Challenger Logo by Alan White   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Winter 2006

What would WorldCon be without Resnick?

Mike Resnick's
LACon IV Diary

Sunday, August 20: Since we were well aware of all the increased security precautions the airports were taking since the London-to-US bomb plot had been discovered a few days earlier, we had Laura drive us to the Dayton airport at 3:00 AM, just to make sure we had time to clear security before our 6:00 AM flight. By my watch, it took the pair of us 54 seconds, total. (We changed planes in St. Louis. We'd been told that we'd have to clear security again. What happened is that we exited our plane at Gate 12, walked 20 yards to Gate 14, and got right onto the Los Angeles flight. Elapsed time: about 90 seconds. So much for security.)

We landed at 9:00 AM Left Coast time, and my cousin Bob Hamburg and his wife Glenda were there to meet us. After a quick breakfast, we went to a location Carol's been wanting to visit since it was completed - the Getty Museum. Fascinating place. Maybe a dozen architecturally-striking buildings atop a large hill (or a very small mountain), with extensive formal gardens, and an even more extensive art collection; every inch of every building was filled, and a guard told us that more than half the collection was in storage. The hill was so steep that you parked half a mile away and took a tram up to the museum. Carol and Glenda took the horticultural tour, Bob and I just wandered through the buildings looking at paintings by Rembrandt and Renoir and Reubens and a bunch of other guys, some of whose names didn't even begin with an R.

At around 2:30 we headed south for Anaheim, made the 35 miles in only an hour and a half of freeway driving, and checked into our room. When the LACon committee asked me to edit their Space Cadets book in honor of Media Guest of Honor Frankie Thomas, who had played Tom Corbett on television back in 1950 (and yes, I watched it religiously at age 8), they wanted to know what I'd charge. I figured if I charged them a fair price based on their limited print run I'd go broke, and if I charged them a fair price based on my standard fee they'd go broke ... so I suggested that since they had filled the hotel and doubtless had some comp rooms, they could give me 6 free nights on the 5th (party level) floor. It became 8 nights when they asked me to contribute a story. The room was large, and it had a private balcony, perhaps 12 feet on a side, overlooking Disneyland; every night at 9:30 you could stand there and watch half an hour of the most colorful fireworks display.

We met Janis Ian and her spouse Pat in the lobby, and the six of us went out to dinner. I'd asked Bob to hunt up the best Greek restaurant in the area, and he came up with Christaki's. Great pastitso, very good dolmades, best saganaki (flaming cheese) I've ever had. Interesting belly dancer; not that skilled, but unbelievably beautiful. The four women criticized her dancing; Bob and I just looked and admired.

Bob dropped us off at the hotel, we visited a bit with the CFG (Cincinnati Fantasy Group) members who had arrived on Saturday - Drew and Yvonne MacDonald, Bill and Cokie Cavin, Debbie Oakes - and then, since I hadn't been to bed at all the night before and Carol had only grabbed a few hours sleep, we went to bed before midnight, unheard-of at a Worldcon.

Monday, August 21: I'm collaborating on a novel with Kevin Anderson (our collaborative short story, "Prevenge", appeared in Analog during the con), and we had planned to have lunch together and spend the afternoon working. But Kevin was on a book tour for the new Dune novel, and while he was in the area, he was at a Hollywood hotel and found out that cabfare would be $125 each way, so we put off the meeting until he actually arrived at the con.

That left lunch and the afternoon free, so we walked over to Downtown Disney. It's pretty small, pretty overpriced, and pretty ugly compared to the lovely, extensive and reasonable Downtown Disney in Orlando. We grabbed a quick and totally unmemorable lunch there, walked back, and Carol took a nap while I went down to the lobby to greet new arrivals. At 4:30 we rented a car - a Sebring convertible, which Carol used to drive before she decided a Jeep Cherokee with 4-wheel drive was more practical on our very steep and hilly streets and driveway - and drove off to meet two of my producers, Ed Elbert and Sarah Black (and their spouses). They currently hold the options to Santiago and Kirinyaga, and Ed, whom we've known for 15 years, is the guy who got Carol and me the screenwriting assignments for Santiago and The Widowmaker a few years back.

