|A Science Fiction Fanzine||Winter 2008-9|
Mike’s conventions always sound like more fun than mine! Can’t mind that much, since he always shares his good times …
DENVENTION 3 DIARY
illo Sheryl Birkhead
We decided to spend a couple of less days at Worldcon this year, simply because we had less time to spend. As a multiple-Hugo-winning writer, I get two or three Guest of Honor or Special Guest gigs a year…but as the co-editor of Jim Baen’s Universe, with a decent budget and bi-monthly publication, I got eleven this year, and I still had all my writing commitments.
We flew from Dayton – the same distance from our house as the Cincinnati airport, and always much cheaper – and changed planes in Dallas, getting to Denver just after noon. We took the shuttle to our hotel, checked in, and found we were two rooms away from the CFG suite.
Maybe I should tell you about the hotel. When all the major hotels were sold out of their Worldcon blocks within two days, CFG – my home club, the venerable Cincinnati Fantasy Group – decided not to wait for them to have cancellations, or to go the outlying hotels…so Bill Cavin found us a Hilton that was kitty-corner from the convention center; only the Hyatt was closer. We blocked 40 rooms and a hospitality suite, and filled about 30 before the deadline. Our rooms had huge flat-screen TVs, refrigerators, and microwaves, and the elevators always worked. I also passed the word to some pro friends, so along with CFG and its fannish friends, the hotel was also home to Harry Turtledove, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith, Eric Flint, Kay Kenyon, Sharon Shinn, and Louise Marley.
Anyway, while Carol was packing I finally met Lesley Ainge, who will be my next collaborator. She’d arrived from Australia the night before, and since this was not just her first Worldcon but her first con of any kind, I escorted her over to the con center, where we both registered and picked up our various materials. Lesley was rooming with B.J. Galler-Smith, who showed up in late afternoon, and they, we, my cousin Bob Hamburg and his wife Glenda, and Tony and Suford Lewis, went out to the 16th Street Mall for dinner. The place I wanted to try – it was open 24 hours – had motorcycles and hookers in front of it, so we walked a little farther and wound up at the Rialto Café for a nice, serviceable, unmemorable meal.
We went back to the CFG suite for awhile. Carol, who had a serious case of altitude sickness in Colorado Springs when we were there for CoSine (the most enjoyable regional I’ve been to in a decade) in January, was being affected again, though not as badly, and she opted out of the 5-block walk, that night and every night, to the parties. After visiting a bit at the suite, B.J., Lesley, and I went off to the Sheraton – the party hotel – for the Australia-in-2010 party. We stayed for a couple of hours, but nothing else was going on, and finally we wandered back to CFG, and I turned in relatively early for a Worldcon – about 3:00 AM.
Wednesday, August 6:
Carol went to Denver’s world-class art museum in the morning with B.J., Cokie Cavin and Debbie Oakes. I hung around the hotel for awhile, then met Lesley and went over to the con center, thoroughly explored the dealers room – which had a lot higher percentage of booksellers than usual – and stopped by the art show. There were a number of small and medium press publishers with their own tables, and though I hadn’t come expecting to do any business – for a change I was happy with all my publishers – I did some anyway, a very pleasant surprise.
I met Bob Silverberg for our annual deli lunch. (We both grew up in Jewish neighborhoods and developed a taste for blintzes, chopped liver, and the like – and then moved to places that have absolutely no delis.) It was a pleasant visit, and we congratulated each other on being named science fiction’s two greatest speakers in a long article in the then-current File 770 (this year’s Hugo-winning fanzine), a conclusion with which we are n total agreement.
Then it was back to the convention, and the dealers room. One line of books was especially impressive: Planet Stories, a subsidiary of Paizo Publishing, is bringing out a line of classic pulp reprints – C. L. Moore, Henry Kuttner, Leigh Brackett, and more. Back in 1981 I put together all 13 of Moore’s Northwest Smith stories (which I love) for Don Grant, when she was Guest of Honor at Denvention 2 – but she was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, didn’t remember writing all of them, and would only agree to let Don print the ones she remembered. The Planet book reprints them all – and when I told them the story of 1981, they graciously asked me to write an Afterword to the next edition, as well as a forward to a new Leigh Brackett reprint.
