Remarks about this year's Boskone, on everything I can think of that wasn't a panel.
For much of Friday and Saturday I was feeling under the weather, and in particular during the day on Saturday I mostly went to a panel, retreated to our hotel room, lather rinse repeat. I didn't go to any parties, let alone run one, and my interaction with the hotel staff was limited to checking in and getting food. So my view of the con is a little narrower than usual.
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The new location
This was Boskone's first year in the new Westin Waterfront. First, I have to admit that I'm automatically biased against anywhere that isn't the Sheraton Boston, where the past several Boskones and the 2004 Worldcon were held. That hotel is attached to a mall, meaning that one could get non-hotel food without ever stepping outdoors—a good thing in Boston in February. However, having to go outside at some point is the norm rather than the exception, so I can't in fairness hold that against the Westin.
That said, the hotel space seemed fine to me. There was plenty of function space, lots of places to sit and talk including a spacious lobby/bar, and plenty of fast elevators. Our room was very comfortable, with a good big bathroom and a wide desk. While I never made it to the Mezzanine, the Lobby and Concourse floors were easy to navigate. My only complaints about the space are: (1) there was a very annoying humming noise in one room, Stone, that made it hard to hear, and (2) the temperature did not seem very predictable; I was sweltering in one room Saturday and freezing in the same room on Sunday.
The food service was less good, but no worse than the Sheraton's, I would say. I did have a truly terrible hamburger in the bar, but I should have known better than to order a bar burger. The bar service was slow, but friendly (unlike the Sheraton's). Lunch Saturday in the hotel restaurant was fine, both good and prompt. (I also had breakfast there on Saturday, but it was toast, about which there is little to be said. There was a big line on Sunday when I wanted food, and the Viable Paradise-sponsored brunch came to the rescue.)
The surrounding area is sterile and anonymous, with road signs that are bad even for Boston. There were good restaurants and a 7/11 within walking distance, however.
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John M. "Mike" Ford Memorial Auction & Extravaganza
The first con event I attended was the auction. James D. Macdonald mc'ed and various people read or performed. A list in approximate order, which I hope readers will help me fill in because I wasn't taking notes and foolishly thought the information would be available online somewhere:
- Something from Grim's Fairy Cabaret (which was originally performed last year at Boskone, and how did I miss it?!), probably "The Overture," performed by Tom Courtney and Chip Hitchcock.
- "Hot Gingered Pygmy Mammoth & Jumbo Shrimp Salad", read by Teresa Nielsen Hayden.
- "Scrabble with God," reprinted in From the End of the Twentieth Century, read by Patrick Nielsen Hayden.
- "Harry of Five Points", second installment, performed by Alexx Kay, Tom Courtney, and Chip Hitchcock.
- "The Fellowship of the Woosters" (excerpt), read by Greer Gilman.
Last year, Ford read from this and said that Dreamhaven Books was to publish it as a chapbook. Can anyone tell me its status?
- "Ya Got Worries," from Another Part of the Trilogy, performed by [someone] and a full chorus.
- "Winter Solstice, Camelot Station" (excerpts), reprinted in Heat of Fusion, read by Jane Yolen.
I think that's it. If I've missed anything, or if the [someones] can be filled in, please let me know. All of the performances were excellent, but I particularly was impressed by "Harry of Five Points" and "Winter Solstice, Camelot Station."
Random thoughts about the auction:
- papersky put up a Tuckerization, i.e., getting a character named after you, for the winner of the 1960 U.S. Presidential election in her Farthing-verse. I'd hoped to win it, for me or Chad (on one hand, improbable-looking name; on the other hand, famous Polish WWII submarine and the eagle on Poland's coat of arms), but Jane Yolen outbid me, which was even more fitting.
- It's very weird to participate in an auction when the creators of the auction items are in the room.
- I wasn't really the target audience for a lot of the items: I don't collect books, I'm not interested in getting signed copies of things, and I had a relatively limited budget (the uncollected manuscripts immediately went right past that). However, I did buy two Randall Garrett books previously unknown to me, collections of his parodies, so I was pleased about that.
- Together with the later silent auction, Boskone raised over $4,000, bringing the memorial fund over $21,000—or forty-two books to be bought each year for the Minneapolis Public Library. Pretty cool.
Miscellaneous hanging-out, also food
Since I'm doing the panel reports separately, everything else falls into the category of just hanging out with folks. This started immediately after the auction, when I grabbed a bit of food from the art show reception (quite good, I'll have to remember to go in the future!) and sat down outside. We met marykaykare and Jordin as planned, and were joined by many other people along the way, and we talked about terrible meetings and patterns of online discourse and pet hair all over your clothes and lots of other stuff, until I realized that I was literally light-headed with fatigue and stumbled off to bed.
Saturday I still felt rather light-headed, or something, for most of the day. Kind of fell into an open seat at oracne and Judith Berman's breakfast table—it occurs to me now that I didn't actually ask before sitting down, which just goes to show that I should not be allowed to interact with people before I am fully awake. Oh, another thing about the hotel food service: it automatically defaulted to putting everyone on the same check, including large groups in the bar.
Then to Brother Guy's talk, then a quick solitary lunch, then Chad's talk on "spooky action at a distance" (see this blog post, because I didn't take notes), then a panel on alternate history, then a long and somewhat refreshing doze, then part of a panel on publishing myths, then dinner with Chad, both halves of mist_and_snow, and yhlee, at Legal's Test Kitchen. As the name suggests, it's less seafood-oriented that Legal Seafood's regular restaurants, but there's still plenty, and I was the only one to have a non-seafood entree. Things we had, from the menu:
- Steamed Mussels (garlic and white wine)
- Portuguese Stuffed Clams (grilled chorizo, sweet peppers, smoked paprika)
- House Crab Rangoon (sweet & sour plum glaze)
- Steamed Edamame (hot and sour carrots, Szechwan sea salt)
- Grilled Tuna Nicoise (romaine, roasted green beans, nicoise olives, egg)
- Butternut Squash Ravioli (sage brown butter and shaved reggiano)
- Lacquered Wild Salmon (braised cabbage, crystallized ginger and curry)
- Pan Roasted Brook Trout (smoked bacon, crab and cornbread dressing)
- LTK Paella (fish, shellfish, grilled chicken and chorizo in a roasted tomato broth over saffron risotto)
- Sauteed Day Boat Sole (roasted green beans and lemon caper butter)
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart (oreo cookie crust, creamy peanut butter and chocolate ganache)
- Angel Food Cake (toasted almonds, guava puree and rum soaked pineapple)
- Big Chocolate Cake (four layer chocolate cake)
And it was all good.
After we got back to the hotel, we ended up in the lobby, where we determined that John Scalzi is the conversational equivalent of the grit in the oyster—to take his own theory of conversational accretion and turn it into metaphor. Anyway, conversations formed, broke up when participants left, re-formed around new arrivals, and were generally enjoyable (and failed to demonstrate a divide between "pros" and "fans," as I've said elsewhere).
Sunday morning, two panels, and then lunch in the lobby with more conversational accretion—and bonus pralines and fudge. And not long after that, we headed out.
Overall: a good con, a bit low-key and disconnected for me, but still quite satisfying. Unfortunately the batteries in my Palm keyboard died, so panel reports will take a little longer; but they'll all be forthcoming.
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What panel would you most like to read a report on?
(I reserve the right to do things otherwise, of course, but it's good to know what people might want to see and discuss immediately.)
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Links to other people's reports (more to be added):