Tuesday, August 23, 2016

World Con 74, MidAmeriCon II, and the Hugo Awards

I attended my first ever WorldCon and MidAmeriCon and Kansas City this weekend, an experience I will remember for a very long time. I am relatively new to the convention circuit and science fiction fandom, but I've made an effort in the last year to read as much as possible and make myself as informed as I could be considering only about a year of effort. Still, I was overwhelmed with all of the activities, authors, panels, and art that was spread out through the Kansas City Convention Center. I tried my best to attend as much as one person could and I feel satisfied but also like I missed out on quite a bit as well.

I arrived on Wednesday in time to register and scan around the center, but we were exhausted from the ride so only took a quick walk around the Power & Light District before retiring to our hotel room. We stayed in the Hotel Phillips, which was under construction, but still provided a nice room and pleasant experience. The hotel bar and dining area was closed so I won't have any interesting author or fan drinking stories. 

I woke up with ambition on Thursday and tried to catch as much as I could plus make several walk-throughs around the expansive dealers' room. I try to hold off on buying anything until around the final day so that I can be sure to pick books or items that really call to me instead of just an impulsive buy, but sometimes I'll miss out on rare products or popular items. I wasn't sure how a lot of things worked so I probably walked right by interesting exhibits, publishers, and other things because I was moving pretty rapidly through the crowds. I caught several interesting panels including, a panel on reviews to help me improve my blog, a talk on Dystopias and Utopias featuring John Joseph Adams, editor of Lightspeed Magazine, and a panel on Binge Watching with Arthur Chu, the Jeopardy champion. I had to keep bouncing from one room to another to catch everything I wanted to see, not the best strategy in hindsight. I would've went to more readings if I'd been more prepared, missed out on a lot of authors.

I had to balance between experiencing a lot and fitting in time to relax so I took Thursday night off from the convention only to go back on Friday for even more education and entertainment. I actually slept in then hit the dealers' room early to gaze at all the magnificent collections and wish I had a lot more time and money to spend on all the great fiction out there. I did catch a Rising Stars in SF panel and learned about new writers and what it takes to make it in the industry. One interesting note was a mention that it takes ten years to be an overnight success. I sat through several other panels and even caught the infamous State of Short Fiction. I'd not come for the conversation that played out but this was the first sign of any disturbance. I could barely hear the complaints do to the moderator not using the microphone properly, and the whole ordeal was more annoying than some profound statement on the state of short fiction, I moved on pretty fast from that nonsense.

Saturday was probably my most productive day. I played a lot of Lord of the Rings Stratego in the game room, heard a panel on Writing for TV, got "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" signed by George R.R. Martin, listened to the Clarkesworld staff discuss short fiction and their process, attended a group reading of Apex Magazine, then took a break before the Hugo Awards. I was very pleased with all of the nominations and wish I had read more before I made my votes. I will be reviewing The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin soon but I'm almost done and fully support that win along with all the others. I mostly read around the nonsense so I read most of the winners. 

I had to jet out and head back home on my birthday but overall it was an enjoyable experience. I have spent several hours reading more involved recaps and followed nearly everyone I could find on Twitter at the convention. I am sorry to hear that some experiences were not as pleasant and wish that weren't the case. There seems to be a pervasive problem at sci-fi and fantasy conventions from the signs and from those who speak out, especially at this convention in particular. I'd like for that to change in the future. I hope to become more involved in SFF fandom and attend plenty more conventions.

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