devices and devisers

   “The most important thing [about fiction] is that it assures the reader that things need not be as they are now. In other words, the most important thing is hope.” Gene Wolfe

Yesterday, I went to the first Fuller Award ceremony at the Sanfilippo estate. I’m not typically one for awards ceremonies, but this was being presented to Gene Wolfe, whom I adore, by a friend whom I have not seen in some months, and it was being held at this venue. This place is very nearly indescribable. It’s a paean to clever mechanical devices, primarily musical devices, but also kinetoscopes, novelty games (mechanical baseball, horse racing, antique casino games, and boxing) and “services” (vibrating machines for your health, fortune telling machines, grip-strength evaluators, etc.).

It was entrancing and alarming. I wish I had thought to bring a digital camera other than my phone, because I pretty much wiped out the battery in the first 45 minutes there.

I posted photos here.

It was very gratifying to hear Gary Wolfe and Neil talk extensively about just how damned good Gene is, and how important he is to these writers who have maybe enjoyed more celebrity with their work. Gene wrote out everything he planned to say when it came time for him to speak, and I don’t know if he’d actually written down his little asides and wisecracks, but I still think he’s one of the most charming talkers. I said this back in 2002, but it’s still true. I have such a crush on him. I wish I hadn’t been so timid a decade ago, when I had a better opportunity to talk to him more in depth. He is one of the writers who has made me a better reader, and I will always be grateful to him for it. I’m going to read him out on the balcony this afternoon.

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