Gone Abroad: Worldcon
I purposely woke at 5am on Wednesday the 3rd, on the theory that if I got myself tired enough I'd sleep on the flight to Glasgow. This strategy sort of worked, but not really; I dozed in that hallucinatory way one does on planes, and arrived in Scotland feeling like I was having an intriguing out-of-body experience. I noted on the plane that there were maybe a dozen people with that unmistakeable "going to a Worldcon" look--this is not a matter of girth, necessarily, or style of dress, or manners. In my hallucinatory state, it seemed to me that SF readers, writers, and fandom itself seemed to have its own eth. But that might have been the tiredness talking. Got to the Hilton, which very kindly let me check in a good five hours early, so that I got a shower, got to put on fresh clothes, before I made my way to the convention center and registered and did my 2 pm panel.
Did that: "Fem-bots and Faeries," a panel about depictions of female characters in SF and fantasy art, and whether feminism has made any inroads into same. Judith Clute, elegant and smart as a whip, was the moderator, and kept things moving, and the other panelists were Karen Haber, Paul Cockburn, Jannie Shea and Delphyne Woods. I think I contributed, but I won't swear to it; I mean, I know I talked some, but I was pretty loopy. Wound up going out to dinner with my room-mate Ellen Klages, Farah Mendelson and her nice husband Edward, Sharyn November, and a bunch of other people, for a very nice Chinese dinner and large amounts of talk. Spent some time in the bar, of course, and reeled back to the room to fall over. Ran into many people I know but don't get to see nearly often enough (including Greer Gilman, whose luggage had been lost by the airline, and was bravely trying to enjoy being at the con without her favorite clothes and other familiar stuff). Got to renew my acquaintance with cider-on-tap, which was very pleasant indeed...
The next morning, feeling (in Arlo Guthrie's words) like an All-American Girl from New York City, I had a kaffeeklatsch at 10am. And there were people there! We talked, I got coffee, we rolled chocolate soccer balls across the table at each other, I had a good time and I think the people who came did too. At noon I had my second panel, "The Return of the Queen," with Lillian Stewart Carl, Ellen Kushner, Julianne Lee and Diana Paxson, talking about how one "injects feminism" into a medieval setting. Or whether to do so was advisable (my feeling is that it mostly is not). As moderator I kept the trains running; the audience was enthusiastic, and the panelists intelligent. After the panel I went antiquing with a bunch of people (okay, Ellen Klages and Ellen Datlow and Pat Cadigan and Karen Haber) which was enormous fun, particularly as I didn't find anything I really wanted except some large pieces of furniture which I could not afford, could not have shipped home, and therefore felt guiltless about admiring. Spent a few hours running the SFWA Suite and helping set up for the Asimov's party (actually I was there from 5 until about 10...got to talking to people and didn't leave until it got uncomfortably crowded), then sat in the bar until three talking with Lorena Haldeman and Antony Donovan (who had kindly loaned me an electric adaptor for my laptop!). Ellen, asleep when I crept in the room, channeled her inner mommy enough to say "I hope you had a good time, young lady!" when I crept in.
Saturday morning, on two hours sleep, I had breakfast with Patrick, my once-and-future editor. Saturday was the only day I had no actual commitments, so I just sort of wandered, taking in a little of this panel or that, wandering through the dealer's room, gossiping in the hallways. Late in the morning members of a writers' list I belong to got together for coffeee, which was lovely. By afternoon I was just a little groggy--I had a 5pm phone date (Spouse and children called, since it was cheaper) and then I fell over for a few hours, to be woken by Ellen, who breezed in and invited me to come to dinner with her, Eileen Gunn, and Michael Swanwick and his wife. We had a terrific meal at a place in the West End called Fanny Trollop's (the owner/waiter took to us and seemed to find us immensely amusing) with great food and much giddy conversation. Somehow, more alcohol was consumed later at the bar, and much riotous conversation. Sounds remarkably like a Worldcon.
And then there was Sunday. I had my reading Sunday morning at 11:30, which was almost a civilized hour. Read a bit from the WiP, answered some questions; it went very nicely. That afternoon Ellen and I went off to find The Whisky Shop, downtown. This is a smallish shop in a large, modern mall on Buchanan Street (the place is filled with "name" stores--Gap and Baskin-Robbins and The Body Shop) that was wall-to-wall scotch, and beaming, happy salesmen who were delighted to have American women ask them questions about their wares. They even did tastings of a select number of scotches. Ellen, who had a list of scotches her father was interested in, went looking for specific titles; I just wandered in the groves of alcohol, and finally bought a half-bottle of Ben Nevis all for myself.
Finding the Whisky Store meant walking around Glasgow a little. I wish I'd had more time than I did; it really was a lovely city--the people (from the cabdrivers who were surprised at how normal these Science Fiction People were, to the bellman who brought up my bag and stopped to talk theory of fiction, to the waiter at Fanny Trollop and the clerk at the Whisky Store) were delightful.
We got back to the hotel and dropped off our purchases, dined in the bar and waited for people to come back from the Hugos (now, having read the opening speech, I wish I'd gone, but o well) and chatted with all the other people who had decided to wait out the ceremony. I was pleased with the list of winners--nothing worse than sitting there saying "they gave the short story Hugo to what?" in tones of outrage--but by the time we made it to the Losers' Party I was too tired to do more than rather soggily say "congratulations" to the people with the statues and shamble upstairs to sleep.
I've barely touched on all the people I got to see, the great conversations I had. It was, for me at least, a great Worldcon.