Well, that was big.
I’m not going to talk much about the panels. None of the ones I was on were a disaster. The Ling 101 panel was a particular success. By and large, I found the panels weaker than what I’m used to at smaller conventions, and definitely do not recommend WorldCon for the programming. Overall, too many panelists with a single-minded focus on something tangential or boring, too little moderation. So let’s leave that there and talk about the things that were interesting, or fun, or otherwise actually worth talking about.
Did you know the Vice President of SFWA can sea-captain marry people to get them into the SFWA suite? Neither did I. Or Mike Underwood. Until it happened to us. We objected. This landed us in a group marriage of some sort where people were swapping dates and stickers were getting applied to badges and I vaguely protested about personal fears of commitment and allergies centering around the words “date” and “girlfriend.” Mike and I agreed that we got an auto-anullment upon leaving the SFWA suite and none of it ever happened. But hey, I have no seen the mysterious inner workings of the SFWA suite. They’re mysterious. And internal. And involve giraffes. (Don’t ask.)
Getting into the SFWA suite was just the first of a series of anecdotes involving me either being somewhere I’m not preciesely supposed to be or enabling that for others. Nick and Sylvie came along because I wanted roommates for my hotel room and, hey, who better than my roommates? Also, because I know them well and knew “Chicago,” “Free entry to the Adler,” and “downtown for dinner every night,” was a good sales pitch. So it was that upon their arrival Thursday night, I abandoned the SFWA suite and all its mysteries to take my roomies to registration and thence on to the Adler.
We arrived at the registration desk at 8:05 to discover that registration closed at 8, despite the Adler being a badge requiring event and running until much later. Given how very packed up everything was, I suspect registration closed at something more like 7:53. Either way, my roomies were badgeless and thus deprived of the thing all the printed material insisted would be required to get there, get in, and get back. “Meh,” said I. “I have a badge and am good at looking important. I’ll get you in.”
It worked just fine.
The Dealer’s room. My first trip there was on Friday. The plan was to just take an hour or so to scope it out and get a feel for what my book buying options were. I’d put cash in my wallet for books, with the understanding that I could spend all of that without guilt. Then Thursday’s dinner led to extra cash winding up in my wallet, but that’s okay because, really now, how could I ever spend that entire budget on one weekend?
So it was time for scoping. I looked at four tables of books and didn’t so much as touch one, because I am a good creature of self-discipline and this was just the preliminary scouting mission. Four tables. And then. Well. I had an accident.
Used book sellers should not be allowed in the dealer’s room.
Also. I should not be allowed in the dealer’s room.
It happened again on Saturday.
You know a fun way to end a con? Hauling 25 books from the hotel to the “L”, and thence to your roomie’s car: not it. On the other hand, BOOKS!! And yeah, I so very hit the “Wait, where did all the cash go?” limit. I’d have kept going, otherwise.
Saturday was the day I got the first steps toward a secret project I’ve been wanting to do set in motion. It’ll be a couple weeks before they can turn any further and the whole thing could very well go off the rails, so I shall say no more. However, for anybody taking bets on how long I could last with a reasonable person’s number of jobs before I started signing up for more, the answer is “About two months.”
Here’s the really awesome thing for Saturday. I was on my way up to see Saladin Ahmed’s reading (which was great) when the guy waiting for the elevator next to me says, “You’re Anaea Lay?”
WorldCon is big enough that my instinctive response to strangers followed more along city-street protocol than con-full-of-geeks protocol, so I did a lot of stomping on my instincts all weekend. This led to great eloquence, as you’ll note with my response of, “Er, yes.”
“You had a story in Apex last year, didn’t you?”
“Uhm,” and I not at all subtly look at the name tag because I’m pretty sure this isn’t Jason Sizemore in front of me, and I can’t figure out who the hell else would be making that connection and talking to me about it. I am right, this is not Jason Sizemore. This is some guy named Aaron. Confused Anaea is confused.
“I liked it,” says Aaron.
