All the Monday-morning quarterbacking has been done on everything that was the Hugo Awards* and its host the World Science Fiction Convention, affectionately known this year by #Sasquan (Sasquatch + Convention = Sasquan), but also known as #WorldCon.
Therefore, I’m not sure there’s much more I can add to it. Except to provide the “filthy noob” perspective. It was my first WorldCon and a historic one at that.
It was a smoky week, as wildfires throughout Washington raged — the nearest to the convention center just four miles away, giving poor Spokane the nickname of Smokane for the duration of the week. It made for a week full of panicked or stressful moments for many participants, especially those with respiratory issues.
Friday during the day, the air quality was dangerous and a good chunk of the people I knew left the conference early, opting to head back to areas with less-smoky or clear air. For those of us mostly unbothered (it was hard not to ignore the smoky air conditions), the week was a roller coaster ride of meeting our favorite sci fi storytellers and fellow fans. For those who did flee the slightly apocalyptic-looking Spokane early, I think they missed some of the more engaging panels and of course the historic Hugo Awards. But take care of you, right? Obviously, your mileage may vary. Once again, I’m the noob, so I can’t, unlike the Martins and Silverbergs of the Sci Fi Con world, claim World Con attendance since 1968, or the man who was honored at the awards for having attended ALL THE WORLD CONs SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME (sorry I missed his name). This is a blog afterall and not the Wall Street Journal or NPR, both of which covered the antics of this year’s historic Hugo Awards.
The very first day and every day following, the exhibit hall was full of books and cosplay and all the things any science fiction fan must have. I live as a freelance writer and editor. So I took a lot of business cards and photos so when it’s more feast than famine, I can order all these goodies. I did buy Wesley Chu‘s new tome, “Time Salvager,” simply because I hadn’t been able to get my hands on it yet. I did, unfortunately, procure it post signing session with Mr. Chu, who later on Saturday night would win the John W. Campbell award, to obnoxiously loud whoops from yours truly.
Other highlights for this neophyte WorldCon goer included panels on subsets of the science fiction genre, which included horror and young adult. Nothing in those panels taught this emerging writer anything new — they did validate things I already knew or thought I understood. They did give me new authors to check out, however, for which you know the never ending To Be Read (TBR) pile will continue to grow. This could also be said for the one self-publishing panel that I attended as well. Nothing new here folks: write a good story and the rest falls into place.
But, don’t forget the parties. I felt like Cinderella, getting dragged along or invited to parties with cool folks all week. Two of the opened-to-the-public parties were the con hosting bid party for Helsinki 2017 (for which on Friday they were chosen) and the Drinks with Authors shindig, on Wednesday and Thursday evenings respectively. The Fins love their gin and egg butter. Authors write, but they also drink, and damn, free books (thank you Angry Robot and Tor) brings out all kinds of interesting folks. Lesson learned: charge your phone half way through the day, because all the good picture taking opportunities are at the parties.
My favorite party was the pre-losers party gathering at Spokane’s newest hotel Davenport Grand. Where winners carried in their rocket statues and the vibe was clearly congratulatory at the voting members for shooting down the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies slate. It was there that I learned that even a faux pas with influential editors can still get you paying gigs, that one of the editors of I09 has the admirable ability to change outfits to rival fashion-week models, that discussion of what happened at the Hugos will permeate our community for years to come, in other words, the controversy was not necessarily quelled by the four categories of No Award (hello? the publishing house Vox Day is an editor for is in Finland, the site of the 2017 convention! Plus, new rules take effect that year), and last, but not least, Arthur Chu digs cider just like me (start the tabloid jokes of ‘celebrities are just like us!’ now).
Mostly I learned fandom is full of good people, and it’s full of asshats, you know, like the rest of the world. Some of the behind-the-scene shenanigans, especially where the freebie table was concerned, seemed to bring out vile, hateful creatures that seemingly stem from H.P. Lovecraft’s imagination. For the most part I saw people digging on each others fandom and geekiness and looking forward to MidAmeriCon II in Kansas City next year. Where I’ll be nominating and likely purchasing a supporting membership, but I won’t be attending. However, Helsinki in 2017? Get the gin ready, my dear Fins.
*The top photo in this story features me (along with my compatriot) walking away with the sacred pink paper that showed how the voting unfolded. Can you spot me?