The Worldcon / LoneStarCon Recap
I AM AWAKE.
Somehow, I shock-prodded my body to consciousness the way you shock-prod a cow into the cow processing chute, and so here I sit at the computer, weary-faced and bleary-eyed and yet still energized to the soul by peers and fans by the weird magic that was this year’s Worldcon.
And so, a recap.
(It bears noting that I may miss things and peeps from said recap because: weary, bleary.)
I’ll get some of the bad news out of the way early, as I don’t want to end on a negative note –
The con itself was maybe not the most well-organized I’d ever seen. I, of course, have never organized any kind of convention and have trouble organizing my underwear drawer, so please believe me when I say I could not do any better and would certainly do quite worse. Just the same, things sometimes had the vibe of being a hair clusterfucky, at least from the author side of things. I knew lots of authors who got no panels or who were put on panels where they had little expertise (they put me on a panel about fanzines at one point, featuring all dudes and no ladies). I told them I was leaving Monday and yet they gave me a late day signing and a panel, and they didn’t remove those from all the schedules (which means people still went to see me and get books signed). I didn’t get my Campbell pin initially and had to go hunt it down. They had the Campbell panel at 5-6pm on Sunday and, of course, the Hugo reception began at (drum roll please) 6pm, giving us approximately zero minutes to get ready for an awards where we are expected to dress up — meaning we had to arrive late. So, at times, everything felt kinda slap-dashy, and in that way it felt like I had a harder time optimizing my experience.
Oh, also, to bury the lede a little, I did not win the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. I’m not gonna lie: I was and am a teensy-weensy widdle bit sad about that — I’ve worked my ass off in this space for the last two years. My keyboard is at times literally on fire. I thought maybe that would work in my favor but I saw quite a few blog posts and tweets that suggested some folks thought I shouldn’t have been eligible due to how much I have produced (on io9’s Hugo recap there’s a thread right now that starts with, “Chuck Wendig is a ‘new writer?’ WTF?”). That being said, at the same time, I was up against four other truly marvelous writers and people I now consider friends — further, Mur Lafferty, who did win, is all aces and has been a friend for some time. I edited her in the Don’t Read This Book anthology and think she’s a helluva writer and a heckuva pal and am very, very glad she took home the Campbell. Plus, hey, being a Campbell loser puts me in such company as Lauren Beukes, Scott Lynch, Saladin Ahmed, Tobias Buckell, Joe Abercrombie, and George R.R. Martin — you know, writers folks have never heard of. Hard not to be a little excited when you get to call those people your peers in some way.
(And hey, the Hugos gave my wife an excuse to flee the toddler for the first time and travel to San Antonio to see me there — it was kinda like a mini-vacation, our first in three years.)
Let’s see. So. What happened?
(Photos from the event: here.)
To jump right into the joy, I met two of my Authorial Idols this weekend. First, got to meet Robin Hobb, who seemed a little bewildered that I was excited to meet her and scanned me with fear-eyes reserved for approaching grizzly bears and clowns, but just the same, I was happy to say hello and tell her that she was a fundamental writer in terms of influence.
I also met Bradley Denton, an author I talk about a lot and who you should damn well be reading but who regrettably dropped off the map for a number of years. I had no idea he was going to be there and so Thursday at noon I saw he was giving a reading. I went. He read his new short story, “La Bamba Boulevard,” a pseudo-sequel to Buddy Holly Is Alive And Well On Ganymede, and afterward I went up and said I regretted having no books of his to sign but I wanted to tell him how important he was to me as a writer and so forth. And he was gracious (and seemed to know who I was, and congratulated me on the Campbell nom). And I went away maybe kinda sorta a bit misty-eyed about the whole thing. If my con had ended right there, Thursday at noon, it would’ve all been worth it. (Plus: he has a new novella collection coming out with Subterranean Press, which is news that warms the bundle of thatch I call a heart.)
I never met (nor did I even see) Joe Lansdale, another authorial idol. Well, shit.
