I spent Friday evening and all day Saturday at Capclave, the local science fiction convention put on by the Washington Science Fiction Association. I like Capclave because it centers around short fiction, which is what I write, and avoids media-related science fiction and fantasy. I had a lot of fun at Capclave. What follows is my summary of the convention.
Most of Friday night was for networking and catching up with people I know. I saw Larry Hodges there, and also met James Maxey for the first time. The three of us spent some time talking shop before heading off to Larry’s reading. He read 3 pieces of flash fiction, after which the three of us retired to the bar for the rest of the evening.
On Saturday, I started off my day at the convention by attending 4 straight panels. The first of these was “The Mule, Muad’dib, and Men Who Stare at Goats”. The panel was described as imaging whether or not there could be superhumans. I went into thinking there would be discussion of those “superhumans” mentioned in the title, but as it turned out, this was mostly a nonsense panel with the participants discussing things like ESP, telekensis, and other pseudoscience as if it actually existed. There were even claims of scientific evidence for such phenomenon and I was rather disappointed that seemingly intelligent people would discuss these topics with the level of irrationality at which it was conducted. There was one panelist, however, Sam Scheiner, who was the voice of reason on the panel, correcting panelist about what the job of science was in the first place, and correcting the audience when one of our member was confused about how evolution worked.
The next panel, on ePublishing, was far more interesting and far more relevant to both writer and fan alike. The panel was made of participants, each of whom had experience in ePublishing in different ways. There was good discussion of many of the aspects of ePublishing, but one area that was missing was that of the aesthetics of eBooks. Since this is something I have complained about before, I brought it up in the discussion. Neil Clarke responded to this, seemed to understand the problem well and was sympathetic.
Next was Connie Willis, the guest of honor, who was supposed to read from her lastest novel All Clear. However, when she got started, she said that she wouldn’t read from the novel since it was finally available and she didn’t want to spoil it (or Blackout) for those who haven’t read it yet. Instead, she gave a delightful talk on the things that she found in her research that she could not put into the novel. It was the first time I’d ever seen Connie Willis talk and she is a delightful and even more, a funny speaker. She told many stories of the Brits from the Blitz. She also talked about the novel she is writing next, a romantic comedy about alien abduction and Las Vegas, centering around Roswell.
Finally, there was a panel on World Building; Planning and Execution. It was an interesting panel that never really got into the “planning and execution” phase and ended up being focused on other aspects of world-building in various types of genre fiction.
After a break (where I worked feverishly on the outline for my novel) I attended the interview with Connie Willis and she was utterly charming in that interview.
When it was over, I headed to the hotel lounge to get some food. As it turned out, Connie Willis entered the lounge shortly after and sat down with several people at the next table. Her husband, Courtney, who I’d met briefly in the bar earlier ended up sitting with me and over the course of the next 2 hours, we had a delightful conversation.
My final event of the convention was the book-signing. Since I own both Blackout and All Clear on the Kindle, there was no way that I could get those books signed by Connie Willis. So I brought my Easton Press edition of Doomsday Book put out by the Masterpieces of Science Fiction collection and that is the book that Connie signed for me.
The convention was a lot of fun for me, and I was thrilled to get to meet Connie Willis in person. The next event I’ll be attending is the SFWA annual reception in New York City on November 22.