“Oh. Thank you.” I’m probably lying about this bit of dialog. It was something like that, I think. I’m pretty sure I did not say, “As all people with taste do,” which is what I’ve always kinda worried I’d say the first time a stranger said nice things about a story of mine.
And then I was very happy both that Twitter exists and that I am on it, because I could, with great calmness and dignity, tweet my glory rather than grabbing strangers and saying, “See that guy over there? He’s a fan! My fan! I have a fan! Because I kick ass!!” I did, of course, immediately forget his name. Because I kick ass.
Wound up hanging out with Aaron more later on in the weekend. He claims he figured out he must be my first fan based on blushing that occurred in my facial region. It is well known that I do not blush, so either he witnessed some sort of fricking miracle, or he’s a liar. I’m leaning toward miracle, since I have a brand new “no slandering your fans” policy.
At the Tor party that night I, with all the humility appropriate to a civilized, professional entity such as myself, am regaling Vylar Kaftan and others with the epic of my fan-possessing status. “I got into this to have minions. Fans are like minions. My career goals are met. I’m awesome. I’m done. It’s all undirected play from here on,” I declared.
Vylar, with actual humility and social grace, mentions that at the Asimov’s party they have a cake designed to look like the issue she’s in. “I kinda looked at it and figured out my story would be about where the cream frosting is. It’s neat to be the cream frosting.”
“Bitch,” says I. “I want to be the cream frosting. Now I have a new career goal I have to hit.”
Henceforward, publications who turn their magazines into cakes go at the top of my submissions queue. And I’m asking for a cream frosting clause in all of my contracts. Duotrope needs to add a “Cake? Y/N” column in their stat tracker immediately.
Sunday featured my Ling 101 panel, which was packed and quite fun. There was a mini-post-panel-panel in the hallway afterward where I got to ramble on about stuff some more because people asked me to. I wound up having to cut it short to run off and do prep for my reading. There was some unknown writer (George R. R. somethingsomething) giving a reading at the same time which was good because it kept the room I gave my reading in from getting stuffy and hot due to all the people cramming in to see me. Or was it my brownies? Either way, I’m pleased with the turn out. I should have lopped the beginning off the chapter like I normally do because it’s not great performance material, but I’m rather fond of the beginning of that chapter and was feeling sorry for it. Instead, I wound up rushing the reading a bit and still not making it to the end of the chapter. Next time, no weakness!
Then dinner at SushiSamba (Yum!) with Aaron and some of his friends, who happened to include a guy named Eneasz I’d met the day before. Because con land, it’s a world almost as creepily small as Madison.
The Hugo ceremony was actually a lot more fun than I expected it to be. I was going mostly because it’s what one does at WorldCon, and because I don’t think I’ll be making going to another one a priority any time soon. Scalzi kept things running at a nice clip, and award ceremonies are way more exciting when you actually have an investment in the outcome of the award. I now understand why some people watch the Oscars. The segment on fans and creators who died in the last year still has me a bit weirded out: people clapped for names they recognized or liked or whatever. I’ve always figured people would clap and cheer when I’m dead, but absent people who suffer death-by-Kansas-farmhouse it seems like a wholly inappropriate reaction. Dear Fandom: You’re a bit morbid.
Honestly, the best part of Sunday was running into a bunch of people who’d actually read Among Others so that I could rant, at length, about the ending to people who knew what I was talking about. My roommates will be pleased I have it out of my system now.
Monday involved packing up, grabbing lunch with folks I utterly failed to run into the night before, helping Christopher Kastensmidt with his reading (and using it to get rid of my leftover baked goods), swinging by the dealer’s room one last time (sans wallet) to say hi to John O’Neil, and then balancing three bags and nearly thirty books on my person for the journey home.
Oh, and if the guy who I accidentally spoilered the ending of Dance with Dragons for is reading this: I’m an asshole, and I’m sorry, and tell me your name so I can buy you a drink or something some time to make it up to you.