A Mad Genius Goes to RavenCon (Part the Second)

And it came to pass that as the second day of the Convention of Raven dawned, the warrior maiden Kate the Impaler did fortify herself at the buffet of breakfast, wherein quantities of bacon were consumed and strong tea was imbibed (the warrior maiden’s dislike of coffee hampering her ability to caffeinate). Thus, as the hour of ten approached, the warrior maiden prepared to join the “Writing Dialogue” panel.

And lo! With the aid of fellow-panelists Lou Antonelli, Karen McCullough, Noah McBrayer Jones, and Lawrence M Schoen, wit did sparkle and discussion did flow as mighty principles of dialogue were examined (when writing dialect and accents, less is more, attributions like “he said” vanish, and word choice matters). Much was made of the difference between the way people really speak and how such speech be represented in dialogue, with the worthy panelists exhorting the audience to avoid such evils as phonetically representing accents unless they be writing plays. Indeed, to spell an accent is to force a reader to work, and such an act pulls that worthy from the tale.

Yea, though the panelists were greatly diverse in origin, all did agree upon the evils of forcing the reader from the spell woven by their words, lest he abandon their works altogether and buy them no more.

With cheer and goodwill did the panelists part ways, expressing hope of further meetings, and so the warrior maiden did venture unto the Den of Vile Commerce known as the Dealers Room, wherein she sighed over the pretties on display at Forgotten Treasures and enjoyed conversation with that mighty warrior Mad Mike, whose Sharp Pointy Things were in very deed an array of sharp, pointy things to make any warrior dream of a greater bank balance and the screams of dying enemies (but alas, the bank balance must be honored lest the wails of dying credit card attract the demons of insufficient funds).

Much joyous conversation was had upon the nature of weaponry, the importance of ending the Sadness of the Canines of Youth, and the prospect of selling buttons with the arcane cantrip “Barfly Central is my Safe Space”. And lo! The Convention of Raven has not descended to the madness of the Safe Space, for among the Secret Masters of Fandom in the shining city of Richmond there are those who know the never-to-be-spoken truth: that the Safe Space so celebrated by the Glittery Warriors of Social Justice is merely the demon of Apartheid masquerading under a pretty name and suit of demonic glitter.

As the hour of one drew near, Kate the Impaler did gird her loins (not literally โ€“ stop slavering) once more and ventured unto the panel “It’s Only a Flesh Wound! Realistic Injuries in SF and Fantasy” where with the doughty warriors Chris A Jackson, Stuart Jaffe, Darin Kennedy, and Mike McPhail she did opine on the nature of injuries and how the injury of penetration is โ€“ unless such injury chances upon a vital organ โ€“ by far less damaging than the injury of blunt force.

Yea, the nature of injury and the horrors therein were examined by those who inflicted such injuries in their profession and those who healed them, as well as the warrior maiden who in her mundane life merely researches them with thoroughness and joy. Kate the Impaler did extol the virtues of that most amusing and enlightening of locales to be found within the Internet of Tubes, “Things I Learn From My Patients“.

Much was said about the quality of Hollywood injury depiction, little of it flattering for lo! No mere human can fall a great distance and be able to rise, for not only are most of his bones broken unto fragments, said fragments have opened many of his major blood vessels, and he has bled out ere he can be aided even if his brain was not damaged by the contact of his head with a hard surface at terminal velocity.

Upon completion of the panel, the warrior maiden did retreat to her “safe space” (Barfly Central) wherein she did converse with many of the Flies of Bar and did meet in person the redoubtable warriors John C Wright and L Jagi Lamplighter (for as with many in these modern times the warrior maiden had conversed with both through the Internet of Tubes). ‘Twas here that Kate the Impaler did learn of the attempt of the GOH of Wrongness to have a person ejected from the Convention of Raven and that the GOH of Wrongness did have no copanelists. Speculation there was that the GOH of Wrongness was of such wrongness that no other wished to join for any panel.

And it came to pass that the space of Barfly Central did empty for the Baen Road Show, but the warrior maiden was wearied, and remained, where she spoke unto the Guest Liaison of the nature of managing conventions and the difficulties therein (and learned much from that worthy, though of such nature it may not be disclosed in public, for the Guest Liaison sees much and must keep peace among such a diversity of Guests of Honor that leakage may cause great damage unto a Convention).

Thus, while the Guest Liaison did prepare repast for the Flies of Bar, Kate the Impaler did aid her, for the narcoleptic warrior maiden must remain awake beyond the night hour of ten, that she might contribute mightily to her final panel of the day, “The Villain’s Journey”.

