One of our readers, Gary Deindorfer, once described Mimosa as a both a
'horizontal' and a 'vertical' fanzine, the 'vertical' parts having to do with fan
history and the 'horizontal' about fandoms in other countries and regions. Time
now for one of the 'vertical' pieces, the third in Mike Resnick's series of
remembrances of past worldcons. In this installment we learn such pearls of wisdom
as where not to sit at a Broadway play, how not to restrain rampant
filksingers, and how not to lose your balls.
1967: NYCON III (New York)
We arrived a few days early so I could visit my editors (who were not, in those days, science fiction editors) and see some plays. Walter Zacharias of Lancer (now of Zebra) told me that he had reprinted some Conan stories and for reasons he absolutely could not fathom they were catching on, and actually assigned me a science fiction novel rather than the usual Gothic or doctor/nurse book.
I had been to a charming Italian restaurant called Barbetta's the summer before I met Carol, and I decided to celebrate the science fiction book contract by taking her to it. You'd be amazed what a change seven years can make. Oh, it was still charming, and the food was still good -- but the prices had gone up from about $6.00 a plate to about $50.00. Which is a lot now, and which was absolutely eye-popping (and budget-busting) back then.
The first night there we saw Cabaret, a far better play than Bob Fosse's movie would lead you to believe. Then we saw I Do! I Do!, the two-person Tom Jones/Harvey Schmidt musical, starring Mary Martin and Robert Preston. Saw it very clearly. From the center of the first row. Robert Preston sweated non-stop for two hours. On me. When the play was over, it was hard to say which of us was more drenched in Preston sweat, but my money's on me.
The con was held in the Statler Hilton, which was not exactly in the most elegant of midtown Manhattan venues. The food was abominable. No one felt like walking 20 blocks north to the better midtown restaurants, and Jon Stopa finally discovered a working-class bar around the corner that served sandwiches in the back room. Thereafter, most of the Chicago-area contingent ate most of their meals there.
This was the last year that the Worldcon shared its hotel with another convention. And since it was the last time, it was probably only fitting that the convention we shared it with was hosted by the Scientologists. I remember that an escalator ran up from the main floor to the mezzanine; if you turned to your right, you found yourself at the sf registration desk; left, and you were lined up to register for the Scientologists.
It was instant hatred -- and more to the point, it was instant competition. I don't know who converted more of which to what, but it kept up for the entire weekend.
Which was just as well. There's a reason why it's been a third of a century since there's been a Worldcon in New York. A reason above and beyond Manhattan's notion of affordability, that is. And the reason is that each of the NyCons was, each in its own way, a bit of a disaster.
By Thursday night only one elevator in the Hilton was running. By early Saturday morning, there was a lengthy period when none of them were running. The rooms were tiny, and the beds, even the doubles (mockingly called 'king-size') were shoved against the wall to provide a little extra floor space. I remember the first morning we were there: I rolled out of bed, prepared to get to my feet -- and put a serious dent in the plaster wall. Damned near broke my nose in the process.
The programming was overwhelmingly fannish. Very few panels with or about pros, and for those of us who'd come halfway across the country to here our idols speak and were confronted with one fannish panel after another, it was a major disappointment. (Fred Pohl was editing three magazines at the time, and I remember one of the few pro panels was: "Should one man be editing three prozines?" The only logical answer was, "Hell, if they're making money, he should be editing four!", but that seems to have escaped the programmers.)
I got a real kick out of one of the costumes in the masquerade. (This was back in the days when a little creativity could go a long way, and no one spent four and five digits on a costume.) Lynne Aronson, a hopeful writer at the time (she later founded Windycon), came as a rejection slip, covered with all the rejection slips she had received -- including one of mine. Later Isaac Asimov put a pipe in his mouth and walked across the stage, claiming to be Harlan Ellison, who responded by pinching some girls on stage and claiming he was Isaac.
Carol had seen some earrings she liked in the hotel's jewelry store, but they were quite expensive, and after our experience at Barbetta's, she didn't want to shell out the money for them. We were due to stay until Tuesday, but we weren't enjoying the con very much, so as soon at Lester del Rey finished his speech at the Monday afternoon banquet, I bought her the earrings; we paid for them by checking out and flying home a day early.
# # # #
1974: DISCON II (Washington, D.C.)
