August 18th, 2013

torcon

Con Time!

Convention season is truly upon us.

It seems like just yesterday that I returned from the San Diego Comicon, but in less than a week I will be on the road again... first down to Albuquerque for our annual local NM sf con, Bubonicon, and then off to the red wilds of Texas for LoneStarCon 3, the world science fiction convention, this year being held in San Antonio.  [There are links to both of these cons on the appearances page of my website, for those who'd like more details].

Here's the schedule of my public events and appearances for each con:

BUBONICON
==========
Friday Aug 23        7:30 pm            READING
Saturday Aug 24  12:00 noon         Dark Fantasy discussion, w/ Tim Powers
                               5:20 pm            mass autographing


LONESTARCON 3
================
Thursday Aug 29       4:00pm          signing
Friday     Aug 30        5:00pm          READING
Saturday Aug 31        4:00pm          Howard & George Show, w/ Howard Waldrop
Sunday   Sept 1         8:00pm          HUGO AWARDS
Monday   Sept 2       11:00am          signing

Some will observe that this schedule looks light.  Hoo hah.  These are only my public events.  What's not showing here are all the parties, lunches, parties, breakfasts, parties, dinners, business meetings, and... did I mention the parties?  The parties are the heart of any good con, and I expect to be at several.  I am, alas, not the party animal I was twenty years ago, but I still love hanging with others writers, and my fellow fans.  And yes, I still consider myself a fan.

I have been going to SF cons since 1971 (and comic cons since 1964).  Some are better than others, mind you, and I've seen a lot of changes over my years... some of which are cool, others that I really hate, but cons are still are important part of my life.  Especially worldcon.  I've said this a hundred times, but let me say it once more -- bookstore signings are great if all you want is to get your book signed, but if you really want to meet me (or any of the other SF or fantasy writers whose work you have enjoyed), hang, talk, flirt, drunkenly debate the state of the field or the nature of the universe, you need to come to a convention.

Speaking of signing, though... if you look at the schedule above, you'll see that I've got an autographing at Bubonicon (the mass signing, a truly terrific concept, where all the writers at the con are available to sign in the same room at the same time, a collector's nirvana), and two dealer's room signing for LoneStarCon.  If you want your books defaced with my illegible scrawl, you should try to get yourself to one of those.  I am not going to be signing in the hallways, before or after panels, while eating dinner (or lunch, or breakfast), and I am REALLY not going to be signing books at parties.  Parties for partying, not autographing.  It is a major lapse of con etiquette to ask me (or any other writer) to sign your books at a party.  The only worse no-no is is thrusting a manuscript or screenplay -- or these days, a self-published book -- into my hand for me to read and/or blurb.  So don't.  Please.

The big excitement at any worldcon is, of course, the Hugo Awards, the oldest major honor in our field, and still the most important.  (I hope you all nominated.  I hope you all voted).  GAME OF THRONES is up this year in the "Best Dramatic Presentation - Short Form" category, for the season two episode "Blackwater," which I scripted.  Last year we won in "Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form," but this year the competition is fierce, since we're up against an episode of FRINGE and three, count 'em THREE, episodes of DOCTOR WHO.  The Doctor has pretty much owned the Short Form category ever since it was created, and it remains to be seen if we can prevail against three Doctors at once.  I'd rate us as underdogs, but we shall see.  If we do somehow prevail over the Doctor, his companions, and all those legions of Daleks, Time Lords, and Whoovians, however, I will have some terrific help in accepting the award.  HBO is flying in our very own Hound, Rory McCann, to accept the award on behalf of Dan and David and the rest of the cast and crew (all of whom are very busy at the moment filming season four), should we win.  Parris has been been trying to convince him to wear his kilt to the awards ceremony.  Come to the Hugos and find out if she's been successful.

(And if we lose, feel free to buy me a drink afterward and tell me 'you wuz robbed.'  You'll need to find me at the secret chili party first, though, drowning my sorrows in a bowl of Keith Kato's hottest red).
denvention

Finland, Finland, Finland

In the comments section to the post immediately below, someone asked about voting for this year's Hugo Awards.  Alas, Hugo voting closed some time ago... for the 2013 awards, at least.

You can still cast your vote at LoneStarCon, however... not for the Hugo Awards, but for site selection.

It's the fans who nominate and vote for the Hugos, and the fans who decide where the world science fiction convention will be held. Unlike Dragoncon (always in Atlanta), Comicon (always in San Diego), or other megacons of their ilk, worldcon moves to a different city every year, just as it has since its founding in the 1930s.  Cities wishing to host worldcon must put together a concom, find a suitable site and hotels, and bid for the rights to hold the con.  Bidding, like American presidential elections, sometimes seems to go on forever, but the actual site selection ballot takes place two years in advance.

