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25 August 2015 @ 10:43 pm
Fun in The... Smoke? My Time at WorldCon 73  

So I spent the past week in (and I guess traveling to/from) Spokane, Wash., for the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention. WorldCon, as it's colloquially known, was officially titled Sasquan and featured many awesome panels and activities and things, including the much-talked-about Hugo Awards. (Although I myself won't say anything on the topic, although I pretty much agree with this [and it's also a really cool, creative way to approach writing about the whole kerfuffle!].)

Anyway, my coworker today asked me to tell her "all about it" and (1) that was fun, and (2) it made me really excited and pumped up, potentially even moreso than when I was actually there. So here is "all about it" in blog post form- or, I guess, highlights and takeaways.

1) United Airlines: I do NOT recommend- in fact, I strongly advise against. I, of little experience, was already apprehensive because of the recent system crashes, but we stayed the course. And got stranded in Denver overnight- it would've been physically in the airport if it weren't for a generous friend who lives there. Things I personally experienced (I also heard MANY things, negative all, but I don't want to repeat hearsay): you have to pay for ANY movie or entertainment, whereas Delta offered a free movie for their flight of approximately equal length. They will tell you they are holding flights for you when they are not. Also, we were stuck on the tarmac for 45 minutes because ALL the gates were full at once and that was why we missed our connection. We were about a minute past when boarding closed and they still would not cut us slack, when we were coming off their own plane. The lady at customer service was very hesitant to put us on another airline even though it would get us to our final destination faster. The amount of vouchers they gave for food was really arbitrary; I got $14 but another lady on the same make-up flight got $21. Compared to Delta and especially Alaska (which was a great choice) they were far inferior.

2) Silver lining: I got to see Mt. Rainier because of the missed flight (we went to Seattle before puddle-jumping over to Spokane. And my row-mate on that flight was a veteran con-goer with some amazing stories to share!)
Also, we saw the Spokane Falls (upper and lower), the carousel, the trash-eating goat, the giant red wagon, basically everything in Riverfront Park. Also a performance of "The Taming of the Shrew" with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks! And smoke- ALL the smoke, although obviously that is not good. My lungs held up better than BF's did, strangely enough.

3) Panels: I went to a BUNCH of them, some each day. Highlights were the ones on what I dubbed "Fantasy Day" (Saturday), including two world building panels (one featuring Ken Liu and the coolest Supreme Court analogy ever that will forever change the way I read decisions). I also enjoyed the "Women in Video Games" one that we went to because one of BF's friends was moderating. I also went to one on "The Future of Government" which was fascinating (this was my first exposure to the theory of "Dark Enlightenment," described as "libertarians discover monarchy") and an actual professionally-useful one on science reporting and what makes it good- an important takeaway was that for climate change stories, your "other side" can be someone critiquing the study's methodology or comparing its conclusions to those of similar studies, rather than giving deniers the time of day print space.
I also realized that the moderating makes a HUGE difference in the quality of panels. The panels we went to on Sunday [the last day] were really disorganized/bad, because of the above. So that's something I'll keep in the back of my mind for future last-day panels.)

4) Events: Match Game was THE GREATEST PART of the Con. Really fun, very interactive and inappropriate, in a tongue-in-cheek way, without being vulgar. The "celebrities" contestants had to match were all really enjoying it, and I especially commend Leigh Ann Hildebrand for fully embracing the spirit of the event and coming up with the evening's immortal Running Gag! The Masquerade was alright; I would have enjoyed it more if my expectations weren't so high from watching "Heroes of Cosplay" and the like, BUT I got to experience filking, which I wouldn't have were it not for going. Now I know that I like it, though, I will make sure to pop in on it at least once at future cons. (Also, I've since learned that masquerade and cosplay are slightly different things, so there you go.)

5) Con Suite: I had been looking forward to the room parties, but they were REALLY alcohol-heavy (some, alcohol-dependent, even) and the food selections were often lacking. BUT the Con Suite. I went there the first evening and they had just put out fresh, handmade quesadillas (chicken and cheese) and taquitos, as well as hot dogs. I also got homemade split pea soup (and a sandwich and chips and juice) another visit, and a lovely breakfast of cereal and yogurt one morning, all free of charge for Con guests. Pleasant surprise, especially since I had experienced a fairly spartan one at Balticon and was warned about the possibility of it being the same at Sasquan. Definitely an awesome amenity and major plus to the Con.

6) Souvenirs: We got the badge, on a lanyard, Program and a Con booklet with art and filk lyrics and all sorts of essays and stories. And a nifty canvas bag with the Sasquan logo on it, all with registration. I also bought a book, The Tropic of Serpents that I am excited to read- out 50 pages in so far and it is not disappointing :)- and was given Loose Changeling at the author's reading, which BF recommends. I also have a few books from the "freebies" table. AND- a bookmark from Writers of the Future Volume 31, who are all really lovely people and good friends to my BF. The artist featured on the volume's cover actually drew a little doodle of BF and me on it, and I'm so tickled every time I see it.

7) Miscellany: My first time experiencing jet lag and it is very unpleasant. I'm exhausted and at about 10:45 both nights I had it I got extremely dizzy and the world was spinning.
I got to meet a lot of really great people, including many my BF had talked about all the time, so now I have names for faces. The Facebook friend requests from (some of) these people are trickling in, and it's nice and validating to see they liked me enough to reach out that way.
That said, at times I sorta felt like I don't belong there, in that environment- especially "bar con." I'm not a real writer, I don't have the fortitude of those people to do the hard work and get the rejections. So for a while that sort of dampened my fun, but then I was like, I can make myself belong. I can write, however sporadically. (Also, I figured out another thing that's wrong with one of my current WIPs… although I am rethinking that rethink haha). I can certainly read these people's works so that is a starting point. I can potentially volunteer at the con- newsletter, perhaps- to own it from that angle. Be involved.
And there are some relationship things I picked up, too, but they don't need airing here.

So, yes. Sasquan 2015 was definitely a positive experience overall. And I find myself planning for MidAmeriCon II already (which had a fabulous commercial/preview video during the Closing Cermony), which is perhaps the biggest testament of all to its success. As the writers say, show not tell. :)
I'm feeling: cheerfulcheerful
Listening to: Ink Master reruns