Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention

Okay, been back nearly a week and I haven’t posted a WorldCon wrap-up yet, but hey, that week was pretty busy. My return flight was delayed at Philadelphia thanks to a thunderstorm of epic fantasy proportions that made the airport look like it served Mordor rather than the City of Brotherly Love. And then the day after I got back I headed to London for the launch of Seven Wonders at Forbidden Planet – more on that tomorrow, but thanks to everyone who came! It was a cool night. There are still a handful of the limited edition hardbacks left – click here to grab your signed copy.

So. WorldCon. My first one too, and boy howdy, was it neat. Two things struck me about the convention in equal measure – that WorldCon was about The Work, and that it was about friends (and yes, that sounds as cheesy as hell [in fact they both do], but bear with me a minute…).

As John Scalzi alluded to in his presentation of the Hugo Awards on the Sunday night, The Work is what matters – it is what WorldCon is all about, after all. It’s what filled a Chicago hotel with 5,000 fans and professionals, it’s what filled the dealer’s room with thousands upon thousands of wonderful shiny things. It’s why people queued to meet authors at the autograph tables, and it’s why the Grand Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency was packed to standing room only for the Hugo Awards, which exist to celebrate The Work.

This struck me as I enjoyed a little downtime sitting behind the Angry Robot sales table in the dealer’s room. The dealer’s room was truly gigantic, packed to the gills with books, art, jewellery, clothing; an abundance of creativity and really cool things. As a creator, you can spend so much time worrying about reviews, and sales, and Twitter and Facebook and everything that goes on around you in the industry that isn’t The Work. But as a writer, I have to write, and I will continue to write, and there is no better inspiration that seeing The Work celebrated somewhere like WorldCon. Later, I sat at the autograph tables myself next to Walter Jon Williams, whose signing queue wrapped around a pillar and doubled-back. Some people were just carrying his Star Wars novel, others had piles of books tucked under their chin. All were fans who had been enthralled and entertained by the man sitting patiently to my right. It was a marvellous sight, one repeated frequently at the autograph tables and around the convention.

I did a lot of this. Yay!

As jobs go, this writing thing isn’t half bad.

And the other thing: friends. Matt Forbeck said it best when he said that this was the convention that took the “online” prefix away from “online friends”. Although there was a large contingent of UK people at WorldCon – which in itself was super-cool – the highlight of WorldCon for me was meeting people whom I had only known via the net. Most of the con was spent somewhere in the vicinity of Chuck Wendig and Stephen Blackmoore – we also formed the New Pulp panel – both delightful, smart and hilarious people. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed as much than when in their company.

The New Pulp panel - with Chuck Wendig and Stephen Blackmoore

Chuck, our agent Stacia, and me!

We had a big old book launch at The Book Cellar, where myself, Chuck, Gwenda Bond and Kim Curran did readings and had a little Q&A. It was brilliant, thanks to the huge crowd that came, the Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry cupcakes, and the fact that the bookstore served beer (seriously, this is a great idea). Gwenda and her husband, author Christopher Rowe were a great pair to hang out with.

Post-reading Q&A at The Book Cellar - with Kim Curran, Chuck Wendig, Gwenda Bond and me

After the launch, we had a grand Team Decker dinner at the German Beirhaus next door with me, literary super-agent Stacia Decker, Chuck, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Joelle Charbonneau and Dan O’Shea, at which we were entertained by two aged men from Austria belting out discofied classic hits with quite some enthusiasm. It’s possibly a night that will go down in Team Decker history; Chuck and Cassandra have blogged about it too. And… I got a photo with the singer. Oh yes.

This actually happened.

Sunday night was the Hugo Awards, and it’s testament to John Scalzi’s hosting skills that me, Stacia, Chuck and Stephen managed to stand for the whole 2.5-hour duration without much complaint. I personally found the awards fascinating – I’d been a supporting member of WorldCon in the past and have voted in I think the last two or three years, but this was the first ceremony I’d a] seen in person and b] had friends nominated, including some that won. Yay!

Ready for the Hugos - with Stephen Blackmoore and Laura Lam

And I also met two people that made my head spin: Neil Gaiman, because he’s Neil Gaiman and possibly the most famous/instantly recognisable person I’ve ever met…

This also actually happened - with Neil Gaiman (he's in the middle) and Laura Lam

… and Mur Lafferty, who got me writing seriously years ago and who, it turns out (but as I suspected) is a total hoot at parties.

Me and the mighty Mighty Mur

I’ve made a gallery of WorldCon photos over at Facebook. There are too many to post here and if I start to list people I owe thanks to this post will be ten pages long and I still would have missed someone out. But I do have to mention the WorldCon posse of Emma Newman, Lee Harris, Paul Cornell, Laura Lam, Kim Curran and Wesley Chu, and say thank you to Mary Robinette Kowal for not only herding our Alt History panel into the hotel foyer after we discovered the room was locked, but also for making a very nice corpse reviver cocktail – just what I needed on the Monday afternoon!

Roll on San Antonio 2013!

  • Oh lordy. That photo of you and Mur makes me absurdly happy.