A busy day of crowds, lines, costumes, DC Comics, Scott Pilgrim, bad science, twisted genres, Naomi Novik, Geoff Johns and more.

The last few years, we’ve driven down to San Diego on Wednesday afternoon and stayed for the entire length of Comic-Con. This year we drove down early Thursday morning.

Getting There

Scott Pilgrim vs. the HiltonThe drive was a lot smoother than I expected, and we didn’t really run into traffic until we passed Oceanside. We made it to our hotel around 10:00, figuring we’d store our luggage, then come back to check in when we could. In a stroke of luck that surprised me even more than the traffic, the hotel had a room available at that hour, and we were able to drop things off and move on to the convention center without worrying about having to come back.

The Sheraton Suites at Symphony Hall isn’t exactly close to the convention center, but you can walk it in about 20-25 minutes. To get a sense of the area, we walked that first trip, spotting signs of the convention along the way: a movie screen being set up in a parking lot. The Scott Pilgrim banner on the Hilton Bayfront. Flynn’s Arcade. The marine layer hadn’t cleared yet, so the walk was quite comfortable (if a bit gloomy).

SyFyFinally we arrived at 5th and L, the hub of off-site convention activity — not to mention a serious bottleneck for pedestrian traffic. SyFy had a giant purple balloon, Green Hornet had a car and booth babes, there was the Scott Pilgrim Experience across the street, and people were handing out flyers, cards and promotional comic books everywhere you turned around.

The zombies hadn’t shown up yet as near as I could tell, nor the “religious” protesters, nor the vegan activists, nor the boothless babes promoting gaming sites, nor the pirate band…

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Empire of IvoryI just found out that Empire of Ivory, the fourth book in the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, came out today!

The series takes place in an alternate version of the Napoleonic Wars in which dragons exist, and are used in warfare. This results in an odd mix of naval battles and aerial dogfighting, with full human crews carrying bombs, guns, etc. Dragons bond with the first human they see (not telepathically, like in the Pern books, just emotionally), so captains in the Aerial Corps are given quite a bit of leeway—though the entire Corps is considered rather unsavory by the general public.

It focuses on naval Captain Will Laurence, who captures a French vessel just as an egg is ready to hatch. The dragonlet Temeraire imprints on him, and he is whisked away from the sea and into the world of air warfare. (Think of it as Master and Commander with dragons instead of ships.) During the first 3 books they go through training together, travel to China to discover Temeraire’s heritage, and find themselves called back to Europe in the thick of the war.

Our friend andrea-wot lent us the first three books last year, and we both really enjoyed them. In fact, Naomi Novik has joined the short list of authors whose new books I’ll pick up sight unseen (currently sharing that spot with Neil Gaiman and Greg Keyes), though for some reason I thought this one was coming out in October. I’m definitely going to be stopping by Borders or Barnes & Noble tomorrow to pick this up. If you’re at all interested, I highly recommend picking up the first book, His Majesty’s Dragon (in the US; in the UK it’s just called Temeraire) and giving it a test flight.