Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Denvention 3/The 66th World Science Fiction Convention

Denvention 3 Badge

How much did I enjoy Denvention 3? I'm already registered for Anticipation, next year's Worldcon, to be held in Montreal. During the convention's five days I (a) got a good workout walking two miles from the downtown La Quinta to the Colorado Convention Center (except for the final day, when I took a cab in with my luggage); (b) connected with people face to face for the first time, including those I've "met" online and those I corresponded with 20+ years ago via snail mail; (c) reconnected with people I've met at past conventions this year; (d) reconnected with a couple of people I haven't seen in more than 30 years; (e) learned more about an industry I'm still catching up with; (f) did a signing, a reading, two panels (moderating one), and volunteer stints at both the Broad Universe book table and the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) Suite; (g) made new connections; (h) felt truly at home; and (i) got simultaneously sleep-deprived and fully recharged.

Thanks to Fan Guest of Honor Tom Whitmore for giving me the ribbon on the left. The ribbon on the right marks me as a program participant.

As someone at the "Writing in Spite of Your Environment" panel said, writers need conventions like these so that we can be with members of our own species. I feel validated in more ways than I can count.


In addition to being on the dais for "Creating Speculative Poetry" and moderating "The Epic Journey: Life vs. Fiction," I attended panels "Electronic Storyteller's Bowl;" "Schmoozing 101;" "Short Fiction: On its way out or a way to break into the market?", "Taxes and the Writer;" "The ages of a writer's life: Writing to get published, writing for fans, writing for posterity;" "Dealing with publishers, large and small;" and "Writing in Spite of Your Environment." That does not count all the panels I wanted to attend but didn't, because I have an annoying habit of realizing my limitations. My two-mile walk, complete with schlepping my engineer's bag crammed with laptop, papers, books, and other various & sundries, generally took me an hour, partly because I also stopped to take photos. At night I attended parties until I started to fade -- usually around 10:30 or 11 PM -- and then hopped a cab back to the hotel.

Engineer's Bag on Location

My fully-loaded engineer's bag (with earlier, closed view, here). Denvention provided all attendees with free commemorative water bottles, but the used Coke bottle fit the bag's side pocket better.

Sometimes I just had to stay in bed a little longer and miss a couple of early panels, reminding myself that I'm a hair's breadth short of 50 years old and musing, "Oh -- so that's what it feels like." As someone attending the "Epic Journey" panel, which compared fictional journey-quests to real-life travel, said, "Do your traveling when you're young and have the energy to do it!"

(Naturally I thought of Alexandra David-Neel, who hiked the Tibetan mountains when she was 55 and became the first white woman to enter Lhasa. But the audience member has a valid point. I'm sitting on the floor by Gate 25 (on Monday, August 11), my laptop is plugged into a socket in a silver column, and I've had maybe 3-1/2 hours of sleep. My eyes should be melting down my cheeks any minute now.)

Then again, one of my new heroes is Glenda Larke, a "Writing in Spite of Your Environment" panelist, who posted these shots for those of us who attended. She described what it was like to write on her laptop in the middle of Borneo, while rain thundered on a tarp overhead and she had to stop every now and then to brush leeches off her legs. The motto of that panel was: No Excuses!

(She also recommended Australian writer Simon Haynes's free software for writers, which I've bookmarked but haven't checked out yet.)

My home-away-from-home was Room 311 at the La Quinta, Denver Central.

LaQuinta Room 311 - Window

View toward my window, which overlooked the Denver skyline.

LaQuinta Room 311 - Desk

Desk view. LaQuinta provided free WiFi, unlike the Colorado Convention Center, which charged for it. When I could, I took a jaunt to the 16th Street Mall two blocks from the convention center, which also provided WiFi free of charge.

Denver Skyline from LaQuinta

The view from the walkway outside my room.

Denver Railway From LaQuinta

I was also a stone's throw from railroad tracks and decided early on to take advantage of my earplugs. Far from having to worry about missing my alarm, I tended to wake up a couple of hours before it was set to go off, just because I'm disgusting that way.

Park Avenue West, Toward Denver

Denver is a very walkable city. I did Wednesday morning's two-mile trek deliberately slowly -- to get a feel for the altitude, take pictures, and gauge my schlep. I also carried more that morning than on subsequent days, because in addition to the engineer's bag I carried my book bag with copies to leave at the Broad Universe table, five each of Covenant and Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory -- plus Riffing flyers and Covenant postcards that I put out in the freebies section.

My morning walk to the convention from my hotel included a jaunt down Park Avenue West.

View From Park Avenue West

Taken from Park Avenue West on the morning of August 6. These mountains were cloud-shrouded on subsequent mornings, finally clearing again on Saturday.

