Adventures at Sasquan

Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention, was definitely a Book View Café Event. Nineteen of us – more than a third of the co-op – showed up.

BVC’s own Vonda N. McIntyre was a guest of honor, which gave us an excuse to hold our first publisher’s party.  The cake was every bit as good as reported and I understand that the party only generated two or three noise complaints, despite over-filling the hotel room.

I got the chance to talk to every BVC member who was there, several of whom I’d never met in person before. That was a real pleasure. (It helped that five of us shared a house during the con.)

But interviewing Vonda as part of the convention program was the high point of my Sasquan.

We began the interview by showing the trailer for The Moon and the Sun, the forthcoming movie made from Vonda’s novel of the same name. This was the first showing anywhere of the trailer, so it was a treat for the con attendees.

That led to a discussion of filmmaking – including Vonda’s delightful time watching them film at Versailles – and how movies differ from novels.

I also asked her why she chose to write science fiction. Like many authors in the field, she grew up reading it. But she also said she wrote it – and this is a vague paraphrase because I was busy asking questions and not taking notes on the answers – because she could have women characters do things without explaining how they had the opportunity to do them.

The interview was videotaped, so I hope it will soon be available for others to see.

Vonda and I did a panel on Book View Café along with Brenda Clough, Jeff Carver, and Pati Nagle. We also had a BVC Kaffee Klatche – Madeleine Robins and Chaz Brenchley were on that one along with the folks from the panel.

Little SistersAnd Vonda read her BVC original story, “Little Sisters.” I enjoyed watching the audience reaction to that story.

The Hugo Awards got quite a bit of publicity this year because of the hijacking of the nominations. The award outcomes indicate that the science fiction community has rejected the rhetoric of hate and is taking a strong stand in favor of inclusion.

I’m glad the best novel award went to Cixin Liu, a Chinese author whose book, The Three-Body Problem, was translated by U.S. author Ken Liu. It is good to put the world in WorldCon!

The convention wasn’t all smooth sailing. The serious wildfires burning in the northwest caused very bad air pollution from particulate matter – aka smoke – in Spokane. The convention center sprawled all over the place, which was good for getting your exercise but bad for getting to panels in a timely fashion. And the numbering system for rooms made no sense whatsoever. Even by the last day of the convention people were still getting lost.

But on the whole, it was a successful gathering of the science fiction tribe. The BVC contingent had a great time.



Adventures at Sasquan — 10 Comments

  1. Nancy, thank you for conducting the interview — I think you did a stellar job and I really enjoyed it.

    I would still be wandering around lost in the convention center if it weren’t for the convention center employees at every intersection who could tell me where to go. But it says something about the design that they were all so necessary. I wish the place had been color-coded. I was late for only one panel… on Sunday. You’d think by Sunday I’d’ve more or less got my bearings. That’s what I thought, but I was wrong. I like to be on time — a friend calls this “Neurotic Promptness Syndrome” — so I was very embarrassed to be late.

    The party, and Madeleine’s cake, were wonderful, and it was great to meet BVC members I hadn’t met before. Even so I didn’t get to talk to everybody, alas. I kept thinking I had time between obligations to hang out, but mostly I didn’t. I did get to spend time at the con suite, specially Saturday night after the Hugos — had a lovely conversation with a number of fellow fans and found myself furiously emailing book recommendations to myself.

    Thanks again!


    • Usually by the last day of a convention I have figured out all the ins and outs of the venue, but not this one. The convention center employees who give directions are obviously all very bright people with good spatial reasoning. And since they were all also unfailingly polite, they are gems who should probably be paid much more money than they get.

  2. I loved the interview and the trailer! Vonda, thank you for bringing that – an interesting taste of the movie to come. I’ve been worried that the fantasy-style costuming would be too distracting for me, so I’m glad to say that I enjoyed it more than I expected to and look forward to seeing the movie.

    Meeting and hanging out with BVC folks was the highlight of the con, for me. I wish there had been a time-warp bar where you could go hang out and chat over a beer without missing any of the time-sensitive program items. I’d have been in there as much as I could until I had to sleep.

    • Pati, good to hear. Book and movie are a good deal different.

      I vote for the time-warp bar! I was always thinking, “I have enough time between panels to hang out in the con suite… buy somebody a drink… sit and chat…” and the time just vanished. I did get to hang out in the con suite several evenings, so that was nice.

  3. Nancy and Vonda,

    Having spent far too much time in convention centers for my professional society meeting, I realized long ago that one of the secrets of designing a convention center is to use a numbering system for rooms that makes interpreting the Tarot look like child’s play.


    But I’m glad to hear that there were plenty of staff to help…that is, sadly, not all that common in many convention centers.

    • Matt, I think this one would win the grand prize for confusing numbering. The 300s were on the ground floor. 302 and 303 were in different parts of the building. The ballrooms were the equivalent of about three blocks from the exhibit halls. I can’t remember now if you had to go both up and down escalators to get to them, but you did have to do that to get to some rooms (I think some of the 100s were upstairs from the others). There were lots of elevators, but I think the constant up and down would have been particularly annoying if you were using a wheelchair or scooter and had to rely on elevators instead of escalators.

      The speculation is that this building won an architecture prize, which explains why it’s very difficult to use. However, I do know architects who are capable of thinking of human usability, so my theory is that it was designed by a committee. Or maybe several committees at different times.

      But the staff people were awesome.

  4. Looking forward to the interview! I wish I could have come and just sat in the con suite or bar and talked with everyone. Maybe next convention?