How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now

It’s raining here at the Confusion Factory, which it has been doing the last day or so. Very different from Reno, where I waked every morning in a room outfitted with Serious Sun-blocking curtains, to my first thought, “My, it’s dim! I wonder if it’s raining.”

Which brings me to the realization that, though I’ve written somewhat of the travails which afflicted our most recent journies, I haven’t written of WorldCon itself.

…which was lovely. Verily, the most relaxed and delightful WorldCon I’ve attended as a pro in years. We were lightly but respectfully scheduled, and had more time to catch up with people and Just Chat than I’ve had since I was SFWA ExecDir and it was part of my job to talk, at least, to SFWA members.

So, our con started — well, on the train, actually, when we met up with Jo Walton. The Lake Shore Limited, as reported elsewhere in this journal, was five hours late to Chicago; a theme that continued with the California Zephyr.

To digress for a moment, while it was unfortunate that the train was, at the end, six+ hours late (though on the return trip, I was to learn that this was a mere bagatelle), it was fortunate in that, for the very first time in numerous train crossings of Our Great Country(tm), I saw the Salt Lake Desert, which the Zephyr typically crosses at night, and I’m very grateful for that.

So, anyhow, being no stranger to trains running rather less-epically late, we usually plan on getting into far-flung places the day before the event starts. (We didn’t do this for last Chicago WorldCon, which was, after all, only an overnight trip. Our first event was at noon, the train was scheduled in at 8:45 — plenty of time to get to the hotel, shower, put on con clothes and get the heck down to the panel. See the train be three hours late. See Sharon and Steve throw the baggage into the hotel room and run over to the second tower to make the start of the panel.)

For the Reno trip, we made sure we arrived on Tuesday. But! The train gets into Reno at 8:30 in the morning. Even if it was late, we reasoned, we’d be in time for lunch. And so we arranged to meet Di Francis (Diana Pharaoh Francis) and her family for dinner at 6 p.m.

A date for which we were almost late.

When the train did eventually find Reno, we found Myles and Nancy O’Reilly waiting to whisk us to the Atlantis, while Jo entered into the capable care of Mem Morman for transport to the Peppermill.

Check-in was a little bit of a zoo — I don’t remember why at this point — and Shaii, on the desk, upgraded our room, to which we repaired, to unpack and shower and change.

We took a taxi to the Peppermill, located Di and her family patiently waiting, had a good visit and an…eclectic dinner at the Island Buffet. We wandered back to the Atlantis eventually, and, restless with too much ice tea (Man, I drank more ice tea on this trip than I have since I was a kid in Baltimore), walked around the place, as is our habit, locating Points of Interest.

I know some folks were disturbed by the fact that WorldCon was attached to a casino — that, in fact, the con hotels were casinos. I thought it was…interesting, and not as completely disorienting as it apparently was for others. Note that I speak here of the Atlantis; the Peppermill was a Whole Nother Story.

Anyhow, Steve and I pretty quickly found our path to the convention center, and patterned the casino floor so we had the various restaurants located.

Wednesday, after locating the Friends of Liad Fan Table, with Shawna and Angie already in attendance, I abandoned Steve and took a taxi to the Nevada Museum of Art, which is a wonderful little museum that you should all visit, if you’re ever in Reno. I went specifically for the mummy display, but the facility was small enough that I was able to tour the whole thing, eat lunch and get back to the Atlantis in time to join Steve for our presentation at the Sierra View Library, across the street from the convention center.

We arrived in time to see Steve Gould finish up his presentation, which was fun; then we read from Ghost Ship, answered questions, and said Hi to Carol Berg, who was up next.

May I just say? The library event was lovely, and I thank WorldCon, in the person of Patricia Parsons, for working with the Sierra View staff to make it happen. We were very glad to be a part of this outreach effort, and hope that future WorldCons can find a way to continue the tradition.

We finished out Wednesday by having dinner with Mem and Terry, then returned to the hotel to crash early.

