I look forward to each October because it means Capclave is just around the corner. Capclave is my local science fiction convention, and it is the annual science fiction convention of the Washington, D.C. area. The convention is generally a small, extremely-well run affair, run by a group of some of the hardest working people you’ll find anywhere.
Capclave is a little bigger than usual this year (well, twice as big at least) because of the author Guest of Honor, a scribbler with the Tolkienesque name of George R. R. Martin. Now, you might be familiar with George from his Game of Thrones series on H.B.O., but George has been part of the science fiction and fandom community since the 1960 and his achievements go far behind Game of Thrones.
The convention started on Friday but I couldn’t make it up here on Friday. I arrived yesterday at about 7:30 am, which gave me and Bud Sparhawk enough time to make sure we were all set for the 90 minute talk on technology we were giving at 9 am was all ready. It was.
My first “panel” was the joint-talk with Bud on “Online Writing Tools” and I think it went over well. We had a 100+ slide presentation and a decent-sized audience for a 9 am panel (I think we had 30 people or so). Good question and answer session, too. For those interested, our entire presentation can be found online as a Google Presentation.
I had a short break after that panel and I made a quick pass through the dealer’s room, where I ran into an editor, who told me that she was buying an article I’d sent her for the magazine. That was a nice was to start the convention!
Next, I dashed off to a panel on Writers and Fandom. Pamela Kinney moderated the panel, which included Hildy Silverman, Catherine Asaro, and Laura Anne Gilman. That was a fun panel because the panelists were basically talking about how we became fans, how we went from being fans to being pros, and how we interact with fans today. Big audience for that one and some good questions from the audience as well.
Right after that, I was part of a panel that I was, by far, the least qualified panelist. The panel was on “Space Wars” and the moderator was Christopher Weuve. On the panel was Chuck Gannon, Ed Lerner, Catherine Asaro, and Jenine Spendlove. When panelists were introducing themselves, they all had some background (technical or otherwise) in combat of various kinds. For example, Jenine is a Marine and a C130 pilot! When it came time for me to introduce myself, I said something like this:
“I’m a science fiction writer, but I’ve never written a story involving space wars. I’m a blogger, but I’ve never blogged about space wars. I was a pilot, but I never flew in a space war. However, I have a pretty strong background in Golden Age science fiction, and can talk about a lot of the space wars they wrote about in those days.” (Whew!)
It turned out to be a standing-room-only panel. People were sitting on the floor up front. It was also fascinating. I felt as much an audience member as I was a panelist and I was humbled and amazed to be surrounded by such intelligent people.
Once that panel was over, I had a couple hours break before my next panel. I went to lunch with Meagan Voss and Scott Edelman, and Scott told us wonderful stories from his days at Science Fiction Age. I feel like I could listen to those stories endlessly.
My last panel of the day, on “The Worlds of Clifford D. Simak” was the panel I was most nervous about. I’ve read Simak but not exhaustively. Fortunately, I had a great set of panelist to help me out: Alex Shvartzman, Michael Swanwick, and Darrell Schweitzer. Once that panel was over I was done, and I could relax.
I ended up having dinner with Kate Baker and her two daughters, along with Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace. After dinner was the mass signing, and after that was the WSFA Small Press awards. The Washington Science Fiction Association has been giving out the small press award for short fiction published in small presses since 2007. There was a fantastic list of nominees this year, and the winner this year was Ken Liu for his story, “Good Hunting.” Ken had asked me to accept the award, if he won, and so I headed up to the stage to read his speech and have my picture taken, all the while telling people, “No, I am the real Ken Liu.”
Immediately after that was the Howard/George/Garnder show. Basically, Howard Waldrop, George R. R. Martin, and Gardner Dozois sat up on stage and for two hours talked about the old days, their days at science fiction conventions, or in the army, or whatever came to mind. It was the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life. If you were there, you know what I was talking about. All I can say is, if you ever have the chance to see these three guys on stage, take it! By the end of the night, everyone was shouting, “You will die!” (You had to be there.)
Each time I go to a convention I have so much fun I don’t think it can be exceeded, but Capclave exceeded it yesterday. I am already looking forward to more fun today.