I went to Worldcon 76 and didn’t get a tee shirt

Actually, I got TWO. Purchased the official tee (below) and won a very cool Escape Pod shirt during their live podcast.

Why did I buy a shirt? It was something of a reward for standing in line for > 90 minutes on Thursday afternoon to get my badge. Ugh. I attended San Jose Comic Con in the same location a few months before, and those lines were never bad. (There’s something to be said for mailing tickets to early registrants.)

So, having arrived a bit later than expected, and spending far too much time getting my hotel/badge, I had to update my plans.

THURSDAY (Updated)

2 – 4 PM – Panels on fighting and historical fencing (for novel research)  Standing in lines

4 – 6 PM – Volunteer duty at the SFWA Suite at the Fairmont. Set up all the beer and soft drinks. Emptied out the ice machines on the 6th and 5th floors!

For dinner, I met up with fellow Viable Paradise alum, Katrina Archer, and some of her friends, but our intended destination, Mezcal, was hosting a company event so they couldn’t accommodate 7 people. (I learned that 6 is a magic number for restaurants. Anything more than that requires a serious sacrifice and early reservations.) We ended up at Élyse, a French/Vietnamese place. Great food and excellent service.


8 am – SFWA business meeting. The convention center didn’t open its doors at 8, so we had to wait until someone came down and unlocked an entrance for us. Fortunately, everyone else was delayed and there was still breakfast.

A chunk of the meeting addressed the whiney puppy protest (and counter-protest) scheduled for Saturday. There were contingencies and Secret Plans in place, and best we simply ignored the instigator should we encounter him. (As it turns out, the guy did try to crash the event, and was turned away most soundly.)

10 am – Main exhibit area – One of my favorite publishers, NESFA, had a table running. Some years ago at ConJose, I purchased a copy of Norstrilia from them. Now I scanned the complete hardcover collection of Roger Zelazny short fiction and dreamed of my next bonus check.

I also had the pleasure of helping my friend Rosemary Claire Smith, writer of dinosaur stories, get ready for her professional portrait by the talented Richard Man. (He did my picture at the Nebulas a few years back.)

Rosemary and I were Team Red this year:

11 am – Book contract panel. SRO for this one. Some nice reminders about sample contracts and keeping your eyes on the reversion of rights clauses.

2 PM – SFWA Suite – Met up with my mentor for the day, Julia Rios, the amazing editor (Uncanny Magazine/Fireside Fiction/Strange Horizons). Julia and I had crossed paths at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, and she was familiar with my Fireside Fiction flash story, “We Who Stay Behind.”

Julia and I had a great talk about my current WIP, general life challenges, and my writing process. She raised some very interesting questions about my choice of setting for my proposed novel, and helped me get things in perspective. (Sunday night, she would win a Hugo for her editorial work. So I guess can say I knew her before she was famous.)

6 PM – pre-birthday dinner. Two of my compatriots from Paradise Lost – Beth Morris Tanner and Rosemary – plus their friend David D. Levine (author of Arabella of Mars) joined me for dinner at a Greek place, Nemea. We actually started with 7 people, but that broke the reservation system, so three folks went off on their own.

Decent food but the band was too loud.

Later that night, fellow Bay Area writer and baker extraordinaire, Effie Seiberg, stopped by hotel room for a nightcap. She and her partner (Jason) brought me Game of Thrones’ swag from the George R.R. Martin interview up in Redwood City as an early birthday gift.

Incidentally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my best friend Dan Malcor sent me Spider Robinson books before Worldcon, so he gets First Birthday Gift award.


10 am – Escape Pod – Live! What a great panel. I had the chance to meet and listen to the editors and voice talent for Escape Pod, Pseudo Pod, and Drabblecast as they celebrated their Hugo nomination with a live reading plus CAKE by Effie. Birthday cake before noon – rice crispy treats, pretzels, chocolate!

My favorite Escape Pod host, Alasdair Stuart

2 PM – In Memoriam: Harlan Ellison. Another SRO event, in a larger space. They could have filled the main ball room, I suspect. I arrived 20 minutes early and managed to get a seat. Even GRRM had to sit against the back row.

