This past week, I went to my first ever Worldcon, the largest science fiction convention (I think) and the one where they present the Hugo awards. It was also the first time I ever rode a bus to travel between cities–I liked Worldcon better.
Worldcon moves every year (next year is London, England), and the location this year in San Antonio was the primary driver for my attendance. It might be another fifteen years before it travels back to a location that is a two hour bus ride from me.
It was a wonderful, but tiring experience. They have what they call the “5-2-1” rule: 5 hours of sleep, 2 meals, and one shower a day. Sounds ridiculous, but after the experience, I get it. I missed many meals (but always had plenty of snacks, I get grumpy and can’t focus if I’m too hungry) and was in panels, lectures, and discussions starting usually at 9 am until 9 pm. Five, twelve hour days in a row can get a little tiring, and some nights it went longer with going to parties. However, in the Texas heat, I was well above 1 shower a day.
The parties are a highlight for many people, but they didn’t really hit it for me. Part of this is the problem of flying solo at these things, the other is many of them are in cramped hotel rooms with windows that don’t open—in San Antonio, Texas in August. Loud and hot, it was a bit of sensory overload for me.
The highlight instead for me was the kaffeeklatsches, although it took me several days to learn how to pronounce it. For those that don’t know, it a small group of people (maximum usually around 10) that sit around a table with an editor or author and are able to meet them and listen and ask direct questions. It was a wonderful and informative experience. I was able to meet Sheila Williams (editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine), Neil Clarke (editor of Clarkesworld), Dave Wolverton (author and coordinating judge for Writers of the Future), Steven Brust (author) and John Scalzi (author). I learned a lot and my many thanks to those people for taking the time to meet with us.
I enjoyed the experience of my first Worldcon, something I won’t ever forget. London may be a bit far for me next year, but I’ll be back after that (and that time take a day or two off to recover afterward).