My WorldCon Family Reunion

One of the best parts of winning the Writers of the Future contest was the resultant entrée into the family of fellow winners, judges and other participants in the contest. That word “family” is chosen with care. On the whole, we are not the most social lot, but our common experiences and interests draw us together much like the shared history and blood of a family. And like any family, our network of relationships grows richer and deeper with each passing year as more friends, contacts, and experiences are woven in to the fold.

Last summer, my first WorldCon, was a week of “Hey, I know you from Facebook,” and, “I love this place–everyone gets my jokes.” In February, I attended Kevin J Anderson’s Superstar Writing workshop, and joined a whole other—but overlapping—family. This year’s WordCon (MidAmericon II, in Kansas City MO) had very much the character of a family reunion.

It started with a road trip. Several of us, led by my friend, Nebula nominee Martin Shoemaker, drove half way across Kansas to Hutchinson, home of the Kansas Cosmosphere, one of the finest space museums outside the Smithsonian. We had a little book signing and a backstage tour of the museum, and instead of showtunes—spent the drive catching up and talking shop. I even got to discuss novel construction and archaeology with my new friend Rosemary Claire Smith.

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Then it was down to serious convention work—which for an up-and-coming writer, is less about attending panels than about “bar-con,” “hallway-con,” “street-con,” “lobby-con,” etc. Before the dealer floor was even open, I’d made new friends (hi Patrick) and hooked up with some of my WotF siblings in the halls.

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Three years’ of WotF winners playing catch up.

On the dealer floor, I saw former WotF winner Matt Rotundo and finally met Brian Trent, (WotF 29) in the flesh. I checked in with Superstars friends Quincy J Allen and Alexi Vandenberg at the WordFire booth, and with Shahid Mahmud, publisher of Galaxy’s Edge. Last year, I got to sign Galaxy’s Edge with Larry Niven. This year, I had a nice chat with Jerry Pernell about how NASA ruined the space program.

I volunteered to give a lightning talk on debunking pseudoscience (thanks Leo!) and met fellow Analog writer, Alec Nevala-Lee. I volunteered at the SFWA table, where I chatted with Beth Cato about the future of energy, and at the SFWA suite where Clarkesworld publisher, Neil Clark and I bemoaned the soul-crushing tyranny of the bureaucratic workplace. I met F&SF  publisher Charlie Finley, Karen Bovenmyer of Mothership Zeta, and Greg Hullender of Rocket Stack Rank. I also saw friends and anthologists, Alex Shvartsman and Bryan Thomas Schmidt, and got a manuscript request from my dream agent.

So that was nice.

I got word of an “Asimov’s Party,” which turned out to be a celebration for Penny Press. I walked in to find the suite blazoned with covers for Analog and Asimov’s and was pressed into service signing copies of the September Analog in which my story, “Dreams of the Rocket Men,” appears, then helping Asimov’s editor Sheila Williams cut the cake decorated with the issue cover. I know!

I wrapped up this auspicious evening by chatting about real estate with the legendary Stan Schmidt, telling jokes with Analog editor Trevor Quatri, and crashing the Tor party with long-time Analog veteran Dave Creek. Then it was back to bar-con.

If this all sounds like a whirlwind–it was. Then on Friday, Tangent Online publisher, Dave Truesdale made news by getting himself thrown out of the con for hijacking a panel and using it to attack diversity–and his panelists–and suggest we all wear “worry beads” to appease the “special snowflakes”.

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Gordon Van Gelder and Johnathan Strahan look on in horror is Truesdale argues that they, Sheila Williams, Neil Clarke, and the rest of the industry are too accommodating to “special snowflakes.”

(In fairness, Truesdale’s concerns are as worthy of discussion as anyone else’s, but the way he chose to address them was needlessly divisive and frankly, potentially dangerous.)

But we wrapped up the week with a dress-up-and-skip-the-Hugos dinner at a local seaford restaurant, where much writerly mirth was had.welldrassed.jpg

So that was WorldCon. I came back exhausted and infected with con crud, and ready to crank out more stories than ever before. Thanks to my roomie, David Von Allmen, the always-dapper Allistair Kimble (above, right) and everyone else who made the week a warm, exciting adventure.

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