I spent Saturday at RavenCon in Richmond, Virginia. I was not on programming, nor had I planned to go, but the timing worked out well, and RavenCon has a special place in my heart because back in 2007, it was the first science fiction convention I ever attended–and I had an amazing time there.
So I hit the road at 7 am on Saturday and arrived at the hotel in Richmond at 9 am. Almost as soon as I arrived, I ran into Jeff Patterson, of SF Signal Podcast and The (Four) Hoarsemen podcast. Not long after that, Edmund Schubert, editor of InterGalactic MedicineShow,joined us. We chatted for a while and then headed over to see Edmund on a panel about quitting (or not quitting) your day job.The panel also included Jim Stratton, Tim Burke, and Joelle Presby.
After that panel, I chatted with folks some more, talking with Edmund and Jeff, as well as Lawrence Schoen, and Gray Rinehart. Edmund, Gray and I then hiked across various parking lots and sidewalks to find our way to a Texas Roadhouse restaurant for lunch. This was the kind of lunch I used to imagine when I was just starting out, a bunch of writers talking shop, and it was a lot of fun.
After lunch, I wandered around the con area. I stopped by the DC17 table, which is raising support to hold the World Science Fiction convention in 2017 in Washington, D.C. Bill Lawhorn was at the table and we got to chat for a while. (And yes, I did support the bid and got a very cool looking t-shirt.) RavenCon guest of honor Elizabeth Bear stopped by the table while we were talking so I had a chance to say hello to her as well. I wandered through the huckster room, and after that, headed out to the car to grab my laptop.
I returned, sat at the lobby bar and did some writing. Then there was more conversation with Jeff and Edmund, and I attended one more panel, the Small Press Panel. This one was interesting and lively and had some good questions from the audience as well.
I had planned to stay until 7 pm, but by 6, I was ready to head home. I said my goodbyes, got into the car and drove north. I made it back home at 8 pm, just before some strong storms hit. I was beat, but it was a fun day.
The second day1 of Capclave was nearly as fun as the first2. I was a bit more tired on Sunday than I was on Saturday, and not long before my last two panels of the day, I had a energy crash. I made it through and the panels were fun, but boy, was I wiped out! I think that is a sign of a good convention: one that you engage with so much that you leave everything on the field and come away utterly exhausted and in need of sleep. I got sleep last night–more than 8 hours worth, which is a rare thing for me. But I also thought about why Capclave is so much fun year after year and I came up with 5 things that I think makes it a fun, successful convention, at least from my view point.
1. It is (usually) a small, intimate convention
This year, of course, was an exception. I think there were in excess of 800 people attending Capclave this year, almost double what they normally have. And yet, there was still an intimate feel to the convention for the most part. It was not hard to find the people that I wanted to see and talk to. It was not difficult to find the places where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be there. Rarely were there lines for anything, the big exception being the autograph lines for George R. R. Martin. But those lines would have been long at any convention, and I think the organizers at Capclave found a way of managing the line the made it efficient for George, as well as the people waiting to get books signed.
I managed to get some business done at the convention, in addition to participating on panels and doing other things, and I find that it is always easier to do this at Capclave than it is at other conventions, simply because of the more intimate feel.
2. It has excellent programming
Capclave always has great programming and this year was no exception. Read through the list of panels to get a flavor for the wide variety of subjects that were covered. Capclave is a literary convention, like Readercon, although I’d say that Capclave is far more relaxed than Readercon. (At least, I feel less pressure on panels at Capclave than I do when I’ve been on panels at Readercon.) The subjects of the panels are accessible and interesting. When I was a newer writer, I thought Capclaves panels and workshops for new writers were extraordinarily helpful. Now that I’ve been publishing stories and articles for a while, I like being on the panels that can help new writers.
The panels I was on yesterday are a good example of the range of things covered in Capclave. I started on a panel on science in science fiction. Later, I was on a panel on “Low Tech Writers” with Howard Waldrop and Michael Swanwick. My last panel of the day was on including stuff from your life in the stories you write. All of the panels were well-attended (the science panel was the best-attended of all my panels, I think, with something like 80 people in the audience–probably because George was speaking right after us).
