A Report on the 70th World Con: Part 2

Friday at the 70th World Con in Chicago. My lingering cold and sore throat kicked back into gear, and I clearly wasn’t firing on all burners anymore. I had to start carrying a bottle of Pepsi with me as a ready-made cough syrup so I wouldn’t bother everyone too much with my coughing. Yes, I was that guy in the back of the room, with the hacking cough.

Sorry.

Anyway, back to the WorldCon.

The Venue

I haven’t really talked about the venue, the Hyatt Regency. Basically, the hotel had two towers. It also had three or four underground floors, depending on how you counted them. All events were held in one of five or so floors, within each tower, with the lowest level, the Dealer’s Area and associated display areas, spanning both towers.

There were escalators between floors on each side, and multiple connections between the two towers. Once you got used to the layout, it was extremely convenient. Everything was so stacked, that it was never too far to get to another room.

Much better than the extensive distances I’ve had to traverse in a convention center, or in dispersed buildings. Honestly, of the six World Cons I’ve been to, I thought Chicon had the best setup for the sessions and events of any of them.

The hotel fell down a little bit when it came to the parties, though. There just weren’t enough elevators. The management was aware of the problem, though, and worked diligently to maximize the elevators they did have. They had elevator operators to manage the lines on key floors and to maximize elevator fill rates. They also brought the maintenance elevators into the equation and used them as well.

All in all, the hotel did their best to alleviate the elevator issue, and deserve quite a bit of credit for their efforts.

Another nice feature of the hotel, they had a 24-hour snack bar with reasonable prices. No matter what time of day or night, you could get cold sodas, snacks, a pre-made sandwich, etc.

Finally, the hotel was right on the riverfront, with restaurants and interesting sites all within easy walking distance.

Late Start

Because I wasn’t feeling that well, I got up late and stumbled over to the Emerald Loop for a killer brunch. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Hugh Howey for introducing me to the place.

Got back to the con and circulated around the Dealer’s Room like a kid in a candy store. I’d read Mira Grant’s Deadline in the Hugo Voting Packet, and had been reading Feed, the first book in the series at lunch, so I jumped at the chance to buy Blackout, the final book in the trilogy. Picked up a bunch of other books as well (sigh, so many books, so little time, even less money, alas).

I spotted Hugh Howey in the signing area, so I bought a copy of Wool from him, and naturally had it signed. I’m looking forward to reading it after hearing everybody talking about it last night. Then I helped corral a few more people into his queue. He’s got a new book, I, Zombie, that he’s selling.

As I was exiting the signing area, I noticed that Seanan McGuire was also signing. She also has Mira Grant as a pseudonym, and her line was short. So I got her to sign Feed and Blackout, plus I’d just bought the first book in her October Daye urban fantasy series, so she signed that, too.

Writing Novelettes

I attended a session on “Writing the SF Novelette,” with panelists Eleanor Arnason, Brad R. Torgerson, Connie Willis, Michael Coorlim and Bud Sparhawk. It was a pleasant discussion without any startling revelations. Robert Silverberg was mentioned as one of the best novelette writers ever, which is absolutely true. I like his novelettes far better than his novels.

Electronic Publishing

I attended another session on “Electronic Publishing,” with Eric Flint, Amanda Luedeke, Jason Sizemore, Joshua Bilmes and Paul Genesse. What ensued was a wide-ranging discussion of electronic publishing, digital rights, the resistance of certain major European publishers to non-DRM publishing, and many other topics.

Eric Flint has been one of the pioneers in electronic publishing, particularly with his work for Baen Books and his 1632 shared-universe series. His perspectives, and those of the other panelists, were well worth the time spent in the session. The general consensus is that the publishing industry has changed forever, but nobody knows what shape it will finally take.

Conclusion

Another great day at the World Con, despite feeling a bit under the weather most of the day. There’s just so many other things that I wanted to do that I never got to. I think I need that time travel spell that Hemione Granger had in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

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