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Worldcon Trip - Reception

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 - 23:01

"Reception" is meant in several senses. The picture is not the official Worldcon reception at City Hall (which was a bit too washed out to make a good image)...but I get ahead of myself. One of the fascinating things about online culture, is that not only am I meeting people that I've known for years but have never seen face to face, but in some cases I'm meeting people I've known for years and realize I have no idea what their real names are. In the case of yesterday's coffee meet-up there's an objective reason for this (he's an ex-pat teaching in a country with touchy politics and doesn't want to connect his online and real life identities), but often it's just a matter of knowing someone through the nickname they use in a particular online space. That's who they are, as much as any name is "who you are". I joke that the first time I went to the medieval studies conference at Kalamazoo, between people I knew through SCA, people I knew through academia, people I knew through LiveJournal, people I knew through Usenet, and people I knew through other people talking about them, I had a vision of quite how many people I was likely to run into that I already knew...and then discovered that, due to redundancy, the actual number of discrete individuals was much smaller.

In any case, I had coffee with someone I know as Praisegod Barebones and with his daughter (just about to go off to college) who has become a charter member of the unofficial official Alpennia fan club. And because the next thing on their agenda was wandering around the farmers' market/tourist market at the harbor, we ended up spending several hours together. Checked out the interior of the Orthodox cathedral, shared a basket of billberries from the market, and then split up with they went off to do a ferry tour of several islands.

I headed back to my room for a bit of a rest (valiently struggling to not nap), and then eventually headed off to the Worldcon reception at City Hall (evidently they did a random pick of people who were participating in programming--or at least that's what I heard, which caused a bit of a wave of consternation when people tried to figure out why some people got invited and others didn't, without knowing about the random factor). A bit of speechifying, a light buffet of cocktail food, and a lot of milling about struggling to socialize. Within two minutes I was at the point of "I recognize six people in this room and they're all in the middle of knots of friends", so I shifted gears into "walk up and introduce myself to people who are standing all by themselves and break the ice by saying that that's what I'm doing." Eventually bumped into several people I actually did already know, but cocktail parties are always about survival mode.

Expecting (accurately) that the reception wouldn't be anything resembling a real meal, I'd hoped to hook up with people planning to go off to dinner afterward, but failed to make any connections. Since I had a phone call to make I went back to my room (I thought I needed to sort out something with my ATM card, but it turned out I'd just happened to hit the one malfunctioning ATM in all Helsinki and thought it was my account that was the problem). Still needed dinner after that and made some connection attempts on social media but nothing panned out with the right timing so I ate by myself at a pasta place with some nice patio seating on the main square. I always feel like a failure when I eat by myself at conventions. I failed again at breakfast this morning despite the hotel filling up with con goers, and me wandering through the (open seating) dining room hopefully trying for eye contact. My game isn't getting off the ground so far, but half the dinners from here on are already scheduled, so that should get better.

I've packed my backpack with essential supplies (business cards, Alpennia badge ribbons, sample books, a change of shirt) since the hotel is a train stop away from the convention center. Helsinki doesn't have a single big convention space + hotel so we're scattered throughout the downtown area. I'm assuming I won't be coming back to my room until evening most nights.

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