There were a lot of panels I would have loved to attend, were it not for the fact that I was on a panel at the same time. Kate Baker was on a couple of panels on voice-acting and podcasting. Scott Edleman and others did a panel on name-dropping that looked like a lot of fun. There were panels on specific writers (I moderated a panel on Clifford D. Simak, for instance), panels on alternate histories, panels on military science fiction. There were also writing workshop, and readings going on all day long.
3. It has great Guests of Honor
I mean, come on, George R. R. Martin! But go back and look at past years. John Scalzi, Carrie Vaughn, and Connie Willis, to name a few recent guests. And next year, Capclave will have Paulo Bacigalupi and Holly Black.
I look forward to each October because it means Capclave is just around the corner. Capclave is my local science fiction convention, and it is the annual science fiction convention of the Washington, D.C. area. The convention is generally a small, extremely-well run affair, run by a group of some of the hardest working people you’ll find anywhere.
Capclave is a little bigger than usual this year (well, twice as big at least) because of the author Guest of Honor, a scribbler with the Tolkienesque name of George R. R. Martin. Now, you might be familiar with George from his Game of Thrones series on H.B.O., but George has been part of the science fiction and fandom community since the 1960 and his achievements go far behind Game of Thrones.
The convention started on Friday but I couldn’t make it up here on Friday. I arrived yesterday at about 7:30 am, which gave me and Bud Sparhawk enough time to make sure we were all set for the 90 minute talk on technology we were giving at 9 am was all ready. It was.
My first “panel” was the joint-talk with Bud on “Online Writing Tools” and I think it went over well. We had a 100+ slide presentation and a decent-sized audience for a 9 am panel (I think we had 30 people or so). Good question and answer session, too. For those interested, our entire presentation can be found online as a Google Presentation.
I had a short break after that panel and I made a quick pass through the dealer’s room, where I ran into an editor, who told me that she was buying an article I’d sent her for the magazine. That was a nice was to start the convention!
Next, I dashed off to a panel on Writers and Fandom. Pamela Kinney moderated the panel, which included Hildy Silverman, Catherine Asaro, and Laura Anne Gilman. That was a fun panel because the panelists were basically talking about how we became fans, how we went from being fans to being pros, and how we interact with fans today. Big audience for that one and some good questions from the audience as well.
Right after that, I was part of a panel that I was, by far, the least qualified panelist. The panel was on “Space Wars” and the moderator was Christopher Weuve. On the panel was Chuck Gannon, Ed Lerner, Catherine Asaro, and Jenine Spendlove. When panelists were introducing themselves, they all had some background (technical or otherwise) in combat of various kinds. For example, Jenine is a Marine and a C130 pilot! When it came time for me to introduce myself, I said something like this:
I believe this is more or less my official programming schedule for Capclave this weekend. Please note that while I’ll be there all day Saturday and Sunday, I won’t be there on Friday. I should arrive around 7:30 am on Saturday. If you are on the fence about going, I saw go! It’s a lot of fun, they have great programming (as they always do). And the guest of honor is a New York Giants and Jets fan. But I can’t remember his name.
9:00 am: Online Writing Tools (Ends at: 10:25 am) Panelists:Jamie Todd Rubin (M), Bud Sparhawk
Bud Sparhawk and Jamie Todd Rubin guide you through the use of some of the most helpful tools available today.
4:00 pm: The Worlds of Clifford Simak (Ends at: 4:55 pm) Panelists:Jamie Todd Rubin (M), Darrell Schweitzer, Alex Shvartsman, Michael Swanwick
50 years ago Simak won a Hugo for Way Station. He also wrote City and the Hugo and Nebula winning “Grotto of the Dancing Deer.” Yet today, few younger fans have read his work which is available only in the small press and “public domain” compilations. What happened? What makes his stories so timeless? What do you think is his best work and how can it be revived for today’s audiences?
