Con Report by Gandalara
The sound of the warden's footsteps echoed off the bare cement walls. I rushed around my cell taping the poster over the hole in the wall and hiding the pick-ax under the mattress. I leaped onto my cot, just as my jailer said, "OK, squid-lover, now you're gonna ..."
Oops. Sorry. Wrong con report.
The 1999 North American Science Fiction Convention (Nasfic) was held at the Anaheim Marriot from August 26 through August 29. I arrived about 11 AM on August 25th, since I had volunteered through e-mail to help set-up. The hotel said there was no problem getting my room early, so I unpacked and filled the ice bucket. Nice room, on the 15th floor of the North Tower, but the view wasn't anything to write home about. The top of the Hilton was across the street, and lots of new hotel/Disney construction going on all around. Cranked up the air conditioning (it was warm!), called housekeeping to tell them I needed a coffee maker and went to find something to eat, since I had a feeling I'd forget to eat later. Wandered into the Cafe del Sol and was pleasantly surprised. It was not normal hotel food. Hot peppered calimari. Yum :) I promised myself I'd come back.
Found registration, got my badge and the requisite Canada bag. Full of the usual flyers, souvenir book, changes to the program, and what's this ... an Ellison I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream mousepad. Drat, I paid $30 bucks for that game and now he's *giving* the pads away?? Rumors were going around that James Hogan wouldn't be able to make it because of family matters. Rumor became true. Darn.
Went to the volunteer desk and asked where I could find 'Sandy', who I had corresponded with via e-mail. James pointed me towards the dealer's room. Uh oh. The con hadn't even started and they let me in the dealer's room :) It was controlled mass confusion in the room -- boxes, books, jewelry, books, T-shirts, books, art work and more books. Dealers ran around asking for extension cords, chairs and tablecloths. Artists looking for dollies to borrow or steal, so they could bring huge paintings into the room. Found Sandy, who grinned and slapped a volunteer ribbon on my badge -- or so I thought, until I looked closer -- it was a staff ribbon! He showed me the map of how the room was set up, how to direct incoming dealers to their tables and his rules. I basically walked around, talked with the dealers, tried to help if anyone needed anything and saw that no one came through the loading doors that didn't belong in the room. This also gave me a good head start on looking for books that I wanted. :) Sat at the staff table and answered questions if I could, otherwise I yelled for Sandy. Talked with Sheila and Paul who were setting up the Analog/Asimov table next to the staff table. Sheila told me that Allen Steele's going to be at their table on Saturday! Questioned Sheila about an Asimov coffee cup, and she asked if I was the one asking about them at BucConeer. :) Gardner will be here Thursday or Friday.
Watched the tech people install a huge black-curtained booth for the Henson/Farside/SciFi Channel people. Two widescreen TVs to show all the episodes, 10x10 posters of the characters and a 10x20 poster screamed FARSIDE. I was given a Farside T-shirt and cap, and of course the mandatory button. All at once it was 9:30 PM, I was tired, and I was headed for bed. 10 PM, and I could see the Disneyland fireworks from my room (I thought they always went boom at 9??). Suddenly, the view wasn't so bad from the 15th floor.
Thursday 5 AM -- garbage trucks beeping down at street level woke me up. Thought they would *never* shut up. They were still beeping at 5:30, so I got up, fixed my coffee, and watched the Cartoon Network. Duck Dodgers! At 8:30, I went downstairs, dropped off the egg cartons for Children's Programming at the Volunteer desk, and wandered into the dealer's room. This staff ribbon is useful! I can go into the dealer's room whenever I want. The room opened to the members at 10, so the dealers were still frantically setting up their tables and some were just arriving. The news of James White's untimely death was announced in the con's 1st newsletter (The Note in God's Eye). Many people hadn't heard the bad news. Watched Christian McGuire (the con-com chair) lead a parade into the art room -- everyone was carrying a flamingo. Each flamingo had been decorated differently -- a Borgamingo, a Darth Flamingo, an Elizabethan Flamingo, and about 9-10 others. My favorite was a flamingo body completely foil-wrapped. It was called Bar-B-Qued Flamingo.
