A Face Full Of WorldCon 2012: The Recap

Worldcon happened. It’s funny — you go to a con like that and it’s as if time and space gets shoved unmercifully into a bubble, and the rest of the world is held at bay or perhaps lost entirely for a while. And then you come back and land and there’s this illusive (and elusive) vibe where everything that happened starts to appear gauzy and uncertain, and it seems like you’re trying to remember a dream –

So, this post is an attempt to grab the snippets of Worldcon before they flee my brain.

It will have minimal order. It will contain dubious sense and continuity.

Let us begin.

WORLDCON WAS AWESOME. THE END. YAY!

…hrm.

Okay, that’s probably not enough? That feels a bit… feeble.

Let’s try that again.

Worldcon was like real-life Twitter. You know all these people online and suddenly there they are, no longer contained to 140 characters, no longer defined by tiny squares with pop-cult icons. (For the record, I now support a real-life version of Twitter, where if you witness someone being a dick, you can just loudly proclaim, “I’M UNFOLLOWING YOU” before turning heel-to-toe and running away. Or putting a bag over their head.) It’s always weird taking Internet Entities and forcing them to manifest as Reality Humans because, well, sometimes that transition is difficult and disappointing. You like someone online and, ennnnhhh, maybe not so much with the face-to-face.

I am so pleased that this was not the case in Chicago. If anything, the opposite was true. The real-life manifestations were even more awesomer than their tweetworthy counterparts.

I met so many great people (and I’ll get to that). All of them an inspiration because they’re out there fighting the good fight and slinging words as only they know how. I return renewed, reinvigorated. I was drunk on great people and wonderful books. And, y’know, a shitload of gin-and-tonics.

In snippets and snapshots:

• Airplanes are fucking gross these days. Someone needs to throw a couple bleach grenades into each airplane. It’s like — “Is that mold on the vent? Is that a dried booger on the back of the seat, or just some kind of scab?” And you think, Ha ha ha, that Chuck, he’s being all hyperbowlie again, but I’m not. I saw mold. I saw booger-scab. I’m not particularly germophobic but it’s hard not to come off a plane feeling like you were just rolling around in a dish of someone’s fingernail clippings and hoagie sweat. Most city buses are cleaner than the planes I saw this weekend. So are most hobo corpses.

• I roomed with Stephen Blackmoore (@sblackmoore). He thinks I didn’t notice, but every night, he brought out the clown greasepaint, stood at the mirror in the dark, clowned himself up, did a silent little dance there in the shifting shadows of the hotel room, watching his jolly-shaped shadow gambol about. Then he’d weep for ten minutes. Afterwards he’d wet a towel and scrub off the makeup and go back to bed. So, just be advised. He’s a great friend, a great writer, and a horrifying incubus.

• Finally got to meet Adam Christopher (@ghostfinder), he of Empire State and Seven Wonders, and dang, I was a bit worried. He comes across nice and polite online, which is sometimes code for “dangerous psychotic in person.” But my worries were unfounded: Adam is genuinely nice, genuinely polite, and a very smart dude. (If I had any co-pilots this weekend, Adam and Stephen were they.) Oh, and now that I’m reading Seven Wonders, I can once again confirm: he’s also a writer you should be reading. I think I’m digging it even more than Empire State, even. Short review of the book here at The Guardian. He also looks snappy in a suit!

• Did a panel with both of the aforementioned gentlemen on the subject of “New Pulp,” and that panel discussed first just what the fuck New Pulp is (and I’ll talk a bit more about my evolving thoughts next week), but also about what writers can do and can become in this weird wibbly-wobbly publishey-rublishey time. In fact, it was a theme evoked in talking to lots of authors that weekend — what a writer wants to write versus expectations from agent, editor, audience. How does a writer find his place? How does he become a self-satisfied creature while still, y’know, not-starving?

