Posts tagged ‘Worldcons’

lonestarcon

 

Welcome to Bexar County, Texas, the U.S. county with the fifth highest number of executions in the period 1876–2012.

(Oh, you didn’t know? That’s San Antonio, Texas, where the 2013 Worldcon was held this weekend.)

jet

 

I tried to figure out why I had been so open with Professor Betty and so closed-mouthed with most of the rest of the world.

I finally figured it out. I hadn’t want to discuss it with anybody, I just wanted to spill it out and get rid of it, so it had to be a stranger. And when I woke up the next morning, I did feel that a weight had been lifted off my chest.

I had obligations to MidAmeriCon that day, but I couldn’t see anything past that afternoon that I couldn’t just skip. So I sat in on the Saturday morning breakfast, with Robert Heinlein (the guest of honor, remember?) at the head of the table and being sure to chatter with each of the special guests, and I gave my “Thank You For Being You, Robert” speech at one-thirty, as promised. It went well, especially with my one big joke — “And, Mr. Chairman. I see you’ve got a Robert A. Heinlein luncheon promised for tomorrow, but this is a big con and he hasn’t gained any weight. Are you sure there’s enough of him to go around?”

And then I pocketed the cash refund for the unused day of my stay and got in a cab and a little over an hour later we were taking off from my favorite airport and I was on my way home.

More, when I write it.

 
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Jack Williamson

Jack Williamson

Where we left off: MidAmeriCon, August 1976 — As I gave her a foot rub, Dr. Hull said, “I forgot to ask you. Are you married, Frederik?”

“Well,” I said, “I guess I am, at least for the next, let me see, four months. After that, we’ll see.”

She didn’t respond to that in words, just waited me out. I gave in to her silence. “Carol and I have been married for almost twenty-five years,” I told her.

She waited me out some more, so I gave her the hard part: “But all she’s willing to guarantee right now is, we’ll stay married right up till New Year’s Day. Then we sit down together and decide if we want to stay married for life, or—”

She didn’t stop outwaiting me, just reached up for the hot coffeepot and refilled our cups.

“Or not,” I said. “See, this was happening on this last New Year’s Day, when we were making jokey resolutions. Only when we started making resolutions about staying married, it stopped being a joke. Shall we hit the SFWA room party now?”

 
We hit it, and once we got past the guardian at the gate she didn’t need any further help from me. Jack Williamson and a few other old-timers were looking at some foreign sf magazines near the door, and when she caught sight of him and started toward him, he gave her a big “Hello.” Turned out they had met at some Midwest thing a year or so before.

I spent the next half hour talking SFWA business with whoever happened by, and just when I was thinking of telling her I needed to leave, she came over to me to say she had to get up in the morning but Jack’s room was on the same floor as hers in that other hotel, and he had offered to walk her home.

“And he promised to let me in here again, so I won’t need to bother you,” she said, and thanked me and was gone.

To be continued.

 
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Blonde Dr. Betty

Blonde Dr. Betty

Visiting the SFWA suite at MidAmeriCon seemed worth a try, so we tried it. Unfortunately giving it a try meant quite a lot of walking, which meant a lot of competition for body space as the eager mobs of fans, famished for PARTYPARTYPARTY! wandered the halls, now a crawling mass of fan flesh. It was prime room-party time.

And, I discovered, I was getting tired. The corridor we were walking in had a little bay that looked down into the lobby, far below. It had chairs that were just being vacated by a few fans, their sore feet healed, charging on to the next room party. I took action. I didn’t say anything about wanting to rest my own feet for a moment. I just grabbed a vacant chair and, looking grateful, so did Professor Hull. Leaning over to rub her toes, she looked up at me curiously. “Tell me more about what you do at Bantam. Delany’s book. Is it a big success?

I laughed. “Big enough. I’m Bantam’s wonder child this week. I paid peanuts for it, and it’s selling its head off. Just under six hundred thousand copies last I heard, and it might go over a million.”

“Delany,” she mused. “Yes, I know some of his work. If the administration lets me keep my sci-fi — ”

I gave my throat a meaningful clearing.

She didn’t fail to understand my meaning. “Oh, right,” she said apologetically, “I didn’t mean to say sci-fi, I mean science fiction. If the administration lets me keep my science fiction class, maybe I should teach it next semester. I’ll get a copy and read it real fast.”

I laughed. “That I don’t think you can do. It’s a long one, way more than twice as big as his Ace novels. And it’s not much like his other books. But I think I put a couple of copies in my bag. If I find them, I’ll put one in my pocket tomorrow and if I see you it’s yours.”

“Thanks,” she said, sounding as though she meant it. But she was rubbing her feet again. Then, looking at her watch. “Oh,” she said. “Look at the time. Listen, Frederik, how would you like to try a different kind of room party? Mary Badami — she’s my roommate — and I agreed to have our own party tomorrow. Not a lot of liquor but tea or coffee and soft drinks, and Mary’s making some food. I have to help her pretty son now, but then when the party starts tomorrow you’ll know a lot of the people — some will be the ones we ate dinner with, and I heard you mention Marty Greenberg and Joe Olander….”

I said, “Can we sit down there now? I’m in!”

Continue reading ‘Arrival, Part 4: The Party Plan’ »

By the time the dozen or so of us hungry MidAmeriCon-goers got desperate about food we learned that the Kansas City Rot had spread through the whole city. The hotel’s own coffee shop would take no reservations before midnight, and their fancier restaurant had already closed its doors. Still, one person among us claimed to know a great restaurant no more than a block away. Since all of us were by then beginning to feel rapid emaciation starting to occur in our bodies, we headed there.

