Okay, let's get the ball rolling again. Operation "reboot the blog" is in full effect. Over the next month I'll catch you up on all things Nick Sagan related and maybe even a little more besides. First things first: As promised, thoughts on my time in Anaheim.
The Big Picture
Well, I should preface this by saying I'm not a convention person. I have friends who loved science fiction conventions growing up, finding community and friendship and all that good stuff, and making a positive tradition of it year after year. Not me. Nothing against the cons; they just weren't my thing. You couldn't drag me. And so as an adult I've been a bit leery of these things, going in angst ridden about what exactly I'm supposed to be doing. Selling books? Making contacts? Filking? But at Forum Fantastico and this last Worldcon, I put all that aside and resolved to simply have a good time. Strangely enough, that's what I had. I treated it as fun instead of work, and nevertheless managed to sell books and shake hands along the way. (No filking though. That's where I draw the line.)
More fun than 2003 and 2004, I thought. (I wasn't in Glasgow and can't speak for 2005.) Connie Willis and Robert Silverberg were charming and polished in ways that most science fiction writers are not, and therefore perfectly suited to the task. They kept the tone light and playful, which meshed nicely with the inimitable Harlan Ellison, who got the crowd reacting as only Harlan can. Color me entertained. And many of the awards went to writers and artists for whom I'd been rooting, which was an added plus.
John Scalzi's Campbell acceptance speech impressed me as some of the classiest words I've heard spoken at the Hugos. Wonderful to see John win--he's that rare combination of great writer and great human being. Fear his greatness! And go read him if you haven't already. Why, The Android's Dream is out in stores right now...
You can't have a science fiction convention without panels. I asked. No, they're an essential part of programming, and they range from "wow, that was hugely entertaining and informative" to "man, I wish I could get those fifty minutes of my life back." The most fun I had: STARSHIP SMACKDOWN, a panel I wasn't even on. "The legendarily geekiest convention panel of all-time," it's promoted as, and yes, that's deservedly so. In essence, it's a question of who would win in a fight between this ship and that ship. The Enterprise usually wins--not this time. This time, it didn't even reach the finals, but here's a ship that did: The Starship Of The Imagination from Cosmos.
A huge outpouring of love for my father, which moved me, and the panel was funny and wildly clever, arguing whether or not this dandelion seed-shaped starship could take out famous vessels from science fiction's present and past--well, I laughed myself silly. The S.O.T.I. crushed all comers until it met the NSEA Protector from Galaxy Quest. There's something winning and good-hearted about that movie, so if the S.O.T.I. had to lose to a ship, I'm happy it was that one.
As for the panels I actually participated in, my favorite was IS ART THE INSPIRATION FOR MADNESS? Joe Haldeman to my left and Tim Powers to my right. I've been a fan of Joe's for a while now, and while I've yet to read any of Tim's work, I've resolved to pick him up--he's brilliant. The three of us went back and forth on whether novels should inspire, provoke, or simply entertain. Great, spirited disagreement there. Should writers not show how to do potentially dangerous and imitatable things? Like, let's say, make a bomb? Considerably less disagreement there. We told stories about how our work affected people, and the audience asked great questions. I had a terrific time.
WRITING SF FOR TELEVISION & MOVIES was a good one as well, but I've done it a few times before so there wasn't much new. POST-APOCALYPTIC SF I enjoyed, and it led to an unexpected subsequent NPR interview with myself and Elizabeth Bear. I don't know Bear well, but I like her--she's a talented, prolific writer and she seems like a very cool person. FRANKENFOOD TO FRANKENPEOPLE was somewhat disappointing. Informative discussion to be sure, but stiffer than I expected--with a name like FRANKENFOOD TO FRANKENPEOPLE I'd hoped it would be a little more fun. And the DESIGNING INTERACTIVE GAMES panel was great, though within the first few minutes I realized I was completely out of my league. I know a thing or two about game design, but my experience in videogames is primarily as a story writer--and that's not what this panel was about! That's me on the right with the far more knowledgable Scott Campbell, Mike Stemmle and Justin Lloyd.
On the last day of the con I was slated for WHY IS EVERYTHING SO DARK? I'd been looking forward to that one. Couldn't make it though--I hope it turned out well.
Sadly, I didn't have time to catch many readings this con, but I did get to hear Isaac Szpindel read his short story "From Gehenna." A different spin on the dybbuk story from Hebrew folklore. Innovative and well told, this, and I highly recommend it. You can find it in the DAW anthology, Slipstreams.
Dig the hat?
A woefully incomplete list of the cool folks I chatted, hung out, drank and/or generally absorbed the con with: John Joseph Adams, Tobias Buckell, Cory Doctorow, David Louis Edelman, Shaun Farrell, Deanna Hoak, Kay Kenyon, David Lloyd, Erin Maher, Louise Marley, Kay Reindl, Chris Roberson, John Scalzi and his family, Bob Skir, Isaac Szpindel, Scott Westerfeld, Doselle Young and Janine Ellen Young.
I don't always photograph well, but I'm liking these:
And that's a sense of my 2006 Worldcon experience!