Renovation Recap

Renovation was a lot of fun for me, and here are a few reasons why. I’m not putting these in any chronological order, I’m just dropping them out as they come to me:

1. A whole bunch of my friends made off with Hugos, most notably Mary Robinette Kowal for her short story “For Want of a Nail.” I am serious when I say I couldn’t be happier if I had won a Hugo of my own. Mary is one of my favorite people in the world, period, full stop, but more than that she’s been a consistently fantastic writer, and the Hugo is recognition of that. There are more in her future, I’m sure, but the first Hugo is always especially sweet. Go congratulate her, why don’t you.

Other friends with rocket hardware: Kate Baker, who some of you here may remember watched Whatever for me while I took a break last year, walked off with a Semiprozine award for her work on Clarksworld magazine; Lou Anders, who built Pyr Books into a genre powerhouse, nabbed the Longform Editor Hugo; and Allen Steele took the Novelette Hugo for “The Emperor of Mars.” Allen and I have a thing where we smack each other in the head for luck; he did it to me in 2006, the year I won the Campbell, and this year I did it for him. IT WORKS Y’ALL. Yes, yes, I know. Correlation, not causation. Shut up. We got a thing going.

Overall, a fine year for the Hugo.

2. I wasn’t nominated for a Hugo this last year (not entirely surprising, since my public output last year was three short stories), but don’t feel bad for me, since I did get a major award while I was at Renovation: I was given my Seiun Award (the Japanese equivalent of the Hugo, although the word “seiun” means Nebula), which I had won last year for the Japanese translation of The Last Colony. The award comes with a scroll and two small tokens: An origami rocket and a tiny statue of a goldfish, the latter being a symbol of the Japanese nation science fiction convention. My goldfish has goggles — it’s really kind of adorable. The scroll I’ll have framed; the origami rocket and the goldfish are already up on the brag shelf.

3. Renovation also marked the public debut of this fine fellow: Papa Fuzzy, from Fuzzy Nation (and, of course, Little Fuzzy). I commissioned Papa from Hugo-winning author Mary Robinette Kowal, who also happens to be a professional puppeteer and puppetmaker, because, well. If you could have your own Fuzzy, wouldn’t you? Mary and I walked about the convention a bit with Papa (see here, with Renovation Guest of Honor Tim Powers), and the Fuzzy was also featured in the puppet show Mary presented with friends. In it, Papa and Neil the Pencil-Necked Weasel did a stirring rendition of the epic Paul & Storm ballad “Fuzzy Man.” Stirring, I tell you. I was so very proud.

4. As a convention, I think Renovation was very well done. The folks running the convention were high-end smofs (“smof,” for those of you unfamiliar with the term, stands for “secret masters of fandom,” and in the real world means people who have been running science fiction conventions for years and know how to do the thing) and they had their roles down, so from the outside, at least, everything ran pretty smoothly. I know many of the people who were behind the scenes and I know they were running about constantly, but it was mostly because there was so much to do, rather than things being on fire. The one (mild) criticism I have is that everything in Reno was spread out enough that it was sometimes exhausting to get from one place to another. But then again, I needed the exercise.

As a participant, Renovation was great — all my panels were packed, which is very ego-gratifying, and the response to them was uniformly positive, which is even better. This was particularly the case with my Tour of the Creation Museum slideshow and also of my reading, which was another bit of the upcoming 2012 novel, the title of which I am still not yet publicly revealing (sorry — we’ll be revealing it soon I swear). Mind you, it wasn’t just me with well-attended panels, since many of the program participants I talked to noted the panels seemed particularly well-attended this year. So to all the fans who showed up to hear us all do our thing: Thanks, folks. We appreciate it.

And to put on my SFWA President hat here, I want to give public recognition and thanks to Renovation for working with us to help set up the SFWA suite — a hangout for SFWA members and their guests, which was very well utilized this year — and for all their help with our business meeting, which also went off without a hitch. You made us look good, Renovation, and for that I thank you.

5. One of my favorite things about Worldcons is that they are both large enough that most of the people in the science fiction and fantasy world that I want to see are there, but small enough that I can actually, in fact, find them when I want to see them. So of course the real highlight for me was to just hang about with friends, fans and other writers and catch up on everything that’s happened since I saw them last. I had very late nights. The late nights were totally worth it.

It’s also, you know, still a huge goddamn thrill to be able to walk up to someone like Bob Silverberg or Joe Haldeman or David Brin or Connie Willis — to name just a few — and talk to them as if they are normal people and not writing gods whom I read when I was still hoping to be a writer, striding the earth as they do in their textual seven league boots. One special event that I was happy and humbled to attend was a wedding celebration for George RR Martin and his beautiful bride Parris; any wedding party where the first dance is “The Time Warp” from Rocky Horror Picture Show is one where everyone’s having a good time.

