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September, 2009 : Con Report:

Of Anticipation, First Contact, and Filk

WorldCon 2009

WorldCon, a writer friend assured me, is something everyone must do at least once before they die. Not that I'm particularly worried about dying, but Montreal is within easy travel distance to where I live, so this was to be the year.

Preparations to attend Anticipation, the 67th World Science Fiction Convention, began in March: with travel arrangements for myself and my family and the procurement of costumes for the masquerade.

Experiences at professional conferences have taught me the best way to enjoy a convention is to actively participate. So I filled out the Anticipation volunteer form and, one month before the Con, having figured they didn't need me elsewhere, got assigned to four panels: "Future Health Care," "Verne in Translation," "Paranormal Romance for Teens," and "The Harry Potter Trivia Contest."

Medical conferences plan programs a year or more in advance so the participants have plenty of time to do research and correspond. For this I had thirty days! Privacy rules prevented sharing of email addresses between panelists, and only Virginia O'Dine of Bundoran Press contacted me, hoping that I was the Harry Potter Trivia expert. Funny, I was counting on the fact that she would be. We decided that candy, gifts instead of prizes, and a magic wand set to stun would charm the little darlings into cooperation, not competition.

"Future Health Care" was of little concern, being as active as I am in the United States health care reform effort and having written two books about the subject. For "Verne in Translation" I obtained a few classic editions and literary references to brush up. I surmised the programme committee felt speaking un peu de français, having done literary criticism and, most likely, being a virgin volunteer who would not decline qualified me to moderate a ninety minute panel scheduled to end one hour before the Masquerade.

"Paranormal Romance for Teens" is a few stops before the distinctly adult versions I write. But I have two teenagers and run a health center in a New York City public high school. What truly struck fear deep in my soul was facing a room full of erudite children ready to stump the "experts" at the "Harry Potter Trivia Contest." That could go very wrong.

This queen of multi-tasking had confidence in her own ability to pull this off. It's like riding New York Subway: think quick and never flinch.

Sunday August 2-Tuesday August 4, 2009

It was an early flight. My long suffering electrical engineering husband, John, six-year-old daughter, Maya, and teenage son, Adam, were up at five a.m. We boarded an American Airlines flight to Montreal, after paying their extortion for extra baggage containing all the costumes, props, and stage makeup. My Harry Potter replica magic wand, tucked neatly into the box from an annex of Olivander's Wand Shop in FAO Schwartz, cleared security with no problem. Via Rail whisked us to Quebec City for three days of relaxation and French practice before taking us back to Montreal, and the Holiday Inn a few steps from the Palais des congrès de Montréal, and just blocks from the party hotel, the Delta Centre Ville.

Wednesday August 5, 2009

Excitement tingled in the air at registration. Bustling World Science Fiction Society staff and volunteers issued badges and answered questions the day before opening ceremonies. I left messages on the Voodoo board (using push pins, not spells) for all my co-panelists, obtained credentials, and a front row press seat for the Hugo Award ceremony. I paged through the programme and discovered that there were events running from 9 a.m. until after midnight for fans, writers, and even family members dragged along kicking and screaming, to customize an experience according to one's own interests, age, and abilities.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Two entire floors of the Palais des congrès teemed with an amazing assortment of humanity dressed in attire which ranged from business suits to belly dancing costumes, a dazzling display of Hawaiian shirts, mismatched stripes and plaids, and beanies with propellers. Official Anticipation tee shirts began to appear, and folks rushed from one end of the convention center to the other (about three long city blocks), and off to "the Delta," (about six blocks away) for panels, workshops and parties. Attendees decked out in badges and other easily identified garb milled about the streets.

My husband is not a science fiction fan, but he still found plenty of things, mostly related to technology, which interested him. My daughter is flexible as long as you keep the snacks coming, but my son refused to be seen with me, preferring to wander around by himself.

We split up and dove in.

