Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Small Adventures in a Large WoldCon – Part 3b, 4 and 5 – August 8th-10th, 2008

Back in the familiar comforts of SoCal we resume this special program and bring it to its glorious conclusion.

Let’s see…on Friday after the Heinlein panel I went to the following:

Panel 4 - How Science Fiction Authors Get Published - 7 pm

Panel Blurb: David Rozansky, Publisher of Flying Pen Press, explains how authors of science fiction novels find publishers to produce their work, describing the process step by step. Aspiring and experienced writers are encouraged to bring their manuscripts and best pitches, which will be received in front of the audience.

Participants: David Rozansky, Audience

I originally attended this to see people pitch their stories/novels (though I thought it was kinda weird this would happen in front of an audience!), but as it turned out everyone was too shy and no-one pitched anything. Mr. Rozansky therefore spent the time going through the main points of what his publishing firm is about, how it works with authors etc. Whilst interesting, there were some pieces of advice that seemed like staples of this particular publishing house, and after about an hour and half I decided to step out (remembering that the Pyr party was taking place in Sheraton also at about that time may have had something to do with it).

Pyr Party: Very nice set-up. There’s some pictures on Lou Ander’s blog. I didn’t hang out long but there was a cool ambience and people were friendly. And of course Ian McDonald was there.

Grabbed some food at round 9:30 pm (Subway from what I can recall), but was the day over then? Not by a long shot! I worked on one of my stories and then headed to the final panel of the day (which turned into something even more interesting).

Panel 5 - Lovers in the Slipstream - 11:30 PM

Panel Blurb: Slipstream fiction is the current rage, but can it mix with romance?

Participants: ( m) Jetse de Vries, John Kessel

I attended this for a few reasons: getting my copy of Kessel’s BAUM PLAN signed, seeing who else was looney enough to attend a panel at 11:30 pm on a Friday night, and wondering whether it would in fact have anything to do with the blurb. John Kessel was astoundingly nice and I got to ask a few questions about stories in the collection that had particularly grabbed me. There were various and appropriate degrees of looniness in the audience (I’m not excluding myself here), and since Jetse never showed up, but Jim Kelly did, it turned into an informal conversation instead, covering stories, movies and…bikers. It was a fantastic end to the day!

August 9th, 2008

Saturday I decided to give myself a little more time in the morning (and sleep in until 8:30 am) and skip the walk, and actually went to the gym on the 4th floor instead! There was at least one other writer doing cardio at the 24 hour fitness and it got me energized for the day (of course, I’d already been walking immense distances through the huge convention center and 3.5 blocks’ distance fro the hotel—which I covered 3 and 4 times on some days—so my legs were, not unreasonably, close to jelly.)

Shower etc. later headed down to the dealer’s room and the first panel.

Panel 1 - Keeping a Job: What writers do to support their writing – 11:30 am

Blurb: Writers discuss the wide variety of day - and night! - jobs that have enabled them to keep on writing.

Participants: ( m) Bill Fawcett, Pamela Freeman, Sharon Lee, Sharon Shinn

More good info, confirming things I already thought and providing a couple of new tips and tricks along the way.

After this I walked into a writer, we got to talking, and had lunch at a cool subs place, Jimmy Johns. Awesome-ness! In addition to the great conversation, I enjoyed the alfalfa sprouts in my tuna sub.

Panel 2 - Sir Arthur and I – 2:30 pm

Blurb: Frederik Pohl presents a description of his work with Sir Arthur C. Clarke and the collaborative process they went through to create their new novel THE LAST THEOREM.

What a privilege, to hear Pohl expound for about forty minutes on this subject. As people had mentioned, he did indeed look frail, but his mind—and speech—were as quick and agile as ever. There were some fun follow-up questions from the audience (including, for example, what C M Kornbluth stories can you tell us that you may not have shared in the past?) and Pohl was just a graceful, sweetheart of a guy. My only regret during this panel was that I was a little tired.

Panel 3 - Creating Speculative Poetry – 4:00 pm

Blurb: Readings and discussion.

