The Road (from) Reno, Part II

Now, I believe I promised you a look at some of the WorldCon panels, yes? Well, here you go.

The panels that I attended fell roughly into three groups: science fact, writing advice, and extreme miscellany. But, that’s not to say that my experience was anything representative of the average Renovation experience. For instance, there were costuming panels pretty much every hour and I didn’t go to a single one. Neither did I attend any of the art panels, and I only went to one publisher’s panel. What you got out of WorldCon (or any con, really) depends on what you want to get out of it. You define your own experience.

Science-wise, WorldCon was attended by a surprising number of science professionals. Some of these, like Geoffrey A. Landis, were also science fiction writers, but others like the Vatican astronomer (!) Guy Consolmagno were just there as fans and professionals. And professional they were; a lot of their panels were like taking extremely brief college classes. There was “The Ethical Treatment of Mars,” in which the panelists discussed whether potential native bacteria had any right not to be terraformed away. On the flip side, “The Future of AI” panelists tried to figure out how to keep us from getting wiped out by our future creations. There were also panels on the psychology of spaceflight, simulated Mars missions, and benign chemistry. I think my wife got into these even more than I did.

WorldCon is for science fiction fans, obviously, but that doesn’t mean that all the fans want to be authors too. In fact, you might remember when I mentioned that many of the convention’s attendees were older folks? Well, most of them steered clear of the writing discussions. It was just younger folks like me, raring to enter the field, who attended them. Really, these panels were a little less special than the science fact ones, just because you could attend similar panels anywhere; just the all-star panelists distinctly WorldCon-ish. Attending the Writing Excuses podcast was really the highlight of my experience there, and I registered my one and only fannish squee moment when I got my Seasons 1-5 DVD signed by all three original hosts (Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells). I try to keep it pro, but I have limits.

In the miscellaneous category, we have (unsurprisingly) everything else. The highlight here was probably the wildly popular puppet show put on by Mary Robinette Kowal’s troupe. It was a semi-improv vignette-based thing called Whatnot, wherein audience members were called to choose anything at all to put into a tray, whereupon it would become a prop or star of a short sketch. I laughed until I cried.

Then there were the publisher catalogs. If I would’ve had a manuscript ready to submit, I would’ve attended every single one of these, found every potentially interested editor, and followed them until they agreed to read my piece. As it was, I only attended the ones for Baen and Tor, and only the second half of the latter. I made a conscious decision not to run myself ragged with the networking–I was on vacation, after all–so I don’t feel too bad about this, but next time will be different.

That’s pretty much it for Renovation. Strange how it’s been less than a week since I was there, but it feels so remote now. Real life is intruding on my vacation space again, as it always must. I have about four weeks to finish Fugitives from Earth if I’m going to get it proofed and submitted in time for OryCon, so no fussing about. I’m refreshed, ready to write, and above all, entirely out of excuses.

If you have any WorldCon-ish questions, just ask!

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