Jon and Joni Stopa, who had attended a Disclave at the Sheraton Park Hotel, told us to ask for the new wing when we sent in our reservation. The old wing was a bit of a Chinese maze, but the new wing rambled down a hill behind the hotel, with large, airy, new rooms. We did as they suggested, and wound up on the sixth of eight floors, which was actually two floors below the ground level of the main hotel.
So why am I telling you this?
Because the huckster room was in the basement of the main hotel -- two floors below ground level. It had guards posted all around the front doors -- but no one guarded the single unlocked back door, and we began using it as a shortcut. Could have stolen thousands of books and magazines if we'd felt like it. Matter of fact, I felt like a bit of a thief anyway, because while I (and probably you, too) have heard of people selling fanzines by the pound, I'd never actually encountered it -- until Discon II, where I bought five pounds of two-time Hugo winner Amra (a complete run of 70-some issues) for $2.00 a pound.
Martha Beck was just recovering from abdominal surgery, and we agreed to fly out with her and room next to her, just in case she found herself in need of a friend in a hurry. It was our own fault for forgetting that Martha can make 20 friends just by walking from one end of a room to the other. Martha and her friends gathered in her room every night at about 3:00 AM to filksing until sunrise. One night I staggered in at about 4:30, and couldn't sleep because of the singing, so at maybe five o'clock I walked over and began pounding the wall. Someone on the other side pounded back in rhythm, and soon 15 or 20 of Martha's friends were turning the walls into bongo drums. I knew when I was licked, and I never tried that again.
Jo Ann Wood and Carol love to go afield for lunch. Jo Ann had some kind of 4-wheel drive vehicle, and a guide book, and she found some fish joint in Annapolis that was supposed to be fair to middling. So she gathered up Carol, me, Martha, and John Guidry, and off we went. We didn't know any short cuts, so we spent the first 20 minutes driving through the worst of Washington's slums. Almost two hours later we pulled into this unprepossessing building at the Annapolis waterfront. I don't remember the name of the restaurant, but I do remember the waiter bringing over a dish none of us had ordered. We explained that he'd made a mistake, and he in turn explained that yes, it was an error, some other waiter had written down the wrong order for a party across the room -- but since our table seemed willing to eat anything smaller than ourselves with enormous gusto, the restaurant had decided to make us a gift of it.
The program item I remember best is the second (and final) Isaac/Harlan Insult Contest (the first had been at Tricon in 1966). Some local reporter wandered in, took it seriously, and reported in his newspaper that two of our most famous writers started yelling at each other and almost had to be restrained. Harlan and Isaac decided it was not the kind of publicity the field needed, and reluctantly agreed not to have a third contest.
Carol had been working most of the summer on our masquerade costumes -- 'The White Sybil and The Ice Demon', from Clark Ashton Smith's Hyperborean story-cycle -- and it took us a couple of hours to get into them, since we were covered with body paint and Carol in particular had lots of make-up and had to be glued into her enormous headpiece. I think we started preparing at five o'clock in the afternoon, and the masquerade started (theoretically) at eight o'clock, though as always it ran an hour or so late.
This was the biggest, longest masquerade in history. This was before the 60-second limitation (and may well have been the catalyst for it). It seemed like every filksinger in the world went in costume and that each sang his or her entire repertoire. There was a Wizard of Oz group that was not content to sing one song from the film; they had to sing the entire score. There were endless skits, which I guarantee the participants enjoyed a hell of a lot more than the audience. There were green belly dancers, and blue belly dancers, and red belly dancers, and each felt compelled to dance her entire elaborate routine. I remember wishing about midnight that we'd lose so we could go back to our room, shower, and have some dinner.
But we didn't lose. We were voted Most Beautiful, Judges' Choice, and Best in Show -- and the next morning our photo became the first to knock Richard Nixon and/or Gerald Ford off the front page of the Washington Post in this final month of the Watergate scandal.
# # # #
1980: NOREASCON TWO (Boston)
Having experienced the Sheraton's elevators in 1971, we decided to spend the extra money and take a room in the Tower, solely to have access to the express elevator. We never once felt it wasn't money well spent, especially after hitting some parties in the main body of the hotel.