Participants: Bryan ThaoWorra, Elissa Malcohn, Geoffrey Landis, ( m) Jo Walton, Mary Turzillo

I haven’t sold any of my speculative poems yet, so figured this would be a good thing to attend. I wasn’t wrong – but it still exceeded my expectations. The authors were fun, talked about their processes for creating spec poetry, and then had several rounds of reading. Got to hear at least 10 very different, thought-provoking poems. An interesting item that came up was that many poems labeled as speculative are in fact more “science poems.” There were also nice handouts, and later that same day I ended up subscribing to the Science Fiction Poetry Association. This one also generated a page of notes.

At around 5:30 I headed back to the Hyatt, changed into something a little more spiffy for the Hugo ceremonies, worked on my story some more, and went back to the CC.

Hugo Awards Ceremony – 7:30 pm

Will McCarthy was entertaining as the toastmaster, and the whole affair was fun, though there were a few wins I didn’t care for at all. Best Related Book: Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction by Jeff Prucher – what? No, no no!! Malzberg’s Breakfast in the Ruins solidly, wholeheartedly deserved to win in this category. His book is a much more significant contribution to SF! What were they thinking?? And Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Who “Blink” Written by Steven Moffat Directed by Hettie Macdonald (BBC) – Please, give me a break! Battlestar Galactica’s “Razor” has this kicked in terms of production value, characters and overall coolness. The rest I can live with (and thought the best novel win made sense, in light of the genre breakdown perspective). Reprinted here for the umpteenth time:

* Best Novel: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins; Fourth Estate)

* Best Novella: “All Seated on the Ground” by Connie Willis (Asimov’s Dec. 2007; Subterranean Press)

* Best Novelette: “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” by Ted Chiang (Subterranean Press; F&SF Sept. 2007)

* Best Short Story: “Tideline” by Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s June 2007)

* Best Related Book: Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction by Jeff Prucher (Oxford University Press)

* Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Stardust Written by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman Illustrated by Charles Vess Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Paramount Pictures)

* Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Who “Blink” Written by Steven Moffat Directed by Hettie Macdonald (BBC)

* Best Editor, Long Form: David G. Hartwell

* Best Editor, Short Form: Gordon Van Gelder

* Best Professional Artist: Stephan Martiniere

* Best Semiprozine: Locus

* Best Fanzine: File 770

* Best Fan Writer: John Scalzi

* Best Fan Artist: Brad Foster

The winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer went to:

* Mary Robinette Kowal

The Campbell win was exciting; now I have to read more of Mary’s work!

I was back at the hotel by about 10 pm. I read some more poems (from the handouts earlier), looked through the books I’d purchased, and called it an early night.

August 10th, 2008

The last day! After the morning grooming I packed all my stuff, left my stuff with the concierge, checked out, and spent the next couple of hours at the dealer’s room. Because it was the final day some of the sellers had special bargains on, so I ended up buying about half a dozen more books (which was more than I’d intended, but still only brought my total to about twenty-five, very reasonable). It was fun talking to the dealer at the Nightshade stand and running into other folks. After grabbing lunch downtown I attended the final panel.

The Coming Thing - what's next and newest in SF - 1:00 pm

Blurb: Panelists discuss what is next up in the SF pipeline. What new crazy ideas and approaches should we be looking for? What's going to be popular next year, and after that?

Participants: Charles Stross, ( m) Daniel Abraham, Lou Anders

Only Lou showed up (though he had the energy and knowledge to keep the entire audience entertained) until Walter Jon Williams, who’d tried to sit in the back, was called up for an improvised panel-crash (panel-mash-up?). Many fun questions and tidbits, and a lot of audience participation.

Closing Ceremonies - 2:30 PM

Join us as we thank our guests, bring Denvention 3 to a close, and pass the WorldCon gavel to Anticipation in Montreal!

Kathy Mar, Kent Bloom, Lois McMaster Bujold, Rene Walling, Rick Sternbach, Robbie Bourget, Tom

Whitmore, Wil McCarthy

Rick Sternbach, in his final speech, seemed particularly touched to have reconnected with fans and friends he hadn’t spoken to in 30 years, and announced that he was “coming back,” presumably to the world of SF fans, cons, readers etc. McCarthy again was witty, and the final moment arrived when the con was declared finalized.

Said goodbye to a few people and then back to the hotel, from which I shared a cab to the airport, and uneventfully returned to Irvine with a minor (twenty minute) delay. I then unpacked and—

Oh, wait. The WorldCon report is over. Back to regular updates :-)

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