This weekend is the Fourth Street Fantasy convention in Minneapolis, and I’m delighted to be a panelist there once again!
You can find the full schedule here, but I’ll be on the following panel:
Saturday, June 23, 8:00 PM: Who Put This $#@!! Balrog Lair in the Middle of a Sewer Line? (Alternate Title: Life in the Temporary Topmost Layer)
Elizabeth Bear, Benjamin C. Kinney, Arkady Martine(M), Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Vivian Shaw
The Balrog, of course, would say “Who tried to drive a &^%#!! sewer line through the middle of my lair?” First principle: We’re not all that excellent at shunning risk even when we manage to identify it. Some of our cities are literally sinking, while others are precariously perched next to volcanoes, and yet we keep buying new furniture anyway, c’est la vie.
Second principle: We’re all living on top of stacked and flattened layers of history. Our nations spread over the bones and borders of the nations they replaced by fair means or foul. Our neighborhoods are named for trades or functions that vanished decades ago, our streets were built for the vehicles of ages past, and they were built atop still older streets and neighborhoods.
Combine these two principles and you begin to construct a fascinating, disquieting picture of how our lives are shaped by the compacted strata of legacy infrastructure, detritus, and danger beneath our very feet. All the layers of history in a place act upon the living. How and when has this been accurately reflected in fantasy fiction? How do you present the secrets and dangers of a fantasy landscape as a vivid influence on its inhabitants rather than a meaningless detail on a map or list? Also, how do we grapple with the notion that we must some day become just another thin line in someone else’s deeply-layered history?