WorldCon Report

WorldCon bounces all over the place. Last year it was held in exotic Melbourne, Australia, in the land of wombats and the Crocodile Hunter. Of course, the year that I got nominated for a prestigious award, it was held in Reno, Nevada.  Reno is a place that I drive through to go to other places. There are no wombats or other marsupials in Reno, but since this year I was one of the five worldwide finalists for the John W. Campbell award for best new writer, I went to Reno.

In all seriousness, I was planning on going to WorldCon way before I got nominated for anything. Reno is only about an eight hour drive from where I live, and it is always nice to go to a big con without having to fly. As a large man, I hate trying to fit into tiny airplane seats. I’m flying to DragonCon next month, but on the flight out I’m sitting next to Howard Tayler (who is conveniently travel sized) so I’ll just smoosh over into his chair for all that extra room. Sweet!

My trip was all planned. Once a month I participate in what my wife lovingly refers to as Writer Nerd Game Night, where we play Letters and Numbers. (because she was one of the cool kids growing up, it is too difficult for her to remember nerdy abbreviations like L5R, which is short for Legend of the 5 Rings). My game group consists of 4 published novelists, 2 professional book reviewers, and a video game designer, so it is a pretty literate bunch. Many of us had already decided to ride down together in Dan Well’s party van, so we could play during the trip. So this was to be Writer Nerd Game Night: World Tour.

Dan Wells was also one of my competitors for the Campbell award, because of the awesomeness of his I Am Not a Serial Killer series. I’m sure it is purely coincidental that the guy that writes serial killer novels drives a van. However, I can’t explain why Dan has such an extensive shovel and trash bag collection.

I was rooming at the Marriot with Analog writer, Brad Torgersen, who flew in. According to the internet, our hotel was supposed to be less than a mile from the convention center… Perhaps the internet assumed I had a jet pack, because, no. It was a bit more on foot. And it was hot. And I was going to have to wear a suit, tie, and dress shoes for part of it, so I had Dan drop me off at the airport so I could rent a car. (which due to only getting 3 hours of sleep, I forget to put gas in on turn-in day, so I had to pay my Stupid Tax at $8 a gallon).

The Con itself was pretty interesting. This was my first WorldCon. There was a ton of fan stuff on the many panels, but not a real strong writing track. Sure, there were plenty of panels about writing, but it seemed like most of that time was spent on defining terms and genre “rules” as opposed to anything useful to the aspiring writers in the audience, like business or creative advice. There was a very distinct divide between what I’ll call the academic writers and the commercial writers. (yeah, you get one guess where I fall in that continuum). I participated in a few panels and observed a bunch of others, but that topic needs its own blog post.

I did a reading to a pretty full room, which was extra nice considering that it was at 10:00am on the second day and I was directly across the hallway from where Lois McMaster Bujold was reading at the same time. I even went in and told everyone that Lois was across the way, and I wouldn’t be offended if half the room suddenly got up and left, (hell, I’d much rather listen to Lois than me!) but nobody did, and we had fun. I did a kaffeklatsch, which I didn’t even know what that word meant, but basically was a bunch of fans of mine signing up to sit at a table with me while I drank soda and pontificated about stuff.

The Baen author’s dinner was excellent and my lovely publisher, Toni Weisskopf, fed her writers much steak, scallops, and the king of all key lime-gelato-coconut-balls. I was able to visit with Sarah and Dan Hoyt, Chuck Gannon, Robert Beutner, master artist Bob Eggleton and his awesome wife Marianne, Eric Flint, Lois Bujold, and crud, I know I’m probably forgetting somebody. As usual, the Baen authors were great company.

WorldCon has lots of parties. I’m not a party guy. First off, I don’t drink alcohol. Second off, I’ve got low level hearing damage. Third, at anything over 70 degrees I start to sweat. So standing in a hotel room packed with the bodies of drunken aspiring writers who are trying to suck up to drunken editors, while I’m sweating profusely and all I can hear is a terrible buzzing noise and saying “What? What? Huh?” over and over again is simply a terrific time. The exception to this was the Baen party, but I’ll get to that.

The Night Shade party was good though, because warrior-poet Pat Tracy was there performing feats of strength. Like bending gigantic cold-rolled carpentry nails in half with his bare hands or ripping phone books apart. I’m a pretty strong guy, but all I succeeded in doing with the big nails was slightly unstraightening one a bit, but then I managed to bend one of his practice nails, which made me look all sorts of tough to the other writers there (Is there anything Larry Correia can’t do?!?) until I showed them that it was one of the smaller ones. When I need Owen Pitt to do something requiring a great deal of physical strength, my litmus test is to ask myself if it is something Pat could do.

