Category Archives: conventions

DC17: Washington D.C.’s Bid for the World Science Fiction Convention

I live in the metro Washington, D.C. area, and I would love to see the World Science Fiction Convention come to our area in 2017. DC17 has a bid for the convention, and the August 10 deadline to receive mail-in votes is fast approaching.

Personally, I can think of 3 reasons why I’d like to see the World Science Fiction convention come to D.C. in 2017, and I’ll list them in order of increasing importance to me.

1. It’s local! It would be great to have a Worldcon in my home town. While I love traveling to other cities for Worldcon (San Antonio was blast, and I’m really looking forward to Kansas City next year), I’d be lying if I said it would be nice to attend a Worldcon at home. Of course, this is a great benefit for locals, but it still means that everyone else coming to the convention has to travel.

2. It’s Washington, D.C. But you get to travel to Washington, D.C. I’ve lived in the area for over a decade, and I still think its history is well worth visiting. Playing in the Senate softball league on the National Mall, I would occasionally look up to see the Washington Monument, or the Capital Building in the background and think: I’m playing ball in a place where Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt once walked. We’ve got the Air & Space Museum, the Library of Congress. We’ve also got the Washington Nationals. And in the surrounding area, you can find Mount Vernon to the south, and Gettysburg to the north.

3. It’s being run by the folks who run Capclave. The most important reason I want to see the World Science Fiction convention here in the Washington, D.C. area is because it is being run by many of the same folks who run Capclave, my regional science fiction convention. I have been going to Capclave ever since I began selling stories. It’s become my favorite science fiction convention, and I look forward to it each October. I’ve written about my time at Capclave at lot: here, herehere, and here, to list a few time. A big reason I enjoy is because of the hard work of the people who put it together. They get great guests, great panelists, they draw crowds of diverse, engaged, interesting, and fun people, and we spend 3 days talking about science fiction, what it means to us, and how it impacts us.

If you are so inclined, grab a ballot for site selection and cast your vote by mail before the August 10 deadline.

I’ll be at RavenCon April 24-26

As I am about to head off on the road for the better part of the week, I think now is a good time to remind folks that I will be attending RavenCon in Richmond, Virginia next weekend, April 24-26.

At present, this is the only science fiction convention I’ll be attending in 2015.

My friend Allen Steele will be there, as will Jack McDevitt. RavenCon is the first convention I ever attended after selling my first story back in 2007 so it holds a special place in my heart.

On Sunday, April 26, Bud Sparhawk and I will be giving a talk on “Plotters vs. Pantsers,” Bud being the “plotter” and yours truly being the “pantser.” We’ve done a version of this with respect to online writing tools at Capclave, but this talk is focused on the two methods and their respective advantages and disadvantages. It should be a fun talk if you can make it.

I’ll be arriving in Richmond around lunchtime on Friday, and staying through the convention, so if you think you’ll be there, and you see, say hello.

 

Science Fiction Conventions in 2015

I am planning a relatively quiet year where science fiction conventions are concerned. Originally, I was really looking forward to going to the World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, and the Nebula Award Weekend in Chicago, and the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs. But the travel gene has withered in me somewhat this year. I also have a goal this year to finish the second draft of my novel, and that means my focus needs to be more on writing than conventions. So right now, I don’t plan on attending any of the conventions I just listed.

But I won’t be absent from conventions entirely. I plan on attending two local convention this year.

  • RavenCon. I will be at RavenCon in Richmond, Virginia in April. My friend, Allen Steele, is the guest of honor at RavenCon. Jack McDevitt will also be there, and I am looking forward to seeing both of them. As it is only a 2 hour drive from my house, it doesn’t involve a lot of travel or time away from the family.
  • Capclave. I have attended Capclave more times than any other convention, and it makes sense since it is my local convention. Right now, I plan to be there, at least for one day.

That will likely be my science fiction convention schedule for the year. It keeps me close to home and family, but it allows me to focus on getting my novel draft finished up. Of course, I’ll miss hanging out with friends at Worldcon, and some of the larger conventions. But that’s the way it goes sometimes.

An Open Letter to My 20-Year-Old Self Regarding the 2014 World Fantasy Convention

Dear Jamie,

Well, this is a little awkward, but I can assure you that is just as awkward for me as it is for you. Us. You We know what we mean. I spent the past weekend attending the 40th annual World Fantasy Convention, which took place in Arlington, Virginia, practically down the street from where I work. Laws of causality prevent me from going into too much detail about the event, but there are a few things worth noting, and I wanted to make sure you knew about them.

