Given the attention Worldcon traditionally gets, you probably haven’t been lacking for reports from con-goers–I’ve read about twenty of them myself, and that was a pretty quick skim of the ones available. But I promised my own account of the happenings in Reno, and I’m finally geting the chance to deliver on that promise now. Quick summary: a great con and a lot of fun. The longer version:
1. The panels were great, both for participants and attendees. The attendance was excellent at every panel, even the Wednesday ones, and there was a lot of interesting back and forth discussion with the audience…the kind that keeps one thinking well after the session is over. I had two particular highlights: The Lord of the Rings: Assessing the Movie Trilogy was a lot of fun, partly because I got to moderate a panel with people like Norman Cates, who was a compositor for the trilogy (and still tears up thinking about it, in a good way!), and partly because I got to spend time talking about the work which got me interested in fantasy literature as a child. Since the movies are also among my favorites, it was a good combination. Great discussion of the impact of the film series on the genre in general, and some thoughtful comments on what the films got right and wrong about Tolkien’s work. Consistent Magic Systems in Fantasy, on the other hand, was a decent topic with a phenomenal panel (and me)–when you put Jo Walton, L.E. Modesitt Jr., Pat Rothfuss and Worldcon Guest of Honor Tim Powers on stage, you’ve got some serious heavy hitters. I generally don’t get intimidated by this stuff, but I’ll fully admit that I was a trifle nervous being included in this group, especially in front of an audience in the hundreds. But according to friends and family I acquitted myself fine, and had some great discussions after the panel with some of the audience members, so apparently I didn’t lose myself too badly to fanboyism (a word which I now officially trademark, by the way!). One side note: this was much, much better organized than the Worldcon in Montreal two years ago, from information given to the panelists to the panels we were put on in the first place. Future Worldcons should take note of how Renovation did things here.
2. This is the second time I’ve been able to attend a Hugo awards ceremony, and like the last time I found it a pretty amazing experience. Part of it may be my imagining what it might be like to walk up on that stage myself sometime in the future (hey, I like dreaming big once in a while!), but beyond that there’s something inspiring about being among a bunch of fantasy and science fiction fans who are as excited about reading our work as we are about writing it. I won’t get into the question of who won and lost–I’d say it was a fairly safe series of choices (not necessarily a bad thing) and a couple of surprises–but I will say that Chris Garcia’s reaction to getting a Hugo pretty much was the highlight of the night (arguably, of the year). One other note: it was really good to see Jay Lake having such a good time hosting the event, given all he’s been going through for a long time.
3. My friends in the writing community rock. They all know this already, of course, but I just want to make it clear. One of the best parts of this convention was realizing how many more people in the community I know (and how many of those I can call friends) now, partly as a result of my writing and conference going, partly (I think) because of the success of Speculate–which Brad Beaulieu and I were able to get some work done on too, with an interview with Pat Rothfuss. But I can’t say enough how cool it was to have Brad, Kelly Swails, Paul Genesse, Patrick Tracy, Sarah Castle and others to hang out with (and a special shout-out to Brenda Cooper, whose book Mayan December had a rocking release party to celebrate its publication). Even my family came along–which, of course, was awesome by itself. Moral of the story: friends and family are the best, which you probably didn’t need a Worldcon report to tell you!
4. The facilities in Reno were great, even though hanging out in a casino isn’t really my thing…and the incessant smoking in a lot of areas in said casino was, well, less than optimal. But on the whole, I had no complaints with either hotel or convention center. Whether I could handle that kind of heat mixed with that kind of altitude and super-dry air in the long term is an open question…I was happy to get back to a slightly less arid environment. Still, on the whole this was a good place to hold a convention, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it back here at some point in the future.
So there you have it: a great experience on the whole, both personally and professionally (including a few things I can’t talk about yet…but it’s exciting stuff!) and one I look forward to repeating next year in Chicago. I’m going to be putting up a few of the panels I did soon over on my Media page, so make sure to check back for that. And if you ever get the chance, head to a Worldcon…there really isn’t anything like it.