The Chicon Thief
Regular readers will know that I envy the world of passionate fans, even if I’ve generally found myself on the outside looking in. As a result, I’ve always been fascinated by the culture of science fiction and fantasy conventions, but I’ve never had a chance to attend in person, partially because I don’t identify strongly with any particular fandom—aside from that of The X-Files, which seems to be on the wane these days—and because my own weird obsessions have tended to take me in a rather different direction. In less than two weeks, however, I’ll be attending the 70th World Science Fiction Convention here in Chicago, also known as Chicon 7, both as a panelist and eager attendee, and I can’t begin to describe my excitement: looking over the convention schedule is like browsing through the world’s best course catalog, with events like “Designing Spacecraft as a Hobby,” “LARPing: Make-Believe For Adults,” and “How to Write for Furries”—although the one I really can’t wait to attend is Sy Liebergot’s presentation on the lessons of Apollo 13.
I’m able to attend Worldcon this year because of the lucky confluence of a number of factors. This year’s convention is being held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, only half an hour’s train ride from my house, so it’s practically in my back yard. It’s also been an unusually productive year for me on the science fiction front: over the last eighteen months, I’ve published four stories in Analog, including “The Boneless One,” probably my best work, which ended up in the latest edition of The Year’s Best Science Fiction. Realistically speaking, I don’t think I’ll have another run like this for a long time, if ever, so it’s very fortunate that my best year in the science fiction field happens to coincide with the convention taking place such a convenient location. Will I ever go again? I really hope so—although right now it seems best to regard it as a special treat in a year that qualifies as an outlier by any measure.
At the moment, I’m scheduled to appear on five panels over the course of four days, and I hope you’ll check them out if you’re there. Here’s my schedule:
- Thursday August 30, 4:30 pm. New Writers Session 1. A panel for new and debut writers to discuss their work and careers. Moderator: S. J. Chambers. Panelists: Alec Nevala-Lee, Emma Newman, Hanna Martine, Thomas Olde Heuvelt.
- Friday August 31, 3:00 pm. Turning Ideas Into Stories. Many people ask authors where they get their ideas. This panels asks: “How do you develop your ideas into stories?” Moderator: Louise Marley. Panelists: Alec Nevala-Lee, Jamie Todd Rubin, Roland Green, Tim Akers.
- Saturday September 1, 9:00 am. Men Writing Women. Many male writers have written stories from the female protagonist point of view or even using a female pseudonym. This panel will explore this issue from a variety of perspectives. Moderator: Bradley P. Beaulieu. Panelists: Alec Nevala-Lee, Jan Bogstad, Myke Cole, Russell Davis.
- Saturday September 1, 3:00 pm. Develop Your Story Idea. We will take an idea or two from the audience and work on how we would turn it into a story. Moderator: B. A. Chepaitis. Panelists: Alec Nevala-Lee, Courtney Schafer, Jamie Todd Rubin, Martha Wells.
- Sunday September 2, 3:00 pm. Stalking the Elusive Story Idea. What is creativity? Can it be taught? Is it possible to generate story ideas on demand? A discussion of the practical aspects of inspiration, brainstorming, and the search for material, from the perspective of the working writer. Moderator: Jay Lake. Panelists: Alec Nevala-Lee, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Stephen Leigh, Vylar Kaftan.
If that last panel’s description has a familiar ring, that isn’t a coincidence: it’s a topic I suggested, and I’m really looking forward to it. As for the rest, they all look like fun, especially “Develop Your Story Idea,” which could either be fascinating or a magnificent train wreck. Hope to see some of you there!