I was sipping coffee and eating an extravagent almond croissant this morning at Mrs. London's
down the street from the conference center when I realized we'd all gained an extra hour overnight with the shift back to standard time. So with my extra hour I fired up the rental car and drove around downtown and the area around the city center, sightseeing; past enormous mansions just north of downtown, through the campus of Skidmore College, then back around to Congress Park (site of several of the original 'springs'), then east past the Saratoga Race Course, and further on around Saratoga Lake, which is quite sizeable, and back into downtown from the south.
The convention was still busy, but wrapping up. I walked through the dealers room one more time, picking up just one more item, then chatting with various people, including Eos editor Diana Gill, before returning to my room to change for the awards banquet. (As it happened, most people on the banquet ticket waiting list got in, due to no-shows, and Diana had invited me to sit at one of the two Eos tables. So I lucked out.)
The banquet food was better than average, and the ceremony one of the best I've ever attended, partly due to toastmaster Guy Gavriel Kay's introductory speech, which began seriously with the recognition of the late Robert Jordan and the tension that exists between 'serious' fiction and popular 'commercial' fiction (both sides are right; we need both, Kay said), then turned humorous with an extended "world fantasy fairy tale" that punned on virtually every nominee name and title on this year's ballot, capped by Gary Wolfe, standing up to read an apparently spontaneous critique of said fairy tale...
The awards were efficiently presented by Jo Fletcher and Rodger Turner (rather than David Hartwell and John Douglas, as in past years I've attended), and were well-received, with a general feeling that almost every category (for once) got it right -- Gary Wolfe for his criticism, Ellen Asher for her work at the SF Book Club, Shaun Tan for his amazing art book The Arrival
, M. Rickert twice over -- Rickert revealed that until a couple years ago, she'd lived in Saratoga Springs, so returning here for the con to receive this affirmation of her work was especially meaningful -- and so on. Life Achievement winner Betty Ballantine gave a rousing cry for attendees to help children learn to read (so we don't end up with another Bush), and Sharyn November's reading of the acceptance by Diana Wynne Jones (the only winner, along with anthology co-editor Terri Windling, not in attendance) was anything but anticlimactic -- a long, funny letter detailing her history with various editors and agents and her plans for her future career.
As usual with the World Fantasy Con, many attendees check out on Sunday -- indeed, have already checked out and are poised to leap for the airport as soon as, if not before, the awards are done. Those staying over hang out in the lobby and bar, form the usual loose groups for dinner, then reconvene in the bar until retreating to their rooms in exhaustion. I had dinner with Mark Rich, Martha Borchardt, David Levine, and Beth Gwinn; hung out in the bar talking with Charles Vess and Rome Quezada and Melissa Snodgrass and Ian Tregillis, then came back to my room to update the site and pack. I'm up first thing in the morning for the long flight (3 hour layover at Dulles) back to LA.