I had been warned that Worldcon is too big and too broad in scope to conform to any semblance of order. But I approach life like a Rolex, each second precisely ticked off to maximize efficiency and get things done. Using this well defined set of coping skills, I attempted to split myself in two and get to all of the simultaneous sessions I wanted to attend, transforming into a cuckoo clock when things like room, time and even site changes foiled my magic.

I missed more than I got to hear and sank onto a bench, defeated, and started rustling through the programme book. Damn! I wanted to hear Leah Bobet and Josh Palmatier reading but they had started fifteen minutes ago. I headed for the room, which was empty. The cards outside didn't even have that event listed. "Qu'est qui ce passe?" "Tant de changes." "Shit."

A guy with a green Bon Filk ribbon on his badge and a kindly smile emerged from a room where a woman was playing an acoustic electric guitar while crooning something about an alien and his spaceship. "Your first time?"

"Yeah." Was it the scowl on my face, the loud sigh of exasperation, muttered curses, or something else that drew him to my assistance?

"Just take it easy. There's too much for any one person to see and do." He ducked back into the room with the singing.

This may seem odd to IROSF readers, but I had never encountered filk before. 'Filk' sounded strangely like folk to me, and so did the music, only with a speculative je ne sais quoi. I sat for a moment, listening as the woman finished her serenade and the audience applauded. She left the stage and another person set up. Filkers seemed to be a friendly lot, and they were certainly having a good time. I considered joining them.

My husband, who is fluent in French, wandered by searching for me, and I asked him what Filk meant. He assured me it wasn't a word he'd ever heard and, relieved from babysitting, took off with my son to the ninety minute, reportedly stellar, intelligent, and generally awesome "What is Consciousness?" with Pat Cadigan, Kim Binstead, and Peter Watts.

Later that day, John Googled filk, and we learned of its origin: in the early 1950s an essay by Lee Jacobs on "The Influence of Science Fiction on Modern American Filk Music" contained the blunder that would forever unite this group of modern bards under a new pseudonym for speculative singers and storytellers.

I took my daughter to the children's programming area: four large rooms divided into an activity center, a craft center, a small lecture room, and an open play space that looked like the bottom of a hamster cage.

Stepping over piles of blocks, dolls, action figures, dress-up clothes and a few toddlers, we joined in on "Swordfight!" The co-leader was not able to attend, leaving a single, brave individual named Sparks to handle a room full of kids whacking each other over the heads with paper swords, paying no attention to any of his instruction on the proper way to block and parry. With two teenage brothers, Maya held her own against kids twice her size and weight.

This valiant military trainer, accustomed to people who pay attention and follow orders, failed in his mission due to lack of basic mommy training, and the ability to inspire shock and awe without inflicting bodily harm.

Despite extensive experience with the care, feeding, and training of boys and an enthusiastic co-leader totally in agreement with battle strategies, anxiety built inside me once again as I considered that forty-eight hours from now, I would face this same group of six to thirteen-year-old wand-wielding dynamos. Sparks remained brave and true until the end, offering me a beacon of hope that I could get through it.

Once the programme switched to the safer "Origami for Beginners" I felt comfortable to leave and hear Elisabeth Bear and David Anthony Durham interview each other about their work and their inspirations.

I accepted the Filker's advice and consoled myself that I was working, having arranged two interviews with Campbell nominees for the next day. I sent my teenager and my daughter to eat in Subway. Dinner and a big glass of wine with my husband at L'Actuel, an elegant Belgian restaurant, soothed my jangled nerves, but there was no time for romance. I had to get back in time to catch the conversation between the engaging Nobel Prize winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and the equally awesome Charles Stross. They took on topics such as future technologies (including cars that will drive themselves thus eliminating accidents), upheaval in the world economy, and how science fiction contributes to changes in social policy.

John took my daughter to "Exotic Hair Braiding" while I took in "Wonder Women: Feminism in Comics" with Julie McGalliard, Kevin Maroney, Rev. Randy Smith and Lenny Bailes. When I got back, I turned a hotel shower cap into a coif protector before finally getting in some Tweets and going to sleep just shy of midnight.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The day began at 9 a.m. with a "Walk with the Stars." A group of about twenty strolled through Vieux-Montréal, the charming old part of the city, with Ellen Datlow, Jay Lake, Scott Edelman, Stephen and Stu Segal, Kaaron Warren, and Farah Mendlesohn (who had just found out about her book The Rhetorics of Fantasy being nominated for a World Fantasy Award, as well as being a Hugo nominee for Best Related Book).

