I am indeed at this year’s World Science Fiction Convention in Reno — after having missed the past two years’ Worldcons — though I am not going to try to blog about what I do at the con every day, as I have for many past conventions. Just a few comments for now.
I drove here, to Reno, from Los Angeles, a 450 mile trip through mostly very scenic countryside, along the eastern Sierra Nevada, past Mt Whitney and Mammoth Lakes and Mono Lake. I was stalled for 1/2 hour by a freeway wreck on Route 14, all lanes stopped for 45 minutes, got caught in a prototypical small town speed trap in Lee Vining (despite my scrupulous attention to such matters) — I was let off with a warning about speed, but a ticket for not having a front license plate — and passed a huge brush fire south of Carson City, before entering the elongated suburban sprawl of Carson City on its way up to Reno. In a sad sense all American cities seem to be the same, these days of the early 21st century; all populated by the same national chains of fast food restaurants and retail outlets.
The convention facility is huge, the main hall containing the dealers’ room, art show, and fan lounge, the size of an airplane hangar. The Atlantis Hotel adjacent to it is a tad bizarre, a full-blown Nevada casino, with a smoke-filled room of slot machines and gambling tables on the main floor — you can’t enter or exit the hotel without passing through this noxious zone — populated by the usual sad assembly of committed gamblers, smoking their cigarettes and drinking their drinks and pushing their quarters into their slot machines (even at 7:30 this morning, when I was looking for breakfast). That crowd and the convention crowd are like two contemporaneous cities occupying the same space…
I was on two panels today, one about the ‘necessity of reviewers’, whose main attraction was panelist Lev Grossman, and one about the past and future of Locus, which drew a crowd of about two dozen. (I’m on one more panel Saturday, about online vs print magazines.)
I dipped in to several other panels/presentations, as usual. The dealers’ room is admirably dominated by book dealers. The art show has a spectacular corner of artworks owned by a private collector, featuring Richard Powers and Kelly Freas and Paul Lehr and Chesley Bonestell and many others, worth seeing, though the main show of artworks for sale is of course nowhere near as impressive.
And it’s hot here, in the 90s during the day. But cooling off at night.