Sasquan: Day 5

The last day of WorldCon was a bit of a wind-down day. The Hugos were over, the big events had finished up, people had started departing already, and the majority of the others were planning to leave before the day was done. In general terms, it was the tail-end of the convention.

In the morning, I had to get up and check out of my hotel, which involved packing on my own. Because I had bought a number of books from the dealer’s room, I had to mail a box of books back home—which I am anxiously awaiting—which was yet another new experience. Thankfully, check-out went without a hitch, and I was able to bag check my suitcase at the con so that I did not have to haul it around the rest of the day.

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The box of books. Exciting stuff inside!

After checking my bag, I attended a Kaffe Klatche hosted by Dan Wells, which was great. Not only is Dan humorous and friendly, he’s also very smart. He talked about the books he has out, mental illnesses, and spoke at length—as prompted by our questions—about future plans. Dan’s upcoming novels excite me more than anything he’s written so far, and he’s written some great stuff. The upcoming movie made from his first book sounds fantastic, and I am eagerly anticipating its release.

Unfortunately, because I was attending Dan’s KK, I missed the Kate Elliott signing. I’ve been enjoying her books lately, including on my flights to and from WorldCon, and I was looking forward to meeting her. However, I still enjoy the books, and I expect–and hope–that I will have the chance to meet her at a future con.

I did make it to two panels, The Great Debate, in which Brandon Sanderson as The Lord Ruler debated Patricia Briggs as Asil for the vote of the attending crowd. It was easily the most hilarious panel of the con, and even though Brandon lost the vote, I’m glad that I went. After that was the “writing long series” panel which, while I did not get much new information out of, was still educational and gave me a chance to see some favorite authors.

I had been intending to talk with Peter and Brandon after the last panel, say a last few goodbyes, but apparently Brandon’s flight schedule did not allow it. Since my flight was not scheduled to leave until 9 PM, I sat around the con and ended up meeting up with some friends I had met during the week who were also going to be on the same flight as me. I am thankful that I did because, after we went out to dinner and made our way to the airport, our flight was cancelled due to mechanical issues, and we had to go across and spend the “night” in the local hotel. I got about 3 hours of sleep, and our morning flight left at 5 AM. It was nice to have friends through the ordeal, especially as it was my first time traveling without a group.

I made the 5 AM flight, and I’m finally home, resting up in the 2 days I have before the school semester begins. It’s going to be exciting. I’m going to do a general recap post of WorldCon in a few days, but my general impression of the con is incredibly positive. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and I’m already trying to plan out which con I can attend next year to meet even more of my favorite authors. Right now, WorldCon 2016 is much closer to home than this year, and they have Tamora Pierce as their Guest of Honor, so I would be delighted to attend that one again, though I will try to consider my other options as well to find the most exciting con I can attend (over the summer, while school is out.). If you have recommendations, please let me know!

Sasquan: Day 4

By yesterday (Saturday. It was yesterday when I originally wrote this post.), I had come to accept that pretty much anything I could learn and hear on a general panel is something that I could also have learned online or in a book, especially if it’s writing related. Therefore, I drilled down and focused on connections and autographs, things that I cannot get in some way just by being online.

I did attend one panel, but I can not even remember what it was—it obviously wasn’t incredibly important. (Looking back on the pictures, it was a

I did attend 2 Kaffee Klatches, with Mur Lafferty and Joshua Bilmes. The KK with Mur was a delight—she’s an excellent author and a nice and funny person. I’ve been a fan of her I Should Be Writing podcast for years, and I’ve read both of her Shambling Guide books, so I was excited to finally meet her. The KK was really informal, and it provided a nice opportunity to get to know Mur and her other fans.

The Bilmes KK was quite the opposite. Bilmes is the president for life of a literary agency which represents, among others, Sanderson, Brett, and Charlaine Harris. He’s a much different person from Mur, and the KK was run much more strictly. We went around the circle and introduced ourselves, then asked a single question which he answered at length. At the end, we talked about submission. It was very educational, and also, I expect, will be a valuable connection in the future. I did not, however, get any kind of personal connection or conversation out of the KK. I found both KKs to be highly valuable, and I am glad I attended both, they were just completely different.

