, which was held at The Crowne Plaza Suites in Dallas, Texas from July 9-12. The theme of this year’s event was “War in Heaven: Cosmological Conflict in Mythopoeic Fiction.”
Friday, July 9, 2010 After checking into my suite, I obtained my registration packet and badge, then made a quick visit to the vendor’s room to examine the vast selection of books by (and about) C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and others. Eighth Day Books had an especially fine selection of Christian and Inklings-related reading material. Later during the con I discovered that this store is also selling my book, The Lord of the Hallows: Christian Symbolism and Themes in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. It will be featured in their fall catalog and is available from their website at www.eighthdaybooks.com. Wow!
3:00 p. m. I gave my presentation, “The Lord of the Horcruxes: The Immortal Soul and the Eternal War Between Good and Evil in the Fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien and J. K. Rowling,” which was very well received. I posted an excerpt from this paper on this blog over a month ago if you’d like to read it.
4:00 p. m. I attended the panel “Faith and Fantasy: How Authors’ Religious Views Affect Their Fiction.” This is, of course, a topic that is of great interest to me. My author friend M. B. Weston was on this panel. Her fantasy series, The Elysian Chronicles, is about a “War in Heaven,” which ties in nicely with the theme of this year’s Mythcon. Award-winning author Tim Powers was also on this panel. (More on Tim later.)
5:00 p.m. Panel: “Tolkien and Source Criticism: Rewards and Pitfalls.”
Dinner followed, then a much-needed rest. I left my home in southern Louisiana about 2:00 a. m. and arrived in Dallas about 11:00 a. m. that day, so I hadn’t had nearly enough sleep on the first day of the convention.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
9:00 a.m. Keynote breakfast with Janet Brennan Croft. Her speech was “The Thread on Which Doom Hangs: Free Will, Disobedience, and Eucatastrophe in Tolkien’s Middle-earth.” This was a brilliant presentation that Janet will (hopefully) publish in a future issue of Mythlore. It was truly outstanding!
11:00 a.m. Artist Jef Murray’s presentation, “Fanning the Secret Fire: Subcreating as a Spiritual Voyage,” was quite beautiful, like his paintings. Jef said, “Return to God the talent he has given you. All that you do glorifies the creator.” Those are words to live by. You can view Jef’s artwork at www.JefMurray.com.
After a delicious lunch, I went back to my room to relax for a moment when suddenly I received a call on my cell phone. One of the panelists for the 1:00 discussion of self-publishing was absent and Jason Fisher wanted to know if I could fill in for the person who was absent. This was around 12:50 or so…
1:00 p. m. Panel: “No Publisher? No Problem! The Nuts and Bolts of Self-Publishing” with Mark Hooker, Diana Glyer, and , er, someone named Denise Roper (?). Moderated by Jason Fisher. This was a panel I wanted to attend. I didn’t know that I was going to be on it! It actually went very well: I do so love making things up as I go along. 😉 In truth, many people told me throughout the convention that they really enjoyed this panel. Well, I’m a musician. I’m used to improvisation. Thanks, Jason! (I really mean that.)
2:00 p.m. I went to Christine Barkley’s presentation entitled “Tolkien’s Creativity,” which was followed by a very interesting discussion session.
3:00-5:30 p.m. Panels and presentations continued. Authors had book signing time if they desired it. I did, and I shared a signing table with Jef Murray. He told me about the St. Austin Review, a magazine of Catholic culture, of which Jef is the Artist in Residence. I had actually thought about subscribing to this magazine before I met Jef because I really enjoy the writing of two of its main contributors, namely Joseph Pearce and Peter Kreeft. (I finally sent off my subscription today–July 20.)
After supper we had a very fine keynote presentation from John D. Rateliff, author of The History of the Hobbit. His presentation was entitled “She and Tolkien revisited.” This was followed by a play by Charles Williams, The Masque of the Manuscript.
