Worldcon in Five

Anticipation, the 67th World Science Fiction Convention, has come and gone. I’ve assembled a video that conveys the slightest idea of what happened:

Some Annotations

00:03: The first Canadian in space welcomes a bunch of wannabees.

00:36: Despite our familiarity with the impossible and the fantastic, this woman still amazed us. She twists like a politician asked to comment on a controversy.

01:33: The late, great cartoonist Will Elder coined the term “chicken fat” to describe his style. Crazy details oozed into every corner of the panel and added great flavor, though they did little to advance the plot.

SF Cons are like that. Every corner fills with someone doing something really, really interesting or unexpected.

02:25: Charlie Stross and Cthulhu on the Thursday party circuit. Try saying “ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” after a few beers.

02:35: In fact, this retro/deco Iron Man, Atomic Robo, is made from cardboard. The ingenuity of the Masqueraders never ceases to amaze me.

02:42: Neil Gaiman, Melissa Auf der Maur, Ellen Kushner, Tobias Buckell, and Cory Doctorow discuss the new media. Gaiman takes some tweaking for writing his first drafts in long hand (“Latin or Cunieform?”), but he raises several valid points regarding topics on which he has proven expertise. He likes to think that Coraline was a good book and a good graphic novel and a good movie—and that it wouldn’t have been a better book if, say, the illustrations had been animated.

02:52: Lauren draws, Amanda debates New Jersey’s place in pop culture, and a Mistress of Ceremonies holds court. Onstage and in person, Julie Czerneda exudes charm. She comes across sort of like the less crazed twin to The Sandman’s Delirium.

03:07: Friday the party circuit went into overload. The hotel put restrictions and security on elevators, rooms filled to bursting, people swarmed stairwells, and non-Con guests found themselves more confused than usual.

03:17: Mike Resnick attempts to fix the mic, moments before identifying the writer’s publication that listed him as an editor of a magazine a couple of years after he relinquished the job and a year after the magazine folded (And insisted they took unsolicited stories, when they didn’t).

03:33: I met Perri the last time Canada hosted a Worldcon.

03:42: One of the first people I spoke to after arriving was Robert Silverberg and yes, that black ribbon reads, “Hugo loser.”

03:42: If you ever meet Christopher Carson at a Con, take the time to converse. A nerd’s nerd and clearly proud of it—and we always wonder what those soft-spoken ones have planned (besides, of course, a lunar base). “Five minutes with a razor and some new clothes,” he reflects, “and I could disappear in plain sight.”

03:53: Dr. David Stephenson demonstrates the joys of the Canadian space program. This arm tickles the fancies of important political figures.

04:00: The Masquerade awarded no prize for best presentation this year, despite Victoria Banjavcic’s funny and forceful PSA on behalf of anime heroines, who have been drawn no better-equipped for adventuring than their comic book counterparts. Armour, she notes, should protect the whole body, and not just the parts that interest men.

04:10: It’s a Three-Ringworld Circus as Larry Niven poses with some cosplayers who were inspired by Cirque du Soleil. Niven, among all the older-generation SF writers, really does the Con, showing up at obscure panels and dropping in on filk sessions ’cause he likes to.

04:20: No, Joe Haldeman hasn’t discovered the Fountain of Youth and obtained a sex change; Lauren Beukes misplaced her tent card. Her novel, Moxyland is available in the UK and SA and will be out in North America next year. She’s one of several people published under HarperCollins Angry Robot imprint, which I heartily recommend.

04:33: Dana Teh, whose last name appears frequently online.

04:29: I met these young fans at my improv session, “Whose Con is it, Anyway?” which started almost immediately after we arrived Thursday. Despite my exhaustion and smelly clothes, we all had a great time and I received a lot of positive feedback. Saturday Candas Jane Dorsey, Brenda Cooper, S.C. Butler, and I had a lively discussion of Reading In and Out of Genre. My reading was sparsely attended, but well-received, and Pat Lundrigan and I welcomed a third reader, who missed his slot because he assumed the schedule would be as given in the guide. Having never been to a Worldcon before, he did not know that Convention Guides have been shortchanged, insofar that not one has ever won a Hugo for fiction.

I originally had a spot on a Sunday panel—opposite the Hugos! Predictably (and, I suspect, mercifully) it was canceled. I got to hang with some friends in Ops instead (which is a relatively quiet place just before the big ticket events), and then went to the ceremony.

04:30: Jo Walton and Robert Charles Wilson lead a discussion on the Singularity, which has some audience hands up before the panel has even started. Both authors remain skeptical of the “Rapture for Nerds” view of a Vingean Singularity. Walton likes it as an SF concept, but she also likens it to arguing that, if we went thirty mph in 1909 and 500 mph in 1959, we should soon be exceeding the speed of light. Wilson wonders why we would be cheerleaders for species replacement.

04:36: John Scalzi, Nora K. Jemison, Stephen H. Segal, and others discuss Michael Jackson and SF. On Monday, I got to hold Scalzi’s Hugo in the elevator, and…. Okay, cut the wisecracks!

05:00: Don’t you hate when this happens to you?

05:04: Yes, he really did say “Hello to the Bureau.”

05:10: Jeff Beeler, Ops-meister, takes a call and creates a twenty-first century moment.