The restaurant Ed had chosen was La Vie en Rose, which is in Brea, about 11 or 12 miles north of Anaheim. We arrived on time, but there was a call waiting for us that 4 of the 5 lanes of Interstate 5 were closed and the producers would be half an hour late. I started reading the plaques on the wall, and I was still reading them when our party showed up. This place has been voted the best restaurant in Orange County every year since 1993, it gets 5 stars from just about everyone who gives out ratings, it has a certificate calling it the best restaurant in Southern California signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger (as the Governator, not the actor) ... this is some French country restaurant. Ed and Sarah and their spouses arrive - Ed's wife is a musician who scores movies; Sarah's husband is a screenwriter who's currently scripting a Morgan Freeman film - and we order. I had lobster ravioli, mushroom soup in a pastry bowl, duck in orange sauce, and capped it off with an exquisite chocolate souffle -- my first dessert in 3 months. Carol had venison, thereby taking her revenge against the deer who keep invading her garden to nibble on the flowers.

We talked some business, parted company, and returned to the Anaheim Hilton. Oddly enough, not that many people had arrived yet - the previous weekend had seen a Pokomon tournement, and a lot of the kids were still cluttering the lobby, playing their games. We hunted up some friends - mostly old-time fans; I can't remember if we met my friend Darcee Monday or Tuesday, but I kept running into her all week -- visited a bit, and were in bed relatively early (exceptionally early for a Worldcon), because we had things to do the next morning.


Tuesday, August 22: I think we had breakfast in the coffee shop, but I was too sleepy to remember. Then we drove to the Gene Autry Museum with Drew and Yvonne MacDonald packed in what laughably passes for a back seat in the Sebring, and made it in about an hour. Debbie Oakes and Cokie Cavin went in Debbie's car, and arrived a few minutes after us. Bill Cavin was under the weather and stayed at the hotel.

The Autry is my favorite museum in the LA area, which figures for a kid who was raised up on cowboy movies, and who still has a soft spot in his heart for Hoot Gibson, Ken Maynard, Bob Steele, Sunset Carson, Rocky Lane, and that whole crowd...but this time the visit was a bit disappointing. About a third of the museum was closed for renovations and to set up a new exhibit, and some of the permanent collection was out on loan. Still, there was a remarkable display of Colts and Winchesters, a beautifully refurbished stagecoach, gorgeous saddles, Teddy Roosevelt's gun collection, a Buntline special, Doc Holliday's little revolver, Billy the Kid's shotgun, a bunch of exhibits from the B movies (but not the early TV shows; they were in the part that was being renovated, so we didn't get to pay our respects to Paladin, Bret Maverick, et al.) Still, it took us 3 hours to get through what they had, plus another half hour in their exceptionally well-stocked gift shop, and then we started driving back to the hotel.

The Autry is about 30 miles from the Anaheim Hilton. We left at 1:30 PM, hardly rush hour. It took us until 3:45 to travel those 30 miles in LA traffic. We'd planned to have dinner at my favorite Southern California restaurant (Babouch - great Moroccan food, you sit on Persian rugs, prop yourself up with embroidered cushions, eat with your fingers, and try not to trip a series of great belly dancers), but it's in San Pedro, another 35-mile drive, and I just didn't want to spend 5 more hours, coming and going, in traffic, so we turned in the car after 23 hours and 51 minutes so as not to pay an extra day, got hold of Tony and Suford Lewis - our dinner companions - and told them we were eating locally. Lawrence Person, editor of Nova Express and my guide whenever I'm at Armadillocon in Austin - joined us, and we had a nice, if unexceptional, dinner at a nearby sort-of-Mexican restaurant.

Adrienne Gormley showed up Tuesday, and very graciously loaned Carol a laptop for the duration of the con. I had a bunch of eBay auctions closing, and Joel Zakem let me log with his computer on a few different nights long enough to transfer the money from PayPal to my bank account.

By Tuesday night most of the bid suites were opened - Chicago, Denver, Columbus, Australia, Kansas City and Montreal -- and I managed to hit all of them. Carol missed the first few - she watched those fireworks every night that she could - and then joined me. As with every Worldcon, it was the last night before the convention officially opened, which meant that it was my last night to be a fan.


Wednesday, August 23: We had a table with 4 chairs and an umbrella on our private patio, and Carol opted to have room service bring her lunch there. I went down to the coffee shop to meet a pair of Brits, George Mann and his assistant, Mark, who edit the brand-new Solaris line in England. I'd already sold George a novelette and he wanted to buy some books from me, which is a wonderful way to put me in a good mood. The problem with these diaries is that I write them up right after the cons, and the deals I negotiate aren't complete for a couple of months, so I can't tell you what the deal is, only that at con's end we thought we still had a deal.

