Kage Baker was a very private person. But she grew to really enjoy science fiction conventions. She anticipated hating them, before she had ever been to one – then she attended her first as a writer and discovered how much fun they could be.
And she wasn’t even a wild party person. But the chance to meet readers, to talk to them – and to lecture a little, too – plus the dealers’ room, the costumes, and the general people-watching … well, it was almost as much fun as a Renaissance Faire.
And the occasional weekend in a nice hotel was never to be scoffed at. We’d enjoy the maid service and the weird bathroom soaps and lotions, eat out for three days, and usually end up teaching the bartender how to make a decent sidecar or Singapore Sling. Kage liked retro cocktails, and would patiently instruct any bartender who didn’t know how to make them. I played entourage and sat knitting in the audiences, being Madame Dufarge on the sidelines.
BayCon was one of Kage’s favourites. It’s held in Santa Clara this year, at the Hyatt Regency. It’s a very nice hotel, vaguely Japanese International in deco – although with a science fiction convention running around the place, the decor is hardly relevant. But it’s comfy, the beds are soft, they sport down pillows, and the lobby bar is elegant and pleasant. And the parking is free.
As you can see, my demands of a Con hotel are materialistic in the extreme. This is from lengthy experience of finding one’s self in strange places where the only surety of shelter may well be the length and width of one’s rented bed …
There are two main ways of surviving much travelling, Kage always said. One is to insist on making your space as much like your home as possible: but that requires a hell of a lot of luggage (I know people who pack quite large suitcases devoted solely to deco to make their room “homey”) and the other is to settle firmly into tourist mode. The latter was always Kage’s choice. Eyes wide and eager for adventure, plenty of brass in pocket and locate the bar right off! Have at least one boon companion, and accumulate minions if you can. Then you can deal with anything.
We got through many Conventions in a state of bliss with this attitude. And this despite screwed-up panel schedules, missing Guests of Honour, and a couple of hotels that had floors in alternate dimensions: you couldn’t get to them except by secret stairways, and most of the panels were scheduled there. One place that scheduled readings in what appeared to be an enormous industrial brick chimney. The inevitable occasions when Kage’s name disappeared from the program, and she had to scavenge panel space.
So, not this weekend but the next – Memorial Day Weekend – I shall be heading for the lovely environs of Santa Clara for another BayCon. I already know that this time, my name is the one that fell off the program – but I bet I can find a few places to sit in. I’m fetching along a few copies of Best of Kage Baker, and I shall be talking up Nell Gwynne II. I’ll be shamelessly promoting this blog.
And I’ll be companion-ing with the always-game and saintly Neassa, who has tons of entourage experience and always carries chocolate in her purse. I shall be gimping it a lot – still can’t walk very far or fast – but I have a shooting stick/seat to rest on, a hotel room, and no compunction at all about playing the Tired Old Lady card. Neassa was with us on Kage’s last Convention, when she was a gleeful wheelchair juggernaut in the halls, and can undoubtedly protect the populace from my tendency to poke them with my stick.
If you’re in the area, stop by. I’ll be hither and yon – the rotund little lady with the knitting and Buddy Holly glasses, snickering on the sidelines.