On the whole, it was a lovely WorldCon for us. mneme and I had a list of things to do, and nearly all of them got done.
We flew out with little hassle on Wednesday, took the Blue Line to the appropriate stop, and walked to the hotel with a brief detour for food. We checked in, registered, and bought a couple of things from Chicon, including the nifty badge holders. Then, we successfully managed to eat dinner with Marco and Linda Subias. We went to Khyber Pass, an Indian restaurant, not to be confused with Khyber Pass, an Afghanistan restaurant in NYC. We did a little filking, but crashed relatively early.
Thursday, I was up early trying to find out if there was a WSFS business meeting. That wasn't until Friday, and I'll go into the reasons for our SMOFing a little later. To remind people again: If you attend WorldCon, you are a member of the World Science Fiction Society and may attend the WSFS meetings during the convention. You may not want to, and most people don't, but never forget that you have this right. WSFS makes decisions about things like how many years pass between site selection and the convention, what sort of Hugos we will have, and other things that are of much interest to many people who do not show up. Again, I quite understand that most people will not want to show up -- but remember that you can.
After some extra sleep, I went to a panel on researching alternate history, and in an alternate history, the room was available. In our history, however, the room was locked. The hotel staff could not unlock it, and had to look for hotel security. In the meanwhile, Mary Robinette Kowal used her vocal projection skills to get us all organized enough to sit in the hallway, likely an ampler space than the room. The panelists stood even when a few chairs were brought, choosing to give them to those audience members who most needed them.
We did a fast dealers' room crawl, and I made note of places to come back to, buying, I think, one used book. We told the Foglios about the upcoming vote about whether the Graphic Novel Hugo would stick around or fade into the sunset, and reminded them that everyone at WorldCon could go to the meeting and vote on the topic, if they so chose.
Then, we met up with pocketnaomi after a long walk to the train station, which went more easily once mnemex handed me a pair of sunglasses. We ate in the University of Chicago area, whereupon pocketnaomi drove to her B&B and we returned to the convention, with leftovers. I remembered to hand off some RPGs written with kids in mind to pocketnaomi.
We did some filking, starting with an instrumental jam. mnemex had his harp. I had my kazoo. We also had a hat for hsifyppah and successfully delivered it.
This was the day when I tumbled out of the bathtub. The tub had the appropriate no-slip coating, but I was on tiptoe, trying to adjust the showerhead, as opposed to getting out of the tub first. I lost my footing and toppled over the edge of the tub, managing to land on the now detached formerly buttoned on inner curtain. The resulting landing just above the coccyx hurt, but seems to be localized, healing, responding well to ibuprofen, and failing to display the danger symptoms I was told to watch for by a filker who is also a medical practitioner. That said, I'm hearing about an awful lot of fen taking nasty tumbles. Take care of yourselves, everyone!
Friday was the WSFS Preliminary Business Meeting. I'd thought we might have voting on some of our issues, but, as mnemex pointed out, the Preliminary Meeting sets the debate times, and does not do actual debating. Nope, it focuses on committee reports, WorldCon finances, and, er, well, one motion concerning whether Ygnvi might be officially declared Not a Louse.
This was handled on Friday, and served as a useful demonstration of the various rules of the WSFS meeting, including the chair's favored Serpentine Vote, which is a really neat thing to have. Should anyone want to see this, the 2012 Preliminary Business Meeting is on youtube (as are the other Business Meetings). Ygnvi is still a louse, and my attempt to bring the matter before a subcommittee was thankfully defeated.
After the meeting, I went to a panel on the six most important vampire novels of the last century. The room was not what one wants for a panel, consisting of several tables with two chairs at each, and the panelists' table and chairs, as if it were a schoolroom. All the chairs were in use, so I sat up front, as did a few other people. The six were:
1. The Soft Whisper of the Dead, by Charles Grant, which I'd not even heard of before.
2. Salem's Lot, by Stephen King, which I'm trying to work up the nerve to read. He writes scary stuff.
3. I am Legend, by Richard Matheson. I stopped in the middle of this, but I plan to try again. I'm not sure why it didn't hold my attention. I watched bits of one of the film adaptations, The Omega Man, and that was plenty scary.