The panelists included Robert Silverberg, David Gerrold, two other writers I didn’t know, a photographer, and Nat Segaloff, who last year published the authorized biography of Harlan.

The whole hour was funny and profane, somber and sweet. My own small experience with Harlan was donating to one of his large lawsuits against an early ISP who didn’t act against people pirating and posting his work. Harlan won that lawsuit, and paid back most of the money to his supporters. “Good faith money,” I think he said. It was paying it forward, in my mind, and for years I kept his postcards on my bulletin board next to my word processor.

After that emotional time, I wandered down to the Dealer Room and saw that Kelly Robson was signing. Unfortunately, Borderland Books had run out of her novel, so I asked her to sign a book plate for my birthday. She told me she had one copy left and it needed a good home:

Also had a surprise birthday  granola “cake” from Waypoint Kangaroo author, Curtis Chen.

4:30 PM – The Fated Sky launch party  Nope. By the time I got through the Dealer Room, I needed a quick rest (standing a lot) before walking over to dinner.

6:00 PM – Birthday dinner at The Spaghetti Factory. The best and worst part of my weekend. Despite our reservations, the restaurant failed to anticipate the crush, and we languished for more than an hour before getting even the generic salads. Our host, a family member of a local writer, picked up our bar tab (huzzah!), but mediocre pasta wasn’t worth it.

What saved the night was the conversation. I was surrounded by smart, funny people: entertainment accountants, attorneys, artists, and plenty o’ writers. One of them is the foremost expert on the Klingon language. They sang “Happy Birthday” to me when the waiters ignored us, and I taught them the Swedish version.

Late night: crammed into the SFWA suite at the Fairmont, where I met a writer and her spouse who had just moved back from Spain, and connected with the legendary writer and editor Eileen Gunn. When we were introduced, I told Eileen that we had met earlier in San Antonio at a writing workshop. She thought for a moment, and said, “I don’t remember the story exactly, but I remember that it was very good.”

I could live on that compliment for a month.

The evening ended with a surprise birthday beer from Athens, Georgia, hand-delivered by Sandy Parsons, whom I met last year in Helsinki:


10 am – Viable Paradise alumni brunch. A goodly horde of us descended on a hipster eatery, Social Policy. I had already eaten at the hotel, so I settled for some homemade bread, butter, and green tea. Oh, and a little bit of this draught, courtesy of a Finnish writer:

Noon – 5 PM

TBD, but probably SFWA suite, writing, and souvenir shopping.

I didn’t make it to any more panels, but picked up a signed book from David Gerrold, some themed soaps for Lilly-Karin, and a few cool Japanese glasses for Elizabeth.

Hugo Awards

Since Monday was a working day (and my daughter started back at school), I decided to skip the Sunday night festivities. Congrats to all the nominees and winners! It was a truly excellent slate this year.


I know I’m forgetting some events, and certainly some people. Cons do that to your brain, especially when you’re trying to have a birthday in the middle of one.

Author/Editor bingo (alpha order)

  • Andy Duncan
  • Curtis Chen
  • David Gerrold
  • Eileen Gunn
  • George R R Martin
  • Greg Bear
  • Greg Benford
  • Joe and Gay Haldeman
  • John Joseph Adams
  • Kelly Robson
  • Larry Niven
  • Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Navah Wolfe
  • Neil Clarke
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Rachel Swirsky
  • Robert Silverberg
  • Spencer German Ellsworth
  • Spider Robinson
  • Teresa Nielsen Hayden

And my fellow less-famous writers (for now):

  • Benjamin Phillip
  • Effie Seiberg
  • Rosemary Claire Smith
  • Beth Morris Tanner
  • The Lauras
  • Karen Birkedahl Rylander
  • SB Divya
  • Katrina Archer
  • Danielle Burkhart
  • Setsu
  • Chris Cornell
  • and many others

Special shout outs to the SFWA gang: Cat Rambo, Terra LeMay, Kate Baker, Kellan Szpara, and Lawrence Schoen!


Arrived home to find another much-appreciated birthday gift of Swedish matches from my thoughtful cousin, Anna-Karin:

and a very purring Decaf:

Okay, that’s enough for now.

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