Thursday, September 5, 2013

Worldcon report the second

Friday dawned and I was feeling much better. I made it back to Worldcon around 10 a.m., and as there were several panels I wanted to see, I ended up dithering and didn't make it to any of them. I did catch the "Turkey City turns 40" panel with Chris N. Brown, Eileen Gunn, Don Webb, Jessica Reisman, Howard Waldrop and Lawrence Person, which was good fun and, seeing has how I've attended half a dozen of them, I had some skin in the game. As my earlier "History of Steampunk" panel got cancelled, the programming folk subbed me onto the "Steampunk: Trend or Genre" panel, alongside Lou Antonelli, Gail Carriger and Jess Nevins. I've known Lou and Jess forever, and the panel went very well. I even learned from Carriger that the steampunk aesthetic arose independently of the literary trend, and has a variety of disparate, unrelated origins. A prime example of "steam engine time," that. I like to think I didn't dumb down the discussion too much.

After the panel, I found my lack of advance preparation to be a huge mistake: Faced with a number of panels I wanted to attend, I couldn't come to a decision and retreated to the art show and dealers room yet again. After grabbing a bite to eat in the green room, I joined up with Joe Lansdale for the "Adapting Bubba Ho-Tep for Film and Other Tales" event. Playing ringleader to Joe's circus is incredibly easy--all I have to do is get out of the way and Joe keeps the audience in stitches with his hilarious stories. The lack of communication that plagued LoneStarCon 3 reared its ugly head here, though. Following the hour-long discussion of Joe's filmmaking experiences, the convention had scheduled a screening of the afore-mentioned Bubba Ho-Tep. Except they hadn't told Joe, who wouldn't have know had I not informed him the day before. Not only that, but the con apparently failed to make arrangements to secure a copy of the film for showing--Joe had to call up to his room and get his wife, Karen, to bring down a DVD (which they luckily had). Nobody from the convention showed up to operate the projector. That's a lot of assumptions and expectations to place upon a guest of honor when you don't communicate well.

Following a hasty dinner of a mediocre kabab from the Rivercenter Mall food court, I dropped by the "Astronaut cocktail party" put on by Amy Sissom and Paul Abell. And when those two put on an astronaut cocktail party, they don't screw around: Cady Coleman, a veteran astronaut with 4,330 hours in space aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia and the International Space Station, was the guest of honor. And I have to say, there was not a party at the convention the entire weekend that was anywhere near as packed as this one was. I made the following observation when Coleman appeared during the Hugo Awards ceremony, but it bears repeating here:

Coleman seemed a bit perplexed by her rock star status amongst all the SF writers. But this is as it should be. Whereas most of us merely write about traveling in space, she actually does it for a living. Pretty much every science fiction writer started out wanting to be an astronaut growing up. I know I did, and my kids currently harbor similar aspirations. Coleman's living our dream. Is there any wonder science fiction writers go all fanboy around astronauts? I think not.

I would be very, very remiss were I to not single out Paul Abell at this point. Being involved in Texas fandom in various degrees for more than two decades, I know first-hand that landing an astronaut guest is one of the Holy Grails of Texas fan conventions. We tried all four years during my involvement with Aggiecon, and were rebuffed each time. One year we did manage to land two planetary scientists who gave presentations on future Mars missions and exploring the outer solar system. Those presentations were so packed, we quickly added additional showings. But astronauts eluded us, and other cons. Until Paul became involved with Texas fandom some years ago. Due in no small part to his liaison efforts, NASA astronauts have become almost-regulars at these events, ApolloCon in Houston being a particularly juicy nexus for NASA involvement. That's a great thing in my book.

Elsewhere, the Dell and Tor parties were great fun. I got to sit in on some great conversations and interact with great people, including Ron Collins (who I hadn't seen in 15 years), Ann Vandermeer, Gardner Dozois, Steve Gould, Laura Mixon... the list goes on. Around midnight I decided to conserve my resources and headed for home. After all, I still had three days to go.

Monkey Girl got to see the Dalek pop its top.

My buddy Paul Carl again. His excuse for this silliness? Grandkids.

There weren't a whole lot of hall costumes this Worldcon, but this franchise-melding couple did stand out.

Another couple sporting pretty good hall costumes.

Scott Edelman stalks a Dalek in the dealers room.

I've no idea who this guy is, but I'm very impressed that his balloon headpiece didn't deflate from the masquerade the night before.

Another balloon-art headpiece from the previous night's masquerade.

The Revolution SF staff who weren't at Dragoncon gathered for an impromptu Worldcon podcast.

David Farnell, direct from Japan, participates in the RevolutionSF Worldcon podcast.

Matthew Bey, direct from Austin, participates in the RevolutionSF Worldcon podcast.

Sarah Arnold plays the role of ring master during the RevolutionSF Worldcon podcast.

Peggy J. Hailey, direct from Kenedy, participates in the RevolutionSF Worldcon podcast.

Elizabeth Moon finds what she's looking for in the dealers room.

Josh Rountree is another author I didn't get to spend much time talking to.

John Klima and I have gotten pretty good at trading snarky comments via Twitter.

Even in the midst of Worldcon, Mary Robinette Kowal, stays hard at work, crafting her next regency masterpiece, no doubt (I have since been informed she was engaged in an intense AMA on Reddit. Upon which she was FOCUSED like a LASER I tell you!).

Adam-Troy Castro, whom I spoke to briefly on Thursday with the intent to have more in-depth conversations later on, converses with Joe Lansdale (Lansdale's out of the picture, so you'll just have to use your imagination). I never did catch up with Adam-Troy for that conversation. Such is life.

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