I had a quick hour to take my first tour of the huckster's room, which Larry Smith tells me had 247 tables and 17 booths. Then, at 2:30, I had a panel on "Great First Lines". First panel in 30+ years I actually had to prepare for. I mean, how the hell many great first lines can you remember off the top of your head? ("The doorknob opened a cold blue eye and winked", "In five years the penis will be obsolete", "One morning the Pope forgot to take her pill", and out.)

When it was over I went down to the huckster's room to sign at the Asimov's table, where I ran into the Female Person From Colorado (a/k/a Connie Willis), who was just finishing her own signing, and finally got to meet her husband, Courtney.

After that I went back to the Hilton, where I did a one-hour reading to a nice-sized audience. I read them a science fiction story that I think has a real shot at the 2008 Hugo, a fantasy story that could have been written by Damon Runyon, and a little, funny, thousand-worder I did for Nature Magazine.

I met Carol in the lobby after my reading, and we took a cab to the Grand Californian Hotel - we were running too late to walk - where we met Lou Anders, my editor at Pyr, his wife Xin, his mother, and his 15-month-old son whom I insist on calling Mike Junior. The restaurant was the Napa Rose, every bit as expensive as La Vie en Rose, but while very nice, not in a class with the other one. Had a wonderful two hours - Lou and I have become close friends over the past couple of years - and didn't really talk any business. They're happy with me - I'm the top seller in the Pyr line - and I'm happy with them; they've committed to buy 6 more books. So we just chatted and gossiped, and I played with Mike Junior.

CFG finally got their suite, which they kept open for the next 5 days. We never bid for anything; it's a hospitality suite, open to friends (and by definition, since we never advertise it, a friend is anyone who knows where to find it). SFWA opened their suite, and so did ASFA (the American Science Fiction Artists), both on the 6th floor to avoid a couple of thousand kids trying to crash it.

I had brought along a DVD with three of "my" films on it: Metal Tears, Jake Bradbury's live-action adaptation of "Robots Don't Cry" that debuted at Noreascon IV; Machines Don't Cry, a computer-animation adaptation of the same story; and the 30-minute condensed backer's version of The Branch, famed in song and story as the film that got producer/director Josep Guarro excommunicated from the Andorran church and thrown out of Andorra for 15 years. I left the disk in the CFG suite, and anyone who wanted to load it into a laptop and watch it was welcome to; during the con I saw a number of fans doing so.

I got Drew and Yvonne into the SFWA suite, introduced them to Greg Benford, Pat Cadigan, Gardner Dozois, and a number of other writers and editors, then took them up to the 7th floor where there was a reception for writers and workshop participants, where they met Nancy Kress, George R. R. Martin, and saw CFG member (and the only CFG pro not named Resnick) Steve Leigh, who also writes as "S. L. Farrell".

Everyone kept asking me where Laura was - I suspect she far outsells me these days - but she was home recuperating. She'd just spent a few months in Israel for the Associated Press, and got out the day before the shooting started. (Well, before the shooting with Hezbollah; the shooting with Hamas had been going on for a couple of weeks.)

After I left Yvonne charming a bunch of pros, I went to some of the other parties. Ran into Bill Fawcett, and for the first time in years neither of us had anything to sell to the other. Made arrangements to meet next year at DragonCon; I've never been to one, but they offered to fly us there and put us up, so how could I say no?

Ran into Kay Kenyon, and insisted on introducing her to some editors and podcasters who should love her work, then did the same for a couple of other writers. Before the weekend was over, I'd managed to introduce Rob Sawyer, Bob Silverberg, Nancy Kress, Kevin Anderson and Harry Turtledove (as well as Kay) to my Escape Pod guy, who I believe had committed to buy from all of them by Saturday night.

Eventually I wound up back at CFG, as I almost always do at Worldcon, visiting with Pat and Roger Sims, Dick Spelman, John Hertz, Mark Linneman, Sue and Steve Francis, and other old fannish friends. Pros don't come to CFG very often the way they used to, because the two cultures have diverged, and pros want to talk about the business while fans want to SMOF or talk about what they've read - but I go to the suite to briefly get away from the business end of things, so I'm thoroughly comfortable there.


