Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Elephant in the Banquet Room

Or, "Inside Edition: The Nebulas!"

It's been a blurry couple of days. Friday I pounded out a paper and sent it off mere minutes before houseguest Karen and I took the train downtown (we grabbed some hot dogs first) to get registered and hit the reception honoring Anne McAffrey, where pins were handed out to the nominees present. Saw many people; Christopher, Gwenda, Ben, Sean, Mary Anne, and fellow Semi-O's Lois and Raechel. Met the very charming Greg Van Eekhout and his equally charming (though not quite as tall) wife, Lisa. Also met the distinguished David Moles, who along with the lovely and cheerful Susan had some good news for me which is kind of not a secret but maybe still kind of a secret so if you've figured it out, great, but if not I'll elaborate within the month. Susan's SO Matt was also there, but I have no link for him. Matt, start blogging!

Eventually we wandered out of the reception room and down to the bar and then back up to the lobby's big crazy couches (The Allegro Hotel, where the Nebulas were held this year, is a beautiful Art Deco/Art Nouveau/You Tell Me creation, with an overall great look and some bizarre chandeliers) to drink and talk. Christopher gave a bravura interpretation of the Moles/Rosenbaum/Chiang discussion here, and Mr. Rosenbaum demonstrated once again that he has more energy than a roomful of four-year-olds on amphetamines. Knowing Saturday would be the big party night (either in celebration or comisseration), we called it a night and planned to meet at Mary Anne's for brunch.

Saturday was a day for elephants. Elephants on the TV before we left for brunch (and rhinos, on Croc Files, elephants on the plates and keychains at Mary Anne's, elephants (OK, one, and technically Ganesh) on Doug's LiveJournal. Then today, the last of the Lincoln Park Zoo elephants--with the deeply wrong name of Wankie--has died. So I will be writing a story about elephants. It's brewing as we speak.

Many people came to brunch: besides myself and Karen, there were David, Ben, Greg, Lisa, Hannah, Tobias Buckell, Jack Skillingstead, Laurel Winter, Ellen Datlow, Eileen Gunn, Ellen Klages--the two last of whom would eventually be bringing home awards. Mary Anne had a feast prepared and in exchange asked us all to recommend books we'd read in the past year. (I touted Melina Marchetta's Saving Francesca and Julio Cortazar's Hopscotch.)

Well fed, Eileen, Karen, Hannah, Ms. Datlow and I shared a cab back to the hotel, where Hannah and I went to the "State of Short Fiction" panel featuring Ellen, Gordon van Gelder, and Gardner Dozois. Summary: SF is not dead, not enough good SF is being submitted, slipstream is either lazy writing or boring. (The latter opinion was expressed more by Gardner and Gordon, but was a subtext of much of the audience comments as well.) It was interesting to be there hearing this; SFWA, by nature of its membership criteria, has a median age of perhaps fifty-something, and the generational conflicts we had discussed the night previous were implicit in much of the discussion.

After that, Hannah and I chatted with Tobias for a while--I hadn't met him before, and he has a lot going on. He has a novel out in February, and his Weekend Writing Jams are still in full swing--if you're a neo-pro with a free weekend in June, you might want to check them out. We had stashed our fancy clothes in Susan's room, but had trouble getting in touch with her, so we took a short walk around downtown, blundering onto the set of a Sandra Bullock movie. Funny how she doesn't look like Sandra Bullock in person, exactly; she looks like a woman who looks like Sandra Bullock.

We found Susan, we got changed. I had wine, then more wine, then we ate. I sat at the Strange Horizons table with Karen, Susan, Matt, David, Hannah, Mary Anne, Greg, and Lisa. (Our table had by far the youngest median age at the banquet--it was speculated that we were the only table with more than two people under forty.) Matt had a confrontation with a piece of chocolate cake which had represented itself, on the menu, as both mousse and truffled. Banquet planners, take care in the future, lest ye awaken the rage of Matt. I, on the other hand, had a Warm Apple Crisp which was all three.

I must confess that the awards presentation seemed to go on for quite a long time. Perhaps it was because I was quietly rooting for a few people in particular to win--they are among those named above. None of them did, in the end (although some good writers did win). I blame myself. Well, no I don't, but it's worth pointing out that you need to be a SFWA member to vote, and I'm going to try to figure out if I qualify so that next time there are works which I feel passionate about on the ballot, I can at least say that I did my part. If anyone who's reading this is on the cusp of membership, I humbly suggest you do the same.

After the banquet, there was more drinking, more talking, a rugby clinic run by Ben Rosenbaum and another gentleman whose name I have unfortunately forgotten (who at one point had me draped across his shoulders and those of David Moles in order to demonstrate how a person like me might be killed in a rugby game). At this point--it was perhaps 1 in the morning, and I'd had a few--I was starting to run out of gas, while Ben was still tapping into whatever unholy source of eldritch energy fuels his frenetic self. It's both amazing and a little frightening.

At any rate, after a bit of lounging on the stairs with Gwenda, Christopher, Karen, Susan, Matt, Sean, and Hannah, I felt myself shading towards pumpkin orange. So there were hugs and "hasta la WisCons" all around, and we cabbed it back home and slept the sleep of the just-too-tired-to-keep-on-partying.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you read Margo Lanagan's "Sweet Pippit" in Black Juice yet? Elephant story.

Very cool, Nebula report!


7:35 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Two other folks recommended that collection to me over the weekend. Or possibly more than two. Now that you say it, it must be true.

Also because it means more elephant synchronicity.

11:53 AM  

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