This was the first Worldcon where I participated in an autograph session. There were two of us at the table, myself and Tanith Lee. Tanith was (and is) a lovely and very busty woman, and she was wearing a low-cut dress or blouse, and her line was enormous. Hundreds of young men were racing around the huckster room, buying Tanith Lee books so they could stand at the table and look down at her while she looked down at the books and signed them. After awhile a buzzing commenced, to the effect that you shouldn't bring her all three books (the limit) at once, but should stand in line three times and get three eyefuls. I signed two books during the entire hour; Tanith was still signing when I left. I must confess to having had more ego-gratifying experiences.
We had won Best in Show at the NASFiC masquerade in Louisville the previous year with our 'Avengers of Space' costume/skit (which included Carol, Joan Bledig, Michaele Jordan, and me), and Carol had announced her retirement from costuming. But Jo Ann Wood, who was running the masquerade, twisted her arm all summer, and finally she agreed to bring the 'Avengers' out of mothballs, but only if we could do so out of competition, since the costume had already won at a major convention. So Jo Ann agreed, and we got to do our space opera burlesque skit all over again. It was still fun.
This was legendary Lou Tabakow's last Worldcon. Lou had become our closest fannish friend since we had moved to Cincinnati four years earlier, and we knew he was dying of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). He didn't want any sympathy, he just wanted to have a good time at what he guessed would be his last major con. Ray Beam bought him a cane, and he agreed to use it, but that was his only concession to his disease.
But one of its manifestations was that he slurred his speech, and another was that he had a pronounced limp (hence the cane). In fact, at first we assumed he'd had a mild stroke, until he underwent a barrage of tests and got the bad news.
Anyway, he was given First Fandom's Hall of Fame Award at the Hugo ceremonies. He lost his balance climbing up to the stage and almost fell, then slurred his thanks into the microphone. And poor Bob Silverberg, the Toastmaster, who had known Lou for close to thirty years but hadn't been told of his illness, jumped to the understandable conclusion that Lou was a little tipsy, and made a joke about it. And received a lot of undeserved hell for it that night and for months (and for all I know years) to come.
CFG had two suites, facing each other, across a corridor: one was for smokers, one for non-smokers. As was usually the case when Lou was presiding, sooner or later just about every pro and BNF wandered through and visited for awhile. Lou was there every night until three or four in the morning, and I remember thinking that if he were to die right then and there, it wouldn't be such a terrible thing, for he was never happier than when he was holding forth in the CFG suite.
It's been close to 20 years, and I still miss him. On the other hand, given how many times each week we'd meet for coffee at 1:00 AM, I'm probably ten to twelve books ahead of where I'd be if he was still around.
Personally, I'd rather have had Lou's company than the books.
# # # #
1984: L.A.CON II (Anaheim)
L.A.Con II didn't get off to a promising start. When we ordered our plane tickets, we were told that the Cincinnati-to-Los Angeles flight was sold out, and that we'd have to take a flight from Dayton. Between the day I ordered them and the day I picked them up, things changed, and we were booked on the Cincinnati flight after all. But our travel agent didn't tell me, and like an idiot I never looked at the tickets (a mistake I've never made again).
So we drive to Dayton and hand over our tickets, and get the news: our flight is leaving from Cincinnati in 90 minutes. Could they get us to Cincinnati in an hour? Yes, but they couldn't guarantee our luggage would make it through. So we paid a couple of hundred dollars for tickets to Cincinnati (the Cincinnati airport is only half an hour from our house), we raced through the gate to catch the plane just before they locked the doors, we got off in Cincinnati, raced to make our connecting flight, and didn't know until half an hour after we landed in Los Angeles that our luggage did in fact make it on the same flight.
But things began getting better right away. The Anaheim Hilton, which was less than a month old at the time, was -- and remains -- the best party hotel ever to host a Worldcon. (I might argue that Chicago's Hyatt is the best overall convention hotel, since everything is contained in one building, but for parties, nothing equals the 5th floor of the Anaheim Hilton, with hundreds of rooms leading out to the various lanais, the huge astroturfed roof areas of the enormous 4-story garage.)
My father, who had never been to a Worldcon before, drove up from San Diego. He stayed with his sister, who lived in the area, but spent ten or twelve hours at the con every day, and when it was over, he'd become a fan who would attend another 25 cons in the next decade.