10:00 am: Hand Waving or Sci-fantasy? (Ends at: 10:55 am) Panelists:David Bartell, D. Douglas Fratz, Inge Heyer, Jamie Todd Rubin, Lawrence M. Schoen (M)
Many classic Science Fiction authors didn’t spend a lot of time describing the technology or science of their futures. Things worked, but if you look more closely, they may not make sense. Today authors still use this technique. Is this a legitimate form of science fiction or lazy writing? Have the standard furniture of sf — the FTL drive and time machine — become so common the author does not need to explain them, just use them for a story? Do all the details and the scientific equations get in the way?
2:00 pm: Low Tech Writers (Ends at: 2:55 pm) Panelists:Dina Leacock, Jamie Todd Rubin (M), Michael Swanwick, Howard Waldrop
Harlan Ellison uses a typewriter, a manual typewriter. Asimov refused to fly. And our special guest Howard Waldrop doesn’t use email. Why might some writers about the future refuse to use technology? How does this influence their fiction? What would happen to society if more people followed their example and opted out?
3:00 pm: Anything You Say May End Up In My Novel (Ends at: 3:55 pm) Panelists:Charles E. Gannon, Laura Anne Gilman (M), Annette Klause, Jamie Todd Rubin, Jim Stratton
How do writers mine their own lives? Are they always on duty, ready to steal what they see and hear? What changes do you make to real life in your fiction (assuming you don’t normally hang out with elves and aliens)?
And those who wish to point out the irony that I am giving a talk on Online Writing Tools and moderating a panel on Low Tech Writers, well, I’ve kind of already noticed that. It should be interesting.
I’m looking forward to seeing everyone there. If you are looking for me, but can’t find me, give me a shout on Twitter.
The good folks who run Capclave have once again graciously included me in the programming for this year, which is wonderful. Capclave is my local convention and I get to see a lot of local writer/editor/artist/fan friends there. For those who have never heard of Capclave, it is described on its website as follows:
Capclave is a small relaxed literary convention with a program that usually focuses on the short fiction form. Our Guests of Honor and other notable authors, editors, artists, and fans of the short fiction form will explore the creation and enjoyment of short fantasy and science fiction genre stories.
The author guest of honor this year is a rabid New York Jets and Giants fan. He’s also written a few books and edited and co-edited a few more. You may have heard of him. His name is George R. R. Martin.
The convention goes from Friday, October 11 through Sunday, October 13. I’ll be there Saturday and Sunday and here is the programming I’ll be on, if you are interested in stopping by and checking it out:
Saturday, October 12
9:00 – 10:25 am: Online Writing Tools (Jamie Todd Rubin and Bud Sparhawk). Bud Sparhawk and Jamie Todd Rubin guide you through the use of some of the most helpful tools available today.
4:00 – 4:55 pm: The Worlds of Clifford D. Simak (Jamie Todd Rubin (M), Darrell Schweitzer, Alex Shvartsman). 50 years ago Simak won a Hugo for Way Station. He also wrote City and the Hugo and Nebula winning “Grotto of the Dancing Deer.” Yet today, few younger fans have read his work which is available only in the small press and “public domain” compilations. What happened? What makes his stories so timeless? What do you think is his best work and how can it be revived for today’s audiences?
Sunday, October 13
10:00 – 10:55 am: Handwaving or Sci-Fantasy. (David Bartell, D. Douglas Fratz, Inge Heyer, Jamie Todd Rubin, Lawrence M. Schoen (M)). Many classic Science Fiction authors didn’t spend a lot of time describing the technology or science of their futures. Things worked, but if you look more closely, they may not make sense. Today authors still use this technique. Is this a legitimate form of science fiction or lazy writing? Have the standard furniture of sf — the FTL drive and time machine — become so common the author does not need to explain them, just use them for a story? Do all the details and the scientific equations get in the way?
2:00 – 2:55 pm: Low Tech Writers. (Dina Leacock, Jamie Todd Rubin (M), Howard Waldrop). Harlan Ellison uses a typewriter, a manual typewriter. Asimov refused to fly. And our special guest Howard Waldrop doesn’t use email. Why might some writers about the future refuse to use technology? How does this influence their fiction? What would happen to society if more people followed their example and opted out?
