selenay: (Default)
[personal profile] selenay
I'm working on a very long software release on a Sunday night, waiting for people to finish things, so this seems like a good time to write up my Worldcon experience. The rest of the trip will be a separate post :-)

As I said before, [personal profile] bookmonster was my roommate for just over a week and she was an excellent one. We had so much fun, she even put up with an accidental sugar-and-caffeine induced late night giggle-fest (pretty sure that Diet Coke was *not* diet), and we're plotting Dublin 2019 so I don't think I scared her too badly! We did a couple of days of sightseeing in Helsinki before the con, which was terrific fun despite the distinctly soggy nature of Monday's weather. Buying umbrellas on our first walk into the city centre was a good plan.

We spent Monday wandering through Helsinki, visiting a Lutheran cathedral, the harbour market (where we had excellent smoked salmon on rye for lunch followed by delicious pastries), riding the tram, seeing a gallery...despite Helsinki's tendency to close most things on Mondays, we did a *lot*. Supper was in an Italian restaurant we returned to a few days later. (It's just occurred to me this is where we ate on both rainy days - there's something about pasta/risotto and rain, I guess.)

And then bookmonster dragged me (kicking and screaming...er...giggling) to an Irish theme pub because how could we not and we got to sample the breath-taking expense of Finnish alcohol.

On Tuesday we met [twitter.com profile] embraceurfandom, who gave us an amazing tour of Helsinki's natural history museum. Everyone should get a tour from a trained biologist of the natural history museum they worked at! After that, we set out for a late-afternoon visit to the Russian Orthodox church, where bookmonster got to discover why I'd declared the Lutheran church very restrained. Talk about BLING! We had coffee and pie and relaxed on the steps below the Lutheran church, enjoying the sunshine, before trotting off to Zetor for supper with a bunch of friends and some tractors.

After that, it was CONVENTION TIME.

Bookmonster and I didn't have any panels we were interested in until 12pm, so we pottered down to the convention centre late morning and managed to miss the worst of the registration queue. It was incredibly smooth and quick - I think we were through in under two minutes. And I got into the first panel I wanted to see, so that was good. In fact, I don't think either of us ended up not seeing anything we'd really earmarked as "must sees", and we had very few times when we were unexpectedly not in panels because nothing we wanted was accessible. I think that's probably because we were both marking at least one back-up for any slot we wanted to fill, which is a trick learned from 9W and Loncon3.

There was definitely a crowding issue on day one, but that eased a bit afterwards as the con staff handled the ticket situation (very few tickets available on the door after day one) and got extra space arranged so panels could be moved to larger venues.

I had a fantastic time and I have to give the staff a lot of kudos for working so hard to keep the convention rolling and fun for everyone despite challenges. They really worked their socks off.

One con staffer in particular needs a shout-out and I wish I knew his name. On the first day, there was a presentation scheduled in the evening on bad book covers, which bookmonster and I both wanted to go to. We joined a big group outside the room...and after a while, it became apparent it had already begun. The room had filled up so fast that they'd closed the doors and started early. The con staffer who appeared on scene realised they'd massively underestimated the popularity of that item and, because it was day one and not all the rooms were in use yet, he decided to fix this. He asked the presenter if he'd be willing to do a rerun of the presentation. Then he led his merry (and ever increasing) train of con goers through the halls on a search for a suitably-sized room with AV equipment. It was a little Goldilocks-like, stopping in rooms and then moving on when they weren't quite big enough, until finally we settled on one that could hold us all. At a conservative estimate, there were over two hundred of us...for a panel they'd only expected a max of eighty to want. Wow.

The presenter looked slightly surprised by the huge number when he arrived, but he did a fantastic job of rerunning his presentation and it was AMAZING. The combination of his good humour and some astonishingly awful book covers was perfect. Thank you to everyone who made that happen!

Before this turns into a 5k word essay, I'll retreat into a system of highlights and so forth. I had a fantastic time at Worldcon, thanks to a wonderful convention and some excellent friends. Hopefully we'll all do it again in Dublin 2019!