The Reddit Fantasy fan table did wonderful things for authors — particularly those who may not have had as many panels or events as they wanted — and gave authors a place to sit and answer Pop AMAs live at the table and on the fantasy subReddit (mine is here, if you care to read the archive). Thanks to Steve Drew and David Wohlreich for hosting me as a body hosts a tapeworm. I dined on their kindness.
Also great for authors and hopefully fans was the Drinks With Authors event at Ernie’s Bar, organized by the mad minds of Myke Cole and Justin Landon. My favorite party of the event, hands-down. Got to meet lots of writers and lots of fans. Plus editors, agents, publicists, artists. Signed some books. Drank some drinky-dranks. It fucking ruled.
Was on a Fantasy-in-YA panel which was really engaged and energized. (Oh, and packed.) Emily Wagner, Emily Jiang, Martha Wells, Aurora Celeste. Great crew, thoughtful questions and answers. Great recommendations. (I recommended the very fine Twelve-Fingered Boy by John Hornor Jacobs, which I read on the plane and holy hell was that an amazing YA book.)
I ran a packed Kaffeeklatsch with people who actually have read my books and read this blog and that geeks me out and even still gives me a little boost. It was a blast. I gave out a few books as the result of a hurried “best profanity” contest. Contest entries included: “cuntsnickers” and “sparklecock.” Which should be the name of a fabulously vulgar detective duo.
The food in San Antonio was not as good as hoped. Bonus points go to: Las Canarias, Esquire Tavern, and Rosario’s, where the Taco Posse dined on LENGUA TACOS (tongue, mmm).
I witnessed a few creepery things (pro-tip, dudes: do not talk about how you got laid at last year’s Worldcon to women, it’s not a gold-star set to impress). But I didn’t witness as much as I maybe expected. Then again, I’m not a woman, and creepy dudes aren’t regularly hitting on me. (If you had anything happen, I hope you’ll speak up about it just so we can keep the conversation in order to remind our community to be on its best behavior.) It was nice at the Hugos when the very-funny Paul Cornell shouted out how we need to be more inclusive in our genre community and that we’ll hopefully one day look back on the sexism and racism and other prejudices within our world as being something we used to do, not something we still do.
On the plane home a guy recognized me, told me he loved Blackbirds. (Achievement unlocked.)
I got my annual opportunity to hang out with friend and all-around super-crazy-talented dude Adam Christopher — and here, for bonus points, got to meet his wife, Sandra. (Adam and I have a few things cooking, so keep those grapes peeled.)
John Hornor Jacobs is a mensch and a great dude and probably the best author you’re not reading. I read that YA of his on the plane and then he was kind enough to give me a copy of the sequel, and I’m half-done. Seriously, I’m burning through these like a brush fire. He also gave me the first book of his demonpunk (think: “infernal combustion”) book, The Incorruptibles.
Kevin Hearne is my motherfucking taco brother, and I’m so glad to have met him. (Which is evident in most of my pictures from the con, which seem to contain Kevin’s puckish smirk in some fashion or another.) We hang. We did a ninja author signing. We ate tacos and drank tequila. We are kin. He’s a great author and a great dude and treats his fans with such respect and treats other authors with such awe. He’s the real deal.
Sam Sykes is basically a cuddly, deranged baboon in a human-flesh suit, which makes him a delight and a danger to be around. He will drink heavily and write “poop” or “butt” on your nametag or drink cup, because that’s just how he rolls. Find him wherever he is and demand selfies. DEMAND SELFIES. Lest he stealthily selfie you, first.
Delilah Dawson is a wonderful writer and great person AND SHE WASN’T AT WORLDCON SO BOO TO HER AND NEITHER WAS JAYE WELLS OR STEPHEN BLACKMOORE OR KIM CURRAN OR KARINA COOPER OR GWENDA BOND AND NOW I AM SAD *wails and punches a horse*
I had dinner with Hugh Howey, who did not murder me with a fire ax. He is in fact a really smart, nice guy who took some interesting risks with his career and it paid off in big ways. It was good to meet him and see him be as energized by talking to other writers as I was.
Andrea Phillips, transmedia priestess, is rad as all-get-out and I am excited to see what she comes up with next. She also brought fudge. Eight pounds of fudge. Cherry-chili fudge. And coconut curry fudge. And opera gloves, which are not fudge but are in fact opera gloves.
