Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Renovation in Words and Pictures

(TL:DR - Worldcon was lots of fun!)

On Monday, DeeAnn and I returned home from our road trip to Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention. This was the first Worldcon we'd attended since Denvention in 2008, and all the new friends and connections we've made in the intervening three years really added to the experience.

The trip actually started last Monday, when my fellow VPXII grad Katrina and friend-of-a-friend Joe arrived in Portland. Katrina had driven down from Vancouver, BC, with a stop in Seattle to pick up Joe, and they spent the night so we'd all be well-rested for the long drive to Reno.

On our way out of Oregon the next day, we took a brief detour to Crater Lake. The water really is that blue, and reflects like a mirror when it's calm. Definitely worth visiting at least once:

 
 
 
 

WARNING: huge panorama below. Download at your own risk.

 

This bird was very disappointed that we didn't share our lunch with him.

 

We arrived Tuesday evening, dropped off Joe at his hotel, and then docked at the Peppermill, which author Jo Walton described as "the least authentic building I have ever seen." She was not wrong. I didn't feel the need to take any photos, but the Peppermill web site's "virtual tours" should give you some idea of how ridiculous it all was.

After a late dinner, a good night's sleep, and a breakfast of leftover pizza, we headed over to the convention center to pick up our badges and start the fun.

 

I won't give a full account of everything we did, partly because I can't remember it all at this point (though I did take notes, for tax purposes), and also because I didn't take many photos. We did meet up with several VP alums and instructors, including Steven Gould, who did a reading and Q&A at the library across the street. As you can see, he takes audience questions very seriously.

 

There were quite a few people in costume, including this woman. The photo below is from Thursday; the day before, she'd been dressed as the tenth Doctor. I didn't run into her again on subsequent days, but I'm sure she looked good.

(ADDENDUM: thanks to Brian for identifying JaneTorrey, and pointing out that she won Best in Show - Re-Creation at the Masquerade with her Na'vi costume. No wonder I didn't recognize her!)

 

We probably spent at least as much time hanging out with people as we did in panels. I'd been excited about the fact that there was an app for the convention schedule--imagine that, science fiction fans actually using technology--but it turned out to be buggy and unreliable, and by Sunday, DeeAnn and I had gone back to using our paper schedules.

 

The exhibit hall had several fan history displays, including a whole series of portrait photos from the 1990s. I still can't believe that was almost twenty years ago.

 
 

Worldcon is, by and large, focused on literature--as in books--but given the current state of pop culture, there was more than one panel where people talked about science fiction and fantasy in different media.

 

There was some kind of crazy plastic chair in the exhibit hall. Quite a few people sat on it to get their picture taken, but it looked kind of pointy and uncomfortable to me.

 
 

Speaking of George R. R. Martin, he was there, and a presenter at the Hugo Awards ceremony Saturday night. (Where Rachel Bloom and Seanan McGuire were robbed. Okay, end of rant.) You can watch the video online; if nothing else, skip to 1hr:31min for "The Garcia Moment."

 

To Chris Garcia's credit, he still showed up at his next scheduled panel, Kevin Standlee's Match Game SF--where the newly minted Hugo winner was upstaged by a nine-year-old girl. It happens.

 

Later on, I found myself at a party with Campbell winner Lev Grossman, where he let Keffy Kehrli try on the tiara.

 

Because the con officially ended on Sunday afternoon, we had plenty of time to dine with Hugo presenter Farah Mendlesohn and then do our own little dead-dog BarCon. That, plus the Tor and VP parties (on Thursday and Friday nights, respectively), were probably the highlights of my reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.

Oh, yeah, there was also a puppet show, which I helped usher.

It was a little difficult to emerge from the happy-shiny-fantastic Worldcon bubble and re-engage with the real world. I gather that others had similar issues.

 

On the drive home, we stopped in Central Point, Oregon, where DeeAnn encountered zombie bunnies made out of candy.

 

And now we're home for just a few days before heading off to PAX Prime. We took Katrina and Joe to breakfast and Powell's before they left, because you can't visit Portland and not go to Powell's. You just can't.

I am determined to finish the Kangaroo novel (perhaps even re-energized, though still a bit exhausted from travel), but that'll have to wait until next week.

Curtis
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