Report from Worldcon

Whew.  Gasp.  Hoorah!

None of those can quite capture how I felt after the four wonderful days at the 2012 Worldcon, or Chicon 7, in Chicago.  Surrounded by other fans and writers, passing gorgeous handmade costumes in the hallways, sitting in interesting panels led by bestsellers and Grand Masters, staying up late at the various parties–it was almost too much at times.  I’m serious about that last point.  Every moment was so jam packed with awesomeness, I had to go up to my room on occasion just to get a breather before jumping back in with both feet.

The best part of Worldcon was meeting people, either by plan or by accident.  Some I’d been chatting with on various writer forums for years, or I’d published in Mirror Shards.  Others I met by chance while waiting in line, or through introductions.

I had the pleasure of meeting Hugh Howey, author of the fantastic Wool series.  Not only was he a super all-around nice guy, but he had interesting insights about the current state of the publishing industry that made me stop and think on more than one occasion.  I even found his omnibus version of Wool in the dealer room and after reading the first few pages, I knew I had to read the rest of the story!  It was obvious to me even from those couple of pages why he’s a bestseller and why Ridley Scott has optioned his movie.

It was also a chance to see old friends like Annie Bellet, who was kind enough to introduce me to her Clarionaut and SWFA friends.  She’s got a new collection of stories out with a gorgeous cover on the front.  It’s also chalk full of stories you can’t put down.

As much as this was a working trip, it was also a chance to be a fan.  I got books signed by George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss, and almost got to meet Neil Gaiman (a story for another time).  I wandered the dealer room on more than one occasion and found books to add to my teetering TBR pile.

On Sunday night, I attended the Hugo ceremony, which was expertly hosted by John Scalzi.  I think he could do really well as a YouTube talk show host.  It was great seeing friends and people I’d met during the Con up for awards.  Congratulations to Ken Liu for winning the short story Hugo for The Paper Menagerie and condolences to Brad Torgersen and Nancy Fulda and the other nominees from all categories.  I loved all of your stories, but unfortunately, they all can’t win.

Throughout the con, I attended many panels, and enjoyed each one for different reasons.  I took away many learning points and here are a few:

  • Indie publishing has reached a higher level of acceptance.  Many panelists talked about it and I didn’t hear one instance of disagreement about its importance and promenance.
  • If you’re sitting on a panel, do NOT spend your time talking about your novels.  It just looks bad and doesn’t garner any new fans.  Honestly, it strikes me as desperate and similar to spamming Facebook or Twitter about your books every two hours.  Acceptable practice is to mention your books once during your introduction and maybe again at the end.  Any more than that is spam.
  • No one can agree on the best length for science fiction and fantasy though everyone has an opinion.
  • Most legacy publishers still don’t understand the tools available to indie writers, or available to themselves to make their businesses thrive in this new enviroment.  The ignorance, in a few cases, is sadly stunning.
  • Having any kind of success in this profession doesn’t guarantee anything or make you feel better.  Each new level comes with its own set of problems, so your best bet is to focus on your process and keep writing.

So that’s a brief report of Chicon 7.  I can’t say that report was even half of what happened during the con, because honestly, the week was so jam packed, I keep remembering little things that happened along the way (like the two hour conversation I had with a couple of fans in the Tor party room, or seeing Darth Vader and his stormtroopers walk through our impromptu writer’s workshop and having Hugh Howey yell “Force choke me!”, or hearing about my fellow WOTF forum regular Martin Shoemaker’s sale to Analog).

So friends, fans, fellow writers—it was great to see you, meet you, admire your costume, or even just attend the same con together.  Hopefully we’ll do it again sooner rather than later.  And here’s to hoping that next time I’m not dropping my stuff off in my room when introductions to Neil Gaiman are being made.

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