Thursday, August 24: Bob Silverberg and I always have lunch at Worldcon, and since we both grew up in Jewish neighborhoods and now live in places with no delis (not mediocre or poor delis, but no delis) we always try to eat at one. We found a highly-recommended one in Costa Mesa. And Bob was driving down from the Oakland Hills and would have a car.

But Karen (his wife, Karen Haber) took his car to go shopping, so we figured, what the hell, we want a deli, let's take a cab, how much can it be? (Answer: $35 each way. $70 total, so he could have a bowl of matzo ball soup and I could have chopped liver and blintzes. Whoever said science fiction writers are smart?)

We split the cabfare, but Bob had to pay for the meal. And the reason he had to pay was because the LACon committee had asked him to emcee the Guest of Honor speeches on Thursday night and he said, No, get Resnick. The only reason he lived long enough to have lunch is because I thought he'd have a car.

Now, when the committee, on one week's notice, asked me if I'd toastmaster this two-hour shindig, I figured I should get a little something extra for it. Not money; I'm a fan at heart. But I knew my cousin Bob and his wife Glenda were coming by to hear the speeches and attend the private Resnick Listserv party Thursday night, so I said Yes, I will host the damned event, provided you give one-day memberships to Bob and Glenda, which they promptly did. (Well, I also said. "Provided I don't have to wear a jacket and tie, or shoes with laces.")

So while Silverberg and I were seeing the countryside at $3.00 a mile, Carol met Bob and Glenda, saw them through registration, and turned them loose in the huckster room and art show (and they had such a good time that they're coming to Denver in 2008). In the meantime, I had my official autographing from 3:00 to 4:00.

So I sit down, and Eric Flint comes by to say hello and schmooze a bit while I'm signing, and then Ralph Roberts shows up and sits down next to me to visit, and since he's in a dozen of my anthologies I have him sign whenever one shows up, and I realize at 3:55 that my line is longer than ever. Now, once in a while, I sign an extra few minutes beyond my hour to take care of the stragglers, but this was like nothing I've ever experienced. 4:15 comes and goes, so does 4:30, and the line is still long, and I am hoping all my editors are watching, because I am sure I am signing more books in one afternoon than their royalty statements say I have sold in a year. Finally Carol comes by at 5:00 to point out that we have to leave for dinner so I can be back to host the Guest of Honor event, so I tell the last few people to show up at Larry Smith's table Friday and I'd move them to the front of the line.

When we'd gone to ConJose in 2002 we had a couple of meals at a Marie Calendar's, which I gather are commonplace in California but haven't reached the Midwest yet. We fondly remembered their pies, so we asked Bob to drive us to the nearest Calendar's, about 5 miles away, for dinner. Dinner was okay, about the level of a Bob Evans or a Mimi's; the pies were superb.

Then it was back to the hotel, where we showed Bob and Glenda around until just before 8:00, and then mosied over to the convention center. I stepped out on the stage to check it out, found the spotlight blinding and a notecard I placed on the podium unreadable, and realized I was going to have to do the whole thing off the cuff, except for one part where I had to read off the names of Howard Devore's family. Some guy backstage was nice enough to keep a tally, so I can tell you that in the course of the evening I told jokes about Nancy Kress, Janis Ian, Bob Silverberg, David Gerrold (twice), Gardner Dozois, Connie Willis (thrice), Jim Gurney, Howard Devore, George R. R. Martin, Joe Haldeman, Anne McCaffrey, and SFWA. (It's nice to have friends, even if they're no longer your own.)

LACon lost two of its four Guests of Honor this year - Big-Hearted Howard Devore, the Fan GOH, died a day or two into the new year, and Frankie Thomas, the Media GOH, died a couple of months ago. While I spoke a bit about both of them, it made for a shorter ceremony that might have been anticipated a year ago. Jim Gurney did a fascinating slide show, and Connie Willis, the dreaded Female Person From Colorado, gave a very serious, very emotional, very un-Connie-like speech, which ended with her in tears (and made me decide not to clip her with any zingers after she finished). It thought it went pretty smoothly, and we wound it up in about 95 minutes.