I signed at the SFWA table for half an hour in the early afternoon, then did my official autographing at 4:00. Steve Feldberg, who had bought eight of my books for Audible.com during the past few months, stopped by to introduce himself, and we visited until dinnertime.
Kris and Dean treated Carol, Lesley and me to dinner at the Hilton, a very pleasant meal. Carol was really feeling kind of woozy, having walked to the museum (no one told her group that the free trolly stopped right in front of it), and again had an easy night of it. The SFWA suite officially opened, and there were a lot more parties, including the Chicago-in-2012 bid party, so I took a group that included B.J., Lesley, Yvonne and Drew MacDonald, and Debbie Oakes to the party hotel and stuck with them long enough to make sure they all got their little stickers on their badges that would allow them to return to the SFWA suite the rest of the convention without needing a pro to get them in. Most of the parties were on the 22nd floor, and I have to say it was the most crowded, most physically uncomfortable, party venue in years. I got up there every night – Pyr and Baen, two of my publishers, were there – but for the most part I tried to stay in the Presidential Suites on the 6th and 8th floors, which, along with the basement and the 22nd, were the other party venues.
About one o’clock Lesley and I stopped by the Hyatt for some hot chocolate, I dropped her off at the Hilton, and I went back to the Sheraton to visit with old friends and do a little business. Got in about 5:00 AM, and I started feeling more like I was at a Worldcon.
Thursday, August 7:
Thursday was a busy day. I got up for breakfast with Carol, we went over to the con center and looked around and visited some. Then she went back to take a nap – the altitude was really bothering her – and I did a rather silly panel on galactic empires, a reading, and a really enjoyable panel on the old pulp magazines – and since BJ had just sold her first novel, I made sure to announce it at every panel and reading.
Carol showed up at the end of the pulp panel, and we met Bill Schafer, my editor/publisher at Subterranean, who has become a very good friend, and his incredibly efficient jack-of-all-trades assistant, Yanni Kuznia. We went back to the Rialto for dinner, discussed future projects – I already have a Subterranean book out this year, two more coming next year, and one the year after that, and as I write these words Subterranean’s magazine is featuring its “special Mike Resnick issue”. Hard not to like a publisher like that.
A few of us hit the Aussie party, but we were back early, because the committee had thoughtfully provided the Resnick Listserv with its own meeting room in the Hyatt at 10:00. I read some stories, Linda Donahue read one, Linda and Juli Mandala belly-danced between readings, Bob and Glenda Hamburg, Steve Dreksler, Guy and Rosy Lillian, and some other Listservers showed up (and some non-Listservers too) and a good time seemed to be had by all. (Eric Flint is still upset that he had a 10:00 PM panel and missed the belly-dancing.) It broke up about midnight, a few of us went back over to the Sheraton for the parties, came back for coffee and soft drinks around 2:30, and then I went back alone for maybe two more hours. Sold a reprint novella and accepted assignments to introduce a couple of collections, so it was a well-spent couple of hours.
Friday, August 8:
I dragged myself out of bed in time to show up to sign the Asimov’s 30th Annual Anthology with Connie Willis and Jim Kelly – and Connie, for reasons that still elude me, wrote a few lines on a banana peel and inscribed it to me. Photos of the peel have since cropped up all the hell over the internet. After the signing, I stuck around awhile to visit with Tachyon’s people; nice guys, and I hope we’ll do some business one of these days.
Next was a panel with Tony Lewis and Tom Whitmore, about the appearance of Worldcon in works of fiction. Interesting, in a limited way. As the editor of Alternate Worldcons and Again, Alternate Worldcons I was the moderator.
Drew a full house for my kaffeeklatsch. Pyr and Ralph Roberts thoughtfully supplied jackets, cover flats, and ads sheets that I inscribed and gave away. I’ve still got maybe a hundred trading cards with a photo of me and a rhino from Chicon VI, and I suspect I’ll keep giving away ten at every kaffeeklatsch until I run out.
Lou Anders had asked most of his writers to attend a promotional panel for Pyr Books, and since they’ve been publishing two or three books of mine every year since they started, I was happy to lend a little moral support. I can’t remember everyone who was on the panel, but I know I sat next to Kay Kenyon, whose Pyr books are making a major splash.
Carol and I met Eleanor Wood, my agent of 25 years, for dinner at the Hyatt. Not a 5-star meal by any means, but the best meal we had during the convention. We discussed current and future business, and I reiterated my annual pronouncement that she is not allowed to retire or die before I do.