Saladin Ahmed was one of the other finalists for the Campbell Award. I had friended him on FaceBook, and we had joked around a bit about the nominees trying to assassinate each other beforehand… (Lauren Beukes had already threatened me with ninjas) So it was pretty ironic when my group was leaving the Tor party on Friday night, and the elevator door opened and I recognized the lone passenger as Saladin. I stepped in, said “Saladin? I’m Larry Correia.” Then I shook his hand. (It helps that I’m about a foot taller than he is). Then Dan Wells gets in the elevator. “And I’m Dan Wells.” Then three other tough guys that are obviously with us get into the elevator as well (Skinny, Scruffy, and 6’8” Dave)  and then the door closes ominously behind us with perfect timing. I pointed out that this was just like Facebook. Then Dan invited him to come play board games with us… in the desert… where there are no security cameras…

But it turned out that Saladin is a super nice guy, which kind of sucked, because all of the nominees were like that. It would have been so much easier if they had all been big mean jerks because then I could have just hated them, but they had to go and be all friendly and stuff. Photo taken from Lou Anders’ FB page.

I am the entire back row

Notice anything?

I'm just sayin' is all...

Saturday was nuts. After a relatively early start, (and the best omelet I’ve ever had, which we have christened the Nick) I was on three consecutive panels and then it was off to the Hugo party, then the Hugo ceremony, and then the (spoiler alert!) Hugo Loser’s party, and then the Baen party. When all was said and done, I was up until 4:00 AM Sunday morning.

The Hugo ceremony is actually sort of formal. Keep in mind that to a lot of sci-fi authors, formal dress means wearing a t-shirt that has a pocket on it. I wore my best black suit, and despite the fact that I think I clean up well in a suit, most people think I either look like an undertaker, high end security, or that I’m Agent Franks come to murder witnesses.

The ceremony took FOREVER… The presenters were Ken Scholes and Jay Lake. I don’t know Jay, but I really like Ken. Yes, there were funny bits, but Oh My Gosh, it got so very hot in that front section. There was zero airflow, and it just kept getting stuffier and hotter. There was 2,500 people in the room and all of the hot, moist, hotness of them all floated down in a gigantic muggy death sauna cloud onto all of us poor people trapped in hot jackets and neck strangling ties of hotness. Did I mention that it was hot? We just wanted it to end.

Howard and Sandra Tayler were behind me and I found out later that Sandra had passed out. By the time I had sweated completely through my shirt and through my suit coat, I didn’t really give a damn who won. Give the Hugo for best novel to the guy up there getting his award for best fanzine and let’s get the hell out of here.  

But anyway, Lev Grossman won the Campbell. Looking at the results afterward, I got my ass handed to me. It wasn’t really a surprise, since I knew going in that my odds of winning were really low. (I’m not exactly the sort of writer most of the WorldCon voters root for, but more on that in the next blog post). Just getting nominated to begin with was a huge surprise. But anyways, congrats to Lev.

This is the man that totally kicked my ass

I took this picture of Lev right after the ceremony. Yes. There is a Campbell tiara… No… I don’t get why either. Though I am going to vote for Brad Torgersen to win next year, just so that when he accepts the award he can say thanks, but then say that he is a Warrant Officer in the United States Army, and Warrant Officers don’t wear tiaras.  

It was a bad night for all of my Utah friends too. There were more Utahns nominated this year than ever before, but we got our clocks cleaned across the board. Dan lost in the Campbell with me and also for Writing Excuses, along with Brandon and Jordo Sanderson, and Howard Tayler, who also lost his nomination for best graphic work. Eric James Stone also got beat in novellas, for his story that had just won the Nebula. So despite the plethora of Utahns in the mix, we didn’t take any awards home. (except for our super gigantic royalty checks because we are all popular and successful but that is a totally different sort of award!)