4. Anno Dracula, by Kim Newman, which I'd have bought in the dealers' room if there'd been a cheap copy available.
5. Interview with a Vampire, by Anne Rice, which I have read.
6. Hotel Transylvania, by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, which I have also read.
The panelists discussed the ways in which each of these books shaped the genre. Ultimately, we were told, this list of six was collapsed into three:
3. Salem's Lot
2. Interview with a Vampire
1. I Am Legend
This looks like the correct order to me.
Other favorites included Suzy McGee Charnas's The Vampire Tapestry (which I've read), George R. R. Martin's Fevre Dream (which I've read -- and the graphic novel of it is out), Brian Lumley's Necroscope series, Fred Saberhagen's Dracula Tapes (which I've read), Whitley Streiber's The Hunger, "everything by Dan Simmons", and John Steakley's Vampire$.
I filled the Foglios in on when the vote on the Graphic Novel Hugo was likely to take place, and they put that information on a sign at their booth. I also told Ursula Vernon and the folks at Sofawolf, and they sent me to Howard Taylor's booth.
I made a 7:30 pm panel on C. L. Moore. There's really a lot of her work I haven't read, and probably at least as much of Kuttner's.
We did some party crawling before filking, encountering the impressive Barbot. mnemex has a picture of Barbot on his twitter feed.
Saturday was the WSFS Business Meeting where the items that we were interested in on the agenda came up. First, the Fancast Hugo is going to be a category for a couple of years, after which there will be a vote either to retain it or to let it fade into the sunset. Folks who are interested in having this category stick around should make sure to find out when the vote on this will be.
Next was the ratification of the new definitions of the Semiprozine and Fanzine Hugos. Last year, some fen who dislike the way blogs are becoming more important than paper fanzines managed to get some wording added to the Fanzine Hugo definition to exclude blogs from consideration. Had they created a separate blog category, we would still have thought them misguided, but we could have accepted that.
We did not accept that blogs should have no place in the fannish Hugo categories. mnemex had been told that it was probably too late to fix the wording, but that he could certainly try, and he did. It turns out that, on consideration, most folks do not want blogs excluded from consideration, including, I think, the people who created the original re-wording of the Semiprozine and Fanzine definitions before the addition of the exclusionary clause. The clause was stricken, and the amended definitions have been ratified.
Then, the Graphic Novel Hugo came up for consideration. The convention newsletter claims that the vote was vastly in favor of retaining the Hugo because Phil Foglio made an impassioned speech in its favor. This is not exactly what happened.
Yes, the vote was vastly in favor of retaining the Hugo. mnemex and I did our best to encourage people who wanted the award to stick around to come. We might or might not have had the numbers without doing that, but we didn't want to take the chance. Ursula Vernon was there, as were the Foglios. None of them, including Phil Foglio, had intended to speak, just to show up and vote.
But, someone who was going to speak against the award, as far as I could tell, vehemently yielded the floor at Phil until he came up to speak. His speech was clearly impromptu. It was indeed passionate, and it was well received by an audience which was mostly already convinced. I do not think it changed anyone's opinion.
Pretty much nothing was going to change anyone's opinion at that point. People on both sides of the issue believe that the data about how many things were nominated at 5% or more of the voters and how many votes were cast support their side. We had the numbers, and I am very, very glad.
The final issue we had strong opinions on was the proposed trial of a Young Adult Hugo. This did not pass. The vote was 51 in favor, and 67 against.
There were several tweets commenting derisively on the result, and after much thought, I drafted a tweet pointing out that a) this is an issue that will come up again, b) we had 125 people at the meeting (I am told there were approximately 5,500 people at the convention), and c) anyone attending Worldcon is a member of WSFS and may attend WSFS meetings for that convention and vote at them. The person to whom I specifically replied did not realize this, and thanked me for the information.
