The Gernsback awards and the final parties

I write this sitting and waiting for the car to take me to Oakland International Airport, and then back to Sweden. This might be the last post to this blog. We’ll see.

After the fan fund auction on Sunday, I and Marlee went to the Hugo Award Ceremony rehearsal. We were told we would present the Hugo for best fanzine, which was fitting. I returned to my room to shower and dress up for the occasion. I had dragged a dark suit all over North America just for this, and my favourite red Moomin tie.

John Picacio was an engaged MC, apparently he had been in constant contact with the fans organising the ceremony to get everything right. He made a strong impression as being very engaged in using his influence to stem the dark political tides of our time. You can see who won what at the Official Hugo Award site. Nora Jemisin’s acceptance speech was met with rousing cheers.

I must say I enjoyed presenting a Hugo. It was fun. And I was happy for Mike Glyer to win the fanzine Hugo, despite having a small collection of them already. He did recuse himself from further consideration from now on. Unfortunately, he had taken ill the same day and was in hospital, so he couldn’t accept the award in person. Then nobody had told me or Marlee that the presenters were also invited to be part of the group photographs of the winners afterwards, which was a pity, but oh well. I went to eat with friends instead, and at last I met Mette Hedin and Bryan Little, who apparently had been hidden away in a room all the time, sewing on their masquerade outfits.

Afterwards we went to the traditional Hugo Losers Party, that George RR Martin organises every year. It was held in a trendy venue called The Glasshouse. George and his wife Parris gave out an Alfie award to John Picacio for his work against inhumane politics and racism.

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The music was a little on the loud side, so much of the party I spent in a backstage room talking to Hanna, my lady for the night, and John D Berry who is always a delight to discuss with. The snacks and the drinks were top notch. Half past midnight I noticed Erle Korshak, now in his mid-nineties, walking through the room with his coat on and a bag in his hand. I said hi to him and said that I could understand that he felt tired and was leaving. He looked at me and laughed, as he was actually just arriving at the party. They finally asked us to leave around 2:15.

The next day we had to deal with what remained unsold after the fan fund auction, and at 12:00 noon there was a small ceremony that John Coxon had taken the initiative to, where we shared a toast to the memory of Randy Byers, sorely missed by everyone who had the pleasure to meet him or be his friend.

Then it was time for closing ceremonies, during which I as TAFF delegate again got the chance to be up on stage and mention the fan funds to the audience. Then the con was officially over. I went with Pablo Vazquez, Chris Hensley, Jukka Särkijärvi and Fia to eat in Japantown, And afterwards it was the dead dog.

Yesterday I did almost nothing. For the first time of this month-long trip I felt drained and exhausted. I had breakfast, checked out from the hotel and took a bus to Sten and Evangeline, who were kind enough to put me up for a last night. In the evening I had revived some, which was good, because we had been invited over to Tom Becker and Spike at their flat in Mountain View.

A thoroughly enjoyable evening with good food and wine. We discussed fan funds, farming, conventions of yore and old friends, especially mutual friends from Sweden and Norway, like Mats Henricson, Mette Hedin, Johan Schimanski, and Kristin Thorrud. Just the finishing touch to my long trip that I needed.

Last day of Worldcon 76 (aka having fun is funnier than blogging)

OK, a quick update of two days. Saturday meant a panel on fan funds which Janice Gelb was nice enough to moderate as the con had not given us a moderator. We discussed DUFF, TAFF, GUFF, and the new Chinese fan exchange programme (which is a fairer description that ”fan funds”). Very interesting to hear what the Chinese are doing.

I also went to a panel about John W Campbell where we were told both interesting things about Campbell and some amusing anecdotes. Astrid and Greg Bear was on the panel, with Bob Silverberg, Stanley Schmidt and Joe Haldeman. Only Silverberg and Schmidt had actually been working with Campbell themselves, but Astrid remembered some of her father’s interactions with Campbell and both Greg and Joe had sold to Analog in the years after Campbell’s days there. It was moderated by Alec Nevala-Lee, who has written a biography of Campbell that’s slated to appear in October.

Then there were room parties. DC in 2021, BASFA, Furry Social, Worldcon in France, and everywhere you meet Regina Kanyu Wang and her Chinese friends. My home base was and remained the Worldcon 75 Kiitos party, though.

