The venue has changed - all the readings this year are being held on the UW campus. Dwayne Wilkens (MHLF, see below), the SF buyer for the UW Bookstore, mentioned this in passing during his introductory remarks in such a way as to obscure any acrimony. I imagine this is a fair relief to people with cars - not having to wrestle with stadium traffic; I don't mind not having to walk though Pioneer Square myself. Instead of snacking at the Eliot Bay's cafe, I get to visit the Sherpa restaurant on the Ave, which I don't do often enough otherwise. The jury is out on whether I'll buy fewer books - Dwayne is very good at supplying volumes of the reading author for sale to the audience. That alone probably argues overwhelmingly for the venue change in some eyes.
There is a nominal charge for all of the readings now - though you may purchase a subscription booklet which gives you one author free (or rather, would have had you attended Tuesday's presentation). This may not be a new development, I confess - I go to enough readings that I can't recall always who charges and who does not - it may simply have struck me more strongly because of the venue change. I was sold my ticket book by someone I believe to be holyoutlaw's friend Jane - I failed to say anything, though. Partly because I didn't want to intrude or hold things up, and partly because I'm still not comfortable socially with the relationship of "hi, I'm introducing myself to you because I know who you are", however that knowledge is established.
Nancy Kress is an author whose name is familiar, but I'm almost certain she isn't the person I always think she is. To disentangle that delightful construction: I hear her name and think she is the author of a series of books I read when younger that had colors in the titles. However, while she has written at least one novel with a color in the title, I'm pretty certain I am confusing her with someone else. I'm not terrifically good with names always in any case, which doesn't help...
She read a story that I found interesting. My Mother, Dancing is the title, and at the moment it has only been published in French. It was written for publication in an anthology concerning the millennium 2000, where the only restriction was it had to be set in the millennium 3000. It concerns the return of some humans to check on a set of 'seedlings' they had planted - the gods coming back to evaluate their work, essentially.
Somewhere in the last week I've skimmed past an article that mentioned the Inklings, a group of writers who were or wrote works with Christian themes (with different levels of overtness) - C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien among them. The article proposed J.K. Rowling could take a seat in their group without much difficulty. I'm not familiar enough with the body of her work to speak about the whole, but the story that Kress read could fit that bill as well. By the writings of one of the future sages quoted, humanity had decided that the emptiness of the universe, the lack of non-Earth spawned life meant the universe had been created, and that humanity had a Purpose - to populate that universe. This reminded me of how C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity deduces the existence of God from the presence of a conscience/moral code in human beings.
It isn't a logical path that has emotional meaning for me - in other words, I'm not personally convinced anything in the world/universe requires an extrinsic presence to come about - but that doesn't mean it isn't interesting to think about. Or write about. Although, apparently at a reading of the work in Kansas, an audience member stood up afterwards and told her "God doesn't like that story," apparently blissfully unaware he was adding a nice little dollop of ironic frosting to the event.
Dwayne deserves my veneration on several counts, though I'm nigh certain he wouldn't remember being introduced to me. Not only do I consistently misspell or mangle his name - wanting to call him Darryl due to the burnt swath of memory that is Dwayne Jensen; not only does he run a kick-ass SF section with readings by amazing people; he stocks Iain (M.) Banks. Current editions, even. Those of you who were into Terry Pratchett before US publishers were smacked upside the head with his sales figures enough to begin releasing concurrent US editions of his work will know my pain...
[edited to correct Johnson to Jensen - see, the name just won't stick, now]