GBR #2.5 More on Varley


John Varley. Blue because I was playing with watercolor; why do you ask?


Note to self: If you meet John Varley at #Balticon50, DO NOT under any circumstances vocalize the “John Varley-corn” song that’s been stuck in your brainpan these last few days.

He’s far from “a little bown man with a nut-brown beard,” despite the jolly rollicking of my disobedient subconscious which has trapped me with this inglorious earworm. To begin with, John Varley is TALL. 6’5″, it’s been said. I’m married to a tall man. And we created, between us, another one. But even in a house full of men who can reach things off the top shelf, John Varley would stand out.

Additionally, his beard is not particularly brown any longer, from photos I’ve seen. This is appropriate for someone with the writing pedigree that he has. And with his life experience.

He also has a gift for being on the right end of serendipity, repeatedly. How does one ACCIDENTALLY end up at Woodstock?

To answer that question, visit his website: Plan to spend some time poking about and reading: his more personal writing can be funny and, at the same time, deeply moving. The whole premise of the Great Balticon Readathon is to enable ourselves to make the most of our convention experience. We may not get to know each of the Guests of Honor on a personal level, but knowing basic background is cool. It adds layers and depth to a panel or book signing if the person in front of you is more than a name and a title. And maybe you’ll have a point of common interest to discuss!

I quite enjoyed reading Mammoth. Thanks again to Bertie MacAvoy for the review, which was our previous post. Feel free to discuss the book in the comments with us if you like! One thing I particularly appreciate about Varley’s work is his aptitude with female characters who DO INTERESTING THINGS. Particularly given the era in which he began writing, stumbling across such creatures was more unusual than finding … well, perhaps a mammoth!

But if I talk to John Varley at Balticon? It will probably be about pinball.  Y’see, in his blog he mentions having owned Gorgar! My husband told me that he’s jealous. A Gorgar, in lovely condition, is his Great White Whale. (Although I don’t know where he thinks he’d put another pinball machine… Perhaps he should read Mammoth for some unlikely tips on folding things into other dimensions?) I think he wants me to find out if Varley still owns Gorgar! and if so make inquiries. I told him that this is Not Proper Convention Ettiquette. And yet — I suspect I may get a hopeful text at some point over that weekend. Mr. Varley, I apologize in advance. And officially invite you over to play Centaur.




GBR #2: Varley’s MAMMOTH

Look who stopped by from! Printed with kind permission.

Guest review by R.A. MacAvoy


In this novel John Varley gives us the most intricate sort of time travel story, and no time travel story is easy in itself. On top of this he donates some very believable portrait sketches of people, some of whom are human and some mammoths of assorted species. Even including mammoth teenage angst. And to tie all this in a bow is an over-story that is a children’s informative introduction into the world of the Pleistocene, complete with bold type for vocabulary building and ‘hyperlinks’ to other source material.

What makes this layered complexity work is humor: over-the-top humor with lovely comic timing.

And my response to it is, as I began my review, is Wow! (See – it’s in bold, too.)
Make that double-Wow.