It has taken some time for me to be able to do so, but I finally made it to my first ever WorldCon convention! This five day ode to all things Science Fiction, Fantasy, and (at certain times, on certain panels) Horror was every bit as big and overwhelming as I have heard it described.
Even with the foreknowledge that I would be amazed and overwhelmed, I still had a difficulty following the 2-6-1 rule. (For those that do not know the 2-6-1 rule, it is to remember to have, at least, two meals, six hours of sleep, and one shower/bath every day.) Remembering/taking time to eat was my biggest issue. Getting enough sleep came in a close second. The third was never an issue. I like being clean, I always shower/bathe in the morning.
I arrived in Kansas City, Missouri on Tuesday, August 16th. Doing so allowed me to enjoy the convention from its very start, at noon on Wednesday, August 17th, all the way through to its closing ceremony, at four pm on Sunday, August 21st. Because I stayed until Monday, August 22nd, I was even able to enjoy an informal "Dead Dog" gathering in the Marriott bar on Sunday evening.
The first panel I chose to attend was the aptly named How to Enjoy Your First Convention. Even though I have ten years, at least, of BayCon attendance under my fan belt, I thought I might get some pointers on how to maximize my WorldCon experience. I did, although a lot of it was rehashing stuff I had already learned (via trial and error) attending the aforementioned BayCons.
The first panel I regret missing: Does SF Still Affect How We Think About the Future? WorldCon is a huge and busy convention, it is impossible to catch everything; but missing things still stung.
Being a fan of Mur Lafferty, both her writing and her invaluable podcast, I Should Be Writing, I had to attend her reading. It was a hilarious blast. After that came Grimdark and Perilous Adventure. There was a lot of discussion about what grimdark is and is not. I was amused by the arguments fellow panel attendees made that certain episodes of Star Trek could qualify as grim dark. They don't.
Wait a minute, you might be asking, what does this as yet unreleased thriller, about a trio of home invaders that break into the most wrong house on the face of the Earth, have to do with WorldCon?
But, when I discovered there was an Alamo Drafthouse within walking distance of my hotel, and they had a sneak preview of Don't Breathe screening that Wednesday night, I had to trot over to the theater and check it out.
I wound up enjoying the Alamo Drafthouse experience more than the movie itself. Don't Breathe, while tense and disturbing, had the tendency to sputter and stall between its masterfully constructed set pieces. There is also one hell of a problematic reveal that might break quite a few viewers.
The Movies and Monsters panel kicked off my Thursday. While entertaining, I was chomping at the bit to be a part of that panel. Monsters was followed by the hilarious Imaginary Book Club, which had its imaginative panelists concocting hilarious make believe alternate universe novels by famous authors. Steinbeck's East of Sweden and J.K. Rowling's police procedural series, The Wand and the Badge, featuring a cop on the edge and who does not play by the rules Harry Potter, were the ones that stuck in my memory, but there were a whole lot more.
Next was The Future of Forensics, which is one of the panels I know attended, but cannot remember. That was followed by Utopia, Dystopia and the Default? A fascinating discussion of how and why Utopias and Dystopias are the same thing.
Doctor Who and the Changing Show Runners, moderated by Hugo winner Lynne Thomas, was also a delight. The beginning of the panel getting interrupted by a noisy Tardis moving past the open door was priceless.
I then hoofed it over to the Flying Saucer, for a meet up with the wonderful gang at File770. It was terrific to be able to put some faces to the all the names. It was also great to meet the wonderful and witty Alexandria Erin, who should have been nominated for a Hugo this year.
Friday began with Oceans: The Wettest Frontier, another panel that I do not remember all that well. I don't think I stayed for all of it. I did stay for all of Enjoying Urban Fantasy, though. Things Everyone Likes But I Don't was a terrific and entertaining panel. Alyssa Wong's glorious groaning of, "Lovecrrrrrraft!" might just become my default inner pronunciation of the man's name. Rising Stars in SF, Fantasy & Horror came next. I remember Nicole Cushing's name being mentioned, but that is about it.
I tried to make it to John Scalzi's reading, but there was no room left in the room.
Afrofuturism in SF&F would have been better served if the white moderator would have allowed the people of color on the panel to speak more. That really bugged me. If I had not chosen Appreciating the Pulps over The State of Short Fiction, I might have seen Dave Truesdale's now infamous takeover of the panel he was supposed to be moderating. A large part of me is glad I missed the boorish spectacle, but a small part of me is sorry to have missed it.
I thought the Is SF Collecting Doomed? panel would focus more on the glut of merchandise, but it seemed to dwell more on the investment aspect of purchasing art. Takeaway, don't buy SF art expecting to make any money at all, do it for the love. Aren't we doing that already? What Do Authors Owe Their Fans? is another panel I am pretty sure I attended, but by this time fatigue and an upset stomach had worn me down. I found a place to eat, had dinner, and went back to my hotel and collapsed.
After that I donated blood, a time consuming process that almost made me late for Social Media, or, Why I Haven't Finished My Novel. I have developed an addiction to social media, so I hoped the panel would discuss how best to avoid the rabbit hole. Instead the panelist seemed to focus more on trying to differentiate between social use and professional use, and how to maximize the latter.
Submitting the Short Story was an entertaining collection of submission dos and don'ts, coupled with some editor and slush pile horror stories. The Horror Melting Pot was an attempt to discuss how the genre is changing, but, as panelist Steve Ransic Tem pointed out, "Horror is emotion based, rather than trope based." The genre changes, mutates, and reinvents itself constantly, so trying to guess how the genre is changing is impossible to guess.
I then headed back to the hotel, for a pre-Hugo ceremony meet with other alumni of Writing Excuses retreats and Mary Robinette Kowal's Short Story Intensive workshops, both of which I have attended. Kowal herself was there and I was pleasantly surprised that she seemed to remember me. I hope that continues to be a pleasant thing.
The Hugo Awards ceremony was a joy to watch. Congratulations to all the winners. After the ceremony I went out with the File770 group for drinks and jawboning about the awards.
Sunday morning began with the irreverent CATS!!! This 50 minute love fest for cats ended with the admission that cats not only rule the Internet, they also rule the world. Of course they do. Trends in Horror meandered all over the place, but panelist William F. Nolan ended it with a terrific rant about spiders. It was awesome. A fellow Filer and I attended Horror Comics, Old and New, which, despite suffering from the absence of two panelists, managed to entertain.
Despite five packed days of panels, book buying, and meet ups, it all seemed to have ended far too quickly.
Because I had to drive from Kansas City, Missouri, all the way down to El Dorado, Arkansas on Monday (an almost nine hour trip), I stayed Sunday night. This gave me the opportunity to sit down with a few people and talk my way down from the convention induced high. It really helped to lessen the inevitable post-convention blues.
Looking forward to going to WorldCon 75, in Helsinki, Finland.