Sunday, April 5, 2015

Bronze Hugonaut

Some time ago, I took you into my inner vault of secrets, my Holy of Holies, my writer's hideaway. Like any place in space, this area is not static, but over time, usually with small, slight adjustments that accrete, rather than in one dramatic overhaul. Most of these changes are so slight as to be un-noteworthy, but once in a while, something seemingly small, yet dramatic, is adjusted, removed, or introduced.

While I was at the World Fantasy Convention in DC this past Autumn, I ran into the magnificent bronze sculptures of Vince Villafranca. One of my favorite things about conventions is the opportunity to see new art and to get to know the artists. I'm a hack when it comes to the visual arts, so I really appreciate the work and talent that goes into an excellent piece of art. Not to mention that one of my degrees is in Humanities, so I've got some professional training in assessing good art. But forget about academics, I love art for the sheer joy of discovering some new vista, another piece of beauty being added to the world.

Vince had previously been commissioned to sculpt the 2013 Hugo Award trophy. Say what you will about the Hugo and all the political imbroglio surrounding the award, this trophy is beautiful! You'll note, on the base, a little astronaut reading a book. This is what caught my eye at Vince's substantial display at World Fantasy, this little guy that Vince calls a "Hugonaut," quietly reading his book, travelling to other worlds beyond even those that he has already explored.

I didn't have the money, at the moment, to buy one, though I dearly wanted one, and I let Vince know that I wanted to know if or when he was going to cast another. He said he would let me know, and just to be sure, I contacted him via E-mail right after the show and started saving my money.

Fast forward to a few weeks before Christmas, when my wife and I were discussing presents for the kids and our budget for buying presents for each other. My wife told me my allowance to spend on her and said that she would spend the same amount on me. The numbers added up. I asked her if she wouldn't mind if this time, I used the money to get myself a little something I had wanted. She had heard me, a couple of weeks earlier, going on and on about the beautiful bronze sculptures I had seen at World Fantasy, so the prime had been pumped, so to speak, and she gave me the go-ahead.

The package arrived well before Christmas, but I wanted to wait, so I simply put it under the tree and waited. I told my kids that their mother had gotten me something spectacular, by which I meant she approved the purchase and I bought myself the gift. But I didn't tell them what it was. I was curious to see what they thought, being late-teen and adult nerds with a penchant for assessing good art themselves.

They "oohed" and "aahed" at the wonderful sculpture that emerged from the package. Now the Hugonaut sits in my reading area, keeping me company. I suppose it's bordering on idolatry, but when I need a moment for writing inspiration, I will just pick him up, heft him (solid bronze is not light, in case you didn't know), breathe deeply, and set about writing again. He serves as a sort of focus for my thoughts, a head-clearing totem. And here he is in three different views, courtesy of my sucky photography skills. In these views, he is sitting atop a steel six-sided die that my oldest son gifted me on Christmas the year before (a testament to my role-playing geekiness), which sits atop the notebook in which I am currently keeping thoughts and notes regarding the novel I am currently working on:

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