Nomi and I had an excellent time at the convention for the most part. Jim & Laurie Mann put together an enjoyable program, as they always do whenever they run programming for a convention. We did have some issues with the hotel, mostly because of the difficulties they had in accommodating our sabbath needs. This is the third time we've gone to a convention in a Westin hotel, and all three times the staff promised us a refrigerator would be delivered "in ten minutes" without ever actually providing one. The last time we stayed at a Westin, the apologetic manager on duty Saturday night asked Nomi how he could make things better, and she suggested that he instruct the staff not to lie to guests. Indeed, if the Westin had just told us in advance that they would not have refrigerators available, we would have figured out other options for our kosher food. Instead, they kept telling us that they would provide us with a fridge, even going so far as to tell us the additional cost for the fridge over the weekend. And then, as I said, no fridge ever appeared.
But I don't really want to go on about the missing refrigerator, or the Brookline cab company that told us that we'd have a cab in ten to fifteen minutes, and then when we called back twenty minutes later told us it would be another fifteen minutes. Instead, let me go through the good stuff that happened at the con, including all the panels we attended.
Friday 6 pm
The New Solar System: One Less Planet, Many New Facts
Panelists: Richard Binzel, Guy Consolmagno, Jordin T. Kare (M)
We were very interested in this panel because of our support for Pluto, but we were also interested in meeting Richard Binzel. Binzel is one of the scientists working on the New Horizons mission, which Nomi and I have been following very closely. After the panel, we got to meet him, and we also got to talk with Brother Guy again, whom we haven't seen since 2004. Guy helped me with "Sanctuary," and as a thank-you I quoted him at the beginning of the story. He was delighted to hear that the novella will be a Nebula nominee this year.
Friday 7 pm
To Boldly Go: Ethical Issues in Star Trek Through the Years
Panelists: Lou Anders, David Gerrold, Suford Lewis (M)
You know, I enjoyed this panel, but I can't remember what the panelists talked about. Isn't that odd?
For the intervening hour, Nomi and I hung out in the Con Suite, talking with Jen Pelland (LJ: jenwrites) and Andy Benson. I also found Laurie Mann in Program Ops and offered my services for another panel (about which see more below).
Friday 9 pm
Hal Clement Science Speaker Talk: The New Horizons Mission to Pluto
Speaker: Richard Binzel
This, of course, was a delightful program item for Plutophiles such as Nomi and me. Binzel went through some of the usual discussion of the history of our understanding of Pluto, but then he moved onto the history and development of the New Horizons mission. What struck me most was the incredibly long time scales of these space probe missions. First you spend years convincing NASA to fund the mission, then you spend years building the probe and getting ready to launch...and then you wait even more years as the probe travels on its journey to its destination. I suspect that planetary astronomers are probably the one subset of human beings who truly understand what it is to take the long view.
We had also planned to attend a 10 pm panel on the best movies and television from last year, but at that point we felt too exhausted. So we returned to our room and went to sleep.
Saturday 10 am
Heroes: So He Saved the Cheerleader--Is He on the List?
Panelists: Michael A. Burstein, F. Brett Cox, Laurie Mann (M)
Originally, Tamora Pierce was supposed to be on this panel, but as readers of her blog know, she had to cancel at the last minute. Nomi and I are fans of the show, and had been planning to attend the panel anyway, so the previous evening (as I mentioned) I offered my services to Laurie Mann as a panelist. Although the panel was supposed to be about Heroes, we spent quite some time comparing and contrasting the show with other recent genre television. I discovered much to my delight that Brett and I watch all the same shows, which led to my observation at the end of the panel that Brett has excellent taste in television.
Saturday 11 am
Fantasy and Fables: Fantasy in Graphic Novel Form
Panelists: Michael A. Burstein (M), Bruce Coville, Timothy Liebe, Jane Yolen
As before, Tamora Pierce was supposed to be on this panel. In fact, the panel had been her idea, and she was supposed to moderate it. Instead, the others allowed me to do so. I had been hoping that we'd spend the whole panel talking about cool stuff in Fables, but Bruce hasn't caught up with all the story yet and Jane hasn't even read it. So we discussed other fantasy in graphic novel form, and why it's becoming so popular. By the way, Jane has two fantasy graphic novels coming out soon, and I'm looking forward to them.
