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Worldcon Trip - Engagement

Saturday, August 12, 2017 - 23:33

Two days at once! I had the podcast blog to post yesterday, so here you get caught up on both Friday and Saturday at the con. I've fallen in with a regular breakfast group at the hotel (some of them even came to my historic fantasy panel, though maybe they would have anyway), so that initial sense of disconnection is falling away. The first Friday panel I wanted to attend was at noon so I spent the first couple hours of the day participating in the business meeting. I have nothing but admiration for folks who dedicate much of their worldcon mornings to the business meetings--I spent a fair amount of time there last year to support various of the Hugo nomination reform initiatives, but it's hard to choose it over other programming. As it was, this time, I had to choose between staying long enough to be there to support ratification of the new YA book award, or leaving in time to get in line for the "Female Friendship in Fiction" panel. I stayed (and we ratified) and then found the panel had maxed out, so I hung around to slip in when someone else left. A good panel, though it's hard to sit on your hands when panelists are bemoaning how hard it is to find books that feature friendships between women and you want to stand up and wave your own books around. (I was good. I just subtweeted about it.)

I hung around after the panel to introduce myself to one of the panelists (Navah Wolfe) whom I know from a social media space and who will be on the same flight to Amsterdam tomorrow morning. I wanted to introduce myself to Amal El-Mohtar who was also on the panel and who I've interacted with on Twitter occasionally (and who did the introduction for my Podcastle story), but she was deep in conversation with some other folks and I had to run to my signing. I probably won't get another shot at this con because her short story "Seasons of Glass and Iron" won a Hugo and I imagine she's being overwhelmed by people who want to talk to her.

Anyway, I'd primed the pump sufficiently for my signing session that several friends came to hang out and keep me company, but I also had half a dozen people come by either with books to sign (wow!) or interested in taking one of the "Mazarinette and the Musketeer" chapbooks that I'd brought so I'd have something to sign. So a group of us adjourned to lunch afterward. I figured a sizeable lunch was in order since my later panel rolled directly into the Hugo Award ceremony slot and there's be no time then.

That later panel provides today's photo: ALien Language in Science Fiction featuring (from left to right in the picture) Lawrence M. Schoen (involved with the Klingon Language Institute), David J. Peterson (alien language consultant to Hollywood, including for Game of Thrones, and incidentally a student of mine back in my grad school days which gives us content for some amusing banter on panels--a great guy), Stephen W. Potts (author of academic and critical writing on SFF), me, and Cora Buhlert (German translator and writer of SFF). It was a longer panel slot than most, which gave us scope for a lot of interesting discussion about just how alien a language can be before it takes over the plot, how to handle the question of translation in portraying multi-species linguistic interactions, and some of the dynamics of interacting with television and movie producers as a language consultant. There was a general sense that Hollywood is becoming more interested in and more willing to take languages seriously in portraying SFF-nal societies, though there's always the pressure not to drive away audience attention.

Since the panel slot ran until 7:30 (though it gets out a little earlier) and the Hugo ceremonies were scheduled to begin at 7:30, I'd lost all chance of meeting up to sit with any of my default groups. And though I scanned the bleachers for quite a while looking for a seat, I couldn't find anyone until I'd given up and went off to sit by myself and then ran into Kathryn Sullivan who I'd been chatting with in several contexts over the several previous days. So that was nice. The ceremony was very enjoyable and fortunately this year there wasn't any anxiety that the atmosphere would be hijacked by Puppy hijinx. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry about it.)

After the ceremony, I wandered around a bit looking for someone to have a spot of dinner with and found Anna Feruglio Dal Dan was of a similar mind, so I finally enjoyed a bowl of the famous Helsinki "creamy salmon soup" that all the cafes advertise, which just hit the spot. So far, I haven't done any "evening parties" as such. Due to the venue restrictions, all the bid parties and the like are in a large common space in the convention center, which means the noise levels are even worse than a hotel suite would be. And since everyone's spread out across many hotels, there isn't an obvious place to go for a bar-con. The third element is that every evening except this one I've ended up back downtown for dinner, and simply didn't feel like taking the train back to the convention center on the off chance that I might find congenial company. This has been good for my sleep, and I've been having plenty of social time otherwise, so I'm ok about it.

I finally got the hang of getting a long night's sleep Friday night, which contributed to not getting a blog written yesterday morning. (I also didn't want to bump the podcast blog off the front page while everyone back in the states was still asleep.) So I rolled into the convention center just in time to get a good seat for the "Gender and 'Realistic History'" panel, which didn't tell me anything new, but it's nice to hear other people saying the same things I rant about. A chance encounter in the hallway after that panel had me helping track down a program schedule for a local fan/press-person who was attending his first big convention. He treated me to coffee in thanks and we joined Cathering Lundoff who was also enjoying a cup right next to where we got ours, so who knows, she and I may end up in some local article. Then I stood in line to get into "Feminist and Queer Readings of Fantasy Tropes" which was enjoyable although I no longer remember anything specific that was said. After that, my brain kind of went on strike and I decided to just sit with a cup of coffee outside the Fazer Cafe (in the main cross-roads of convention center traffic) and watch people go by.

I had a dinner date set up with (pseudonym =) Praisegod Barebones and daughter, to which I'd added @jennygadget who I hadn't seen since we had lunch together in Berkeley a couple years ago when she was jobhunting. Our initial ideas about restaurants were pre-empted by a sudden violent rainstorm just as we were passing by an Indian restaurant--a fortuitous chance. It is just possible that I have developed the knack for putting together congenial dinner groups because we had just a great conversation that we stayed until closing time, talking about libraries, and schools, and books, and all sorts of things.

And so, now we're here at the last day of the con. I have one more panel to moderate this afternoon, and no doubt the pangs of watching people dash off for flights and trains. My own flight is at 8am tomorrow, and Monday is my LHMP day in any event, so expect the final wrap-up on Tuesday when I'm ensconsed in Deventer, Netherlands enjoying a visit with Irina.

(Image credit: Melanie Marttila, used with permission)

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