September 4 2012

Chicon 7, 2012 Worldcon Recap and Adventures

This was the first Worldcon I have attended and I had a great amount of fun. In this post, I’ll tell you about it.
We arrived in Chicago on Thursday about 6PM. We took Amtrak from Winona, MN to Chicago Union Station. The train is kind of fun and easier than driving–you get to look at some decent scenery along the way. Here is the view from our room, the room was quite nice:

View from our Room — Chicago river.

Once at the hotel (Susan exclaimed, “Hey look, that guy has a tail!”) and safely ensconced in our room, I proceeded down to registration. I started to realize at this point that the hotel and conference area was large–quite large. Registration was set up quite nicely and I quickly collected my materials and badge. We then ate dinner at a hotel restaurant. David Brin and a bunch of other authors were seated at some tables next to us, so that was my first official author sighting.
After dinner, I wandered around a bit familiarizing myself with the layout (split between two towers) and then at 9:00 I went to the panel: “Ozma Plus 50: My Week Among the Searchers for Extraterrestrial Intelligence” presented by Bill Higgins. This dealt with some of Bill Higgins experiences on a tour of the Ozma SETI site. I only stayed for about half an hour. The panel was interesting, but I wanted to go up to the 34th floor where the Minn-StF people were hosting a party. So, up there I did travel. I hung about there for awhile. Jo Walton came in and mentioned that she had a new summary post on I said that I had seen it and then she was whisked off. That was all I got to actually say to Jo over the Con–she was understandably busy.
Friday morning I discovered the Jo Walton Kaffeeklatsch was full and so I went to the panel: (9:00 – 10:30) “Anarchism in Fantasy and Science Fiction.” This was quite a good panel. They discussed anarchism in various works and its relationship to various groups in real life. After this, I proceeded to the Dealer’s Room. This was quite large and I started walking back and forth browsing things. I was extremely happy when, as I browsed, I came upon Glen Cook’s booth. I hadn’t known he was going to have a both so this was a nice surprise. I chatted with him for a while. He mentioned that he was working on a new Garret Novel, book 4 of the Instrumentalities series, and that “Port of Shadows,” is a real thing and is the next Black Company novel. It will take place in the time between “The Black Company” and “Shadows Linger“. He also pointed out that he had written parts of that as a couple shorts in two anthologies that he had on the table.
I then went over to the Angry Robot tables and talked with Amanda Rutter, now editor of Strange Chemistry and one of the reread reviewers for the Malazan reread on We mentioned that it was fun to see one another after having exchanged so many words in the reread.
From 11:00 AM-11:30 AM I went to the Seanan McGuire reading. She read from one of the October Daye books. I missed the first couple minutes, so I am unsure which one but I liked what was read and plan to check them out.
Next, it was time to head over to Ian Tregillis’ reading (12:00-12:30). Ian read from the Klaus/Gretel/Jar portion of The Coldest War. This is a really really good portion and it was quite nice to hear Ian read it. The readings were scheduled in half hour time slots. That gets lots of authors slots to read in, but doesn’t leave much time for questions or anything. So, after the reading a number of people wanted books autographed and Ian was happy to oblige. He found a table down the hall and started autographing. I tagged along in my quiet fashion. When the last autographee was satisfied, there were about six people left. One of them glanced at me and said, “You I recognize from the website.” At that point Ian saw me and we chatted about how it is odd to have had lots of conversations with people (I post over on his website and he posts over here) but to have never actually met them. He then kindly invited me along to lunch (Potbelly’s). There were six people along and we chatted about a number of things from food dislikes to the annoyances of the film Prometheus, Ian’s need to learn about Exoplanets for his next panel and the disappointments of the Torchwood:Miracle Day series. This was a very great deal of fun.
At 2:30 I bid adieu to the group and went to Jo Walton’s reading. She read from her work in progress–a generation starship in mid voyage. After this, I again wandered around the dealer room and other exhibits. At 4:30 I went to the panel “Exoplanets, Exobiology, Extensions of SF” (4:30 – 6:00). I addition to Ian Tregillis, David Brin, Dr. Charles E. Gannon, Geoffrey A. Landis and G. David Nordley were panelists. They discussed some of the recent findings in extra solar planets and how that might relate to science fiction and reality. Ian must have effectively looked up some good stuff as he had a number of good comments.
At 6, Susan and I went to dinner with her brother and his girl fried, so, non-con related.
At 9:00PM I went back up to the 34th floor and went to the Tor party for a while. David Brin autographed an imprint sheet of Existence for me. These sheets address a need of which I hadn’t even thought–with eBooks, there isn’t really anything physical that you can carry along and have someone autograph if you are so inclined.

