This is going to be the written report, mostly without pictures because I haven’t had time to sort through the ones I took and see what I want to post. It’s been one of those weeks at work and it started on the way down to San Antonio. I spent more time than I would have liked dealing with a couple of problems that waited until I was on the road to arise. I post some pictures in the next few days.
James Gunn at his reception.
I had to teach class Thursday morning, so by the time I got to San Antonio, checked into the hotel and hoofed it over to the convention center to register, I just made it before registration closed. I wandered the dealer’s room and familiarized myself with the layout before grabbing a bite. At least I intended to. I ran into Adrian Simmons, editor of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, and ended up accompanying him to a private, invitation-only reception for James Gunn. Adrian had been invited, and I went along as his guest. It was a great event, and I took advantage of the opportunity to speak with him. He’s 90, and critics are calling his new novel his best. I picked up a signed copy before the weekend was over. There’ll be a review going up at Futures Past and Present sometime in the next few months. Learning of Fred Poh’s death made me extra glad I grabbed a signed copy, in spite of being a little overbudget.
What would you eat for a book?
Later I attended the Bookswarm party, which was packed. I got a chance to talk to Martha Wells for a few minutes, and I walked away with two free books. The theme of the party was Eat a Bug, Get a Book. The bugs were sanitized and freeze dried. (I ate a mole circket and a dung beetle and got The Other Half of the Sky edited by Athena Andreadis and Exile by Betsy Dornbush.) The highlight of the party was getting to meet Brad Beaulieu, Douglas Hulett, Courtney Schafer, and Zachary Jernigan. If you haven’t read them, you should. Other than a glimpse of Jernigan from across the street, the only one of that group that I saw after that night was Courtney Schafer.
The next day was one of those where there was about twelve hours of programming I wanted to attend, all of it in a three hour block. I went to most of the Robert E. Howard panels, of which there were many. Most of the hanging out I did with friends was with members of the Robert E. Howard Foundation or chatting with folks at parties. Saturday was much the same, but Sunday was a little more relaxed. Among the non-Howard panels I attended were a discussion of C. L. Moore’s “Vintage Season”, the history of firearms in the 1800s, a discussion on writing that included Michael Swanwick and James Patrick Kelly, a panel of Texas writers who have passed on, and readings by Jack McDevitt and Howard Waldrop. I only caught part of the panel on sword and sorcery since it was up against one of the more interesting Robert E. Howard panels. The autographing lines were either nonexistent or ridiculously long, so I only got a few signatures.
Sword and Sorcery Panel: (l. to r.) Stina Leitch, Lou Anders, Sam Sykes, Saladin Ahmed, Chris Willrich
I went to the Alamo Saturday morning with Bill Cavalier, editor of REHupa. He hadn’t seen it, and it had been a while since I had paid my respects. Next to the Alamo is the Menger Hotel. Teddy Roosevelt recruited the Rough Riders in the bar, and it’s something of a mini-museum. I’ll do a write-up of it on Dispatches From the Lone Star Front over the weekend.
I didn’t try to attend the Hugos. I wasn’t impressed with the slate of nominees for the most part. But it’s a popularity contest, and currently my tastes and those of the field are in a state of moderate divergence. The Legacy Circle of the REH Foundation went to dinner Saturday night.
There were some free books, including NESFA’s three volume Chad Oliver set. I found the first two of the Heinlein juveniles I was missing, and picked up an extra copy of Glory Road. This year marks the 50th anniversary of that novel. I read it when I was about 14, and it’s about time for a reread.
It’s good to be the king.
Some overall thoughts. First, this was the first time I’ve been able to attend a Worldcon. It wasn’t quite what I expected. I’ve attended World Fantasy twice, and the density of pros in that venue is high, but then that’s a convention that’s aimed at pros. Worldcon is more geared for fans. I never saw some of the bigger names, although I know they were there. Most of the ones I did see, I only saw once or twice. The convention center is a bit too spread out for this sort of event.
I was surprised at crowded it wasn’t. I was also a little surprised with how old the average attendee seemed to be. While people seemed to be having a good time, I didn’t detect a great deal of excitement. Maybe that’s because I’m getting older, but everything seemed more laid back than I was expecting.
I’d certainly attend another Worldcon, but only if it wasn’t at the same time classes started. And only if it wasn’t too far away. While I enjoyed it and am glad I went, I wouldn’t travel halfway around the world, or even the country, to repeat the experience.
I’ll post some more photos later in the week.