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I’m splitting this into two parts because it would otherwise be huge. It may still be huge, but shorter huge this way.

We arrived at the con after a couple of days in Reykjavik, Iceland, and a tour of Suomenlinna Fortress. By then, my feet were covered in blisters and were quite sore (despite the new walking shoes I acquired for this trip), which was NOT FUN. It also turned out that our hotel was about a 15 minute walk/limp from the trains or trams to the Expo Center, where the convention was taking place, then a 20 minute ride + a short walk after that. Given that, having a scheduled event every day of the con meant that I didn’t get to see as much of Helsinki or of the convention as I would have liked it. Sigh. But still, there was lots of fun to be had!
Day 1 was our “Gender Pronouns: Who Needs Them?” panel. Some nice MN fans had already tracked me down to let me know that the con had more attendees than room space (this changed a bit by Day 2 when they got more rooms and swapped some things out) so I knew I needed to turn up early for panels. And there were so many people! Second-biggest Worldcon, in fact, which was pretty cool. I got through registration painlessly (Pat Cadigan hugged me!), ran into friends in the lobby and located the official con bookstore, Rosebud Books, in the Dealer’s Room. Having confirmed that they were willing to peddle my books once I brought them in, I headed off to brave the crowds at the panel room in a bid to be sure I was on time (while the other panelists and the moderator waited for me in the Green Room. Oops.).

But it worked out and the panel was pretty good, if a tad short. Due to the overcrowding issues, panels started ending 10-15 minutes early so that people could get to the next event. Understandable, but kind of disappointing if one was one something with a lively discussion. This was one of those panels; we covered a lot of ground about linguistics and genre and why speculative fiction in English wrestles with new or just plain different pronouns and people said nice things afterwards so it felt like it went well. After that, we embarked on the great dinner expedition to find the vegan Vietnamese café with Charles Stross, his wife, Feorag, Heather Rose Jones, Paul Weimer, my spouse and some lovely friends of Heather’s. Good conversation, eventually good food, pleasant company and then we had to go back to the hotel because we were exhausted.
It should be noted that I ran into people I knew everywhere I went so there were meals and tea and hanging out and just sitting around and wandering the Dealer’s Room and so forth throughout the weekend. It should also be noted that I’m still a bit jet-lagged, that we went through 3 countries in 11 days and I met many people, which means I forget names, when we chatted and so forth. Please do not take this personally – it’s me, not you. For realz.

Day 2 was my signing, which was short and sweet and featured nice chats with Natalia Barron, Kathryn Sullivan, Heather, Elizabeth Bear and other nice folks. I also signed 2 books! Then GRRM showed up with his entourage and life was so much dross. Sadness. Ah well. Do I remember what else I did? Not really. Went to a panel and talked to folks, lots of folks. I met up with a friend from high school who I haven't seen since we graduated and we drank tea and equivalents and got caught up. Ran into some people I knew from the Nebula Weekend in Chicago and/or online and enjoyed a tasty dinner while dissecting the writing life. Staggered to the train, limped back to the hotel, slept.

Day 3 was the LGBTQ Worldwide panel, which went okay but I think could have been stronger. This was definitely one of those panels where I think an additional 15 minutes would have made a difference. But so it goes. Writer Bob Angell showed up for it and we got to go for lunch afterwards, which was lovely. From there, I zipped off to a boutique that Elise had recommended and acquired some rocking new work tunics - Boutique 52, for those curious. Dinner was somewhere tasty but not memorable. I talked to a lot of people, but didn't make it to a lot of con.

Day 4 was two panels, both of which went really well - good discussion, lively audience engagement, large attendance, all the things one looks for in panels. I had lunch with Caroline Stevermer, then spent a couple of hours hanging out with Ginn Hale and Nicole Kimberling of Blindeye Books talking about life and small press publishing. Then I got to hang out with the crew from Outer Alliance that evening, and Julia Rios afterward, before heading hotelward in the pouring rain. Frenzied packing and clothes drying, then collapse ensued.

Day 5: packed and ready to go, bags stored at hotel, met up with editor and author Kate Laity while Jana checked out the botanical gardens. Found out that all my books sold. Met up with author A.J. Fitzwater and boogied off to the hotel after tearful farewells.

Got to the ferry terminal in good time and headed for Sweden! Next up, the nonconvention portions of the trip.

Thoughts: good con overall, lots of great folks, pleasant panels, cool things to see (at least what I saw of them). Down sides: one panel location wasn't on the con maps, shortened panels due to space issues. Otherwise, the location was good and mostly accessible, from what I could tell. Lots of restaurants and public transportation nearby and Helsinki was grand. Would travel to again, 10/10.

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