Challenger - Return Home   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Spring/Summer 2003

Rosy and I couldn’t make it to ConJose, but fortunately, we have a friend who did ...



Wednesday, August 28: Uneventful flight from Cincinnati to San Francisco, which is to say, I slept for all 5 hours of it. The ConJose web page had warned us that a door-to-door shuttle from the San Francisco airport to the Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose was $34.00 -- but they never asked for the group rate, and it turned out that each extra member of a party was only $5.00, so while everyone else was avoiding the shuttle, we got there for less than half the price of a taxi. (Usually we get to Worldcon on a Monday or Tuesday to spend time with all our fannish friends, since once the con starts I'm a working pro, but since we were touring Monterey after the con with a bunch of them, we decided not to show up until Wednesday.) We'd gotten a call the night before from Debbie Oakes, who was co-hosting the CFG suite, that it was in room 905, so naturally we asked for the 9th floor. And got it. In the new Artist: Kurt Erichsen, copyright 2002tower. Which meant that every time we wanted to go to the suite we had to take an elevator down to the ground or second floor, walk across to the old tower, and then take an elevator up to the 9th floor. On the other hand, there were no parties in the new tower and it was quiet as a tomb. Never a wait for elevators, either - until they started breaking down.

While Carol unpacked and took a nap (she doesn't sleep on planes), I met Janis Ian and we registered and went over to the dealer's room. It wasn't open to the public until Thursday, but 39 years after my first Worldcon, I am not without my resources.

The convention center was a couple of blocks from the Fairmont. Not a terrible walk, but we'd packed and dressed for 72-degree days and 55-degree nights, and a few of those days the temperature hit 90. And, like last year, I managed to bust a big blood blister, this time on the big toe of my left foot. Didn't hurt, but since I've been a diabetic for the past five years and I'd kind of like to go to my grave intact, I medicated and bandaged it twice a day. (I've got to remember not to wear new shoes to Worldcons.)

On the way back, Janis and I stopped at the Fairmont's bar for soft drinks, and ran into George R. R. Martin and Terry Prachett. Strange feeling to be the only guy at the table who wasn't a Pro Guest of Honor at an upcoming Worldcon (2003 for George, 2004 for Terry).

As usual, I had a bunch of books coming out from small presses timed to coincide with Worldcon - and as usual, even though I handed in the manuscripts from 8 to 10 months before the cons and proofed them a few months in advance, one (With a Little Help From My Friends, my collection of 25 collaborations with different writers, from Farthest Star) was in the huckster's room when the con began, one (THE SCIENCE FICTION PROFESSIONAL, from Farthest Star) made it Friday, and one (Once a Fan..., from Wildside Press) never made it at all. Given that any specialty press can reasonably expect to double their sales on a sub-1000 print run by getting out in time for the whole of Worldcon, I have never understood why they can't seem to manage. (I remember that at Chicon VI, in 2000, I had 5 specialty press books due out for Worldcon; 2 showed up Friday, 2 Saturday, and one never. Go figure.)

While greeting old friends and buying and autographing books, I found out that my friend Charles Sheffield wasn't the only major sf writer currently suffering from a brain tumor. It seems that Robert Forward also has one, and isn't expected to last to next year's Worldcon. And this year we've already lost Damon Knight, Ray Lafferty, and two of my very close friends, Jack Haldeman and George Alec Effinger.

Saw Jack Chalker riding around on one of those motorized scooters. I assumed it was because of his arthritic knees, but he explained that a couple of times in the past month he'd become so short of breath that he couldn't walk, and was waiting for the results of some medical tests.

Not a good year for longevity or health.

We picked up Carol and met Tony and Suford Lewis, Rick Katze, and Debbie Oakes for dinner, and went to the Inca Gardens. Nice food, mediocre service, and horrible management (it took them 40 minutes to compute our check, and I still don't know if the tip was included. Asking them didn't help; they only spoke Incan or Peruvian, whichever is more obscure.)

Went back to the hotel, visited a bit, hit the LA party and a couple of private parties, and went to bed relatively early - about 2:00 - since I knew I wouldn't be getting much sleep the next few nights.


Thursday, August 29: Carol took one look at the menu posted outside the hotel's "cheap" (compared to its other restaurants) coffee shop, discovered that a glass of orange juice was something like $9.00, and decided we were eating elsewhere, which was fine by me, since on those rare occasions I'm up before noon all I have is coffee anyway. She found a charming little outdoor area maybe 200 feet from the hotel, outside the Knight-Ridder building, where she had some juice and rolls, and I injected a little coffee into a vein. Then I went off to the con, and she and Debbie Oakes and Cokie Cavin began touring those San Jose sights and landmarks that were, well, tourable.