After that, it was time for some fun. I went to the signing up some up-and-coming kid named George R. R. Martin. You should look up his stuff. Some of his books are pretty good, and he might be big some day.

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Then I went through the Sanderson signing line, getting him to do dueling signatures for me. I’ll do another post once I get home and can unpack everything about the dueling signatures, which is a project I quite enjoyed working on. I felt a little silly going through his signing line after hanging out with him for dinner and playing Magic with him, but I did it and he was nice, as always. I also helped out to a small degree with directing his signing line, an enjoyable task that I would like to do more of in the future.

Post Sanderson, I went to dinner with Alice and Lyndsey. The food was decent, and the company was great.

The big event of the day was the Hugo Ceremony. I debated not going, simply because of all of the debate and nastiness surrounding the various parties contesting the award this year. However, while I am definitely intending to attend future cons, I’m not sure when I’ll get back to another WorldCon, and I knew it was going to be a historic Hugo ceremony regardless of the outcome, simply due to the number of voters. So, I went. I ended up sitting next to The Peter, which was awesome, and Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear were sitting a few rows in front of me.

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Hugo Crowd.

The ceremony itself was run by David Gerrold and Tananarive Due, who did an excellent job of entertaining the crowd and moving through the various ceremonies of the evening which had to happen before the awards themselves were given out. And then the awards were given out.

Wes Chu won the Campbell award, which set the tone for the night. Wes was the only non-puppy nominee on the slate and, in the opinion of many, the best writer of the group. I’ve read his latest book and it is freaking amazing. He deserved this award, and I expect that he would have, at the least, come in second even without the puppy nominees, if not outright won the award. He got up on stage and gave what I felt to be the most hilarious speech of the night, and had parts of the crowd in hysterical laughter.

During the ceremony, the grim reaper and a Dalek both put on appearances, keeping the mood as light as possible. They were quite well done, and I got a group picture with said dalek after the ceremony. The organizers put their full effort into making the ceremony as good as they could, and I personally think they succeeded.

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L-R: Nate, Alice, Dalek, Peter, Lyndsey, Me.

The rest of the awards proceeded apace, with many of the expected nominees winning. Before last night (Saturday), there had been a total of 5 “No Award”s given over the entire course of the Hugos’ 65-ish year history. Last night, as you’ve probably heard, there were another 5. All of the puppy-dominated categories were completely shut down, and the awards were tense for both the presenters and the audience.

The best novel award was presented by Kjell Lindgren, from the International Space Station. The award went to The Three-Body Problem, the first translated work to ever win a Hugo novel award. It was an amazing experience, and regardless of everything else was a historic moment for the Hugo Award.

I’m glad that I attended the ceremony, and I think that, regardless of the politics surrounding it, several awards went to deserving winners–Wes Chu in particular. Looking at the long-lists, I think the biggest travesty was that The Slow Regard of Silent Things didn’t even get a novella nomination. Regardless, I attended the Hugos and then crashed so I would be a little rested for the last day.

Sasquan: Day 3

If you missed them, here are my posts for day 1 and day 2.

It’s common wisdom that the value in attending cons is networking. I’ve come to realize rather quickly that panels, while awesome for learning, are not excellent for networking, because the panelist/audience member interaction is usually limited. And the kind of things that usually happen on panels are ones I can find later on the internet, especially at the bigger panels, with the authors I really want to see.

For day 3, I dressed up as Steelheart from Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson. It was the first time I’d done a cosplay of any sort, and I have to say that it was a blast. The costume itself was as simple as you can get, but it was still recognizable, and the people who know who the character was said that they liked it. I’m definitely glad that I did it, and I want to do something a little more interesting next time. I’ll have to think about that one.

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Steelheart cosplay.

I only managed to attend one official panel yesterday, the Writing Excuses live recording. They recorded 3 episodes, and it was entertaining and educational, both for the podcasts themselves (which you’ll be able to get online in the next few months) and for the experience of seeing all of the behind the scenes work that goes in to making these things really work. Their audio equipment set-up is intense. After the panel, I managed to snag Dan and Howard for some autographs, and then run off to Wesley Chu’s Kaffe Klatche.

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Writing Excuses with guest star Gail Carriger.