On Saturday morning, having learned about signing up for Kaffeeklatsch’s, I arrived at the registration hall around 8:00AM and got in the ‘klatch line. This payed off as I was able to sign up for the Charles Stross Literary Bheer that evening at 9:00PM. Kaffeeklatsch’s are small group sessions at which you can talk to author’s. Literary Bheers are the same thing except in the evening.
After this, I went back to the dealers room (you will notice a trend for spare moments) and bought a couple of books from Glen Cook and from the Angry Robot folks.

At 10:30 AM I went to the panel, “The Personal Replicator (Well, Getting There)“, for a bit and then went up to the reading rooms. At 11 I went up to the
reading by Hugh Howey. I will admit that my nefarious plan was to get a seat for the 11:30 reading by Pat Rothfuss and Hugh mentioned that he would be taking an audience seat once he was done reading. He read from an interesting short story about mountain climbing on a different planet. So, that was a nice bonus for the morning. After the meeting, my plan proved correct, but then was thwarted as there were about twice as many people wishing to attend the Rothfuss reading as could fit into the room. Apparently the organizers must have thought something like “Rothfuss, he only has two books and its been two years since the last one, shouldn’t be crowded.” Well, it was and so we all trekked down to a slightly larger room in which it was just possible for everyone to squeeze. It looked like:


After all the room exchange, there was only about 20 minutes left, so at at first teased us with a possible new story that will be out soon in an anthology but then read from his ever popular Guinea Pigs are fish story. Here’s a link to him reading that at Wootstock. After that he very briefly answered some questions. No, there isn’t any date available for the third book yet. He said that he learned his lesson from the second book and no longer provides estimates. He then went into the hall and signed autographs and had some pictures taken. I briefly thanked him for the books and told him to take his time writing the third book.

From 12:00 PM-1:30 PM I was at the panel, “Democracy Is the Worst Form of Government, Can`t We Do Better?” with panelists Adam Beaton, David Brin, Tad Daley and Dave O`Neil.
The title comes from a paraphrase of a Winston Churchill speech in the House of Commons on 11 November 1947:

No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

This was a very interesting panel. David Brin is really good at panels and has obviously been giving the subjects of governing, governance, economies and such quite a bit of thought.

Switching from political thought to science, from 1:30PM-3:00PM I went to the panel, “Curiosity: The Mars Science Laboratory.” This explored what Curiosity has done so far and what it will be doing. From 3:00 PM-4:30 PM I was off to a panel, “Space Battles.” The panelists discussed the various ways in which SF films have gotten the mechanics of space battles wrongs and some thoughts on ways in which battles in space might actually take place.
Susan and I then went to dinner at The Berghoff. This is the second time we’ve gone there. The food and service are both pretty good.
From 8 to 9, I watched the Masquerade. There are a lot of quite talented people doing costumes for this.
At 9:30PM I went down to the Literary Bheer with Charles Stross. This was an excellent time with Charlie answering many questions on his work. This morning, Charlie tweeted this line:” “Don’t be bloody silly Bob,” said Mo: “Everyone knows vampires don’t exist.” (Possible opening for the next Laundry novel.) ” and he mentioned that that was a possibility for another Laundry book. He also discussed how his Cory Doctorow collaboration finally arose out of an April fools joke in which Locus had the two of them doing a sequel to Atlas Shrugged. I don’t think “The Rapture of the Nerds” will have much in common with that. At the end of the session, Charlie mentioned that we could tag along with him to the bar if we wished. I meandered over to the main hotel bar (The Big Bar) and a bit later, Charlie showed up with Walter Jon Williams in tow. The Big Bar was packed, so we headed off (about 6 altogether) and ended up at a mock-Irish bar, DaddyO’s Pub. This wasn’t crowded at all, so we settled down and ordered some beer. For the next hour and a half, Charlie and Walter told a bunch of fun anecdotes. Charlie told of how he almost hit a bear in California and Walter of his house being in a tornado in New Mexico. A good time seemed to be had by all.

