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Worldcon Trip - Empanelment

Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 22:56

The photo is of the Belge Cafe where I had dinner in company with a number of other denizens of the File 770 blog, once more including my first face-to-face meeting with someone I've known online since Usenet days (Anna Feruglio Dal Dan). The cafe has a "library" theme, which was part of the attraction, though the food was also excellent. But I get ahead of myself.

I had a 10am panel (Historical Fantasy) which was the first time-slot of the day's programming. So of course I headed off to the convention center with plenty of time, not noting that the doors didn't even open until 9am. And the food vendors inside the center weren't planning to open until 10, which would have been less of an issue regarding my second cup of coffee of the day if the Green Room had been open and set up. But although it opened about five minutes before the panel started, so we panelists managed to touch base there, but coffee carafe did not yet have contents. Whimper. The panel went off well, I think (supported by some later audience feedback). It still felt a bit stiff with the "you will all take turns answering this question" format, but I can cope with a variety of styles. We basically did some stabs at definitional principles for historical fantasy, examples of what we considered success and failure, and a few additional topics.

The room was completely filled, though I don't think anyone was turned away from our particular panel. They're rearranged some of the programming space to move the more popular tracks into larger spaces for the rest of the convention and even yesterday before they'd done that, there were fewer grumbles about not being able to get into events. (Though there were always lines waiting to get in.) The waiting-on-line aspect is something I'd hate to see become a feature of worldcons--it's something I associate with media conventions and not to be imitated.

Lunch was yet another meet-up of one of my online social groups. Social media can often feel like a one-way glass window, where if I'm not constantly actively participating, it feels like I stop being real. But the face-to-face meet-ups go a long way toward making it feel more like an actual circle of friends. It's funny, there are people that I feel like I'm part of a friend-group with, where I realize that they may not actually "know" me at all, because I'm seeing them reflected off mutual friends. So it can be strange to approach someone at a con and try to remember whether this is someone I "know" or simply someone I "know of".

After lunch I dropped by to give moral support to Catherine Lundoff at her signing. The row of signing tables was basically half a dozen people looking rather lonely, and then the table where George R R Martin was going to be an hour later, which had a line of waiting people that numbered in the hundreds. See above comment about waiting on lines. The big name authors usually have significant lines for signings at Worldcon, but not usually ones that line up hours in advance. (I saw a comment that someone said they'd spent 4 hours in line for him.) Again, I hope this doesn't become a feature, and I don't know that it was necessary. But if you have a line-standing expectation, it's easy for line-standing to become necessary.

Went off to a panel on magical libraries and archives in fiction, which was entertaining, though perhaps a bit too fixed on talking about real-world library systems. I'd wanted to go to Amal El Mohtar's reading immediately after that but figured there was no point given the crowding issues, and only heard later that there were still spaces at the time I would have shown up. Ah well.

Finished off the evening with a long chatty dinner with the File 770 crowd, for which see above photo.

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