Thursday, September 05, 2013

WorldCon Report: Part Two

As I mentioned in my previous post, the convention spread across multiple blocks and buildings. I'm not the only participant who has subsequently mentioned the three-building sprawl, which was especially grueling for people with orthopedic problems. I suppose there wasn't much to be done; a convention of this size needs a venue of a certain size. Just the exhibition hall alone seemed the length of a football field. Sometime Saturday as I was walking I heard a strange slapping sound, and I realized my feet had gone so numb I was slamming them against the floor as I walked. As a result I tried to be especially aware of my feet and legs; in the long run, everything turned out fine, but I skipped the Hugo awards ceremony Sunday night to engage in water exercises in the hotel pool; otherwise I don't think I could have stood the long drive home Monday. I exercise in the pool at the local wellness center at least three times a week anyway, and as I sit here Thursday morning, my legs feel fine, so I think I handled the issue properly. Neuropathy is a common problem for people with Type II diabetes; fortunately, my circulation and healing remains excellent.

The reason I mention this subject right off the bat in this post is because the three-building sprawl hit me right in the face Friday morning when I went to check in at registration. I arrived in San Antonio too late to register Thursday, so I schlepped over the convention center first thing Friday at 9 a.m. when registration opened. When I got there, they reminded me I had to finish paying for my registration (I paid $60 a long time ago) and I realized I didn't take my checkbook, so I had to go all the way back to the Rivercenter hotel. By the time I got there, I was so light-headed I had to eat breakfast, and I made the mistake of going to the Denny's across the street.

It took an hour to have breakfast - a half hour to wait and a half hour for my order, which was botched (you can't tell the difference between fried and scrambled eggs?). The restaurant staff was badly over matched by the breakfast crowd. Then I got the checkbook and was able to register, just in time to make the Steampunk panel I moderated at 11 a.m.

That panel went very well, and was very well attended. This is a case where I was able to do a good job as moderator because I had relatively little to contribute - although I could address the subject intelligently. The other panelists - Gail Carriger, Jess Nevins, Jayme Blaschke and a late addition, whose name I am embarrassed to say I can't remember - were all very knowledgeable and informative. I enjoyed the panel, and so did the audience.

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"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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