Then it was off to the Sheraton, where Asimov’s and Analog were hosting their annual party in the SFWA Suite, and the Tor party was going strong two floors above it. And I had to do a duty dance at the Pyr party up on the 22nd floor. I helped newcomer Rebecca Hardy meet a couple of editors and agents she wanted to meet, and stuck around til maybe 1:30. Then I walked some of the ladies back to the Hilton, and returned to the Sheraton for a few more hours.
Saturday, August 9:
This was our last full day in Denver.
It started with an Asimov’s signing – the magazine, not the anthology – after which Carol and I had lunch at the Hyatt with Lou Anders. Then came the panel that was supposed to be the highlight of the convention. Evidently they took a vote of the committee to choose the people best able to wing it on a panel and amuse the audience, and the winners (nominees?) were Connie Willis, Joe Haldeman, and me. There was no topic; it was simply listed as “The Best Panel Ever”. They gave us a huge double room, and just about every seat was filled. They also gave us a last-minute panelist, David Zindell; no one knows why, and in truth he was overmatched from the outset. The original three seemed to amuse the audience enough that no one walked out disappointed.
Then I did my annual signing at Larry Smith and Sally Kobee’s table, with my annual coterie of belly dancers. This year it was Linda and Juli and two other girls I’d never seen before. Didn’t do as much business as usual. Part of it was because they’d already sold out all their copies of my new hardcover, Stalking the Vampire, and most of their copies of the new reprint of Stalking the Unicorn, and part of it was that the battery was running down on the dancers’ boom box and people more than two aisles away didn’t know there was any belly dancing going on, and hence didn’t come by to be enticed into buying books.
We skipped dinner, since the Hugo reception began at 6:00, and they always lay out a spread at these shindigs. As usual each nominee was allowed two guests, but since I was also accepting for Barry Malzberg if he won, I was allowed four, two for me and two for Barry, so I brought four ladies: Carol, Eleanor Wood, Lesley and BJ. It was hot and crowded, but we found a backstage dressing room, invited Toni Weisskopf to join us, and relaxed in splendid isolation on comfortable leather couches until the ceremony started.
Wil McCarthy was a fine Toastmaster, and the ceremony went off without a hitch. (Well, one hitch: I lost another Hugo. So did Barry.)
I ran into Byron Tetrick and a number of his friends, and they joined BJ, Lesley, and a couple of CFGers and me at the Sheraton, where I got those who hadn’t been into the SFWA suite and the rest into the Hugo Losers Party. Ace was holding a party, and so was Baen, up on the 22nd floor. As the co-editor of Jim Baen’s Universe I had to make an appearance. I ran into my co-editor, Eric Flint, who looked as uncomfortable as I felt, and we decided to go over to the Hyatt’s all-night coffee bar. Lesley and BJ came with us, and we spent a couple of hours talking. Then they all went back to the Hilton. I made one more trip to the Sheraton, where I talked a little business with Steve Saffel, and where my good friend, rival agent Joshua Bilmas, gave me some information I needed about a gaming offer, and I got back to our room about two hours before the alarm went off at 8:00.
We packed, went down to the lobby, ran into Louise Marley for the first time all weekend, said good-bye to BJ, Lesley, and Kay Kenyon, and took the shuttle to the airport. Going against the clock and changing planes in Dallas, we got home at about nine at night.
Overall memories: I was worried about Carol, who finally began adjusting to the altitude on Saturday. I was delighted to finally meet Lesley, who is a charming lady and a fine writer. I was almost as happy over BJ’s first book sale as she was. It was fun to swap banter and barbs with the <shudder!> Female Person From Colorado. I really enjoyed visiting with Bill Schafer and Lou Anders and Toni Weisskopf, my three primary editors these days. And I always love to spend time with Eric Flint; three years ago we had never met, and now we co-edit Jim Baen’s Universe, we have co-edited four anthologies, we’ve collaborated on a story that I think may be one of my two or three best-ever collaborations, and we’ve signed a contract to collaborate on the first book of a proposed trilogy.
It wasn’t a big con. Only about 3,660 live bodies. I think part of it was the high airfares, part was surely four-dollar-a-gallon gas, and part of doubtless the number of hotels and poor location of most of them. Still, I enjoyed it, as I always do, and I’m already looking forward to Montreal.