Tuesday, August 11, 2009

worldcon, part 1

Just a little over a year ago, I had never been to a science fiction convention. I had never been to any sort of convention at all, and my one trip to a convention center was a single confused and amusing experience as the unbelieving guest of a friend at a very large Easter service. (Who knew that church services included laser light shows, hip hop music, and meticulously edited video? I’m afraid that, when the pastor invited all us disbelievers to raise their hands and wave them in the air while divinity made a stab at our hearts, I felt the sudden urge to giggle.)

Just a little over a year ago, the two things that popped into my head when I heard the words, “science fiction convention,” were:

Diana Wynne Jones’s Deep Secret.

Galaxy Quest

And then, almost a year ago exactly, I was at the end of my Clarion workshop and I knew a little bit more about speculative fiction, and my 17 fellow students (by then 17 friends who I couldn’t contemplate never seeing again) were talking about conventions. They sounded like an excuse for visiting each other, and for partying, with some lectures and the giddy bits of meeting really interesting people thrown in.

But, I said, will there be people in costumes? Possibly speaking languages that don’t actually exist? Will there be some extravagant, bloody, eyeball-bursting murders of fashion? Will the bizarre be flaunted? Will we feel like a too large school of fish running through a too narrow sluice, flapping and bumping and knocking? And what, exactly, are the Hugo Awards?

And now I’ve just arrived home from the 67th WorldCon in Montreal. Here is a picture of me and five of my Clarion friends after the Hugo Awards ceremony. Please admire the beauteous Emily Jiang and Kat Howard, and the handsome Paul Berger, Keffy Kehrli, and E. J. Fischer:

The Graveyard Book won the award for Best Novel, which made me happy because I love it, and love all of the joyous, sad, beautiful adventure of it, and because Neil is a wonderful and generous person, as well as being one of my favourite storytellers in the world. Many other excellent people won silver spaceships balanced on a rock and a collage of maple leaves, and many other just as excellent people did not, but were graceful nevertheless.

I was going to write about the things I really liked about the convention, and the things I really did not like, about the odd goodness of spending five days with people you knew very well for six weeks and then didn't see for an entire year, and about the late night party that has almost convinced Kat and me that we may go to another con after all.

But my eyes are wilting. So, I'll save that for later.

Instead, here is a short story from the Guardian website. "The Massive Rat" by David Mitchell. When I started reading, I thought, oh no this seems dull. It isn't though. And the end is like the deaf aftereffect of something breaking.

And then, "A Fork Brought Along" by Dave Eggers, just because it's so blackly funny.

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