Sunday saw me at the business meeting (not intentionally!) watching New Zealand being announced as the winners in the site selection for Worldcon 2020, and a very emotional Norman Cates thanked everyone and showed a video. The fan fund auction went really well. We sold for $1,982! The highlights were a tuckerization for a book by för Kevin J Anderson but a tuckerization for a book by David Gerrold and a signed, numbered and lettered first edition of Tuf Voyaging by George RR Martin also fetched handsome sums. Chris Garcia and Joel Zakem were the main auctioneers. Older fanzines sold well. However, we had ginormous amounts of things left, that we have to figure out what to do with. A big thank you to Janice Gelb and Sarah Gulde who helped out.

Then it was the Hugos. They were fun, but I’ll talk more about that some other time. Time for breakfast and the con.

The con is afoot

On Wednesday, Sten and I took the car to the Morgan Hill/Gilroy area south of San José, because Gilroy is the home town for Sarah, one of my friends in Uppsala, and I thought it would be fun to see the place. Gilroy is mostly known for garlic and wine, but we stayed off the garlic and went to a couple of wineries instead, Kirigin Cellars and Sycamore Creek Vineyards. Both were nice and friendly places and served good wine. We bought eight bottles between the two of us.

In the evening we went to a garden party hosted by Mike Ward and Karen Schaffer, a combined pre-Worldcon and birthday party. Lots of people in a gorgeous house and garden, brimfull of interesting conversations.

Thursday morning was the first day of Worldcon 76, the goal for this whole trip. This also means that this blog is getting close to its end. When I arrived, I realised that I had actually been booked in for six nights, not five that I had somehow believed, and that check-in was supposed to have been yesterday. That did not create any problems, I was relieved to find out. The front desk receptionist even looked at me and upgraded me to a room with a larger bed, for better sleep comfort. Not that I think that the original bed would have been a problem. That was excellent service. However, getting the wifi to work was a nightmare. Why don’t they just give you free wifi without complicated and error-prone procedures?

Registration went smoothly, and a panel on international fandom I was on was hopefully instructive for the audience. I got to meet Cy Chauvin, who I had ”met” in Stipple-APA and could say hi to him from an old friend of his I had met in Minneapolis.

The opening ceremony was long, over an hour, but fun, and I’m not saying this just because the con hade decided to support the fan funds by introducing the fan fund delegates after the GoHs. Probably my only appearance ever in a Worldcon Opening Ceremony. John Picacio read a statement on behalf of the SF/F writing community attacking Trump for the separation of immigrant families at the border, which was met with much applause.

The rest of the day was sent with friends at dinner, in the bar and at room parties.

Red woods and white balls

The day before yesterday began with Lucy and Fia coming to pick up me and Sten and we went up into the woods, to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. These trees were impressive. We have some mighty and huge trees back home, but these were, uhmmm, larger? Uppsala Cathedral is taller if you include the towers, but not by much. The trunks were interesting at the bottom. The largest trees formed virtual caves that you could climb into; if we had been hobbits we would have settled there and then and started to build fences to keep the Big Folk out, and think about growing mushrooms. A picturesque river flowed through the park and there was a railway with a steam locomotive pulling a train full of enthusiastic tourists.

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After a detour to Santa Cruz, Lucy dropped me and Sten off and we went to attend the weekly meetng of the Bay Area SF Association, a group whose meetings are slightly different from those of our local groups back home. I like diversity. Friendly folks, all round.

Yesterday it was up and away to San Francisco. Sten and I picked up Fia in San Bruno and went to tick off the tourist boxes Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf with Pier 39, and Borderlands Books. Later in the day, Lucy and John took us to Oakland Coliseum, where Rich McAllister had bought tickets for us because he felt we needed to watch a real baseball match, being in the US.

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Oakland Athletics took on Seattle Mariners in a game that was important because both teams are hovering around the playoff line in the series. The A’s won by 3 to 2. Allen Baum and Tom Becker tried to explain the finer details of what happened on the field, but I have a nagging feeling that some of those details escaped me. But viewed as a game of brännboll, it was highly entertaining and the beer and the food was good. Just like people used to go to the opera back in the day to be seen, not to see, much of the fun revolved around the outing itself, not necessarily just around the game. Well, I guess soccer hooligans feel the same. Nobody was hurt this time, though, except a Mariners fielder who got a ball on his arm early in the game. Allen took us back again afterwards.

A treatise on glass, otters and cedars

I stayed in Seattle for two more days. On Friday, after breakfasting with me at the Hangar Cafe right under the inflight path to the airport, Hal and Ulrika took me to Seattle Center, where the 1962 World’s Fair was held, and left me in the tender care of Suzle Tompkins and Jerry Kaufman. They asked me what I wanted to do and as I had set my sights on the Chihuly Garden even before I set off on my trip, after having read some rave reviews on the net, that’s what I said. We went there and I do not regret it. Together with the Niagara Falls and the Special Collections at the Cushing Library at A&M University in Texas, this was the most spectacular thing I’ve seen during the trip. That it’s even possible to create such works of art in glass boggles the mind.

