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More Worldcon

To a large extent, Worldcon is comprised of a long sequence of conversations with a variety of people, and the process of trying to remember Worldcon becomes a process of remembering who I talked to, which too easily becomes a list of names: John Hertz, Lise Eisenberg, Art Widner (whose comment that it's extremely difficult to find a typo in Chunga was perhaps my favorite of the convention), Paul Wrigley and Debbi Cross, Brian Brown, Janice Gelb, Michael Heath, Alice Lawson, Lisa Freitag (whom I'd never met) ...

It's true that once again I made it to very little programming. I think the only program item I went to was the interview with John Coxon, where once again I was impressed by his calm intelligence and goofy sense of humor. Is this guy really only 22? Far too self-assured for that! I caught a bit of the fan fund auction as well, but other than that I can't think of any program items I went to. I did make two expeditions into the dealers room, where I resisted first editions of Serviss and Brackett and ended up only buying Vanguard Productions' RGK: The Art of Roy G. Krenkel. A good dealers room, as this one was, is always an education, if nothing else. This time around I revealed myself as a complete boob by being astounded, as it were, that Galaxy was a digest-size magazine. Three people turned as one to say "Duh!" when I expressed surprise. No, there really is no excuse for not having known that before.

Other than the WOOF collation, the only other work I did at the convention was helping Catherine Crockett with the evening fanzine lounge. carl and I went shopping with her at the Food Source on Friday, which was the first night EFL was open (and even then it was taken over by Randy Smith's 50th birthday party, which wasn't properly considered the fanzine lounge itself, although it was a good party in its own right, though several people thought it was my party and apologized to me for not making it). We bought massive quantities of beer, pop, and munchies, and while the beer selection was acceptable, it was nowhere near as amazing as what was available in Montreal, where we stocked the fanzine lounge with Unibroue, amongst other things. Anyway, on Saturday after dinner at the Hong Kong Diner, carl and I helped Catherine with set-up in the EFL, and that was pretty much it for my working life at the convention. Colin Hinz took over from there, assisting Catherine as she rolled out a steady flow of food and drink. It was also Colin who came in during set-up to gleefully announce that Claire Brialey, Chris Garcia, and James Bacon had won fan Hugos.

This was a relatively low-energy con for me. I suspect the elevation and dehydrating heat had something to do with it. My nose got sore and dry the first couple of days, until I followed Catherine's advice and put some moisturizer in my nostrils. I went to bed relatively early the first couple of nights of the con, but I seemed to regain my energy by Friday and was up into the wee hours both Friday and Saturday. Perhaps I'd gotten used to the lack of oxygen.

Saturday in the EFL was definitely a high point of the convention. When Colin announced who the fan Hugo winners were, there was a palpable excitement in the room. Sometime later James showed up with his Hugo, and the room just exploded. He handed the statue to me, and cameras materialized out of thin air. Pretty soon the rocket was being handed around, camera flashes were popping, and Craig Glassner was promising to set up a My Hugo page on Facebook with all the pictures. What a fuss! I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it. When Claire arrived a while later with her own rocket, the room burst into applause and I turned from my conversation with John Hertz and shouted, "Bravo! Bravo!" John and I had just been talking about how fannish traditions and institutions are not oppressive (or not only oppressive) but a way of passing information forward, and here the Hugo voters were informing the future of a fan writer worth reading.

Well, it was really something. I suppose that same scene was playing out all over the convention at other parties where Hugo-winners made an appearance. I guess the only other time I've really hung out with Hugo-winners right after the ceremony was with the Plokta Cabal in Glasgow in 2005, and that time my enthusiasm was overwhelmed by ungracious disappointment that Chunga had not been the winner. It was a pleasure to be unencumbered by such envy this time around. I don't think I've ever seen James Bacon in such a vulnerable state. I don't think he knew what to feel.

Around 3:30am I thought it was probably time to go to bed, especially since we were planning to hit the road to Oregon in about twelve hours, but then Dave Cake arrived and pushed the energy levels back up. Whenever I saw Dave at the convention I was reminded that I was one of his DUFF nominators and that therefore I could claim some of the credit for his glorious presence. I first met Dave at the 2005 Worldcon, so our connection is another testament to the Worldcon community too. He got to talking about natural disasters in Australia, as you do. The topic was the flooding in Queensland and wildfires in Western Australia last year. "I took to telling people that I wasn't from the part of Australia that was under water," Dave said, "I was from the part that was on fire." It's only fitting then, I suppose, that Dave is off to Burning Man next weekend.

Earlier in the party I'd been in a conversation with Paul Wrigley (a British immigrant to the US), Debbi Cross (his American wife), and a Norwegian fan named Tore Audun, whom I suddenly remembered having chatted with on a convention shuttle bus in Glasgow. (He didn't remember me, unsurprisingly. Americans are a dime a dozen at Worldcons, but Norwegians are relatively rare.) A little later I was happily chatting away with Mark Plummer of England and Alan Stewart of Australia and thinking cosmic thoughts of global fandom. I've been saying for the past few years that Corflu and Worldcon are my favorite conventions, and there's no doubt that a big part of it is that they are the conventions where I see fans from other countries. I like hearing the news of the world, not to mention the gossip. I like the sense of global community. These are the two conventions where I can get the biggest dose of it, aside from traveling to other countries myself. Even if Renovation didn't hit the stratospheric heights of the two foreign Worldcons I've been to, it gave me a healthy blast of what I craved.

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randy_byers
Aug. 25th, 2011 06:55 pm (UTC)
Well said. It took me many years to really understand and accept the history, traditions, and lore around the older parts of fandom, but now I find a lot of pleasure in the sense of continuity with the past -- and, yes, in being a participant in the ongoing community.

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