So, last week I was in Chicago. I know. It doesn’t seem real to me either!
I was there primarily to attend WorldCon – the world Science Fiction Convention. But I also did a reading in a funky indie bookshop called The Book Cellar with fellow Angry Robots, Adam Christopher and Chuck Wendig and Strange Chemistry sister Gwenda Bond to launch all of our books. (If you haven’t already ordered Seven Wonders, Mockingbird or Blackwood, do so NOW. You’ll thank me for it. I promise. Go on. Do it. I’ll wait…. Done? OK, good. Back to Worldcon.)
WorldCon itself was… well, it was mental. Not one but two hotels filled with sci-fi’s finest. George RR Martin was there, although I decided not to go and chat with him this time, as I wanted to keep the memory of our time at EasterCon pure and safe. (Realising he had no recollection of me would be crushing.) Neil Gaiman – yes, Neil ‘The God’ Gaiman – snuck in one night and while I was frozen to the spot with fan-girl nerves, friends Adam and Laura Lam did get a picture with him. I’m right behind the camera grinning like an insane woman.
The highlight of cons for me is always meeting new people. Especially getting to meet other writers. So many writers (myself included) are essentially misanthropic loaners, who like nothing more than spending all day with the voices in our heads. But when you get a bunch of people who generally don’t like other people together and something pretty awesome happens. We all get on. Like, amazingly. Perhaps it’s because other writers Get It. They get the insanity that comes with being a writer. They get the heartache that comes with rejection. And the blissful highs that come with success. And it turns into a kind of group therapy, where you leave feeling a little less alone and a lot more drunk. Because there’s one other thing writers seem to have in common. A love of booze.
Sure, there are lots of writers out there who don’t want other writers to succeed. Who will do whatever it takes to crush the spark of glory in others. But forget them. They’re miserable, lonely, gits, carving voodoo effigies of other writers out of their own earwax. And good luck to them. They may sell a gazillion copies of their books by any means necessary. But they’ll have lost their soul in the process.
So, back to WorldCon.
It was not only my first WorldCon it was also my first visit to the States. And so I spent as much time exploring the beautiful city of Chicago as I did in the con itself. I only made it to two panels – New Pulp and Doom and Gloom in YA – and both were brilliantly informative. Although there was a little less profanity in the YA panel, which was a shame.
I also went to the Hugo’s – the Oscars of the SciFi world. Where John Scalzi did an amazing job of keeping 1000 people entertained while the brightest stars of science fiction were rewarded with very cool rocket ship statues.
Chicago itself is a stunning city. I went on the River Architecture Tour with Amanda and Laura and learned a lot about the stunning buildings that fill the city.
I also ate, A LOT! I had a traditional Chicago Pizza (which is a deep as a mattress and they put the cheese on before the sauce, I know!) at Pizza Uno which was delicious. I also had pancakes for breakfast twice from WildBerry’s and if I’d stayed any longer I would have developed diabetes. My highlight was the Millennium Park and Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate sculpture.
I could have spent all day just staring at that. I also went to the Art Institute and wandered around the modern wing. I have decided that abstract art is the perfect cure for soul lag. For me anyway; I almost felt my soul catch up with me while gazing into a Rothko. I could go on and on about art, but I can sense most of you skimming over this as it is. So, yet again, back to WorldCon!
It was brilliant to hang out with my fellow Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry family. And family perfectly describes us. There’s so much support and love between us all, it’s a little sickening at times. I feel constantly overwhelmed and honoured to be a part of that family. There was an AR stand at the con where Super Salesman Mike Underwood was camped practically 24/7 from what I could work out. The stand was rammed with all of the awesome AR and SC titles. And despite that tough competition I managed to sell a few copies of Shift. I’ll tell you now, signing books for strangers – that’s never getting old. I love it! Although I apologise for my atrocious handwriting.
So WorldCon was scary, amazing, weird, wonderful, expensive! ($15 dollar cocktails and too many amazing books to buy) cool and crazy. And I can’t wait for London 2014 when I get to do it all again.
Shout outs to those people who made WorldCon an amazing event for me:
@Gwend, @mitochondrial, @ChuckWendig, @sblackmoore, @ALRutter, @LR_Lam, @wes_chu @Julianna__Scott (Jen) @leecollinsfict (Peter), Victoria (sorry, Victoria, I’m blanking on your surname), @ghostfinder, @MikeRUnderwood @LeeAHarris @EmApocalyptic and many, many more!