Wednesday, December 14, 2005

First Prize: One Day in Philadelphia. Second Prize: Two Days in Philadelphia!

I spent the past weekend at Philcon, a yearly science fiction convention in Philadelphia. It's been going on continuously for donkeys' years; I believe it's about the oldest regular convention running in the US. I've been going for most of the past decade. (Whee! Doesn't that make us special? I don't know why I bothered to say any of that.)

Conventions used to make me really depressed; I thought I should be having a good time (talking to people, making contacts/friends, going to parties, and all that stuff), but I didn't do much of that, and enjoyed even less of it. I'm somewhat less misanthropic and panicky now, but I'm still not what you'd call a "people person." So I more-or-less enjoyed myself in lovely Philadelphia, but I'm not really all that good at enjoying myself. There were hardly any New York publishing folk there, either, which made it feel pointless to me (not that I'd necessarily spend that much time talking to those people if they were there, but, you know, it's even worse if they're back in NYC while I'm in a snowy hotel in Philly).

I had a nice dinner Saturday with agent Joshua Bilmes, and some good hanging-around time on Friday at the bar with my boss Ellen Asher, a couple of writers (Josepha Sherman and Laura Anne Gilman, mostly), and some other people (dropping in and out). The fact that the latter counted as major socialization time for me probably isn't a point in my favor; I also had to duck out when the rest were heading to dinner because I had a 7:00 panel to moderate.

Otherwise, it was a quiet con. I moderated three things; the last of which was a "Best of the Year" panel with Gordon Van Gelder, Gardner Dozois and David Hartwell. David managed to inadvertently give me a delayed-reaction guilt trip; he mentioned that he starts reading about a hundred stories a night (but finishes reading only a few of them) for his Year's Best SF annual. (I'm not sure if he does that all year long, or if this is crunch time.) He also said something about not having time to ever read outside the genre.

Together, those two things have triggered some gloomy thoughts: I don't read anything near a hundred stories in a month, and I read outside the genre all of the time. (In fact, this blog is pretty much devoted to the out-of-genre stuff, since talking about books I read professionally immediately afterward would be...well, unprofessional, to say the least.) And my "Reading Into the Past" posts have shown me just how much I used to read. So it looks like I'm some sort of dilettante, and not nearly pulling my weight in this skiffy-editor racket. Sorry folks, I'll try to do better next year.

But, anyway, during that panel we were talking about some of the books we hadn't read yet, but wanted to, and I mentioned The Gist Hunter and Other Stories by Matthew Hughes. So that's what I'm reading now, since it's in the genre, and Hughes's stories have been getting great reviews. I should be done with it tomorrow, and, with any luck, I'll have something to say about it then.

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