Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Worldcon report the first
LoneStarCon 3. Living in New Braunfels, a mere 20 minutes or so from the convention site in downtown San Antonio, I chose to commute over the long weekend. I arrived about 9 a.m. Thursday, a bit more tired than I'd like on account of staying up later than intended the night before. The con didn't begin until noon, but they'd scheduled a press conference at 9:30 a.m. and had asked me to come early to help out if I could. I should point out that after LoneStarCon 3 won the Worldcon bid, I was recruited to head up media relations. There are a number of reasons for this: 1) I've more than a decade's worth of experience as a working journalist, 2) I've more than a decade's worth of experience as a media relations professional (I head up the media relations division at Texas State University), 3) I served as media director for SFWA for six years, generating some pretty good press coverage for the Nebula Awards Weekends, with the 2008 event in Austin being particularly successful. I subsequently resigned from the position, but that's a post for a later date. Nevertheless, I agreed to help out with the press conference. Sadly, the press conference turned out pretty much as I expected, with most local media staying away and there not being much of anything for me to do. That's a post for another time as well. So, suddenly I found myself with a couple hours to kill. I'd neglected to bring a bag with me, as all Worldcons, World Fantasy Cons, Imaging USA, and every other big national convention tends to hand bags out along with various donated freebies (in this case, books). Except not this Worldcon. They opted for plastic water bottles instead. I don't know if this was a cost saving measure or what, but it proved damn inconvenient. Several other folks made the same observation to me. Fortunately, I was parked only a block away, making it relatively easy to take my stuff to the car, but it is still a Texas August, and I returned sweatier and most likely smellier than I'd have preferred. Once the con opened, things picked up. The dealer's room seemed smaller than in '97, but as that was my first Worldcon and completely overwhelmed me, it could very well be my imagination distorting things. I bought Kasey Lansdale's new CD, Restless. Her vocal range is a bit limited, but when she sticks to her range she can knock 'em dead. Her early work played with a kind of Patsy Cline/Janis Joplin fusion, which I absolutely loved. Her newer work is much more in the Reba McEntire mold. I prefer the earlier style, but there's no denying the newer stuff is good. Here's the point where I discovered the greatest find--and biggest injustice--of the entire convention. The Science Fiction Outreach Project gives away free books. Great, right? Right. In this case, the North East Science Fiction Association's collected works of the late Chad Oliver: A Star Above It and Other Stories, Far From This Earth and Other Stories and From Other Shores. Oliver was the godfather of Texas science fiction, an influential figure who cast a long shadow and had a great impact on us whippersnappers who came after him. I met him several times and he was always friendly and gracious. Yet try as I might, I couldn't get him to make the 90 minute drive to College Station for Aggiecon. Oliver had gone through a nasty battle with cancer, and although in remission, the spectre of its return always seemed to hover over him and he took few trips away from home and his medical support (as he explained to me). Sadly, his fears were justified--his cancer returned and he passed away in 1993. Even more troubling, he quickly became a forgotten author. I snapped up the three volumes--I have some of his novels and one earlier collection, but I had no idea these even existed. At the same time, it angered me a little. Why weren't the attendees swarming this booth for these handsome volumes? They were all gone within a few days, sure, but I wonder how many people who picked them up actually knew what they were getting. If they get around to reading them, they will. The art show was nice, with a magnificent display of the late Darrell K. Sweet's work. There was also a fantastic display of original Dungeons & Dragons artwork rescued from the TRS dumpsters, and I spent hours marveling at pieces I recognized (a lot of old-school work) as well as reading the back stories to them. Apart from that, the rest of the show ran a little thin. Maybe by sheer numbers it wasn't, but there were a number of professional artists who are regulars at other Texas conventions that were conspicuously absent. Not sure what to read into that, but the artists participating were certainly top-notch. And it was here that I had my only real negative experience of the entire convention. Whilst looking at the Sweet exhibit, a well-known fannish type who I will not name here looked at my name badge then said to me, "Jayme Lynn." "Yes?" I answered. "Your name is Jayme Lynn," he continued, more of a statement than a question. "Jayme Lynn Blaschke," I answered, a little confused. He couldn't be a fan--I don't have fans. And then, he actually tsked me, rolled his eyes, shook his head, then turned and walked away from me! Needless to say, for one of the few times in my life I was left speechless. I've never had anyone so dramatically disapprove of my name before. Near as I can figure, he must've seen my byline somewhere and imagined me as a drop-dead gorgeous, Bettie Page-style bondage queen. The reality must've been traumatizing for him. I ran into him once more during the con, and he damn near did it again. If nothing else, he's given be a bizarre con story to tell at future shindigs. And then, abruptly and unexpectedly, I hit the wall. By 5 p.m. I was dozing on my feet. The late night of work before, coupled with a general lack of sustained sleep earlier in the week, simply hammered me. Without pre-arranged dinner plans, I wandered the Rivercenter Mall food court a few minutes before realizing nothing was appealing. With the room parties still four hours away, I reluctantly made the strategic decision to go home and go to bed. I wasn't happy with it, but it was the right call. Anyway, enough yammering. Here are some pictures. Lighting conditions were awful but beggars can't be choosers. Enjoy.