Saturday 1 pm
Getting Lost : Another Chapter in the Continuing Saga
Panelists: Michael A. Burstein, MaryAnn Johanson, Priscilla Olson (M)
Paul Levinson was supposed to be on this panel as well, but he was unable to attend Boskone. The three of us discussed the show, and the Big Question: do the creators really know where they're going with this thing, or are they just making it up as they go along? And whatever the answer, they better give it a satisfactory resolution, or they'll have a lot of angry fans.
Saturday 3 pm
The Works of David Gerrold
Panelists: Michael A. Burstein, Anthony R. Lewis (M), Lawrence M. Schoen, Allen M. Steele
If all you know of David is tribbles, go check out his series on the Chtorr, or the novella or novel version of The Martian Child, or his classic novel of time travel, The Man Who Folded Himself. Go ahead. I'll wait.
Saturday 5 pm
My Favorite Bad SF Movies
Panelists: Guy Consolmagno, Bob Eggleton, MaryAnn Johanson, Daniel Kimmel (M), Timothy Liebe
Apparently, there are a lot more fun-to-watch bad SF films out there than I ever know. I now have a note in my Palm device to track down and watch something called Starcrash. And did anyone out there keep a list of the recommended films? If so, please post it somewhere and let me know.
Saturday 6 pm
Broad Universe Reading
Readers: Victoria McManus, Jessica Reisman, Morven Westfield, Jennifer Pelland
Originally, there were supposed to be four more readers, but various obstacles kept them from getting to the convention. Nomi and I enjoyed the reading; I was particularly intrigued by the selection of Jennifer Pelland's unpublished novel Machine that she chose to read. If the rest of the novel is that good, I'm surprised it hasn't found a publisher yet and been nominated for an award.
After the panel, Nomi and I headed to the room of the Aronoff family for Havdalah. On the way there, we ran into Christopher Stasheff, the NESFA Press guest. I met Stasheff years ago at a convention put on by the Columbia Science Fiction Society, and I loved his Warlock and Wizard books. I took a few minutes to wax enthusiastic to Stasheff about his work, and some of the scenes I vividly remember; he seemed quite pleased, even though I stalked him on the elevator to do so.
Nomi and I spent the evening in the Con Suite talking with lots of people, possibly too numerous to list. If you were there, and want your name dropped, let me know and I'll edit this part of the report.
As is our tradition when we attend local conventions, Nomi and I checked out of the hotel early, took all our stuff home, checked our email, and went to Rubin's for breakfast. As it so happens, my email included more estate stuff I had to think about, so that's what we discussed over breakfast.
We made it back to the hotel around 10:15 am and browsed the Hucksters Room. I somehow managed to trip and fall flat on my face as we entered, but a former Arisia con chair helped me to my feet.
Sunday 11:30 am
Reading - Sara Beth Durst
I've known Sara Beth for a few years now, having met her at a convention at some point that is lost to the sands of memory. Sara's first novel is coming out this summer, a YA titled Into the Wild, and from the excerpts she read, it sounds like it will be a fun read. Sara, if you're reading, I'm hoping for an advance copy. :-)
Sunday 12 noon
Guest of Honor Speech – David Gerrold
David's brain sounds like a bizzaro place to live. But I enjoyed the window.
Sunday 1 pm
Screenwriting, In Its Simplest Form
Panelists: David Gerrold, George R. R. Martin, Melinda Snodgrass
This panel was less about screenwriting and more about the panelists' adventures in screenwriting. But I was just there to be entertained, and entertaining it was.
After the panel, Nomi and I spent the last two hours in the Con Suite, talking with ianrandalstrock, lonfiction, and Lon's friend Shelley.
And then they closed the con up, and it was time to go home.