Back of Coors Field

Back of Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies.

Mural at Snooze A.M. Eatery

Mural at Snooze

Murals at the Snooze A.M. Eatery.

Lipton's Tea with Furnished Rooms

I love this old sign: "Demand Lipton's Popular Tea. Look for Thomas J. Lipton on each package. 'Strongfortism' Builds Muscular Men." And it provides furnished rooms. Sign courtesy of The Curran Co. I've got a close-up here.

Denver Buddhist Temple

Denver Buddhist Temple and headquarters of the Tri-State Buddhist Temples.

Denver Architecture

This clock tower is now home to Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret, advertising "Great Music, Burlesque, Drag Revues, and More!"

Two Styles of Denver Architecture

Two eras of Denver architecture, near the municipal offices.

University Hall

Stonework at University Hall.

Writer Square

By the time I got here I had just a few more blocks to walk to get to the Colorado Convention Center. Writer Square fronts the 16th Street Mall. The mall has a free shuttle traversing its length, but I decided to just keep on walkin'.

Colorado Convention Center

Colorado Convention Center (with a giant blue bear sculpture peering into the building, to the left of the 14th Street sign). Construction is still going on around this location, which is very new.

Colorado Convention Center Bear

A closer look at the bear.

Denvention 3 Registration Lines

I was lucky enough to register early on Wednesday morning, before the lines got to look like this. See the large view to get the full effect.

Stargate and Readers

A lovely little Stargate on the balcony, with a couple of readers. Denvention occurred in the Hall D area of the convention center, on three levels. The lowest level included panels in the smaller rooms and larger events (like the opening ceremony) in the Korbel ballrooms, with freebie tables and site bid tables outside. The street level held more meeting rooms (ours were the 500s and 600s); registration and information; message boards; the Fanzine Lounge; commemorative T-shirt sales; and the Wells Fargo Theater, where the Masquerade and the Hugo Awards Ceremony were held. The upper level, where the Stargate is located, held the art show, dealer room, photo galleries of fans and pros, and the fabulous volunteer coordinators.

Broad Universe Table 2

I'm on the right, Christy is on the left.I also participated in BU's "Rapid Fire Reading" on Saturday, August 9.

Opening Ceremony

By the time I got to the opening ceremony it was standing room only.

Signing Table

My signing table, where I had great discussions with other signers Edward Willet and Melanie Fletcher. We were three of five signing during that time slot.

Autograph Line

One of the autograph lines in the dealer room. On Friday morning I spoke with a bookseller who had brought a large suitcase filled with books to be autographed and whose family members went off on separate hunting expeditions for authors. The Denvention program book, postcards, and other literature all served as autograph collection points.

Dealer Room

A broad view of the dealer room. And more dealer room displays:

Inspired By...

Technology of Reading

Hugo Case 2

The Hugo Awards (Science Fiction Achievement Awards) are presented at Worldcon. This case includes hoax Hugos from 2005 at lower right. From left to right: Best SF About Mars (red), Best Dune Spin-off (brown), Best Ice-Age SF (white), Best Ecological SF (forest green), and Best Underwater SF (blue). Additional cases are here and here.

Sean W. Sides with models

Model-maker Sean W. Sides stands behind his Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise console, complete with tribbles (a close-up of the model is here). His other models include:

Dewey (Silent Running) by Sides

"Dewey" from the movie Silent Running, one of my all-time favorite SF movies.

2001: A Space Odyssey diorama by Sides

2001: A Space Odyssey diorama.

U.S.S. Enterprise by Sides

The U.S.S. Enterprise. Here's a front view.

And these models from the old and new Battlestar Galactica series:

Blackbird Viper by Sides

Blackbird Viper from the new series.

MKII Viper by Sides

MKII Viper from the new series.

Cylon Raider (Original Series) by Sides

Cylon Raider from the old series.

Cylon Raider (New Series) by Sides

Cylon Raider from the new series.

Colonial Viper by Sides

Colonial Viper from the old series.

Colonial Movers by Sides

Colonial Movers from the old series.

Battlestar Galactica by Sides

Battlestar Galactica, with a front view and Sides sketching here.

Sign for Model-maker Sean W. Sides

The Colorado Convention Center also emphasized recycling and resource conservation throughout the facility.

Green Convention

Moving to the lower level of the convention:

World Science Fiction Society

The World Science Fiction Society organizes the World Science Fiction Conventions.

Convention Tables 1

Convention Tables 2

This section had bid tables for future Worldcons.

Freebie Table

The "freebies" section included postcards, flyers, bookmarks, and literature.

