Worldcon Sun

So baleful!

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 73rd annual Worldcon hosted by Sasquan (the annual convention in Spokane, WA). While I’ve been to more than a few conventions, this was a different beast entirely. Not in any sort of a bad way, the convention’s more like a giant animatronic unicorn than any sort of snarling kaiju, but it’s still an enormous event to wrap your arms around. Instead of the typical three-day affair, this convention’s packed full from wall to wall for five solid days. During those days you can find something to do nearly 24 hours a day. From panels, to meet-ups, to music, movies, and more. Something’s always going on at Worldcon.

As a first time attendee I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was most definitely not disappointed. The convention was run really well by an army of volunteers (thanks to all you wonderful people!) and not even the burning sky could hamper things. And boy did it try! A dozen wildfires in the area meant that on more than on one occasion we’d stare up to see a baleful red eye above us with clouds of smoke casting the city into abstract of silhouettes. If you think I’m kidding, just check out the picture.

I attend numerous great panels, met a bunch of cool people and generally had a great time.

The culmination of the event was the Hugo awards on Saturday night. I’ve never followed the Hugos closely (this is certainly changing for me in the future) and I won’t dare attempt to untangle the slag filled Gordian knot that was the run up to these awards, but I’ll simply the say the ceremony was funny, touching and more powerful than I expected going in, and that George R.R. Martin is a pretty amazing guy. For anything else, I direct you to this Wired article that does a better job laying it all out than I’d dare try.

I feel very fortunate not only to be there in person for these Hugo awards, but this Worldcon. As the name implies the convention moves about the globe each year. Next year’s convention will be held in Kansas City, Missouri, and the following in Helsinki, Finland. Both interesting places for the convention, but neither quite as close to my neighborhood as Spokane. So the odds are probably good I’ll miss at least a few upcoming years. At the moment that gives me a small amount of relief (I’m so worn out right now!) but mostly it makes me sad I might not be a part the next time the convention comes together.

Because that’s really what the convention is, a huge joining of fandom and pros to celebrate the fantastic worlds we love, and the people who create them. No matter the size of the convention, or the vast variety of attendees, that came through clearly and was really wonderful to experience.

A few takeaways:

  • You should be following these people:
    • Jay Swanson – Jay’s a native north-westerner I got to meet at the convention. He’s the writer for the amazing real time fantasy blog, Into the Nanten, and is an all around cool guy. Go check him out.
    • Ken Liu, Kate Elliot, and Kay Kenyon (whoa, what’s with all the K names?). These three (among others) delivered some really great world building panels and are worth your time to follow. Ken also delivered a really great speech when accepting the Best Novel Hugo award as that book’s translator.
  • For the writer’s out there, the repeated key factor was … well simple, but often repeated, and still very true. Just keep writing, keep getting better, and don’t stop. It was said by basically every professional writer at the convention, so I figure they can’t all be wrong. Besides, it’s how they got where they are.
  • Worldcon is great! If you can ever attend, you most definitely should do it.