Well, it's been... a con.
We drove across a sleety and snow-surrounded Snoqualmie Pass last Thursday as guests in a friend's van (I could have probably handled the pass conditions, but I was just as glad I wasn't driving) and arrived in Pasco at around 6:30 or so PM. First thing that happened - after checking in at main desk of the Red Lion in Pasco - is someone hollering my name from the restaurant as rdeck and I struggled by with luggage. We dumped said luggage in our room and returned to the restaurant where we sat down for a catch-up session with ramblin_phyl, shadowhelm and joycemocha - which pretty much turned out to be the clique for the weekend, with the occasional addition of other people like sundry hangers on (that one's son or this one's husband or the other one's brother) who swelled the complement around the big round tables as necessary. We had a bite to eat (pass crossing is hungry work even if you aren't driving) and then went off to the Green Room which was just getting up to speed to catch up with other folks, and finally retired in order to be up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the scheduled school visits for which we were due to be picked up at 8 AM the next morning.
The School for this Con was Kennewick High, and three of us - myself, shadowhelm (in full mail regalia) and nisi_la - went off to brave serried ranks of highschoolers for the day. As usual, it was a joy - and there were always those who stood out in the classes as being at least potentially interested in some day standing where we three stood that day. One of them I met in the corridors of the Red Lion later, and she told me that she had "Written down EVERYTHING!" (yes, the exclamation mark was in there). Not sure what "everything" covered, but I do wish her - and all those like her, the young ones who are just discovering this world and following in our steps - all the best in her journey.
But we went out at 8 and we came back closer to 2 and that was already a full day's work, really. And I had the by now semi-traditional "Tea with the Duchess" that Radcon has now put on for the third year running which was due to happen at 3 PM - except that I discovered that the nice boardroom which was the usual venue - the one with an actual, you know, TABLE around which one could sit and have said tea - had been handed over to kiddie crafts and was overrun by rugrats brandishing coloured paper and glue sticks. We, the tea, were relegated to the room next door - which was set up as for a panel, with serried ranks of chairs, hardly conducive to a social occasion. So we just scattered the chairs around in a more informal wise and did our best - and people did drop in and out, nothing like the 20-odd who all turned up AT ONCE last year much to my astonishment but hey, we had a lot drifting in in pairs or as singletons all through the two hours of this, and some of them were even actual FANS who had read my books so it all worked out fine. Except for the fact that we had to chase down the teacups without which, you know, it might have been hard to drink the tea. And by this stage radconbob was kind of finding out that the answer to most questions this weekend boiled down to "Well, you have to find Bob..."
We had opening ceremonies at 7, which made me acutely aware that one of the people whom I associate with Radcon, jaylake, was not in evidence (I actually found myself LOOKING for Hawaiian shirts, even though I knew he was not there...) - they had a bit of a sound problem for the dancers which meant that there was a fair amount of trouble getting the dancers on stage and some waiting around for that to happen - and I had a latte-night panel that evening, at 10 PM, which was the Limerick Competition, and I didn't think much of my ability to come up with extemporaneous limericks on command, so I used the waiting time of the Opening Ceremonies to come up with a sonnet telling any potential audience at this panel just that. It turns out that things went with quite a lively snap crackle and pop, though, and cscole, who was collecting limericks done by both panelists and audience, wound up with quite a sheaf in hand - and some of them were actually halfway decent. Some of them were on the subject of NANOTECHNOLOGY, for heaven's sake. YOU try writing a nanotech limerick at 10 at night after a long con day. Go on, I double dog dare you.
More socialising, then bed, then up fairly early cos I had panels all day Saturday. They ranged from writerly topics like "how to pitch a novel" and plot and pacing to something that actually had me rather nonplussed as a topic on which I could possibly have any kind of contribution to make - pre-teen SF and Fantasy, who was writing in that field, who was doing well, what was available - I don't particularly write for audiences that young and even when they pick me up it's the precocious ones who read "older" so I was wondering what I could possibly have to say on the matter - but it turned out to be a panel of two (our third panelists was a no-show) and an audience of five, and turned into a fascinating discussion about all SORTS of things... except the topic of the panel itself, other than indirectly. Two good things that came out of this aside from the unexpectedly enjoyable experience itself was that I made a good contact with a librarian who WANTED new YA books (here sits the author, waving!) and the breathless 11-year-old who skidded into the room five minutes before the panel ended asking if this was the pre-teen SF&F panel. It was just as well that she hadn't been there for the most part - but we did get to send ONE pre-teen out with a list of recommended books which she should pick up to augment her reading. Somewhere in the middle of all this, over lunch, they had the group booksigning thing - where I wound up sharing a table with the likes of GoH Ellen Datlow, Larry Niven, and CJ Cherryh. Some cons are just awesome like that.
Then we went down for another group restaurant session with The Clique, this time augmented by the sparkling presence of lizzyshannon, and then we scattered again - joycemocha and rdeck to the exobiology panel (hail triffids) and me to the unscheduled presentation by my Launchpad classmate davidlevine on his recent two-week sojourn on "Mars", aka the wilds of Utah desert simulating same, as a crew member for one of the Mars Society missions. I'd been following the blogs of the experience as it happened, but he's a great speaker and he really brought the thing to life when he's up there talking about it. He's said that he will probably be doing this talk at a number of cons which he will be attending over the next little while so if you find yourself at such a con with this presentation on the program do yourself a favour and go see it.
rdeck and I then had dinner... with Larry Niven. The restaurant was backed up and it took over an hour for them to grill a piece of salmon and prepare a steak - but we got the food eventually, and the rest of the evening was spent in good conversation. Like I said, some cons are awesome like that.
We hung out in the small press room with jennifer_brozek (who's editing that brand new anthology about Urban Legend Alien Encounters I may have, um, mentioned in here recently, and which you still have a chance to preorder...) and kehrli (who moved away from us to the Big Smoke of Seattle in pursuit of bigger life goals but whom we do miss in our neck of the woods). We had breakfast on Sunday with bjcooper, which is always a joy. I did an extracurricular panel on writing and racial identity, chaired by nisi_la and graced by other fascinating people with a range of ethnic and cultural and racial stories to bring into the mix, and the panel should be a full-day discussion over drinks somewhere rather than just one short hour because there are so many things to tell and learn and talk about on this topic - but we ran out of time before even any of the audience had a chance to ask a question... and then we gathered our stuff together, waited a little while for our lift home to arrive (and did a lot of "hi! Bye!" encounters as others rushed past us in the throes of their own leavetakings), and piled into the van for the return trip. Got to Seattle, piled into our OWN car, drove for two hours in the gathering dark and occasional unfriendly deluges which made for poor visibility and a few fraught moments, and arrived home at around 7 PM on the Sunday.
And fell into bed early. And slept for eight hours STRAIGHT, then woke, and went back to sleep for another hour and a half.
The cats are happy. We're home. I need to get busy on stuff over the next two weeks. But in the meantime... that was Radcon 2010. Thanks for another great con, radconbob and everyone else who ran around making good things happen this weekend.
See you next year.