First, the event was a lot of fun. I know it might seem odd to you, to hear that in 22 years, you’ll be attending the World Fantasy Convention, what with your great desire to write science fiction, but there is a good reason for attending. Many of your friends are attending, too.

I can’t go into a lot of detail, and so name-dropping is, for the most part out of the question. In some instances, you wouldn’t recognize the names yet. In others, well, the surprise will be more pleasant without the spoilers. But there are a few names I wanted to mention, which I think, given your age and yearning to become a writer, I thought you would find them motivating.

You probably remember recently reading Jumper by Steven Gould. Well, I got to spend some time this weekend hanging out with Steve,  and chatting with him, and telling him how much I remember enjoying that novel.

You may have noticed a slick new science fiction magazine on the newsstands, called Science Fiction Age. One of the best magazines ever produced. Keep your eye on it. The editor is Scott Edelman, and he’s a regular at the conventions that I attend. I sat with Scott at the award banquet dinner on Sunday. It’s always a joy talking with Scott about the history of the genre, or exotic food.

I had dinner with the editor of Analog one evening. It’s not the first meal we’ve had together, and it’s always fun hanging out with him, and chatting about writing, magazines, and other stuff. I had breakfast with the editor of the first magazine to which I ever sold a story. I won’t say which magazine that is. I don’t want to spoil the surprise. I think saying that “I sold a story” is enough.

I spent a lot of time in the bar with people, talking shop, which is a big part of the World Fantasy Convention. A lot of business happens in the bar. I had dinner one evening with friends I made at the Launchpad Astronomy Workshop a few summers back. And I can’t even begin to count how many people I had drinks with while at the convention.

On Sunday morning, I gave reading. That’s right, I read stories in front of an audience. It was a small audience, only 6 people, but having even one person willing to listen to your stories is humbling. I read two very short stories, neither of which I have sold. When I finished my reading, one of the audience members–a science fiction magazine editor–rushed up to the podium and grabbed the manuscript of the second story. I found out this morning that he is buying the story. That’s a first for me: submitting a story via a reading.

The World Fantasy Convention served as an excellent reminder of one of the things I love about the science fiction/fantasy genre: the people. As you well know, I wanted to be a writer because I like to write, and to tell stories. It’s nice to be recognized for those stories. But the real reward are the friendships I’ve made since starting out.

So for the sake of those future friendships: keep writing.

Sincerely,

Jamie Todd Rubin
Falls Church, Virginia, 2014

 

My Schedule for the World Fantasy Convention

I will be attending my first World Fantasy Convention, beginning later this week. It takes place, conveniently enough for me, in Crystal City, and I can walk to the hotel from my office, so I don’t have to travel for a change.

The convention begins on Thursday and runs through Sunday.

I will be there every day, however, on Thursday and Friday, I won’t be arriving until after work, sometime in the early evening, probably around 5 or 5:30 pm. I will be at the convention all day on Saturday and Sunday, and will be attending the banquet as well.

The good folks running programming for WFC have given me a reading slot on Sunday, November 9 at 10am in the Arlington room. I haven’t yet decided what I will read, but given that it is the World Fantasy Convention, I’m leaning toward a traditional fantasy short story that I wrote a while back, but have not yet sold. The story is too long to read in the 30 minute slot, but I’ll read a few scenes so that folks can get the flavor of it.

If you are going to be at World Fantasy, let me know, and if you see me, be sure to stop me and say hello.

My Reading at Capclave in October

It’s almost October, and in addition to the baseball post-season, it means that Capclave is just around the corner. Capclave is my local science fiction convention, and the convention I attended most frequently since 2007. I usually have a heavy schedule of programming at Capclave, but this year they’ve given me a break. I have one panel and one reading.

The panel is a shorter, updated version of what Bud Sparhawk and I presented last year on Online Writing Tools. We are tentatively scheduled to present at 4 pm on Saturday, October 11.

They also gave me a reading this year. This will be my third public reading ever, and I plan to read something brand spanking new. For those who have been following along for a while, you know that I finished up the first draft of a new baseball alternate history novella, called “Strays” a month or so ago. The first part of that novella is now in second draft form and good enough for a reading, so I will be reading the first part of that novella during my slotted time, which is tentatively set for 6 pm on Saturday, October 11.