It had been a long time since I'd found more than four or five books I needed at any Worldcon, but L.A.Con II was a throwback to the Good Old Days. I must have bought 30 books, including one of the rarest: a copy of The Ship That Sailed To Mars. I beat my dear friend Frank Robinson to it by maybe ten seconds, and he didn't speak to me for the next two days.
The con had some special deal with Disneyland, and one day a bunch of us took advantage of it: Tony and Suford Lewis, Pat and Roger Sims, Carol and me, Fred Prophet, my Dad, and (I seem to remember) Banks Mebane. We had a great time, came back after dark, and played poker until dawn. Just like a real old-time Worldcon, so Roger assured us.
I remember that one of the restaurants Carol and I went to, a few miles away, was called the Hobbit. Despite the fact that I'm not a Tolkein fan, I became a Hobbit fan that night. We were also wined and dined by Tor, which had just become my new publisher, and New American Library, to whom I still owed some books; it was the first time I'd ever had so much at tention from publishers at a con, and it quite turned my head while filling my stomach.
Carol would get up to swim and exercise every morning. She later told me that the only pro or fan she ever saw by the pool before noon was Ed Bryant.
I wrote up the masquerade for Science Fiction Chronicle, and to thank my aunt for having us out for dinner one night, I brought her along. This was one of the last masquerades to feature nudity. My aunt turned red as a beet at the sight of the first couple of topless girls, and never viewed either science fiction or conventions in quite the same innocent way again. (The kicker: her daughter -- my cousin -- is a con-going fan.)
We had an Indian dinner with a bunch of NESFAns the next night, then walked back to catch the Hugo ceremony. When we got there the line was literally around the block. I couldn't understand why the Hugos had suddenly grown so popular, but I was pleased nonetheless. Then Tony Lewis pointed out that it was the line for the Star Wars Triple Feature, and that there was absolutely no line at the Hugo door. We walked in, and sure enough, the auditorium was perhaps 20% filled. Bob Bloch did his usual splendid job in what was to be the last time he would ever hand out Hugos at a Worldcon. I know there are those who think Isaac Asimov was our greatest toastmaster/public speaker, and some think it was Harlan Ellison, and a few lean toward Tony Boucher, but my vote goes to Bob Bloch. He was not only the best friend fandom ever had -- and my personal role model in that respect -- but he was also the wittiest entertainer we will probably ever encounter at a convention.
That night I went out onto the lanai with John Guidry. After awhile we found a couple of empty chairs and sat down to visit with Neil Rest, who was busy fantasizing about making a Worldcon bid for a cruise ship. Before long he had attracted a hell of a crowd, and by daylight hundreds of people were urging him to make it a real bid. John walked away thinking if there was so little serious support for any Central Zone cities that people actually would support a cruise ship, maybe it was time to put together a New Orleans bid. So that evening saw the birth of two bids: Nolacon II, which won the 1988 Worldcon; and the Boat, which came in second in a field of four.
# # # #
1989: NOREASCON THREE (Boston)
This Worldcon was too big even for Boston's Sheraton, which had hosted two prior ones. We spilled over into the Back Bay Hilton, the Marriott, and a couple of other hotels, which meant that every night we'd walk the circuit from one hotel to the next, trying to hit all the parties and make all the connections (and probably missing more than we made).
We were in the Back Bay Hilton, a delightfully quiet hotel, right across the street from the Sheraton. Every night a bunch of the Back Bay Hilton residents -- Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Barbara Delaplace, Carol, me, maybe ten or twelve others -- would gather a bunch of chairs in a circle and spend a few hours visiting/partying right there in the hotel's lobby.
I had lunch one day with Marty Greenberg (who is fast closing in on his one thousandth anthology). He asked what I was working on. I described Bully!, an alternate history novella featuring Teddy Roosevelt. Sometime during dessert he asked me if I had any ideas for selling our anthology. What anthology, I asked? Why, Alternate Presidents, he replied; you know, Teddy Roosevelt and all that. I didn't know we had an anthology, I said. If I sell it, he said, will you edit it? Secure in the knowledge that no one would be breaking down Marty's door to buy it, I agreed.
Marty ran into me less than three hours later, as I was coming off a panel. It's due in three months, he said. What is, I asked? Alternate Presidents, he relied. And sure enough, he had not only sold Alternate Presidents, but four other brands of Alternates, and about fifteen other anthologies, and lo and behold, I was in the anthology business for the next few years, like it or not.
