LoneStarCon, Thursday: Day 1

I arrived at LoneStarCon 3, the 71st World Science Fiction Convention, yesterday. I always get a little anxious on travel days. It seems nearly everyone has at least one travel horror story, and while I have generally been lucky, I still worry a little. Each stage of travel is like a small gauntlet, and when I pass it, I feel increasingly relieved: get to airport, get checked in, get on board the plane, plane departs on time, etc.

Yesterday, I needn’t have worried. Arriving in San Antonio had to be one of the most efficient arrivals I’ve ever experienced. The plane touched down at about 11 am. We were at the gate at 11:05. By 11:15 I’d picked up my baggage, and by 11:30 I was checked in  at the hotel. It was remarkable! I’m staying at the Marriott Rivercenter and I’ve got a room with a fantastic view of San Antonio.

(For reasons of efficiency, I am posting the pictures I’m taking at Worldcon to Flickr. If you want to see the photos, go there.)

The convention is spread over two hotels on the Riverwalk: the Marriot Rivercenter and the Marriot Riverwalk. The convention center is next to the latter, and that is where the bulk of the programming is located. However, most of the parties are in the Riverwalk, as is the SFWA Suite, which is convenient for me. Still, given the locations of the hotels and convention center, I still managed to easily hit 15,000 steps on by FitBit.

Almost at once, I ran into Bill Lawhorn, walking between hotels in the 100 F heat. I checked in at registration and wandered the cavernous dealer’s room where I ran into Steven  Silver and chatted with him for a while. After my initial circuit of the dealer’s room, I headed back to the hotel and sat in the lobby charging my phone. While sitting there, I saw Patrick Hester. I’d been waiting to meet with some SFWA officials to talk about a volunteer opportunity, but they were stuck in meetings. So I accompanied Patrick back to the convention center. Of course, as soon as I arrived there I heard from the SFWA officials and had to head back to the Rivercenter to meet with them. It was a quick meeting.

I met Patrick over by Angry Robot books, and then we wandered. Almost at once, I ran into Liz Argall, with whom I attended Launchpad last month, and who was volunteering at the Locus booth. I introduced Patrick and we chatted for a while. Liz had handouts for her comic, Things Without Arms and Legs, which is an awesome web comic. If you’ve never seen it, you should definitely check it out. Patrick had to dash off to interview someone and I continued to wander.

No sooner had I turned around, I ran into Trevor Quachri and chatted with him for a little while. He has been editor of Analog for a year now, a time which seems to have gone by incredibly fast. (I feel like Chicon was last week.) After we parted ways I wandered some more, talking to Lawrence Schoen for a little while. Then I began winding my way out of the dealer’s room, but I ran into Robert Silverberg and Karen Haber.

“Your hair looks different,” Silverberg said. He was right. I’d gotten it cut extra short. And it was probably grayer than the last time I’d seen him.

I left the dealer room and was heading back to the Rivercenter in a kind of fog. It is a always so cool to get to see all of these other writers, friends and heroes alike, sometimes both at the same time. That’s when a voice boomed, “So you are not even going to say hello!” or something like that. I can’t be sure because, as I said, I was in a fog. The voice belonged to Bryan Thomas Schmidt, editor of Beyond the Sun and along with him was Alex Shvartsman. I followed them around for a little while, and then had to dash off because I wanted to get a book signed by Guest of Honor, James Gunn1. The line was huge and I decided that I’d get the book signed another time.

I headed back to where I’d left Bryan and Alex and Silverberg was with them. We stood around chatting for a while, mostly on the subject of cell phones. Silverberg, who doesn’t have a cell phone, told us a couple of amusing stories about his experiences with the ubiquitous devices.

By this time I needed a break. I headed back to the Rivercenter, found a seat in The Bar2 and had some beer and fries. Afterward, I walked back to the convention center and finally got to meet Jim Gunn in person, just briefly, but it was still nice to see him.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt was signing books and since he was signing Beyond the Sun, at least one of the people getting the book signed asked me to sign it, too, which was kind of cool. Then it was back to the bar where I met Liz Argall and some of the people she knew for drinks. Eventually, among the people sitting at our table was Nancy Kress, who I talked to for the first time. That was pretty cool. Bud Sparhawk wandered by and we talked for a while, eventually moving off to talk about a presentation we will be giving together at Capclave in October.

We spent a while at the bar, but at 8 pm, Clarkesworld was having a party up in the SFWA Suite and I began making my way in that direction. I ran into Scott Edelman, who was recounting his tale of visiting Franklin’s BBQ. Eventually, I did make it up to them SFWA Suite. At one point, I found myself sitting on the couch beside Ellen Datlow and Gardner Dozois. Eventually, I wandered into the hallway and got enlisted to play a card game called Cards Against Humanity, which is like Apples to Apples, only about a thousand times raunchier. I was laughing through the whole game. I can’t remember everyone who was playing, but they included Kate Baker, Bud Sparhawk and James Seals.

While playing cards, lots of people came up to the SFWA Suite. Bob Silverberg and Karen Haber and Joe and Gay Haldeman. Bob was not wearing his blue shirt and I asked him about that. “Blue is for daytime,” he said. I met Kim Stanley Robinson. Elizabeth Bear was there, and I know I am forgetting others, too, but my mind was getting fuzzy. In fact, by 10:30, I decided to call it a night. I didn’t want to over-do it.

I headed back to my room, and I think I was asleep almost at once.

I had a blast, as I always seem to do at these things. Each time, I know more and more people and feel more comfortable talking with people I don’t know. I also feel increasingly less star-struck, not because I’m not impressed with the people who I’ve been reading nearly my whole life, but because I am starting to feel, just a little bit, more like one of them.

More tomorrow. And remember, if you are looking for photos, find them on Flickr.

  1. I took Jim’s online writing workshop on science fiction back in the summer of 2008. It was after that workshop that I really started selling stories to the big markets with greater regularity. But because it was online, I’d never met Jim in person.
  2. No, that’s really its name.

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