Street Music

The Coyote Ugly Saloon had outdoor music and dancers on Thursday evening. I came across this scene as I walked from the convention center to the SFWA Suite at the Sheraton, where I attended a couple of parties, served as "door dragon" (a combination welcoming committee and bouncer), and enjoyed dinner (salad! Hooray!) and conversations with people ranging from those with lifetime achievement in the field to newcomers and all points in-between.

New views from my morning walk on Saturday:

Shelter at Park Avenue West and Lawrence

I came across and walked around this box, marked "Shelter," which was manufactured to transport bicycles ("townie" by the Electra Bicycle Company).
The box also reads, "handle with care," and "Do not lay flat."

Savage's Candy Factory

Savage's Candy Factory. Between the name and the old brick architecture, I had to take a shot.

Welcome Denvention banner

This banner on Stout Street, down the block from the Colorado Convention Center, welcoming Denvention to the city.

Fan Gallery Photos

Photos of fans who have made major contributions to science fiction and fantasy...

Pro Gallery

... and the same for pros.

Volunteer Coordinators

Volunteer coordinators.

Before the Broad Universe reading on Saturday, several of us assembled "swag bags" for attendees.

Broad Universe Swag Bag Assembly Line 1

Broad Universe Swag Bag Assembly Line 2

The bags included promotional materials for the organization and for member books, plus pens, chocolates, and a Broad Universe T-shirt.

Broad Universe Swag Bag Assembly Line 3

Here, Lettie Prell delivers a completed bag. We packed the room.

Hugo Award Winners

Hugo Award winners and people accepting for winners not in attendance make a final stage appearance at the awards ceremony. No sooner had the ceremony ended than newsletter staff for Necessity: The Mother of Denvention handed out pink editions with the names of the nominees and the winners, which are now posted here.

Having been away from the convention scene for so long, I was floored by the technological changes. I have dim memories of large rooms with folding chairs and simple stages, lights, and mics. The Wells Fargo Theater is a fully-fleshed performance hall with plush, terraced seating, giant video screens, and a backdrop of backlit stars, making for a truly glamorous ceremony. The Oscars couldn't do it better.

I spent my last night in Denver at the La Quinta near the airport and finally got in a bit of Olympics viewing. As much as the physical and athletic achievements, the human interest stories have always drawn me to those broadcasts ever since I was a kid. For years and in some cases decades, people all over the world have followed their passion for sport, through long hours of training and extraordinary sacrifices, through debilitating injuries and personal tragedy, and they continue to press on. What they endure behind the scenes makes them my heroes as much as what they do before an audience, and those efforts mirror what I saw at Worldcon. I experienced an inspirational weekend on all fronts.

(Tuesday, Aug. 12) -- My flight home got into Orlando about a half-hour early, which was only fair -- we'd circled around Denver for an extra hour hour waiting for a storm to roll through back on August 5. Some roller-coaster turbulence as we descended through cloud cover into Florida caused one baby on the plane to giggle and another to cry. Ya can't please everyone. I retrieved my car, then made the 90-plus-mile drive home.

Today is Rest Day. Tomorrow, weather permitting, I'll weed-whack the yard, which has reverted back to being a jungle.

Before I left home early on Tuesday the 5th I finalized and sent the handouts for the two workshops I'm doing at the Florida Writers Association conference in November, shopped for give-aways for the keynote I'm giving at the Florida State Poets Association conference in October, and drafted a poem for the Science Fiction Poetry Association's third annual poetry contest, which is free to enter and runs through August 31. The submissions limit is three poems, so I'm aiming for that. I'm also donating two prizes, a copy of Covenant and one of Riffing on Strings. Full prize list and entry rules are on the website.

And, because my name was on there already, I joined and started adding books to Shelfari, a thoroughly addictive site. Mind you, it will take me a long time (especially being on dial-up) to enter the books I've read onto that thing.

Next up: DragonCon in 2-1/2 weeks, where I'll be part of the Aisling Press contingent.

Covenant, the first volume in the Deviations Series, is available from Aisling Press, and from AbeBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Territory, Borders, Buecher.ch, Buy.com, BuyAustralian.com, DEAstore, eCampus.com, libreriauniversitaria.it, Libri.de, Loot.co.za, Powell's Books, and Target. Deviations: Appetite is now available for pre-order at Barnes and Noble. The Deviations page has additional details.


Anonymous San said...

Hey, tou have some naci info, and very good pictures.
You´ll se, i´m writing an article about Cosplay, and there´s a part when i must talk aboud the World Science Fiction Convention, and i see you have a very interestin pics in here. So i was wondering if i could took a pic from here, i'll give the credits of course.
Thanks for you time. If you want you can write at: kasandra0186@hotmail.com

9:56 AM  

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