We had no trouble finding the place. Unfortunately, when we got to that great restaurant no more than a block away the doors were closed and the lights were out.

Bad luck; but it wasn’t a major setback because we could all see another restaurant a block or two away, and that one was brightly lit with hospitable-looking tables set out by the curb. But to get there required a few minutes walk, and as we were heading there people were coming out the door, looking disgracefully well-fed, and walking away. And the lights were beginning to go out and the tables were being taken in until, when we arrived, it was as dark and unwelcoming as the first place.

And that was only the beginning.

I don’t remember how many places we tried, but, one after another, they all declined our custom. In the few whose doors were open at all their kitchen had just closed and their chefs were on their way home, or they had run out of the ingredients for most kinds of meals entirely.

At last we found a restaurateur willing to take pity on us. Well, reasonably willing. The best the proprietor said he could do was give us a few wooden chairs and tables scattered around an unused dance floor, but, of course, one that was also lacking in musicians or ballroom-type lights.

By then our yearning for gracious service and perhaps a candle or two was outvoted by our famished condition. We placed the most cursory orders we could imagine, and then pleaded with the waiter to tell us what foul event had turned Kansas City hosts into misanthropes. The waiter, as well as his partner in the folded-menu business, helping our guy out because the plague had scared away customers, too, was pleased to fill us in. That’s when we learned that the precipitating event had been the 1976 Republican National Convention, charged with the task of nominating candidates for the Presidency and the Vice-Presidency of the United States, to do battle with the Democratic candidates for those same offices in the November elections.

Since the Presidential candidate they nominated was the incumbent, Gerald Ford, who hadn’t much wanted to be President in the first place and wasn’t particularly good at running a nation-wide election, since he had never experienced one of his own — and who went on in November to lose to a nearly unknown Georgia peanut farmer — they might as well not have bothered.

But, of course, they didn’t know that at the time. Exuberant after hearing themselves telling each other that they couldn’t lose, the delegates wanted to celebrate the impending victory. Celebrate they then did, and in the course of doing so they laid waste to Kansas City’s entertainment industry in a blizzard of bum checks and invalid credit cards and mouths that were adrool for food and drink, mainly drink.

Continue reading ‘Arrival, Part 3: KC in the GOP’s Wake’ »

Robert A. Heinlein at MidAmeriCon, 1976. (Photo by David Dyer-Bennet.)

Robert A. Heinlein at MidAmeriCon, 1976. (Photo by David Dyer-Bennet.)

Marty Greenberg and a couple of the others who were clustered in the Kansas City hotel lobby were coaxing me to stay, and one of those (apparent) teen-age graduate students nailed me down with a comment that was clearly intended to lead to a series of questions, “I understand you know Mr. Heinlein quite well, and I’ve just finished reading his Stranger in a Strange Land,” the apparent teen-ager informed me.

And Marty, eager to put temptation in my way, said, “Tell her the story about the Budrys review.”

Everybody seemed to be listening pretty attentively. Robert A. Heinlein being the Guest of Honor at MidAmeriCon, nobody wanted to go home without a few new Heinlein stories to spread around. The one Marty wanted me to tell was a favorite. I had at the time just recently taken on the job of editing Galaxy when Horace L. Gold got too sick to continue, and I had also just made AJ Budrys the book reviewer for the magazine when Stranger popped up. I handed it over to AJ as his first assignment.

I had told him he had a week to do the review, but at the end of the week, and a few extra days, there was no sign of the review. When I got him on the phone he told me that it was a big book and he would need at least another week or ten days to do it justice. That wasn’t really a surprise, or, indeed, much of a problem. I had confidence in AJ’s writing and was pretty sure the review would be worth waiting for. So I pulled a 5,000-word short story out of inventory to replace it, and rescheduled AJ’s first column for the next issue. And when at last he did deliver the review I saw that, ah, yes, no matter what I had expected, there certainly was going to be a problem.

AJ had given Heinlein’s science-fiction novel the sort of close-focused attention that I suppose Bishop Challoner must have given the Vulgate texts when he was preparing the Rheims Bible. It was a splendid review, both erudite and entertaining.

It described all the influences that must have been whirling around in Robert’s head as he was creating the book, as well as everything that could be said about Robert’s background and private life. Among the liberties AJ had allowed himself in writing the review was the privilege of speculating how much of Heinlein’s Naval Academy experience — the discipline, the hazing of first-year men, the prohibitions of marriage and various other distractions affecting young men and so on — had caused Heinlein’s obviously troubled feelings about patriotism, authority and proper behavior.

I was absolutely certain that the readers would love both the book and the review … but even more convinced that I couldn’t allow Robert’s first glimpse of the review to be when, all unsuspecting of what was in store for him, he opened up his subscription copy of the magazine that contained it.

So I pondered the problem for a while, and then I took out a little insurance policy. There were no such things as Xeroxes in our little office so I had my assistant of the moment — I think by then it was Judy-Lynn Not-Yet-del-Rey — type out a copy of the review, which I mailed off to Heinlein, with a note explaining that, due to the importance of this novel, I would like to hear any comments he might have about the review before scheduling it.

And time passed.

Continue reading ‘Arrival, Part 2: Heinlein Stories’ »