I'm back from the 64th World Science Fiction Convention, this one held in Anaheim, CA and host to about 6,000 fans. This was my busiest convention ever - I was on 9 panels and had another 17 or so meetings, signings, dinners, coffees and whatnot, for a total of 26 items crammed into 4 1/2 days. Which meant I spent a great deal of time rushing about from place to place, didn't see a single event I wasn't part of, and didn't get to talk to much anyone I didn't have a prior meeting with. As a result of such a schedule, I had previously made the executive decision to replace my usual beverage (Newcastle) with my prefered drug of choice (Starbucks nonfat double-shot cappuccino with two Splendas). Given that I had a coffee at most of my meetings, I ended up buzzing with so much jittery energy I felt like I was channeling Cory Doctorow. (Which was a blast, btw). Excepting a few late night conversations, it really wasn't until Sunday that I felt I really got to sit down with a few dear friends and relax, and still there were some wonderfuI people I missed seeing entirely. But I have to say that personally it was a very gratifying convention, and may rank as one of my favorite cons to date. It's hard to know, since I could live at a con if time and space would conspire to allow it and everyone seems better than the con before.
That being said, highlights for me were:
* Dinner with Mike and Carol Resnick, where Mike my friend and author got to meet "Mike Jr." (Don't ask.)
* My first kaffeklatsch. Don't understand the spelling of that one but really enjoyed dialoguing one-on-ten with you guys. Hope you enjoyed it too.
* A "reunion" dinner with my new Campbell friends Rob Sawyer and Paolo Bacigalupi (pictured here later at the Hugo reception), where we were joined by Jack McDevitt, Paolo's wife Anjula, Carolyn Clink, Robert Charles Wilson and wife Sharry. I've already enthused how much I like Rob and Paolo. RCW was seated at the other end of the table from me, so I wasn't able to talk as much with a man who I'm rapidly coming to consider one of the best contemporary SF writers, but I did get the opportunity to get to know Jack, something I've wanted to do for some time now.
* Getting to hang with the guys from Solaris, the new imprint from BL Publishing. I spent a lot of time with George and Mark, and with their friend Michael from Waterstone's (who I see from his business card has the wild title of "Fiction Core Range Co-ordinator.") Great guys all and I hope to see them again soon, perhaps at WFC.
* Being able to congratulation John Picacio on his Chesley Award for Artistic Achievement. Talk about rising stars.
* Getting some real time in with both Toni Weisskopf and Sheila Williams, both of whom I enjoyed meeting and both of whom I hope to talk much more with in future.
Friday morning I went to the business meeting to lend my support to the amendment to split the Hugo for Best Editor into Best Long and Short Form categories, and to the amendment to require artists in the Best Artist category to provide proof of eligibility by citing works produced in the relevant year. I was very gratified that both amendments passed. Parliamentary procedure, though bizarre, is - I now realize - very much necessary in such circumstances, even if it did feel as though we should all be wearing powdered wigs and tricorn hats to really sell it.
Friday was also the Pyr Panel, where I spoke to a crowd of some 70 or 80 people (it was hard to tell, but the room was packed), along with Fiona Avery, David Louis Edelman, Alan Dean Foster, Kay Kenyon, Ian McDonald, John Picacio, Mike Resnick, Chris Roberson, Dave Seeley, Joel Shepherd, and Sean Williams. Unexpected fun from the dualing ringtones - Ian McDonald trumped my David Bowie with the theme song from the A-Team. (Thanks to Fiona Avery for the photos!)
Saturday afternoon, the wonderful people of Borderlands Books were kind enough to host a Pyr signing for Ian McDonald, David Louis Edelman, Joel Shepherd, and Sean Williams. That's David and Ian on the left, Joel and Sean on the right. (Thanks to Dan Zieber for the photos! Thanks to Alan and Jude for everything!)
Meanwhile, I was delighted when Mistborn author Brandon Sanderson stopped by the booth. Everything I've heard about Brandon's work intrigues me, and after meeting him and sharing a panel with him, I'm happy to report that I like the author very much. I picked up a copy of Mistborn from Borderlands as well, which features another wonderful Jon Foster cover and beautiful Isaac Stewart maps.
Saturday night - the Hugo ceremony was properly ceremonial and sufficiently dignified, apart from Harlan Ellison's performance (which was embarrasing) and the inexplicable Robot Maid (who was not, though confusing).
As for Saturday latenight, well, the picture below on the right, taken outside the Baen party I believe, speaks for itself:
Sunday evening was the most relaxed, with a long conversation with friends Fiona Avery and Mike Colbert, dinner with Alan Dean Foster, Sean Williams, Ian McDonald, and Jonathan Strahan, and then late night drinks with the usual suspects. I didn't get as much time in as I usually do with my brothers, John Picacio and Chris Roberson, so it was good to see them there at the end.
Overall, I felt that the excitement for Pyr was palpable, with people coming up to me all through the convention, or - as I rushed past from panel to appointment - opening their bags and backpacks to show me the Pyr books they'd just bought at the dealers' tables. Thanks to everyone who lent their enthusiasm and their support. I think this whole week was a tremendous success in terms of promoting Pyr-awareness and also tremendous fun.
Meanwhile, after everything is said and done, I think that taking my 16 month old son to Disney may be my favorite event all year. He didn't quite get it at first. I believe he was thinking, "Hey, I've been in a plane, a taxi, and a bus, and now a flying elephant. It's just another vehicle." But the second time through It's a Small World he began to squeal with delight and point at everything, leaning forward in the dark tunnels, straining to catch a glimpse of the next room. It was wonderful to see the penny drop for him. I only got 3 1/2 hours in the park, most of that spent in lines, but his wild, shrieking enthusiasm for the animatronics made up for the short day. And, of course, these picture of, uh, Batman and Robyn-with-a-y, were worth the trip entire. That's it for now. See you all next time, same Bat time, same Bat channel.