Val Ontell came up to me and invited me to be Guest of Honor at Con-Dor, a February convention in San Diego. Leave snow-covered Cincinnati and spend a few extra days visiting the San Diego Zoo and Zoo Park and maybe do a little whale-watching? Tough call. Of course I accepted.

A new audio company, Audio Literature, sought me out and suggested that they wanted to do a little business. I sent them some suggestions after I got back home, and we'll see what's what. Audio Frequency, the audio "magazine" that records the Hugo nominees for Best Short Story, was there, and had asked to record my reading - but I never saw them. I think they sponsored a party in the SFWA Suite one night. (Want to lose me? Go to the SFWA Suite. I promise I won't follow.)

Ran into Caz - Camille Cazedessus, Jr. - the Burroughs fan (and 1966 fanzine Hugo winner) at a dealer's table. He's the guy who published my first fanzine articles and fiction just about 40 years ago, and introduced me to fandom (well, the Burroughs variety, anyway) and Worldcons. Said hello to all the book dealers, most of whom have been friends for ages, signed a bunch of books, then went off to do the first of my panels, something titled "The Future of Africa". I didn't think it sounded all that interesting, but we filled a huge room to overflowing, and indeed I was the only panelist who hadn't spent most of my life as a full-time resident of either Zimbabwe or South Africa. I am a pessimist about Africa's near future - say, the next half century - but my opinion was positively upbeat compared to those who'd been living there lately.

I had to go off to do a pair of print interviews, and then a radio interview. Janis joined Carol and me for dinner at Stratta, an Italian restaurant right next door to the Inca Gardens. (Why? Because the Inca Gardens ladies' room was out of order the night before, and they had to use the one at Stratta, and as they walked through the place they decided they liked the looks of the dishes.)

CFG (Cincinnati Fantasy Group for the uninitiated) almost always has a 5-day hospitality suite at Worldcon, and this year was no different. But I didn't get to it right away, because Terry Bisson had written a radio play called "The Hugo Nominee", and had enlisted me, Janis, Lucius Shepard, Nancy Kress (before Charles developed the brain tumor and they had to cancel out of Worldcon), and four or five other pros to appear in it Friday night, and the only chance we had to rehearse was in the Fairmont lobby at 8:00 Thursday. It went rather well, and I must admit it played a lot funnier than it read.

Then it was nearing 10:00 Thursday night at Worldcon, traditional time for the Babes For Bwana party (formerly yclept the Resnick Listserv party ... but it's not limited to the Listserv. Any CFG member, indeed just about any pro or fan I know, is welcome.)

Once again Gordie Meyer (Mr. Obscura Press) graciously donated his suite, and Christy Harden-Smith served as cook and hostess. We really laid out a hell of a spread, topped off, like last year, by chocolate fondue. By 10:45 we had quite a crowd, and then the belly dancers showed up, just like last year, and entertained for maybe an hour, by the end of which a lot of the Babes (and non-Babe Ron Collins) were tentatively attempting the ballet de belly themselves. Julie and Linda, the dancers, stuck around and gave a repeat performance at about 1:00, after which Bart Kemper and I borrowed their swords and gave a brief fencing demonstration. The door to Gordie's suite was literally across the hall from the door to the CFG suite, so each party kind of slopped over into the other - and Bill Cavin, the God-Emperor of CFG, remembered to bring his video camera, so this year we've got the dancers and some of the party on video.

At some point Susan Matthews, who has the most delightful and distinctive giggle I've ever heard, showed up, and we agreed to collaborate on a story in the next few months. (Time to start stockpiling stories for With a Little More Help from My Friends.)

The party finally broke up around 3:30, and I stayed an extra hour or two, talking a little business with Gordie and a couple of other editors. Finally got to bed about 6:00, par for the course at a Worldcon.

Friday, August 30: Got up at 9:00. Showered, medicated and bandaged the toe, and went off to meet Shayne Bell for coffee. We'd collaborated on a funny Mars story for Mars Probe, and were in the middle of collaborating on a serious novella set on Mount Kilimanjaro when tragedy struck - Shayne lost someone very dear to him - and we put it on the back burner for a few months. Now we're back on the track, and we hope to finish it by year's end.