At this year's San Antonio worldcon, LoneStarCon 3, fans will decide where the worldcon goes for 2015.

(The site of the 2014 worldcon was determined at Chicon 7, last year's worldcon.  The winner was London, England).

There are three contenders for 2015: Spokane, Washington; Orlando, Florida; and Helsinki, Finland.  All three will be campaigning vigorously and throwing parties at Texas, I'm sure, selling pre-supporting memberships, and bending the ears of everyone who cares to hear about their wonderful cities, amazing facilities, and experienced committees.  So who to choose?

As it happens, I've been to all three cities.  Back in the mid 90s, I was GOH at a small regional con in Spokane.  Nice fans.  The city has its charms, and the surrounding countryside was lovely.   It's a small city, though, and it was a small friendly low-key con, which makes me wonder if the committee is ready to tackle something as large and contentious and complex as worldcon.

Orlando hosted the worldcon once before -- MagiCon in 1992 -- and was supposed to be the site once even earlier -- SunCon in 1977.  But SunCon was a disaster, had to move to Miami Beach after the fans voted for Orlando, and still ranks as one of the worst worldcons ever.  MagiCon was much better... but hot, swelteringly hot.  I have fond memories of the Peabody Hotel, but the new Orlando bid isn't using the Peabody, instead they will actually be inside Disney World, using Disney facilities.  I like visiting Disney parks from time to time, and I love attending worldcon, but that does not mean I want to mix the two.  The Orlando convention set-up has some undeniable advantages... I love the idea of having all of worldcon under a single roof, without elevators... but if you've ever been to Disney World or Disneyland, you probably know that there will be drawbacks as well.  Under the Mouse's roof, the Mouse's rules apply.  And what with global warming and all, Orlando in 2015 will probably be even hotter than Orlando in 1992.  Just thinking about it makes me want to turn the air conditioner up to "ARCTIC BLAST."

Fortunately, I think there's one choice for 2015 that stands head and shoulders above the other two:



No, no, no, NOT England.  England is next year.  I'm talking FINLAND!  Helsinki!

Singing, dancing, fish-slapping, reindeer, lingonberries...

Well, no, not really.  But Parris and I were guests at Finncon just a few years ago, and we had a great time.  Helsinki is a great, lively, historic city, and the Finnish fans are terrific... warm and friendly and hospitable.  They all speak English, by the way.  Every Finn we met spoke English.  So no one need worry about getting lost in a country where you cannot understand the language.  You can eat reindeer and lingonberries if you have a yen... but there's plenty of other types of food for those who'd rather not.  Saunas are omnipresent... but not compulsory, if you are the shy sort who would rather not take off your clothes around other people.  Helsinki's not quite north enough for a midnight sun, but we got a ten-oclock-at-night sun, and that was pretty cool too.   Hell, you could even find good pizza.  (I prefer never to go anywhere where you cannot find good pizza).

Even more than the charms of the city, however, it was the competence and experience of the committee that impressed me.  We have had too many badly-run worldcons in recent years (need I mention Montreal, anyone?).   The Finncon we attended was huge, drawing something like 30,000 people to Helsinki as I recall.  That's six times as large as any worldcon since the 80s, yet the con ran smoothly start to finish, and everyone seemed to have a great time.  I have no doubt that a Helsinki worldcon would be well run as well... and I know the Finnish fans would love to show your their city, their castles, the herds of reindeer wandering the streets.   Oh, there's vodka too.  And saunas.  Did I mention the saunas?

But seriously... if you'd like to know more about the Finnish bid, check out their website here:  http://www.helsinkiin2015.org/

Anyway, those of you who will be attending LoneSTarCon should be sure to visit the site selection booths, check out the literature for the competing bid, then sign up for 2015 and cast your ballot.

Me, I'll be voting for Helsinki... to put the "world" back in worldcon.

(And for KANSAS CITY IN 2016 as well, but that vote is next year, in London).

POST LONESTARCON ADDENDUM

Alas, Helsinki did not win the rights to host the 2015 worldcon.  The Finns threw the best parties and had the most first place votes, but after leading on all the early ballots, they lost out in the end when Orlando was finally eliminated, and their votes swung en masse to Spokane.  The vagaries of the Australian ballot.

The Finns will rise again, I hope.  But it's Spokane in 2015.

(Future bids announced or rumored at the con included New Orleans, Washington DC, and Dublin.  I like the sound of all of those.