• Worldcon did not necessarily feel like a tech-savvy con. Hard to be, since my cell signal (and the signal of many others) dropped off into a Marianas Trench half the time (completing the feel of the bubble) — but a lot of cons go out of their way to announce the hashtag and to encourage tweeting or other social media during panels. Here, not so much. For a sci-fi con, it in fact had a faintly Luddite feel. Not a bad thing, but a thing worth noting just the same.

• I should not be allowed to bowl. I at one point threw the ball like, five, six feet into the air. Though I was not the worst bowler by any means, so — I’ll take that as a win, one supposes.

• Emma Newman (@emapocalyptic) will one day rule the world. The most polite and sinister mastermind ever to have stepped onto the authorial stage. You watch. You’ll see.

• Another theme at the con: editors are fucking rockstars, man. In more ways than one.

• The new new snidbits of profanity birthed at the con — and you’re going to want to write these down, or else the Mighty Mur Lafferty (@mightymur) will fucking cut you, son — are: COCKTACO and FUCKPORRIDGE. Like I said, write it down. I’ll wait. No, I’m not going anywhere. Scribble, scribble. Oh, and for the record, meeting Mur only confirmed why she is on my list of Favorite People Ever.

• HOLY SHIT, MATT FORBECK. @mforbeck! King of Kickstarters! Writer of Dracula-meets-Titanic! Master of the blue-collar writer attitude! Pleasure meeting this dude. He gets it.

• Did a book signing at the Book Cellar on Friday night. Me, Adam Christopher, Gwenda Bond (@gwenda), Kim Curran (@kimecurran). Was told it was one of their top ten events — and they do a couple-few events a week. Plus, they have beer there. Listen, bookstores? Here’s how you survive in these uncertain times — SELL WINE AND BEER. No, not just little chocolate flibbles and coffee draughts, but goddamn alcohol. I will buy books at your store. In part because I’ll be drunk. Anyway, the signing went really, really well.

• There, at the signing, I caught up with an old, old friend from high school, Jim — and man, you think a decade-plus of time would make such a reunion cautious and uneven. Nope. It was like that time had never passed, which is a great thing. Met him for lunch the next day. Was great. Proud to know him. Can’t let another ten years pass in the same way.

• HOLY SHIT, TOBIAS BUCKELL. (@tobiasbuckell) One of the good guys in social media appeared like, in a puff of ninja smoke. Was good to meet him.

• After the first book signing, went out to a German Bierhaus for the Team Decker dinner, where we watched a broken-armed mulleted-old Austrian whoop and croak out disco-updated German tunes. It was sublime. Joelle Charbonneau (@jcharbonneau) ate what looked like a leg of dinosaur meat. Dan O’Shea (@dboshea) made Luftwaffe jokes. Cassandra Rose Clarke (@mitochondrial) looked concerned that we were her agent mates (a wise fear). Agent Stacia (@staciadecker) looked pleased with herself. I snapped a picture of Adam with the old Austrian at the end of the night — I’ll leave it to him to share the photo, which pretty much encapsulates everything about that evening.

• I feel like Laura Anne Gilman (@lagilman) will one day murder me. As is perhaps her right. Still, she rolls hard with a flask of bourbon. Gilman knows the score.

• I played a game of drunken Apples to Apples with Mur Lafferty, Ursula Vernon, Warren Schultz (@WarrenSchultz), and HOLY SHIT, PAUL CORNELL (@Paul_Cornell). Paul was hilarious. He did not give me his norovirus. I am thankful to him for both of these things. High-five to him for his Squeecast Hugo.

• Give her even a micron of a chance and Ursula Vernon (@UrsulaV) will speak in great detail on the subject of hyena clitorises and the dangers of giraffe sex. Oh, wait, hold on, I’m sorry, I mean, HUGO-AWARD-WINNING-BAD-ASS, URSULA VERNON. There. Fixed my error.

• I did a reading from Mockingbird, and to my great surprise, the room was packed. And people knew things about my books! Atlanta Burns! Dinocalypse! Yay! Then I had an hour-and-a-half signing which, for the record, is way too long a signing session unless you’re a rock star and I am most decidedly not a rock star. After a half-hour (which was nice and steady), it’s all tumbleweeds and chirping crickets out there.