After the dealer room opened, I was told that I could go play until 6. So I headed off to pick up the books I'd reserved earlier. Picked up a small lime green stuffed toy squid for $2; and bought a Conucopia T-shirt and pin, with nice art work by Alicia Austin. There was a wedding going on out by the north pool -- 2 fans got married at the con! At 4 PM, I went to my first panel -- Jerry Pournelle: Someone You Should Know. The panelists were Elizabeth Anne Hull, Steve Barnes and Larry Niven. It was supposed to be a 'roast', and they had the audience laughing most of the time. About half way through one of Niven's stories, a voice from the audience said, "That's *not* how it happened!", and Pournelle came up on the dais to tell his own stories. A good panel. Afterwards, I wandered into the art room, looked around and put bids on about 4 items.
Checked in with Sandy, and then went up to the room to get ready for the "George P. Orwell Polytechnic Science Fiction Academy Class of 1984 High School Reunion, Dance and Ice Cream Social" at 8 PM. The con-com had included a 'yearbook' in the membership bag -- Pournelle as Dean, Datlow as Yearbook Advisor, Freas as Art Teacher, several more, and my favorite: Ellison as Creative Writing/ESL Teacher. I was also looking forward to meeting a fellow O*W*Cer, SB from San Diego. I was down at the dance hall promptly at 8, eating ice cream, wondering how I could find SB. He knew what I looked like, but I didn't know what he looked like. I wore my O*W*C T-shirt, and I stood by the door as agreed until 8:15. No SB. So I went into the dance until 9, then stood by the door until 9:15. No SB. Darn. I wondered if he saw me, and ran away. Oh well. Went to check out some of the parties on the 4th floor. San Jose in 2002 was very crowded, so I went to the Conolulu Westercon party. Much more room, with macadamia nuts in every spare dish. Couldn't find anyone that I even remotely knew, so I called it a night.
No garbage trucks Friday morning, thank the gods. But the construction crews woke me up at 6. Checked in with Sandy at 9, and he told me to get lost again. I liked being staff :) Met Kelly Freas out on the smoking patio, and wished him a happy birthday. Had a nice talk with him about moving and buying houses. Ran into Gardner Dozois and had him autograph my special tribute issue of Asimov magazine, then went to a panel called "Hard Science Ain't What It Used To Be", with Hal Clement talking about what authors can't get away with anymore, and how to get around it. Then I ran over to the autograph tables for Steve Barnes and Amy Thomson. Amy has a sequel out to her book Colours of Distance. Steve was handing out flyers -- every morning at the con, he was leading a Tai Chi class. I then went to the "Pern Universe Unfolds" panel, with Todd McCaffrey and Anne's editor. Todd talked about what was going on with the Pern TV series -- it should finally air in fall of 2000 -- and about the new book written by him about his mother. He had the advanced reading copy with him -- full of mistakes he said, but great art work. This book was later auctioned off at Gerrold's AIDS auction for $80.
At 2:30, the Golden Duck Awards (Children's books, hugo-type award) were held, but I decided getting David Brin's autograph was more important. Then I went to a panel called "Can SF Match Reality?". It was a very good talk with Hal Clement and Jerry Pournelle. Ran off to Steve Stirling's reading, and he read from his unpublished 3rd book in the 'disappearing Nantucket' series. After the reading, he asked if anyone was interested in the manuscript he had just read from. Several hands shot up in the air. "OK," said Steve, "Pick a number between 1 and 15." Karen chose 3. Steve said, "OK, now it's between you two. Pick a number between 1 and 10." Karen chose 3. Karen won the manuscript! Steve signed it for me, and I now have the first 6 chapters of "Oceans of Eternity"! Woo hoo!