I went right from coffee with Shayne to lunch with Bob Silverberg. Since he knows his way around San Jose - he lives an hour away - I left the choice of restaurants to him. Well, we wandered and wandered and wandered, as we discovered that each restaurant he fondly remembered had been torn down or sold. Finally we ate at what I consider a typical California restaurant -- they seemed to specialize in parsley-and-grass sandwiches - but we had a very pleasant visit for maybe an hour and a half. He had come straight from the SFWA meeting - I attend once a decade, and since I went in 1998 I felt no obligation to go again this soon - and he related some of the silliness that passed for serious debate, enough to make me think that once a decade is probably a little too often. Then he was off to a panel, and I had to go be photographed by Locus, which is replacing all their black-and-white files with color shots.

I had a midafternoon kaffeeklatsch at the Hilton, which was attached to far end of the convention center. For the second year in a row, they supplied neither coffee nor pastries - not even the usual weak coffee and stale donuts - but Joe Haldeman and I had side-by-side rooms, and we filled them. As usual, I brought a bunch of giveaways -- Santiago and Hunting the Snark cover flats, color Xeroxes of some foreign covers, leftover trading cards from Chicon - and we had a pleasant enough hour. Then I spent another hour autographing at the Asimov's booth while Gardner Dozois tried to raise a little money on the side by selling kisses to me. When that didn't work, he hit upon a far more lucrative proposition: pay him and I wouldn't kiss you.

Now, all during the day, Terry Bisson or ConJose committee members had been approaching me and all the other performers in Terry's play to give us a never-ending series of schedule changes. It seems that Patrick Stewart (is that his name? The bald guy in the Star Trek show) was going to be at the con for an hour, and we were scheduled to follow him, but he kept changing the times he'd be there, and as more con members found out about it they kept changing the venue. Originally it was in the Imperial Ballroom of the Fairmont, then in the Civic Auditorium, then the Ballroom again, then the Auditorium again. We were first scheduled to perform at 8:00 PM, then 9:30, then 7:45, and so on. Just before I left for dinner, I was told that the final, set-in-stone, never-to-be-changed-again schedule was that we would perform at exactly 9:15 PM at the Auditorium (though all the signs advertising us at the Ballroom were never removed and a lot of disgruntled con members showed up there.)

We went to dinner with Harry and all the Turtledoves - wife Laura, daughter Allison, daughter Rachel, daughter Rebecca, and Janis Ian. Harry and I agreed to collaborate on a story for a Lou Anders anthology later this year, but I spent most of my time talking to Laura, who is the one person in science fiction who knows as much (or probably more) about the musical theater as I do. I've been trading audio and video bootlegs with her for a couple of years now. Recently she picked up an extra job creating the weekly trivia quiz for Fynesworth Alley (a small company that makes CDs of off-Broadway and truly obscure musicals.) We ate at the House of Siam, the one truly outstanding restaurant we found in San Jose.

Then, at 8:30, Carol and Janis and I walked over to the auditorium, where we would be performing at 9:15. And walked in. And heard something remarkably like "The Hugo Nominee" coming from the direction of the stage.

Right. They changed the time again. Whoever was in charge of scheduling - probably a former elevator Nazi - walked up to Terry when Patrick Stewart had finished and told him to put his play on. He explained that most of his actors were still at dinner, since they had told him the play would go on at 9:15. He was then told that he had five minutes to start or they were canceling it. So he got a bunch of volunteers from the audience - Dave Hartwell took my part, John Douglas took Janis', and so on - and they gave a not-wildly-impressive stone cold reading. I was just as happy to sit in the dark and relax, but Janis was annoyed and I'm told that Lucius was furious.

Then it was off to the DAW party. It was private, for DAW authors only, and I'm not a DAW author - but I did edit four anthologies for DAW this year, so I didn't have any trouble getting in. Ran into Marty Greenberg, and briefly discussed a couple of new anthology proposals with him. Someone from Indianapolis walked up and invited me to be the Guest of Honor at a new and as-yet-unnamed convention to be held in January of 2004. They laid out quite a spread at the party, and I ate enough pastries to last for the weekend. Then I dropped in on the Japanese and Boston parties, went to a couple of private parties and Gordie's suite, and wound up, as usual, at the CFG suite, where I stayed until maybe 4:00, talking to old friends.