It was too early for the clip clop of horses' hooves and other telltale signs of the caleches in the narrow cobblestone streets, but in the early morning hours the old city resembles Paris, with shopkeepers sweeping sidewalks and many well-preserved examples of seventeenth through the nineteenth century architecture abutting more modern structures.

Transported to a time long ago in a galaxy far far away, and following the footsteps of some of the greats in speculative fiction, a sense of wonder filled my soul and got me thinking about a new story idea.

The central event of my day was a two hour workshop for previously submitted manuscripts, deftly arranged by the wizard, Oz Drummond. Even though the entire opening of my novel was skewered, I emerged exhilarated and motivated by the priceless feedback and wandered in a stupor around the trés chic Delta Centre Ville, missing the press conference with Neil Gaiman by minutes. No matter, I did get some additional press information from Val Grimm and lugged myself, a laptop, and a briefcase of notes back to the Palais for a scheduled interview with Tony Pi.

George R R Martin, Joshua Palmatier, Laura Anne Gilman

George R. R. Martin, Joshua Palmatier, and Laura Anne Gilman

George R.R. Martin, impersonating Ellen Datlow whose table card he found in front of his chair, moderated "Preparing to Write a Series" with Joshua Palmatier, Laura Anne Gilman, Mindy Klasky, M.D. Benoit, and Fiona Patton. They shared their strategies and discussed the merits of being a "plotter" versus a "panster," or what Mr. Martin calls a gardener (those who let it grow with a minimal amount of weeding) or the slightly more structured approach Laura Anne Gilman dubbed architect gardening. Fiona Patton and M.D. Benoit expressed motivation springing from the need to tie up plotlines or correct and/or change things not resolved to the author's satisfaction in the previous work.

As a writer, I found this panel one of the most helpful and was sorry to have missed the concurrent "First Contact for Writers—A Workshop for Creating Alien Languages" run by Stanley Schmidt and Lawrence Shoen which ran for three hours, beginning during my workshop in an offsite hotel.

Starving and seriously in need of a break, the family (who had been to the Biodome) and I met up for what I dubbed dunch before my evening took the adult, dark, urban fantasy route.

Ghost Tour

Ghost Tour of Old Montreal

It began with a Ghost Tour of Old Montreal, organized by Adrienne Foster. A vampire took us up and down the darkened streets visiting houses, museum courtyards, stairwells, a old brothel/speakeasy turned supermarket, and even a couple of fancy restaurants haunted by the ghosts of those done wrong when the structures were still inns and houses.

The group of twenty-something traipsed into one, and the chef looked up from her saucepan and welcomed us with a cheerful, "Bonsoir!" as the guide led us into a haunted stairwell.

"What's going on?" asked a patron as we went past his table.

The waiter did not share the chef's good humor. "They charge tourists a lot of money and try to convince them that there are actually ghosts in this city."

Ha! Exactly the kind of thing that pisses specters off. He better watch out on that fateful second to last step when he goes to the wine cellar for some Pouilly-Fuissé.

Man with Cauldron

Spirits of Old Montreal

Filled with the spirits, I got back to the Palais in time for "Vampire Rules-How to Recognize Them Without a Mirror." John Joseph Adams, Jennifer Williams, Karen Dales, and Victoria Janssen deferred most questions to Inanna Arthen, who knows more about vampire fiction and cross culture vampire literature than could be imparted in one hour. Immediately following, the NC 17 audience assembled for a 10 p.m. panel on "Erotic Writing: Sources and Venues; Research; Where to Publish; Markets" and how to keep things "fresh." Enough said.

