BayCon: Dispatch 3

Kage Baker was wont, at moments of extreme good fortune, to throw her head back and yell at the sky” “She’s ugly! Ugly!”

This was a reference both to classic Latin drama, and classic Hollywood comedy: Pseudolus The Slave  (by Plautus), and A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To The Forum (by a bunch of New York Comedy writers. And Plautus). It’s a way to deflect the wrath of the gods by denying that anything good has happened – you get a pretty girl, you yell at all-seeing Jove that the chick is actually ugly. Maybe he doesn’t notice she’s hot, and an eagle doesn’t drop a tortoise on your head.

This is my pedantic way of saying that I should not have boasted about my good hotel fortune last night. As of this morning, the Hyatt has now charged me three times (once via Rewards Points and twice via cash) for a double booking – I’ve so far paid over $300 for a room that doesn’t exist and that I wasn’t in last night. They are ever so sorry, and the refund will be processed in 3 or 4 days … mind you, the charge was applied in less than 12 freaking hours, but hey – that’s finance.

My bank account has been so bollixed up by duplicate charges, partial refunds and hysterical emails to and from me that I now cannnot access it. There’s never that much in it, anyway, but I had it all carefully budgeted for the mad social whirl of the Con. Sigh … Luckily, I have cash in my wallet, so I’ll eat for a while. If I run out of cash, my nephew gets to do the manly thing and pay his poor old Auntie’s way. So much for my showing my entourage a good time …

There’s a panel here on “How To Encourage The Next Generation of Science Fiction Writers”. I wish I was on it. I would suggest they be dropped naked into the wilderness, and have to come out alive and with both a finished manuscript and a contract from a bear to publish it. That would prepare them for the wild, indulgent life of a writer.

On the other hand … I get to discuss “Animal Husbandry In Space” this afternoon – a topic not only of exteme practical use, but fraught with vast comic potential, in my opinion. And my sister Kimberly has sent us up here with beautiful pins for me and my entourage – classic metal clock faces, with elegent numbers and no hands. Company badges! They are super cool.

*DISCONTINUITY*

And now it is evening; replete with a fine dinner, I am ensconced in my room with  my faithful entourage after a lovely afternoon and evening. The crowd was a little thin today, but nicely dressed – we saw many Whovians of various persuasions, including the ever-growing number of fans who choose to dress as a Tardis instead of a Time Lord … various members of military groups I did not recognize (but assume are space navies, due to their naval air but unidentifiable decorations); plus assorted Klingons, Browncoats, unspecified Victorian adventurers, a stuffed dog, a furry teddy bear, and Dr. Horrible. Also three ladies of my acquaintence in gloriously 1950’s-ish garb, who just came to see friends in the lobby and drink lethal-sounding cocktails. And the gentleman running tonight’s Casino, who has a stuffed monkey in his shirt pocket.

Pretty good bag for a quiet Friday at BayCon.

My afternooon panel on “Animal Husbandry In Space” was a lot of fun, though perhaps not for the Moderator. She tried heroically to keep us in line, but the panel was so bursting with ideas that we got away from her several times. Some fascinating ideas were aired – for example, does the immorality of eating meat mean  that building new ecosystems in space signals the need for a change to vat meat? To vegan diets? How do we deal with the desperate bacon addicts, the serious lack of fat and protien inherent in eating vegan, the lure of long pig in isolated space habitats bereft of beef and pork?

How do we care for animals in low or zero gravity? I favour the use of pygmy animals, for gravity sparseness as well as ease of stabling – cows, goats and horses all come in Fun Sizes. Conversely, rabbits are azvailable in sizes comparable to a human toddler, so you can aim at having a whole farmyard of edible animals no larger than, say, an average dog. Another panelist suggested magnetizing the hulls of space habitats and strapping magnets to animals’ feet. I think he was serious. But I couldn ‘t help imagining a solar flare producing en EMP that de-gausses your hull, fried your navigation system, and fills the air with floating goats …

know he was serious, though, when he suggested that the genetic alteration of spiders to the size of hassocks would provide both meat and textiles. Never mind that 4/5 of your general population would wash out of the colony program with screaming hysterics at the idea that Bossy, Flossy and Co. now have 6 eyes, mandibles and 8 hairy legs – you’d get meat with no bones, and silk.

Making do with sheep would probably be more practical.

But lots of excellent ideas on aquaculture, hydroponics, and small animal breeding were also advanced, and a good time was had by all.  Eating octopus and rats was generally rejected on the grounds of sentience. Recipes for crickets, silk worms and guinea pigs were sharecd. The necessity of crop rotation was re-discovered from first principles – and while I doubt our space and extra-terrestrial colonies will fall so far behind that they will need to do the same, it’s nice to know that the young of our species can still figure this one out.

Tomorrow I am looking forward to First Contact and Politics” and The Biology of Mythical Creatures”. Plus more people watching. And maybe, in Kage’s honour, I will try the Wonder Woman Shot featured in the bar: Goldschlager, Blue Curacao and Grenadine.

But probably not. Some madness is just too far.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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