When people ask writers “Where do you get your ideas?” – if you don’t get a growl at the question , or an answer for some value of “EVERYWHERE!”, or something pretty specific for a specific work, or some snarky comment about shady offices in Schenectady or idea trees that grow in the back yard… well… you’re likely to get this huge shrug and a bewildered look and a simple disavowal of having any inkling whatsoever as to the provenance of a story that swam into a writer’s mind and demanded to be told.
I am not entirely sure where “AbductiCon” came from. In what is known in the industry as an elevator pitch, a summary of the book in one or two pithy sentences, this one comes in as possibly “It’s like the cult movies ‘Paul’ and ‘Galaxy Quest’ had a love child”.
This books is like nothing I have ever done before. It is science fiction, not fantasy, although I frequently point out that most SF is fantasy: Beam me up? Really?). It is contemporary (its characters are people you will probably recognize). It is funny. It is metaphysical. It touches on the lore of my tribe and our favorite pastime, the SF Convention. At its heart, it’s a love letter to the con culture and the tropes of the world of SF&F which have shaped my world. I actually deliberately named a character something in order to have ONE PARTICULAR LINE appear in the book (and you’ll know it when you see it. Trust me.)
It is one of the most polarizing books I have ever written. People don’t have meh feelings for this thing. They love it and laugh and hug it to themselves in recognition, or they berate me for having wasted my time on it and call it frivolous, shallow, silly, not worth the time spent ticking off the tropes that appear in its pages on the AbductiCon bingo card.
Let me just give you the basic plot here. What we have is a classic comedy of errors which happens with any convention, anywhere – the usual mayhem with guests and programming and other generic snafus that plague con runners. It is then thrown into a higher gear… when a bunch of time traveling androids arrive and kidnap the entire convention – HOTEL AND ALL – and take it for a swing around the moon while they (the androids) finish figuring out their own origins. The poor Con Com members thrown into the deep end of this do their best to deal with the situation, and everyone involved ends up having the Best. Con. Ever. Despite themselves.
At the end of every convention any con goer has ever been to there is a moment of melancholy, when you’re standing there in the lobby of some anonymous hotel bidding farewell to buddies you may not meet again until a year has gone by and you both return to this place for next year’s con. With this book in your pocket, you don’t have to suffer from con withdrawal symptoms ever again. It’s like having your own con-in-a-can, and you can haul it out and have a con fix in the comfort of your own home whenever you feel a twinge of missing one, or the friends and fun that go with them.
I wasn’t just writing a book, here. I was having FUN. I was giving myself a world in which I could play, in which I could bring the things I love and put them all on glorious display. It is a book which was aimed both at veterans (who will howl when the recognize the archetypes in this story as people they might have known in their own con careers) and newbies (who will either run out and book a con the moment they put down the book, or flee in the other direction). It is a book for people who know science fiction, and love it. It is a book for people like me, for people I love, for all the friends and colleagues I have met over the years – it is a thank you to that world for being all that it has been for me in its time, for giving me strength, and courage, and fellowship, and laughter – yes, even while I was writing this, the book was giving me warmth and support and permission to laugh while I sometimes escaped into it, writing it as I did during a wretched period of my father’s last illness.
Cons are a way of life, something of a vocation. For anyone who knows what FIAWOL means (oh, all right – “Fandom Is A Way Of Life”. There. Now I’ve told you. This book is for YOU, too…), this book is for you – if you ever were, are now, or may be in the process of becoming a Fan with a capital F and diving headlong into that weird wonderful world. This is for you. This is for all of you.
Come join us on the trip around the moon here