Saturday, August 31: I dragged myself out of bed and managed to meet Betsy Mitchell, the relatively new head honcho at del Rey Books, for breakfast at 10:00. Well, she had breakfast; I had coffee. I'm still officially a del Rey author, though I haven't given them anything since Kirinyaga, and they seem to have decided that it's time for me to sell them something else. I don't know what'll come of it, but it was a pleasant meeting/breakfast. I went from there to the convention center, where I led the Fan History tour. It was a nice exhibit, with a couple of dozen Hugos from different years, a bunch of giveaways and program books from each Worldcon, even a photo display, and we just went down the line while I told anecdotes about each item. As usual, it was the single public performance I enjoyed most. This was my third year in a row of leading the tour, and I hope they'll ask me again next year.

Then I had to race back to the hotel for lunch with Marty Greenberg. Well, officially lunch; in point of fact the coffee shop was still serving breakfast, and I was almost awake by then, so I had some Eggs Benedict, always my favorite breakfast wherever I am. Janis, with whom I am editing the big-budget Janis Ian's Universe, joined us, we discussed future anthologies with her and ways to promote the current one - possibly with a signed, numbered hardcover shrink-wrapped with a CD of all the songs the writers are basing their stories upon - and Marty told me he'd be hitting the DAW ladies with a couple of my proposals on Sunday and would let me know which they bought (if any) at the Hugo ceremony.

Trudged back to the con center - and by now I was really getting tired of that two-block walk, and the fact that from time to time they turned off the escalators to save on electricity (or so the explanation went) - and joined Joe Haldeman, George R. R. Martin, and Patrick Neilsen-Hayden for a panel titled "I'm Still a Fan", in which 3 multiple-Hugo-winning authors and the guy in charge of Tor's science fiction program tried to convince a skeptical audience that we really were fans. Then I spotted Fred Prophet in the audience, and announced that a former Worldcon chairman (Detroit, 1959) was sitting among them, and that all
4 of the panelists knew who it was and were long-time friends of his, and would the audience members who knew please raise their hands - and in that huge audience, only Paula Lieberman and Gay Haldeman knew Fred. Then Rusty Hevelin wandered in and took a seat, and I announced that I could also spot a former Worldcon Fan Guest of Honor (Denver, 1981), and that again, all the panelists knew who it was and had been his friends for years, and did any audience member besides Gay and Paula know who I was referring to? The answer was No. I had Fred and Rusty stand up and introduced them, and our fannish bona fides were not questioned again for the remainder of the panel. I had a few minutes to talk a little business with Warren Lapine and John Douglas, and then I had to do the "official" autograph session for an hour. After that I stole a few more minutes to talk some business with Mark Olson and other powers-that-be at NESFA Press, and then I had a panel called "The Horsey Set", composed of five lady writers who own, ride and love horses, and good old Mike, who wrote a weekly column on horse racing for over a decade but happens to think that horses are among the dumbest creatures that God made. I did get to explain the interesting economics of the sport - Seattle Slew was valued at $160 million in the late 1980s, and this year Storm Cat will service over 100 mares at a fee of $500,000 per service - and I managed to introduce the audience to George Alec Effinger's wonderful story of the one-legged racehorse who was ten yards from winning the Kentucky Derby when he broke his leg ... but for some reason the panel was scheduled at 5:30, and like most of the panelists I had to leave early because of a previously-scheduled business dinner.

In my case, it was with Carol and Eleanor Wood, my agent for the past 19 years. Eleanor's more than an agent. She's a friend, who has gone to Egypt with us (and just decided to come to the San Diego convention and visit the zoo and zoo park with us in February), and once our business was taken care of, we spent a couple of hours just visiting. And since we'd liked it so much the previous night (and no one seemed to recommend anything else with any enthusiasm), we found ourselves back at the House of Siam again.

We weren't going to walk over to the Civic Auditorium to stand in an endless line to see the masquerade, so I decided to watch it on closed-circuit TV in the CFG suite. Then I found out that for the first time in years no part of the con, not even the masquerade or Hugos, were on closed-circuit, so to this moment I have no idea who won or if the costumes were above or below average. (Sometime Saturday people began calling the con "Nolacon II without the French Quarter.")

Carol stayed at CFG, and Eleanor and I went up to the Tor party, where I ran into David Brin, Kage Baker, Gene Wolfe, Stan Robinson, Jim Kelly, Orson Scott Card, and a number of other writers I hadn't yet seen. (Jim was really upset that I hadn't brought along my tux for this year's Hugos. I explained that I only wore it on years I thought I had a chance. As it turned out, I think he was one of only three writers with a tux - but then, it was California.) I asked David how many kids he was up to now. His classic answer: "One human and two boys."

