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Just back from the Nebula Awards weekend in New York City. It was too brief — Kate says that next time we’re going to come back for a month.
On Thursday we saw a show (“Curtains”), a musical featuring David Hyde Pierce (“Niles” on Frasier) as a stagestruck cop investigating a series of murders backstage at a musical on its Boston tryout in the 1950s. Silly fun, and interesting in that every song and dance, with the exception of one dream sequence, is one in which the characters are actually supposed to be singing and dancing, a neat trick that most musicals don’t even attempt. But the show managed not to be very memorable, which as Kate points out just goes to show how good the really good musicals really are.
Friday we took the subway to Chinatown for dim sum with our old New York friend Lise Eisenberg. Walking from the subway stop to the restaurant we kept meeting Asian women who sidled up to us and muttered “passes, passes,” which confused us no end, until Kate realized (based on something we read in the most recent issue of True Story Swear to God) that they were offering “purses, purses” — counterfeit designer handbags. Then a black man sidled up and offered “relics, relics” — or, I realized after a moment, “Rolex, Rolex” — similarly counterfeit. But a New York street hawker offering counterfeit holy relics is perhaps a story idea…
After dim sum (marvelous, by the way, though they didn’t have spoo) we hiked down streets with names like Baxter and Hester, known to me as Jewish names but now part of Chinatown, to a place where we could get real, fresh bialys and bagels. Then we caught a bus, the scenic route around the tip of Manhattan, back to our hotel.
We woke up from our nap just in time to wander down to Borders (which has a marvelous ceiling) for the big multi-author book signing (I, having no book to sign, chose not to participate). There we ran into Tempest Bradford and her friend Carol, who introduced us to Risotteria, New York’s only gluten-free restaurant with over twenty different kinds of risotto, and Cones for exceptional artisan gelato. Yum. Back to the hotel in time for the ceremonial presentation of certificates and pins to the Nebula nominees (“Everyone to the third floor! Watch the nominees get pinned! To the third floor!”).
The next day we nearly had breakfast with Esther Friesner, but there was nothing at our chosen restaurant for her husband Walter (who is deathly allergic to eggs) so we went our separate ways. After breakfast we wandered along the Hudson River to see the delightful and somewhat disturbing Tom Otterness sculptures in Nelson A. Rockefeller Park. Kate went off from there in search of flea markets, while I returned to the hotel for the day’s programming. But on the way I found myself walking around three sides of the World Trade Center site, and encountered a small exhibition of photographs. It’s basically nothing more than a construction site now, but still freighted with meaning. Many of the people I saw there were crying. I’m glad I stopped for a bit.
I’m also glad I got to see “World Enough and Time”, a new episode of the original Star Trek. Everything except the actors in this lovingly fan-produced episode was exactly the same as before — including the slightly hokey script and acting. But it was a really good episode, starring George Takei as the 60-year-old Sulu. The effects were much better than the original.
Then Jo Walton snagged me for lunch. We went off for a nice slice of pizza with our New York friend Vicky Rosenzweig and her husband Andy, and got back just in time for the so-called “Publishers’ Summit” panel, during which I was able to reassure Jo that Farthing is romantic in the same way that the movie The Addams Family is romantic: it has a married couple who are deeply in love the whole way through, which is rare in fiction.
I managed to avoid the SFWA Business Meeting, but after it was over I found myself in the bar with Gardner Dozois, Ellen Datlow, Nancy Kress, Robin Wayne Bailey, Josepha Sherman, Tom Purdom, Richard Curtis, and probably a few others I’ve missed, talking about Deep Secrit SFWA Business. I kept my mouth shut then, and I will now too.
Back to the room for another nap, then we got all dressed up for the Nebula Awards reception and banquet. It was obvious from the very dense crowd that the majority of the people here had been seduced by the tourism side of the force during the day, because there were easily three times as many people here as I’d seen in one place at any other time. Met many friends old and new in the crowd, including Jae Brim from Writers of the Future. We had some difficulty finding a place to sit for the banquet, but wound up at the Realms of Fantasy table with Shawna McCarthy, her husband Wayne Barlow (yes, the artist Wayne D. Barlow), and Peter David. During the very long banquet and award ceremony Wayne and I geeked about great toys from the 1960s, including Major Matt Mason, Horrible Hamilton, the Colorforms Aliens, and the Zeroids.
Sunday morning we got up, packed up, checked out, and had just enough time for a visit to the Museum of Modern Art. Wow. Just wow. Dali, Picasso, Van Gogh, Magritte, and Mondrian, not to mention gallery after gallery of great industrial design, but I think our favorite piece was a dark room in which the only light came from a classic cartoon mouse-hole cut in the baseboard, while slightly disturbing cartoon sound effects played. The title: “Waiting for Jerry.”
Not a lot of writing in the last week but I am still making progress. But now I must to bed.