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Thursday, August 11, 2005

News from the Pictish Emirates...

Hi there! It's been a while,

Kelly Link wanted me to blog Worldcon from an alternate-historical perspective, like

My "A Discourse on the Nature of Causality, With Air-Planes", lost the Victor Hugo Award for Best Plausible-Fable With Philosophical Aspirations, to the marvelous "Djinni Wallet" of Lelly Kink. Lelly and I sat in the auditorium with Soma-With-The-Paintbox-In-Printer's-Alley, a jovial and clever, if somewhat tragic, figure. Soma was some kind of delegate or prisoner of the gargantuan rogue Wisdom Regent of Tennessee, Athena Crowe, whose excellent autobiographical vignette I had expected to win in our category.

It is always a dangerous thing for an office-holding political figure to become a writer, and there seemed to be a not insignificant chance that poor Soma would be eaten ("refactored" was the euphemism employed, I believe) for his audacity in failing to bring home a little silver rocketship; our concerns for him being somewhat allayed, however, by the competence and spirit of his wife Gwenda-With-The-Martini-Glass-And-.25-Beretta-In-Garter, who had a plan.

But I'm not really sure how much of that we all can take. David Moles and Jed Hartman were also sitting with us, but see, giving them their zeppelin-world identities is just not a step I'm ready to take yet.

Scotland was great fun: if I do the name round up at this late date, without my notes, I will surely snub half the world, so I will largely refrain, but it was nice to be at a con in Europe, as I got to meet various and sundry impressive and entertaining literary folks from Australia, France, Israel, Italy, Scandinavia, and the UK, that I might not have seen at a US Worldcon. And it was actually nice that the con was so spread out, as one had to keep running or chunky-black-taxiing through Glasgow's sober, sensible, lovely streets every day, so that one didn't have so much of the "has the entire world been destroyed and left only this vast, overstimulating, hysterically self-interested space station alive?" feeling one is often beset with at Worldcons.

Roomed with Cory, which meant that, as you might imagine, we consumed most of the available words allocated to the Hilton, forcing most of the other residents to communicate in sign language.

The run-up to losing the Hugo was not nearly as nerve-wracking as the run-up to losing the Nebula, I suppose because of some degree of acclimation, because my expectations were rather lower, the ballot being crowded with good stuff. The Hugo reception and Losers' Party were fun (and may I just say that, while in general the running of worldcon was an absolute class act -- free drinks delivered from the green room to panelists mid-panel by smiling gophers! -- it was like panelist heaven -- the one great lapse was the humorless renaming of the Losers' party to some inoffensive bureaucratic euphemism -- shame, shame), and I got to meet Geoff Ryman, Susanna Clarke, Kim Stanley Robinson, and various people like that who I am too dazzled to remember. Was it in conversation with Niall Harrison that I was possessed of the sudden need to find Eileen Gunn and Ellen Datlow and grill them about the history of Cheap Truth? Or with someone entirely different? See, it's all a blur. I recall cornering Paul Park outside his reading and fanboying about his collection If Lions Could Speak. I spent most of the Hugo Losers' party talking with Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman about Ellen's book Swordspoint, which I had just read, and so I had to tell Ellen at great length what it all meant (she was very patient). And I got to trade quips with Connie Willis, always a joy at these things (though I'm not sure how amused she was at being teased about the pace of the Hugo ceremonies -- i.e. very brisk, since she wasn't MC'ing...) And then I stayed up until some ridiculous hour of the morning conversationally jamming with Hal Duncan on epistemology and metaphysics and theology. A breakfast conversation where Scott Westerfield and Justine Larbalestier made fun of my clothes. And so forth and so on. Good con.

This is really funny -- both the original entry, and the clipped, sober exchange between the goodly WikiGnomes who swiftly remedied the intrusion into Wikipedia's tidy nöosphere. I wonder who was behind this? The IP address doesn't yield much of a clue. (I'd think maybe Melko or Finlay, except wouldn't they mention it then...?)

I didn't mention the con panels I was on. They were great. The cities panel was chock full of interesting stuff, and the blogging panel was a lot of fun, mostly due to the wittiness of the participants. I almost killed Cory by revealing that I have dial-up at home (actually now that I have this new laptop here, I find myself unable to resist pirating my neighbor's broadband wireless connections when they're on. Is this bad? Is there some way I can set my connection to be lower priority, allowing the actual owner's packets to bump mine? Techies?). I also admitted to being a lousy blogger. A fan later came up to me at my signing and curiously questioned me about this (he found it fascinatingly odd, I think, that my ambition to be a fiction writer eclipsed any ambitions to be a great blogger -- and it is interesting, when you think about it. Eight times out of ten, when I pick up a magazine, I'll read the nonfiction first -- easier to get my head into, easier to interrupt. But my interest in writing nonfiction is much less than my interest in writing fiction). Anyway, what I meant by being a lousy blogger is:

1. I post really infrequently
2. I post rambly, esoteric essay-like things, instead of piquant accounts of my life (or instead of concise intellectual challenges that provoke vasty comments-page debates among my cronies, a la David Moles)
3. I don't have cats

Because, as we learned on the panel, pictures of cats are really the thing.

But I do have kids, and survey results show that most of my blog readers would far prefer more cute kid pictures and kid stories to my philosophic ramblings. (Who wouldn't, really?)

So. New kid pictures and kid stories are coming. For now, here are some my sister-in-law's Rahel took this past fall:
1    2    3    4
(But Noah is sooooo much bigger now!)

Posted by benrosen at August 11, 2005 10:02 AM | Up to blog

(It was way too hard to make a choice as to what I am, Ben. Couldn't you have narrowed it down? This week, I'm simply not sentient enough to make an intelligent decision.)

As for who played with the Wikipedia entry, having read it, I very much doubt it was Charlie. Charlie's version would have been much sharper and funnier.

(But I now have an explanation for your woodpecker sex story.... ;)

Posted by: Marsha at August 28, 2005 02:49 PM

You're right, of course, Marsha; I reread it, and it doesn't seem like either Paul or Charlie's style.

Posted by: Benjamin Rosenbaum at August 28, 2005 10:28 PM
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