"Sex and the Evangelical Vampire" went on at 11 p.m. to a packed house. Eytan Kollin, Heather Urbanski, Jessica Langer, and Karen Dales continued where Inanna Arthen left off with a very literary examination (really) of the relation of vampire fiction to cross cultural and religious belief systems, ending at midnight with a discussion of "fangbanging." Do not believe for one minute that this sub-genre will ever die, or that women make up the largest portion of the fan base.

Despite needing to be up for a 9 a.m. panel (and still having met none of my co-panelists), I headed to the Delta Centre Ville, guided along the streets by a few zombies, vamps and ghosts, only to find out the hotel wasn't quite prepared for the number and fervor of attendees trying to ascend to the party suites. Those of us not allowed to bring our brooms on the airplane and thus forced to use elevators to get up to the suites, were trapped in a queue too long to tolerate. I gave up and went back to the family hotel where everyone was tucked in and snoozing at 1 a.m.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My Panel

Lenny Bailes, Carole Moleti, David Kushner discussing Future Health Care

Looking somewhat like a vampire with natural black circles under my eyes, I arrived in the Green Room at 8:30 Saturday morning where I met Drs. David Kusher and Richard Crownower, a radiologist and a radiation oncologist, for a quick planning session. We were soon joined by fan and activist Lenny Bailes, and emergency medical services provider James McDonald for a well attended discussion on problems in the health systems of Canada, the United States, the UK, and Finland. We barely had time for a brief discussion of genetics and it's future role in the prevention and treatment of disease, and the struggles faced by Third World countries in providing the most basic lifesaving services. One hour is hardly sufficient to solve the thorny problems of delivering health care in a very diverse, complex world.

By the time I got out, Masquerade excitement crackled. Costumers were costuming, photographers were photographing. Masqueraders, both those performing and those just attending, wandered the halls in costume and character. By noon I had met Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, a Stormtrooper, a Cat, a Bunny, nobles and peasants from medieval times to the nineteenth century, animae too numerous to count, witches, wizards, fairies, oh my.


Golden-Age DC Comics charater "The Sandman."

Maya attended "Make It In Clay," producing a five pound creation covered in glitter which would not only add more weight to those already bulging suitcases, but also a bit of pixie dust to give airline baggage inspectors pause. I ducked into the ongoing teen series with Chuck Cady, Duncan McGregor, Gregory Wilson, Sherwood Smith, and Walter Hunt for "First Contact: The Meeting." There were more adults than teens there to discuss strategies for how to proceed when the big event takes place. I then interviewed Aliette de Bodard and actually got to lunch. Costumed participants wandered the streets, prompting one restaurateur to ask me "Who are these people with those badges?"

My husband enjoyed "The Middle Ages: Getting it Right" with Edward James, Kari Sperling, Mark Sebanc, Kim Vandevort, and Anna Bedford. Maya begged to go back to the children's' programme where professional costumers were putting the finishing touches on the Kamikaze Kids for their march across the stage that night.

Kamikaze Kids

A Kamikaze Kid

I got to "The Asimov Story" led by Sheila Williams, backed up by Edd Vick, Gord Sellar, Nancy Kress, and Connie Willis. This star studded line-up made selling a story sound like nothing particularly out of the ordinary. There was so much brilliance the photo was over-exposed. Unfortunately, due to schedule conflicts, I missed the same sessions held for Analog and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I did wonder, however, how Sheila Williams has never won the Hugo for Best Editor, Short Form when so many of the stories she personally selects are nominees themselves. Perhaps this would be her year.

I moderated "Verne in Translation," which was well attended despite the five to six-thirty p.m. time slot. Dr. Art Evans of Wesleyan University, professor of French and a Verne scholar, plus equally well informed panelists Alex Van Thorn and John Hertz discussed how poor translations and draconian editing affected Verne's work and answered questions from the audience about the second most translated author in history, oft regarded as the father of science fiction. The audience was enthusiastic and the discussion academic and literary.

I had one hour to change nail enamel from understated beige, and my color scheme from greens and browns, to black to attend the masquerade with my tavern keeper hubby in tow. While it dried, I realized how well the programme committee used my bio to tailor the perfect set of panels for me. The intellectual, literary nerd was now free to exhibit her artsy, ephemeral persona.