Thursday started with a journey to the Peppermill (WorldCon hired real buses to shuttle between the hotels! Buses that knelt down to let passengers aboard. Camel buses in the desert. Was anything ever cooler? Ahem.). So, anyhow, to the Peppermill, where we speedily got lost on our way to the writing workshop, and enlisted the aid of a gentleman with a broom to set us on the proper path.

The workshop, despite being down one participant, went well, I thought; both of those remaining being serious about their reading and their writing. After, Steve and I had lunch in Biscotti’s, bused back over to the Convention Center to do our stint at the SFWA table, hosted a sold-out kaffeeklatsch, checked in at the FoL Fan Table, did a drawing for free! books!, signed books in the Dealer’s Room; met Judy Bemis for dinner; did Art Night (which was rather less…extravagant than other Art Nights I’ve attended), and hit the SFWA Suite, where I left Steve chatting with Dave Smeds when I went back to the room to nurse a altitude headache. (Note to self: In high, dry climates, drink water constantly! Really.)

Friday we were scheduled but lightly. I met up with Phyllis Irene Radford, whom I hadn’t seen in years — was it the Kansas City Nebulas? — and we did some Fast Catch Up(tm). Our reading was standing room only, followed by a signing, then the Baen Authors Dinner, and the FoL-only party, which I left early, being a poor thing and easily exhausted.

Saturday our dance card was full to overflowing. We started out with an 8 a.m. breakfast at Toucan Charlie’s with sixty! stalwart Friends of Liad. That? Was amazing. And gratifying. We had a good time and hope everyone who attended, did, as well. I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to talk to everyone — but, sixty? Who could have predicted?

So, after breakfast, we hit the first panel of the day — Collaboration, moderated by Steve. I do have a complaint here. I had checked in with Con Ops regarding the taping policy and had been told, definitively, that no taping of panels would be allowed. We arrived to find our co-panelists (the gentleman of the set is very avid podcaster; the lady apparently also, but he was doing the rigging) rigging up an Entire Podcasting System in order to tape the panel prior to being broadcast on his/their site. We explained about Ops, the gentleman allowed as how it was easier to get forgiveness than permission, and continued his set-up.

Now, this annoyed — and still annoys — me for a couple reasons. One, Ops. Two, he never asked us if we would mind providing free content for his site. Now, had he asked us, I might’ve said OK, sure, whatever, since I’m generally well-disposed toward himself. But he didn’t ask, he just assumed, and now we all have to put up with me being cranky with him about this, which is too bad.

So.

After Collaboration, Continuity, and a star-studded cast: Lois Bujold, Eric Flint, Dean Wesley Smith, Steve Miller; Sharon Lee moderating. This was played to a large room, full, as you might imagine from the list of panelists. We had a lively, and as people stopped to tell me later in the con, informative discussion about series/character/worldbuilding continuity. It was a pleasure to moderate; I had fun and I hope my co-panelists did, as well.

After that, we raced off to the SFWA meeting, then I went on to the Urban Fantasy panel with Tim Pratt, Larry Correia, Lisa Goldstein; ably moderated by Madeleine Robins. Another fun, well-attended panel.

Dinner with Myles and Nancy followed, then on to the Baen Paty, and thence to the Friends of Liad Party.

Sunday was about touring the Dealer’s Room, where we signed more books, talking to bunches of people, I bought the aforementioned corset, talked to more people, had dinner with Eve Ackerman, her lovely husband, Steve-whose-last-name-I-didn’t-get, Toni Weisskopf, eventually found our room again and crashed.

Monday, we had a good-bye breakfast with Shawna and Angie, and leisurely began our fraught journey back to Chicago.

The Friends of Liad came to this convention in droves; we were stunned — and gratified. Angie, Debbie, Shawna, and Thuy, who womaned the fan table, did all the party prep and acted as Message Center for Steve and me, were Beyond Awesome; it was in every sense a working con for them, and we’re very grateful for their efforts.

…and here ends the con report.

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