This post has no detailed panel reports, because I am in the process of writing them up for submission to The Internet Review of Science Fiction—if they want it, great, $70 for something I'd do anyway (that's 3.5 Fullmetal Alchemist DVDs!); if not, I'll just post it here later. I only went to panels on Sunday anyway, so you're not missing much. However, the writeup is taking forever [*], and it can't possibly appear in IROSF for a while, so I might as well stop on that for the night and do all the chatty personal stuff that IROSF won't want.
[*] Taking notes on a Palm + keyboard saves a little time in turning the notes into a report, in that I don't have to wonder what that scribble meant. However, turning notes into sentences still takes just as long, plus I was able to take more notes than usual because I type faster than I write.
This was a con with a big hole in the middle for me: I had lunch with non-congoing friends in a suburb on Saturday, which basically killed the entire day. Here's the short version of the con: Friday: Tor party setup and attendance with physical stupidities; Saturday: dinner and hanging out with logistical stupidities; Sunday: actual panels.
We arrived at the Sheraton on Friday afternoon, parked underneath (because I needed to drive to Burlington on Saturday), and found that the car's trunk, which had faithfully carried Chad's suitcase all the way from New York, now refused to close again. Poked at it for a while, said "screw this," went inside to check in and call AAA. After getting in, we changed our minds, went back downstairs, and just tied it shut—we didn't really need the space, and finding someone to come and fix it would likely have been aggravation we didn't need.
Public service announcement: sign up for hotels' (free) membership programs. For staying at the Sheraton for the last couple of Boskones and Noreascon, we got upgraded this year to the "Club" level on the top floor, with free breakfast, munchies at dinner time, and access to a couple of Internet terminals. Good stuff.
I then met pnh, tnh, and 2muchexposition to help unload stuff for the Tor party. This was the occasion of physical stupidity #1: the bellhop noted that someone should hold onto the boxes of beer when the van's back door was opened. I climbed in, grabbed two of the boxes . . . and failed to notice a third which was much more precariously balanced, which promptly fell out and hit Teresa on the shins. Both shins. She graciously refuses to blame me, but, well, I do.
Spent a while helping with setup, met gtrout which was a pleasure, all that kind of stuff. Chad and I grabbed dinner at the food court, where I got my traditional fix of Pizzeria Regina pizza (best mall pizza there is).
Carrying out another tradition, I went to the discussion of J.D. Robb, where Janice Gelb did an admirable job of moderating a group that tends to the loud and passionate. If anyone there noticed that I never actually said why I hated Origin in Death, sorry—I didn't want to seem like I was trying to hijack the discussion. My booklog entry from last fall has the details.
Then back to helping with the Tor party, then a short doze, then to the party proper, where I had some of Teresa's wicked concoction consisting of many different types of citrus, cane sugar, and some kind of high-proof alcohol, possibly Everclear (label on the pitcher: "This is not fruit juice. Small cups."). Very good, very evil; after a few sips I realized that holding this in my hand while being thirsty was actively dangerous, so diluted it about 4:1 with lemon soda as suggested by a helpful person whose name I forget.
Having diluted the booze way, way down, I alas cannot blame it for physical stupidity #2. veejane had these pants, you see, which sounded like they might fit me around the waist (since I've worn anything from a 2 to a 10 in women's suits). She brought them to the party, and I decided it was too much trouble to go all the way up to the 29th floor to try them on. The bathrooms were crowded with people getting drinks, but there was a very large closet in the suite, maybe 5' square (those of you who've been to other parties in the big end-of-hallway suite on the 9th floor know the one, in the right-hand corner of the bedroom to the right). I turned on the light, hopped in, shucked my jeans and pulled on the pants, zipped up and came out. The bathrooms were still full, and so I couldn't get to a mirror, but they seemed to fit well around the middle (they were about 6" too long, but I expected that). So I got to where veejane and various other people were standing, did the little model turn, and went to stick my hands in the pockets as one does . . .
. . . and blurted out, "They're backwards!"
Dear readers, I ask you: have you ever had pants that zip up the back? Pants zip up the front, or up the side. Skirts may zip up anywhere, but why oh why would you zip pants up the back?
Anyway, I don't blame the booze for that; I blame being in a hurry to get out of the closet where party supplies were stashed. I suppose I can blame the booze for not keeping my mouth shut when I realized what I'd done, but I'm afraid I tend to be excitable at con parties, with or without alcohol.
My only consolation was that doing such a dumb thing early in the party seemed to have used up my quota of stupidity for the night. This was a good thing, since later on there was an exodus as people left for the T, and as a result I found myself in a proto-conversation circle with John M. Ford (and Ken MacLeod, and at various points elisem, PNH, Erik Olson, and some other people whose names escape me, if I ever knew them).
I should explain that Mr. Ford is the only author (so far as I know) who turns me into a stammering incoherent embarassed mass of fangirlishness, such that I cannot even comprehend of starting a conversation. I've e-mailed authors and commented on their LJs, I've had dinner next to Lois McMaster Bujold and made conversation, I am generally good with dealing with authors as people . . . except in this one case. Since this was a more casual environment where we slid into an ongoing conversation, I think I managed to keep my OMG!!!! reaction from generating any really idiotic comments. I think.
Oh, oracne and others: Sarah Smith, the author of The Vanished Child, was there and I told her that thanks to numerous people's pimping, I'd bought the book and planned to read it. She was very gracious, especially since, first, I hadn't read it yet, and second, I started the conversation by awkwardly establishing that she was that Sarah Smith.
Anyway, great party as usual, thanks to all the Tor people for holding it. We turned in around 1:00 and slept very soundly indeed.