I got to visit a bit with Beth Meacham, my long-time Tor editor (18 years and counting) and for a change I found Tom Doherty inside the suite rather than gasping for fresh air in the hall. All the Tor writers were busy doing business with all the Tor editors, so I signaled B. J. Galler-Smith and Tom Gerencer to join me and got Tom, who was feeling expansive and loves to talk business, to give them the equivalent of a condensed college course on publishing and distributing science fiction.

I went down to the Japanese party, hit the Boston party, looked in at the Columbus party, stopped by CFG for awhile, and then went back to Tor to talk a little business with a couple of foreign editors who had asked to meet me there at 1:00 AM. I also found Joe Siclari and we spent some time discussing a book project we've been putting together. Then it was back to CFG until about 4:00, and off to bed.

Sunday, September 1: For a change there were no business breakfasts on the schedule, so Carol and I wandered over to the Tech Museum and had a very nice, very quiet breakfast. As usual, it felt like the only occasions we got to spend any time together at a Worldcon were during meals. It didn't used to be like that - but I didn't used to be a pro who lined up his work for the coming year at Worldcon.

I had a panel with Rob Sawyer and a couple of others on "Genetically Engineered Pets" at 11:30. Rob had to leave early for a lunch appointment. Dull panel; I envied him.

I had to sign for half an hour at the SFWA table at 1:00, and then at 1:45 I did a reading. For the second year in a row, the Worldcon programmers didn't give us an hour - it was 30 minutes at Philadelphia, which was ridiculous, and about 35 or 40 minutes here, which wasn't a hell of a lot better, since it meant you couldn't read a novelette or even a longish short story. I read "Robots Don't Cry", which will show up in Asimov's next year, and was pleased to see a few tears show up on audience cheeks. And B. J. Galler-Smith cried so much that I had an almost unbearable urge to stop reading, put the story down, and just watch her.

Then it was 2:30, time for my hour's signing at Larry Smith and Sally Kobee's table, and, just like last year, I'd made an arrangement with Linda and Julie, the belly-dancers (their third member wasn't here this year) to perform right next to where I was signing. (Last year Larry, who could reasonably expect to sell maybe one Resnick book an hour at a Worldcon where I was in attendance, sold about $600 in the hour that I autographed and they danced.) After 20 minutes I was afraid it was a one-time phenomenon - they had sold only a single $20 trade paperback - but then everyone started buying, and they did about $400 worth of business the next 35 yes, the belly dancers will be back again next year, not just at the party but at the autographing.

I picked up another Guest of Honor gig - they asked me not to mention it until they announce it officially - and then Janis and I went off to be interviewed on television by Donna Drapeau, who had done a fine interview with me at Chicago and had interviewed the two of us at Philadelphia (but some jerk in the studio had inadvertently erased it before it could be shown.)

Then the Albacon crew, where I'll be Guest of Honor in less than a month, took Carol and me out to dinner, and we got back in time to change into somewhat better clothing (I wore a jacket, but for the first time as a Hugo nominee I didn't bother with a tie).

There were three elevators in our tower, which had worked to perfection all week, but on Hugo night two of them chose to break down, and it took maybe fifteen minutes to catch the other and take it down to the ground floor. We picked up Janis, who was our guest, and went to the Hugo reception, three hot blocks away at the Hilton. I was glad we'd eaten; unlike Philadelphia, they didn't lay out much of a spread.

About 8:00 they marched us across the street to the Civic Auditorium. I've been to steambaths that weren't as warm. People started sneaking out after ten minutes, and kept it up all night, which beat the hell out of staying and fainting. Even Janis, who performs under hot lights almost every night, couldn't take the heat and left before the Hugos were announced.

Tad Williams was the first (male) Toastmaster in a quarter of a century not to wear a tux, which made me feel a little less conspicuous. Evidently no one had tested the equipment, because the Toastmaster's microphone wasn't working for the first few minutes. Most people were so uncomfortable in the stifling heat of the auditorium that they didn't even notice.

The late Martha Beck, who died this spring, was posthumously awarded the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. Very deserving; she lived for fandom, and it would have been one of the true highlights of her life. It brought back all the visits we'd shared and all the cons we'd gone to together. Then our dear friend Pat Sims won the Big Heart Award, and you can read about all the other winners in my annual Hugo Ceremony report for Chronicle. There were some major upsets, foremost of which was Gardner Dozois losing Best Editor for the first time in a decade. I think we could clearly see the results of massive electronic voting this year, in that electronic editors (Ellen Datlow) and publications (Ansible) beat the traditional favorites/winners.

