With my tribe: Worldcon 2022, Part 2 – September 3 and 4

Worldcon 2022, Saturday, and I was kept BUSY.

First I had a panel at 11:30 that morning, one I was MODERATING, and so it was imperative that I got there in good time (and that meant finding the place…) and I was meeting a friend beforehand, we arranged for a 9-ish meet – and of COURSE I overslept magnificently so I had to scramble to get down there in time to make this meet-up remotely meaningful timewise before I had to crawl off into the far corners of the hotel to find my panel room. I managed both, but on just a single cup of coffee – for which I probably deserve a medal or something. The Panel was on the impact of Fairy Tale and Folklore on Urban Fantasy, and we’d lost one panelist in the shuffle, so in the end there were only three of us on the panel – but that proved to be quite enough and it was a VERY GOOD panel indeed (if I, the moderator, say so myself…) The time flew by. The panel was for an hour, so at 12:30 I raced (read:hobbled… by this stage a well-wishing friend had supplied me with a cane…)to the exhibition hall/dealers’ room where the Autographing tables were. I only signed a couple of books, one purchased by the very nice couple who had stuck by me in that “stroll” event on Friday morning which had left me behind, for their daughter.

Here’s a digression, though. My books  – only a handful of actual copies – were only in the dealers room at all because I brought copies and they went onto dealers’ shelves on “consignment” and were then handed back to me if unsold at the end of the con. One of the dealers actually did say that she wished I would “get back into a big house” so that she could “Actually order” the books. But apparently without the name “tor” or “baen” on the spine… a book doesn’t exist out there. I have a power of invisibility, it seems. Nobody might buy my books but it is a given that nobody even COULD if they aren’t there to be found. I feel awfully marginalised, sometimes; I really miss Amy the BOokseller, the one who died unexpectedly a little while ago, because she would BUY COPIES OF MY BOOKS and carry them in her stock. From the con that I was at to a con that i was NOT where someone might find and buy the books. Neither of the consignment booksellers in the worldcon dealers room wished to hang onto the couple of copies of books that I gave them “on consignment”. That means that the NEXT con they go to… I am erased. I do not exist. My books are not published by the “big” houses… and that somehow means I don’t exist. This can be astonishingly depressing to contemplate. So please – if you’re reading this and you liked something I wrote, there’s a way you can help.

Word of mouth is one of the few things I have going for me. Please spread the word…

My last panel for the day was a bit of an uphill slog – it was “so what makes a superhero” but the panelists consisted of a moderator who basically introduced himself as not being “in the swim of things” and had last been seriously involved with anything superheroish or comic-like back in thes sixties. The second panelist was someone who self-described as “just a fan”. The third panelist was MIA. And then there was me, the only girl on the panel, and the only one with a current connection to superherodom as such even if it was my own take on it (the Val Hall books. Look up “The Odd Years” and “The Even Years” for now – and keep an eye out for “Val Hall: Century”, coming soon, an omnibus edition with some NEW STORIES in it…). It was an interesting panel as and of itself but the audience was heavily involved, of necessity, for the simple reason that the panelists themselves seemed to need that sounding board in order to make sense of the topic. I think it went OK, in the end, but it was harder work than it needed to be. Then I hied off to my “Table Talk”, what they called Kaffeeklatsches here, and ended up catching up with an old friend whom I hadn’t seen for very many years… which was both fun, and unexpectedly emotional.

Here’s a few images from con, just to prove that they still are as wonderful as they ever were:

Then I met up with another friend or two, had a quick hamburger and fries (oh, it was quick and cheap and cheerful at this point) for dinner, and had  the bar make me a passable chocolate martini which I raised in a toast To Friends:

At this point I was clearly in so much pain from that wretched hip that I got offered a quick “first aid massage” as a stopgap measure and so that happened – but afterwards I was back in that soft bed and it didn’t help… and then Sunday morning arrived.

I had one more panel that I was on, on “Mature women” in the genre (The panel concentrated on film and TV but we leached out into literature as well, of course). It was a great panel, and a great finale to the con – particularly since one lady from the audience came up to me afterwards and said, “this is the second panel of yours that I”ve seen this con, and I have to tell you, you are a WONDERFUL panelist.”

On one level,that was an amazing envoi, and it did go a long way towards erasing that sense of invisibility fostered by the lack of access to and even knowledge of my books in the book dealer arena. Even if my books weren’t exactly there and flying off the shelves… I, their author, was seen, and, apparently, appreciated. That mattered, hugely. But it was also the straw that broke a particular camel’s back… because that is exactly the sort of remark that I would have rushed off to share with Deck, that would have made his eyes light up, that would have meant SO MUCH MORE when it became something that belonged to both of us. And he was not there. He is never going to be there again. And it suddenly *hurt*, so badly. I ended up spending some of the last miutes I had to share with a worldcon in sobbing on a friend’s shoulder… I was trying so hard not to fall apart at this con, the solitary one, the first time in so many years, the first one without him. And in the end I didn’t quite make it. I just shattered, right there in the end, and was left to pick up enough pieces to take home with me.

Another eye-watering $$$ trip to the airport later, I managed to drag myself through O Hare (dear god I forgot how much I hated this airport…) and I boarded my flight for Seattle on time (no delays on this trip and no cancellations, which was a blessing…) and then I took some more pictures:

I had a LOOONG layover in Seattle – we landed at 8 pm and my connecting flight to Bellingham wasn’t due to leave until 11:20. Well, but I saw on the departures board that it had been moved forward to 11PM but it was still going to be a slog. There was an earlier flight but it was leaving pretty much immediately and it was at a gate in the opposite direction and even if I made it to ask about potential space it might have been too late. So, resigned, I made my way to the ALaska Lounge in the C gates area which is right next to the C16 A B and C gates. I got presented with a conundrum of stairs (which, with my cane and my luggage, were a steep ask..) and an elevator – and while I pondered whether the elevator would take me to the lounge I heard an announcement for hte “final boarding” of that early Bellingham flight… for which they had changed gates… and it was now at gate C16C, which was literally ten steps away from me. So I left the Alaska lounge problem and hurried over there and asked if there was a PRAYER of getting on that earlier flight rather than waiting until 11.

And there was.

And I did.

Within half an hour of my landing in Seatac from Chicago I was on a homeward bound plane to Bellingham, where I would arrive maybe a full two hours before I was due to LEAVE Seattle on my original itinerary.

The skies were extraordinary again

And so. I came home just before 10 PM on Sunday the 4th of September, greeted the cat (who has been velcroed to me ever since), and did the minimum of the necessary before falling into (my own comfortable) bed.

On Monday morning, it was back to shouldering the weight of the world again – I did laundry, I dealt with the psychotic cat, I made arrangements for momma – tomorrow I need to go shopping… next week there’s a med appointment for mom,and another the week after that, and then the cat has a vet appointment the week after that, and and and and…

But that was worldcon. I am glad, after all the jitters, that I went. It was four days of freedom, and of friends, and of being seen and (possibly) appreciated for who and what I am as and of myself – a writer, a fan, a person interested in and knowledgeable about geeky things that she shares with so many others of her tribe. Hopefully the Covid has been evaded (I wore a mask for four straight days…) and hopefully one or two more people who picked up my books will enjoy them and maybe one or two more might make a concerted effort to find a book by me in theaftermath (and if you do, and you want it signed, please remember the standing offer I have  – let me know you want one and I will send you a signed bookplate to stick in your book…)

I spent so much time worrying and fussing and stressing about this the worldcon gathering, with my tribe. And now it’s over. I feel oddly anticlimactic.

I may have (other than for the pictures) dreamed this whole thing.