So, other than that whole Hugo thing, yeah, there was a convention! And I went to it. This is the post where I talk mostly about that.
On the way there, we took Route 2, which I don’t usually do when heading east. It’s a more interesting drive than I-90, at least until you hit the 150 Minutes Of Driving In A Straight Line, with occasional five-building towns off to the side where they won’t distract you. Seriously, that part is like Desert Bus. But before that part, the geology is amazing and worth it.
We stopped at Leavenworth for food. Now, Leavenworth is a weird little town, because it decided some decades ago that it was going to be German. Before World War II, lots of little Cascadian towns were a little like that – North Bend was Norwegian, and Norwegian was the common tongue, and so on. But Leavenworth decided to go all out after the war, and some of the fans who had flown in via Seattle saw it and were more than a little fruck out. So just to share that experience, here’s Leavenworth for you:
Even things like Wells Fargo and Safeway are this style.
We could already smell the fires, though. That was a portent of things to come. As was this hazy sky on the way east, and, well, the evidence of earlier fires, no longer active.
As you can imagine from the previous post, I spent a lot of time in the business meetings. Normally there are three, and they’re not incredibly long; this year, there were four, and they were all very long. I’ll talk more about those in another post, but since it was such a large part of my convention experience this time, I couldn’t leave it out entirely.
I think the short form is that yes, they are dull, in a way? But in a way they are also not dull. Kevin Standlee is a good parliamentarian, and kept things moving and in good order. The way we were able to get through acres of other business on Sunday when it looked like we’d end up being there until 5pm or so was pretty impressive.
This was not the biggest turnout.
Opening ceremonies was pretty entertaining – you had a native tribes storyteller talking about the meaning of story and truth, and telling some good stories. Plus, Fishy finally got to unveil the Hugo base he’d designed for this year’s Worldcon! I found it evocative of some of the geology that Anna and I had just driven through, compressed and attenuated basalt columns, also evocative of rocket exhaust – a really nice job:
I like the Spokane convention centre complex. Parts of it were built back in 1974, but there are significant additions and renovations since then. We kind of had another hint about the smoke that was to come, though, that first night. I mean, when you can take pictures of the sun with a cellphone camera, it’s dark.
Then, of course, on Thursday you got the Broken Sky, which I posted photos of already.
Anna spent a huge chunk of the convention in the Dealer/Exhibit Hall, helping run the NIWA booth, so it wasn’t a programming-heavy convention for us. I did a little daytime performing and some playing in the evenings, of which I of course lack any photos because I was kind of busy with the actual playing. But I ran into a lot of people I’ve known via fandom for a long time (hi Rod! Hi Cheryl! Hi Jay! Hi Alec! Hi WOW I TALKED TO LOTS OF YOU!) and finally met TJ Burnside-Clapp in person, who I’ll be GoH-ing with at Conflikt this coming January.
okay, gotta admit, seeing your own name on this kind of flyer is a little weird. XD pic.twitter.com/3vNZ4LOIUw
— Solarbird (@solarbirdy) August 22, 2015
And I’m gonna say it: seeing your own name on one of those flyers in that way? More than a little weird. There’s a little moment of “…but you want people to come to your event, how is that going to help?”
Like I said: weird.
But! Back on track. I did get to a little other programming. I quite liked David Gerrold’s GoH speech. A bit on the old-school side, but, well, he’s a bit on the old-school side himself. And the Match Game SF game show went off well, like usual:
Plus, since I wasn’t officially working this show, I got to go to a masquerade again! It had been a while, and this was a fantastic one to come back to see. I went wearing Earth Kingdom Korra (just as a hall costume) and there were … 46 entries? An awful lot, with a really high standard of overall workmanship.
Torrey finally entered her Amidala costume – the one she did all the hand dye work on – at the Worldcon level, and picked up a couple of prizes for it. (All her kata practice really stood out – her lightsabre moves were just super-fluid and nice.) There was a gigantic Drider costume that was part of a larger set, and which may have been the largest costume effect I’ve seen put on an amateur stage. And I got to look at the Best-in-Show’s backpack time machine later, just wandering around – so much more detail to it than you could see from the audience. It was just a lovely piece of mechanics on top of everything else.