(to be continued)


  1. Back in my not-entirely-misguided youth-ish, I got to sit in on a group of paramedics/ER and ICU nurses/ former military critiquing a cops-n-medics show. Yea verily the sarcasm and wise-assery did flow thick, along with the gore on screen. (“Is that the third or fourth time he’s come back from the dead?” “Not sure, I don’t think he can count that high any more, not after that head trauma.”) I learned a good deal about what not to write (or script) that evening.

    1. Ooh, that sounds like an awesome panel for a writer’s track at a con. Although the trigger warnings would probably need trigger warnings of their own…

      1. This crew used to have score cards for how bad the effects and medicine on the shows were. Kinda like we had at one airstrip where I worked on warbirds. The incoming pilots HATED the days when we “got into the Olympic spirit.” But that sort of panel would be useful, especially for some urban fantasy type stuff (like the hero being rolled into Grady [Atlanta’s public hospital] on a stretcher at midnight on pay-day Saturday and getting seen instantly, then installed in an ICU room within minutes? Pure urban fantasy, given the injuries/problems the author described. [I assume this got cleared up in the final draft. I was alpha reading.])

        1. I bet they did! It’s exactly the kind of thing paramedics/ER nurses/etc would do.

          And that urb fantasy? Unless the author happened to get really convincing beta readers or an editor with a clue (my money would be on the first WAY before the second, for most houses), probably not.

      2. Well, yes. Everyone entering the panel KNEW it was going to involve seriously gruesome and horrible injuries. The panel description WAS the disclaimer.

    2. Ooh, yeah. Dinner with an ER nurse friend had a rather similar impact on me. Along with her stories of the things she saw.

    1. Yup. My suspicion is that particular GOH was only GOHing because the Spouse was a legit GOH (artist).

  2. I try to never mis the Baen Road Show, or as I like to think of it the let’s tease Toni show. I think only once have I failed to score a free book, and last time Toni actually gave me two just to shut me up.

    1. Sir, I bow to your superior teasing Toni skills.

      I got one for fetching swag a writer had left in their hotel room, but I think that counted as amusing Toni, not teasing her.

  3. Are You Pondering What Iโ€™m Pondering?

    I think so, Brain but maybe the GOH of Wrongness doesn’t have an all powerful Glittery Wu Haa after all.

    1. You have won the Internets. I’d tell you where to collect if I knew.

  4. And behold, a certain Doleful Canine of Extreme Youth (as a Canine) did rejoice, for he was famished with hunger for the continuation of the tale of the adventures of noble warrior maiden, Mad Genius, Kate the Impaler, at the Convention of Raven.

  5. You do know that “girding” one’s “loins” literally means putting clothing on over one’s pelvis — ranging from a simple garment such as a loincloth or shorts all the way up to body armor such as a leather kirtle or plate fauld and tassel, right? There’s nothing dirty about it! ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. There was a thing going around (hm… I notice I’m not “synova” again) on Facebook on what girding loins meant. It had a nice picture and stuff that showed a guy in biblical type (supposedly) robes fold them up between his legs and tie them around his belt so they wouldn’t fall down again and explained this was to ready ones self for either labor or battle.

      All I have got to say is… PANTS.


    2.         “When correctly viewed, everything is lewd (I could tell you things about Peter Pan, and the Wizard of Oz, there’s a dirty old man!”)

    1. It’s a presentation from Baen Books concerning upcoming publications. Toni (head of Baen Books) travels to various SF/F conventions to put it on.

    2. It’s also the awesomest class on marketing you can ever have: how to clearly brand your product, excite your fans, beta-test your covers against your target demographic, make sure your audience of hard-core word-of-mouth recommenders is introduced to new authors in your lineup, give away ARCs of upcoming books to excited reviewers… and do it all while leaving the audience hurting from laughing so hard.

      Toni is a genius at showmanship.

  6. While surfing the internet (on the pretext of researching for a story), I found a few reports of people who have fallen from altitudes of over a mile, without benefit of parachute. As well as a generous helping of luck or miracle, the common factor was that they did not land on a hard flat surface. There was deep snow on a slope in a couple of cases and a (very) friendly tree in another. They usually had injuries such as broken bones, but survived. I have also noted that from sufficient height, water may count as a hard flat surface. But many tales from the City of Illusions, aka the place of the lie, are indeed quite fictitious.

    1. Hard and flat (which yes, includes water at that kind of height) is definitely bad news. Slope helps. So does tree which kind of absorbs some of the momentum.

