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WFC 2017 report

San Antonio feels in November like Pittsburgh does in July: humid, warm, full of the sound of Diesel engines—thought the grackles are absent from Pgh—and the smell of green water and grease. It is a city full of stairs and hidden passages and the kind of heartfelt southwest aesthetic that Los Angeles tries to imitate, often unsuccessfully.

It’s been a long weekend, literally. It started on Thursday with a cascade of set-up in the art show and the dealer’s room, which was accomplished largely due to the helpfulness of the staff and my Wonderful Mother. By Saturday, Friday morning was a distant memory, and new acquaintances from Thursday night felt like old friends. Though there were those, too. (You know who you are.) It was so very good to see all of you.

World Fantasy continues to be a puzzlingly wonderful convention. Though not as lucrative (for me) as AnthroCon, and not as exhuberant as WorldCon, I found it as full of interesting, intelligent, brave, creative people as ever. Also, the hospitality suite was excellent.

Also excellent was the art show, which was not only well-stocked by top-notch artists, but the hard working staff kept the bidding open through the (wet) art show reception, thus enabling a few crucial last-minute bids which absolutely made the weekend (for this artist at least). My heartfelt thanks to Scott Zubrek and his team, especially Jimmy, Ruth, Gretchen, and Rhonda—the best enabler. Thanks too to Greg and Lisa for steering the dealer’s room one last time.

The greatest difference from my perspective between this and my last World Fantasy (D.C. in 2014) was that this time I was not left floundering when trying to describe what I do, but merely had to gesture at the contents of my table. Which were, admittedly, varied enough that some people were still confused as to whether I was the author or the artist. Which is understandable, since there are few creaturs who are so involved in the process (shall we say) as I am—but I think there are more of us than we think. I have personally met enough writers who draw (and vice versa) that I think I could fill a panel with them. Which John Picacio actually did, to great effect, with Kathleen Jennings, Jeffrey Alan Love and Greg Manchess—none of whom had been on my own personal list. So, that is also a change.

Another change was the prominence of indie and self-published authors, one which I’m happy to be a part of. It was great to meet and talk with Brian Hades and David Stokes, two champions of alternate stories. The importance of diverse and marginalized voices being given amplification ranks very high with me, and it was good to others in the same boat.

Besides being able to sell my work to people I’ve long admired, I’d have to rank the readings of Davids D. Levine and Mitchell as the highlights of the con. Levine read excerpts of Battle of Venus (Arabella 2) and Arabella 3 to great effect, while Mitchell read three shorts which shook me like words hadn’t done since I read The 13 Clocks.

But nothing compared to getting handed a fresh-off-the-table Jeffrey Alan Love original at the mass signing on Friday night. Jeffrey is a stunning artist and I can’t wait to read his writing.

We will be boarding soon, and I doubt I’ll have time to finish this up afterwards (I plan to spend the flight writing micro-stories… or sleeping. Or both.) Quickly, then, a shout out to Adrian, another author I hope to read one day, with whom we discovered we shared a very dear friend. Also, some exciting news for the future: Heliopause Productions will be opening a web store for signed books, prints, and whatever other merch I have in stock. If you missed filling out your Professor Odd collection or missed WFC entirely, watch this space!

Now to trot off to the bathroom before they bundle us onto a metal tube to Phoenix.

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I’m writing this in the little dining area across from Upper Crust in Helsinki-Vantaa Int. Airport, with about 30 minutes to boarding, since I just know once we get done with Iceland this incredible weekend will be blown from my mind.

With that in mind: WorldCon75 was absolutely magical, fun, exciting, and overwhelming in the best possible way. The rapid-fire highlight reel:

Getting to take City Bikes to and from the Messukeskus. Our hotel was about 2.5 miles away, but that made for a lovely bicycle ride along Helsinki’s marvelous protected bike lines and numerous cycle pathes. In fact, these pathes were so numerous that the WM and I took a slightly different route each of the four days we did it!

I had forgotten the expansive breakfast buffets of European hotels. That was a nice thing. So many soft boiled eggs!

The con itself was very well attended. So well, in fact, that they ran out of program space on the first day, and had to limit day-pass sales the rest of the weekend. What this translated into for me, however, were some of the best-attended panels I’ve had the pleasure to serve on. I walked into the Diana Wynne Jones panel at noon on Wednesday to find it packed wall to wall. It was a job to keep from blubbering in joy.

The Nordic Steampunk Blacksmiths set up in front of the South Entrance added a special ambiance to the whole venue. It was especially charming catching them putting on their (quite necessary) sun screen on Wednesday morning.

While line-wrangling for George R R Martin’s Thursday signing I fell into a conversation about single malt with a large Finnish man who declared he would “get me drunk” on scotch at some point. I later learned he was the head of security. I feel this more or less typifies my relationship with that department. (Glances sideways at her DI friends.)

