Monday, September 10, 2012

Chicon7–My Con Report

This past Labour Day Weekend the World Science Fiction Convention took place in Chicago. It was my second World Con experience, the first being TorCon3 in Toronto.  TorCon was, to put it bluntly, not that great.  For many reasons. One, I was just getting full force into the writing business and had no idea who anyone was. I wandered alone, attended the panels alone, and although I met up with Carl Frederick and Suzanne Church at a Critters lunch, that association had been brief. (FYI, Suzanne has since joined the Stop-Watch Gang and has won the 2012 Aurora Award for her short story, “The Needle’s Eye.”)

Plus the Con itself was poorly run, and the attendance wasn’t that great.  I even asked someone I knew to be a regular at these things how he would rate the event.  For a World Con, he considered it small to middling Con, but from his attitude I could tell he was being polite.

Since then I’ve attended our local Ad Astra many times as well as the newer SF Contario, and have gotten a better feel for the con experience.

At least, I thought I did until I arrived in Chicago.

My first reaction.  Ah, this is what everyone talks about when they talk about WorldCon. Not a sparsely populated lobby of old friends reuniting, but jammed pack with people both in and out of costume, the buzz so loud you almost have to shout to be heard. My second reaction was, I should have arrived sooner, because I KNOW I missed some serious fun.

I met my friend and fellow Stop-Watch Gang member Tony Pi in the lobby and we killed an hour strolling through the dealers room before my room was ready, and he had a panel to do. We said hello to Jim Hines and Diana Rowland and missed a golden opportunity to schmooze Jim Minz.  Still regretting that one.
Afterward Tony, his partner, and I met for dinner.  I can’t remember the restaurant, but I do remember eating the best steak sandwich I’ve ever had in my life.

After that we returned to the hotel and I began my vigil for my roommate, friend and fellow Stop-Watch member, Ian Keeling, who was arriving late.  Naturally, I set up shop in the bar and started up a conversation with another writer.  I can’t remember his name, but he was nice, just starting and this was his first Con. Eventually, Ian arrived, we checked him in, got a hold of Tony and went in search of a room party.
The next day was my first panel. It was on Canadian Genre Writers and I was the moderator.  It went very well, opening with duelling Star Trek Communicator apps with Robert Sawyer and ending with actual compliments on my moderating.  I was pretty puffed up, to say the least.

Afterward, we wandered the dealers room again and I bought some stuff for the family. Tony went back to have dinner with his partner and I hung out with Ian in the bar where we met a very nice elderly couple who told me some hilarious and amazing stories.

Afterward we met up again with Tony and hit some more room parties, including the Chizine party.
Needless to say, Sunday was a little rough.  It didn’t help that the hotel’s maid service insisted on knocking on the door at 7:45 am then followed up every hour.  At noon I had another panel on the Future of Short Stories with Ellen Datlow and Barbara Galler-Smith, which again, went very well, although I had a tendency to not talk into the microphone.  Following this I had a great conversation with Eric Elam who had one the Mike Resnick Writing Contest and was published in the Convention book.

Following that, I was on my own.  Ian and Tony were no where to be found and no panels interested me. This has always been my greatest fear and I flashed back to the aimless wandering of TorCon3.

No. Not this time.

I decided to play tourist. I strolled down Michigan Avenue, then took the river boat ride around the city where I learned you are not allowed to even consider building anything in Chicago unless it comes with at least a seventy-five years of pre-history.

By the time I came back it was time for dinner, a Reuben Sandwich with a generous portion of Corned Beef.
Then came the main event.  The Hugo award ceremonies.  WorldCon treats the Hugos like a television show, complete with big screens, and movie video clips.  The host was John Scalzi, who I did such a great job he may well become the Billy Crystal of the Hugos.

Apparently the show was transmitted via satellite to the folks at DragonCon in Atlanta, but because of some copyright glitch with the broadcaster, the show was cut-off halfway through Ian Gaiman’s acceptance speech.  The show has since been rebroadcast in its entirety.

Afterward, we searched for more room parties but by now they were rare, and frankly, I was exhausted.  Still, I managed to close the bar and had my first good sleep since coming to Chicago.

Monday.  My very first reading at a World Con.  Tony already bailed, having left for Toronto.  Ian promised to show up.  Otherwise, I wasn’t expecting much.

Then the first person arrived.  If you haven’t guessed by now, I am totally crap with remembering names of new people I’ve met, but he had won the recent Writers of the Future and having snagged some of the older volumes, wanted me to sign volume XXI, which I affectionately refer to as The Polar Bear Book.  Ian showed up, and then another writer, who I remember was named Ed and finally a young lady who I think showed up as a result of my previous panels.  Three people I did not know showed up to one of my readings.  I was flabbergasted.

I read an excerpt of, From the Files of the E.F.P.D. from Mother Goose is Dead.  I love reading this because it has a great Silence of the Lambs gag.  When I hit the twenty minute mark, I asked if anyone wanted me to continue, AND THEY DID!  I read the full half-hour, even past the five minute warning.  I finished by signing the full manuscript and giving it to the young lady.

After that it was check out time. I killed another hour with Ian then took a cab the airport where, who would I find waiting for an airplane but Tony Pi.

Turns out we were on the same flight.  He was just a little eager to get there.

As an aside, if you ever need to take short hops across the country, no airline is finer than Porter Airlines.

And that was that.

I don’t know when I can make the next World Con.  Next year it’s in San Antonio and after that London.  I learned I hate flying, so unless I’ve got an actual book coming out, or out already, I’ll need a really good reason to justify that kind of expense.  Not to mention my life has just taken a radical right turn and the future is a little murky right now. There are other cons of course, World Fantasy is coming up in Toronto, and I am going to that, but I won’t be a panelist. That’s cool, too. World Fantasy is a con where deals are made, and I really, really, want a deal.

Well, who doesn’t?

Mike

1 Comments:

At 4:26 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice read i enjoyed reading about your adventure

 

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