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Worldcon 9: Full Speed Ahead!

Sunday, August 18, 2019 - 09:39

Let's see, where was I? Ah yes, up to dinner time on Friday with no definite plans. I was reminded at that point that I had a loose date to meet people for ice cream at Murphy's after dinner-ish, so I got a bite of something more substantial at a cafe across the street from the ice cream shop then joined an amorphously shifting group in the back of Murphy's for chatting and ice cream. I was thinking about heading back to the convention center afterwards and seeing if my noise levels were up to hanging out in the official con bar for a bit, but I ended up walking back that way with Sarah Pinsker who was going to wait at the bar at Spencer's Hotel for a companion to finish paneling and when we went in there I bumped into Chaz and Karen which resulted in one of those introductions-by-first-names-followed-by-delayed-oh-that-Sarah/Chaz/Karen. I got introduced to a couple of Chaz's friend's but the noise level was high enough that I bugged out fairly soon.

Saturday I was thinking about trying to make one of the 10am panels but then was reminded that my hotel room came with a complimentary breakfast buffet so by the time I'd finished and got to the center, it was too late for that. There was also no point in trying to get down to The Point for the main WSFS business meeting session since I had to be back and the convention center to be on a noon panel, so I did some additional wandering around the dealer's room and displays. The noon panel was Building the SFF Community Online which was a lively discussion of the logistics and realities of trying to create vibrant, inclusive community spaces in different types of online social venues.

Bumped into @fromankyra on my way to find an ATM and made the trek together and decided to put together a small Hugo-watching group for Sunday (including identifying who would be the line-stander to get our crowd control wrist-bands). Stood on line for the panel Into the Woods, partly because it was about forests in fiction and partly because the set of panelists guaranteed an entertaining time. Herewith I reproduce my stream-of-consciousess twitter notes:

Everyone who is not at the Into the Woods panel is missing a hilarious discussion of how nature will kill us. Also: cat-sized preying mantises. Now we are moving from flaming eucalyptus tress to the tarantula migration of Mt. Diablo. Moving on from truth to fiction: forests as a setting for fictoin, the "dangerous forets", woods as a source of cultural mateirals, and what does the forest thing about this? Cultural differences: the forest as refuge ad nurturing safe haven Forest as part of Nature as Other. Hedgerows as domesticated mini-forests. Supposedly "wild" forests as cultivated resources. How differences between European and American forests affected transferred forest myths in folklore. Aggressive houseplants (i.e., aggressive to each other). Why do roses have thorns? To climb on top of other plants and out-compete them. Panel asked about favorit plants in fiction. Triffids. Naomi Novik's Uprooted. Edelwood (sp?) trees in Over the Garden Wall. Winnie the Pooh's Hundred Acre Wood. Little Shop of Horrors. Now we're on to mushrooms and debates over the scope of the panel. Are mushrooms forest plants? Mushroom hyphae networks transporting nutrients over miles. The ethics of carnivorous plants. What type of plant would each of the panelists be? Moss (Sarah Gailey), Yew Tree (Jennifer Mace), Oak tree (Sue Burke), alien plant invasion (Seanan McGuire), Fig tree (Navah Wolfe). The explanations are more entertaining than the bare list, but too hard to write down. And that's all!

The File 770 dinner was next. Large-group dinner parties in loud echoey restaurants aren't my favorite thing (especially because there's no guarantee that you'll have conversational interests in common with your neighbors) but I enjoy being part of "the group".

After that, back to the convention center for  two more panels, neither of which required waiting in lines. Authors and Social Media: Friends or Foes? (Fairly basic ettiquette guidelines.) Then, Send in the Crones: Older Women in SFF. Interesting cultural differences in that it was primarily British panelists and I recognized very few of the recommended examples. I hope someone tracked all the recommendations, but I couldn't have kept up.

Sunday I did the breakfast buffet again with my roommate Mary Kay Kare then headed over way too early for my 10am signing session. First thing Sunday morning isn't exactly a prime time for traffic for that sort of thing and I think a couple of the authors didn't have anyone come by. I had three or four people, which might not seem like much, but I sold 5 of the 6 Alpennia books I'd brought, gave away a copy of "The Mazarinette and the Musketeer", and recorded my first "audio post card" for  the podcast. So, not bad.

I was even able to make a panel in the next session: Fantasy: Beyond Europe -- which resulted in adding a new book to my TBR while sitting there in the audience. (The hazards of the ease of buying ebooks!) After the panel I bumped into Liz Burke in the midst of a small group of prime opportunities for my audio post card project, including most of the cast of the Be the Serpent podcast. I now have enough recordings for a short episode, with a few more promised, so I can relax about collecting more. I dropped by the end of Aliette de Bodard's kaffee klatsch (which I hadn't been able to get on the list for) and was able to get my copy of her newest book signed. (I had to buy a hard copy because it isn't out in the USA yet, so I might as well get it signed!) Picked up some lunch in the cafe and bumped into Liz again. Then it was time to trek out to The Point so I could be there (ahead of schedule) for moderating Fan Podcasts, with Jonathan Strahan (Coode St Podcast), Alexandra Rowland (Be the Serpent), and Shaun Duke & Jen Zink (Skiffy and Fanty). We had a smallish audience but a great discussion.

And now I'm back in my hotel room to drop off my backpack, update the blog, and figure out what I'm doing for dinner since it's two hours before my seating group gets let into the auditorium for the Hugo event. Once more, I'm not too worried about not having fixed plans even if it means eating alone somewhere. I'm getting in quite a delightful amount of socializing and haven't had a single episode of "oh poor pitiful me all alone at the con." I even have tentative dinner plans for tomorrow evening. I am, however, starting to feel the cumulative con-exhaustion and can even be happy looking forward to going home again. But not yet.

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