Mark Reads ‘San Diego 2014’: Prologue / Part I

In the first part of San Diego 2014, THIS IS SO PERFECT, AND I WILL TELL YOU ALL THE REASONS WHY. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats.

Prologue / Part I: Preview Night

Mahir. Mahir.

  • I love that this is framed as an interview between Mahir and Lorelei Tutt. From a purely selfish perspective, I get more of Mahir before I’m done with this series, but it also makes sense that he’d be able to track down Lorelei to get her version of what happened in San Diego during The Rising. If I have the dates right, it looks like this interview happened right around when Feed started, so this is all pre-Newsflesh. There’s an initial similarity between Countdown and this novella, though that similarity quickly gives way to something else, which I’ll get to in a second. Given that this is a look at Kellis-Amberlee in its early stages, I actually expected that San Diego 2014 would have to cover some similar ground. However, this novella entirely relies on the reader having read the rest of the Newsflesh canon, which is immensely satisfying to me. There’s no rehashing of old points. Mira Grant drops us into the San Diego International Comic Convention, and then it’s chaos in maybe ten pages. I love that. Plus, filtering the prologue through Mahir allows us to appreciate why Lorelei would choose him to open up to.
  • Since 2006, I’ve been to six Comic-Cons, and I can only do one thing here: confirm that everything Mira Grant writes is 100% accurate. It’s stunning, really, how this part seamlessly introduces us to this world and to the realities of one of the biggest nerd conventions in the world. It is an overwhelming experience in a way that’s difficult to describe unless you’ve been. No matter how many ways I describe how packed Comic-Con is, it won’t get the image across to you. You honestly have to live through cutting across the main convention floor to make a panel in five minutes to appreciate the particular brand of chaos of that place.
  • But this isn’t the only detail that’s brilliant and accurate here. From setting up a booth (OH GOD, I HATE DOING THAT, IT’S RARELY FUN AND EVERYTHING GOES WRONG ALL THE TIME I SWEAR), to having to deal with being late to panels, to even the smaller irritations like being with someone who won’t stop talking about the very thing you are already at oh my god WE ARE HERE, YES, PLEASE STOP TALKING ABOUT IT. Now I’m having flashbacks to an experience I had just before I left Buzznet, and it was SO IRRITATING. Which I do have to put in perspective, because I realize it’s a privilege to even be able to attend Comic-Con. I didn’t get to attend the Con in a non-work capacity until 2010, meaning that I went four times in a row where I was assigned to cover things I did not like or had no interest in, had to fight for space to take photos, had to deal with editors who don’t understand that there is no reliable Wi-Fi anywhere in the convention hall and still expect you to update the Internet in real time but then refuse to get you a mobile 3G card so you can do what they want because they don’t think it’s worth the investment. So, those first four years were rough. I managed to have a few fun moments where I’d see panels or screenings that I wanted to, but everything was tainted by the frustrating bureaucracy of the con itself and the awful people I worked for. Due to all of this, I’ll always have complicated feelings about Comic-Con because I’ve unfortunately managed to find the un-fun parts of it.
  • Which is also why I appreciate how Mira Grant portrays a lot of this! It is fun to be in an environment like this, but it’s not without its problems. One of the things she touches on through Elle Riley is particularly timely, given that there’s been a lot of conversation the past year about the role of women in gaming, comic, and nerd communities, specifically how misogyny is such a huge issue. A whole lot of that commentary is here, too! It’s manifested in the online drama surrounding whether or not Elle is legitimate, a totally bogus and fucked up argument I have also seen way too much online. And in person. Jesus, it’s everywhere. I even had to deal with some asshole dude at one of my events this year who tried to put forth the idea that (I SWEAR I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP) people cared too much about Black Widow in The Avengers specifically because she was a woman.
  • HA
  • Fuck you.
  • Anyway, back to San Diego 2014! I really do feel like Mira Grant is spectacular at building suspense and managing chaos from a narrative perspective, so I’m quite pleased to see this used so wonderfully here. I love the multiple points of view, which harkens back to Countdown and reminds me of my fond experience of reading World War Z. Plus, I love that Grant brings back that detached, clinical tone again, something we didn’t really get in Newsflesh proper because the text was imbued with so much emotion. It’s what made Countdown so compelling and effective, and it really needed to appear again. Because I’m selfish, and I want everything for myself. Mark Oshiro: Totally Selfish Reviewer Who Rates Things Solely On How They Cater To His Unknown Whims.
  • The context of this tone, however, feels different because I get the sense that we might be reading Mahir’s actual report. It totally fits, doesn’t it? I won’t be disappointed if that’s not the case, but I like the idea that the interview sections split up the text itself, you know?
  • The convergence of Elle and Patricia/Matthew is nice, too, because I’m interested to see how all these characters will have shared experiences. Plus, Kelly Nakata serves to show us that Mira Grant is willing to introduce characters specifically to give us their perspective, even if it means they’re killed off just a page after they first show up. What I want from this novella is a portrait – a complex one, granted – of this specific place and time. I want to know how The Rising affected this convention, to see how it’s similar and how it’s different from what I read in Countdown.
  • Given the title, then, I’m assuming the bulk of this narrative will focus on the group of Browncoats. How do they help? What do they do? Why is it their “last stand”? I’m fully expecting everyone but Lorelei to die, so how is that going to come about?
  • (Fuck, I’m so excited to start Star Trek next year on Mark Watches.)


Mark Links Stuff

The Mark Does Stuff Summer Tour is happening soon! Check out the posted dates, suggest new ones, help bring me to YOUR TOWN.
– I have been nominated for a Hugo in the Fan Writer category! If you’d like more information or to direct friends/family to vote for me, I have a very informational post about what I do that you can pass along and link folks to!
- Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is now published and available for purchase! It’s available in ebook AND physical book format, and you can also get a discount for buying the ENTIRE SET of digital books: $25 for 7 BOOKS!!!
- Video commissions are open, and you can commission a Mark Reads/Watches video for just $25!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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