It was lovely to connect and re-connect with so many kindred spirits. I know I shall forget some but here are the ones I’ve remembered: Eleanor Joslin, Gili Bar-Hillel and her family (hi, Tali!), Rob Carlos and Lee Moyer and Venetia Charles, thank you for saving the Illustrated Stories panel in the absence of Claire Wendling. It was wonderful to see Mari Ness and to watch the Hugos on twitter in the bar with Scotch and David D Levine, who was so kind as to invite me to the Hugo Loser’s Party, held this year at a bar called Steam Helsinki which felt a bit like the game Eye Spy come to life. There were motorcycles on the ceiling and dozens of hidden crannies. Ironically, I think I saw more of my friends compacted into one place on that night than anywhere else at the con! Not leastly Ursula and Kevin, even if I had to lean over the back of a seat to reach them (as you do).

Thanks, GRRM, for using your powers for good.

I would like to thank Gillian for being the best Gopher Mom I’ve ever had, and every single person who came to the Diana Wynne Jones fan meet. I had fellow fans coming up to me for the rest of the con, and it was marvelous.

Shout out to Ellen (from Germany) and Daniela and everyone who came to the Origami Jam. Also thanks again to Ursula for shouting “I’m your biggest fan!” at my signing. I’m planting that moment in my memory like a landmine for the next time depression invades.

Thanks, Nalo Hopkinson. I will forever be proud and grateful for my freckles.

Kind regards to Tim and Malcom and everyone who skipped the masquerade to come to the Furries panel.

Congratulations to the Dublin Team, good luck to New Zealand (2020) and DC (2021), and very best wishes to San Jose, where you will, barring disaster, find me next year.

To cap off the con the Wonderful Mother and I took a cycling tour of Helsinki’s Solar System Model. I do not have time to recap it here, but you can find the live and after-life twitter string, with pictures, over here.

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It has been quite a week. Month. Whatever. I am moving house and business across state lines and had to leave things half-finished to go attend MidAmeriCon II. Which was wonderful. And exhausting. And exciting. And would have been enough to lay me out for a whole week but I had to move right on to Toronto, where I am writing this now, for a dear friend’s wedding.

So this will be the briefest of recaps:

Everything went well. Art show. Panels. Demos. Book sales. Print sales. Everything went well. I made some new friends and reconnected with old ones. Missed David Stein who I learned broke both his legs recently. (!!!!) Once again I have come away inspired by the F/SF fandom and filled with new drive and inspiration to take my work to the next level. Don’t let the quietness fool you: my reserve is only growing while the creative output is on hold during these times of change.

But I have managed something, at least: Aphelion 2016 is finally out! The Heliopause master post is over here. Please refer to it for all the relevant links to purchase the book (electronic or print) from your preferred retailer.

Brief and incomplete thanks to: Greg Ketter, for selling my books for me. Brian McCullough for being a fantastic handler. Rob Carlos and Teddy Harvia and Chronographia for their doodles in my guest book. In fact, everyone who signed my guest book! You are all awesome! John Picacio for everything between heaven and earth. And Nina Niskanen, Sunil Patel, Ann Leckie, Morgan Swim, Karen Bovenmyer, Mur Lafferty, Kyell Gold (you know who you are), Will Frank, Courtney Schafer, Kinuko Y. Craft, Teresa Nielsen-Hayden, Foz Meadows, Lyda Morehouse, and PAT CADIGAN.

Keep being you.

So many awesome memories, but at the moment one thing stands out so that is what I will put here.

I got to speak briefly with Robert Silverberg, who I didn’t recognize as Robert Silverberg at the time because he was not wearing a suit and up on stage at the Hugos. He asked me how I got the name Ogawa. So I explained about the being quarter-Japanese thing. I then went on to explain that Goldeen was a Jewish name (from Goldenstein). He squinted at me sideways.

“I am a quarter Jewish,” I explained.

“Yes,” he said. “But from where?”

I gave a disjointed explanation about my maternal grandfather’s ancestors and their journeys around Ukraine, Romania, Crimea, their problems with the Pogroms, etc. when he stopped me.

“So you are Eastern European Jewish,” he said.

“A quarter, yes,” I said.

“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “But that means you’re my people.”

“I am?”

“Yes,” he said. It was then I realized who I was talking to, and was rendered speechless. Which was just as well, because he went on:

“My family is Eastern European Jews. I’ll think of you as my Japanese niece.”

I got him to sign my guest book, too.

This was Sunday night in the Marriott lobby, and as that was essentially the end of my World Con, it’s not a bad place to end this post.

Until next time…

-Robert Silverberg’s Japanese Niece.

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