Monday, November 03, 2008

World Fantasy Con, Calgary - Day 4, Sunday 

So to wrap up, after returning home to work, and work.

There were a couple program items Sunday morning, but I was too busy doing a little last minute souvenir shopping, and then packing to check out of my room by noon, to attend them. The banquet began at 12:30, with the doors open at 11:30 for ticket-holders to begin drifting in...

This convention was a little smaller than most World Fantasy Cons, and many of the friends and acquaintances I usually hang out with were not in attendance; so, for instance, I ate alone more often than not. People I meet often wonder why I don't hang out with the 'other' Locus folks, but the fact is the Locus Magazine folks are generally *working* at cons in one way or another, interviewing writers for upcoming issues and meeting with publishers to assess the current and upcoming state of the field, while I am... well, I may be blogging my personal experiences at the con, and posting the awards results, but that's not quite the same, and does not overlap the magazine's business. Still, as I trolled tables in the banquet room for a place to sit, it was hard not to think that the difference between print publishers and online publishers is that the former get seats at invitation-only tables up front...

While I sat at an unaffiliated table at the very back, and had the opportunity to chat with people I'd never before met, including Martin Cox, a writer who is submitting three novels to Tor, and Cath Jackel (a former On Spec editor) and her partner. We talked about favorite writers and how folks in Alberta -- as in LA -- describe distances in terms of time ("it's three hours away").

The meal was pretty good, for banquet food. The program began with toastmaster Tad Williams introducing the guests of honor, then proclaiming "Go Obama!" and launching into an extended riff on the history of fantasy fiction in an alternate-American-history, super-patriotic, McCain/Palin sort of way, full of outrageous puns on famous personages and works, that I will not attempt to reproduce...

The awards were presented efficiently, as always, by awards administrators David G. Hartwell and Rodger Turner. Beth Meacham accepted for Midori Snyder and Terri Windling; Stephen Jones accepted for Peter Crowther and Edward Miller; Robert Shearman was present to accept his surprise (for being an unknown) win for Best Collection; John Klima (who'd lost in two categories himself) accepted for Theodora Goss; Joe Haldeman accepted for Elizabeth Hand; and Guy Gavriel Kay was present for an -- as usual -- exceptionally gracious acceptance speech. Randy Reichart [? - guessing at that spelling] got up to speak for Life Achievement winners Leo & Diane Dillon, while Patricia McKillip was there herself to accept her award.

Once the ceremony was done, I absconded to the hotel lobby to set up my laptop and hope that my third-day internet payment ($13.95/day) was still in effect -- it was! -- and set up the page with the winners and posted that to the site. [There is a problem with the formatting of the bullets on this and some other recent pages, I think as a result of the recent redesign, which involved new style sheets, and I promise I will track that down and fix it real soon now.]

I managed to get that done in time to attend the judges' panel, where the three in attendance -- Dennis McKiernan, Robert Hoge, and Mark Morris -- discussed their process for reading hundreds of books and ranking the winners. They read something liked 275 books (over six months); would read at least 50 pages or so of each book before giving up ('not an award winner'); and, most interestingly, talked about how the Robert Shearman book had been discovered by one of the judges on his own, and pushed to the others, outside of the usual process where publishers are urged to send eligible titles to the judges. WFC administrator and founder David Hartwell, in the audience, seemed delighted that this kind of thing had happened -- it's exactly what the judging process was intended to encourage.

And then -- convention over.

The airport shuttle, C$15, did not show up at its appointed time. After 15 minutes, I gave up and took a taxi, C$35, which was just as well, since Air Canada has you go through Customs before leaving, rather than at the destination, and by the time I got through that, and bought a (very stale) sandwich at a concession stand for my dinner, I had barely 5 minutes before boarding commenced. The flight was OK, about 2/3 full, though I must say that the meal service on Air Canada leaves much to be desired. That stale sandwich not being enough, I was willing to buy a meal on the plane -- but selections were limited 'at this time of night' and the only option was a vegetarian wrap which -- despite its description -- contained nothing but chopped lettuce and shredded carrots. No hummus, no tahini sauce. Six bucks.

Oh well. Read a portion of the new Ian MacLeod novel on the flight. I will try to be more reliable about posting my reader reviews, as I did with KJ Parker, here on this blog...
When we arrived on Wednesday and booked the shuttle to the hotel, they told us Friday was going to be their last day.

The con itself was pleasant. The weather a wonderful surprise.

And I got to meet the Michael Walsh from Vancouver.
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Mark R. Kelly

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mark R. Kelly, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine.
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