So, except for the fact that I went through a large percentage of the Tor Books party with a massive zipper malfunction (helpfully pointed out to me by the Tor editor who pointed directly at my crotch and said something along the line of “You’re looking a little loose, there”), I have to say it was a very successful Worldcon. Noreascon 4 was my second Worldcon, and the difference was striking. My first Worldcon (Torcon 3) had me wandering about amongst strangers — kind strangers, mind you, but strangers nonetheless. This time around, I had friends and peers, the sort of people you can, say, make an ass of yourself with in an elevator (in this particular case, Kelly Link, Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Lauren McLaughlin and Shara Zoll (wielding the camera)), not to mention hanging out in a bar until the security people come to boot you the Hell out. It makes for a more relaxed and enjoyable time.
Which is good because I worked a hell of a lot more at this Worldcon than the last one. In Toronto, I had two panels; this time I had eight (not counting my reading). I spent a lot of time rushing to panels and figuring out what I had to say. But most of the panels went well. Two in particular I thought really rocked: The panel about the 20th Century featured the convention guest of honor Terry Pratchett, who is very amusing and who was gracious enough to to set me up with a huge laughline — Pratchett mentioned to the crowd that archaeologists in Jerusalem had recently uncovered a 2,000-year-old cloaca, otherwise known as a latrine, and thanks to the anaerobic conditions in which it was preserved, the contents were still as the depositors had left them. To which I replied, “Holy shit.”
Thank you, I’ll be here all week. Try the kabobs.
The other really excellent one was the one in which we discussed all the bad science you found in science fiction films. Since I was the guy on the panel who had actually written a science book, I was the de facto expert on the subject, which was mildly amusing, since I know for a fact there was at least one actual physicist in the audience. Be that as it may, the crowd was into the panel and all the panelists were rather amusing, and a good time was had by all. I had only one panel which I thought was less than spectacular, but I’ll avoid mentioning that one since I don’t want to make enemies.
Sadly, being on all those panels precluded me from attending from many of the panels I wanted to see; far too many of them were scheduled against the panels I was on. But the ones I did see were memorable, particularly the one on literary clichés, in which we learned that apparently a substantial number of readers really really really like wheat, and are prepared to defend it against all those who would seek to expunge it from the various fantasy worlds. So those writers who yearn for a gluten-free universe, beware.
In addition to panels, I also had a reading (this picture is also from Shara); here you can see me reading from Old Man’s War, which is my upcoming novel. In this picture, I may or may not be speaking in a bad, fake southern accent, which I was using to distinguish one of the characters in the chapter. This particular chapter was interesting to read, since it required me to be fairly dramatic. The reason for this is that there was a lot of profanity in it, and you can’t just read a line full of expletives in a calm monotone. That would sort of rob the urgency of the text, I would think. I thought the reading was reasonably successful, but of course, I would. You’ll need to check with the actual people in attendance to see what they thought. But I will note that I gave away candy and a book, so even if they hated the reading, at least they got a sugar rush.
Once again, I didn’t get to nearly all the readings I would have liked to get to, but I did get to the readings of Nick Sagan (who made me very very jealous with the totally awesome audiobook version of his most recent novel, Edenborn, which he played at the reading. I want an awesome audiobook, damn it), Justine Larbalestier (who read from Magic or Madness, her upcoming, hemisphere-spanning YA novel) and Scott Westerfeld, whose newly-released YA So Yesterday includes the concept of the “Missing Black Woman Formation” — The idea that in movies there’s always a white guy, a black guy and a white woman, but that the symmetry-providing black woman is missing (NB: The Matrix, with Neo, Morpheus and Trinity). I’m kicking myself for not thinking of it first.
But mostly, Worldcons are about hanging out with friends at restaurants, bars and parties — you know, like college, except without classes (if you don’t count panels as classes). I hung with the aforepictured-and-mentioned Scott, Justine, Nick (and his fabulous wife Clinnette), Shara, Kelly and Lauren (and her posh bastard hubby Andrew), but also spent some quality time with Karen Meisner, Cory Doctorow, Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Liz Gorinsky and (briefly, because he had something on the order of 37,000 panels) Charlie Stross.
I also made the physical acquaintance (and re-acquaintance) of a number of blog and e-mail friends including Chad Orzel, Kate Nepveu, Marissa Lingen, Tobias Buckell, Rob Wynne, Lucy Huntzinger, and Columbine as well as Eliani Torres, who in one of those strange coincidences you’d never write because it’s just simply not believable, went to the same elementary school I did and even saw me play the Artful Dodger in the school play version of Oliver. She somewhat jokingly accused me of stalking her until I managed to convince her that I really did live in Covina, California, all those years ago. Well, and who can blame her. Aside from these folks I did the quick chat and smile and wave to bunches of other people as well; as I noted, catching up with is is what Worldcons are really for.
So that’s how I spent the last several days.