I was on two panels on the peak day, Saturday, which was fun because of the new fans and authors you get to meet. One panel I had requested -- "How You Get Your Ideas" -- and the other one I was assigned to. That one was called -- "Moral Ambiguity in Your Characters" -- and I was honored to be there with Jay Lake, Nancy Kress and Charles Stross, all multi-published authors. Our moderator was Bryan Thomas Schmidt, who kept the panel lively and even funny, especially for such a heavy topic. The room was packed, people sitting on the floor, and was well-received.
My first panel was opposite George RR Martin on the conference grid, so I didn’t expect anyone would show up. But we did have a nice turnout and a great group of authors. Former CIA member Tom King moderated for us, with the esteemed Harry Turtledove really showing us all how to be a consummate professional in all circumstances. He always has the best stories.
Much of the fun took place after dark. On Friday my publisher put on a special invitational cruise down the river. I had no idea how gorgeous the Chicago architecture would be from the water, all lit up, with movie soundtrack music making you feel like this is the best cruise of your life (the alcohol and appetizers didn’t hurt). George RR Martin was there, along with GoT actor Ron Donachie, and many of the convention’s biggest authors. I was able to catch up with 2010 Hugo winner Paolo Bacigalupi and meet a writer I’ve admired for a long time for her “Kitty” series, Carrie Vaughn, as well as the lovely Liza Groen Trombi who won the Hugo this year.
Click to see George wearing his signature cap.
The other thing to do at night is party hop. You take the elevator to the top floor and work your way down. You never know who you’re going to meet from the whole range of people from fans who like to dress in costume to some of the best authors and editors working in science fiction and fantasy. A surprising amount of business takes place then. And then there are also those seeking the android of their dreams.
So many people volunteer their time all year to make the con a success. One group that came across my radar this year is the dealers. They work so hard, packing their cars and driving across the country, getting little sleep, to bring us the books and jewelry and treasures. They are the first ones there building their booths, and the last ones to leave, carefully packing up each book to carry home.
One of my treasures!
So tell us – have you gone to one of these large cons? How was it? Did you meet anyone? Fall in love?