After attending the World Science Fiction Convention last year, not to mention lots of other events over the years, I had a pretty good idea what to expect from a convention like this, but I was surprised at how condensed and homey this convention is, in the heart of downtown San Jose.
First of all, the venue here is palatial and compact. Everything takes place within the hotel, unlike World Con last year where the convention venue sprawled over hundreds of square miles and numerous events were scattered all over downtown Denver. World Fantasy ’09? All in one place, in one building, surrounded by tons of things to see and do and eat on the ‘outside.’
One thing that is a bit disappointing is that there do not seem to be nearly as many panels as I would have expected. There are dozens of author readings but not nearly as much programming.
When the time of my reading came around, I was delighted to not have to read to an empty room. I would call 8-10 attendees a modest success for my first reading at a major convention.
One comes to an event like this expecting to find authors and editors thick on the ground, and that is indeed the case. Quite without trying, I met several individuals just by being around: archaeologist and author Gail Carriger, looking as if she had stepped directly out of the 1940s (and pulling it off in spectacular fashion. When I asked her why, she replied, “Because science fiction fans and people in the industry need to dress better.” I couldn’t agree more.), author and podcaster Michael Stackpole, who I encountered at the panel on the potentially catastrophic and utterly mind-boggling Google Book Settlement (for any creative entity that owns intellectual property, this is not hyperbole, and I’ll address this more in a future post), author Catherine Cheek, who introduced herself to me having reviewed Heart of the Ronin for Adventures in Scifi Publishing, author Ken Scholes, who I interviewed last year after having met at World Con, ran into my buddy Jay Lake, author, Omaha Beach comber, and Toastmaster for the convention, encountered John Helfers, whom I met at World Con last year and who edited Heart of the Ronin for Five Star Books, Ann Vandermeer, editor-in-chief of Weird Tales magazine (probably the single market that will give me the biggest thrill when I get a story in there), with whom I had a pleasant conversation, and her husband Jeff Vandermeer, author and eminent editor in his own right.
Over absinthe and wine, under the glowering eyes of a stuffed raven near the door, (World Fantasy this year is commemorating Poe’s 200th birthday), amidst roomfuls of authors, editors, and fans, let us ne’er hear the raven say (dare I say it?), “Nevermore.”