It is possible that I will also have a reading scheduled. (I was scheduled for a Friday evening reading, but since I won’t be there until Saturday…) If I end up getting one scheduled I’ll let you know.
Capclave is a fun, friendly convention, run by good people and focused on short fiction. If you are in the area and are looking for something fun on the weekend of October 11-13, stop by and say hello.
So, Worldcon is over and it was a lot of fun. I got home Tuesday afternoon, about 24 hours later than I was supposed to and I have been catching up ever since, but things are finally starting to calm down. A few post-Worldcon thoughts:
1. Sleep. Last night I managed to get almost 8 hours of sleep, the first time since before Worldcon. I think I’ve pretty much caught up on the sleep I didn’t get at Worldcon. For those curious as to how much sleep I did get at Worldcon, here it is, Thursday through Monday, courtesy of my FitBit Flex. (All times are Eastern, and Worldcon was in the Central time zone.)
I was supposed to be home on Monday but my flight was cancelled and I spent the night at my friend Rich and Tricia’s house–I slept pretty well, all things considered.
I have now pretty much caught up on sleep. I’ve also discovered that as I get older, multiple consecutive nights of 4 or 5 hours of sleep can be pretty rough on me.
2. Hugo awards. There has been a lot of Tuesday-morning quarterbacking of the Hugos which is to be expected, I suppose, but some of it has been pretty mean-spirited, which is too bad, and which sheds a poor light all around. I watched the awards from the bar this year, and the biggest cheer in the bar seemed to come when Dr. Stanley Schmidt won the Hugo award for Best Editor, Short Form. I jumped up, screaming myself when that award was announced. I am so happy for Stan, who I was fortunate enough to sell stories to and work with before he retired from Analog last year.
And my friends at SF Signal won the Hugo award for Best Fanzine for the second time in a row. I am so happy for John and Patrick and J.P. and all of the contributors to SF Signal.
I was particularly pleased to see Ken Liu get the Best Short Story Hugo for “Mono No Aware.”
The toughest part about the Hugo awards for me these days is that I have quite a few friends who are nominated. I wish they could all win.
I would like to congratulate all of the Hugo winners as well as all of the Hugo nominees. You should all be proud of your accomplishments.
So I am having so much fun here in San Antonio that I didn’t manage to get a post up yesterday detailing just how much fun I am having. If I were to try and write a narrative of everything I’ve done over the last two days, it would take me hours to write this post and I just don’t have hours. In fact, today, Sunday, is my busy day. So I’m going to provide a bulleted list1 with some commentary and remind you that you can also see some photos (a meager few at this point) over on Flickr.
Friday, August 30
Woke up at 6:30 am and walked up to CVS to find some Red Bull. My phone said the CVS opened at 7 am, but it turned out it didn’t open until 8 am. I found caffeine elsewhere2.
Wrote in the lobby for an hour or so, while talking with Bud Sparhawk, who sat at the table with me. Actually, there are four of us who get down here at around the same time every morning. I think we are the hardest working writers at Worldcon.
After Bud headed to breakfast, Saladin Ahmed took his place, making him one of the hardest working writers at Worldcon as well.
Did the Day 1 blogging.
Caught up with Jay Werkheiser and Lisa Montoya and then headed off to a panel on SIGMA, which is a science fiction think-tank. The panel was very interesting and panelists included Arlan Andrews, Bud Sparhawk, Chuck Gannon, Catherine Asaro and Marianne Dyson.
I received my Analog Mafia button from Arlan Andrews, which was very, very cool. I think I may have received the last button he had on him.
Headed to lunch with Trevor Quachri and Jay. We maintained our tradition of managing to walk in the direction where there are no restaurants. We wandered around aimlessly until we finally found a great Mexican restaurant on the river walk. We had a terrific lunch, stuffed avocado, which was amazing, good maragaritas, and of course, outstanding company.
Afterward, Jay and I wandered about the convention center until Jay suggested he was ready for a beer, at which point we headed to The Bar. While there, we were joined by a small-press editor, Chester Hoster, and we swapped stories about our kids.
