Friday, March 23, 2007

Random Lunacon Thoughts

OK, I'm a week late, but I haven't been able to tear myself away from the SFWA Election Thinly-Veiled-Attack-Fest. Have you ever seen so many people being excruciatingly polite to each other in your life?

Anyway, back to Lunacon.

A week ago today, at about this time, I sat in my basement trying to catch up on blogging for the SFBC Blog and wondering about the snow. The boys had already learned that school was cancelled, so they were watching TV in the living room and generally bouncing off the walls. The Wife kept telling me to leave -- and so was the weather forecast, to be honest. So I bugged out of there about 11:30 (really early for a Lunacon, since I live 45 minutes away under normal circumstances).

These, of course, weren't normal circumstances, so I plodded along various bits of interstate 287, scoped out the route to the Rye train station, grabbed a quick drive-through lunch, and ended up safely in the parking lot of the beloved Rye Town Escher Hilton about two o'clock.

The rest of the day was spent catching up with old friends (Roger MacBride Allen, Josepha Sherman, etc.) and meeting new folks (Irene Gallo introduced me to Dan Dos Santos during the Art Show Reception, and I was hanging out with a newish YA writer, Sarah Beth Durst, for a while as well). Everybody had their snow-travel horror stories, which were shared. There was also a great camaraderie; we were the folks who had braved the snow and made it in.

(It felt a little bit like a World Fantasy for a while, since the only people that seemed to be there in the late afternoon were pros and con-runners, but that might have just been the corridors I was hanging out in.)

I was scheduled for two panels Friday night:
  • The whole crew for The Prolific, Posthumous Tolkien assembled at the assigned time, but no audience showed up. We all decided to go to the Green Room and hang out together...but the Green Room wasn't open yet.
  • I had a panel scheduled for the very next hour, The State of SF. I was the only person at all to show up, so I sat at the table, reading a book, for about fifteen minutes, and then wandered around until my dinner companion was done with her panel.
Other than the nobody-wanted-to-see-me-talk bit, Friday night was fun; we had dinner in the nice restaurant, and then went off to the Avoid-the-Pros party (weirdly held in a normal meeting room, with chairs in ranks facing forward) and then the Art Show Reception.

Saturday morning was more of a problem. My new assistant, the lovely and talented Ashley Van Winkle, was coming up for the day on a train, and had to be retrieved from the train station. The day after the snow. This was a problem.

My first plan was to drive out and pick her up, but the hotel had plowed all of the cars in the lot into their spaces (and I was on a jog in my row, so there was a larger-than-usual pile of icy snow stacked behind my car). So I asked at the desk for help. The guy was trying, but, after lots and lots of back-and-forth, it came out that:
  • The van was wasn't was wasn't going to run to the station to pick up people.
  • None of the taxi services were available.
  • And there was no man with a shovel, or even a shovel all by its lonesome, to be had.
At this point I was cursing myself for not throwing a shovel into my car at home, and I'd spent much of the last hour on and off the phone with Ashley, who was stranded at the station. Finally, I got fed up and went out to my car to get it clear however I could. With one part kicking and one part using (and breaking) my ice-scraper, I managed to get the car halfway out of the spot and stuck on a just-too-tall clump of ice. More curses followed. Then two fans helped me push the car out, and I was away...to find that Ashley had finally gotten a taxi at the station, so I drove back to the hotel to meet her.

With all that snow drama, I missed my third panel, Jane Austen in SFF. I felt vaguely bad, but I had nothing to say on the topic to begin with.

So I showed Ashley around the con a bit, and then she watched me mostly not talk during my last panel, Is There a Substitute for Story? It was thought up and moderated by Darrell Schweitzer, and was something of an attack (or questioning of, to be more neutral) the farther reaches of Slipstream/Interstitial stuff. The other people on the panel were Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, aka Major Interstitial Bigwigs. It wasn't quite the case that I sat quietly while they fought around me, but it was close. It turned out I didn't have much to say on the topic the panel ended up being about.

More wandering ensued, and then I sat in on the Editors' Panel while Ashley went to see something else. (I always like to see trade editors talk at conventions, because I want to know what they're seeing on the submission side, to catch trends before they make it to me in the normal course of business.) Then Ashley was ready to finish her whirlwind visit; she had theater tickets and needed to get back to the city. (She claims to have had a good time at Lunacon, and I guess I believe her...)

When I got back, I had a decision to make: be virtuous and go up to my room to read, or hang out in the bar? Virtue did not win out, and I ended up in the middle of a clutch of editors, making our plans for world domination as we always do.

That led to dinner; since I had a car, Liz Gorinsky and Paul Stevens of Tor jumped at the chance to get out of the hotel, and we went to a nice Italian place just down the road and around the corner (Hostaria Mazzei, if I'm remembering the name correctly). The food was good, the company was good, and the group of six guys at the next table intently talking about baseball and Judaism were only slightly confusing.

When I got back, I went to the Masquerade, mostly because I always do. The new downstairs space is too shallow and makes for bad sight-lines, and there weren't any entrants that really thrilled me this year.

And I don't remember what I did after that. I think I just went to be early.

Sunday was a purely non-professional day, The Wife drove the boys up in her car, and we spent the morning swimming in the hotel pool and then had a birthday dinner for Thing 1 (who had turned 9 on Saturday) on our way home.

I'm thrilled (as seemed to be everyone else) to have Lunacon in its natural home, the "Escher Hilton." It's a great convention hotel -- a decent-sized con just fills it up, and it's very walkable, so most people can avoid the elevators most of the time. And the floor oddities (you come in on the second floor, and the fourth floor on one side connects to the seventh floor on the other -- dead level) are what make it particularly SFnal. It's confusing the first time you go there, but, afterwards, it's like home.

4 comments:

Michael said...

I was happy with the rethinking of the function space. Having the art show & dealers next to each other was good, & having one large room for the dealers was also good.

I managed to miss my Friday panel (still on the road from Baltimore) and the Saturday am panel since I was unpacking boxes of books in the dealers room. The one panel I was on that I got to went off quite well.

Overall, I had a good time.

-- Michael Walsh

pnh said...

Wait, I'm confused, are we mocking the SFWA discussion because it's a "brawl" or because people are being "excrutiatingly polite"? It's so confusing!

Andrew Wheeler said...

Patrick: I'm not mocking them at all (at least, not on purpose); I'm sitting quietly in the corner taking notes. There's so much fascinating stuff going on there, I can only imagine what the secret discussion is like.

"Excruciatingly polite" didn't quite come out the way I'd wanted it to; I tried several adverbs and none were quite right. My point was that it was the kind of discussion in which everyone was saying things like "this isn't personal" and "no offense" and "you might not be aware of this" (and quite possibly meaning what they say) while at the same time repeatedly plunging daggers anywhere accessible.

Sean Wallace said...

It's been far more interesting to watch how much SFWA officials are out of touch with the current publishing market . . . that bothers me a little bit.

So far as I can tell Scalzi's bid for President has excited things, in a good way, and I'm all for that :p

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