This was the first year I was nominated for a Hugo, and -- as the cliché goes -- I truly was honored just to be nominated, because I knew that being nominated was as close as I was going to come to the Hugo. I was up against a tough field that included David Brin, and David Brin was as hard to beat on Labor Day in the 1980s as Harlan Ellison had been in the late 1960s and 1970s. So I was totally relaxed when we seated ourselves and waited for Fred Pohl to start reading off the winners.
I was speaking to George Alec Effinger, who was seated just in front of me, when Carol let out a scream and poked me and told me to go up on stage and pick up my Hugo. I calmly explained to her that she must have heard wrong, that everyone knew David Brin was going to win the Hugo. Tell him, George, said Carol -- but George, who is deaf in one ear and had his good ear turned to me, hadn't heard a thing. Carol kept jabbing me in the ribs and telling me I really and truly had won, and finally a bunch of pros who were seated nearby began telling me to go pick up my Hugo so Fred could get on to the next award.
So I walked up on stage, and took my Hugo, and stared at the microphone -- and for the first time in my life, I was speechless. I was still trying to adjust to the fact that I'd actually won. I hope you all saw that, because it'll be a cold day in hell before I'm ever speechless again. (The fact that I've always found something to say while winning more Hugos does not mean I've grown smug or complacent; it merely means I now know that it's possible for me to win, which was something I absolutely did not know at Noreascon Three.)
(Postscript: George heard well enough to run up on stage and pick up his Hugo for Best Novelette ...and later that night, Jack Chalker and I cornered him and wouldn't let him get away until he'd agreed to become the third author in our round-robin novel, The Red Tape War, which came out a couple of years later.)
I had promised Barry Malzberg to call him with the Hugo results, so went to my room the moment the ceremony was over and phoned him -- and left the Hugo on my dresser. The rocket ship is the same every year, but the base is different, and this base had a number of metal spheres on it. I think that simply because I didn't carry it around to the parties, mine was the only Hugo to make it home intact. The spheres fell off all the others. (I still remember Gardner Dozois going from party to party complaining that he'd lost his balls.)
The CFG suite was in the Marriott, where you had to fight your way through a huge Armenian reunion every night to reach the elevators. Nice suite, but a pain to get to.
The next day, at noon, the Worldcon had a 50th Anniversary Banquet. Isaac Asimov was the emcee, and about twenty of us had been selected ahead of time to describe our first Worldcon. I'd written a short speech, but when it was my turn the lights were so blinding that I literally could not see my hand in front of my face, so I spoke off the cuff and gave the written speech to Mike Glyer, who later published it in File 770.
The gist of it, a sentiment I've voiced many times, is that whoever said you can choose your friends but you can't choose your family was dead wrong. I've chosen my family, and I go to its reunion just about every Labor Day.
# # # #
1994: CONADIAN (Winnipeg, Canada)
This was not a convention I was looking forward to. The opposing bid, Louisville, had asked me to be their Toastmaster, and I had my suite atop the Galt House all picked out. Then Winnipeg won the closest election in recent years.
We chose to stay at the Holiday Inn, which was attached to the convention center. It might not have been the brightest idea we ever had, because while it made the days convenient, the nights were incredibly inconvenient. There was only one suite in the whole hotel -- the SFWA suite -- which meant we had to walk blocks away to hit any of the parties and visit any of our fannish friends. And it rained a lot. I usually spend 20 minutes in the SFWA suite during the course of an entire Worldcon; I found myself spending a few hours there almost every evening during Conadian.
Two good friends had had open-heart surgery during the same week that summer, and both were at Worldcon. Dick Spelman, who'd felt some chest pains when hurrying through an airport, went to his cardiologist, took a stress test, and found himself getting a quintuple bypass a week later. Jay Kay Klein had had a heart attack, and got his bypass after the fact.
The difference between the two was like night and day. Jay Kay is fine these days, but that summer he couldn't climb a short flight of stairs without terrible pain, and he appeared uncomfortable all weekend, while Dick was his old self, zipping around here and there with an abundance of energy. Moral: get the bypass before you damage the heart muscle, not after.
