Wrangling Sharks in the Wild West

This weekend, I’m at the Tucson Festival of Books on the University of Arizona campus. I’ll be on the Scientists Writing Science Fiction panel at 10am on Sunday morning in the Integrated Learning Center, room 151. I’ll be signing books afterwards. Also, be sure to stop by the Massoglia Books booth, number 446 to find out when I’ll be signing there.

I spent last weekend at Wild Wild West Con at Old Tucson Studios, which is always a treat. Old Tucson Studios is where many classic Western films from 3:10 to Yuma and Rio Bravo to Tombstone and The Quick and the Dead were made. Walking through the studios is like walking back in history in more ways than one.

I had to work the Thursday night before the convention, so I got a short nap and then drove down. Bill and Deb Ball The only thing scheduled was a reading, which happened during the heat of the afternoon outside when there was little traffic. A few people dropped by and sat down in seats I set up in the shade and listened for a while, but I think if I propose a similar event for next year, I’ll suggest we do this as an indoor event. Meanwhile, my wife and daughter set up our artist table in the dealer’s room, which I shared with authors David Drake and Sparky McTrowell, who provided one of my cover quotes for The Brazen Shark. As it turns out, Bob Vardeman, the other author who provided a cover quote, was also there, though he didn’t participate in panels. He just decided to hang out and have fun. Another treat was that my co-worker from Kitt Peak, Bill Ball, was around on Friday along with his wife Deb. That’s them on the left.

Friday night, my wife, daughter, and I went to a concert by the Dry River Yacht Club and Steam Powered Giraffe. Rabbit Both were excellent performances and really helped me get into the spirit of the event. Unfortunately, when we got back to the house where we were staying, I discovered my wife had left the garment bag at home with almost everything I planned to wear! Luckily, my wife did bring all my hats, I had an extra waistcoat, and our friend had a washer and dryer, so I was able to change out my look a bit for Saturday and still wear clean clothes!

I was scheduled for two presentations on Saturday, but was drafted for a third. My first presentation was called “The Wild West: Real and Mythical,” but could have been renamed “How it Sucked to be Anything but Anglo in the Wild West.” We took a hard look at Native American, Latino, Irish, and the Chinese as they were treated. You may look at that list, and say “but the Irish are white,” but it was very eye-opening to see how they were denigrated and forced to conform to “society norms” much like the other groups. After that presentation, Diesel Jester invited me to be on a panel about researching steampunk, where we discussed various historical resources we’ve found useful. On the panel with me were Diesel, Justin Andrew Hoke, Cynthia Diamond, Rose Corcoran, and Sean Walter. For my last presentation of the day, I discussed astronomy around the world during the Victorian age. Part of the discussion actually involved what one would call “Victorian age” astronomy because different parts of the world developed different mathematical tools and concepts at different times. For example, the Arab world gave us many of the mathematical tools for astronomy back in the 11th and 12th centuries while some schools of thought in Asia viewed an infinite universe of free-floating objects long before the common era.

Not only did I go to presentations, but I did some shopping at the convention. Because, I suddenly found myself without much of my wardrobe, I bought a new shirt and a new hat. Also, going between presentations, I was lucky enough to catch several of the great presentations going on all around, including an outdoor concert by the extremely talented cellist and singer, Unwoman.


On the final day of the convention, I was scheduled for a panel on multicultural steampunk literature with the delightful Madame Askew. We had a great time recommending such books as The Peshawar Lancers by S.M. Stirling, Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohammed, and Beyond the Rails by Jack Tyler. Again, Diesel Jester asked me to be on a steampunk writing panel I wasn’t scheduled for. I joined the same gang as the day before and we continued our discussion of the process of writing steampunk. I finished the day at El Charro, a wonderful Mexican Restaurant in downtown Tucson with many friends from the convention. In the photo below courtesy James Spring, I’m not only showing off my Clockwork Legion Books, but my new shirt and hat!


So, what does all this have to do with wrangling sharks? Well, this was the debut event for the third novel in my Clockwork Legion series, The Brazen Shark. I ended up selling out of all but two copies of the new novel. Fortunately, a fresh shipment was waiting for me when I returned to Las Cruces, so I have plenty of copies for the Tucson Festival of Books. If you missed both events, don’t despair, you can wrangle a shark of your own by visiting Amazon.com or BN.com.

9 comments on “Wrangling Sharks in the Wild West

  1. Sounds like a great con weekend.

  2. ericamilesx says:

    Great shirt and hat! Glad you managed to pull your wardrobe together after all that “wrangling.” Sounds like a wonderful event and that you had a lot of fun, despite the hot weather. Liked your comment about “How it sucked to be Anything but Anglo in the Wild West.” Terrible tragic events but enjoyed your dry sense of humor. I’ve been very busy lately, publishing yet another revision of “Dazzled by Darkness,” but hope to read “The Brazen Shark” as soon as I’m able.

  3. Jack Tyler says:

    What is the matter with you??! Never, ever, ever say “My wife left the garment bag…” or anything similar. No matter what the facts, you did it!

    Other than that one glaring blunder, great post. I must get to one of these cons eventually. Problem is with living in one of the great tourist meccas of the western hemisphere, tickets generally cost more than I make in a month, and never mind getting a table or actually participating in anything. It might be cheaper to join you in Tuscon… Hey!

    Looks like you had a ball, my friend. Well done, and many more happy times!

    • Indeed, my wife has put up with a lot of nonsense from me in nearly 26 years of marriage and for some reason she still sticks with me. And yes, I left the garment bag hanging on the closet door and not with any of the other items slated to go. I do need to fess up and take blame for that! You’ve caught me out, Jack.

      It would be wonderful to see you at one of these cons. Some are more expensive than others, so shop around to find one where you can dip your feet in the water. Don’t overlook the small literary SF cons. Some have very active steampunk programming tracks.

      By the way, the multicultural steampunk literature panel was recorded, in case you want to hear me taking your name in vain. You can listen at: http://creativeplayandpodcastnetwork.podbean.com/e/wwwc5-panel-multicultural-steampunk-literature/

      I had a great time, indeed, and thanks for dropping by!

      • Jack Tyler says:

        Really fun hearing someone mention me on a panel just like I was a real author. By the way, both volumes of BtR are available in both print and e-books. Now i’m off to share your most excellent panel. Cheers!

      • My pleasure, Jack, and great to hear there are print copies available. I’ll be sure to mention that to Madame Askew (AKA Jocelynne) who runs the Tucson Steampunk Society Book Club. She might well be interested in making it a club selection. I’m just going through posts in the Den, since work has kept me occupied these past few nights. I saw your note about Gaslight Gathering — I’ll likely be there and you can even see me on their web page in the slide show! If you had the chance even to drop in for a few hours one day, that would be great. Another nice convention in San Diego is ConDor.

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