After going over the stats at the Loser’s Party (did I mention that I got my ass handed to me? Yeah? Well, to reiterate, I REALLY got my ass handed to me) I went over to the Baen party. I gave Howard a ride back to his hotel, and since Howard was in a very spiffy tux, and carries himself in the a manner that suggests he is the master of all he surveys, and I was the giant in a black suit cutting a path ahead of him through the casino, he probably looked like a VIP. I’m surprised management didn’t come out and comp us some free drinks and some strippers. (I really need to wear my radio earpiece next time I dress up). Just kidding on the strippers. (in case the lovely Mrs. Correia is reading this)

At the Baen party, Toni surprised me with a gigantic birthday cake. (yes, Saturday was my birthday). And then all of the BarFlys sang Happy Birthday for me. It was pretty awesome.

Because my publisher loves me, I get cake.

Let me just say that I love my publishing house. Nobody in the business has more loyal fans, and no publisher is more loyal to their fans than Baen. Loyalty works both ways, and I wouldn’t trade them for anybody.

Lois told me not to worry about losing the Campbell. She lost the year she was nominated, and she’s doing just fine. (fine is a bit of an understatement when you are the person that writes Miles Vorksogian!) Lois is way cool. 

I’m no longer eligible for the Campbell. (since I have officially moved from New Writer to Medium Writer this year) I did ask everyone present to remember to nominate for the Hugos next year, and to check out Hard Magic, because it really is still the best thing I’ve ever written, and it is eligible best novel for next year. (though despite the exhaustive research, much darker tone, and even the fact I wrote poetry for the damn thing, I’ll still be dismissed by the literati as that pulp-monster-explosions guy) Then I had a great time hanging out with the Baen folks, and drank about 8 Cokes, which was another reason I managed to stay awake until 4:00.

Well, that and my roommate was very excited. Brad Torgersen had the best WorldCon EVAR! Not that I can say what all happened to him, but his star is certainly on the rise. It must be pretty cool to have David Brin single you out in an auditorium and introduce you as the FUTURE OF SCIENCE FICTION, and how that in a few years you will bury everyone. So, for 2012, I’m nominating Brad for the Campbell, not just because he is a kick ass new writer, but mostly for the Warrant Officer thing about not wearing tiaras.

Next morning it was another Nick the Super Omelet, paid my $8 a gallon Stupid Tax, and then went back to Utah in the Serial Killer Party Van. This post had to wait until today, because I was absolutely incoherent most of yesterday.

Next year, WorldCon is in Chicago. No plans to go to that one yet, but I’ve heard that the year after that might be in San Antonio, and if that is the case, I am so totally there. San Antonio is one of my favorite places, and any excuse to visit Texas is a good excuse.

37 Responses

  1. Great report, my friend. I’m sorry you didn’t win, but – if it helps – there is this: you’re considered the world’s greatest writer by everyone in my house!

  2. Great read, Larry. It’s good to see it from the other side. I was actually genuinely annoyed at the Hugos this year (it was my first WorldCON too) when I swore up and down I wouldn’t get invested. So it’s ok to be a little mad. :P

    And yes, Brad is awesome, and I’ll be nominating him too. And hopefully your birthday didn’t suck too much ass despite being cooked alive.

    And my wife says I’m nominating Hard Magic for the Hugo next year. I have it (but haven’t read it yet; have to finish A Clash of Kings first) but she’s the boss, so here’s hoping!

  3. It was great hanging with you at the Kafeeklatch, and sorry to see you didn’t take the award home.

    Also, thanks for laughing along with my story of “the con thus far” while I was bugging Dan for advice. =D

  4. Holy crap! That woman seen over Lev’s shoulder (with her back to you) is a friend of mine that I use to game with on Friday nights! She won a Hugo for Chicks Dig Time Lord’s. Small world!

  5. Seriously wish I could have made it. Sounds like an awesome time.

    Hope you don’t get con plague!

  6. I wish I could have gone! I live in Fallon- not far at all.

    But I was in Reno all weekend at the gun show, making my living as a knifemaker and didn’t see anyone.

    which sucks.

    But it looks like it was a fantastic time!

  7. Oh well, there is always next year! And we’ll still read the stuff you write :-) Oh yeah, and Happy Birthday Larry!

  8. This is probably a shameful admission for an SF writer to make; but it’s been a long damn time since a Hugo meant ‘must read’ to me. Look at the brightside..in ten years these winners will have dissertations written about them… but you’ll be the guy people remember having read.

  9. Happy birthday to you, Larry!

    …And don’t sweat it. There’s much worse things for an author to be known as than “that pulp-monsters-explosions guy.”

    Your books will be repeatedly read until the covers fall off and the pages come apart, at which point your fans will run to the bookstore or Amazon.com to replace them.