If you’ve never been to Capclave before, it is a great convention to attend. It’s focus is primarily on written science fiction, and short fiction at that. This years guests of honor include Paolo Bacigalupi, Holly Black, and Genevieve Valentine.

Hope to see you there!

Yesterday’s Inaugural LAX Bradley Terminal Mini-Con

As the fates would have it, my flight yesterday arrived at Los Angeles International Airport around the same time that my friend, and fellow science fiction writer, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, was arriving for his flight to London for the World Science Fiction Convention. I’m not going to make it out to London for Worldcon this year, alas, but there is an unspoken rule in the science fiction world that if two writers find themselves together in the same airport at the same time, a mini-con must be arranged at once. And so, one was thus arranged.

We met up in the Bradley Terminal and proceeded downstairs for food. Alvaro and I then proceeded to talk shop for the next 90 minutes, and it was a blast. Of course, no mini-con would be complete without memorabilia, so I pulled out my copy of the November 1942 issue of Astounding1, which I carry around with me for just such emergencies2, and Alvaro and I posed for a Golden Age selfie.

LA MiniCon
Photo courtesy of Rebecca Swart Fowler

Despite what you may have heard, Alvaro and I did not plan to dress similarly for our mini-con. That part, at least, was a coincidence.

We made a sacred pledge that should any disaster befall Alvaro, I will inherit his copy of Asimov’s Annotated Paradise Lost, the only Asimov annotation that I don’t own. Should any disaster befall me, Alvar will inherit my signed paperback of The Caves of Steel. Should anything untoward happen to either of us, immediately look with suspicion upon the other. After all, we are writers, and science fiction fans moreover, and books, especially rare book, are the currency in which we deal.

When it was over, I grabbed a cab for my hotel, and Alvaro and his crew boarded their flight to London. I’d say that the inaugural LAX Bradley Terminal Mini-Con was a complete success. We are already trying to figure out in which city the 2nd annual LAX Bradley Terminal Mini-Con will take place.

  1. Which Alvaro can attest, really is signed by A.E. van Vogt and Jack Williamson.
  2. The way one might carry around a towel for similar emergencies.

RavenCon 2014

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 Medicine Show, 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.

I’ll Be at RavenCon for One Day – Saturday, April 26

I hadn’t planned to attend any science fiction conventions until later this fall, but I’ve decided to head down to RavenCon in Richmond, VA, for one day, Saturday, April 26. RavenCon was the first science fiction convention I ever attended, and it made an amazing impression on me in a very short time.

If you’ll be at RavenCon on Saturday and want to catch up or say hello, let me know, or just ping me on Twitter sometime that day.

(Later in the fall, I’ll be at Capclave and World Fantasy.)

5 Things that Make Capclave an Outstanding Science Fiction Convention

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.

Continue reading 5 Things that Make Capclave an Outstanding Science Fiction Convention

  1. You can read about my first day here.
  2. I say “nearly” only because it takes a lot to top the Howard/George/Garnder show from last night.

Capclave 2013, Saturday

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:

Continue reading Capclave 2013, Saturday

Where You Can Find Me At Capclave This Weekend

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.

Saturday

  • 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.
  • 11:00 am: Writers and Fandom (Ends at: 11:55 am)
    Panelists: Catherine AsaroLaura Anne GilmanPamela K. Kinney (M), Jamie Todd RubinHildy Silverman
    Some authors were fans before they wrote, others came to the convention scene after getting their start. How does that affect fan interaction? Does it make a difference in how authors view conventions?
  • 12:00 pm: Space Wars (Ends at: 12:55 pm)
    Panelists: Catherine AsaroEdward M. LernerJamie Todd RubinJanine SpendloveChristopher Weuve (M)
    How would it be waged and why? Why would you want to go to war with a planet that takes 30 years to get to? What books have the best space wars?
  • 4:00 pm: The Worlds of Clifford Simak (Ends at: 4:55 pm)
    Panelists: Jamie Todd Rubin (M), Darrell SchweitzerAlex ShvartsmanMichael 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?

Sunday

  • 10:00 am: Hand Waving or Sci-fantasy? (Ends at: 10:55 am)
    Panelists: David BartellD. Douglas FratzInge HeyerJamie Todd RubinLawrence 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 LeacockJamie Todd Rubin (M), Michael SwanwickHoward 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. GannonLaura Anne Gilman (M), Annette KlauseJamie Todd RubinJim 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.