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.
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.
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.
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.
EDIT-4/10/2015: It seems weird to have to go back and make a note on a post from years ago, but some clever types brought this up to show that I had a wonderful experience at WorldCon, and anything I said later about bias in the system, or negative experiences isn’t true, and thus all the fans on my side are wrong and bad.
Note a couple of things, above I said 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). … And then I didn’t? Yeah, I didn’t write that post then because I chickened out.
In 2011 I was still under the impression that I could be nice and keep my head down and play along and maybe eventually they would accept me. I was a new guy. All of my peers and friends in the industry told me to only talk about the positives, smile, and not say anything. I was afraid that if I talked about the negatives, it would be bad for my career.
So in this post I left out the negatives and only talked about the positives. It was at that birthday party that I was pissed off and ranting, but Toni Weisskopf talked me down from saying anything.
Brad was my roommate, and I vented to him about assholes trying to pick fights, and he warned me off of being anything but nice, and gracious too. Wow, have times changed.
But I’ve got a hard time biting my tongue, and being nice turned out to be useless because they kept attacking me anyway. By the time San Antonio rolled around, it was all in the open.
So for the TNH crowd vectoring in on this one post to try and discredit me, yep, you got me. Back then I was still afraid of you.