Sunday: BayCon 3

Kage Baker never minded the mad dashes between panel locations at Cons. They are necessitated by the practice of using every available meeting room for different panels and activities.

She had learned how to teach on the run at Renaissance Faires, where workshops happened wherever 30 people cut fit under the shade of a tree, and could still hear you lecture over the sound of power saws. At BayCon, the seats are more comfortable and the rooms are air conditioned; and while there is some whooping going on in the halls, it can be shut out:  the rooms have actual doors!

BayCon sensibly schedules panels with 15 minutes between them. This gives one enough time to gather up all one’s stuff and go find the next room – even if it is scheduled in one of the rooms on the 2nd floor. That’s the Phantom Mezzanine, where all the rooms have names like Inspire, Convene, Contact … it’s like a 21st century ashram up there. But they are all clearly labelled, at least, and there are ice water stations everywhere.

Back to back panels can be difficult, but again BayCon is being kind this year. My two this morning were both in the same room. All I had to do was watch one crowd leave, and the next wander in – for which I am grateful, as this year I lurch slowly on my cane from  place to place, my left leg apparently having decided to retire from active life. I don’t know how zombies manage to shamble in slow motion. I keep falling over sideways.

Luckily, Neassa is always close by to catch me if I wobble too far. She also fetches me coffee, occasionally hands me notes summoned up on her tablet for research questions, and is a friendly face when I look out over the audience. She is a lady of infinite kindness and sense.

My first panel this morning was “Evolution: What It Is, What It Isn’t, and What Mistakes Are Prominent”. The audience was friendly and interested, and there were no anti-evolutionists waiting for an opportunity to pounce. They do happen, even at science fiction conventions – it is possible, sadly, to believe in aliens and not in evolution. (These are usually the same folks who argue that the earth is flat, the moon landings were faked, and Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton, wrote Shakespeare’s plays …) The panel members were lively and polite and well-informed, and it was really delightful.

My second panel was “The Stars Are Right!” It was a discussion of H.P. Lovecraft, his canon and the modern pastiches that are being written nowadays. It was marvellous! I’ve been fond of Lovecraft since my sister Kimberly discovered him in our teens, and I have been enjoying the modern takes on his Universe immensely. Writers like Ruthanna Emrys (Winter’s Tide, The Innsmouth Legacy), Victor LaValle (The Ballad of Black Tom) and Charles Stross (various Laundry Files) are doing wonderful work in bringing Lovecraft back to life, up to a higher moral standing, and into the modern world.

The other panelists were all great, too: courteous, brimming with information, and a lot of fun. I learned, to my amazement, that some of Lovecraft’s horror of The Other was engendered by his discovering that one of his grandmothers was (quelle horreur!) WELSH. Being of Welsh descent myself, that really amused me. Pays old H.P. back for scaring me out of my wits at 14 with “The Color Out of Space”.

The halls were again thronged with militarists of several worlds, stuffies, furries, and things with tentacles, all sporting Con badges. On the wings count, I saw a moth lady! Complete with elegant curled antennae and many flounces. I also saw a gentleman with small angel wings on the back of his tan overcoat – so I think he must have been Castiel (Supernatural), as opposed to Aziraphale (Good Omens).

There were also a lot of nicely dressed people with carts piled with luggage, wearing confused expressions. They must have been ordinary tourists, wondering what kind of asylum into which they had wandered.

Oh, and I have discovered that my estimate of the Marriott being the last hotel in California without a Starbucks’s was wrong! Mirable dictu, Dear Readers, Neassa found one in the lobby shop, and I have been happily replacing my cerebrospinal fluid with my second favourite brand of caffeine. Neassa herself does not indulge in coffee; she fills her caffeine needs with the Hershey’s Kisses Bag of Holding that lives eternally in her purse.

Two more panels tomorrow, and then the long drive home through the Central Valley. Hopefully the traffic will be kinder, and the road stranger. Otherwise, I shall cut over to Pismo Beach and spend the night on the site of Kage’s own Lovecraft pastiche, “Calamari Curls”.

Tentacles and cthonic gods never do go out of fashion.


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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