6. With Renovation in the books, we now turn to Chicon 7, the 2012 Worldcon in Chicago. As most of you will remember, I am toastmaster of Chicon 7, which means that in a way it will be my Worldcon. And since it is my Worldcon, allow me to reiterate what I said when I made my toastmaster announcement last year:


Oh, yes, you are. The unspeakable awesomeness of what we have planned will be unspeakably awesome in both its unspeakination and awesomeosity. Just think about that for a minute. This is all I’m going to say about this right now, but be assured that between now and August 30, 2012 (the first day of Chicon 7) I will have many things to say about the next Worldcon and how you are so very coming to it. Be prepared.

44 Comments on “Renovation Recap”

  1. Oh, Chicon!

    Don’t know who organizes these things, but I totally suggest getting some advertising space for the con in the Chicago Maroon. I’m sure there’s lots of UChicago people who’d love to attend a WorldCon or a sci-fi convention, but don’t necessarily follow the convention circles or even know that there’s an actual Hugo Awards ceremony (I know I sure didn’t until recently! I always assumed that people were notified by mail or something).

  2. Great report! I die of envy.

    But George R. R. Martin’s new bride is the lovely and talented Parris, not Perris.

    See you at Boskone!

  3. I am so very embarrassed by The Creation Museum and so very angry that they are getting tax breaks in my state because they qualify as an amusement park.

  4. I was at your reading and am sworn to secrecy! Thought you were very funny. The most entertaining reading I had been to. Had to sit on the wall at the very front because it was so packed!

  5. I really wish I could have been there, for many reasons obvious and not. Under “not” I include ‘because many of those SMOFs are old friends of mine from Fanoclasts’ and ‘because of the many other things in my life that would have to have been different and better for me to be able to be in Reno rather than home recovering from cancer surgery’.

    “Obvious” includes, obviously, missing all those great panels and readings and a chance to hang with you, John. I will, also obviously, try to get to Chicon 7, but that is also contingent on successful of avoidance of many life-sucks circumstances.

  6. I feel reasonably confident that, no matter how much folks here believe in science, understanding the difference between correlation and causation, and opposing superstition, no one is interested in stopping a practice that involves you and Allen Steele smacking each other on the head. Especially since I’m picturing it like the beginning of New Order’s “True Faith” video.

  7. The badge/logo for Chicon 7 is beautiful (among other things, I like how it subtly indicates Chicago’s location). Makes me want to attend, even though I will always be no more than a fan.

  8. As far as Chicon goes, the big hurdle for me is just plain timing (which is better than the triple whammy of timing plus money plus extra money because getting to Reno is tricky). When you work at a university where classes begin the week before Labor Day, taking the time off to actually enjoy the con is tough. I do have every intention of watching whatever streaming is offered (and this year’s con did a great job with that, incidentally.)

    Also (to Gottacook at #10) Worldcon is for fans as well as pros.

  9. I am intensely delighted to see that particular set of SMOFs receive due public appreciation, especially since I’ve had the joy of working with some of them myself and I know just how amzingly fantabulous they are. I just wish I could have made it to Renovation myself.

  10. My phrase for the size of Worldcon was inspired by Reno’s motto, thus I’m going to try referring to Worldcon as “The Biggest Little SF/F Convention in the World.”

  11. Wait, in that picture is Papa Fuzzy sitting on the Iron Throne? That’s awesome! And also disturbing, considering what happens to people who sit on the thing.

  12. Great convention. I really enjoyed the panels I saw you on. (Wish my plane had arrived earlier so I could’ve seen the Creation Museum Panel.)

  13. Allen and I have a thing where we smack each other in the head for luck; he did it to me in 2006, the year I won the Campbell, and this year I did it for him.

    “Chicon would like to announce that, as a special fundraising effort, Allen Steele and Toastmaster Scalzi will be smacking people about the head from 10am to 11am, Friday morning. There will be a $2500 fee which is not refundable in the unlikely event that a smackee does not win their category. “

  14. Chicon 7: since I actively collaborate with the Guest of Honor — and have a shot at being on the Campbell short list — it’s 97.8% likely I will be there. I’ll also try to not let last-second business dealings derail attendance at the SFWA meeting.

    Renovation: as a first-time WorldConner, I found the Reno-Sparks Convention Center to be delightfully large. Plenty of room to move around in, and the panel halls were well-lit and well-ventilated. The SFWA suite was a welcome oasis of friends and cold water. Kudos to the support staff who made life easy for the rest of us going in and out all the time. I think the only thing that was troublesome was the distance between the RSCC and the two other primary hotels, besides the Atlantis. I certainly got my exercise doing a 3-mile circuit from the Marriott to the RSCC, and back again.

  15. I am indeed attending Chicon7. It will be my first Worldcon and I will hold the Toastmaster personally responsible for “The unspeakable awesomeness of what we have planned… ” as well as his claim that it will be”unspeakably awesome in both its unspeakination and awesomeosity.”

