13 November 2014

World Fantasy Con 2014 in review

As many conventions begin, mine began with travel. I took Amtrak from Durham to Alexandria, Virginia. For once, my train was only about half an hour delayed. I arrived at the hotel to realize that I should have asked which hotel my roommate for Wednesday, Mur, was staying in.

I suppose I shouldn't go into a minute-by-minute breakdown of the convention, so I'll just say hi to everyone I saw there (my VP classmates Shannon, John, Beth T, Latasha, Mary, and Paul, other VP alums, my roomie JoSelle Vanderhooft, the Helsinki in 2017 bid crew, Carrie, Don) and the people I met (Kat Otis, Laurie Tom, Lawrence Schoen, Ken Kao, Shaun Duke, Chadwick Ginther, Stefon Mears), and the people I spoke briefly to (CC Finlay, the Haldemans, Chuck Gannon, Mike Martinez), and the people I'm forgetting (sorry! There were so many of you!).

Now ends the name-dropping part of this entry.

I had a fun dinner with complete strangers Friday night, after I tweeted asking for dinner partners. So I walked up to 23rd St and had Ethiopian food with Shaun, Chadwick, and Stefon. If the thought of eating with strangers doesn't give you hives, I highly recommend this course of action. There was a chance they'd turn out to be boring or uncool, but I think we got on pretty well.

My panel went pretty well, I think. People said they thought it was good, so I hope they weren't telling me white lies to make me feel better. I went prepared with notes, because I am horrible at extemporaneous speaking, especially at 10 am during a con. (I am a morning person, and I can't sleep past 6:30 or 7, even if I was up until 2 am.)

All the panels I went to were pretty good, though a couple could have used better moderation. All the WW1 panels I went to (all of them except the Great Game, which was really a prelude to it) were fun and informative. Some of them could have had firmer moderation, unfortunately.

There was only one negative panel experience for me, which was Alternate Histories in WW1. One of the panelists didn't seem very well informed on the subject (Germany invaded Serbia! I didn't know that!), said that divergence points were stupid and boring (but isn't that how you get alternate history??), and kept coming back to this one book, The Bloody Red Baron, by Kim Newman. I've spent a lot of time thinking about alternate 19th century history, so I asked a question of the panel that could be summed up thusly: While you were discussing divergence points earlier, you talked mostly about the outcomes of battles or if spies were captured. What would you do to make something earlier that gets into really esoteric neepery interesting? For example, if Friedrich III hadn't died after being on the throne for 3 months, putting a vastly immature Wilhelm II on the throne?

This panelist was the first to speak, and she talked about how divergence points are boring and then something about usurpation. Reader, I may have argued with her. She knew nothing about the Hohenzollern succession! TBQFH I would have been a better panelist on this discussion, and most of my WW1 knowledge is confined to the first months of the war. After she talked around the subject for a bit, I said, "Yes, I know, you don't like divergence points, can we move on?" and another panelist took the question. (I ran into a handful of people who said I raised a good point.) The answer, basically, was to set it X years later, but I kind of wanted to talk about how to figure out the counterfactual history to that point. Maybe some of you who'll be at Readercon will have ideas and we can talk about it there?

I wanted to talk about Leviathan, which is a lot of fun and is definitely alternate WW1 history. But, no, we got all kinds of talk about this book where Dracula survived and married QEII.

Anyway. I had a lot of fun talking to a lot of cool, smart people about writing, WW1, history, books, and all sorts of stuff. I got a "rejected by Clarkesworld" card with an adorable sad robot on it. (I always start with them and Lightspeed, because they send out rejections really quickly.) I don't think I can make it to WFC '15 in Saratoga Springs for financial reasons. (I'm going to Readercon, and I can pretty much only afford to go to one flying-range con per year.) It was definitely a different sort of convention experience than I'm used to, which is good for career-related things, so I'd like to go again sometime. We'll see what 2016 looks like (though I might go to WorldCon in KC.)


John Wiswell said...

The mere hearsay of that panelist ass-kicking still brings a smile to my face. Loved seeing you this past weekend!

CD Covington said...

Like, I feel kinda bad for her, because she was clearly in over her head, but that's when you decline the panel invitation! Oy.

It was so great seeing you! Readercon, eh?

Also, I hope you pick up Leviathan at your library. It's a lot of fun. BATS THAT SHIT RAZORS. WHALE ZEPPELINS. Oh and one of the characters in the later books has a pet thylacine!