Tom Smith’s concert following masq was apparently the largest room he’s ever played – but you wouldn’t’ve known it from his performance. It’s one of the few times I’ve seen a masquerade halftime show that really entertained the crowd, which I’m just going to say is difficult to do.
I took a couple of hall costume photos, but not many. First, a No-Face:
And second, a couple of really nicely done Vault 101 wastelanders from Fallout 3. Check out the Pip Boy! It overexposed a little in my picture and I couldn’t bring it back in, but I promise you, it didn’t look blown out like that in real life.
Now, funny(?) thing about that outdoor shot – notice how much the light looks like the light in the actual Fallout game? That’s not good to be in. I didn’t know how bad it was, while I was out there for 45 minutes helping them get costume shots while the light was right. Here’s a view from the consuite:
And here’s the notice they posted while we were out in pretty much the very worst of it. That’s not “Dangerous for people with respiratory issues,” that’s DANGEROUS FOR ANYONE THAT BREATHES AIR, DO NOT GO OUTSIDE. It hasn’t been this bad since Mount St. Helens blew in 1980. That’s how bad the fires are. Heck, the business meeting’s Sergeant at Arms had to leave early because her horse farm got Class 1 fire alert and she had to evacuate her horses.
The biggest restaurant find had to be the Suki Yaki Inn. We were actually on our way to a different restaurant (about which I had my doubts) and stumbled across it. It’s one of those clearly-built-in-1962-and-untouched-sinc
Now, she’s not normally the sort of person to go for dives of that sort, but I thought “oh, what the hell, why not?” And wow, was that the right decision.
— Solarbird (@solarbirdy) August 19, 2015
YES THE HECKLING SECTION IS OURS \m/ ENGAGE MAXIMUM STATLER AND KICK UP THE WALDORF THREE! MORE! POINTS! pic.twitter.com/PJiCPmIQkb
— Solarbird (@solarbirdy) August 19, 2015
And here’s the thing: it was fantastic. I mean, the first clue we’d had that something was up were the mixed drinks; they served them in beer glasses. We were like Merry and Pippin.
Fishy wasn’t even sure drinks that big were legal, because they were not skimping on the alcohol, either. But even aside from that – they were good! And the sukiyaki was correct – basically, they had all their broths and sauces right, and once you do that, you’re well on your way in Japanese cooking. Okay, sure, the second time we went, the room we were in had apparently suffered some damage caused by somebody putting someone else’s head through the wall. But I’m pretty sure that’s ancient history at this point, so don’t let that stop you. So tasty.
Helsinki winning the 2017 Worldcon did not overly surprise me. It might’ve, a little, going in – I’ve been out of that whole conversation for a while, and Finland is very far from here – but once at the convention, the party flow made it pretty obvious. I voted for Japan and bought a pre-support (in that order, because sure, that’s how you do it) just to help them cover their bid costs. The only shot DC had was if they’d had a huge bloc of pre-convention voters, and, whelp, turns out no. Anna became a supporter of Dublin in 2019 and New Zealand in 2020 bids, and I’m considering pre-supporting New Orleans in 2018.
On the parties – well, going to the early-morning business meetings, I didn’t do as much party as I would normally have done. But I liked New Orleans (see above), Japan’s bid party, and most of all, the Babylon 5 party, in no small part just because it was there. B5 STILL HAS A POSSE, apparently, and that is a good thing.
Oh, and check out this PARKADE, about 10 minutes from the convention centre. Does this look like a Captain Scarlet set piece or what? It looks even more like one in person.
It’s right at that perfect stage of mid-modernism when they still expected everyone to come downtown, park, and then walk around like they did before cars. It’s brutalist in the right ways, it has this totally epic spiral ramp on the back of it with a huge cylinder in the middle that demands to be some sort of launch facility for an underground rocket base. Plus the in-and-out ramps are also in that era of we-aren’t-quite-sure-how-to-do-this-yet-b
I’ll have extra photos up on Flickr, like usual.
So, yeah, that’s not all, but it’s all I’m writing for now – this is too long already. I’ll post about the business meetings later – I didn’t want this week to be all about Hugo awards and politics. There was in fact also a convention, and a good bit of fun was had, by most, if not necessarily all. If I left you out, I’m sorry – pop in in comments and say hi!