Sunday, July 11, 2010 I attended the convention’s Episcopalian service at 8:00 a.m., and was intrigued by its similarities to the Catholic Mass, as well as the important differences. The second reading tied in perfectly with the theme of Mythcon 41:
War broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world–he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah, for the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death. Rejoice then, you heavens and those who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you with great wrath, because he knows that his time is short! (Revelation 12:7-12)
From now on when I read about Michael’s battle with the dragon, I will be reminded of Gandalf’s fight with the Balrog in The Lord of the Rings: “I threw down my enemy, and he fell from the high place and broke the mountainside where he smote it in his ruin.” (LotR 491)
I also loved this particular prayer of petition: “Remember Charles, Clive, John Ronald, and all who have died in the peace of Christ; remember those whose faith is known to you alone; and bring them all into the place of eternal joy and light.” I thought that it was so lovely that we prayed for the Inklings in this way, but I really think Clive would have liked it better if we had called him “Jack.”
9:00 Anne Collins Smith gave a great presentation on a Harry Potter villain: “Virtue’s Evil Twin: Draco Malfoy and the Acquisition of Vice.” Anne demonstrated how Draco does not fit into Aristotle’s moral hierarchy of the superhuman (Christ), morally strong (Harry), morally weak (Pettigrew), vicious (Voldemort), and subhuman (Crabbe & Goyle). I really enjoyed this paper and the lively discussion that followed it.
10:00 I attended Randy Hoyt’s excellent presentation “One Forbidden Thing: A Fairy Tale Motif in The Magician’s Nephew and Pan’s Labyrinth. This is another paper that I would love to see printed in Mythlore.
11:00 a.m. Panel: “Are Fantasy and Science Fiction Social Commentary in Disguise?” I say it depends on whose novel you are reading.
After lunch, I spent time in the vendor’s room. (The books were calling to me.) There were also many books that I bid on and won for $1 or $2 each in the Mythopoeic Society auction. So many books…
“What are you doing with all of those books anyway?” Ron asked…
“Just trying to decide which ones to take with us,” said Hermione. “When we’re looking for the Horcruxes.”
“Oh, of course,” said Ron, clapping a hand to his forehead. “I forgot we’ll be hunting down Voldemort in a mobile library.” ( Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 95)
I can relate to this passage so well. I must have my mobile library with me wherever I go. Horcruxes, beware!
I did another book signing on Sunday afternoon and shared a table with M. B. Weston. Unfortunately I missed some more presentations that I wanted to see, but I guess that happens at every convention.
At 6:00 p.m. we had our annual Mythopoeic Society Awards Banquet, which was followed by a hilarious keynote presentation by author Tim Powers. He is a past winner of the World Fantasy Award, the Mythopoeic Society Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and numerous other honors. He’s also a really great speaker and extremely witty. I read that the screenplay for the film Pirates of the Caribbean 4 will be based on Tim’s novel On Stranger Tides. I’m now combing the used book stores for Tim Powers’ numerous out-of-print novels.
Monday, July 12, 2010.
9:00 a. m. Melody Green presented the third of the three Harry Potter-themed papers, “Gandalf, Frodo, Aragorn, and Harry: Types of Sacrifice in Fantasy Literature.” Melody was so kind as to give me a copy of her paper to keep. I appreciate that so much.
10:00 a. m. Valerie Frankel gave one of the last presentations of Mythcon 41: “Exploring Narnia: The Hero’s and Heroine’s Journeys in Concert.” I enjoyed this paper very much and am looking forward to Valerie’s upcoming book From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend, which will be available from McFarland this Fall. See http://heroine.calithwain.com for more information.
Mythcon 41 ended with the annual Mythopoeic Society meeting, followed by the entire group singing “Chorea Magna,” “The Baby and the Bird,” and way too many choruses of “What Shall We Do with a Drunken Hobbit?” lol! Best conference ending ever.
It was a long drive back to Louisiana. I had only one night’s sleep before departing for Orlando, Florida for the Harry Potter conference Infinitus 2010….
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