Aussiecon, days 3-4

Worldcon continues to be Worldcon and it’s going quite well for me. In the last couple of days I have been privileged to spend a bunch of time in the presence of very big names. Amazingly, I have not yet lost my voice.

Yesterday I moderated a panel on “How to Sell Your Short Stories” with Cory Doctorow, Robert Silverberg, Campbell nominee Lezli Robyn (who broke in co-writing with Mike Resnick, whom she met online after losing an auction to him on eBay) and Angela Slatter. Spread across so many writing generations, we all had different stories about how we broke in so I ran with that and centered the discussion on that to begin with. We also talked a lot about networking, though I believe the work is more important. I was a bit afraid there would be problems between right-winger Silverberg and information-wants-to-be-free Cory but it was all very cordial and informative; several people said afterwards that they liked it.

During the panel, Cory folded about 15 origami cranes, without looking; he says that when he gave up smoking he took up folding cranes to keep his hands busy and still does it. I posted this amusing tidbit on Twitter. A little while later, while watching the “Online Interaction for Writers” panel, I checked my email and learned that Cory (who was on the panel) had seen my tweet and had just become my 500th Twitter follower. Naturally I immediately tweeted about this.

The “Just a Minute” game show with Paul Cornell, China Mieville, John Scalzi, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Cat Valente was very amusing once it finally started (room P1 was locked, so we all trooped to P3 and hung around there for a while before trooping back). I’m glad I wasn’t on this panel; it looked HARD. China was the best at the actual game mechanic (being familiar with the original BBC radio show helped a lot) but Scalzi played hard and won handily on points.

Yesterday evening was the Wild Cards writers’ dinner at high-end seafood restaurant “Fish,” which was awfully loud but had good food. I was honored to dine and converse with George R. R. Martin, Ian Tregillis, Melissa Snodgrass, Carrie Vaughn, Paul Cornell, and Brilliance Audio editor John Grace, who does the Wild Cards audiobooks.

The party situation at the Crowne Plaza has improved quite a bit. The London in 2014 party was extremely crowded and loud, while the Texas and Reno parties were more reasonably populated and we had nice snacks and conversation, but I was unduly irritated by having to cart hat, coat, and sweater around because of the mile-and-a-half walk in the cold drizzle between the Crowne Plaza and the Hilton. We retired to our room by midnight.

The next morning I slept in until almost 9:00. After breakfast, I headed off to watch “The Western’s Influence on SF” but was snagged on the way by an unpublished novelist named Saul, who really liked the “To Market” panel I moderated. We talked for most of the hour. It’s not necessarily what I planned to do with that time, but supporting newer writers is a mitzvah. The “Anachronist Fiction” panel was okay but they got hung up on the “punk” in steampunk, ignoring that the name was originally a joke. Complaining that there’s not enough punk in steampunk is like complaining there aren’t enough cubes in cubism.

Sunday afternoon was the peak of my programming for the convention. I moderated “Race to the Red Planet” with Kim Stanley Robinson and Jim Benford (Greg’s twin brother, I believe); it was in a big room, had a good crowd, and went well, providing an excellent lead-in to my Mars talk in the same room immediately following. But then I had to vamp for 15 minutes while the A/V techs got my computer to display on the big screen. I had made sure to suss out the computerized lectern control panel before my talk, but this particular room had just a blank space where the control panel was supposed to be, so I was entirely dependent on the A/V techs. While waiting I answered questions and sang Monty Python’s Philosophers’ Song. Despite the delay, the talk went well; almost 2/3 of the seats in the lower half of the large hall were filled and I finished with enough time for a few questions. After the talk, about 8 people followed me out of the hall and we talked about Mars in the lobby for 45 minutes. I also sold all the copies of Space Magic and The Mars Diaries I’d brought, which means I now have a little room in my overstuffed bag for books and souvenirs.

When I took my computer back to the room, I discovered that my tweet of a comment by Kim Stanley Robinson about utopias had made the front page of Twitter and got retweeted over 30 times. Then I met up with Kate and headed off to the casino food court with New Zealand knitter Miche (MicheInNZ on Ravelry) whom we’d met at the Texas party last night. I got a hamburger which, alas, broke my string of wonderful meals but the fries were pretty good. Then we attended the Hugos, a nice tidy 1.5-hour show (the Japanese and other subsidiary awards having been taken care of earlier). I’m very happy with most of the winners, especially Moon and Will McIntosh who is one of the nicest, shyest writers I know and was totally not expecting to win.

After the Hugos we elected to go back to the room at 10:00 rather than walk to the Crowne Plaza in the cold drizzle and try to crash the post-Hugo reception (to which we were not invited, but where almost everyone I know would be). Maybe next year I’ll have another nomination (Ben Yalow said “Teaching the Pig” is getting some critical attention, but with podcast StarShipSofa winning Best Fanzine, I wonder if Bento will ever have a chance again). I’m looking forward to the nomination statistics to see if we just missed the ballot this year as we have in some previous years.

10:00 panel tomorrow, so I’m going to turn in early(ish) now.

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