The Kaffe Klatche was informal and relaxing. 10 fans sitting around a table, chatting with Wes about his work. He’s a really nice guy, and the other attendees were interesting people with good questions and comments to add to the conversation. Kaffe Klatches are quite worthwhile for making connections, and they’re also a good relaxer point in the middle of an intense day. Sign-ups, at least here, were quite competitive, so make sure you watch for those so that you can get the authors you want. I opted to not attend Sanderson’s KK, because that would be me being too greedy with his time.

Instead, I spent the afternoon in the autograph area, tracking down other authors and getting books signed and personalized. I managed to get Ken Liu, Elizabeth Bear, Katherine Addison, Wesley Chu, Kameron Hurley, and Scott Lynch to sign books for me yesterday. It’s amazing to meet that many authors, even if it is for literally less than a minute each while they scribble in your books. And those signed books are treasures that I can take home and keep forever, they are my preciouses.

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Me with Scott Lynch.

I had dinner out with Alice, and stopped and chatted with several other people I’ve met, at various points, both authors and fans that I’d previously only known online. The air quality was horrible, to the point that you could see a faint haze inside from the smoke, and the convention put up signs on every door leading outside warning about the air quality. Thankfully, it looks like it has cleared off this morning, so I may try to do some more touristy things this afternoon, though that time will likely be taken up with packing to make sure I can get all of my books home. (I’ll do a round-up post when I get home, of all of the books I bought and books I got signed.)

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The Haze.
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The Sign.

The last event of the day was the Magic: The Gathering tournament with Brandon Sanderson. It was a draft from the latest Magic set, Origins. It was huge fun, and I met a lot of cool people while playing. I went 1-2 in the actual tournament, so I didn’t even come close to winning, but for my 1 out-of-tournament game with Brandon, I won. Yes, I beat Brandon (once) at Magic. It was worth being up until 2 AM to do that.

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Cutting Brandon’s deck before playing Magic with him.

And so begins the last full day of the con. I’m off to breakfast a few hours later than usual, but I got enough sleep, so I’m still feeling pretty good. 🙂

Sasquan: Day 2

Day 1 was really cool, but it had nothing on Day 2.

For starters, the most traveling I had to do was a mile-ish walk. My phone still says that I walked about 5 miles yesterday, and I totally believe it, but that was the entire distance I travelled. No plane flights or anything. And I was able to get up at a reasonable time, after going to bed at a reasonable time, and getting a reasonable amount of sleep.

After grabbing a delicious breakfast at the Satellite Diner (where I’m headed to eat again as soon as I finish this post), I arrived at the convention hall a little early, and figured out where most of the rooms are. That place is a long, thin maze, and I know several people got lost at various times. Still, I had a little bit of extra time, and the dealer’s room wasn’t open yet, so I sat around the entrance hall and met up with Alex Ristea. He seems like a cool guy. 🙂

The first panel I attended was on the food of Spokane, a panel during which the panelists recommended various local restaurants, several of which I now intend to try out. The second panel was one on Future Pharma that was a bit of a let-down. It had the potential to be very interesting, but it just never quite made it. Several audience members decided to inject their “expertise”, and… Eh.

The third panel I attended was much, much better. It was a live Ditch Diggers recording with Mur and Matt, accompanied by Kate Elliott, Aliette de Bodard, and several other cool authors and an editor. The panel was hilarious, and the comments made were intelligent. The audience had a lot of really cool people too. For example, I recognized Kameron Hurley in the back.

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Ditch Diggers Panel

After that, I took a break for lunch in the con suite, where I met Peter Ahlstrom, Brandon’s personal assistant. So that was cool.

Then was Brandon’s official reading. He read a scene from Stormlight 3 that was awesome. There are no recordings of this online, as Brandon has asked that they not be posted publicly until after his Shadows of Self tour in October. He took about half of the time to do a Q&A session also. There are recordings of that one that will go up online. I’ll post the one I took if nobody else has posted one by the time I get home. I also managed to get myself a copy of the Con Double, Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell/Perfect State, from Peter.

