This was intended to be my morning at the Printers Row Literary Festival so, inevitably, I woke up with a migraine. I managed to stagger down to breakfast, then girded my loins for the multi-block walk under the big hurty thing in the sky. I found the Festival without any trouble, but found it a tad underwhelming. Mind you, I found the PM Press booth and immediately picked up a couple of books and a Utah Phillips CD, then wandered down the row of tents. I left with a murder mystery set at Hull House, a history of women business owners, Edward Gorey ephemera, Daughters of the Revolution and the CD. It was decently well-trafficked but I couldn’t but notice that the Fair organizers thought it was more important to have an Acura dealer and several other nonbook related vendors rather than any SF ones. I didn’t see anything affiliated with RWA either and I was told that every SFWA author in attendance at the Nebulas who tried to get on Lit Fest programming was turned down. I gather the mystery writers had a good weekend though, so yay on that score.
From there, I wandered back to the hotel and lunch, then quiet time. I went downstairs just before my afternoon panel and ran into Lee Martindale and signed the program book and my story in a copy of Obsession for a nice gentleman who was hanging about waiting for me to turn up. (This is, incidentally, super flattering J). My second panel, this one on diversity in SFF began shortly thereafter. This one didn’t go as well as the first: too many disconnects, one panelist delayed on a train and in later, and there was me with my lingering migraine. So we talked a lot but I can’t say that I felt like we connected with each other or the audience. Not the worst panel I’ve been on, I suppose, but definitely in the lower half. After that, it was icing my head until the Nebula Reception started.
I came down and soon realized that had been something of a mistake and that I should have stayed in my room until the banquet because I got wiped out pretty quickly. I ended up taking my juice (I don’t drink alcohol) to a quiet cul-de-sac and answering emails for a half hour until things got started. I had failed to realize that we had assigned tables, so I didn’t get to sit with the folks I wanted to, but I did end up sitting with a man I’d met earlier and some new folks, including some international fans so it was perfectly fine. The banquet food was good. Nick Offerman was probably hilarious if your sense of humor runs to jokes about sleeping and drinking with Nick Offerman. As an aside, if the point of getting him in to MC was to draw in a younger crowd, cheaper tickets and more outreach for the nonbanquet tickets probably would have helped. As it was, I think he offended some people and baffled a fair number of others.
The Russ speech was awful; more on that soon. But Stanley Schmidt’s speech was rather charming and most of the winners were either not present and had proxies or gave good to okay speeches. I will admit to being surprised by Jeff VanderMeer’s win simply because I hadn’t heard much award buzz about his book, but I’m sure it’s good and his speech (also by proxy) was quite good. I gather there were some other issues (one finalist was left off the onscreen list of titles, and there were connection issues) but from my standpoint, it seemed to go reasonably well.
I popped by the signing to say hi to a few people and tried unsuccessfully to find a friend’s book. I had to settle for schmoozing, then trotting off to pack and sleep. Sunday, I got to have breakfast with Lee Martindale, then hiked over to Union Station and caught the Amtrak for an uneventful ride home (except for the minor bomb scare which was quickly resolved). And thus ended the weekend. I know I’m leaving some things out; I’ve never been a Larry Niven fan and our paths never crossed, for instance. Connie Willis was there, but was always deep in conversation. Jim Frenkel put in an appearance at the Awards but that was the only time I saw him (and I haven’t heard about any incidents, just for variety). There’s a certain level of manic cliquishness at all these sorts of events and this one split out pretty heavily along age lines and known quantities vs. unknown quantities, divisions made a bit rougher simply because it wasn’t a big crowd. I was actually more surprised that I did get as much time with some of the folks I either wanted to see or met over the course of the weekend. Overall, good event with useful info acquired and some down time achieved, so I feel like I got my money’s worth.