Then it was back to the CFG suite to unwind a bit, and at 11:00 I went down to the third floor, where LACon had thoughtfully provided the Resnick Listserv and its friends with a very nice room. I read a story, then Linda and Juli belly-danced, then I read another story, then they danced again, and so on. Adrienne Gormley also read one, and Bob Faw read a sonnet and a short-short. Guy and Rosy Lillian showed up for part of it, so did Drew and Yvonne MacDonald, Jack McDevitt was there for the whole thing (and would still be there if the ladies were still dancing), Eric Flint showed up for the final hour. It wasn't a suite or a party room, so there were no couches and no refreshments, but everyone seemed to have a good time, and we broke up after maybe 2 ½ hours.

Bob and Glenda went home, everyone else to their scattered parties went, and I went to the Baen's Universe suite, which Eric was hosting. I'd sold him a pretty nice novelette a month earlier titled "All the Things You Are", and he'd asked me to bring another one to the con so he could read it on the way home. I handed him a 6,000-worder titled "The Big Guy" - a science fiction basketball story, except that it isn't really - and instead of waiting to go home, he read it that night and when I woke up there was a phone message that he'd bought it. Which is about the only pleasant way to wake up that I've ever discovered.


Friday, August 25: I dragged myself out of bed and made it down to the coffee shop at the ungodly hour of 11:00 to have my postponed lunch with Kevin Anderson. We spent a couple of hours working out some of the broader details of the novel's outline - Kevin's a guy who likes 60-page outlines, and considering the advances he gets, who can say him nay? - and we'll probably be working on the outline even longer than we work on the book. Hopefully the outline will be ready for submission by mid-December.

Then Kevin and I wandered over to the huckster room, where all the contributors to Space Cadets, the anthology I'd edited for LACon IV, were seated at a huge table for an autograph session. There was Connie Willis, Harry Turtledove, Kevin, me, Nancy Kress, David Brin, Greg Benford, Larry Niven - names like that. And we drew a huge crowd, one that kept us there 45 minutes beyond our alotted hour. But there was one guy, I couldn't see him clearly from where I sat, who signed only one autograph the whole time. It was Walter Koenig, who played Chekov on Star Trek. He must have confused this with a Trek convention, because he sat down next to the biggest names in the field, who of course were autographing for free, and had a little sign posted to the effect that he would sign an autograph for a mere $20.00. I wouldn't expect to see him back.

Because of the autographing I was a bit late for the Pyr panel, in which Lou Anders was introducing all his authors, describing their books with fanatical enthusiasm, and showing slides of their covers on a screen. I'd been nagging Kay Kenyon for a year to submit to Lou - I know what he likes - and she finally did, and sold him a 4-book series. This was her first look at her cover; I think her face glowed brighter than the screen. By the time the panel was done I think Lou had made it pretty clear that Pyr is not a small press: in his first two years he's published me, Alan Dean Foster, Mike Moorcock, and Bob Silverberg, among others. I've had three different cover artists from Pyr - John Picacio, Stephen Martiniere, and Bob Eggleton - and all three were on the Hugo ballot.

Then at 4:00 I went back to the huckster room for a signing with Janis Ian at Larry Smith's table. And as I've been doing ever since Millennium Philcon, I asked the belly dancers to come and draw a crowd - and as they have been doing every year, they wiggled and jiggled and sold about $400 more Resnick books than I used to sell in that hour before I thought of inviting them to dance. Larry and Sally had brought a large supply of anthologies that had Janis in them, so she was kept busy signing for most of the hour. Linda and Juli drew so many onlookers/buyers than I stuck around another half hour. I think when the dust settled I signed about 3 times as many books at LACon as I'd ever done at any prior Worldcon. I don't know why. My first thought was that I hadn't been out there since the last LACon, but actually I'd been to Con-Dor, just 90 miles south of there, maybe 4 years ago. I guess it'll remain a very pleasant mystery. We met Glenn Yeffeth, publisher of BenBella books, and my old friend and recent collaborator David Gerrold, for dinner, and went into the upscale Italian restaurant in the Hilton. We'd been taken there five evenings in a row at LACon III and were thoroughly sick of it by convention's end, but it had been a decade since we'd dined there, and it was a wonderful meal. I'd been editing a reprint line of sf for Glenn for a couple of years, starting in 2003, but it didn't sell as well as his media books (big surprise, right?), and we decided to drop it, which freed me to edit another line elsewhere should I choose to ... but we remained friends, and indeed I've edited some anthologies for him, and he's reprinting my Soothsayer/Oracle/Prophet trilogy. During the meal he announced that he'd spoken to his distributors about the latest anthology we planned to do, and they were so enthused that he now wants to make it a six-anthology series. Which was even more satisfying than dessert (but I had dessert anyhow.)

