Kage Baker loved science fiction conventions. Oh, she had a good time tagging along when I went to a yarn convention – I recommend the Stitches Conventions for real or wanna-be fibre fanatics, BTW – but she had only a mild interested in textiles (despite being an excellent embroiderer). She just enjoyed the multitudinous toys, the huge assortments of colours, and the general atmosphere of a crowd all glassy eyed and half-insane on the same subject.
Kage was a connoisseuse of obsession.
Science fiction conventions are premier sites for such indulgence. Nearly everyone there is obsessed with something; there’s a huge array of things to be obsessed over, and everyone is willing to argue about the singular excellence of their own, particular madness. Print media or film, animation or anime, comics or manga, mecha or kaiju, space opera or alternate history: all worthy of attention, and – apparently – of dueling in the streets.
Hell, in recent years even such horrid topics as paternalism and white supremacy have actually managed to keep their manners intact long enough to get a (small) audience and a (brief) hearing at science fiction conventions. Consider it the dark side of free speech – for myself, I keep reminding myself of Robert Anson Heinlein ( a Wise Man of my personal youth), advising that you’re entitled to express your opinion but obligated to get punched in the mouth for it if someone disagrees…
It seldom comes to blows at Conventions, though. More than in the Old Days, because more attendees now practice martial arts from several millennia and worlds. But Security tends to be good boys and girls who take peace very seriously.
There’s less fun and games at a WorldCon, anyway, being as it is the occasion of the Hugo Awards. People tend to dress better; there are fewer panels on things like “S & M Knotwork” or “10 More Boring Ways WWII Might Have Ended” or “The Pooh of Tau”. There tend to be more authors, more agents, more publishers, more entire editorial staffs. They’re not dull, though, as the crowds are simply fascinating.
As you can perhaps tell, Dear Readers, I am looking forward to going. Mostly. Momentum being the 2-edged sword it is, there is still a lot of drag from the last three months muttering in my head: Too much trouble. Too far to go. No one really cares who you are. You haven’t published anything 6 years. Stay home and drink gin and tonics. I am resisting this sad, moaning voice, however: aided no end by Kimberly, who has been urging me to get off my butt and do something – anything! – for weeks now. At this point, with all the fuss I have made, she’ll probably kill me herself if I change my mind one more time.
SO. It will be a long drive, but I really miss the road. I’ll have to sleep in a motel, but it will be in a bed, not a recliner or a coffin. I’m travelling alone. but I have a lot of friends in the North, and will undoubtedly see some of them. California is on fire, but it’s on fire everywhere, so it hardly matters through which smoke cloud I watch the sun set. It’s high Summer, I am suddenly free, and there’s fun to be had out there.
I shall be in the Dealer Room a little, especially Sunday at 2 PM – signing books at Tachyon. If any of you Dear Readers are there and possess The Hotel Under the Sand or the compilation of Kage’s essays on silent science fiction, Ancient Rockets, or the anthology In the Company of Thieves … come on by, I will sign them for Kage and myself.
In fact, if you have any books at all you would like signed, and can find me – bring ’em on down. I will likely be in the lobby of the Convention Center, especially if it has a bar. If not, I’ll be in the lobby bars at the Marriott or the Hilton. I’m short and fat and grey-haired and NOT costumed, I look a lot like an over-educated hobbit, I carry a stag horn handled cane, and I will be knitting. If you pick the wrong old lady based on these characteristics, do remember what happens and let me know: it should be hilarious.
But don’t do it unless you already have a ticket! The prices are scandalous and ruinous.
My, this makes me even more eager to go! See you there, Dear Readers, some of you anyway: you are a resourceful and unafraid lot, and I’m confident some of you will make it. Watch out for eldritch beasts on the road.