Wednesday, September 04, 2013

WorldCon Report: Part One

First, it might be interesting to note this was the first convention I ever attended where I registered in advance. This may sound strange, but over the years, every time I registered for a convention, something would happen at the last minute, and I wouldn't be able to attend (and I'd lose my registration fee). This happened so often that back in the 00's I stopped registering for conventions. It worked better for me if I showed up and registered at the door.

Now, I haven't had to register for a convention for many years since I've been getting invites as a panelist for a long time, but WorldCon requires that all panelists register. I paid my $60 basic membership a long time ago, but I didn't pay up the rest until I got to San Antonio, so I suppose that's why the curse didn't strike.

BUT it almost did!

My wife is a school teacher, and she worked Thursday and Friday (it was still the first week of school), so she didn't come with me. My mother-in-law came Wednesday to stay the holiday weekend with her. Thursday morning, as I was preparing to leave, she came to me and said the carpet in the closet of the guest bedroom was wet.

I found that the interior air conditioning unit drain was stopped up, and water was spreading from the drain under the walls across the slab of the house. I had to call a repairman, and because of that I didn't get on the highway until almost noon, which was much later than I had planned.

The bad part about that is that I hit Austin during its rush hour, which took me an hour to traverse, and I had to turn the A/C off in my car or else it would have overheated. I didn't get to San Antonio until past 7 p.m. I was hot and sweaty, and it was too late to register for the convention.

On a positive note, I was able to find the hotel easily, and also the public parking garage. I had to use printed Mapquest directions; my GPS had died a week earlier; apparently it needs a new battery.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt rented the room at the Marriott RiverCenter, which we shared with Alex Schvartsman and Maurice Broaddus. Maurice and I actually collided at the front door of the suite, which was fun; later I spent time chatting with Bryan and Alex. I know Bryan from working with him on the Raygun Chronicles anthology; I didn't know Alex beforehand.

The first person I ran into at the hotel was a fan of mine, who said he had gone to the San Antonio library earlier in the day for the reading of the Rayguns Over Texas anthology. He said he was surprised I wasn't in the anthology, and he had asked them about it. That sorta tickled me. I told him it just wasn't meant to be, the Austin clique didn't like me and that pretty much was that.

That wasn't the first time during the weekend someone asked me about the anthology, but hey, it's s free country, they can publish whatever they like. I suppose it's better for people to ask why WASN'T Antonelli in the book, than why WAS he?

I took some time that evening to scope out the layout of the con. I was unhappy to see that our hotel was two blocks away from the convention center; to get to the convention, I had to leave our hotel, cut through another hotel across the street and across that block, then cross another street, and THEN begin schlepping through the convention center.

I realized I was going to do a lot of walking in the next three days - not a fun prospect, in light of the fact I have neuropathy in my feet because of diabetes.

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Latest reviews

"It’s possible that you haven’t run into the stories of Lou Antonelli. Since 2003, he’s been publishing delightful short tales of alternate history all over the nooks and crannies of the SF world. Thanks to Fantastic Books, we now have 28 of these little gems in one place. "Many of Antonelli’s stories have an unexpected twist ending. And many of them are what he calls “secret history” stories, which aren’t exactly alternate history—they’re set in our familiar history, but there’s always some element that contemporary observers missed. " -

- Don Sakers, The Reference Library, Analog July-Aug. 2014

A better path develops for a distraught man in “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli (debut 6/11 and reviewed by Frank D). Jake is about to end it all. He has been trying to keep his high maintenance wife happy for decades and has needed to embezzle to satisfy her spending habits. Now, on the verge of indictment and abandoned by his spouse, he buys a gun. Before he pulls the trigger, he spies a Kodak one-day photo hut. Curious, he pulls up to the window. They are holding pictures of him and his last girlfriend from 30 years before. The package is a lot thicker than it should be. Double Exposure” is listed as an Alternative History story but I would classify it as a Magical Realism tale. It is set as a second chance tale, a look into a life that should have been. The author is inspired by his memories of the old photo huts (I remember them) and of their disappearance. A cool idea (photos of another life), one that I could imagine would make for a great anthology.

- Frank Dutkiewicz, Diabolical Plots

“Great White Ship”: A traveler stuck waiting for a flight strikes up a conversation with an old airline employee. The Old Timer tells him a story of a Great White Airship that arrives from a most unusual destination. The story of a craft from an alternate reality and how it got there is only the precursor to the final act. This is one of my favorite stories from this site. I have a great passion for lighter-than-air craft and their potential as a future means of transport, which opens the story. The author uses this speculation to launch into an engaging tale. As fascinating as the main story line is, the alternate history premise that accompanies it is just as worthwhile. This story was well written and very well thought out. It is well worth the read. Recommended.

- James Hanzelka, Diabolical Plots

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