I once again ran into Fran Wilde, but this time, Cards Against Humanity was not involved. We established, however, that I am not me, or at least, I am not who she thought I was, which makes perfect sense, but you had to be there.
Back over at the convention center, I saw James Seals and Kate Baker once again.
At this point, I decided a nap was in order and I headed back up to my room to rest for a little while. I didn’t actually sleep, but it was good just to lay down for a little while and take a break.
Jay, Lisa and I headed to the Saltgrass Steakhouse for dinner and I had one of the best steaks I’ve had in my entire life. Yum!
After dinner I headed back to my room, relaxed for a little while, showered, and then headed to the Analog/Asimov’s party and the TOR party.
Finally managed to get Bryan Thomas Schmidt connected with Trevor while at the parties. Talked with a ton of people. Met the two graduate students, Megan and Mackenzie (if memory serves me correctly) that run the AboutSF program at the University of Kansas.
Spoke to Stan Schmidt about how retirement has been treating him so far.
I arrived at LoneStarCon 3, the 71st World Science Fiction Convention, yesterday. I always get a little anxious on travel days. It seems nearly everyone has at least one travel horror story, and while I have generally been lucky, I still worry a little. Each stage of travel is like a small gauntlet, and when I pass it, I feel increasingly relieved: get to airport, get checked in, get on board the plane, plane departs on time, etc.
Yesterday, I needn’t have worried. Arriving in San Antonio had to be one of the most efficient arrivals I’ve ever experienced. The plane touched down at about 11 am. We were at the gate at 11:05. By 11:15 I’d picked up my baggage, and by 11:30 I was checked in at the hotel. It was remarkable! I’m staying at the Marriott Rivercenter and I’ve got a room with a fantastic view of San Antonio.
(For reasons of efficiency, I am posting the pictures I’m taking at Worldcon to Flickr. If you want to see the photos, go there.)
The convention is spread over two hotels on the Riverwalk: the Marriot Rivercenter and the Marriot Riverwalk. The convention center is next to the latter, and that is where the bulk of the programming is located. However, most of the parties are in the Riverwalk, as is the SFWA Suite, which is convenient for me. Still, given the locations of the hotels and convention center, I still managed to easily hit 15,000 steps on by FitBit.
Almost at once, I ran into Bill Lawhorn, walking between hotels in the 100 F heat. I checked in at registration and wandered the cavernous dealer’s room where I ran into Steven Silver and chatted with him for a while. After my initial circuit of the dealer’s room, I headed back to the hotel and sat in the lobby charging my phone. While sitting there, I saw Patrick Hester. I’d been waiting to meet with some SFWA officials to talk about a volunteer opportunity, but they were stuck in meetings. So I accompanied Patrick back to the convention center. Of course, as soon as I arrived there I heard from the SFWA officials and had to head back to the Rivercenter to meet with them. It was a quick meeting.
I met Patrick over by Angry Robot books, and then we wandered. Almost at once, I ran into Liz Argall, with whom I attended Launchpad last month, and who was volunteering at the Locus booth. I introduced Patrick and we chatted for a while. Liz had handouts for her comic, Things Without Arms and Legs, which is an awesome web comic. If you’ve never seen it, you should definitely check it out. Patrick had to dash off to interview someone and I continued to wander.
No sooner had I turned around, I ran into Trevor Quachri and chatted with him for a little while. He has been editor of Analog for a year now, a time which seems to have gone by incredibly fast. (I feel like Chicon was last week.) After we parted ways I wandered some more, talking to Lawrence Schoen for a little while. Then I began winding my way out of the dealer’s room, but I ran into Robert Silverberg and Karen Haber.
“Your hair looks different,” Silverberg said. He was right. I’d gotten it cut extra short. And it was probably grayer than the last time I’d seen him.
Tomorrow morning I head to San Antonio, Texas, for the 71st World Science Fiction Convention, LoneStarCon3. I’ve already posted a rough schedule. Here I wanted to mention some logistics for folks who are either trying to find me there, or folks who are living vicariously following along from home.
Arrival at Worldcon
If all goes smoothly, I arrive in San Antonio around 11:40 CDT tomorrow. Factoring in the usual airport obstacle course, I hope to be at the hotel by 1 pm.