• Myke Cole (@mykecole) is an intense guy. Intensely loyal, intensely funny, intensely smart. Also, I’m pretty sure he could kill me. Like, with two, maybe three fingers. Regardless of his murderous intensity, I know you’ve already read Control Point, right?

• Brian McClellan (@BrianTMcClellan) and I will one day form Beardtron AND THEN YOU’LL ALL BE SORRY. It may be the only way to battle Myke Cole.

• Lots of folks came up to me to tell me how much they dug my books and this site, which makes my cold dead toad of a heart twitch and flutter. (Seriously, it’s really nice.)

• HOLY SHIT, SALADIN AHMED (@saladinahmed). Some writers you know you’re just gonna follow forever because they’re worth that kind of commitment, and Saladin’s one of those. And he’s nice, too! And likes beer! And isn’t actually a rakshasa at all! Repeat after me: Throne of the Crescent Moon.

• Some people look at cons like these as straight-up business opportunities. I think that misses something — I think the connections forged between people are more meaningful than just having meetings. I’m not saying business is bad, but it’s like, to me cons like these form the foundations of relationships from which business can come later. For now: LET US DRINK GIN AND SPEAK OF LIFE.

• HOLY SHIT, JOHN SCALZI! (@scalzi, but you already knew that). I barely had contact with him — just a quick “Hello! Goodbye!” — enough to suggest that I may have merely dreamed of the encounter. But sometimes, in the light of the morning, I do smell the smell of the Wild Scalzi. And I can hear the distant clamor of the Mallet of Loving Correction. In other news, his stint at the Hugos confirms for me that he should host all the award shows. So, somebody make that happen.

• You will want to go out today and find Shift by Kim Curran and Blackwood by Gwenda Bond. (Both from the new Angry Robot YA imprint, Strange Chemistry.) I will be picking up both today, not just because both of them are delightful people but because what they read from their books suggests that they are both excellent writers, as well. Tell them Mushroom Bill sent you. (/inside joke)

• Seanan McGuire (@seananmcguire) called me a “dickweasel,” which one supposes is far better than “weaseldick.” It was deserved. And it was an honor to have her sling profanity at my face. It was like having my very own Hugo Award! And congrats to her for her very own (and very real) Hugo.

• Lee Harris (@LeeAHarris) is a drunken roustabout. Fear him.

• Madeline Ashby (@madelineashby) is so polite and so nice! And I cannot stop hearing nice things about vN, so I’m going to have to make reading that a priority.

• Deep-dish Chicago pizza (AKA “Italian grease cake”) is good. But I’m sorry — and I know writers aren’t supposed to take controversial positions — but New York pizza defeats Deep Dish in Pizza Thunderdome.

• HOLY SHIT, NEIL GAIMAN! (Do I really need to tell you his Twitter handle? Did you know one out of five humans already follows @neilhimself?) Neil has a kind of mythic quality — he shows up, the building starts to vibrate. You hear reports coming in — “I sighted him! I’m sure it was him!” and then you go to where he was seen and there’s nothing but the smell of smoldering politeness in the air and next thing you know you have people making plaster casts of what may or may not have been a Neil Gaiman bootprint. He’s like a very polite, very well-read and mostly shorn Sasquatch. (Though, quite seriously, congrats to him for his Hugo win and also to Adam for getting a pic with him!)

• I know there’s people and things I’m missing, but Sweet Molly McCrackins this post has gone on far too long already. It was good to meet many others: Laura Lam, Amanda Rutter, Fran Wilde, Mike Underwood, Kat Richardson, Kameron Hurley, Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, Ramez Naam, Maurice Broaddus, Patrick Hester, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Wes Chu, Jennifer Brozek, Anne Lyle, Monica Valentinelli, and certainly an unholy host of people I’m missing or forgetting because my brain is like a mouse-eaten tablecloth. Congrats too to all the Hugo winners!

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