Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Nebulas Report, 2014

The Nebulas weekend was just amazing. So much so that I've been too mind-blown to report on it until today! However, I will give it a shot.

There's really nothing like going to a place where everywhere you go, you see famous authors. Oh, look, there's Tad Williams! Ooh, Ellen Klages! Connie Willis! Wow, wow, wow! It would be easy to spend an entire post just name-dropping, but I'll try not to do that. Just be aware that with so many awesome people around you get this intense feeling that the air is vibrating with fantastic speculative ideas, and that your own brain is starting to vibrate along with it.

Friday for me was a day of much scheduling. I had two meetings, one with the amazing Cat Rambo, newly elected vice president of SFWA, and one with Trevor Quachri, the new(ish) editor at Analog. These were great because I got to know Cat and Trevor much better than I had previously, having known Cat only from online interactions and Trevor only through business interactions. Among other things, Trevor and I talked about his vision for Analog, which was fascinating (summary: if you have never submitted to Analog before because you don't have a story "like that," try submitting anyway and see).

I was also on a very interesting panel called "Writing About Other Cultures, Real or Imaginary." Also on the panel were Tad Williams, Chaz Brenchley, Amy Thomson, Diana Paxson and Nancy Kress. I found the discussion interesting, but we ran into an interesting problem. Very early on we recognized that everyone on the panel was white. Did that mean somehow that it was inappropriate for us to talk about writing about other cultures? Not at all, to my mind - yet I think some folks in the room thought it did, or at least thought that the audience might think it did. Yes, from the standpoint of representation it would have been far better to have a more diverse group on the panel. However, also from the standpoint of representation (this time in the fiction) it is vital for everyone, white or not, to be writing about other cultures in the most genuine way possible, and how to do it respectfully without relying on tokens or cookie-cutter cultures etc. is an important question. All in all I enjoyed the discussion a lot. I can only imagine that diversity on panels will continue to expand in coming years, and working toward that prospect makes me happy.

In the evening there was a lot of socializing and then the mass signing, which I had bitten the bullet and signed up for. To my delight, three people came and asked me to sign things! Mostly, though, the signing was a great way to learn who everyone was by sight, and to say hello. I made a point of introducing myself to Sofia Samatar and Nicola Griffith because I was scheduled to interview them and didn't want the interview to be the first time I'd ever laid eyes on them in person! Here's a picture of me with my signing neighbors Chuck Gannon and Carrie Sassarego:

Saturday started with breakfast at home with my family. It's always hard to say goodbye to them even when I know that I'm headed out for something important! I attended the SFWA business meeting, and was very glad I had. Thereafter I attended a panel on short story editors and their tastes - always useful for a short story writer! Here is a photo from that panel (sorry about the microphones blocking everyone):

After that I floated about for the most part, socializing, and then changed into my yukata (summer kimono) for the cocktail party and banquet. Here I am during the cocktail party, standing with the illustrious Gregory Benford and Bud Sparhawk:
Thanks to our wonderful friend and babysitter Sheryl, my husband was able to join me for the banquet. He is a voracious reader, so he had a great time chatting with his neighbor, who was a book reviewer. Ellen Klages did a fantastic job as toastmaster in spite of a lengthy period of technical difficulty, which she managed to fill with stories that had everyone laughing.

I was super thrilled for my friends Aliette de Bodard, Ann Leckie, Rachel Swirsky and Vylar Kaftan who won awards on the evening! Thereafter I brought some gluten-free cupcakes to an afterparty, which was a thrill because I actually found someone who needed them (Nalo Hopkinson, who really deserved a cupcake after winning the Norton!).

I stayed overnight at the hotel and in the morning Jaym Gates set me up with my interview of Ann Leckie, Sofia Samatar, and Nicola Griffith. I felt like the luckiest person in the world to be able to talk to these wonderful women about the worldbuilding, language, culture, and privilege in their fascinating novels. After that I went home - but it took me hours just to come down from the post-Nebula high, and the ideas and inspiration I got during the weekend are with me still. I highly recommend the Nebula weekend to authors for fun, interesting discussion, and networking.

Thank you to everyone who made my weekend so amazing!


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