To reiterate yet again: If you are at a WorldCon, you are a member of WSFS and may attend WSFS meetings for that WorldCon and vote.
You may not want to. Meetings are in the morning, and they can take a lot of time. Robert's Rules of Order are used. And, some people are cross scheduled, and cannot go. If you're an author scheduled to give a reading opposing one of the meetings, odds are you're not going to blow that reading off for this, and you probably shouldn't. There are people who want to make cross scheduled events more than they want to make the meeting itself. That's fine. You don't have to come. But, you can. Remember this.
Remember that when you are annoyed about a ruling from WSFS that you can make your voice heard as more than a disgruntled tweeter. And, I do believe that the agenda for the Business Meeting is made available before the convention, so you can look at it ahead of time. You can also, I am told, join the SMOF list and discuss such matters online year round, but this may well be taking things further than you want to.
I note that my most frequent action at the meeting is to say, "Point of information. Are we talking about the amendment or the motion itself?" I think I am not the only one who loses track.
Once the meeting ended for the day, mnemex and I went to pick up the hard copy of Digger. We then wandered around, eventually separating, getting something for a luncheon snack, and meeting up again, where we had what was now a rather largish meal with bfudlmint.
mnemex and I went to the panel on the next H1N1 and on what resources are and aren't available when it comes to epidemics and pandemics. Considering how scary what we hear was, it was remarkably entertaining. Alas, this meant we'd missed the launch of the Three Wyrd Sisters' new album, but we got some tasty sweets and snacks in the filk lounge, and we were able to pick up the CDs later in the convetion. We went out to keep womzilla company for dinner, and had our share of some delicious calamari. I also ordered a tasty lemonade, and I did have a little bit of the pizza.
After that, mnemex and I did more party crawling, winding up at the Spokane party for quite some time. This was exactly the sort of party we like -- plenty of space and seats, good food, good company, and good conversation. We also picked up some apple liquor infused with ghost pepper from the Brotherhood Without Banners party. They call it a Master at Arms, should this combination sound as appealing to you as it did to us. We then picked up some creamy alcohol and some maple walnut alcohol from the Lonestar party, whereupon mnemex declared our party crawling done for the night, as we could not juggle any more drinks. We did squeeze in the Night Bazaar party, where we got a book for eating food that was (dead, unmoving) bugs.
Then, we went to the filk where we stayed until dawn. I dozed off, but I gather I was more restless than I usually am when I snooze in a filk circle. At dawn, we did the hotel breakfast buffet, which had an omelet station, brie, goat cheese, smoked salmon, and various other yummy things.
After that, we sacked out. I decided that there was no way I'd make either the Slushpile panel or the Squeecast recording in time to get a seat, so I got a reasonable amount of sleep. We wandered, picked up some of the free books, and went to the Golden Duck Awards. These need better dramatic presentation, alas, starting with not handing out the list of winners and also rans at the start, at least, not if you don't want to encourage your audience to take said list and leave.
We got another meal at Khyber Pass. Then, we dropped stuff off in the room. mnemex went to game. I did another pass at the freebie book area, helping stuff the new arrivals with bookmarks before taking one of each. We brought home a lot of books, and I think we have almost as many freebies as books we purchased. Hail the clever publishers' generosity!
By now, it was about 6:30 pm, so I collected mnemex from the gaming room, and we got in line to watch the Hugos. While waiting, we heard the Tom Bombadil rap, and I recognized Tolkien's actual words. I hope the video is online, as we didn't see the performance, only heard it.
We got seated at the Hugos. I gather that not everyone did, and that this was made worse by the issues with the livecast. Short version: Ustream's bots cut it off during Neil Gaiman's acceptance speech because clips that the convention was authorized to use tripped the bots' red flags. Ustream's founder has since apologized, and, if I understand correctly, turned off the automated functions that cut off the livecast.
