Last weekend, the science fiction community’s WorldCon came to San Jose. It was just far enough away that I decided to stay in San Jose, rather than try to commute back and forth to San Francisco. This turned out to be smart. Points to me.
I arrived in SJ at noon, to discover the room I’d reserved only had a single bed. Cue panic. When I changed the reservation to include a roommate — and changed the room to a two-bed configuration — only half of the change got recorded. The hotel had no two-bed rooms available, except for the Executive Suite at $450 a night. My poor roommate agreed to sleep in a rollaway. The hotel also only had one working elevator — the back of the house elevator — which was also worrisome and probably not safe, but I had no time to stress about it.
I dragged my books over to the Dealers Room and checked in at the Broad Universe and Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America tables. Then it was off to my only panel of the convention: What Turns People onto Horror, moderated by E.M. Markoff. I got to sit between Richard Kadrey and L.S. Johnson, down the table from Scott Sigler and Fred Wiehe. We had a good conversation about where our loves for horror started and how our fears inspire our work.
Afterward, I did my first WorldCon autograph session at the SFWA table. I was tucked back in a lonely corner, but people seemed fascinated by 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die, the only book I didn’t bring for sale. I think I sold a couple of ebooks, though.
I hustled back to the hotel to meet with my roommate, then we went over to the Borderlands Bookstore Sponsors Party, which was great. So many of my favorite people were there! That devolved into dinner with Dana Fredsti, David Fitzgerald, Rebecca Gomez Farrell, and the venerable L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
Friday morning, my shift volunteering in the SFWA Suite got pushed back an hour, so I sat in the cafe at the San Jose Museum of Art and wrote for an hour. That was lovely. Unfortunately, the SFWA Suite was very quiet, so my services weren’t really needed, but I had a good time hanging out chatting to the other volunteers in the hallway.
I caught a couple of panels, then scooted over to the Borderlands Suite for tea and cake. That turned out to be the best place for conversation. There was a lovely cake too, but it wasn’t cut in the hour I hung out, so I fortified myself with a cup of strong coffee and met J. Tullos Hennig (my last WorldCon roommate) for an apple crisp dinner. She’s such an inspiration to me.
I’d really looked forward to the ghost and history tour that evening, but it turned out to be disappointing. The group was very large, the guide was very quiet, and there was an unfortunate lack of ghost stories. I ditched out before the end of the tour.
Saturday morning, I went back to work in the SFWA Suite, but again it wasn’t very busy. That meant I got a chance to hang out with Cat Rambo and Jeffe Kennedy while it was quiet.
I loitered at the Broad Universe table in the Dealers Room for a couple of hours, handing out copies of the Alondra chapbook I made especially for the convention.
That evening was the highlight of the convention for me. The Broad Universe Really Fast Reading I organized went really well. 15 readers filled the hour with science fiction, fantasy, and horror, ranging from space opera to high fantasy to literary horror and rushing through every flavor in between. I was so proud of how things came together.
I read just a touch of No More Heroes, the third book in my space opera trilogy. It was really fun to hear those words again.
After hanging out at the SF in SF dinner party, I scurried over to the 50th anniversary party for the Clarion Workshop. I met some great people, none of whom turned out to have attended Clarion. I wish we’d had ribbons or some other way to identify each other. I’d really looked forward to talking to anyone else from back in the days of Tom Disch, Algis Budrys, Kate Wilhelm and Damon Knight. Oh, well. The SFWA people I met were fascinating.
E. M. Markoff and I went out for a glass of wine and ended up talking until long past my bedtime. She said the kindest things about my novel Lost Angels, so I think I am finally inspired to put my head down and finish the sequel. We talked about Mexican realism, ghost stories, and comic cons, of all things. If the bartender hadn’t wanted to go home, we might still be there talking.
I met Laura Blackwell for coffee in the morning, which was lovely. We shared the table of contents in the Strange California anthology and I can’t wait to read her new novel. The time went too fast and I had to rush off for my shift at the Broad Universe table.
All in all, it was a great weekend. I met and chatted with a whole lot of people, more than I would’ve expected from an introvert who’s spent most of the last year trapped at home with a sick kid. The chapbooks were a great idea, both as a small gift and calling card.
Next year’s WorldCon will be in Dublin, with NASFIC in Utah, so I think I’ll miss them. I heard good things about Norwescon and the Nebula Weekend, which will be in Southern California next year, so I may try those conventions out. Do you have other conventions you like to participate in?