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That Was Worldcon

As I write this it’s 8:13 am in Reno on August, uh, I have no idea. (I doubt I’ll post it until tomorrow anyway though, so what’s it matter?) It’s Sunday, the last day of Worldcon. My wife is sleeping (she was out late at the Hugo Loser’s Party; she was the designated acceptor for Best Editor Long Form nominee Juliet Ulman. Shame she didn’t get to use Juliet’s lovely speech.) My mother-in-law, who came along to hang out with her grandson, is off having breakfast with the boy. It’s quiet in the room, apart from Heather’s steady sleeping breath and the everpresent exhalation of the air conditioner, so I thought I’d try to write a bit about my Worldcon experience, to nail down a few nice memories:

  • Seeing the women of Locus in their steampunk ball finery, especially my wife and her leather-corset based ensemble. (She’s understandably more proud of the tiny hat she made by hand last week, and it’s lovely, but… leather corset.)

  • My reading, which, though sparsely attended, had a very appreciative audience. And my other reading, at the EDGE party in the Con Suite, where I read a chunk of my story “Little Better than a Beast” and got some nice laughs from a casino robbery joke.

  • Dinner with my wife, my boss Liza, Liz Gorinsky, and Daryl Gregory. One of the most enjoyable convention meals I’ve ever had, both in terms of interesting yummy food and hilarious conversation.

  • Breakfast with Lynne Thomas and her husband Michael, the morning before Lynne won the Hugo for Best Related Book — I knew her when!

  • My kaffeeklatsch, which in a certain respect wasn’t all that successful, as only one person signed up. BUT that one person was someone I’ve met before, Joey, who’s a big fan of my work and great company besides. Plus: he brought me the gift of single malt Scotch, and small-cask bourbon, and peach brandy. (With a peach inside the bottle! They grow a peach inside the bottle before filling it with booze!) We loaded up the libations and went up to the Locus party and shared some liquor around, and Joey was very popular indeed.

  • The Locus party itself, where we toasted my late boss Charles, and generally made merry.

  • The release party for Lev Grossman’s The Magician King, where the ever-dapper Lev was induced to wear fox ears. (Read the book; it’s a topical fashion choice.) And where I had a chance to chat a bit with Lev and tell him how much I admire his books, and where we discussed the horrors of Dora the Explorer and the ubiquity of sloths in current speculative fiction.

  • Meeting David Malki of Wondermark fame — while wearing a Wondermark t-shirt, specifically this one.

  • I got a message on the voodoo board thing from a fan who was only at the convention on Thursday, hoping he could find me to get some books signed. So I called him up and arranged to meet him later at one of the parties, and he showed up and I signed and chatted a bit. Though sense we me in the Temple of Loud that is the Tor party, I don’t know how comprehensible I was. I pretty clearly made the guy’s day, though, which was wonderful if a bit surreal.

  • Hearing from a few people that my stories made them cry. (Not tears of rage, I assume.) Most tear-inducing stories seem to be “Little Gods” and “Restless in My Hand.”

  • Having the opportunity to thank Steve Feldberg of Audible for supporting my Marla Mason series and commissioning those awesome new Daniel Dos Santos/Lindsey Look covers.

  • Getting to talk about my “best critique” at a panel. My best critique came from my late boss Charles Brown, who actually read my first published novel in an early draft form, and gave me feedback that changed the whole way I thought about novels — that novels aren’t just long stories with extra subplots. Stories are jazz solos; novels are symphonies, with every character’s voice and viewpoint adding something different and complementary to the whole.

  • Paddling around the indoor swimming pool with River, and his absolute delight at being able to swim so much. His joy at riding up and down in the glass elevators, watching the world outside rise and fall.

  • Sitting with a laptop early in the morning outside by the pool, before the heat of the day really ramped up, and getting news that a book deal has been finalized. That tends to brighten up one’s convention-going day. (I’ll give details when I can.)

There were other nice moments, but those are the ones that stand out the most.

I haven’t seen much of Reno, having barely left the hotel, but I don’t think I’ll make a point of returning to see more of the city. I don’t have the gambling gene — nothing against it, it just doesn’t interest me, especially the ubiquitous slot machines where you’re essentially playing against uncaring Math itself. I could do without the cigarette smoke. If you’re not into gambling or smoking, there doesn’t seem to be a lot here for you, but again, I’m not the most educated observer.

This is my fourth Worldcon in ten years. Not that many, I know! I’ve only gone to west coast-ish Worldcons (San Jose, Anaheim, Reno), except for the convention in Boston, when I was a Campbell nominee. The one year I was a Hugo nominee, the convention was in Japan, my wife was VERY pregnant, and travel didn’t seem prudent, especially since I didn’t expect to win, so I didn’t go to the con. It’s not my favorite convention, honestly — a bit bigger than I like, though compared to DragonCon or ComicCon it’s tiny, I know. Still. I like a convention where you’ll pretty much run into everyone there a few times just by walking in the hallways, and Worldcon’s too large for that — there are friends and friendly acquaintances I know are here (I see their tweets!) that I haven’t managed to bump into.

This was a weird con, because most of my very closest friends in the field aren’t here; the people my wife and I tend to hang out with more-or-less constantly at conventions couldn’t make it for a variety of reasons. Which means we’ve spent a lot more time with people we like a lot but don’t know as well, and, you know, it’s been good! I’ve had conversations with people I normally don’t do much more than say “Hi” to.

I’m glad I came. But now I’m ready to vanish into fiction-writing isolation at home in Berkeley for a while, to emerge again at World Fantasy…

Published inconventioneering

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