Renovation: WorldCon 2011

So, that was my first WorldCon. And now I’m back.

All in all, I had a blast. It was different than what I’m used to, con-wise: the last con I was at was Dragon*Con 2006. And before that, Dragon*Con 2005. And before that, Dragon*Con 2001. Dragon*Con is a very different beast than WorldCon is. Since Dragon*Con focuses on a wider range of media, such as movies and television, than WorldCon does, there are panels on just about every corner of fandom. And there are costumes. Everywhere, costumes. Superhero costumes, Star Wars costumes, Star Trek costumes, and so on. Day and night, all over the con, you’ll see people in costumes of all sorts. Honestly, that’s one of the things I really enjoy about Dragon*Con.

WorldCon, by contrast, is a more “literary” con, focusing on the written word to the near exclusion of other forms of media. While there were panels about television shows such as Doctor WhoStargate: Universe, and The Big Bang Theory, most panels are about books and topics in written science fiction and fantasy. The guests for WorldCon are generally authors, editors, and artists, while Dragon*Con has guests from television and movies as well. For example, you might find Leonard Nimoy or Nathan Fillion at Dragon*Con, but not at WorldCon. At WorldCon, you’re more likely to run into Tim Powers, David Brin, Connie Willis, and so on.

And WorldCon is much smaller than Dragon*Con. The last time I was at Dragon*Con, there were over 40,000 people attending. At this past WorldCon, there were something like 4,000. It’s a more intimate con — though other people, such as Tim Pratt, who prefer even smaller cons, might disagree — and you’re more likely to run into the guests in the hallways. I bumped into John Scalzi just outside of his panel on his trip to the Creation Museum and shook his hand; I also talked briefly to Paul Cornell, one of the writers for Doctor Who. Pretty darn cool, if you ask me.

Some highlights:

  • The panel with Brother Guy Consulmagno, a Jesuit brother who works at the Vatican Observatory, was absolutely brilliant, and was probably my favorite panel of the entire con. I enjoyed hearing about his views on religion, science, and the intersection of the two, and how history and politics have shaped that relationship. Consulmagno is a funny, engaging speaker, and utterly brilliant as well. The fact that Paul Cornell, a writer for Doctor Who (which is a fantastic show, in case you aren’t watching it), was the interviewer made the panel even more brilliant.
  • At the same panel, I found myself sitting next to and chatting with Bill Willingham, possibly my favorite comic book writer (after Neil Gaiman); you owe it to yourself to check out Fables, his wonderful graphic novel series. He’s a neat guy, and I definitely enjoyed his company. I desperately wanted to ask him if he would join me for a beer or coffee or something, but I’m afraid I couldn’t work up the nerve. He would probably have said no, but I still should have asked.
  • The very first panel that Jennifer and I attended was John Scalzi‘s presentation on his trip to the Creation Museum. Scalzi, too, is an engaging and funny speaker, and his descriptions of the so-called “science” behind the Creation Museum were hilarious. I admit that toward the end I was beginning to wonder whether the Creation Museum is honestly meant to be taken seriously or whether it’s meant to parody Creationists in general, but I’m assured that they’re sincere. Which is depressing, to say the least.
  • I met up with two on-line friends, Erin Hartshorn and Margaret Fisk, neither of whom I’ve never met in person before, which was fun, even if I didn’t get much of a chance to talk to them.
  • Running into old friends. Running into new friends. That’s always a blast.
  • The writers’ workshop was very useful (of course you know I had to sign up for that). The two moderators — Dani Kollin and Richard Chwedyk compared my writing style (in my story, “Teh K1ng in Y3110w”) to that of Terry Pratchett, the sort of compliment that can make me glow for days. On the other hand, they pointed out some flaws that I had with craft, and they delivered these criticisms in a way that made me eager to get back to my keyboard to fix the flaws and get that story sent out the door again.

So… All in all, I really enjoyed WorldCon. I probably won’t go again any time soon (WorldCon is a traveling con, and next year it will be in Chicago), but there are definitely other cons that will be nearby that I’ll be attending. I’m so glad I went… and so annoyed that I had to come back home, to reality, and to work.

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4 thoughts on “Renovation: WorldCon 2011”

    1. No problem! Maybe some day we will get to hang out together at a con. There’s a small one in Sac in late September, so maybe we can go there together.

  1. Thanks for answering the question of whether we’ve met in person before definitively. It would have been nice to talk more, but it looks like you had a wonderful time.

    1. It definitely would have been good to hang out more. I had a blast, of course, but between all the panels I ended up going to I didn’t have much of a chance to simply hang out.

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