World Fantasy Con 2016

It’s a shame there couldn’t be another World Fantasy Convention without yet another controversy. Because of it, people either resold their memberships or failing that (or to even give them away), simply didn’t go. I had my doubts about going until the 11th hour, given the time, money, blood, sweat, and tears I’d put into Viable Paradise the week before. I wasn’t even that jazzed about continuing my streak of being a panelist at every WFC I’d attended.

Nonetheless, I made the trip to Columbus, OH, my second adopted hometown. It’s a bittersweet place of personal demons I managed by and large to put to rest. I relived some good memories, like sitting for lunch at the North Market once a week eating stromboli from Serafino’s. I even sat in the same section; it really was like traveling back in time. I saw old hangouts, walked old downtown walks, and visited places I didn’t get to 15 years ago. And to add to the surrealism of it all, I sat at the hotel bar watching Cleveland in the World Series.

2016… or, was it 2001?

But in-between my trips on and off the carousel, I was there for a purpose: to fulfill the commitment I’d made to be on the new and improved “Spicy Oriental Zeppelin Stories” panel, d.b.a. “A Golden Age of Contemporary Fantasy.” The panel – the revision for which I strongly suspect was influenced by Guerilla WFC – lived up to its new and improved name, in my opinion. I admit though, I’m still chewing over the audience reaction. (Rightly or wrongly, it bothered me a bit; haven’t completely processed it yet, though.) And while I was still a zombie from the previous week and didn’t connect with as many people who were there as I’d wanted, I did manage to say hey to a couple old friends and maybe make a couple more. I even got to a some of the other panels. So between all of that, and helping to brighten up (at least, I hope I did) a corner of my field that needed it, it wasn’t a bad way to spend a weekend.

And hey, congrats to all the World Fantasy Award winners!

World Fantasy Convention 2015; Borgesian Philippines; What I’m Reading

WORLD FANTASY CONVENTION 2015. Took a hop northeast from Ithaca to Saratoga Springs last weekend, despite the Piss Poor Harassment Policy kerfuffle. Managed to not only keep my running streak of being on WFC programming (3 for 3), but I actually appeared on two panels: “Real World Nomenclature, Taboos, and Cultural Meaning” (There’s a pretty good summary here.) and “Bibliofantasies.” Or, as I call it, “Bibliofantasies 2: Electric Bugaloo” since I was also on a panel of the same name at WFC 2012. After all, how the fuck else I could I sit on a panel with Michael Dirda, John Clute, Robert Eldridge, Paul Di Filippo, and Gary Wolfe? The socializing, always the best part of any con, was more targeted now that I’ve been at enough of these things not to fanboy over everybody in the room, and to instead spend the time with people – old and new friends – that I want to spend time with. Okay fine, I finally got to meet Jeffrey Ford and squee about what a big fan I am. Happy?

Not a hoax. Not a dream sequence.

BORGESIAN PHILIPPINES. Missed a talk by Gina Apostol, author of the upcoming novel William McKinley’s World on the Philippine-American War. In it, she makes the disturbing observation about how hard it was to find first-person Filipino voices in records of the period, and where she did find it “…occurring mainly in captured documents within military records, the Filipino voice being a text within a text, mediated, annotated, and translated by her enemy.” There’s a bittersweet Romantic tragedy about how this mediated story of the Philippines casts it as a place that’s as fantastic as Borges’ Tlön. This is relevant to a project in progress….

WHAT I’M READING. My personally inscribed copy of Mary Rickert’s collection You Have Never Been Here, worth the cover price for the single previously unpublished story “The Shipbuilder.” Pieces of The Best American Travel Writing 2015 edited by Andrew McCarthy, for another project in progress, Laszlo Bock’s Work Rules!, and when I can, Felicia Day’s You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost). Yes, that’s an awful lot of nonfiction, I know. What’s your point?

“And as you stay for the play Fantasy has in store for you, glowing light will see you through…”

My brain has finally recharged after my first World Fantasy Convention evar! I met so many people, renewed some old acquaintances, and once again was shown just how much Barcon and Con-Suite-Hallway-Con and people’s individual readings are slowly starting to matter more to me than panel programming. Unless I’m on a panel, of course, which I was!

Here’s what else I learned…

  1. You can’t carry enough business cards at WFC.
  2. Like an air traffic controller from a ’70s disaster movie, I just failed to realize just how much James L. Sutter was on my radar until I met him face to face.
  3. I’ve heard of shitty hotel con bars before, but the bar this year was just, overall, the worst bar ever.
  4. When kids nowadays say, “This is this shit!” they’re talking about Michael J. DeLuca’s chocolate pepper stout home brew.
  5. Speaking of DeLuca, a 7″ tablet full of panel notes is simply no match for his MacBook Pro’s worth of notes.
  6. Speaking of panels, I found that I felt less like a redshirt on the Bibliofantasies panel and more like Chekhov in his first few episodes of ST:TOS.
  7. If there really is such a thing as an “Asian YA Mafia,” I SO want in. Just tell me who I have to whack. Hell, I’ll even start writing YA (maybe).
  8. I really need to write and submit something to Beneath Ceaseless Skies.
  9. After 2 or 3 cons, I finally learned that, yes, I could have a brief conversation with Ted Chiang without my face melting off like I’d just poked the Arc of the Covenant.
  10. If I’m at a con where Cheeky Frawg has a party, I’m so there!
  11. ChiZine throws a mean party, too!
  12. Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders from io9 are every bit as cool as I’d imagined!
  13. The most innovative drunken-snacking invention ever–taco fixings in a Dorito bag! Thanks, Ad Astra!
  14. It’s odd how I could not see someone from my town the whole con, yet it seemed every time I turned around, there was Peter Straub. Kinda like how I barely saw my Dragon*Con roomies two years ago, yet Sylvester McCoy was just everywhere!
  15. Next time, how about saying something when a legendary 40-year veteran of SF/F editing comes into your party room and NOT just sit on the couch, slack-jawed as he walks in, heads for the swag, grabs a book, and walks out?  Gotta say, though, the Dagan Books meetup was still a blast!
  16. “And now it’s time for a breakdown,” as the song goes: Carrie, Wes, Mike, Scott, James, Simon, Eugene, Carol, Michele, AmyTina, Helen (and her sister), and the 4 or 5 others (at least) I know I’m forgetting (Sorry!!), you made my con!

“Keep on talking all you want. Well you don’t waste a minute of time…”

Next weekend, I’ll be at the 2012 World Fantasy Convention in Toronto.  Won’t get there until late Thursday, though.  If you aren’t able to find me at the bar, or with the Dagan Books crew, you’ll be able to catch me at Vaughn East at 3:00 pm Friday at my first panel ever…

You’re probably thinking, “There goes the neighborh…” “How did a yahoo like you get on a WFC panel?”  Probably because of the book I co-edited, Bibliotheca Fantastica.

So yes, I am ostensibly relevant to the panel’s interests.  But still, I look at that lineup of my fellow panelists, and all I can think of is…

I switched the lyric from Steve Winwood’s “Freedom Overspill” that I was going to use as the title of this post.  It was originally a line from the bridge…

You got no right going around
Talking ’bout the things that you do

But screw all that because, hey, ZOMGI’mgonnabeonaPANELatWFC!!!ZOMG!!!  So, here I am–rather, there I’ll be–hopefully caffeinated, fighting off my imposter syndrome, and talking about books!