[this writer now slaps herself across the face to calm down]
Went to the taping of Hour 25 (a half hour science fiction local radio show) at 6, and then went to the "Science Fiction Playhouse 1999: "The Demolished Fan". The play was supposed to start at 8, we were still outside the door at 9, which is when I gave up and went up to the 4th floor to see what the parties were like. San Jose and Conolulu were open again, Toronto in 2003 had candy, but the sff.net party had wine and beer. :)
Saturday morning, heard reports of a SF fan walking back to his hotel last night was egged by 2 mundanes in a car. Sarah Zettel had a belly-dancing class, but I passed. The LRon people had a panel/presentation (they also had a table in the dealer's room, but more on that later) on the movie Battlefield Earth. John Travolta will have the part of the Psyclo Terl, and of course they have changed the breathing masks so they don't cover the actors' faces. The movie will only cover the first half of the book, so if it's successful, here comes Part 2. David Brin's panel "Getting Kids Hooked on SF" was at 11 -- as usual, I enjoyed that one.. At 1, it was time for Straczynski's talk. This was the first JMS talk I'd ever been to. Once was enough. Of interest to JMS fans: "JMS got involved in other projects after TNT pulled the plug on Crusade. Crusade is history." [the cast members of Crusade were signing autographs early Saturday morning. I didn't know who any of them were]. Visited the con bid tables, and paid up my money to pre-support San Jose/2002, Toronto/2003 and UK/2005. Then I got in line at 2, for the 2:30 autograph session of Niven and Pournelle. A 4 book limit and go to the end of the line! Ack! I corralled 2 friends to stand in line with me, and got them all signed in one swoop. Checked in with Sandy, saw Sarah Zettel at the Asimov table and got her to sign Playing God, Allen Steele walked up and I got him to sign Rude Astronauts, got in another line for Frederick Pohl, got all my Heechee books signed, and then dashed off to Gerrold's AIDS Auction for an hour.
There was another convention at the hotel -- SCRC, Charismatic Renewal Christians. They all gave us looks like "Should I protect my children?". I hoped that they would wander the halls before and after the Masquerade. Finally took a nap and my feet were killing me. I wished that some of my O*W*C buddies were there with me. But off I went to the Masquerade and then to the parties with my new friends. In the Masquerade, there was one costume (Novice class) -- a woman completely covered in the Ellison mouse pads. The title? "I Have No Mouse And I Must Scream". The parties are blurred together, but I enjoyed LosCon's When Hell Freezes Over party -- different flavored snocones :) During the hall-walking, I remembered that the art show bidding closed at 7 PM. Wondered if I won anything.
Well, now it was the last day. Made a last turn around the dealer's room, broke down and bought the squid earring. Made last turn around the art room and discovered none of my bids won. So I bought some that didn't get any bids at all. Went to a panel called When "Things Go Wrong in Space", that was pretty good. No good explosions, though :) Wondered why TAFF didn't have an auction this weekend -- not enough stuff for Nasfic and WorldCon both? All too soon, it was time to work the dealer's room again. It closed at 4, and they needed a watcher at the loading dock. Boy, it went down a lot faster than it went up! Sandy gave me a Conucopia coffee cup as I was leaving.
I went to a lot more panels than listed here, but I just couldn't remember them all. Hit the freebie table whenever I could and got the usual buttons and movie posters. Actually got 2 freebies from Disney - a Mission to Mars cap, and a Toy Story 2 T-shirt. Met a lot of great people out at the smoking patio, at the parties, in the dealer's room and in the hallways. One thing I didn't like, and it had nothing to do with the con or the hotel: the perky little English woman doing a survey on American SF Fandom "so she could make it better in England". She told everyone she talked to that she was doing this survey on her own, for her own information. Liar, liar, pants on fire! If you were on your own, then why did you spend all your free time with the LRon people, help them break down their booth, and drive away in a car with them? I'm very glad I told you that I don't participate in surveys.
Heard a few people say that there weren't as many people as they expected, but that didn't bother me. It seemed quite crowded at times. Over all, I had a great time. For those of you who know me all to well, it took 2 bellboys to lift my suitcase into the van. I left home with 19, and came home with 42. <G>
How many days until ChiCon 2000? Wait, LosCon26 is in November! Yaaaaayyyyyyy..... :)