After the panel, I skipped out on my next panel to stand around and talk with Alice and Peter. I got to meet Karen, Peter’s wife, and Emily, Brandon’s wife, as well as several cool fans. Alice and I presented Peter and Brandon with their Sanderson Army shirts, designed by the amazing Nikki. (Alice and I wore our shirts all day yesterday, too, and got several appreciative comments.)

After presenting Brandon with his shirt, which he really liked, he invited us out to have dinner with him and some of his other friends.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Brandon invited me out to dinner.

Give it another minute.

Of course, you don’t have to be psychic to know what I said. Of course I said yes!

So, uh, I also missed the panel after that, because I was kind of wandering around in a daze. I did make it to the dealer’s room, where I grabbed the Wes Chu books I didn’t already have, and found the library edition of Firefight, which I also did not have. That makes 2 more Sanderson books in my collection. 93 down, 127 to go (Yes, I’m counting.).

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YA Panel.

I did make it to Sanderson’s second panel. The topic was the various subgenres of YA. It was moderately interesting, but, as a friend on Twitter observed, it was made up of SF authors who happen to write YA. This con does not bring in YA authors, which is a little unfortunate. Still, it was a pretty cool panel. Also, Peter was wearing his Sanderson Army shirt, which was totally awesome. (I think Nikki hates me now. I don’t blame her.)

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Peter wearing his Sanderson Army shirt.

After relaxing for a bit in my room, I went to dinner. I managed to behave myself, I think (I hope), and not pester Sanderson as a fan. Also in attendance were several beta readers and Dan Wells, and it was honestly the coolest thing that has even happened to me.

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Dinner

I’m not exaggerating about that. That was the coolest, most awesome thing that has ever happened to me. Yesterday, August 20, 2015, was the best day of my life (So far, but good luck topping that one.).

After that, I was mentally and physically completely exhausted, so I came back to my hotel room and crashed. Now I’m up for day 3, and off to grab some breakfast before another series of amazing panels.

Sasquan: Day 1

So I arrived at Sasquan yesterday. For those of you who don’t know, that’s the World Science Fiction Convention, usually referred to as WorldCon. This year, it’s up in Spokane, Washington. This is my first big con, and I’ve been planning this trip since around December of last year, when it was confirmed that Brandon Sanderson would be attending the entire time.

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Packing was fun. 🙂

I had to get up at 4:30 AM to start my day, so it was a really long one. Thankfully, travel was relatively uneventful. It was my first time traveling by myself, so it was an interesting experience. Thankfully, my flights were relatively on-time, my luggage made it here in one piece, and I was able to catch a bus to the con for $2 quite easily. Check-in at the hotel was easy, and even if the room is so posh I’m literally sinking into the bed as I write this… It’s worth it. The convention center itself is easy to navigate once I have my map oriented correctly. I hope my travels back are just as uneventful.

Registration was relatively easy, even if it did take half an hour to get through the line. Once I got through, since I had preregistered, I was given my badge in moments!

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I’m, like, officially at WorldCon now.

The thing is, being my first big con, I don’t really know anybody here. I think the only person here I’ve ever met in person before is Brandon himself, and he meets so many fans, I’m fairly sure that he won’t even remember meeting me before, even if Peter (who is also attending) does know who I am.

But that’s what the internet is for! I’m meeting people left and right that I only previously knew on the internet. I was on the plane with Dave Robison of the Roundtable Podcast (His voice is SO recognizable. Like, wow.), Mur Lafferty was on my bus from the airport to the hotel… I actually got to meet and talk to Dave in the registration line, and he now recognizes me by sight. I met Alice Arneson, more commonly known as Wetlander, who does half of the Stormlight Archive reread over on tor.com and is a long-time Sanderson beta-reader. I’ve talked with her several times on the internet, and she’s a super nice person.

The only panel I made it to yesterday was the Opening Ceremonies. They were worth it, though. A Native American storyteller from one of the local tribes came and sang a traditional song and told several traditional stories. He had an incredible stage presence, and the audience, myself included, was captured by his imagination and performance. After he spoke and the guests were introduced, we were treated to a video recording from our special guest of honor, Kjell Lindgren, who is currently living on the ISS, and who will be teleconferencing in at least a few times this week to do panels.