First thing Saturday morning, I went to Chad's panel on "How Much Science Should SF Contain?" I very diligently took copious notes on the whole thing (though I admit I skimped on some of George Scithers' many and lengthy remarks), and then lost them all to logisticial stupidity #1, when I didn't sufficiently understand the program I was using (and because it failed to warn me what I was doing). Grr. Arrgh.
yhlee was there and also taking notes, so perhaps her IROSF report will have something, or not, as she sees fit. All I remember in the frustrated aftermath is that I moved partway through because someone behind me had taken off their shoes and propped up their stinky besocked foot on the seat next to me. (And that Yoon loaned me a great big bag of anime, hooray, but that's not really about the panel.)
Then I went to lunch with friends, missing the "Is Science Fiction Necessary?" panel which reportedly went very well, with smart and interesting things being said by Tobias Buckell, Rosemary Kirstein, and Karl Schroeder, much to Chad's relief.
Lunch was great, and on the drive I got to the bit in Desolation Island that had Patrick biting his tongue when I told him where I'd left off. However, I came back to the hotel with a whanging headache and took a nap. I felt guilty about not doing more con-related stuff, but realistically I wasn't going to enjoy being out and about.
Then I browsed the dealers' room and the art show. I was amused to note that Sarah Clemens and Alan F. Beck were both doing dragon-and-cat images, but in quite different styles. I also admired the paintings of Dan Dos Santos, who I'd met at Tor party setup and who does spiffy stuff, and Donato Giancola, the Official Artist.
After that was logistical stupidity #2, because I had failed to confirm with both halves of mist_and_snow and with yhlee that we would meet at the restaurant, and also had failed to give them my cell phone number. We ended up giving our reservation to the Nielsen Haydens and their party, so they could be seated while we found the rest of our group. In the end, however, it all worked out, and we had a delicious and companionable meal. (Mmm, mahi mahi encrusted with panko and cashews, topped with a butter-bourbon sauce. So good. Next time I'm getting those awesome crab cakes, though.)
Then we stopped by the Saturday night party, where Chad and Yoon both threw (stuffed) aliens into a (fake) volcano and won free books thereby, and where I boggled at the big cardbord Gollum wearing a tropical flower behind his ear and at Esther Friesner's Cheeblemancy. In a good way, I hasten to add.
We stopped by the Montreal 2009 Worldcon bid party to give them money, and I had a pleasant conversation with René Walling and Ellen Kushner about my last name and its weird silent "p." Then we wandered down to the bar, where we found a whole bunch of people, enough that this is where I shamelessly steal Scalzi's list: John Scalzi, Shara Zoll, Cory Doctorow, Charlie Stross, James Patrick Kelly, Liz Gorinsky, Allen Steele, Tobias Buckell, Karl Schroeder, James Cambias, and Lenny Bailes (though I don't think I saw Kelly or Steele long enough for them to register on my eyeballs, and I don't know if I know who Cambias is). Charlie greeted us by telling us about a new literary movement, "Strict SF," because Mundane SF isn't restrictive enough; as I recall, everything would be written in the second-person imperative, and it would all be set in the present with no sf elements because mainstream is a subset of sf, after all. I believe I am to be a reviewer of the emerging movement. (When Cory Doctorow showed up later, he said that nevermind Strict SF, all his future stories would be peer-reviewed and reproducible!)
There was much other conversation of varying degrees of seriousness: Scalzi and Buckell's forthcoming literary feud, last words (I got "Don't tell them that I meant well" stuck in my head and had to go Google it to figure out where it was from), serial killers, what Karl Schroeder wrote for the Canadian military, the badness of the service in the Sheraton bar, and other things that I will doubtless recall as soon as I hit "post." Wonderfully fannish good fun.
On Sunday, I started the day by a quick pass through the dealers' rooom and then headed for the consuite to drink some water and wake up some more. Of course I sat down at a table with John M. Ford hidden behind a vase of flowers. I built a tower of dominoes and listened to other people talk, being completely too short on sleep to even cope. After that, actual panels, which as noted are to be reported elsewhere or later: John M. Ford's reading from The Fellowship of the Woosters; a panel on audiobooks; "SF as Literature?"; and "Weird Quantum Phenomena." Then we waved vaguely at people in the hotel lobby and stumbled out.
- The Kestrel, Lloyd Alexander, used. I failed to realize that this was #2 in a trilogy, despite it being clearly printed on the bottom of the cover; I guess that was logistical stupidity #3. However, the library has Westmark, which I shall borrow anon.
- Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis, used. Slowly filling in holes in the series.
- The Destroyer Goddess, Laura Resnick, free. Chad didn't see anything he wanted for a prize after throwing an alien into the volcano, so I snagged this. I have the first one in the series and will read it eventually.
- How to Keep Dinosaurs, Robert Mash, new. This is actually Chad's purchase, but it's so damn cute I have to mention it: a perfectly deadpan guide to owning dinosaurs as pets or livestock, in the style of a dog-breed guide. It has little information icons like a teddy bear ("likes children") and a teddy bear with a bite out of the leg ("likes children to eat"), note-perfect discussions of the merits of various species for different purposes, and beautiful illustrations. Our edition is a UK one, ISBN 0297843982; apparently it's also available in the US under ISBN 0297843478. I highly recommend it.
Overall: good con and great to see everybody, as usual. I keep wanting to think of something that I could volunteer to be on programming for, since Chad enjoyed his panels, but really I can't think of a thing I'd be specially qualified for, and who wants a panelist who doesn't have any more qualification than anyone else in the audience?