      The mile and more is actually sort of irrelevant: if the fall is from high enough that you get close to terminal velocity the landing is going to be ugly. (Anecdata: when the Sydney Harbour Bridge was being built, the workers who fell and survived were the ones who managed to get their sledgehammers under their feet before their feet hit the water. They got broken bones, but they weren’t killed.)

    2. Now I’m curious as to how the state of water affects its hard-and-flat-ness. That is, if it is a windy day and there is turbulence, how does that affect the impact?

      … and now I suspect the answer is likely to be found in suicide statistics from the Golden Gate Bridge. Not going there.

  7. No mention of cuts? As in knife or sword cuts? There is enough use of swords in Fantasy that I think that should be mentioned.

    Depending on the cut, a cut can be worse than either blunt or penetration {thrust}. A slicing cut can open one up lengthwise quite a ways. It might be shallow, but a lot of bleeding and shock can result.

    Stepping forward with a medieval type sword, one can deliver a chopping blow that can split a skull to the teeth, or go through the collarbone well into the rib cage. Or, maybe just take a limb off.

    Not that I’ve done that or anything, but if you’re going to make swords for a living {and I did for a while}, it helps to do some research. And I have to admit that a few of the swords I sold wound up being tested on deer carcasses {three that I know of}, a “pig sized mammal” {in the Phillipines}, a wobbly cow {in Texas} and several pig bones etc that were donated for test cutting {North Carolina}.

    1. There’s two key things to consider: “Depending on the cut,” and Jafar’s “You’d be surprised what you can live through.” Having a collection of impressive cuts myself, none have proved disabling, as in no longer able to work. Some are insidiously sneaky, resulting in death from internal bleeding hours later. Granted, there are cuts that can disable instantly or within moments, such as a sliced hamstring or Achilles tendon, or to the jugular, but most aren’t going to take someone down instantly. A tad inconvenient for our hero battling the dastardly minions of the Dark Lord.

      Consider this: I have a friend who had a chainsaw kickback on him. It swung up and into his skull. The only thing that kept it from slicing all the way through was his metal frame glasses, which stopped the chain.The doctor placed a flashlight beneath his nostrils, and it shone out the wound. He remained lucid the entire time. Had he been on a medieval battlefield, he would have been able to continue fighting.

      Consider this as well: I know of an incident where someone opened his door and was attacked by a thief wielding a machete. Despite a wicked cut, he grabbed the baseball bat he kept behind the door and proceeded to work the would-be robber over. The robber got sent to the hospital; the cut victim went home after getting stitches.

      Another thing to consider: Bow hunters frequently have to trail their kills. Modern broadheads are like razors, for another reason that seldom gets mentioned in literature: Torn blood vessels tend to contract, restricting bleeding a little, where sliced blood vessels do not contract as much, giving faster bleeding. And still you have to trail your game.

      There’s a reason boar spears have those spikes on the side: Just stabbing a porker isn’t going to kill it right off, and the critters have a nasty habit of running up the spear to get at the hunter.

      1. Yeah, it depends on the cut, and several factors.

        You mention cuts that folks survived. Just thinking of two sword instances over the last fifteen years, a police officer tried to disarm a katana wielding fellow that was off his meds {somewhere in the south, I don’t remember exactly where}. The sword wielder attacked, slicing meat lengthwise off the officer’s forearm. As in a lot of muscle. He died really quickly.

        Here locally, two fellows, one of them a teacher of one of the Phillipine martial arts, got into a bit of a kerfuffle. The other fellow took to the teacher with a sword. He was dead before aid could get to him {cuts, not thrusts}

        There are a lot of things that can prevent a sword from delivering a devastating cut. One is the sword, it’s design, or its condition.

        Another is heavy clothes. Particularly heavy loose clothes. I still wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end.

        And the most important part is the guy operating the sword. It actually takes a little technique to deliver a debillitating cut.

        Not disputing what you say, just adding to it.

        1. I should have hesitated a second before dropping off. There was another incident about fifteen years ago in Bellevue. A young couple got into a fight, and the guy completely lost it. He took a sword to his girlfriend and struck her repeatedly. Fortunately it was winter, and she was wearing a heavy coat. She was bruised somewhat, but no worse for wear.

          I don’t know the condition or type of sword, just that the local media called it a sword. For all I know it might have been a sword bought from one of the malls with the typical poor quality.

          1. Or one of the show models that has no edge and is functionally a second-rate bludgeon (they bend).

        2. Oh yeah. Humans are remarkably durable as long as a major blood vessel isn’t opened. When there’s enough adrenaline running through the system, we may not even *realize* we’ve been injured.