I am staying at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter, which I believe is the hotel with all of the bars and night events but not the one with the actual programming. I could be wrong.
I do my best to blog about the conventions that I attend, as much for myself as for friends and readers who can’t make it but want to know what it is like. I’ll do the same this time. I expect to write one post per day related to the convention. Look for that post the morning of the following day. For example, look for the post about Thursday early Friday morning.
I’ll also be tweeting from Worldcon and if you are interested in following along and don’t already follow me on Twitter, you can find me at @jamietr. Look for the #LoneStarCon hashtag.
Writing at Worldcon
Folks following along with my writing might be wondering if I might break my streak while at Worldcon. My answer is: not if I can help it. To recap:
I have written fiction for 180 out of the last 182 days
I hope to come home from Worldcon with at least 80,000 words.
I plan to do my writing before blogging each morning. Yes, that means getting up early, but the truth is, I don’t sleep in, even when I am up until 2 am. I still find myself awake at 6 am the next morning, so it really isn’t much of a burden. And it feels good to get the writing done early when I will be distracted by other things throughout the day.
I’m being interviewed a couple of times at Worldcon, and this is something new for me. One interview is as part of a group of writers, the other is a one-on-one. When those interviews are available, I’ll let you know.
I’m not on official programming, but I will be pre-signing some copies of Beyond the Sun, the anthology that my story, “Flipping the Switch” appears in. Other authors with stories in the anthology will also be signing the books. If you will be at Worldcon and want signed copies of Beyond the Sun, you can look for them in the dealer’s room at the Book Universe booth. (If you grab a copy not signed by me and you want me to sign it, just find me, I’m happy to do it.)
Getting in touch with me
If you are at Worldcon and are trying to get in touch with me here are the best ways to do it, in order of preference:
Here are a few times that I know for certain I won’t be available. If you are trying to find me, don’t expect to find me during these times:
Friday, 1-2 pm
Saturday, 10am – 2pm
Sunday, 9 – 11 am, 2:30 – 3:30 pm, 6-7 pm
The above times are commitments I’ve already made. Beyond that, I’m around.
I fly home late afternoon on Monday, September 2, but most of Monday is pretty much blocked out so that I can catch up with a good friend of mine. So if you are trying to catch up with me, best try doing it before Monday morning.
I look forward to seeing everyone in San Antonio. Be sure to stop and say hello!
I‘t kind of hard to believe that Worldcon is only 10 days away. I feel like I’m just getting back from Worldcon in Chicago. I will be at Worldcon in San Antonio, LoneStarCon 3, the 71st World Science Fiction Convention and here are the details and where/how you can find me.
I’m supposed to get into town just before noon on Thursday, August 29. Assuming no signifiant delays, I hope to be at the hotel and checking in by 1 pm.
I’m not doing any official programming this year because I want to be able to hang out with my friends, and don’t want to have to dash off in the midst of an interesting discussion in order to sit on a panel. That said, I do have some obligations, mostly surrounding breakfasts and lunches. I’m also involved in 2 interviews while I am there.
Beyond that, I’ll be around. I have no idea what panels I want to wander into or what readings I want to go see. If you are looking for me, the best way to find me is to ping me on Twitter. Here is where I know I’ll be as of today1:
Friday, 1pm: Lunch with a friend
Saturday, 10am: SFWA Business Meeting
Saturday, noon: Lunch with a friend
Sunday, 9am: Group breakfast
Sunday, 1pm: Scalzi book signing
Sunday, 2:30pm: Interview
Monday, 10am: Brunch with friends
There’s another interview nestled in there somewhere but an exact date/time hasn’t been scheduled yet.
I’ll be in town until mid-afternoon on Monday.
I’m looking forward to the convention and especially to seeing all of my friends there, old and new. Be sure to say hello if you see me.
I was pretty excited when I got into the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop this year. As I have written, it was an incredible experience. I collapsed an entire Astronomy 101 course into 6 days, and it was done in a framework and context for science fiction writers. The work that Mike Brotherton, Christian Ready and Andria Schwortz put into the lectures and materials was Herculean in and of itself. Their teaching and guidance was invaluable.