Lady & Tavern Keeper

My daughter, dressed as Princess Jasmine, joined the Kamikaze Kids on stage. My son refused to be seen with any of us. Tavern Keeper and I watched the performances and marveled at the elaborate hand made costumes while my kid was backstage eating, drinking, being professionally photographed, and hobnobbing with the costumed participants and VIPs before and after she went on stage.

My favorite was "A Public Service Announcement for Video Game Designers" during which Victoria Banjavcic let the usually male contingent know that tiny metal bra cups, short-shorts and fur trimmed capes weren't armor and made for battles that lacked veracity. But all the costumes were amazing in their detail and workmanship and showed a great deal of imagination on the part of the designers and performers.

Balloon Figures

Invasion of the Balloon Figures

While the judges worked their magic, we watched South African fireworks from the roof terrace of the Palais des congrès. After the awards, too pooped to party, we headed back to the hotel with a bag full of balloon figures I had to evict from my bed.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Ten a.m. is far too early to schedule a teen workshop, but several authors and adult readers met to discuss the perennial allure of vampire fiction. The topic drifted inevitably to Stephanie Meyer's Twilight, and its religious, political, and social agenda. A friendly debate ensued on the feminist implications of teenagers emulating a character who is passive and not in control of her emotions, and drawn to a dangerous stalker, albeit one with a conscience. No matter what the adults think, the few kids who sent emails to our moderator, Cathy Petrini, identified with Bella and Edward as they struggle to reconcile the adult forces of lust and the lure of danger as individuals with mature bodies, while still developing their true sense of self in a world with few remaining taboos and guideposts. Whew! Like I said, vampire fiction is alive and well.

Now in full costume and stage makeup, wand in hand, I stole into a room for a few minutes of Kaffeeklatsch with the inimitable editor of Circlet Press, Cecilia Tan. Mike Resnick and his fans were sharing the room and looked very relieved when I headed for her table instead of his. Cecilia, as expected, was non-plussed by the get-up.

The moment of truth arrived. At 12 noon, in character, I swept into the children's area to begin the HP trivia contest with a group of kids ranging in age from eight to about thirteen. Author Cathy Petrini followed me over from the Teen Vampire session to donate a copy of Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince and join me and co-panelist Virginia O'Dine.

The black velvet with plunging neckline, dragonfly necklace and earrings, black lipstick, and powdered face with authentic dark circles showed the kids I was a Woman In Total Control of Herself, and there was going to be no nonsense. Ground rules set, we had a delightful time, though the wand had to be invoked from time to time to keep the Hermione Grangiers from overpowering the Neville Longbottoms. It only took three clues for them to figure out that I was impersonating Madam Hooch, the broomstick instructor from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, after which they posed most of the questions to each other. I had a list of some really tough ones my son had prepared (he still refused to be seen with me), but predictably the little witches and wizards were able to puzzle out the answers.

Madam Hooch and the First Years

Madam Hooch and the First Year's

The kids all expressed regret that the series was over, and the adults were able to re-direct that hunger for more into a discussion of how myth, legend and linguistics figured heavily in J.K. Rowling's writing, and how by reading other books on those topics they might write their own stories or read some really good ones.

The "winner" was a young man from the UK, and the only one who had been to King's Cross Station and could tell us what Platforms Nine and Ten (with nine and three quarters disguised in between) really looked like. He'd only read the first three books and was very shy so his triumphant description earned him the HP book. He was thrilled and overwhelmed, brought to tears, and even hugged Madam Hooch. A magic moment.

My panels done, and all the interviews I was able to arrange out of they way, I relaxed at "Which Histories Get Alternates" with Dawn Hewitt, Paul Kincaid, Mark Shainblum, and S.M. Stirling. Counterfactual refers to nonfiction accounts where the scenario has been changed; alternate history to a completely fictionalized account. Two outstanding examples of the former and latter came to mind from my past reading: "Counterfactual" by Gardner Dozois (F&SF, June 2006), and "His Master's Voice" by Mark Rigney (Talebones #34, Winter 2007). The room was so crowded I sat on the floor in lotus position and did yoga to release tension in my aching back while picking up some tips on how to finesse this plot twist into one of my collaborative stories.

