Sunday, August 28, 2011

WorldCon Wrap-Up

I had a great time at WorldCon in Reno (Renovation, as they called it) this year. It was my first WorldCon, and marked the attainment of my "Triple Crown" of World speculative fiction conventions, as I'd already been to World Fantasy multiple times, and to World Horror once.

Why am I a week late in posting this info? Well, all was not sunshine and roses, and I ended up coming home a pretty sick puppy. I'll talk about that later on in the article.

First, let's talk about the good stuff.

I resolved to drive to Reno, as it's a fairly simple thing to point your car west and just go. Western Utah and Northern Nevada are pretty barren, though, and so I decided to arm myself with some audiobooks for the journey. Yeah. Alone for @530 miles? I knew I'd need them.

I went ahead and put the first five audiobooks for the Oz series on a CD, as I'd heard about the coolness of the series, but had only known about the first one, as in the movie with Judy Garland and so forth.

Okay, so the Wizard of Oz is a pretty fun little book. It's for kids, and so it's somewhat repetitive, and it's old, but it's still pretty neat. I finished it and got a few chapters into "The Land of Oz" by the time I arrived at the Peppermill in Reno.

It had been a while since I was last in a casino, and so there were a few moments of culture shock. Seeing people light a cigarette indoors and not be immediately tackled, escorted from the premises, or perhaps vaporized with lasers was odd. The Peppermill is frickin' dark on the casino floor, too. Like you've just stepped into a weird purple cave filled with chiming, muttering machines. And, unlike the old days, there's none of the sound of change actually falling into a catch bin. No, there's just an odd electronic analogue of that sound. It seems that you now redeem a ticket at various machines around the hotel, rather than getting your tokens changed for actual money. Anyhow...

I got to Reno Wednesday in the afternoon, perhaps around 4:30 or thereabouts. I checked in and got my stuff up to the room. Which was nice, by the way. Pretty swanky. And...what happened to cheap rooms in casinos? I guess those days are over. I won't dwell on that.

I managed to fart around until it was too late to actually go over to the convention hall and check in, so I decided to, instead, go and find their weight room and get me some exercise. I did so. It was good. I found that I could stack their triceps pushdown machine for ten reps (that's 200 lbs).

Life was good. I continued from there by walking around. That walking around resulted it me being vaguely lost for a little while, and turned out to yield the cardio portion of my workout by sending me on about a forty minute tour of the slightly seedy neighborhood nearby. I found a variety of things, including something that touted itself to be a European Fitness Center. Perhaps European fitness is somewhat different from the other sorts of fitness. I'm sure I couldn't tell the difference.

That night, I found that I had more than enough road food to get along, and made liberal use of the in-room coffee maker. Being unused to watching television without some specific goal in mind, I found that it took me a while to figure out what I would do with myself. In the end, I ended up watching a show about tough guys from various military arms competing to be the biggest badass. After that, there was a show about guys who made big and ludicrous firearms in the Deep South. I was really congested. I then went to bed.

Thursday was a big day at the convention. Most of my friends were arriving that day, and I was pumped to see what the Con would have in store. Sadly, I ended up at more than a few panels that I either didn't care about, or that I hadn't read the right foundational material to "get". This happens some times.

I was able to watch a cool panel that featured Eric James Stone, short story writer extrordinare, about religion and science fiction. That was pretty neat, and gave me hope that the panel discussion scene wouldn't be a total bust. (which it wasn't)

The exhibit hall was...frighteningly huge. Like, my hometown would have fit in there with room for a few of the nearby towns to spare. The art show and the dealer's room crouched in a corner of the giant space, though they were, in reality, pretty damn big.

I met Brad Beaulieu, Paul Genesse, and his wife Tammy a bit later. I had lunch with them at the hotel, and then we went to see Brad read from his book, Winds of Khalakovo, along with Courteny Schafer and Katy Stauber, who are also Night Shade Books authors with books out. All of the readings presented intriguing works, and I look for these three authors to be forces to be reckoned with in the future.

From there, we eventually ended up at the Night Bazaar party in the Atlantis, put on by the selfsame three that were just mentioned. I had been enlisted to provide paltry entertainment in the form of an ersatz strongman show during the party. I did so. The surprise of the night: Brad Beaulieu ended up ripping a yellowpages in half in front of everyone. It was a shocker. We always did think that Brad had a few superpowers up his sleeve, and now we know that's true.

Larry Correia and his posse appeared, and they were quite intrigued with the nail bending portion of the show. Many of them gave it a try, and Larry has the distinction of being the only other writer in residence who could put any kind of kink in a 60D nail. It was a fun party, and quite a hand workout, as I probably bent over twenty nails in all the traditional grips. I also broke out the Captains of Crush grippers, which were fun for all. Larry almost closed the #2 grippers a few times, and acquitted himself well. I can't easily go into all the cool people who were around at the party, but there were many, and I bent nails for most of them. The entertainment also featured the eating of candy-coated insects and crustaceans of various kinds, of which I did not partake. I did find that I like Stella Artois beer, though.

On Friday, I went to see some good panels, including one called Urbane Fantasy vs. Urban Fantasy, which featured Gail Carriger, who writes the Parasol Protectorate books, which I've quite enjoyed.

That night, I went to dinner and drinks with Chante' McCoy, Christine McMillan, Paul G., and his wife Tammy. We nerded out about writing and the Crimson Pact project, as Chante' is one of the writers, as well. Later, there was more drinking and some dancing as well. We were able to see a short set by Rachel Bloom, who was up for a Hugo for a song she wrote, the title of which I will not share at this time, as it is a little salty for this blog. A fun night.

Saturday featured some good hang-out time with Chante', Christine, Paul, and others. I sat down to a big dinner with Brad, Paul, and Gregory Wilson. I had a big steak. Herein began the "not so good" portion of our show.

After dinner, we went to the Hugo Awards Banquet. I was no sooner seated then I began to feel really poorly. I had to excuse myself. I did not get better after walking it off. I felt bad.

I went back to my hotel room and tried to wait it out, but started getting really concerned that something serious was going on with me. I was having a hard time breathing, sudden sweats, heart palpitations...not having any fun.

I called Paul (a cardiac nurse) to come and check me out. He assured me that I was okay, and that my heart sounded fine. The festivities, though, were over.

The drive home the next day was, well, really long and pretty darned miserable. I made it, though, and was in the house by 9:30 PM. I had to go to work the next day, which wasn't too cool, but what can you do?

In the end, I came home with a lot of good memories, and a pretty ugly case of the stomach-in-revolt blues. I hoping that I feel a hundred percent pretty soon, but as we speak, it's not quite there.

Hope you are all well, and thanks for reading this ludicrously long post.



Anonymous said...

Well, it sounds as though you had an over-all profitable venture at "Renovation"...damn that steak dinner however. I really hope that the doctor will have some sort of miracle cure and some good news for you tomorrow. I also hope that the on-the-job drama has abated, if not completely ended. Take good care of yourself and be well.

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