Reverting to Clarion - here's my note on week 4 with Cory Doctorow.
Week 4: “It Gets Worse!”
Cory was totally plugged in. We couldn’t separate him from his iPod long enough to hold a water-war. He instituted yoga in the mornings, before class; and walks to the bluff every evening after dinner. He gave us copies in manuscript form of his subversive new YA novel, Little Brother, which he also read at a well-attended event at Mysterious Galaxy.
(He described the process of writing it – in 8 weeks - as “passing a pineapple.”
“Passing? Like a basketball?”
“No, as in the digestive process…”)
Cory was the Master of the Plot. We discussed the 7-point plot and Try-fail loops. (“The protagonist tries intelligently to solve his problem. He fails. It gets worse!”) His class assignment was the movie Die Hard, on his birthday. A birthday dinner was celebrated on return from the movie, and segued into an analysis of try-fail loops and fighting aircraft with bare fists and airborne automobiles.
From Shweta’s midnight atelier came a chalk drawing of techno-Mickey, a reference to Cory’s book, “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom” and his dedication to technology.Amelia Beamer of Locus e-mailed asking for a group picture, which was taken by Tania. That’s the one on my website. (It got published in the August 2007 edition.)
A surprise arrived from Jeff and Ann Vandermeer: Our Killing Roman stories, compiled into an anthology! Called the Leonardo Variations, it claimed to have been edited by Dr Snead and the Danger/Dead Frog…and the back cover asked, “Will his students want to replace 'Roman' with 'Jeff' in their texts when they find out?" Lunch, that day, was hurried as people opened their books. (Later, we would each get the others to autograph the books for us.)Drew and Julie had birthdays. A stegosaurus in chalk mysteriously appeared, crowned and armed with balloons wishing them both Happy Birthday.Jerome and Shweta made a poster of the Doctruvian man. It started out as Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian man, but it acquired Cory’s head, a pair of Mickey Mouse boxers, a variety of electronic equipment, and a name-change…We appeared that evening for our sunset walk wearing paper cutouts of a photograph of Cory’s head, stuck onto our clothing like buttons. Cory’s did a double-take when he got off the cellphone, turned around, and saw us all wearing Cory-heads!
On Saturday, Donald Wesling, Professor Emeritus of UCSD’s literature department, and the head of the Clarion effort on UCSD’s campus, had a pool party for Clarionites and their families if they were present. Justin’s then-partner Tim showed up, looking a little bemused by this crowd of writers. Kater’s husband Jeremy and her two remarkably well-behaved little girls came too. And we were joined by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, who team-taught to final two weeks.