Tuesday, November 07, 2017

World Fantasy in the rear-view mirror, pt. 3

After the Autograph Reception, I dropped off my books in my car then headed back in to find the parties. I asked around where the Tor party was being held, only to learn the Tor editorial staff--with the exception of Tor.com--had not come to this year's World Fantasy, and would not be hosting their traditional party. What's more, most of the other big publishers had skipped San Antonio as well. Baltimore was throwing a party to promote next year's World Fantasy, so I decided to head up there. On my way, just out of curiosity, I swung by the suite where Skelos held it's party the night before. The door was cracked open. Voices emerged from inside. Here, I discovered a quiet non-party in progress, perpetrated by Mark Finn, Patrice Sarath, Jess Nevins, Keith West, Rosemary Clement Moore, Lisa Rodgers and L.E. Modesitt. I only eventually made it to the Baltimore party for a few minutes, hours later. The rest of the time was taken up with this group, talking about everything and nothing in particular. It was calm, quiet, funny and a tremendous way to end the evening. I felt more refreshed as I headed home than I had at any time earlier that day.

I awoke Saturday morning feeling energetic and upbeat--a marked contrast from the previous few days. I was wary about moderating my panel that afternoon, "Urban Legends in the Age of Fake News (Engaging Our Theme IV)." I wasn't exactly nervous, as I've participated in many, many panels over the years at conventions large and small. But this was my first time to moderate at World Fantasy, and felt that more was expected of me on this particular stage. I needn't have worried. The other members of the panel, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Mark L. Van Name and David Afsharirad, were clever and insightful in all the best ways. I ended up talking more than I'd planned on, sharing stories of how a student's snarky Tweet morphed into a race war as online click-bait media sites cut-and-pasted the original erroneous story until Snopes finally called me to fact-check, and how a rancher from Cuero rejected the fact that her dead "chupacabra" was, in fact, a Texas coyote suffering from a hideous case of necrotic mange. Urban legends can arise from fake news as well as vice versa, and the human tendency toward confirmation bias and willful ignorance speed them on their way.

From here on out, the convention was a blur of highlights. The programming was exceptional, and more than one person commented on 1) the convention's lack of controversy and 2) that the 2017 WFC seemed in large part a positive reaction to the troubled 2016 edition. I can't argue with either one of those positions, and credit the hard work and long hours put in by Renee Babcock, Jonathan Miles, Mark Finn, Spike and everyone else who let this thing consume their lives for the past two years. I met some great new faces, including Karen Rylander, Jeffrey Shanks, Brit Hvide, Frederic S. Durbin, Brady McReynolds, Ben Monroe and a host of others whose names I've forgotten. I finally got to meet Meg Turville-Heitz in person after years of online interaction. I caught up with Damien Broderick again after not seeing him for too many years. The same goes for Ann VanderMeer, who really, really needs to make a side trip to New Braunfels the next time she's in San Antonio. I was amazed by Alan Beatts' impassioned, heartfelt speech at the most excellent Borderlands Books party. I finally got to hear my arch-nemesis Stina Leicht tell her Star Trek story (which I'd never actually heard before, believe it or not). Marhshall Ryan Maresca and L.E. Modesitt have vest collections almost as awesome as mine. I also came to the realization that when we have all turned to dust, Jess Nevins is the one who will be remembered and valued most by distant generations. I learned that Greg Bear can turn near-death experience into a very, very funny con suite story. I visited with old friends Jessica Reisman, Joe Lansdale, Kimm Antell, Scott Zrubek, Scott Cupp, Alexis Glynn Latner, Patrice Sarath, Bill Crider, Sanford Allen, Rebecca Schwarz and Adrian Simmons, but not nearly enough. A lot of folks complimented me on The Wife's photography I've shared online, particularly the underwater photography she's worked on of late. I had a bunch of people ask about my tiki bar build and when I was going to throw a grand opening party (how about June? June sounds good...). I had agents and editors express interest in Sailing Venus, and regardless of whether this was genuine enthusiasm or professional politeness, I'll take it. World Fantasy 2017 was very good to me, and I can't wait until the next one.

More photos may be found at World Fantasy pt. 1
World Fantasy pt. 2
and World Fantasy Awards.

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