Wow, where to begin?
The thing that sticks out more than anything else is the award for Best Related Work. Because everything up until that award wasn’t too badly vandalized by the Puppies. Best Related Work was the first big pile of crap that was nothing but awful Puppy trash. This was the big turning point – if this didn’t get No Award, it was likely nothing would. So I was tense and actually on the edge of my seat. The cheer that went up when No Award was announced was viseral. I was part of it. Things would be OK.
I sat in the Literary Beer with Neil Clarke, which was really fun. The man had great stories about his heart attack, the Clarkesworld Stalker, and the amount of sweat that went into deciding whether to publish Spar, among other things. He also talked about how when he helped write the criteria for Semi-Pro Magazine category he deliberately helped set it up so that Clarkesworld would soon be “Weighted Out” of the catagory (boxing term, meaning they were too big to qualify anymore). I found that rather noble of him. It’s hard to disqualify yourself for a catagory while you still try to hold down a full-time day job as well!
My first WorldCon I didn’t go to any Koffee Klatches or Literary Beers, as I was scared as hell about what I’d say around someone famous like that. I’m super glad I went to two this year, and I plan to go to them again next year.
Speaking of things learned from my first con – find a con spouse! My first time I hung around with Anaea Lay a lot, and took her as my date to the award ceremony. This year my con spouse was Danielle, we checked in a few times, shared several meals, and went to the ceremony together. (As a note – for those who aren’t familiar with the term “work spouse”, a “con spouse” is just someone you share a lot of time with, absolutely nothing sexual or romantic about it). It made everything easier and more enjoyable, and she managed to “track down” (ie: coincidentally bump into) one of the Hugo Awards, so we got to TOUCH THE HUGO! And take pictures with it!! Aaaaaaah!
My hotel was baller as hell, with AMAZING service!! I will try to always stay at Holiday Inn’s, I recommend them highly. When I tried to book my hotel I was dissapointed that the con hotel was already booked up, but now I feel I dodged a bullet. That thing was built at the nadir of American Architecture. The hallways are cramped, the roof is no more than six inches above my head, and the whole place looks like it came out of the 60s. Ugh. My Holiday Inn, OTOH, looked like a freakin’ castle, and was perfect and accomidating in every way.
One of the HIGHLIGHTS was getting to meet Seth Dickinson in person! Yes, the guy whose writing I ADORE and can’t stop talking about. We had dinner together, and drinks too, I got to talk with him for like FOUR HOURS across two days!! We talked fiction, his stories, rationality, the Rationalist movement (Anaea was there for most of this too, she’s not as enthusiastic about the rationality scene, so that was an interesting conversation. That’s her on my right), pets, and so forth. OMG it was so cool! If you can buy your idol dinner and drinks, do it, it’s so worth it! Insights from Seth #1: If a sentence doesn’t work, the problem is generally a few paragraphs up. Good fiction progresses naturally, and if you can’t get it to flow right, you probably messed up something upstream. Insight from Seth #2: Blindsight is proof that the SF genre of fiction is necessary. Most stories can be told in any genre, even most SF/F could be recast as Earthfic with some work. But Blindsight could only be done in SF, and it is an essential work.
I got to walk through a cool park whenever I went to/from my hotel. The entire con area was a nature wonderland, very asthetically pleasing! :) The nearby forest fires were a nuisance though. On the third day the smoke was so thick that not only was there a permanent haze, but the entire city smelled like the inside of a smokering room. It got to be nauseating, I had trouble eating dinner that day. A few times there was ash in the air, and yes, it even got into the convention center. It was really striking on the flights in/out, when you looked from your airplane window and saw smoke covering the landscape for hundreds of miles in all directions. Damn.
Oh, another thing I learned from previous cons that I put into practice in Spokane – before you do anything else, walk the entire con from front to back. Get a lay of the land, so you know where things are, especially in relation to each other. Schedule 30 minutes for this (more if you need it). I swear it’s one of the most important steps to enjoying any con, and well worth your time.
I went to both the Brandon Sanderson and John Scalzi readings, where they read from upcoming works. You guys are in for a treat in the near future. :) In addition to reading, John joked with the audience a bit and was all around charming and hilarious. Brandon talked about how he writes and some history, which was fascinating. Insights from Brandon #1: When you write, the novel/story is not the product you are creating. The product you are creating is a better author. You are upgrading you. The story/novel is a side-effect of this process. If it sells, great. If not – no worries. There will be more such side-effects as you keep working on yourself.
Pic stolen shamelessly from Rachael Acks
I went to the Business Meeting on Saturday. It’s a three-hour commitment right in the middle of peak con hours! I thought it would be a chore, but considered it an important duty. Boy was I wrong! This was among the highlights of the con for me! It is fascinating to watch the process happen. It feels like you are in a small Puritan village during the early colonial period. All the adults have gathered and are doing the best they can to keep society running because this is all the government there is. We are the only adults around, and who the hell thought that was a good idea? :) The strict adherence to Parlimentary Rules was charming, and I felt like I was turely part of a small community family. People were jovial. Apparently there are “regulars” who are well known for coming to these year after year after year. There was an informal Bingo game that listed the names of the 14 most common speakers, Whenever one stood up to make an amendment or challenge or speak for/against a motion their name would be marked off (and 5-in-a-row gets Bingo, of course). One person who spoke multiple times about the “YA Hugo” proposal was put onto the YA Hugo Committee by executive order. :) It felt like what governments SHOULD be. If only humanity could live in groups of a few thousand, rather than the hundreds-of-millions that nations consist of. /wistful
Most votes were done by raising of hands and estimation by the chair (most votes weren’t close and a count wasn’t needed). When a count was requested, everyone For stood up and counted off one by one as they sat down. Then repeat for Against. It was terribly exciting! Especially when I was sitting right next to the proposer of one of the motions (who was also the committee chair! Recused himself for that particular motion and sat down next to me) and voted against him! Later there was a presentation of EPH (E Plubris, Hugo) which cleared it up greatly for me and moved me from the “Voting against it, too complicated” to “This is brilliant!! I’m all for it!” camp. I hope they make that presentation available online at some point.
Anyway, the Business Meeting was great, and I encourage everyone to go! The sense of community was palpable. I only went for one (there were four, one each day Thurs-Sun), but I’m glad I did, and wish I had time to go to others as well. My friend Rachael Acks live-blogged all four days at her blog, here.
I think it’s awesome that gender-bent Immortan Joe cosplay has become a thing. :)
[No pic here of Panel or Scott Andrews, sadly. I am a dumb.]
The Future-Of-Short-Story-Publishing panel was fantastic. Especially because they had an old-timer (Mike Resnic) moderating the panel. He brought in stark contrast, when he spoke several times of “these things are run by Profit-and-Loss” and so forth. I asked about this, because I knew for a fact that at least half the panel still had dayjobs(!) and one of them is set up as a non-profit because it’s the only way it can afford to run. These are works of passion, not capitalist endevours. IMHO. The panel itself was good, but as I sat in the front row I was now able to recognize John Joseph Adams and Scott Andrews on sight. This came in SUPER HANDY when I went to the airport to fly back home on Sunday. I saw Scott Andrews sitting at my gate, waiting for the same flight! Not talking to anyone or reading anything either. So, after about a minute of working up my nerve, I went over to talk to him. And OMG we talked for 20 minutes!! It was fantastic! He explained Science Fantasy to me, we talked SF and podcasts and several other things. And it turns out he is ALSO a huge fan of Seth Dickinson! Hell yeah!!
Anyway, I had one of the best vacations of my life. I can’t wait for next year!