"Myth-Lovers: Origins of Mythical Beasts" was missing two panelists and a lot of expertise so I bailed and slithered late into "Writing Gender Issues" with Ann Harris, Jane Carnall, Jason Bourget, Joshua Palmatier, and Lila Garrot-Wejksnora. I'd missed some sort of debate and a storming off the dais which John Kessel was deftly moderating out of, and I never found out what transpired.

"Landscape in Fantasy," with an all Canadian panel consisting of Fiona Patten, Greer Gilman, Nalo Hopkinson, and Karin Lowachee was a meander through the variety of inspirations the writers draw from the natural wonders of their country such as the barren, frozen landscape of the Arctic, the ephemeral mists, majestic mountains, and the urban landscapes that span the entire continent from east to west.

After another dunch from the Mediterranean place, which was healthy and filling enough to take me through the night, I got decked out for a front row press seat at the Hugo awards. Sitting next to all the nominees and their families and friends at the academy awards of science fiction and fantasy left me star struck.

Frank Wu won my award for the most exuberant acceptance performance for Best Fan Artist. Frank knocked the photographer sitting next to me flat on the face as he ran up to the stage, flew his Hugo, and did a hysterical head banging routine. The photographer was fine, and all the winners were gracious and deferential to their fellow nominees.

Frank Wu

Frank Wu (flying high) and Elizabeth Bear

I was once again overwhelmed by the great variety of nominees within each category; Neil Gaiman's children's story The Graveyard Book and Neal Stephenson's very adult Anathem, for example. I wonder if a children's'/young adult category should be added, though I often feel that a good book for kids engages adults as well. But the fans spoke.

A complete list of Hugo and Campbell Nominees can be found at, while the winners can be found here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The frenetic energy dissipated with the crowds throughout the day. Costumed attendees disappeared, the Palais began to empty out, and the end neared. John enjoyed "Postcolonial Science Fiction" with Joan Gordon, Kat Feete, Steve Laflamme, S.M. Stirling, and Gardner Dozois, backed up by an audience filled with experts in their own right.

"Movements in Fantasy" featured Catherynne Valente, Maura McHugh, and Violette Malan. It seems that adding the suffix "punk" to anything is the latest trend.

"Agency Work" with Amellia Beamer, Anne Harris, Norman Spinrad, and Julia Dvorin sought to deconstruct the statement made by Lois McMaster Bujold at Denvention in 2008:

"…if romances are fantasies of love and mysteries are fantasies of justice, I would now describe much science fiction as fantasies of political agency."

That rather deep statement revolved around the definition of agency as the action, medium, or means by which something is accomplished. Charles Stross and Paul Krugman would have agreed, since their discussion drifted back several times to the role of science fiction in fostering change by asking What if…?

"Genetic Engineering Our Offspring" with Birgit Houston, John Wilson, Judy Lazar, Russell Blackford, and Paolo Bacigalupi was a chilling look at the possibilities, many of which are already a reality but, like cloning, might have effects we can't predict due to the complexities and biochemistry of genetic transcription.

I expected "Dealing with Disasters" to address how writers might use themes of overpopulation, climate disruption, antibiotic overuse and world changing plagues, but it was focused on how people could prepare for those real life scenarios. Too much time was spent discussing that the US Federal Government and the City of New Orleans did not react properly after Hurricane Katrina, which is fait acompli, and too little about bioterrorism and pandemics. The whole session was a little too much like a meeting at work for my taste.

George R. R. Martin

George R. R. Martin

The delightful, enthusiastic, and cheerful George R.R. Martin reading from his work in progress just before the closing ceremonies was a perfect way to wind down, and a touching demonstration of how much fans love their authors, and authors love their fans.

