Monday, May 08, 2006

Nebula Quick Takes

I never managed to blog about World Fantasy, so I'm going to try to jot down some quick Nebula impressions as I have time today, and then post this -- rather than trying to polish it up into something sleek and shiny.

The Flight Out
Ellen Asher and I ended up taking the same flight by semi-accident; we both wanted to get there Friday afternoon, and there aren't that many flights to Phoenix that time of day. I didn't see anyone else from the skiffy world on the plane, which was a bit odd; there's usually a small-scale floating pre- and post-convention gathering, especially when these things are held in smaller cities. But we were alone.

The flight was uneventful; the movie was Big Momma's House 2, which kept my eyes firmly on my book.

Friday Night
The hotel (the Tempe Mission Palms) was absolutely wonderful, with spacious rooms on four floors surrounding a gorgeous courtyard. The lobby was large and airy, full of lots of big, comfy chairs and couches to spend time in.

I checked into the hotel and got my Nebula badge, and then met the first of several club members (Josh, or something like that), who mildly took me to task for not including "The Whisperer in Darkness" in Black Seas of Infinity, the Lovecraft collection I edited a few years back. In defending myself, I first mixed that story up with "The Lurker on the Threshold," and then wasn't quite sure why I left "Whisperer" out. Perhaps I was holding it, along with The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, for the second volume I still hope to do someday.

I also, then and later, ran into a number of people who mentioned reading and enjoying this blog -- and thanks for doing so. I shall continue to strive to please.

Ellen and I were wandering around more-or-less together, and independently decided we were starving, so we were going to go looking for the hotel's restaurant when we ran into Ginjer Buchanan (ace Ace editor and one of the most engaging conversationalists in SF). She was chatting with author Rebecca Lickiss and her husband, but Ginjer had dinner reservations, much later, with someone else. So the Lickisses joined us for a very nice dinner at the unfortunately named My Big Fat Greek Restaurant, where we all remarked on how much of a college town Tempe was, pondered its elevation (later determined to be 1105 feet) and marveled at the call of a very loud bird in a nearby tree.

After a little downtime in my room (yet more reading), I wandered down to the Dark Horse/Tor reception. Oddly, there didn't seem to be anyone from either Dark Horse or Tor actually at the reception, but we were all happy with them for paying for it. It turned into the first of the weekend's several Harlan Ellison roasts, with Joe Haldeman, Ginjer, Toastmaster Connie Willis, and others saying amusing but probably not legally-actionable things about our newest Grand Master. And the nosh was very good.

Saturday daytime
I wandered off into the city looking for used books or other interesting shopping -- or perhaps a nice park to sit down and read in. Instead, I found the one used-book store closed for the day and that a giant beach volleyball tournament had taken over the nearby park. And even "a dry heat" is pretty damn hot. So I wandered back to the hotel, and spent most of the day reading.

In between, I did get to the "State of the ibooks Bankruptcy" discussion, because I'm a sucker for those things. Richard Curtis laid out the state of play, and what bankruptcy law means. There was some harrumphing from sections of the audience about the bankruptcy clause in standard contracts, which some saw as a fraud perpetrated by publishers (though I'd always thought that clause was demanded mostly by authors and agents, even though -- as Richard pointed out -- it is completely unenforceable, since federal bankruptcy law has precedence over any contract provisions). All of the solutions proposed, to my mind, would not work, mostly because any contract terms would not help.

Nebula Banquet
The evening started with a reception on the patio surrounding the pool, up on the second floor of the hotel. Some people seemed to have trouble finding it, and I heard that others were held back by vicious bridesmaids from the wedding going on simultaneously in the courtyard. (And it was a gorgeous place to have a wedding, I must admit.) Still, there was a good crowd, and I chatted with Charles Brown and others before we all wandered downstairs to the actual banquet.

The food was actually pretty good, though the tables were very crowded. There was no outside speaker, as there hasn't been for the past several years. (There was an odd melancholy tone when people talked about the great bad Nebula speakers of the past -- I don't think anyone really wanted to be trapped in a banquet hall listening to a horrible speech, but it certainly makes a much better story afterward.) Connie Willis, as Toastmaster, ran the proceedings quickly, and only intermittently let things turn into an unofficial roast of Harlan.

I've posted the winners earlier. They were all very happy and enthusiastic, and most of them were present, which is always preferable.

Harlan's speech was fairly short but very rambling, and didn't kill the way it really could have. He can't seem to get out of the habit of always attacking his audience, though he did manage to stop short of quitting SFWA or rejecting the honor. (And I'm only half-kidding there.) If he'd done a bit more preparation, it could have been a great speech, but spending five minutes on how Steve McQueen saved his life did not endear him to the audience.

After the Banquet, most folks (including me) adjourned to the hospitality suite (and attached pool patio) for the after-party. I ran into the Night Shade Guys (Jason and Jeremy) there, who I had been unsuccessfully looking for all day. And there was some more good food.

I got up at a very early hour (but, then, I usually do these days -- have two small boys will train you to do that), and schlepped off to the airport to head home. I did run into Sheila Williams there (and her current associate editor, Brian something-or-other), and we chatted a bit before we had to board the cattle car. As usual, Harlan dominated the conversation, even when he was nowhere nearby.

The flight was only slightly late, and I had the same car-service driver who picked me up after World Fantasy last year (when I got in at about one A.M., six or more hours late). So we commiserated about that, and talked kid stuff (Pennsylvania theme parks, mostly) all the way to Pompton Lakes.

No comments:

Post a Comment