    Those snooty literati characters will sell one printing each of their books, most of which will end up gathering dust, forgotten, on the shelves of pretentious people who want their peers to think they’re actually cultured or something. Really. Just look at their bookshelves if you don’t believe them…

    Culture, schmulture. Bring on the rotary snowplow and the pack of zombies.

    • There’s much worse things for an author to be known as than “that pulp-monsters-explosions guy.”

      Infinitely preferable to being known as: “Who?”

      • Yes, indeed. There is only *one* reason I remember the alleged “first” English novel “Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded”: it has to be the *most* vile, execrable dreck known to humanity. It’s a miracle we were not permanently damaged in high school English literature by that book.
        The Monster Hunter books just bring broad smiles to all the readers. And a “damn but we have to change the gun laws” comment, so we can get some nice full auto toys.

  10. I hope you reconsider going to Chicago, as it will probably be the best chance I have to get to a Con.

  11. Larry,
    Glad you gad a good time. Chicago – you’ll have to leave the hardware at home, They only allow criminals to be armed there – I’ve been there, won’t go back unless there is a *lot* of money at stake for a few months. You won’t be missing anything except the poor soul above – we ought to try to get him airline miles for a ticket to some place you are going …
    You are a human horizon. If I end up going some place soon, I wish you were with me. Kinda – I think you might attract more fire than me. Like artillery. If they don’t run away in abject terror.
    My coin cup is full, Monster Hunter Alpha will soon be in my hands …
    Take care, keep on writing. It’s very good to hear that Baen rocks – I tell new, would be authors, if they are good enough, to always consider Baen first – because of the quality of their writers. It’s heart warming to know that Baen takes care of it’s authors so well at big cons, given today’s parsimonious entertainment budgets in corporations.
    Ralph

  12. San Antonio, eh? Maybe this Houston newbie will go to his first WorldCon ever then.

  13. Happy B-day! And good job holding that back row down. San Antonio? Now you’re talking. That’s just up the road a piece. Not a far piece. I will make that my first Con ever if you’re going to be there. Also, when you come to SA we’ll have to get you out and do some shooting somewhere. Maybe even some Axis deer. Hold me to it if you’re in the area and interested.

  14. I really enjoyed meeting Larry at the Kaffeeklatsch- it was a nice break from panels featuring leftover 70’s radicals droning on about “gender issues” in SF. (I also got to spend about 2 hours talking guns with L. Neil Smith… also helped to build up my immunity)

    After the awards- I was discussing the Campbell winners with some friends. I pointed out that most “Monster Hunter” fans don’t even know that the Hugo awards exist- or they’re deployed. They just like reading the books.

    Hope the Utahns do better on next years ballot- I like “Girl Genius” well enough, but Howard Taylor’s “Schlock Mercenary” is much better science fiction.

    Regards,

    Dave

  15. SA is where I grew up – let me visit my dad at the Ft Sam Houston National Cemetery, too.
    There’s thousands of vets buried there – rows and rows of stones.

  16. Happy upteenth celebration to the anniversary of your birth in this world!

    So sorry you didn’t get the award, but the nomination is still a big kicker for your career! You had a lot of fun, got to meet a lot of people, (YOU GOT CAKE YOU FLUFFY GUY!) and you spent time doing things you liked as well!

    Next time if it is in Chi town, I’ll bring the Wife and Son and thank you in person for the awesomeness which leaks out of you in grand fashion as stories people actually enjoy reading!

    And to hecksinki with the ‘Literati”. Is there a story line and plothole here? You are the best Larry! And if you get a chance, tell Sara Hoyt her book rocked cause you recommended it to us.

    Thank you Larry from my entire family for your wonderful writing!

  17. Hippo Birdy writer guy! And seriously, how do you get more cultured than giant tractor-mounted snowblowers? Some people…

  18. I’m actually more disappointed that Howard Tayler hasn’t won anything yet. Schlock is the best sci fi I’ve read in years.

  19. Happy B-day, Larry!

    Hope you get down to Texas next year. I’d make the drive to SA to say howdy.

  20. If you come down to San Antonio……I live on the other end of this huge state, but I’d probably make the trip down to shake your hand.

  21. If I can make an intellectual comparison, Tom Wolfe is regularly dismissed by the self-annointed ‘literati’ as being too approachable.

    And if I can further compound my sin by linking to Salon, http://www.salon.com/books/log/1999/12/21/wolfe

    I’m glad you’re not concerned with being taken ‘seriously’. Enjoy your writing, and we’ll enjoy reading it.