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After that visual treat we went to the adjacent MoPop and saw their exhibitions of science fiction and fantasy. And the small Hall of Fame exhibitions with memorabilia connected to the professionals in the field who have been inducted into their Hall of Fame. Stuff like Asimov’s typewriter and the moving letter Alice Sheldon sent to Joanna Russ where she admitted that she was James Tiptree, Jr.

Yesterday, my trusted guides Hal and Ulrika took a day off the deal with other things that needed to be done in time for Worldcon, so I explored Seattle by myself, which meant Woodland Zoo. I spent three hours there, but my nice little Sony RX100 mk III, which has stood me in good stead, was not the camera you want in a zoo.

In the evening, I was picked up by Hal and Ulrika and we went to a party at Andrew Hooper and Carrie Root’s, organised so that I could meet more Seattle fans. I think we were sixteen fans there and I had interesting discussions about languages and fanhistory among other things. I was especially glad to meet with the rest of the Chunga team as I had only met Randy Byers before. Of course, now Andy and Carl are the entire Chunga team. But it was a generally good party with intelligent and entertaining fans. It kept going until half past one.

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Today, Sunday I have spent five hours in an airplane, of which less than two were actually in the air. Some obscure problem with maintenance of a strap that I never understood delayed us by over two hours. But now I am in San Jose, at Sten and Evan Thaning’s (and their dog Lucky!), and it’s time to go to bed. Tomorrow Redwoods await us!

The US is pretty large

Yes, rather a large country. The flight from Houston to Seattle took 4.5 hours.

Wednesday morning meant a grand farewell to John, Val, Duckie and all the cats, especially Theodorable, who seemed to have taken a liking to me. John took me to the shuttle bus station and in no time at all I was at Houston Intercontinental Airport again. I had time to eat a delicious meal of blackened catfish and to admire George Bush the elder. It’s a good thing that democratic countries don’t put up ridiculous hero-worship statues like they do in shithole countries.

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The flight was delayed due to a thunderstorm, but otherwise it went OK. At Seattle-Tacoma Airport Luke and Julie McGuff waited for me just outside the arrival gate, which meant that I promptly marched past them, not expecting to meet them until after I had claimed my baggage. They took me to Vonda McIntyre’s house, for I had been promised by Vonda that I could sleep in her basement guest apartment, and there I was promptly installed. After an evening snack I went to bed.

This marks halfway through my TAFF trip.

Today Thursday I was picked up by Hal and Ulrika O’Brien. We ate luch at the famous Ivar’s Salmon House and went to the Nordic Museum, which tells both the story of the Nordic countries (slightly compressed, one can say) and the story of Nordic settlers in the Pacific Northwest.

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The day ended with a pub gathering at Brouwer’s Pub in Fremont that gathered ten fans, and afterwards a sightseeing stroll through Fremont to where I am staying, guided by Will Affleck-Ash, Kate Schaefer and Glenn Hackney. In quite a small area of Seattle, they have a space rocket, Vladimir Lenin, and a huge Bridge Troll. If this isn’t a mark of sophistication, I don’t know what is.

Sine qua non

I and John left Austin yesterday after a wee stroll through town, during which I bought physical artifacts with music for the first time in I don’t know how many years, but if there is a good record store, I say let’s support it. And Waterloo Records in Austin is that store.

We then took the 71 out of town and stopped by the Berdoll Pecan Candy store, so that we could take photos of ourselves standing by the gigantic squirrel statue they have there.

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We bought some candy as well. The evening ended with grilled burgers and a reunion with my trusted companion Ducky, John and Valerie’s dog.

Today Tuesday we went to the Cushing Memorial Library at Texas A&M University here in College Station, which houses one of the finer special collections of science fiction in the world. John had asked the curator, Jeremy Brett, to show us the stacks. Which he did. Boy oh boy. They have, among other things, a Shakespeare Second Folio, the Kelmscott Chaucer, a Hobbit first edition, a Don Quijote first edition* and a bunch of other fantastic books and related stuff. Among these was the first issue of this magazine, without which I would not be sitting here in Texas writing this blog post:

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Isn’t that, erhm, pardon me, amazing?

*Purportedly, they have the largest collection of Cervantes in the world.