On Sunday morning, I went on the “Stroll With the Stars” walk from 9 to 10. This involved a leisurely stroll from the hotel to the Millenium park. Where the Cloud Gate sculpture is located. I listened in to some conversations with John Scalzi and Catherine Valente.
From 10:30 AM-12:00 PM I went to the panel “Collaborations.” The panelists in Chicago were Eric Flint, Charles Stross and from Dragoncon were Les Johnson, Jody Lynn Nye and Janny Wurts. This discussion talked about the ways in which the various authors have collaborated and the various strategies they had employed. Then, from 12:00 PM-1:30 PM I went to “Tor to Come.” A panel in which the various Tor editors presented books they had forthcoming or recently out. They also talked about book distribution and eBooks.
From 1:30 PM-3:00 PM I went to “The Ethics of Book Reviewing” at which Roland Green, Michael J. Lowrey, Monica Valentinelli and Jo Walton discussed the pros and cons of reviewing books. These ranged from reviewing books of people you know to giving bad reviews.
My final panel on Sunday was from 3:00 PM-4:30 PM and was the Kaffeeklatsche with Melinda Snodgrass. Melinda talked about a variety of subjects like screen writing, how she met George R.R. Martin and her horse. Fun and good stuff.
The final big event on Sunday was the Hugo awards ceremony from 8:00PM to 10:30PM. This was a lot of fun and I’ll be discussing the results further in a separate post. Scalzi did an excellent job as the toastmaster and things generally rolled along at a nice pace.
Monday was mostly concerned with packing up and getting back to the train station for travel back to Rochester. All went well with that. All in all, the Worldcon was a great deal of fun. I met a number of people I had been wanting to meet. Wonderful.

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Posted September 4, 2012 by user in category "Hugos", "Interesting stuff", "Trip


  1. By Ian on

    Speaking of posting over here from time to time– great con report! You packed in many activities and managed to see quite a lot of Worldcon. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    Thanks again for coming to my reading. I’m really glad we had a chance to meet in person, even if it was somewhat briefly. I was in and out so much that I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time with people as I would have liked.

    1. By Steven Halter (Post author) on

      Thanks Ian! It was great meeting you. That was one of my goals–try to do a lot of stuff and actually meet people (that’s two goals I guess).

      1. By Ian on

        Sounds like you achieved both goals. You certainly hit a lot of the convention, and it sounds like you met a lot of folks, too. Well done, sir!

  2. By EE Giorgi on

    How fun, Steven, I’m jealous you got to go! 🙂

    And so happy you got to meet Ian, hehe, it’s funny how the internet lets us make good friends that we haven’t quite met in person, but then it’s really nice when you finally do get to meet them…

    Sorry for being so late in commenting, been really swamped lately. 🙁

    1. By Steven Halter (Post author) on

      Thanks, it was a lot of fun. Yes, it is odd “meeting” people online and having lots of discussions but never actually meeting them in the real world. Very nice actually meeting Ian.

      I’ve been pretty busy also. There are several posts I want to do that I haven’t had the time for yet.

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