Continuing from the previous post…
By mid-day Friday I had my bearings a lot better. We managed to locate some decent casino food–if your only experience with casinos is looking at the advertisements on billboards and the decadent meals there pictured, trust me, this is not as easy as it sounds–and set about hitting panels and trolling the dealer rooms in search of fun and enlightenment.
At this point, the memories of the weekend blur together. There were lots of parties–conversations with Mike Moscoe (a.k.a. Mike Shepherd), Brad Torgenson, Peter V. Brett, Brent Weeks, Eddie Schneider, Mur Lafferty, Kris Rusch, Alastair Mayer, Dean Wesley Smith, Philippa Ballentine, Gail Carriger, The Brothers Kollin, Robert J. Sawyer, David Brin, and far too many others to name (let alone remember!). Old friends and acquaintances caught up with, new friends made, and a lot of shop talk. The SFWA suite (and the other parties) are the functional equivalent of the office water cooler in this weird profession where our work is done almost entirely in isolation. The conversations were too numerous (and sometimes too bawdy) to recount here, but if you find yourself at a WorldCon and see a table peopled by any of these fine folks, I can’t recommend their company highly enough. Just be prepared to bring your scintillating banter and a willingness to listen.
It was a very interesting climate in which to do shop talk, too. The publishing industry is in the midst of some startling upheavals, and even in the small quarter of Science Fiction, the awareness of and attitude towards these upheavals varies widely, and that has a lot of interesting knock-on effects on the intra-culture politics and business climate. I’m not quite sure what to report about it–I’ll probably take another several weeks to digest it all. But as a pulse-of-the-industry measure, absolutely invaluable.
Three things of a professional nature leap to the front of my mind, though.
The first was the response to the sample copies I brought along and showed around. And Then She Was Gone and Predestination both drew a lot of raised eyebrows from book packagers and publishers I showed them to.
The second went, in the words of one publisher who looked at them: “These are some of the best packaged books I’ve seen in a long time. If they don’t sell, nothing will.” This was a pretty universal reaction, and a huge relief. It’s one thing when a little two-person team who’s been doing design work for upwards of a decade dips their toes into book packaging–it’s quite another to blow the socks off the pros whose pool you’re starting to swim in. This year has been a hell of a marathon for me so far, filled with a lot of frustration and professional growth–you can imagine the buoying this kind of reaction provides.
The third reaction, not quite as universal, was “Can I take this home to read?” We left a goodly number of copies in the hands of the interested–who knows, perhaps we’ll see a review or two come out of that. If nothing else, though, hopefully a handful of people will have some entertaining evenings.
This is not to toot my own horn so much as to keep all of you, who’ve been extremely helpful over the past few years, in the loop. But the good news didn’t stop there.
I also learned that I’ve made my professional pro-rate short fiction sale (this makes my sixth fiction sale over all), and it’s one of the stories that was sent out during the Asssmoving contest earlier this year. Makes me think I should resurrect the contest, maybe on a shorter time scale. I’m open to ideas.
HUGE congrats are due to my friend Chris Garcia for his long-overdue Hugo win, and for an excellent acceptance speech.
On another note, the con organizers (John Lorentz and Ruth…gah, I can’t remember her last name) had the excellent notion to bring back what (I’ve heard) used to be a standard fixture at WorldCons: a panel called “The Killer B’s.” Basically, you stick David Brin, Gregory Benford, and David Bear on a panel together and get them talking shop. Since all of them are scientists, and all of them are working at the cutting edge of aerospace and/or genomics as well as being consistently long-term sellers in science fiction, and they all disagree on most of the interesting points, it’s a hell of a fun time. And, you’re also prone to learning a lot about things that haven’t hit the press yet. Lots of interesting near-term stuff coming in space travel, some of them from groups that made a big splash years ago and have been relatively quiet since. In space travel, as well as in publishing, it’s a very exciting time to be alive.
So, lessons learned for potential WorldCon goers:
It’s WAY too big to park in one bar. If you want to maximize your time, you have to party hop and stay mobile.
Stay hydrated. Particularly if you’re in a dry climate. Forgetting your electrolyte water is a quick way to exhaustion–keeping it on hand will keep you alert.
When you go to panels, take notes (or a recorder). The ones staffed by writers and editors tend to get facts coming fast and furious, and in times like this a lot of that information needs to be triaged. Things are changing, and nobody is exactly sure how.
I hit the ground back in the Bay Area reeling–a hell of an intense four days. And the autumn in front of me has taken on an even greater sense of urgency.
And it’s an ambitious schedule in front of me, which I’ll put dates to later, but here’s a smattering of what you can expect from me this fall:
Paperback releases of Free Will, Down From Ten, Sculpting God vol 1, A Ghostly Christmas Present, Silent Victor (Lantham 3), Throwing Lead (the long-anticipated “gun book), and either The Auto Motive or The Last Uploader (details forthcoming).
Ebook releases of all of the above, as well as some new short stories in ebook.
Wider distribution for the Predestination soundtrack.
And Then She Was Gone audiobook.
The reboot of the Free Will podcast.
And maybe, just maybe, a kickstater project for a very special hardback project.
On top of all of this, I picked up a lot of business stuff I have to get in line on the back end of this. Exciting times–I can’t wait. But oh boy, am I glad I got some solid sleep after I got home!
Anyway, sorry for the rambling post. It was that kind of experience. Huge thanks to everyone who made my first Worldcon a memorable one!