Chicon 7: Saturday (Or, Life Among My Amazing Friends)

Just a warning: this post can't possibly convey the fun that I had at Chicon yesterday. Writer, though I am, I lack the tools the make you feel what I was feeling. But I will do my best.

I slept in yesterday. If memory serves, I maintained reasonable hours the night before, but was still somewhat worn out from the 2 long days and so I didn't rise at the crack of dawn, but instead closer to 7am. I found some caffeine, wrote up yesterday's blog post, and then wandered down to where the SFWA Business meeting was taking place. These are not the most interesting meetings in the world, but I attend them for 3 reasons:

  1. I am an active member and it is my organization and I feel an obligation.
  2. You are guaranteed to find some giants of the field in the room.
  3. Sometimes, there is interesting stuff going on.

All three of these were true yesterday. I made my obligation. I saw lots of people. I got some information. Afterward, I caught a moment with John Scalzi to say hello.

I was supposed to have a noon panel, but I had a conflict, so I got in touch with another of my fellow panelists, Ferrett Steinmetz, and asked if he could cover for me as moderator, something he agreed to. I offered to buy him a beer later

At about 2pm, I headed over to a corner bakery for an SF Signal Meetup. The meetup drew just a ton of people and was a lot of fun. It also turned out to be the only time I remembered to take a picture all day long (because I was otherwise have too much fun):

That's John DeNardo, making hand signals in the middle, and James Enge in the foreground looking off to the right.

I had to leave the meetup early for my final panel of the convention, “Develop Your Story Ideas.” Alec Nevala-Lee was on the panel with me again and it was nice because I didn't have to moderate. The panel was okay, but it was kind of a stunt panel because we pulled all kinds of ideas from the audience and then tried to build a coherent story from those idea by round-robining among the panelist. Once the panel was over, I was relieved. No more official duties. I wanted a drink, so I headed to the big hotel bar.

This was about 4:30pm and it was at this point that the day really began to take off. And it is here that my ability to convey the fun I had will be most obvious.

The bar was pretty full, but I got a good table in the center and started to let people know where I was. George R. R. Martin had a table next to ours, which eventually made things pretty crowded. Over the course of the next four hours, people flowed in and out and the bar grew more crowded than I had seen all weekend. But all of the people coming and going were kindred spirits. I can't remember the exact order and how long they stayed, but so many people came by and we had so many great conversations that the fours hours seemed to flash by. John DeNardo stopped by for a while. Bryan Thomas Schmidt came by to say hello. Ken Liu dropped by. Bill Lawhorn had a beer. And I got the chance to buy Ferrett a beer. It was wonderful.

Kate Baker came by with Bud Sparhawk and his wife. I have been teasing Kate all weekend, reporting to her the Red Sox losses, on the off chance she missed them. Jim Fiscus joined us and several other people came and went whose names I, unfortunately, cannot remember right now. I saw Mary Robinette Kowal there, and Myke Cole, and Saladin Ahmen, many others, but the core of our table was just awesome and it seemed right then and there that the “bar con” we were holding was the best thing ever.

Sometime around 8:30 it started to break up. Some people went to the masquerade, I wandered out of the bar not quite sure what to do. I ran into Rob Sawyer and Carolyn Clink, as well as some other friends that I'd met and they asked me if I planned to go to any parties. They were heading up to one and invited me along so off I went. We ended up in the SFWA suite.

Rob Sawyer has been very good to me since I attended my first convention and met him for the first time at Ravencon in 2007. He and I chatted for a while and it was mostly shop talk and wonderful. I then spent quite some time talking with Carolyn and others but we didn't talk shop, we talked kids. Eventually I migrated to a table with Bud Sparhawk, and Allen and Linda Steele and listened to great stories of dog escapes and other animals. Allen eventually vanished and Linda was in the middle of a funny llama story when Allen suddenly returned.

“You need to come with me,” he said, grabbing my shoulder.

I followed Allen into the other room of the suite, where, sitting in a chair in the corner was Gardner Dozois, an editor whom I admire, but whom I have always been nervous to approach. Allen introduced me to Gardner and I sat chatting with them for quite a while. If Allen hadn't done enough for me so far, this was above and beyond and he will forever be my hero. Eventually, Mike Resnick arrived and I sat in that back room with Mike and Gardner and Allen and others listening to them tell stories. There was a panel earlier in the day that I had to miss on the secret history of science fiction, but this was ten times better.

Meanwhile, I'd been trying to find John DeNardo and Patrick Hester and we'd been missing each other. I went back downstairs and ended up in the bar again, this time with Howard Andrew Jones and James Enge. I stayed there for a while, and then discovered that DeNardo and company were looking for me in the SFWA Suite. Back up I went but by the time I arrived, they had vanished. I ended up listening to Scott Edelman recount to Robert Reed unlikely tales of his culinary adventures. At that point, I learned that the SF Signal folks had headed back downstairs, so I came down with Robert Reed. It was now probably 1 am and I considered just going to bed. But as I came through the registration area, I saw John DeNardo and his wife Connie talking with Bryan Thomas Schmidt. Bryan left and I talked with John and Connie and a few others for a while and then decided it was time to call it quits.

I started heading to my room and passed a group that included Toby Buckell, Paolo Bacigalupi, Elizabeth Bear and I don't remember who else. Elizabeth Bear saw me and waved and so I stopped and chatted with them for a little while longer. When I finally made it back to my room, it was 2am.

I've done a tremendous amount of networking at this convention. I've discovered that I am accepted as a pro without a second thought. People seem to know me. Sometimes they know my stories. More often they know this blog. I've had to make a list of all of the people I have to contact or follow up with after the con–just too many to remember.

This is life among my amazing friends. I'm one hell of a lucky guy.


  1. Good to meet you, Jamie. Interesting hearing about another path through that crazy Saturday. I was kind of kicking myself for not stopping with you to talk to Elizabeth Bear and friends, but oh well. I’m truly glad to hear you feeling validated among the pros.

    1. Tim, I was seriously trying to get up to my room to sleep at that point. I think I was more caught off guard by the fact that she remembered me. Otherwise I might have just waved and kept going.

  2. Nervous? To meet GARDNER? He hasn’t bit anyone in years…

    But, yeah, it’s entertaining to hear stories from either Mike or Gardner. I envy you getting to hear them together.

  3. Jamie, I really enjoyed reading your Chicon recaps. It was also my first Worldcon, and as a fan it felt as though I was drinking from the sci-fi fountain through a fire hose!

    I was also at the SF Signal meet-up (I’m just to the other side of James Enge in the picture above), but you had to leave before I got a chance to say hello. Maybe I’ll get to say hi in San Antonio.


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