And yes, for the record, I lost both the Best Short Story and Best Related Book Hugos, both to worthy winners, though not to the ones I had expected to lose to.

I never did run into Marty Greenberg again, though I later got an e-mail telling me which anthology we had sold to DAW. Jaime Levine, who has just taken over Betsy Mitchell's old spot at Warner's, walked up as we were leaving the Hugos, introduced herself, and suggested that we might do some business together. Sounded good to me, and I'll be getting back to her as soon as I catch up with all the other commitments I seem to have made in San Jose.

Since the elevators weren't working in our tower, and there was an hour-long line for them in the party tower, Carol and I sat down with Eleanor Wood in the Fairmont's lobby and ordered some much-needed cold drinks. (I had my first beer in a decade, to show you just how warm and uncomfortable I was. Usually I only drink it in Africa, where it's safer than the water.)

At one point Connie Willis walked up to thank me for offering to write her biography for this summer's DeepSouthcon program book - the committee forgot and had someone else do it - and to assure me that it wasn't her idea. I told her that I wasn't upset at all ... but she wanted to make sure, and in the process mentioned that she would be happy to write my biography if I ever asked - and I stopped her right there and told her she could do it for Albacon next month. So I'm going to be written up by the dreaded Female Person From Colorado, to whom I have lost 86 Hugos (well, maybe only 73, but it feels like 86.)

While we were there, we signed another couple of get-well cards for Charles Sheffield, and wished him a speedy recovery for yet another video camera. It'll take all his energy just to go through all the cards and videos he receives this week.

I skipped the Hugo Losers party - I simply couldn't get to an elevator. Carol and I went to CFG for awhile. Then she went back to the room, while I ran into Bill Fawcett. I can't remember what party we were at, but it was so crowded that we went back down to the lobby - it was after midnight now, and it had emptied out somewhat - and started bringing each other up to date on what we'd been doing. And while I wasn't looking for any assignments, he came up with one for a non-fiction book he's editing with my old pal Brian Thomsen that looks like so much fun I'd have done it for free. And his wife, Jody Lynn Nye, extended an invite through him for me to write for an upcoming anthology of hers.

Sleep deprivation finally started catching up with me, and I went to our tower, waited for the one functioning elevator, and actually flopped into bed at about 2:15, maybe the earliest I've been to bed at a Worldcon this millennium.

Monday, September 2: Had another photo session at 11:00 AM, then went off to my final panel, "Creating Anthologies", which had a lot of anthology editors on it - me, Ellen Datlow, Patrick Neilsen Hayden, maybe a couple of others -- but whenever I'm on one of these anthology panels, I keep wanting to suggest that they just get Marty Greenberg to do a Q-and-A with the audience and be done with it, since he's behind about 90% of the anthologies that get published in this field, even when his name's not on the book.

Then I bade the convention center farewell, made that 2-block walk for the last time, and went off to lunch with Carol, Gardner Dozois, Susan Casper (who seems to be recovering quite well from her quadruple bypass last spring), and Janis Ian. Gardner seemed to be taking his Best Editor loss quite well; at least, he knew not to complain in front of a guy who has now lost 7 Hugos in the past three years. When we were done we wandered into the gift shop and ran into Greg Benford. Greg and I exchanged some market and restaurant info for a bit, and then he, Gardner and I started going through all the toys and playing with them while our ladies waited in annoyed silence.

Since a bunch of us were staying in California to visit the Monterey Peninsula, Debbie Oakes, Bill Cavin, Carol and I, who would be splitting the driving, took a cab to the Hertz corral at the airport, where we had reserved a Windstar van, and drove it back to the hotel.

CFG had agreed to let Janice Gelb use our suite for her 25th Anniversary in Fandom party from 1:30 to 5:30 PM, provided CFG members could attend, so we spent part of the afternoon there. Rich Lynch got me to promise to write an article for Mimosa #30, which he and Nicki swear will be their last issue despite all their Hugos ... and with Lan's Lantern, another of my favorite fanzine markets is dead, it looks like I'll be doing a lot of my future fan writing for a pair of new fanzines, Michael Burstein's Burstzine and John Teehan's Slight of Hand ... plus old standby Fosfax, and of course Guy Lillian's Challenger, which I really think deserved the last two fanzine Hugos.

