Terri’s Post Dublin 2019 Report: Technical Failures and Networking Successes

By Terri

The Cliffs of Moher, just one of the amazing things I saw on my holidays.

The Cliffs of Moher, just one of the amazing things I saw on my holidays.

Though I am only just home in Israel, I have had a few quiet evenings (plus several forms of transit across Ireland and Northern Ireland - most of this blog post was written while loads of green flashed by) to reflect on Dublin 2019, An Irish Worldcon.

It wasn’t my first WorldCon, and I have to say that was a big relief. I knew that there would be long queues for the most popular author signings and most panels, and that there would be no way to do all the things I wanted to do. The time spent working the Hugo Awards in 2012 meant I was prepared for the sheer shock of ALL THE NOMINEES at both the pre-reception and the Loser’s Party. The other thing that mitigated some of that was the fact that many of us had been communicating since April in a Slack workspace set up by Mary Robinette Kowal. It’s harder to be scared of people whose impostor syndromes have had a party with yours, whom you’ve plotted setting swans on assholes with and shared sleep training tips with.

Ariela’s shared her opinions on the Art Show. Putting it nearly a kilometer from the main event space (yes there were panels there and yes it was only a tram stop away, but still not part of the main convention space) did not help anyone’s sales. It’s hard to know why our originals failed to move - they and the rest of our art have done well at other conventions where the Art Show gets a lot of foot traffic. The decision to put the reception for the Art Show (and I have to say, it wasn’t much of a reception), in a warehouse room apart from the actual art made no sense to me. I have been to many receptions held inside the actual Art Show and somehow no one got any food on the art OR the carpet. ::SHRUG::

My two panels went very nicely. I chose WorldCon to debut my nascent moderating skills as a stunt Q&A moderator on behalf of Elsa Sjunnenson-Henry who moderated the discussion parts very well. It was my first time, and I know where I made my mistakes. Note to self: pass off the question to the OTHER panelists first! However, since it was a jargon heavy panel, I was willing to take questions for clarification and people did seem to find that useful.

Becky Chambers, holding a towel in progress.

Becky Chambers, holding a towel in progress.

As for attending panels, I prioritized some readings (Charlie Stross and Naomi Novik) and was able to attend both. I also managed to get into a fabulous panel that was supposed to be about forests and stories and was actually just Seanan McGuire, Jennifer Mace, & Sarah Gailey talking about bugs, plant people and why hedgerows are awesome (and that’s just the tip of the 50 minute iceberg). I did get my Wayfarers books signed by the inestimable Becky Chambers and deputized my husband to get my Lady Astronaut novels signed.

And that’s where the fun parts of my con that appeared on the schedule (besides the Hugo Awards) ends. Because I actually spent the bulk of my WorldCon mornings at the WSFS Business Meeting. I had a constitutional amendment on the agenda to resolve the problem we encountered when we discovered that Lady Astronaut would not be eligible for consideration in the Hugo Voter’s Packet. I’m still working on fixing the artist categories wholesale, but that’s going to take a few years (and a favorable business meeting to present at). To say that I found the meeting draining would be an understatement. There was a lot of sitting, many cups of tea and instant soup, and a handful of votes that I actually felt were important. There are people for whom Parliamentary decision making is a fascinating process. I am not one of them. But my amendment passed! It will need to be ratified at CoNZealand next year, but there will be those to speak for it there even if I am not. Incidentally, I was also there when one of the constitutional measures to prevent slating was not only preserved, it was preserved via poison pilling an amendment to kill it. That was fun.

I spent my evenings networking via the time honored tradition of barcon. Typically, when the convention is held in a hotel, people congregate in the hotel bars to drink and blow off steam. This year’s wasn’t up to past standards, but I still spent time making connections, handing out my cards, and talking to people about projects that I CANNOT TELL YOU ABOUT BUT SO EXCITE!!!!!!

And now, the thing you really were here for - the Hugo Awards!

It’s hard to express how I feel. I was conflicted from the start. I do a lot of creative work for Geek Calligraphy, and it hurt to be excluded from the ballot for the fact that my skills do not lie in shaping pigment and paper into art. I know that Ariela values my work, but it’s hard to see that work go unremarked. Thankfully, every time I explained to anyone that no I was not a nominee, they went “why not? That’s bullshit, you’re a team,” or some variant on that theme. Which was highly validating. But the hoops we had to jump through to make sure I got to go to the pre-ceremony reception, a decent seat at the awards and entry into the Loser’s Party (and that last one with both our spouses) were many and slightly painful.

The fact that we didn’t take the award home was unsurprising. Once our best work was excluded from consideration, we didn’t stand a chance. We did come in third on the nomination ballot, which was nice. It’s a cliché, but it really was an honor to be nominated in the company of Likhain, Grace Fong, Sara Felix, Spring Schoenhuth and Meg Frank. Hopefully this is only the first time we’ll be here.

The Loser’s Party itself was both fun and disappointing. It was the first time I got to hear live traditional Irish music all weekend, which was nice. Drinks I don’t have to pay for and great company are also wonderful. But getting into the party was A MESS. To find out that taking the time to say goodbye to friends and rearrange our things (both Ariela and I had to prep at the Convention Centre due to panels, and there was quite a bit of spare clothing and makeup on site) meant that there was a good chance we weren’t getting into the party was very disappointing. From what I remember in 2012, the party really was for the nominees and eventually the winners. This year’s party felt more like GRRM throwing a party for his buddies at the Guinness Storehouse that incidentally involved the losing nominees and some of the winners.

Mary Robinette Kowal, me, The Lady Astronaut and a HUGO AWARD! (Photo credit: Terrence Karney)

Mary Robinette Kowal, me, The Lady Astronaut and a HUGO AWARD! (Photo credit: Terrence Karney)

Monday was quite special. Due to technical difficulties (namely that Ariela’s phone hates Ireland), there was no way for Ariela to let me know that she had run into Mary Robinette Kowal while looking at the original Lady Astronaut painting and had gotten a photograph. So we made arrangements for me to get a photo taken as well. While we were packing up the painting afterwards (it was the last thing to come off the wall during the tear down), Mary Robinette, my friend Terrence Karney and I were having a conversation about how some people felt that she was insufficiently reverent of and overexcited by her Hugo. Terrence replied that he’d be excited just to get the little nominee lapel pin in the shape of the rocket (and also told us a funny story about a Hugo that’s been sliced in half). I concurred, and Mary Robinette asked why I didn’t have one, before remembering “oh right. Because bullshit.” (Her exact words). At which point she began to remove the pin from her own lapel. After I protested, she insisted that not only did she have an abundance at home, I deserved it anyway. I started to cry, and received an excellent hug. Terrence remarked that between my ineligibility and the Lady Astronaut’s ballot exclusion, I may have more thoroughly lost a Hugo than anyone else ever has.

So that’s my second WorldCon over. It wasn’t everything it could have been, but it was wonderful in parts. I cemented connections, made professional plans, got a constitutional amendment passed and looked like a mermaid queen for a night. I’m looking forward to the next one.