Never did make the masquerade, though I've now seen photos of all the costumes, and think "Captain Jack Sparrow" - a 6-foot bird in a pirate's outfit - should have been a shoo-in for Most Humorous, Most Creative, and half a dozen other Mosts. Got up to the SFWA suite, where Asimov's and Analog were having a dessert party, then stopped by CFG long enough to partake of one of the pies - French Silk, my favorite - that the gang had brought back from Baker's Square. Stopped by the overcrowded (as usual) Tor party, got to say hi to Beth Meacham and Tom Doherty, then went to the Escape Pod Party. Stephen Eley, who runs Escape Pod, has bought six of my stories in the past 3 months, and has made a firm believer out of me; the first one I sold him was heard by a French producer/director who promptly e-mailed me and bought an 18-month option on it.

Wound up back at the Baen's Universe suite, which seemed to be the only non-bidding suite open after 3:00 - very unfannish, how early the parties kept shutting down - and visited with the Baeniacs for a couple of hours, then toddled off to bed just ahead of the sunrise, which is the way you're supposed to do it at Worldcons.


Saturday, August 26: I had another ungodly early lunch at 11:00, this time with Eric Flint. He'd just bought my story, we had collaborated on an anthology for Baen during the summer, and I had a novel idea that played to both of our strengths that I knew he'd love, so I brought it - and Carol - along. Carol ate and left by noon, Eric decided - no surprise - that he wanted to collaborate on the novel, and we spent the next hour going over some plot points and ideas for sequels, since it should be a relatively easy sell.

Which is just one more reason why I love this field. There are absolutely no uninteresting people in it. Three years ago I'd never heard of Lou Anders; five months ago all I knew about Eric was that he wrote a lot of books, most of them for Baen. Today they're two of my closest friends.

I went to my kaffeeklatsch - they finally served kaffee at one of these things - and passed out autographed dust jackets, cover flats, trading cards from Chicon IV (I still have maybe 200 left), and discussed forthcoming works and answered any and all questions. Lousy venue; we were located maybe 60 feet from the stage of the fan cabaret, with no wall between us, just a curtain. Fortunately there was a lady harpist during my hour; I hate to think of how it would have gone had there been a drummer, or a guy who plugged his guitar into a socket.

I spent the next hour going through the huckster room, signing my books at publishers' tables. Meisha Merlin had brought out a trade paperback of A Gathering of Widowmaker, Eric Reynolds had brought out Golden Age SF, there was a pile of The Worldcon Guest of Honor Speeches to be signed, and so on. The one thing I didn't sign was Space Cadets. There were just no more to be had; the limited $75.00 edition was gone by Thursday, and the $25.00 trade was unavailable by Saturday afternoon.

At 4:00 I stopped by the Edge table, which had offered a corner to Rob Sawyer's Red Deer Books, and signed with Nick DiChario. Red Deer had just brought out his first novel, and I'd done an introduction to it, so we signed for an hour. Even signed a few of our collection of 11 collaborations, Magic Feathers, which was published 6 years ago.

Then it was time to get Carol and meet my agent, Eleanor Wood, for dinner...but Carol had picked up a mild stomach virus that morning and opted out, so Eleanor and I ate together. She has been my agent and friend for 23 years now, and I hate to think of where my career would have gone without her. I have explained to her in no uncertain terms that she is absolutely, positively not allowed to retire or die before I do.

After dinner we were joined by Ed Elbert, my producer, and his wife Karen, and we made it to the Hugo Nominees Reception just in time to grab the last of the sweets they'd laid out. (I'd arranged for Ed and Karen to be my guests at the Hugos, as well as Carol and Eleanor - but I'd forgotten that while the committee knew about them, the convention center's security guards didn't. At the last minute I borrowed Bill and Cokie Cavin's badges for them, and returned the badges after the ceremony.)

Connie Willis was the Toastmistress, and Bob Silverberg was her comic foil. The two of them delighted the audience with a routine that ran throughout the ceremony. By now you've all read the results - yes, I lost again, for the 23rd time, which makes my 5 wins seem kind of paltry; I mean, if you couldn't hit .200, you'd find yourself sitting on the bench in the Albanian League. Harlan Ellison presented the short story Hugo and became everyone's main topic of conversation for the next week or two after fellating the microphone, slandering Ginny Heinlein, groping Connie's breast, and otherwise comporting himself exactly like Harlan; this kind of stuff played a lot better 40 years ago.