Carol and I went out for dinner with Janis, who seems to have become a member of the family - kid sister, older daughter, we haven't figured out which, but we're very comfortable with her - but all the restaurants were closed, and we wound up back at the Fairmont's Grill, where you could get a perfectly acceptable $18.00 meal for only $40.00.

Carol stayed at CFG until maybe 9:30, then went off to pack. I stayed until about 2:30, had a pleasant visit with Karen Anderson (Poul's widow), whom I hadn't seen in years, teased the hell out of Stephen Boucher (who seems inadvertently to have become the Chairman of the Australia-in-2010 bid), passed a little time with Rick Katze and John Hertz, saw Mark Irwin (a long-time fan with whom I actually won a bridge tournament when we were both high school students back in the Pleistocene), and finally went back to our own tower, where the elevators were working perfectly now that the con was officially over.

Tuesday, September 3: Got up about 9:00, and while Carol finished packing, Debbie and I drove Dick Spelman and Roger Sims to pick up their rental car. Then we wasted half an hour trying to ship my largest suitcase home - UPS didn't have a big enough box - before we found out that the Fairmont had a shipping service and had boxes of all sizes.

By 11:00 we were ready to go. Carol, Debbie, Bill and Cokie Cavin, and I all piled into the van with our luggage. Pat and Roger Sims and Dick Spelman went into the rented car. Adrienne Gormley, who lives in San Jose and spent Monday night at her house doing her laundry, drove out by herself. The eight of us (everyone but Adrienne) stopped at a Marie Calendar's for lunch - I'd never heard of it, but I've been assured that it's a national franchise specializing in great pies - and about 2:00 we reached the Pacific Gardens Inn, a row of large wooden cabins, in Pacific Grove, halfway between Monterey and Carmel.

Only one problem with the inn: it had such a primitive phone system that I couldn't connect to the Internet. I had 93 auctions closing on eBay that evening, and I had promised a lot of editors, collaborators, and fans to send a lot of stuff ... but after messing around trying to log on for a few hours that night, I had to admit it couldn't be done and everyone from successful bidders to anxious editors would just have to wait until I got home a few days later.

Since we still had a goodly part of the afternoon left, and were on Daylight Saving Time, the nine of us loaded up the van and car - I don't think we ever took Adrienne's truck anywhere - and went off to see the fabled Seventeen Mile Drive, which cost $8.00 to enter, and was worth it. Everyone else got to see the seashore and birds and seals, and Roger got to see the Pebble Beach Golf Course. (So did I, though I couldn't spot the 17th hole. Too bad; I was actually curious to see what it looked like. Some years back I wrote a story, which has appeared in half a dozen magazines and books, and indeed just won a Prix Ozone in France, called "How I Wrote the New Testament, Brought Forth the Renaissance, and Birdied the 17th Hole at Pebble Beach".)

Roger decided that he wants to live there and play Pebble Beach every day, so I picked up a real estate listing magazine and found him a home: right on the golf course, 5 bedrooms, $20 million. That's $4 million a bedroom. I used to write in the sex field during my starving-writer days, and even I can't think of $4 million worth of things to do in a bedroom.

We ate dinner in Monterey at a restaurant called The Fishwife. Very nice seafood (though I got the impression that every restaurant in all three towns served very nice seafood, and just about nothing else.)

Six of them went off to play Wizards, a card game that has never interested me. Adrienne, who recently became an Active member of SFWA, and I talked a little science fiction while Carol read, and then I started catching up on lost sleep. I crashed at 9:15, and never budged for 11 hours.

Wednesday, September 4: We had coffee and Danish at the inn, then went down to the Monterey wharf, got onto a boat with a marine biologist and maybe 20 other customers, and went whale watching. I slept for the first hour, but I woke up in time for The Sighting - and what a sighting it was! In an area where 99% of the whale sightings are humpbacks, we found ourselves in the middle of a pod of blue whales, and that's as big as animals on this planet have ever gotten to be. (Comment by the biologist: "Here's a little one. Only about 70 feet long, barely 55 tons.") Unbelievable, to be surrounded by half a dozen of these hundred-foot behemoths. To the best of my knowledge no whale ever attacked a man; any whaler who died was killed after they'd harassed and harpooned one of these huge creatures that seem perfectly willing to live in peace and harmony with everyone and everything - and even then they were killed because the whale destroyed the whaling boat in its crazed attempts to escape. You have to wonder just how badly we really needed oil to light the lamps of New England, or why we couldn't have just killed a few trees to light the place up.

