Posted on September 7, 2004 Posted by John Scalzi 15 Comments
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.
“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.”
It was very good. Everybody should buy the book. Two copies, at least.
(You can pay me later…)
Yay, finally a decent photo of me on ye olde internet. I’m so happy. Thanks, Mr Scalzi.
John Scalzi Wrote:
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.
I can only guess that this wass about the science fiction cliche of soy/fungus food? “In the future, more efficient means of feeding people are necessary, so everybody eats soy/mycoprotein analogues of modern foods.” If not that… I’m at a loss as to how that could come up in the panel.
“…not to mention hanging out in a bar until the security people come to boot you the Hell out.”
Good Lord, just what kind of civilized city sends security to boot you out of a bar? I mean, I know I live in an exceptional place, but it still floors me to hear of things like that happening elsewhere. ;)
Concerning the Matrix, I guess they noticed that hole, and therefore introduced Niobe for Reloaded. Or did she debut in Revolutions? I can’t remember.
Niobe first appeared in Reloaded.
My extensive study of television commercials indicates to me that the black woman is frequently missing from the principle cast of movies because black women are the smartest creatures in the universe and that kind of intelligence would break the plot.
Sounds like Bouchercon, only with Terry Pratchett and William Gibson instead of Laura Lippman and Michael Connelly.
(My, how the beer flows at these things.)
Is a gluten-free universe sort of like a world without shrimp?
So tell us about the restaurants in which you hung out.
Restaurants: The first night was an excellent Indian place, the name of which I cannot currently remember, with Justine, Scott, Lauren and Andrew. Friday night found me, Nick, his friend Issac and my friend Shara at Dick’s Crab Shack, which was decent for bar food. Saturday I made reservations at the Marriot’s Gourmeli for a largish dinner with Justine, Scott, Lauren, Andrew, Shara, Karen Meisner and Cory Doctorow. Sunday was me and Shara and Nick and his wife Clinnette at a bistro whose name escapes me at the moment but which featured excellent calamari.
I also had sushi for one lunch with Karen at the Marriott’s sushi bar (not bad), and went to Legal Seafoods another time with Patrick and Teresa Neilsen Hayden (also not too bad). The one time I had breakfast was back at Gourmeli with Justine, Scott, their friend Justina and Kelly Link, with Shara popping in for part of it. Clearly, Justine, Scott and Shara were my meal buddies.
Bar-wise most of the action took place at the Sheraton lobby bar, which had, I have to say, the most obnoxious and ineffective wait staff I’ve ever seen.
It’s good to know that the service at the Sheraton bar was not just a personal vendetta against us and that it sucked for everyone. Even though I live in town, I only end up in the Sheraton during conventions that take place there or in the Hynes, and so on a given visit I have a tendency to end up in the bar, and I don’t remember it being that bad in the past. Perhaps they just don’t like science fiction.
It was good to see you, John. Gentle readers, I can personally confirm that the panel with Pratchett, Esther Friesner, Craig Shaw Gardner, and one Scalzi was seam-splitting hilarious, and Our Young Hero more than held his own. (If you’d put me on a panel with those other three I’d have been scared shitless.)
I will affirm the suckage of the Sheraton bar staff. We actually ended up leaving without our drinks one night because it had been something like an hour. We decided to try the Marriott bar instead, only to find that they had a band. So it was back to the Sheraton the next night, and hey, if they don’t care if I occupy space in their bar without giving them my money, who am I to argue?
We had good Indian at a Kashmiri place called…er…possibly something to do with being Kashmiri? Kashmir, perhaps?
Also, hi, nice to have seen you.
I attended the “crap science in movies” panel in search of a laugh, and got several. So, success!
If you didn’t travel more than 100 yards from the Hynes for Indian food, it was almost certainly Kashmir on Newbury Street at which you ate, which is unbelieveably dark inside and does not really understand the meaning of “mild”. (Not particularly criticism.)
The Indian place (high class atmosphere and a little pricey) was most likely Saffron.
And I wanted to meet you but other panels and parties kept me away. And we seemed to run in different circles (I was with Ellen Datlow, the Strange Horizons crew, Jay Lake, Frank Wu, Locus crowd, Polyphony authors, and a few other random people). Ah well. You hitting NASFiC next year? And/or World Fantasy Con in 2005?
Indeed, I believe it was Saffron. Thanks.
Re: Next year — I haven’t decided between WorldCon and NASFiC yet; a lot depends, frankly, on who is going where. If more people I want to hang out with go to Glasgow, I’ll be there; if Seattle, then that’s probably my destination. Independent of all my pals, I’m inclined slightly toward Seattle as a matter of cost.
World Fantasy Convention: I’m not likely to attend this year, but I’m inclined to attend in 2005, since Madison is reasonably close and there might be a couple of people in that general area I might want to see.