But there was another side to Launch Pad, the more personal side. Quite a few of the attendees of Launch Pad this year were previous attendees of Clarion. For me, however, Launch Pad was the first time I was thrust into a program with other writers in which you did everything together. You took classes together, ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner together, you slept in the dorms. You went to the bar, or the movies. It was compressed and that very compression led to friendships that formed quickly. So let me take a moment to talk about the new friends I made at Launch Pad, and just how amazing they are. I’ve probably made some mistakes and misremembered things, but these are my new friends. Let me introduce you. They are listed below alphabetically by first name.
Andy (@inkgorilla on Twitter) works in visual effects when he is not writing. He can speak at length on the subject, and in an engaging manner. (He worked on Babylon 5!) Indeed, on our drive up the mountain to WIRO, Andy distracted us from the terror of the winding, curving road and the sheer drops to one side, by telling us stories from the visual effects world.
He also writes great fiction. I read his story, “The Parting Glass” (Lightspeed, December 2011) and it was excellent, reminiscent of the stuff I used to read in Science Fiction Age in the mid-1990s. It was great getting to hang out with Andy. He is one of those people who is naturally friendly and after 10 minutes, you feel like you’ve known him for 10 years. It’s just too bad he lives on the opposite coast.
Anna Leahy and Douglas Dechow
Douglas Dechow (@dougdechow on Twitter) and Anna Leahy were one of two couples attending Launch Pad this year. They, along with Jeri Smith-Ready were among the only other baseball fans in the batch. They are science writers, and Anna is also a poet and editor. They are also just about the coolest people you’ll meet. We hung out in O’Dwyer’s one evening, talking about beer, and baseball, and Markov chains. Some LISP might have been discussed as well. They seem to have interviewed just about every single important person in the U.S. space program and they have some great stories to tell. Some of these, they tell at their joint blog, Lofty Ambitions, which you should be certain to check out and add to your feed.
I somehow missed getting my picture taken with Brenda, but she is right smack in the middle of his panorama shot I took on our last breakfast together at Launch Pad. I’m not sure I’ve ever met someone with such an effervescent personality as Brenda. She was constantly bubbling with ideas and is a fascinating person to listen to. She also knits and led a group of Launch Pad attendees to a knitting store in downtown Laramie at one point during the week.
Brenda is a novelist and has had novels published by TOR, DAW, and other outlets. She seems to be written about ten novels at once, which impressed me beyond measure, as I am incapable of writing more than one short story at a time. Brenda would hang out with us in the lounge some evenings to chat and was always great fun to be around.
Brenda was one of four people to take a fall during our hike. I think it was my fault. She had turned around to talk to me when she tripped backward of the rock and did a kind of judo roll, getting up dusty, but unharmed.
Caren (@spitkitten on Twitter) is one of those people who is just fun to hang out with. She can liven up every crowd, and tells fantastic (and sometimes, hilarious) stories. In lectures, she was often the one asking smart questions, that always seemed to me be to tied back to whatever it was she was writing in some meaningful way. She was another of the crowd who would sometimes hang out in the lounge late into the night, talking shop or telling war stories. It was great!
Chaz (@chazbrenchley on Twitter) might very well be the most experience writer in our group at Launch Pad. I’m not exactly sure how many novels he’s written, but the number exceeds A Lot. He has also written something like 500 short stories. Or, in Launch Pad-speak, 5 x 102. Of course, Chaz has probably been writing longer than anyone else in our group. His first novel was published in 1977, at which time, I gleefully pointed out to him, I was 5 years old.
Chaz was one of the morning cohort, which usually included myself and Doug Farren (and occasionally Brenda) who would be up early and at the student union by 7 am, writing. He was also my frequent companion at O’Dwyer’s. I think the photo I took above is possibly one of the only Launch Pad photos of Chaz where he hasn’t managed to hide in the background.
Chaz was one of four people who took a spill while we went hiking. They say the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and I think Chaz proved the sentiment with great fanfare. Don’t believe me. Let Chaz describe it himself.