I took Ed and Karen to the bar for a couple of hours after the ceremony. Then they had to leave - even at midnight they're a 90-minute drive from Anaheim - and I went to the room to check on Carol. She was feeling better, but thought it wise not to eat or party. I recounted the Hugos, and my various conversations, to her, then hit a few suites, went to CFG, found everyone too busy playing this idiot card game called Wizards to party, so Bob Faw and I went off to visit Baen Books, which had rented out the Presidential Suite for the night. It was for a Jim Baen memorial, but that was over, most of the crowd was gone, and Bob and I sat down and, so help me, we spent the next two hours bonding with Baen's powers-that-be by swapping dirty jokes with Toni Weisskopf and Hank Reinhardt. We didn't break up until 4:30, and believe it or not, it was the most fun I'd had the whole convention.


Sunday, August 27: This was the day of the late-morning Resnick Listserv brunch. We were set to ask for a table for 14, but Bob Faw didn't show up, and Fred Ramsey didn't show up, and Guy and Rosy Lillian didn't show up, and Paula Lieberman didn't show up, and this one didn't show up, and that one didn't show up, and when the dust cleared there was me, Carol, Darcee, Adrienne, Debbie Oakes, and Ralph and Pat Roberts. (You know, Ralph has been one of my closest friends since 1980, but this was only the second times we'd ever met in person. Amazing how the computer has changed the art of socializing.)

After brunch Carol decided that she maybe had a 36-hour virus instead of a 24-hour one and went back to the room to lie down and take it easy. I was at loose ends. I'd done the business I'd come to do, with Eric and Baen, Solaris, BenBella, some anthologists and podcasters, and some of my producers. The only other person I'd wanted to see was Ginjer Buchanan of Ace; we'd been working together on next year's Nebula Awards volume, we're old friends, and we'd planned to have dinner Thursday night - but I got a panicky called from her Monday just before she left New York that she'd inadvertantly double-booked dinner for that night, and since I knew we'd have access to my cousin's car and not be stuck at a hotel restaurant I said that we'd cancel and meet for a drink ... and I never saw her the whole convention. I'd given her a proposal and a couple of outlines back at Boskone in February, and I figured if she wanted them she'd have said so, so I just wanted to visit with her and catch up on gossip. And as I was walking out the door of the hotel and heading for the convention center, who should I literally bump into but the elusive Ms. Buchanan. She was looking for someone, and thought he might be in the con center, so I offered to accompany her. "By the way," she said, "I loved your outlines and ..." and then she broke off to point at some kid in a cute hall costume, and I said, "Ginjer, if you don't finish that sentence in the next 10 seconds there won't be enough of you left to bury." "Oh, I'll be making an offer on it this month," she said distractedly, and went back to talking about the costume.

And that is how business gets done.

Now I really had no more business to do, so I went back to the hotel, checked on Carol, went to CFG until dinnertime, found that Carol was finally feeling healthy again, and we went down to the lobby to meet the DiCharios - Nick, Mom and Dad - for dinner.

Then I went to CFG, Carol packed and joined me, and we just hung out til maybe 10:00. Then, since Darcee was driving us to the airport at 2 in the morning, Carol decided to take a nap until 1:30, so I hit the few remaining parties, wound up back in CFG where I ran into Andy Porter, Ed Meskys (who had just lost his guide dog on Friday; that dog had been to more cons that 80% of the attendees), and Fred Prophet.


Monday, August 28: And finally, at 2:00, it was time to go. For once the highway was relatively empty, and Darcee dumped is at LAX at 2:40 AM. Our flight took off at 6:00, we had a 2-hour layover and change of planes in Dallas, landed in Dayton at 5:20, and waited two more hours for Laura, who was caught in traffic right behind an 18-wheeler that jacknifed, to pick us up.

We were exhausted when we got home, but there was one package in the mail that looked so interesting I opened it before I went to bed. It was Jack Williamson's latest novel, published 78 years after his debut novel - and it was dedicated to me (and others). When one of your boyhood heroes does something like that, all the bad stuff - and all careers have some bad stuff - fades away and you feel like you've Arrived.

Maybe one of my dedications can make someone else feel that way in another 15 or 20 years, I hope so.



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Challenger is (c) 2003-2006 by Guy H. Lillian III.
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