  16. Chris Sears @21: Sorry, but the Creation Museum is all Kentucky’s. We Ohioans who live inside the 275 beltway have enough problems convincing legislators in Columbus that Cincinnati is actually part of Ohio. We really don’t need Kentuckians like you confusing the issue. ;-)

    And yes John, given that Chicago is only a half-day’s drive from Cincinnati, I will be at Chicon 7.

  17. Well I have to be the contrarian and say I will be missing Worldcon next year for Dragoncon instead. The plus is they are doing lots of virtual programming between the two cons and that should be very interesting to say the least.

  18. Oh, I am so totally coming to Chicon 7.

    It also helps that Chicon 7 is basically coming to me. It’ll be my second Worldcon, my first being Chicon 2000. Not much budget for travel, y’know.

  19. A lot of my short term future is kind of out of my hands, but if there is any possible way, I WILL be at Chicon next year. I have voted for every Chicago Worldcon bid I could, and I am thrilled they finally got it.

    What I can guarantee though, is that I will be eating out, at least once or twice while I am in Chicago. I am not only a fan, I am a foodie, and Chicago is one of those foodie-heaven towns.

  20. I hate that I’m going to have to choose between ChiCon 7 and DragonCon next year, but attending this year’s WorldCon (my first) has me leaning toward ChiCon 7. Then again, I’m going to DragonCon in less than two weeks, so it has a chance to win back my heart. Oh, woe for having so many awesome cons to pick from!

  21. Your reading was awesome and, per instructions given therein, I have provided a number of bwahhahahas to friends who missed it.

    I realize it shouldn’t surprise me that you have authors that you get a thrill out of meeting/talking to, but I guess I have this picture in my mind that all authors belong to a secret code with nifty decoder rings and hang out whenever they want. It was such a thrill getting to meet all these authors, who (as a btw for anyone who wasn’t there) were just so dang personable.
    Everyone (well, almost everyone – to be honest I did have one negative interaction with an author, who shall remain nameless) made me feel like they were as excited about being there as I was and happy to take a few minutes to speak with me. I am still in awe.

  22. I am leaning towards going. Although I think I’ll probably skip San Antonio in 2013 to be ready for the harm London in 2014 will do my liver and wallet…

  23. You know, I really think I might just make it to Chicon. I’ll be in London in 2014 so that one will get pencilled in too. However I have to say, quite unapologetically, that Chicago is one of my favourite US cities so an excuse to visit it will do me just fine…

  24. Oh, I desperately want to get to Chicon 7. I attended Worldcons there in 1982, 1991, and 2000; had a lovely time at all of them. LIked the cons, liked the city. And I haven’t been to a Worldon since 2004, so I’m long overdue. Now if I can just brainstrom my way into coming up with the neccessary cash.

  25. If Scalzi says come to Chicon, come indeed I must. (And it’s not the first day of the college semester. Thanks for having it over Labor Day.)

  26. I live here, so I’m planning on being at Chicon. I’d love to take you out for a beer Mr. Scalzi, wait that sounded weird and creepy. :/ Well if I see you around Chicon, you’ve got a beer on me!

  27. Chicon 7 will be my first vacation in 14 years. and I think I can manage to ditch most if not all of my kids! While I’m totally excited about meeting/seeing all the sf people there, I’m most excited about Story Musgrave. I had his picture up on my wall when I was a teenager.

  28. I am so very not coming to Chicon. It’s not that your secret evil plan doesn’t sound awesome, but it turns out us Lucky Duckies don’t actually have the time amidst enjoying our tax-free status to tour fandom conventions. Yeah, time. That’s what I’m short on…


  29. A “major award”? I’m sorry John, but that phrase leaves me unable to avoid imagining you as the Old Man in “Christmas Story”, crowing over the fact that HE won a “major award”.

  30. Worldcon sounds like it was a blast. One sad question: Did the passing of Bill Trojan on Sunday put a damper on the end of the event?

  31. 1. Good luck to Brad on making that Campbell short list for next year; wow, that seems like a long time from now and I need a break from voting on things for a while.
    2. Now that Lev Grossman has joined the Campbell club, I expect to see him contribute something to the next METAtropolis anthology.

    Congrats to all the winner, the nominees, and the folks who just missed the cut. I love going through the PDF statistics report and this year had a lot of surprises.

  32. Actually, the Chicago con will coincide with me being actually able to afford going to one of these and I am going to be there or die trying.

  33. Sam @ 41: thanks, it will be interesting to see how I fare, given that it’s a bit of an uphill climb for short fiction authors, whereas novelists tend to have a broader ‘splash’ thus more awareness among voters. If I can secure a book deal between now and Chicon 7, perhaps my chances improve? As it is — even without a book — I’ve done pretty well for a new guy. Very good mojo building.

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