          (Been there. Something like half a dozen hornet stings and I didn’t realize I’d been hit. I was too busy hauling my younger brother to safety at speeds I don’t think I’ve managed before or since – *he* was allergic. Getting him away from the nest was all I cared about).

          1. A deer with a round in the heart can run several yards before collapsing. I’ve had . . . interesting experiences twice, once with an ill-placed shot, and another with a shotgun and undersized loads.

            This gets into the issue of stopping power. It’s worth noting that the venerable Colt .45 ACP came from the US Army’s bad experiences with the .38 Long: They wanted a weapon to stop an attacker and stop him now.

            Note that my father used to go hog hunting with a single-shot .22 loaded with hollow points and depended on head shots – not recommended – so shot placement is significant. Ditto the use of hand-to-hand combat weapons, keeping in mind that our hero will be facing trained foes well aware of this and who will be diligently working not only to protect their own, but trying to do the same to the hero as well.

            History is, er, loaded with examples of fatal injuries that didn’t kill outright. So if a dastardly minion is dropped to the floor but running on adrenaline, he might take a swipe at the hero’s ankles or knees before expiring, and that could prove to be most inconvenient, particularly if there are other dastardly minions with sharp pointing things nearby.

            BTW, it’s perhaps worth noting that while someone who suffers a concussion isn’t going to be “right as rain” when they come to, it is possible to function a great deal on “automatic,” particularly if there is sufficient threat. So if someone with a concussion has intensive training and sufficient recognition of threat, it’s surprising what they can manage. Unfortunately, been there, done that, regaining consciousness to the smell of gasoline and the thought GET OUT RIGHT NOW!

            OTOH, I once came up on a wreck where the accident victim was standing beside the road, seemingly okay, but who’s condition rapidly deteriorated. The cause was a head injury.

            1. See also this informative and occasionally graphic video:
              “9mm vs .45 vs Rifle A Dr’s View of Gunshot Wounds”

              My neighbor tried to execute an 800 pound hog using a .22 rifle… 37 shots later (and the odd panic as more than once they had to flee from the enraged boar), they gave up and got something of larger calibre to finish the job.

              1. I know someone who was the “victim” of an attempted robbery with a small calibre handgunโ€”the guy shot him in the stomach and was apparently shocked that he didn’t fall over. He was wearing a puffy vest… so after scaring off the robber (I don’t remember if punching was involved), he went back to base and got himself a bandaid. There’s a reason “stopping power” is a useful term.

                1. Ah, television — giving us unrealistic expectations, one bullet at a time!

              2. Very interesting. This verges on gun geeking, but, after checking a ballistics chart, I question his energy for the .45 ACP vs 9mm. The lack of penetration with hollow points makes sense, as the bullet mushrooms and dissipates energy. OTOH, this can be a feature – my father’s hog-hunting brain shots with a .22 (not to be confused with head shots – a head shot may not enter the brain and just wind up with a ticked off hog) and reducing the likelihood of the bullet going through the target.

                It also made me wonder if those 12 gauge hollow point rifled slugs my father and I picked up in case we ran into bears were such a good idea. Yes, they make or made such a thing.

                From a writing perspective, this has applications for more than just combat scenes. The lack of penetration reminded me of a story of a an African guide armed with a shot gun and buck shot who ran afoul of a leopard. The pellet lodged in the chest wall but never penetrated to heart an lungs. There are obvious questions of range and loads, but I wouldn’t care to use a shotgun for hog hunting for the same reason.

                Ballistic charts and recoil tables really are good resources for writers. I was doing a story once where I was wondering if a young teenager could handle a .375 H&H, then looked up the recoil and found the shotgun and cartridges I hunted with at that same age had greater recoil.

              3. Your neighbor probably didn’t use the right .22 – you need to use a .22 long – and neglected to place the shot properly. Every single one of our hogs that we have slaughtered were killed with either one or two shots to the head. Right between the eyes. An inch either up or down, though, and it will tend to bounce right off.

    2. Cuts were mentioned – they operate as a combination of penetration and blunt trauma in that they inflict a fair amount of trauma-type damage (this is also why the classic action after getting a thrust in is to twist the weapon) as well as opening blood vessels.

      1. Yeah, Yang Style Tai Chi sword has this utterly kool techique, where when the point has entered the abdomen, you move the hilt back and forth once, scissoring the tip back and forth in the wound.

        Of course in practice you may not have that time.

  8. You didn’t warn us there were 75 PAGES of “Things I learn from my patients” — that place is worse than TVTropes!! ๐Ÿ˜€

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