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Martha Wells

My Flying Lizard Circus

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WorldCon Report Part I

I got to the con on Wednesday (drove to Houston on Tuesday, stayed overnight with friends, got up at 5:00 am to get to the airport, flew to Salt Lake City, then on to Spokane) and then Cassandra Clarke and I got a ride with a guy who was a taxi driver but did not have a taxi, and I checked into the lavish but impractical Davenport Grand. Then I went over and got registered at the con, then met up with a group and had dinner at a sushi place. As we were going there, we got our first real look at the smoke from the terrible forest fires in the state. It just filled the air and turned the sky brown, and the sun was a little red dot. (Some people attending the con ended up in the hospital with respiratory problems.)

Main con area, opening to dealer's room, art show, and exhibits.

View with no smoke

View with smoke (this wasn't nearly as bad as it was later)

After dinner I just went back to the room and collapsed. I had two roommates, my friend Lisa who had flown in from CA to go to the con, and awesome writer Tex Thompson.

The con started officially on Wednesday, and just felt huge, with tons of people everywhere and lots of fun costumes. Thursday I had a Doctor Who panel with Jim Mann, Warren Frey, Steven Schapansky, and Charlie Reeves, on overrated and underrated favorite episodes and it was a lot of fun and a good way to start the con for me. (It had already started for a lot of other people.)

Then Lisa and I went to the DC in 2017 barbecue in the park, which had free grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, vegetable skewers, cole slaw and cold macaroni salad, and drinks. It inspired us to look for free food for the rest of the con. Japan in 2017 was also generous with the snacks and candy.

Then I had the writers workshop session for the rest of the afternoon, which went really well, and we had three great stories to critique, and I think we all had a good time. Then Lisa and I met up with Sharon Shinn and went to dinner and Lisa ordered a giant huckleberry daquiri.

Friday I did an autographing in the morning and signed way more books than I was expecting to, then we went to Sharon Shinn's reading, and then hung out and talked to friends in the main con area, and then I had a reading. It was a full room of about 23-25 people, and I read the first chapter of the second book in the new Raksura duology (the one after The Edge of Worlds). It seemed to go really well and I enjoyed it, so I hope everyone else did.

Then we went to Brad Foster's art presentation, and then did the art show. Lisa and I had an early dinner so we could get back in time for the masquerade, which was fabulous. I think the venue made them do assigned seating, so you had to pick up tickets for your party from the volunteers near the doors, but the upshot of that was Lisa and I got better seats than we ever had before. We were in the upper part of the auditorium, dead center, with a fabulous view of the stage. (Having it in a real theater rather than a ballroom with a precariously constructed stage setup made it better too.) There were so many great costumes, including a giant animated snowball person with giant arms, a full size Groot, and more others than I can remember. And the MC was dressed in a formal Centauri outfit, and he rocked it.

The Saturday morning Worldbuilding panel was From Middle Earth to Westeros: Fantasy Worldbuilding with me, Matthew Johnson, Mary Soon Lee, Michael Swanwick, and Pat Cadigan. It turned out to be in the large ballroom that was already set up to film the Hugo Pre-Show, so we were up on a huge stage, with cameras filming us to show on the big screen hanging to the left, and giant stage lights shining on us. (I was the moderator and had to ask them to turn the light down a bit so we could see the audience for questions.) There was a big audience and we got some good questions. I recommended Karen Lord, N.K. Jemisin, Judith Tarr, Kate Elliott, and Aliette de Bodard for various aspects of awesome worldbuilding. (I did more but I lost my notes.)

We got a question that was basically how to avoid writing Tolkien-derivative work when there's so much if it out there, and the answer is to broaden your reading, in both fiction and non-fiction. There's a ton of non-derivative work (both classics and older SF/F and brand new SFF) and it's not hard to find. Mary Soon Lee recommended The Tale of the Genji as a good foundation classic to read. (I have a short presentation on "what is SF/F" I've done where I start with The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter because of the Moon People, just to show how far back SF elements appear in fiction, but I forgot to mention that because brain failure.)

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard got a shout-out in particular by everybody as well as her shorter fiction, and audience members came up afterward to check the spelling of her name so they could get the book.

I'm going to stop here and call this part I, since it's gotten pretty long.

ETA: WorldCon Photos on tumblr: http://marthawells.tumblr.com/post/127568633647/photos-from-worldcon-2015-in-spokane-wa-these and http://marthawells.tumblr.com/post/127569704947/more-worldcon-photos-from-the-exhibits-area

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Thanks so much for posting your experiences at the Worldcon! I'm pretty much just an arm-chair traveler and highly appreciate the convention write-up.

thank you for sharing your write-up and pics! omg what is that, the Jetsons Hotel? :D I'm sorry to hear about the fire....

what a fantastic group for the panel on worldbuilding. I so wish I could have been there.

Sounds awesome! Don and I were close by in Seattle visiting. We had the smoke from the fires too but on Monday it cleared up enough we saw Mt. Rainier for the first time.

Hope you guys had a good time! The smoke mostly came in in the late afternoon/evening for us. It was very post-apocalyptic.

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