Myke Cole will bench-press your soul.
Justin Landon will bench-press Myke Cole.
Saladin Ahmed deserves all the Hugos.
C. Robert Cargill IS MY PEOPLE. And holy shit, what a writer. It’s nice to sit with other writers who are funny and have great industry stories and to whom you feel simpatico.
Robert J. Bennett looks like if Pip Boy from Fallout grew up. He’s tall and shiny and smiley. He is hilarious and may be a high-functioning sociopath. Probably also a genius.
Two words: Emma Newman. I need to say no more because, Emma Newman.
Seanan McGuire is an unstoppable force of nature — and, according to her mother, is also my “fuck-buddy,” because we like to say the word “fuck” at each other — and I’d like to thank her for letting me hop into her signing like a symbiotic parasite. Her signing line was suitably epic and she deserves all the kudos.
I finally got to meet Cat Valente, who is so talented I had to not like, tremble and geek out upon meeting her. BECAUSE CAT VALENTE, people. People.
Newly-minted bestseller Jason Hough is tall and talented, two things I hate so DESTROY HIM.
Mur Lafferty and I texted back and forth all con with wonderful profanity that sometimes included the adjective “glittery,” because that’s how we do.
Brian McClellan is my beard-brother and our beard cilia mingled.
John Scalzi is a very nice guy. This doesn’t surprise you, and it’s sadly not a qualification to being an author in this space, but it’s very helpful, and congrats to him on his Hugo.
Maurice Broaddus will pee on you if you piss him off. But you won’t want to piss him off because he’s drunk and stylish and will let you feel the texture of his shirt.
Speaking of shirts: Mike Martinez had a Stone Brewery Shirt on, so now we are kin.
Mike Underwood: Too smart and too nice about publishing to be allowed to live.
Lee Harris: Too drunk and untrustworthy not to be one of my editors.
Stephen Hood is soon gonna fuck your shit up with Storium.
Saw Ramez Naam give a talk about brain interface technology and it was funny and sharp and the guy is just nailing it — I’m really looking forward to his new book.
Got to do the Skiffy and Fanty show with Shaun Duke and Jen Zink, which was an absolute joy. Sat in for a shorter podcast of Speculate SF with Brad Beaulieu and Greg Wilson and it too was a joy. Love podcasts who ask engaging, interesting questions.
Stina Leicht, Max Gladstone, Mur Lafferty and I all formed the Tiara Club, where the first rule is: Tiara, Motherfuckers. Meaning, we were not going to be the type of Campbell nominees who balked at wearing a tiara and we would be proud to wear it. (So we went out and procured dime-store tiaras to wear at our Campbell panel to prove our tiara-willingness.) Also, can I just say that my fellow nominees were lovely people? Like, just great to hang out with. (I have little doubt Zen Cho also falls into this category, but she was regrettably not in attendance.)
I got to speak to Jay Lake, which was a real honor.
OH AND YAY FRAN WILDE /edited
I think this is getting long. So I’ll just barf up as many names of people I can remember seeing and meeting and then I’m going to try to actually do some proper writing for the day — it was nice to see and/or meet: Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, Brandon Sanderson, Tabitha the Pabkins, Wes Chu, Jeff McFee, Jesse Scoble, Miriam Rosenberg, Jennifer Udden, Jay Posey, Cassandra Clarke, Lou Anders, Betsy Dornbusch, John Joseph Adams, Doug Hulick, Josh Vogt, Martin Hodo (who I mistyped as Martin Hobo), Folly Blaine, Michele Shaw (who has an unintentional Miriam Black-esque Blackbirds tattoo that made my night), ML Brennan, Sunil Patel, Effie Seiberg, Cylia, Laura Burns, The Herald of Doglicker, Ian Everett (HARDEN UP, BOY), Patrick Hester (HUGO WOO), John DeNardo (HUGO YEEHAW), Kate Baker (HUGO WUT WUT), and more because I’m starting to fade out and send liquor and tacos HURRY —