I headed out to Kansas City with my pal, Jody Wurl (awesome fan and local librarian) at more or less the crack of dawn. Only later because there were cats to be wrangled and stuff. 6 or 7 hours of glorious chatting about everything and listening to music, we rolled into Kansas City (at rush hour, inevitably). Our hotel, the Aladdin, was all kinds of historical charming, including a tiny charming room with no space for the air mattress so we moved directly into the “first time road trip together to first time sharing a room to first time sharing a bed” phase of our friendship! Fortunately, neither of us is a night owl and we’re both relatively quiet sleepers so it worked out just fine. And author Martha Wells and her roomie Felicia were also in the same hotel, so we had amiable dining companions the first night.
Thursday arrived with a lively breakfast at the hotel restaurant, which featured sundry hijinks that were clearly the result of being short-staffed (it got better after this). But it also featured the charming company of Martha, Felicia, Jody, Steven Gould and Heather Rose Jones, so that made up for the other issues. After breakfast, Jody and I headed over and got our registration stuff taken care of, then I was off to the Dealer’s Room to drop off books at the DreamHaven table and help Elise Matthesen set up her jewelry both. I hung out there for a bit, generating good sales vibes (or so I’m told) before wandering the room. Then I was off to meet up with Jody and my friend Muffie for lunch. Muffie is a writer pal who I met at Sirens last year and we had a grand time chatting and hanging out. Then I was off, more or less, for my first panel of the weekend, "Knock on Wood, from Squirrel Girl to Lumberjanes."
You know, it was fun to do two YA panels at a con (I had an LGBT YA panel on Saturday too). I never get asked to do these, as a rule, so I hadn't given them much thought, but the discussions were lively and the panelists polite and enthusiastic. The audiences were pretty engaged too so the energy level was really good. For the comics one, we geeked about stuff we liked: Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, Courtney Crumrin, Bone, My Little Pony, Lumberjanes, Nimona and such. Good times! I don't think we broke any new ground, but it was a fun, energetic chat. After that, Jody and I joined Martha and Felicia and another friend of theirs for dinner, which was even more fun than the night before, what with everyone having slept and all.
Thursday morning was two panels in a row, "The Joys of Running a Small Press," followed by "Living in a Cyberpunk Society." The small press panel was arguably my least favorite of the weekend. The moderator hadn't checked in beforehand and didn't seem to quite know what to do with me (the press is still in start up mode, rather than running) so she tried skipping me a few times on questions, which didn't go over well. I snagged the mike and started talking, which put an end to that issue, but it was annoying to have to fight for the space. She also added someone from the audience since one publisher was later, which also cut into the remaining panelist time. And to add to that, I was rushing to get to the cyberpunk panel at the end because I was moderating and it was not close by and people wanted to ask questions (and I needed to pee) so it ended fairly abruptly. The other panelists were fine though, so I didn't think it was a complete loss.
As for the Cyberpunk panel, when I say Pat Cadigan was a panelist and she opened with, "I'm Pat Cadigan, bitches.", do I need to say more? :-) Panelists Lyda Morehouse, Allan Dyen-Shapiro and Professor Takayuki Tatsumi also got in some comments and thoughts (I need to go track down, Dr. Tatsumi's book on cyberpunk), but it was pretty much the P. Cadigan show everyone had come for. And it was a pretty entertaining one. It's easy to forget that when she and Gibson and Stirling and so forth were creating what we now think of as a genre, they were working largely independently of each other, without the benefits or burden of internet connections and so forth. She's also pretty funny so I recommend going to hear her if the opportunity presents itself.
I met with my former editor, Evan Peterson, and some of his Clarion classmates for lunch, then went tot he Art Show, then cruised the Dealer's Room buying sundry books (Japanese sf in translations! Art books! Sundry stuff) before helping Monica Valentinelli do prep stuff fro Build A World. Then I was off to dinner with editor and writer Julia Rios and her mom, where we were joined by one of Julia's former colleagues at Strange Horizons and her fiance. A jolly conversation about books and reading and Iowa and travel and stuff ensued before we had to to head back for evening programs. In my case, that was Build a World, the gameshow featuring writers attempting to do world building with audience participation. Unfortunately, we had been moved in both time and space and didn't draw a big crowd. But the folks who were there seemed to have fun, we had fun and we raised money for charity so a generally good time all around. we stopped by a few bid parties afterwards before crashing.
I missed both the Masquerade (which I was sorry to miss) and the Tor Party, which I was less bummed about. We had done some bar conning the night before and it had been as fun as bar conning gets for me (I'm working up a post on what it's like to be a sober pro in con culture to follow this one) so I felt like I'd had that particular experience for the weekend. In any, case, I was up the next morning for a surprise (as in unplanned) breakfast with author Jeannette Kathleen Cheney, who I'd met at Chicon, before going off to moderate the "Complexity of Character: Coming Out in Teen SpecFic" panel. This was one of the two best panels of my con - great panelists, lively discussion, good suggestions, enthusiastic audience. Big thumbs up, all around.
Then I got to meet up with Dr. Nick Wood, who's been doing some great critical and promotional work on African science fiction and fantasy as well as writing his own stories. Really enjoyed our lunch and hope to repeat it again at a future con. There followed a moment of truth in which I had to go sign at a table next to Pat Cadigan. Which involved some thumb-twiddling, some chatting with friends, the signing of the following: one poster, two book plates, three actual books, and some impromptu bonding with my table mate, Star Trek (and other works) author David Dvorkin and his amiable spouse. Pat also signed my copy of Patterns with a massive flourishing, informing me that I was "cool." :-D
I went on to do a panel on Aging in SF/F with Connie Willis, James Patrick Kelly, Eleanor Arnason and Bud Sparhawk after that. My second favorite panel, in part because the panelists, particularly Willis and Kelly were entertaining, and Kelly was a good moderator. I mentioned my bibliography project briefly, as well as some of my other projects on aging in tech and so forth but I think those may have gotten lost in the shuffle.
But from there, Jody and I went off to catch the trolley and get barbecue at Jack Stack Barbecue, which was a fun trip off site. We wandered back and went to the SFWA Suite for the Hugos (which we ended up watching on line anyway). Lots of cheering and enthusiasm for the various winners and speeches (particularly Nnedi, Nora and Michi), which was lovely. Then it was farewells at bar con and sleep.
Somewhere in there, I caught readings by Martha Wells, Amanda Downum and Rosemary Kirstein, talked to a bunch more people than I remembered to note above, briefly met Ken Liu and the folks from China organizing another Worldcon bid via the redoubtable Crystal Huff, chatted with Jason Sizemore of Apex. chatted with book dealers, artists and a number of total strangers, chatted with Jason Sanford, Naomi Kritzer and Pamela Dean and missed connecting with dozens of people I had hoped to see at the con. Overall, I had a fine time though and am glad I got to go, exhausting drive, lengthy walks, occasional weirdness and all!.