Kage Baker liked to stay busy at a convention. Mind you, sitting in the bar sipping cocktails and hammering out a plot qualified as “staying busy”. That’s how Bird of the River was written, over the course of a weekend in Kansas City. People watching also qualifies, as you simply never know what amazing and previously-unimagined figure will heave into sight across the lobby.
Best of all, though, was having many panels to attend. Today I had 3 – one on the colonization of Mars, one story-writing contest a la “Whose Line Is it?”, and one on “The Good, The Bad and the WTF of Cover Art”. Sadly, I had to bow out of the contest – after puzzling for 10 minutes or so over why the lights were corruscating so oddly, I finally realized it wasn’t the lights. It was my eyes. I was developing a migraine. I retired to my room and fought it to a standstill in quietude.
The other 2 panels were delightful. The discussion on Mars was moderated by Jay Reynolds Freeman, an actual physicist who works for Space X, and who therefore had scads of fascinating insights. Author Candy Sanford Lowe was also on; she has done wonderful research on the lava tubes of Mars, and the current international regulations that might affect colonization. The audience was enthusiastic, and did not get too carried away with fringe theories on finding life on Mars, suppressing its discovery, finding existing alien bases, etc. Many interesting theories on how to survive excess radiation and low magnetic fields were shared – it’s great to see how many people are informed about these things. And while nothing proprietary was revealed about Elon Musk’s plans, it seems that Kage Baker was right again: Mars will be explored because someone finds a way to make a profit from it.
The other panel, on cover art, was simply hilarious. The moderator, Megan O’Keefe, had put together a vastly entertaining slide show with examples of all 3 categories over several decades of genre cover art. We panelists – writers and artists – shared our analyses of the art with the audience, to the hilarity as well as edification of all. I, for example, am no artist – but I am a dedicated reader, and thus the target audience for covers: and I remember an awful lot of awful covers … and so did everyone. Horizons were broadened all around, I think. A great panel.
Tomorrow I have one I’m eagerly anticipating – Space For Everyone. Do only the young and strong,, the physically perfect and neurotypical deserve a place in space? I have definite ideas on that question; especially since, at this point in my life, I am none of those things.
The rest of the day I people watched and lolled about in sybaritic comfort in my room. Kimberly sent all sorts of goodies with us, and my day was enriched with dried apricots and graham crackers. I spent some time reading “Bird of the River”, too, in honour of that Missouri convention where it was written.
We’ve had a lot of military types around today – not only most of Honor Harrington’s crew (I think) but the valiant officers of the Artemis Bridge, a starship simulation game set up on the conference room concourse on the 2 1/2 floor … yes, this hotel not only exists in a pocket dimension, it has an entire complex of meeting rooms that apparently exist in yet another one. They can only be reached by a hidden stairway or 2 secret elevators, and they connect to nothing else at all. You can wander for hours looking in vain for your room or your next drink: like the unfortunate officer of the Artemis whom we met repeatedly in the (wrong) elevator, drink in hand, vainly getting on an off on the wrong 2nd and 3rd floors as he sought his crew members ….
It’s a hard life, in space.
There are also a lot of the fae wandering about, hair in a variety of pastel shades. Wings are apparently out of fashion, but hairy faun legs are in. Klingon war boots are popular, but they usually are. Steampunk is always a feature of Bay Area conventions, and it ranges from the Renaissance to WWI here at BayCon. Lots of lovely brass and gears, lots of tail coats and corsets, lots of Dr. Who paraphernalia. Even in my own entourage, Neassa has the hat and scarf of her favourite Doctor (the 4th) and Michael is carrying a sonic screwdriver …
And it’s Saturday night on the party floor, too. That’s where we are. We’ve had dinner with old Faire friends – thank you, Sandra and Tim! We’re probably in for the night, with nothing more exciting planned than over-indulgence in chocolate – but the sounds of whoops and mad laughter from outside is sort of – well, homey.
It’s nice to know someone,somewhere, is having a wild time.