2/20/08: Radcon, etc.

Word count: 127283 | Since last entry: 2134

Unlike the last trip, I did not get stranded in the Tri-Cities by a snow storm this time. In fact, the weather was quite pleasant. I just didn’t get around to blogging about it until now, due to busyness and a general lack of energy. Kate and I are both mildly sick.

Radcon was fun, if a little strange. 1800 people at the convention and I knew about 30 of them. It was like a weird alternate-universe OryCon where almost all of the fans had been replaced by similar, but not identical, other fans. Even though I was Short Story Guest of Honor, I had very little interaction with the fan-on-the-street, and spent most of my time hanging out with other writers and a few Portland-area fans I knew. I was on eight program items, of which two were cancelled due to complete lack of audience and one (my reading) was attended only by writer friends of mine.

The highlight of the convention was the presence of a stack of pre-publication copies of my collection Space Magic at the Wheatland Press table. Deb sold all but 6 copies and I signed most of the ones she sold. It’s a real book! The cover is gorgeous! I am so thrilled! The final edition will be available for order from wheatlandpress.com in May, and will also be at Wiscon.

The other highlight of the convention for me was a tour of the Hanford nuclear reservation on Friday morning, with Jay Lake and Adrienne Loska, G. David Nordley and his wife Gayle Weiner, and author/editor Lizzy Shannon. Hanford’s entire job today is cleaning up the mess of nuclear waste that Hanford made over the last 50 years. The coolest thing we saw was the FOLDTRACK, a hydraulically-powered device designed to fit down a 12″ pipe, fold itself into bulldozer mode, then push radioactive, toxic, caustic, explosive sludge into piles so it can be sucked up and out of the tank for proper disposal elsewhere. Jay Lake has posted a video, toward the beginning of which you can hear me exclaim “it’s a miniature folding robot bulldozer!” as I realize what we’re seeing.

Another cool thing was the Heroes panel on Friday, which started off with me and writer Rhonda Eudaly doing the usual “writers talking about some random TV show” thing but changed character drastically when media GoH Dragon Dronet arrived and dumped Hiro’s samurai sword and armor on the table. The actual props. We spent the rest of the hour talking about how the props for the show were made, changes that occurred at the last minute, and the thrill and panic of life in Hollywood. I had to duck out a few minutes early so I could be on TV — one of the local news channels was running a live feed from the convention and I got 40 seconds at the end of the program.

Bob Brown, Radcon’s programming head, treats the attending pros very well. We were given plenty of food, and provided with both a Green Room and a Small Press Room to entertain ourselves in when we weren’t on programming. But he was very cruel to us in the Artists Vs. Writers Pictionary game — the writers had to try to draw such concepts as “gay Vulcans,” “genital herpes,” and “the Pythagorean theorem,” while the artists were given clues like “cow.” We’ll get him next year.

So even though I knew hardly anyone at the con, I had a good time hanging out with people I did know: Jay Lake and Adrienne Loska (who very kindly provided transportation there and back), Ken and Jen Scholes, M. K. Hobson, Sara Mueller, Deb Layne of Wheatland Press, and Kami and Carole of the Immaculate Novelists Kult (who bought me a very nice dinner and invited me to make a presentation to their Kult in May).

And I was there when Janna Silverstein got humped.

After I got back from the convention I put up a bright pink stickie on my bathroom mirror that said “This week, writing IS the day job.” But I failed to actually take any action at all on Sunday or Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday, though, were good solid writing days. I am now about 30% through the novel on the first revision pass (which might be the only pass it gets this time around) and have added over 2000 words of new material to address comments I got from my critique group over the last year or so.

Also today, we met with the lawyer and signed my new will, which now includes a clause establishing a literary trust to manage my writings after my death (based on this sample will provided by Neil Gaiman). We also signed our medical advance directives. It’s all gray areas, and no fun to think about, but it’s done. You should do the same, if you haven’t yet.

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