Juanita Coulson was given the Big Heart Award, albeit in absentia. (She had to go back early, but I was assured that she's doing well.)
To my delight, Digger won the Graphic Novel Hugo. This was a roaring success. Digger had half the nominations of Schlock Mercenary, as it was less well known, but once people started reading it, they were convinced it should win. It swept the award. A relatively unknown took the award for a work that merited it and will not be eligible for it next year. We have a healthy category.
Betsy Wolheim took Best Editor, Long Form. This was also wonderful. Seanan McGuire and Catherynne Valente won an award. Ironically, this was in the category with which I am least familiar.
To my utter lack of surprise, the Science Fiction Encyclopedia took the Hugo for Best Related Work. To my similar utter lack of surprise, The New York Review of Science Fiction once again failed to win the Semiprozine Hugo.
I'm still way behind on Doctor Who, but I loved Neil Gaiman's speech explaining why the show is important. That said, I am still hoping that next year, the winner for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, will be the video of the footage of the Curiosity landing. I want this on the ballot, and for this, I will push to catch up on however many years of Doctor Who I'm behind on so that I can honorably vote.
After the Hugos, we studied the vote breakdown, and went to parties. Then, we went to filking, intending to stay an hour or two, as we'd been up until dawn the previous night. It was about 5 am when we headed out, having gotten into a pleasant conversation with John Hertz, who told us a few things about the Big Heart Award.
So, Monday, we didn't try to make any programming. We did go to the dealers' room and pick up the Three Wyrd Sisters' CD, as well as a couple of others. Closing Ceremony was too crowded to attend. I'm assuming there was some reason the con couldn't use the room used for the Masquerade and Hugos for this.
We wandered over the rest of the day and the evening and the night, never leaving the hotel. The con suite had plenty of food, as parties donated their leftovers. Staff apologized for the limited beverage options, but I think they did quite well by us, bless them.
The filking started in the Plaza Ballroom, then adjourned for a dinner break, then recommenced in the filk suite, which also had several food options. It was well after eleven when we left for the one remaining party we knew of, which also had plenty of food, as well as a small pool table. mnemex won one game, lost another, and spent some time sinking the balls sequentially. We also chatted with folks, including a fellow recent WSFS attendee who had more common ground with us than we'd realized.
I think it was around 3 am when I zonked out. We got a cab in time to get to the Blue Line just after rush hour, and, unlike the NYC subways, the Blue Line was reachable without having to maneuver newly heavy suitcases laden with books down stairs.
We had breakfast, then boarded the plane, a 1:30 pm flight due to land at 4:40 EST in La Guardia. However, the weather was bad enough that the plane first circled for twenty minutes, then, low on fuel, went to Albany to refuel. A woman who was the baggage staff at Albany welcomed us, apologized that the airport was not well enough staffed for all the new business, and said they'd try to get us out of there fast, nothing personal. Everyone was on the same page there.
First we were told there might be a 6:30 pm departure, then we were told that they were trying to negotiate something before 8:45 pm, and finally, we were given a 7:45 pm flight path, with a 7:15 pm push back from the gate. And, the Albany woman was so very grateful that we weren't horrid to her. I gather that Being Horrid is the norm when one's flight is diverted. Yuck.
We landed at about 8:30 and reclaimed our luggage. Then, mnemex realized we were in the original building for La Guardia, as he read the information on the walls where the murals were. He snapped a few pictures of the area, which was clearly intended to be a bit of a museum piece, and then we got on the cab line.
It took a while for cabs to come, as this was a small terminal now, off to the side. But, at one point, someone suggested maybe we could move the line so that everyone could be out of the rain, and we did. The wait was more pleasant after that, and eventually, the cabs started coming more quickly.
We were dropped off at about a quarter to ten, and upon hearing that we had been at the World Science Fiction Convention, the driver asked if we knew the Three Laws of Robotics. Yes, yes, we do.