Sunday, September 15, 2013

WorldCon Report: Part Five

That's me pretending to forget the Alamo.
Well, it's two weeks later and I'm up to Sunday, Sept. 1, at WorldCon. The first thing that day was the Stroll with the Stars; in this case, to the Alamo. The convention chairman, Randy Shepherd, herded us (no pun intended) through the the Rivercenter Mall and around a corner to the Alamo. He gave a nice talk in front of the Alamo and then we all went inside. I have visited the Alamo before, but it was nice to visit again this historic site. Along the way I visited with David Brin (whom I had never met in person) and Sheila Williams and her daughter.

Dian Turnshek took the photo of me in front of the Alamo; I was pretending to forget what transpired here. I wore my Texas Nationalist Movement shirt for the occasion, which I thought was appropriate.

My first panel was on "Fiction and Real Politics and How Writers Get it Wrong" at 11 a.m. This was a good panel, with very insightful authors. It was more like a political science panel, however, and really didn't talk much about writing. That's not to say it wasn't interesting, it was. But I had kinda gone in thinking we'd be talking about practical politics, and citing Heinlein's short story "A Bathroom of Her Own" and stuff like that. But it dealt a lot in philosophy - which was still interesting.

For some reason, most of the panelists seemed to be Canadian, which skewed the discussion a bit.

After two weeks, it's hard for me to remember specifics, but I recall I was responsible for some insight. Actually, let me quote here from a blog post by fellow panelist Madeline Ashby:

"On a panel on philosophy and SF, one of my fellow panelists decried the predilection among younger readers for dystopias and “darkness,” then talked about how when he was a young man, he had no trouble finding a job, buying a house, living a life, etc.

'“How old are you?” I asked, from the other end of the stage.

"He gave his age. I believe it was around 54.

'“So you’re a boomer?”

"Yes.

'“And how much did you pay for your first house?”

"It was a figure around $60K. Less than $100K, anyway.

'“The average price of a starter home in Toronto, where I live, is $550,000. I’m thirty years old. I have a university degree and two graduate degrees. Despite all that, it is likely I will never be able to afford my own home - or have my own child. You want to know why people my age and younger write without hope? That’s why.”

"This man thanked me for bringing that to his attention. He was genuine, not sarcastic. He simply did not know how the younger half lived. And really, I think that’s what it boils down to. It’s more than just an active distrust of young people (and young women in particular). It’s a totally different set of life experiences."

Well, she's totally right. I was really stunned. I later sent her a Facebook message and told her my thought after this exchange was essentially, "What happened to the American dream when I was preoccupied taking care of myself?"

Other panelists included moderator David Nickle, Gregory Wilson, and Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

My other panel on Sunday was on "Philosophy and Science Fiction" at 4 p.m. If my first panel of the day was supposed to be on politics but turned into one in political science and philosophy, this one was supposed to be on philosophy but ended up more a discussion on religious faith - which was still interesting. All the panelists seemed to have some connection to religion in some way (not as common as you would think in science fiction). For example. Madeline Ashby - who was also on this panel - said she attended a Jesuit school.

The other panelists were C.J. Mills, Mark Van Name and Steve Diamond. Everyone was respectful of religion and it was an extremely good panel. It was also the best attended panel I have ever seen at ANY convention where I was on the dais. All the seats were full and people were standing in the back; I counted over 100 people.

The Hugo Awards started at 8 p.m., but as I mentioned in a previous post, I realized it was more important for me to exercise in the hotel pool or there would be a serious possibility I wouldn't be able to make the drive home Monday. I also wanted to hit the road by 6 a.m. and I wouldn't be able to do that if I stayed up late until the end of the ceremony and then went to some party.

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