After that, Alice introduced me to the con suite, where there are apparently free snacks for participants 24 hours while the con is going. It’s kind of awesome. While there, she introduced me to Joel Phillips, another Sanderson beta-reader and owner of the signed and numbered #1 copy of A Memory of Light, for which he had to camp out 2 weeks in below-zero weather. I almost tripped over Charles Stross.

I decided to subsist on snacks for the evening, since dining around here is so freaking expensive. I’m only planning to go out to any of the nice restaurants to eat if I’m going with a group of people and it’s worth it for the connections and friends made. I crashed in my way too posh hotel bed, utterly exhausted after being up for… something close to 18 hours straight. I walked about 5 miles, and I’m sure that’s going to be demolished by the amount of walking I’m doing today. I have a lot more people I’m looking forward to meeting (Sanderson), and today I start hauling books around to get signed. Until tonight, everyone!

2015 Resolutions

Read 52 reviewable books.

I’ve set this goal on Goodreads, and I intend to stick to it. I only read 40-ish books last year, and I’d really like to improve upon that. In addition, this would give me a book to review every week for my blog, which brings me to my next resolution.

Have 2+ weekly posts on this blog, at least 1 of which is a review.

I really want to be more active here, and I enjoy writing posts, as well as reading on others’ blogs. I don’t have any kind of readership/views goal for myself. I’m just trusting that if I do what I enjoy, and write frequent (but still good) posts, good things will follow. I’m not engaging in any particular memes, so you should expect my non-review posts to be a bit random at times.

Walk 10k+ steps per day.

This isn’t a blogging related goal. It’s much more health oriented. I’m not what I would consider obese or anything, but I’m also not in great shape. I’m also a computer science major in college, which means I spend unhealthy amounts of time in front of a computer, staring at the screen and typing. Walking isn’t strenuous exercise, but 10k steps will usually get me up and out for at least an hour. My new phone measures how many steps I take, which may have been a large part of why I decided to do this.

Write every day.

Last year, I resolved to try to get a short story published. I failed at that, and I’m not setting that as my goal again this year. Instead, I want to get back on the track of writing every day. I fell off of this train during the fall semester last year, thanks to some ridiculously hard classes. This semester, I have what I think will be a much lighter load, and so I’m looking forward to being able to take the time to blog more in addition to increasing my reading, as well as getting back into the (creative fiction) writing groove.

Attend Sasquan, this year’s WorldCon.

I’ve never actually been to a sci-fi/fantasy convention, and everyone keeps going to these things and having so much fun. I’ve already paid my registration, and I’m super excited. I already know a handful of authors and others who are going, and I’m really, really excited to meet them in person, as well as make new friends, attend a bunch of cool panels, and BE AT THE HUGO CEREMONY. The actual Hugo awards. I voted for the first time last year, and that was an amazing experience. Being able to actually attend the awards will be so much more awesome. Also, Brandon Sanderson is going to be there… I need to write a post about my Brandon Sanderson problem soon.

Keep my book-buying budget low.

Other than a handful of books I want to buy, I’m really trying to cut down on this this year. I’ll still go for special things, like Sanderson collectors copies when I can find them, but I really want to save my money for the WorldCon trip and not buy more books that I may not get around to reading for the next 10+ years. I’m not terrible worried about the size of my TBR (other than wanting to get another bookcase), but I think spending much money on books that are going to be that far out is just the other side of ridiculous. I’ll be buying/bringing plenty of copies to WorldCon, though, and I’ve already bought my 30-40 books for the year. I also want to start exploring another method for obtaining books, which brings me to my last resolution.

Request at least 1 ARC.

This one should be pretty self-explanatory. As I get more in to the blogging world, hopefully maintaining my reviewing and posting pace, and maybe even getting a few people to read the blog, I want to start requesting ARCs to review. So far, I’ve only been getting ARCs that I win in contests—and I’ve gotten quite good at winning them. But this still gives a random selection, often giving me later books in a series I haven’t read, and it also doesn’t come with any review requirements. Though I’m trying to treat my ARCs as review books from here on out, I would really like to request (and obtain) at least 1 ARC. I have a book in mind, too, and if that goes well I’ll try for a few more.

Well, I said last resolution. There’s 1 more, which I think everyone should have:

Have a great year!