  22. Happy Birthday!

    I see you were the back row… did you ever get the impulse to utter “I am the brute squad.” in an Andre the Giant sort of way?

    Glad you had fun (aside from the slow-torture-by-heat), and hey, at least you didn’t have to wear a tiara!

  23. Hey the poetry isn’t bad. And who cares about the literati. In tribute to your work: Here is the chairman’s final poem translated “back” into Japanese (badly):

    真夜中に  まよなかに mayonaka ni
    黒き海より  くろきうみより kuroki umi yori
    新星尽す  しんせいつくす shinsei tsukusu
    水面に  すいめんに suimen ni
    櫂の水泡  かいのすいほう kai no suihou
    命灯  いのちともしび inochi tomoshibi

    In the dead of night
    From the dark ocean
    A new star consuming
    On the water’s surface
    As an oars’ bubble
    Life’s light

    Translated as a sedoka, 5-7-7, 5-7-7

  24. Now that I’ve seen a pic of you, here’s a comic that you might relate to…

    Buck Godot

  25. I’m sorry you didn’t win, but you seem to have a lot of lifetime customers, so that’s almost as good, right?

    I thought Monster Hunter Alpha was a bit better than Hard Magic, but don’t get me wrong–they were both entirely awesome.

    You should make a deal with an importer–it was entirely thanks to MHA that I just went out and bought a Mosin-Nagant last weekend as my first “real” caliber rifle (my other is a 10/22). Oh, wait. Did I say I bought it? My wife gave it to me as a surprise gift. I have an awesome wife.

  26. Great write-up Larry! And yes, it was definitely the best first WorldCon EVAAAARRRRR for me. The David Brin exclamation only being the tip of a (potentially) momentous iceberg. As for the Campbell, if I am on the short list, I should bring a kevlar in place of the tiara. Given how tough it is to break into the biz, a kevlar is far, far more practical — and emblematic. So if you’re doing Chicon 7, vote TORGERSEN and restore dignity to the Best New Writer award. (grin)

  27. [...] roommate at WorldCon, Larry Correia, posted a fine wrap-up on his blog yesterday, which I am linking to here. I don’t have much to add because I was traveling all day Sunday — which was essentially [...]

  28. Great AAR, Larry. San Antonio (as many have already told you but hey, I let being repetitive) got the Worldcon 2013 nomination and I think I’ll be attending with Super Writersitter Extraordinaire (i.e., Mel). Too bad about the Campbell btw. The Magicians was okay, but really depressing and “academic”, whereas your work is “fun” (I like quotes… I’m doing the “quote” fingers in my mind when I do this).

    …wow I’m rambling. Congrats!

  29. Larry,

    First, Belated Happy Birthday, if you had said something I would have gotten you a useful gift, something like AMMO for that sneaky Ninja/Killer Yard Moose. (who stuffed the ballot box for the Campbell/ WorldCon)
    Two, You are WORTH WAY more to us fans, than some silly award given out by a pack of stuck up self proclaimed know-it-alls from the old guard of SF writers (hacks).
    With that being said, I havn’t read any Campbell winners novel/book/work anytime in the last ten years. But because of you and your books, I have gone to a “meet and greet”, gotten all “girl like” silly over an up coming book drop date. Drove My loving wife up the a tree raving about how you get your weapons and ammo choice correct. Lost sleep reading said books.
    So Larry, Live long and prosper, also keep your knife sharp and your powder dry.
    Ps. and you are killing My book buying budget. But I don’t mind it that much

  30. Best not mention being comped strippers around your wife.
    Im sure shes at least competent with a few of the firearms you got stashes.

  31. Eh, don’t worry about it. Wives know that strippers are all show, and no go, just there to part people with their money. When one gets older, one finds the money is far better spent at the local bookstore. If they are comped, I guess that’s fine, as long as they pay for the drinks and cigars, too. Now *that’s* sweet to get. Only once in Atlanta, but I still remember that group fondly …

  32. You drank 8 Cokes? I thought Mormons excommunicate you or something for that kind of horribleness. They _are_ objectively bad for you, or at least your teeth. (The sugar and the phosphoric acid will just etch the dog poo out of yer toof enamel.)

  33. [...] are two examples, both reports of the Reno Worldcon by two writers unhappy with the Hugo and Campbell award winners, [...]

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