Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WorldCon72 - LonCon3

So, a week after the fact, I'm still basking in the glow that was the World Science Fiction Convention in London. Thanks to my long-suffering husband, whose idea it was I go by myself without my family in tow. While I would have loved to spend the time with them, I think Magnus would've been bored and the boy too. There were some things for kids to do, but not quite as young as he is (almost 5), and the bulk of activities were clearly for adults.

Sofanauts!!!
I had ambitions and the desire to attend a million panels on various subjects and with my favorite people in the the field of Science Fiction. I had checked a minimum of 2 events that interested me for each hour of the con! Some hours as many as 8 events (panels, concerts, plays, kaffeeklatsches, etc.) were of interest. In a way, this is great. It meant that the organizers were in fact organized. There were many, many interesting topics (YA literature, Gender politics/issues, Sherlock Holmes, etc.) and many people involved who I respect and admire and wanted to hear speak and discuss live (rather than just reading their books, blogs, status updates and tweets). On the other hand, it was impossible to choose. And when it came down to it, I chose to hang with my fellow Sofanauts and to participate in small group discussions via Kaffeeklatsches and Literary Beers.

I didn't arrive until late afternoon Thursday, so I went straight to registration, which thankfully didn't take long. I then rushed to get a private rehearsal for the Retro Hugo Ceremony, which would be that evening. Then I rushed off to find Amy H. Sturgis' hotel room (very nearby). Amy is the creator of "Looking Back at Genre History", which runs monthly on StarShipSofa. I love her talks and her bubbly personality, not to mention that the topic is just fascinating (Go listen!)!! Anyhoo, so she's much more petite than I imagined her! But just as warm and delightful as in cyber space. She let me change into my (ok, I'm going to say it) my CosPlay outfit. Ha! I put on a sort of old-fashioned floor length chiffon dress, and did my hair and make-up 40's style. But it was more effort than a lot of others put in. teehee! We went over to ExCel and met Tony C. Smith (do I need to tell you? He's the host of StarShipSofa) and Steve Bickle (a long-time Listener-Sofanaut) and went in to the reception for the nominees. It was lovely. I introduced myself to Mary Robinette Kowal (who was one of the hosts of the ceremony) and gawked at Connie Willis. And had this picture taken:

 When we went into the auditorium for the Awards none other than Connie Willis sat next to me! And she was delightful! She has been around and involved in SF fandom for a long time and she let loose with little pithy remarks through-out. I sat next to probably the two most knowledgeable people when it concerns this award year. It was so much fun!

Alas, Raymond Palmer didn't win the award and so I didn't get to rattle off the speech Steve Davidson wrote for me (complete with words like "fen") or hold an actual Hugo Award (better than the Oscar if you ask me!). I did get all nervous when they were announcing the nominees though, so it was a bit of a disappointment. Vicarious diva-ness is also fun!

I had managed to procure a hotel room nearby, so I didn't have to make the hour and a half trip to Richmond to stay with my friends Roy and Anna. I did stay with them for the remainder of the con though and it was wonderful to see them.

The next day I got to squee in fan-girlish delight right at the very beginning. I checked the registration desk to see if one of Sofanauts who said he'd be there was (he was not), and who do I see sitting on a table fiddling with his smart phone? None other than Kim Stanley Robinson! I was very uncertain whether I should approach him and bother him but while I was dithering, he looked up and caught me staring. I introduced myself and said it was a pleasure to meet him. Why yes, a pleasure, says he. Of course, I really didn't expect him to know why he should know me, but I'd failed to say it right away, so the blank, gracious smile I received was warranted. When I told him that I had narrated his story "The Timpanist of the Berlin Philharmonic, 1942" he jumped off the table he'd been sitting on and gave me a big hug! I hadn't expected that! So, I'll spare you the word-by-word conversation we had, but I discovered he was waiting for some friends to arrive. One arrived very soon, an author I didn't know, Michael Blumlein, MD, and when I heard who else they were waiting for (Alastair Reynolds), I decided to outstay my welcome and wait for him. His story, "The Sledge-maker's Daughter", is one of the first narrations I did for StarShipSofa. We all had a great chat. I was honored to stand there with these 3 great authors. The rest of the day is a bit of a blur.

Captain America needs to work out more!
Over the course of the weekend, I spent time with the Sofanauts (Jeremy Carter, Katherine Inskip, Luke Smith, Laurence and his dad, Gary Main and finally Nick Eden), never managed to get together with any other Amazing Stories Bloggers, but I did meet Mari Ness and Fábio Fernandez for lunch and ran into Ian Watson in the hallway. I went to a panel discussion on InfoDumps and a Kaffeeklatsch with my man Stan Robinson (heehee) on Friday (he must have thought I was stalking him!) and tried to go hear Amy's Sherlock Holmes talk but the room was full when we arrived (before it had even started)! Such disappointment. I went to Kaffeeklatsches with Amal El-Mohtar (who I've interviewed and whose poetry I've podcasted and blogged about many times) and Elizabeth Bear (story narrations - "Tideline" and "Love Among the Talus"), which were great fun talking about cartoons and comics for kids with Amal and more about writing with Bear. I saw a great independent film screening of "Search for Simon". I met Mary Turzillo (poet, Rhysling and Elgin winner, whose work I've podcasted and reviewed) and her husband, Geoffrey A. Landis (whose work I've also podcasted) and introduced myself to Ken MacLeod (I narrated his story "Lighting Out" and more recently a poem for a review on Amazing) and his PR assistant from Orbit books was excited to meet me and take my email address for linky-linkage. I attended a great interview with Robin Hobb and her editor and later got the book I bought in the Exhibition Hall signed (killing my knees standing for an hour and a half in line!).

I managed to resist buying hundreds of books - only bought a few, but looking at them was fun:

First editions. That one with the hand? 3450.00 Pounds Sterling!!! 

 


Attending the Hugo Award Ceremony was interesting. I wasn't able to vote in all categories, because I didn't read, listen to or look at everything. But I was pleased with the results none the less. All the nominees were deserving of the awards, so I think I might have been pleased with the results regardless...

The Gate-crashing panels Panel - pre-Robin Hobb reading
Robin Hobb
I went early on Monday morning to the ExCel Center because I had time to kill before my train back to Paris at 1pm. Robin Hobb was reading and I wanted to get a seat so I went in well before 10am when it was scheduled. I was a little confused, because there were 5 young women sitting at the table in the front where the panels sit, but there's nothing scheduled before 10am, so who are these people and why are they talking in front of a full audience? They turned out to be the impromtu panel on Gate-crashing panels and they were hilarious! I think you can see part of the "discussion" on YouTube if it interests. They were just 5 people who thought it would be fun to pretend. It was. I think a lot of people were confused, including Robin Hobb, because she was about 10 minutes late starting...

The trip home was uneventful. I have to say that my first con experience was an overwhelmingly positive one. I met lots of lovely people and that's when I really had the most fun. I wish I could've gone to more panels for interesting discussions and I'm sorry I missed the orchestra concert - but I had dinner with Roy and Anna instead. You can't do everything at these things. Maybe if I ever plan to go to another one with more lead time, I could even help with a poetry track or something. I know there's been some bad luck and ill-planning in the past, but I think it's a shame to have almost nothing on poetry at a WorldCon. The one really good panel, "Better World-building through Poetry" was at the same time as the Retro Hugo Ceremony. Oh well.


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