So, I'm back from three days at Boskone 44, my first time at a Boskone and a good time it was. The Westin Waterfront is a new hotel - right next to a huge convention center and only open now for about 8 months. It was very nice, clean, big, modern, expansive, and had a Starbucks in the lobby (this should be a con criteria), but only had one restaurant which was just upscale bar food and charged $12 a glass for wine, with the result that the bar wasn't the place to be in the evening like it is at a really good con. One glass of wine is about all I drink these days anyway, but that's not the norm for convention attendees (and certainly not for writers), and I can't help but think that lowering the price point on their drinks just a very little bit would have made them a heap more cash. As it was, people were either partying in rooms or "off campus" and the convention didn't have the late night everyone in the bar scene of my favorite con experiences. This was partially mitigated by the sushi bar that was set up in the lobby on Friday night.
And largely mitigated by such good company. I spent the weekend mostly with artists - the amazing Irene Gallo, art director of Tor (who has beat me to posting already), and artists Dave Seeley, Rick Berry, Brian W. Dow and Bob Eggleton. This made for a subtly different con experience than hanging predominantly with writers, and I think that I learned a great deal as a result.
But on the writers' side of the fence, had a great lunch with John Scalzi (bastard!), and Brian Dow and I enjoyed hanging in the lobby with Tobias Buckell until nearly 3 am on Saturday night, discussing James Bond books and the atmospheric conditions on Venus. I didn't get to talk to Karl Schroeder as much as I would have liked to, though I did talk to him more than I ever have previous and hopefully this is the first of many conversations. We also sat on a panel together (along with Alexander Jablokow and Wen Spencer) called "How to Make This Made-Up Stuff Believable: The Plausible vs. the Possible," which, despite being confined to the role of moderating, I found pretty interesting (and hope the audience did too). Also enjoyed the panel with Michael Swanwick, David Hartwell and F. Brett Cox on "The Literary Tradition: How SF Fits (and Doesn't Fit) with American and European Literature." And thanks to the amazing Gary A. Lippincott for being such a good sport about allowing me to drag so many more artist into Sunday's panel on "Oil vs. Digital" - where, I think, we all agreed it isn't an either/or issue. Gary was a really cool guy too, and standing next to this towering, bearded gentle giant, it's easy to see why he draws so many wizards.
Post con may have been the highlight of the trip for me. First, Dave Seeley took Brian Dow and I out to his mothers house (!) to see a number of paintings stored in her basement. Mrs. Seeley was charming, the wine good, and the collection of model cars her late husband has left her of great personal interest to yours truly. Then the three of us went to Redbones BBQ in Davis Square (Somerville) for some great ribs. Afterwards, we went out to Rick Berry's studio, where we met up with Rick, his very cool wife Sheila, Robert K. Wiener, Irene Gallo, and a very nice guy who didn't speak much and who I never got introduced to. Finally, Irene and I closed the bar down at 1am Sunday night. We were literally the last attendees in the room. Irene looked at me in shock and said, "We are the dead dog." And that was it for Boskone.
Though not for Boston - as a wonderful lunch with Brian Dow's wife Karen and daughter Gracie - a precocious five year old given to belting out amusing statements like "Let's go adventuring, boys!" - made a perfect end to what felt like a really good relaxicon. Thank you, Gracie, for letting me play with your remote controlled race car. Another five minutes, and I would have gotten the hang of steering.