Worldcon 2013 began for me in Pasadena, California, on New Year’s Eve. My wife and I were discussing our travel plans for the year, and I found a reminder in my email about LoneStarCon 3. The prices were quite good, and if I purchased my membership that very day, I could get an additional discount. So I pulled out my credit card, and committed myself to my first Worldcon in 11 years. I also booked a room from a nice-sounding couple who lived “5 minutes” away from the San Antonio convention center. Cheaper than a hotel and full kitchen privileges.
In the months that followed, I was laid off, but since I’d prepaid for Worldcon and lodging, I decide to attend unless some lucrative contract appeared at the last minute. I even tried to read the entire packet of Hugo nominees. That’s no small feat. I was very pleased to discover several new authors (Brandon Sanderson, Saladin Ahmed, Ken Liu) and reacquaint myself with old favorites like Kim Stanley Robinson and Pat Cadigan. (For the record, I changed my votes only once, in the novella category.)
Fast forward to August. I was reading through the voluminous website of the con, and stumbled across the Writers Workshops. Oh hell! I’d forgotten to submit a story. However, when I sent a query email, the wonderful organizer Oz Drummond responded within a half hour that several slots had opened up the day before. So I immediately sent them one of my favorite Los Angeles stories, “The Carpetbaggers Ball” and $15, thus securing a coveted Thursday slot with two of their most “experience pros.” Excitement! Dread!
Two weeks later, I flew from Oakland (65 degrees) to Phoenix (99 degrees) to San Antonio (93 degrees). The airport shuttle was 100% fen, and pretty much everyone knew each other. They were friendly to me, and quite respectful when they learned I was a card-carrying member of SFWA.
Skip to the pictures!
My housing turned out to be a room in a quaint family home built ca. 1920. Unfortunately, in the intervening months since my reservation, the family had grown by 2, so I found myself in the company of twin infants, a 3-year-old boy, and a loud standard poodle. The host family, two immigrants (from Sweden and Jordan) welcomed me and gave me full run of the huge kitchen.
As it turned out, I spent so much time at the con, or the SFWA suite, that I literally ate only one meal at the house, and that was takeout from the excellent neighborhood food trucks. Mostly, I drank gallons of cold water, the occasional beer, and tried to sleep 6 hours a night.
And now, here are your highlights:
- Arrival and sweating through my travel clothes
- Getting my badge before the lines formed up – huzzah!
- Having a lovely Italian dinner with VP 16’s own Jenn Wray. Such a fun, gracious being.
- Self-promotion panel, featuring Teresa Nielsen Hayden. Finally hooked up with Gary Henderson, who efficiently stalked me via text the whole weekend.
- Standing in line for an hour for an autograph from Alastair Reynolds. I told him how I’d almost missed a train connection in Sweden since I was engrossed in Absolution Gap. He said many people hated the way that book ended. Not me!
- Opening ceremonies with Paul Cornell. My god, the British simply own dry humor. We should just cede it to them now.
- My writing critique with K.J. Jewell and Eileen Gunn. Honest and brutal, with some very kind words from Eileen about my prose style. Apparently, I had written a Regency Romance without any significant plot.
- Signed up at the SFWA suite for Door Dragon duty, so I had a chance to meet many folks.
- Several trips to the dealer room, where I snagged a copy of Elizabeth Bear’s “Shoggoths in Bloom.” I told her later that the lead story, “Tideline” pissed me off because it was so damn good.
- An hour of Steven Brust’s filking
- A brief chat with Kim Stanley Robinson, while he autographed a copy of Shaman for me. The last time I saw him was 2 hours before he won the Nebula for 2312. I wished him luck on the ballot, although I knew in my heart that John Scalzi would take the prize for novel. 2312 is a far superior book to Red Shirts. Let’s just get that straight.
- Panel discussion on How Magazines are Changing in the Digital Age
- More Door Dragon duty and the Tor Party!
- SFWA Business Meeting – no surprises. Our new fearless leader, Steven Gould, carried on the tradition started by John Scalzi and kept the meeting under the projected 2 hours. It took 57 minutes to do all the legal mumbo-jumbo.
- Panel: But Why Can’t You See My Genius?
- Panel: Writing combat, featuring Elizabeth Bear. She showed us her self-inflicted knife wound scar.
- Brain dead evening: decided to watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
- An early morning walk in quiet downtown San Antonio. A bat (!) the size of my hand crashed into the window of the restaurant. At 8 in the morning. Go figure.
- Nice walk around the Alamo.
- Panel: Is Roger Zelazny still relevant? (Duh.)
- Panel: Consider Iain M. Banks – great stories, especially about Iain’s love for fast cars
- Panel: Weta Digital – cool behind-the-scenes stuff from one of their lead compositing artists
- A reading by Steven Brust. The Incrementalists was the only book I didn’t buy this trip!
- The Hugo Awards – funny, touching, glitzy, crowded – it was so cool to see Alex Shvartsman accept the award for Ken Liu.
- No brain left. Decided to watch the winning “Games of Thrones” episode.
- Got my picture taken on the Enterprise bridge set.
- Bought souvenirs for my 11-year-old daughter. She’s just starting to watch Star Trek: TOS, so a Federation pin and a fake driver’s license for Captain Kirk thrilled her.
- Flew back to California, literally running to make my connection in Phoenix. At least there was a seat up front to stretch out my legs.
- Got home around 10:30 pm, and for the first time in a week, I was able to sleep through the night without overheating.
- A great, grand time, and we should all open up our bags of Praise and Thanks to all the amazing, amazing volunteers.
- I met many great writers, some of whom are just starting their careers. How on earth am I going to keep up with all the words?
- I was so pleased to reconnect with the Viable Paradise crowd. It was an important reminder that writing is not a solitary business. We’re all in this together.
- My backlog of books is now large enough that I’ll need to avoid gainful employment for another 4 months just to tackle it.
Thanks for listening. Here are the pictures.