Julie Czerneda served as the soft spoken, enthusiastic master of ceremonies throughout the festivities. I think the title mistress would have been more appropriate, but it likely holds too much of a negative connotation. Neil Gaiman was everywhere, sporting his usual smile but looking a lot thinner and much more tired than in events last fall in New York City when I heard him discuss the making of the movie Coraline, read from the newly released The Graveyard Book, and in conversation with Chip Sanders on The Sandman.

Prolific French Canadian guest author Élizabeth Vonarburg was celebrating a big birthday during Worldcon. And Taral Wayne even opened his studio for tours though I, of course, missed it.

So ended my first Worldcon, with still enough time for an elegant French dinner in Vieux Montréal and a stroll though the cobblestone streets to the tunes of harp, violin, and saxophone. Had I known that my one hour flight to New York would be delayed for eight due to mechanical problems and thunderstorms, I could have hung around for a tour of the Canadian Space Agency. Instead, I starved in Montréal Trudeau airport, working on a story while my husband handled the alternate arrangements. Ellen Datlow wound up on my flight, which despite warnings of turbulence so severe all cabin service was suspended, encountered nary a bump.

The World Science Fiction Society arranged an awesome set of activities, primarily using volunteers who all did their best to keep things running smoothly and provide attendees with the detail and level of expertise they have come to expect.

My husband attended nine panels, most technology oriented, feeling that the best were those where the extensive knowledge of audience members was shared during free discussion, rather than in a lecture or strict question and answer format which, weighed down with detail, tended to be boring. His votes for best of Con were "What is Consciousness?" "Genetic Engineering," and "Mr. Miyazaki's Wonderful Flying Machines." I'm going to suggest he volunteer his geeky self for technology panels the next time.

Future Fan Art

Future Fan Art

I've never seen children and teen programming at a conference staffed by such warm, friendly men and women, creating a place the younger set really wanted to be instead of at other boring things with their parents, thus nurturing future fans to develop the same love their parents have for all things speculative.

The family membership rate was a steal, the hotel rates and locations unbeatable. Montreal's international flavor and charm were enhanced by the friendliness of its people. Next time I will be better prepared, though I doubt less overwhelmed. I will not over commit myself. I will spend a lot more time hanging loose with the Filkers, and pledge to attend some of the great parties instead of sleeping. There will be plenty of time for that when I get home.

Anticipation 2009, The 67th World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Montréal, Quebec, Canada from August 6-10, 2009. Guests of Honor included authors Neil Gaiman and Élisabeth Vonarburg, artist Taral Wayne, editor David Hartwell, and publisher Tom Doherty. Author Julie Czerneda was the cool, composed, and charming master of ceremonies. Biographies and photos can be found at

Copyright © 2009, Carole Ann Moleti. All Rights Reserved.

About Carole Ann Moleti

Carole Ann Moleti lives and works as a nurse-midwife in New York City, explaining her love of the paranormal, urban fantasy, and space opera.

In addition to professional publications, Carole writes memoir, review and commentary, and opinion pieces that focus on political and women’s issues. Her work has appeared in Tangent Online Review of Short Fiction, The Fix, Vision Magazine, Oasis Journal 2008, and Noneuclidean Café.

But her first love is science fiction and fantasy because walking through walls is a lot less painful than running into them.


Sep 5, 06:47 by IROSF
Comment Below!
Oct 3, 22:43 by Terry Grignon
Very nice summary, Carole Ann, it was my first World Con too and I was overwhelmed by the stunning bigness of the whole thing. My favourite sessions were:

-What is Consciousness?
-How to Respond to a Critique of your Writing
-How to Get to Alpha Centauri
-Writing Workshop L (which I endured with you and probably found as fulfilling as you did)
-David Clements
-What Makes A Good Story?
-How to Pitch Your Novel… and how not to
-Driven by Character; Starting with a Character
-Gaiman reads Doctorow
-Brewing and Distilling in Extreme Environments
-English-Canada Small-Press SF Publishers
-Lots of Planets have a North
-Private Passions: The Many Interests of Neil Gaiman
-Economics of the Star Traders

It was a fascinating event and I was glad to see your review here.

Terry Grignon

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