Bantam/Doubleday/Dell invited all its writers to a banquet on a boat Friday night. We found ourselves sitting with Gene and Rosemary Wolfe, who offered us a ride back to their hotel in their rented car. We walked into the lobby with them, prepared to hit some parties. Gene and Rosemary just wanted to go to their room and rest. Now, Rosemary has serious problems with her legs -- but the elevator Nazis had declared that everyone in the lobby would be expressed to the 21st (and top) floor, and could walk down to the party of their choice while the elevators zipped right back down for the next load. Gene explained Rosemary's problem. No one seemed to care, and the poor woman had to walk all the way down from the 21st floor to her room on the 6th. Suddenly the Holiday Inn didn't look so bad after all.
Strange thing happened with the Hugos. Only three short stories got enough nominations to make the ballot. One of them was mine. Then the Hugo administrators declared that for the evening of September 4 only, Connie Willis' novelette was a short story. It won. My story came in second, beating all the other short stories. I still don't understand exactly what happened, or why her short story was a novelette again on September 5. (I don't blame Connie, who deserves all her awards and more.)
I was also up for Best Editor. So was Kris Rusch, who was unable to attend and asked me to accept for her if she won. Bob Silverberg read off the five nominees, and then announced that Kris had won. I ran up to the stage to accept, and I could tell from the shocked look on Bob's face that he thought one of the losers had gone berserk and we were about to have a 'situation'. I wrestled the trophy away from him and began thanking people. My first thanks went to Kris' employer, Ed Ferman, and Bob relaxed noticeably. My pal Jack Nimersheim was up for the Campbell and lost, so except for Kris it wasn't an exceptionally successful night.
(I spent the next two days telling anyone who asked that I had no intention of sending Kris her Hugo, but that she could visit it whenever she wanted, providing she called first and left her clothes at the door. Then I ruined everything by sending it back to Oregon with Alan Newcomer.)
This was also the Worldcon where Alternate Worldcons first appeared. Dean Wesley Smith had shipped a couple of hundred copies to Winnipeg. They were sold out by Saturday, and by Sunday people were offering two and three times the cover price for it, despite the fact that they knew there'd be more available by the next weekend. It made a boy editor quietly proud.
# # # #
1996: L.A.CON III (Anaheim)
We flew in with Pat and Roger Sims on Monday, rented a car that was fine for four people and totally inadequate for four people and their luggage, and drove to the Anaheim Hilton. Along the way I broke my glasses frames, and had to get some new ones that afternoon. Then I ripped my canvas shoe, and had to go shoe-shopping in the evening. Just graceful, I guess.
On a previous trip, Carol and I had discovered the Gene Autry Museum of Western Americana. We had expected it to be a little storefront with some movie posters, which didn't deter Carol (who can name the horse of every cowboy and cowgirl ever to appear in a B movie). You can imagine our surprise when we found it was housed in a beautiful, brand-new $50 million building, and that it was truly a museum, perhaps the most fascinating one in the Los Angeles area -- at least to a couple of overgrown kids who grew up on John Wayne movies and still think Maverick was probably the best TV show of all time. We were dying to see it again, and Pat and Roger caught a little of our enthusiasm and joined us when we drove there on Tuesday. Debbie Oakes and Bill and Cokie Cavin followed us in another rental car, and Bill, who collects old guns, went back again the next day to finish looking at all the Colts and Winchesters and the like. Fabulous place.
Dick Spelman had found a Norwegian buffet two blocks away from the hotel, and we ate there with fannish friends the first couple of nights, since we knew we wouldn't be able to eat with them again until the con was over. My father, who was sharing a room with Fred Prophet, showed up Wednesday morning, and Laura, who had recently signed for her first fantasy novel with Tor, arrived Wednesday afternoon. We didn't see either of them until the evening, for Carol wanted to visit this incredibly upscale shopping mall -- I can't remember where it was; maybe half an hour from the hotel -- and we spent the afternoon there, she shopping, me gasping at the price-tags. (Want a pair of $400 slippers, or a $1,750 sports shirt? That's the place to go.)