Highlights

- The aforementioned bad book cover panel

- The short stories for novelists workshop by Mary Robinette Kowal. I didn't expect to get into this because I was on a waiting list, but Mary was lovely and allowed in everyone who could find a seat. It was totally worth it. I learned so much! I think I even learned how to improve a short story I've been fiddling with for a while and, more importantly, how to write better short stories. Things she said made so much sense, particularly about pacing and tension issues my critique partners always point out. I know why they're happening now so I can fix them! I think this may have been the most useful and productive panel I went to.

- Live Tea and Jeopardy recording. Who knew GRRM was such a fantastic sport? I'll post a link when the episode goes up, because it's hilarious.

- The imaginary book club. Four panellists each make up a book and then review/discuss it, with a Q&A session on each book. This was exactly as hilarious as it sounds :-D

- Authors and their cats. It followed an intense panel on high fantasy, so it was a perfect and beautifully restful session of authors talking about their cats, showing photos and highlights from twitter feeds, discussing why cats are so important in the authorial process...I loved it.

- Surviving the two panels I was on. I had a lovely little panel on shipping non-canon pairings and a terrifying panel in the biggest room on the site about beta reading with Real Published Authors (including Charlie Stross) on either side of me. Apparently I didn't sound little a total idiot and someone talked to me after about how lovely and validating it was to see a fanfic writer on that panel :-) I also picked up some great tips from Charlie Stross about beta reading that I want to try out (more on that another day).

- A panel on systems of magical healing that went to some dark places and birthed some plot bunnies for me.

- Babylon 5 vs Star Trek: Fight! A funny and thoughtful panel debating the merits of each show, the parallels and differences, with a vote that ended up with B5 winning (their team sold their case really well) and a promise from bookmonster to finally watch B5 (I'm holding you to that).

- Playing Exploding Kittens and discovering [twitter.com profile] selcaby is a total shark despite being a newbie to it.

- So much giggling and laughter and discussions of geek things with friends, I can't express how important that is to a good con experience.

Lowlights

- The overcrowding on day one was a bit trying on day one, but not enough to spoil anything.

- Um, that's it?

Conclusion

Worldcon75 was fantastic and it was hard to come out of the con space, which is the sign of a good con. I wasn't ready for it to end. At the end of a five day con, that's impressive. I remember being quite con-and-people-ed out at the end of Loncon3, but that wasn't how I felt this time.

Bookmonster and I did a bit of sightseeing in the morning the day after (a nice tour of the Rock Church, which was beautiful and peaceful and exactly what I needed as I came down from the con high) and then we flew back to London. It was nice to have that transition day before reality really hit and I think we were both glad we did our sightseeing before the con, because we were exhausted. There was a fair bit of napping on the plane back!

Worldcons aren't for everyone, but I've loved both the ones I've been to. Spending several days talking about nerd stuff, seeing other people get excited about the same things I am, is a fantastic experience. I've returned with new ideas, new plot bunnies, and new lists of things to read and watch. I got to meet people I've only talked to online before. I got to see old friends. It was everything I wanted it to be and that's really the best anyone can hope for out of a Worldcon.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-08-28 08:18 pm (UTC)
lost_spook: (Northanger reading)
From: [personal profile] lost_spook
Aw, I'm glad you had such a great time. It does sound excellent! (I love hearing people's con experiences. :-D)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-08-28 09:22 pm (UTC)
topaz119: (glass candles)
From: [personal profile] topaz119
I love MRK--she did a panel on alt-history at DragonCon a few years ago where she was v v annoyed w/people who smush together Regency & Victorian eras & ends up standing on the table & pulling up her (exquisite) Regency gown to show how little was worn under it (as opposed to the Victorian corsets, etc.) It was glorious.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-08-29 06:36 am (UTC)
kjn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kjn
As the person who proposed the panel on beta reading and put most people in it, but never had the chance to go to it, reading your experience about the panel gave me a deep sense of egoboo. Giving the fanfic community a face and a place where they are peers with "regular" authors was a large part of my thoughts behind it.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-08-29 05:28 pm (UTC)
kjn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kjn
There was a reason I put Stross there as the big-name author: I know that he is very fanfic-friendly, apart from having a large active group of beta readers. Though I wish I had had another fanfic author to place on the panel, but I couldn't find anyone else among the programming volunteers.

(How any fan can help improve the representation at programming in Worldcons: volunteer for the programme. It might not do much, but it will it much easier for a programming group to put together diverse panels.)

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