A number of different dolphin species, including one incredibly rare one that seemed to thrill the hell out of our marine biologist, raced playfully alongside the boat at different times. Their speed and endurance is remarkable. We were going full speed, and they paced us for the better part of a half hour before losing interest.

When it was over, we went back to the inn, grabbed some lunch, and then I went out book-shopping with Carol, Dick, Debbie and Adrienne. (There are more than half a dozen second-hand bookstores along Lighthouse Drive, the main drag in Monterey.)

By dinnertime we were all getting a little tired of seafood (except me; I don't eat anything with scales. Ever. Which means I never get tired of it) so we found another Marie Calendar's at a shopping center about 8 miles away and had dinner there. Then, just like the previous night, almost everyone went off to play Wizards, only this time I didn't even stay up to talk science fiction with Adrienne. I was in bed and asleep by 10:00.

Thursday, September 5: We had coffee and Danish at the Inn, then drove to the world-famous Monterey Aquarium. I've been to Tampa's state-of-the-art aquarium, to Chicago's huge, remodeled Shedd Aquarium, and to the brand-new Cincinnati/Newport Aquarium - but Silverberg, Benford and George R.R. Martin were right: this is much the best. And while they have huge tanks filled with sharks and tuna, and they have a fascinating otter exhibit, and they have tons of other stuff, Silverberg was also right about the most fascinating exhibit: believe it or not, it was the jellyfish display. It is so colorful, so beautiful, and (especially) so other-worldly that I can't imagine a science fiction writer not being able to come up with half a dozen alien species after seeing it.

The aquarium had a very fine restaurant, and we had lunch there. Then we drove to Carmel. Fascinating little tourist town, filled with stores selling the most useless and expensive trinkets you ever saw. Two stores were devoted entirely to Christmas decorations. In California. In September. Dozens of art galleries, selling unknown artists for unbelievable prices. But the architecture was charming, and the whole town was within a few blocks of the ocean. Parking was all-but-impossible. (We had been warned that even the hotels didn't provide parking, which is why we chose to stay in Pacific Grove.) City Hall, where Dirty Harry used to preside a couple of years ago, has a grand total of six parking spaces, four of them reserved.

After we'd walked around for an hour to get the feel of the place, I decided to do what I love doing in new and scenic upscale areas, and that was to drive down a number of side streets and residential lanes and get thoroughly lost and just look at all the houses and landscapes and views that aren't on the tourist trail. I've done it everywhere from Fairfield County in Connecticut to Barrington Hills in Illinois to Boca Raton in Florida, and I've always enjoyed it -- and since I had the car keys, I announced that I was going to do it here. So everyone piled in, and as it was too early for dinner, Dick and Pat and Roger followed in their rented car.

And it was the highlight of the day as far as I'm concerned. After we'd gone up and down winding roads past 3-and-4-level houses built into the hills, many with gorgeous bay views, I came to something called Ocean Drive, so I turned on it, and we spent the next half hour driving along the ocean, passing one $15 million mansion after another, with some of the most stunning views I'd ever seen. (The smells were also stunning, in a different way. Not many places stink quite as badly as the Northern California seashore. Carol assures me that it's because of all the sea life - live seals and sea lions and otters and birds, and dead fish and fish parts washing up onto the shore - and that it's the sign of a healthy ecosystem. I never said it wasn't healthy; I just said it stinks, and I stick by it.)

For dinner, we decided not to go too far afield, and we found a delightful place in Pacific Grove right on the waterfront called The Tinnery. Then everyone went back to the inn for more Wizards, and I actually stayed up reading until maybe 11:00.

Friday, September 6: We all made the airport on time. I slept for the whole 150-minute ride. Then, since we were there three hours early (Bill and Cokie's flight left ahead of ours), I slept for another hour. Then we boarded the plane and I slept for another 5 hours.

By the time we got home I'd made up just about all the sleep I lost at Worldcon. Just as well. There were 974 e-mail messages waiting for me. I stayed up all night Friday answering them, and got done at 3:15 PM Saturday. At 3:30, our mail lady drove up and delivered the 11 days' worth of mail that had been on hold while we were gone. Three huge baskets' worth.

I know why I go to Worldcons. What I wish I knew is why I ever come back from them. M


[ HOME ]     [ Current Issue ]     [ Archives ]

Challenger is (c) 2003 by Guy H. Lillian III.
Rights to first print and on-line publication reserved; all rights revert to contributors upon publication.