James White, the Guest of Honor, had been one of my favorite writers since his first book more than three decades ago, and I was thrilled and honored when NESFA, which was publishing his Guest of Honor book, The White Papers, asked me to write the introduction to it. I'd met him very briefly -- for less than a minute, I'd guess -- at Magicon; I ran into him in the lobby late Wednesday afternoon, spent an hour or so talking with him...and kept running into him all weekend long. By Labor Day we'd become fast friends, and we've been corresponding ever since. A fine writer, and an even finer person.
We had dinner in the Hilton's upscale restaurant with Dean Smith and Kris Rusch -- we always have at least one meal with them at Worldcons -- and then we helped open up the CFG suite. Bill Cavin, who is the God-Emperor of CFG, hadn't been to the 1984 Worldcon, so he didn't realize that the fifth floor was the party floor. We had a beautiful suite on the sixth floor, and all the regulars came by, but a lot of people who never left the fifth floor and the lanais never knew we were there.
Meals were wonderful, calorie-laden, and filled with business. Amy Stout, who was bidding for Kirinyaga for del Rey (and eventually she got it) took us to breakfast. Anne Groell, who was editing the Widowmaker books, took us to lunch. Beth Meacham, my long-time editor at Tor, took us to lunch. Gardner Dozois took us to lunch. Marty Greenberg took us to breakfast. (I seem to think we sneaked in one breakfast with Laura and my father, but I could be mistaken.)
Anyway, that left the evenings for the Rich Folks. Andrew Rona, a vice president of Miramax, which had just made an offer for The Widowmaker, took us to dinner at the same upscale Italian restaurant that Kris and Dean had taken us to. The next night, Jean-Louis Rubin, president of Capella, which was producing Santiago, took us to the same restaurant. The next night Eleanor Wood, my agent, took us to the same restaurant. When Kia Jam and Tim Douglas, a producer and a special effects master who had done some preliminary work on Santiago and had optioned the Oracle trilogy, showed up Sunday and wanted to know the best restaurant in the hotel, we begged them to just get us a hamburger in the coffee ship; we simply couldn't face another $50-a-place 8,000 calorie meal.
I did my usual share of panels, readings, kaffeeklatsches, and so on, and finally got around to the autograph session. I sat next to Joe Haldeman, and at the next table were Melanie Rawn and Jennifer Roberson. The most unbelievable event of the year then transpired: I was still signing when the three of them were done. I'm sure it was a fluke -- I'd trade my royalty statements for any of theirs in a New York minute -- but it made my Worldcon.
Just as well, because I was up for two Hugos -- a novelette by myself, and a novella in collaboration with Susan Shwartz -- and lost both of them, despite having won lesser awards already with each. Our closest Hollywood associate, Ed Elbert -- he's got his fingers in five different Resnick projects and is the guy who secured our initial screenwriting assignments for Carol and me -- showed up for the Hugo ceremonies. When they were over, he took us all -- Carol, me, my Dad, and fellow loser Susan -- to the bar for brandy and condolences. Carol and I have known Ed for years, so we were still feeling a little disappointed over losing two more Hugos (yes, I've won a lot; but on the other hand, I've lost a lot more), but Susan had never sat in a bar drinking Remy Martin with a real Hollywood producer, and she got over losing in less time that it takes me to tell about it. (As I write these words, Ed just got back from Malaysia, where he was producing Fox's 1999 Christmas movie -- Anna and the King of Siam, starring Jodie Foster. He tells me that ever since he signed Foster, everyone in town is answering his calls -- which is how you tell whether you're up or down in Tinseltown.)
Bantam has this habit of taking its writers off the premises for a banquet once each Worldcon. This year we were given a private tour of the museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, and then caterers came in, set up tables, and served us an excellent meal right on the premises. David Gerrold later wrote a story for one of my anthologies explaining why he pushed me into a tar pit during the festivities.
Laura and I spent some time at a private Japanese party -- or at least, one that had written invitations -- and I renewed some old friendships there. Dick and Leah Smith presided at a nightly Australian party, and Boston and Philadelphia also gave very pleasant bid parties. Somewhere along the way Rich Lynch cornered me and got me to promise to write an article, which appeared as "The Literature of Fandom" in Mimosa 21.
On closing night, we went to a party at Scott and Jane Dennis' suite across the street at the Marriott, which was very fannish, and after all those editors and all those Hollywood moguls, it was the most enjoyable time we had at the entire con.
I guess you just can't take the fan out of the boy...
All illustrations by Joe Mayhew