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Worldcon

Just to head this off at the pass: I am not going to the worldcon this year. It's in San Antonio, Texas (not my favourite part of the United States) in early September (far too hot and unpleasant for me). Also, I am busy extruding fiction—I don't need the interruption.

(Yes, I am remiss at blogging. Yes, it's because I'm writing another novel. Another damn thick book! Always scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh, Mr Gibbon?)

47 Comments

1:

Can you reveal what it is you a working on at the moment or is it too early?

2:

Sure: I'm nearly two-thirds of the way through "Dark State", the seventh (or fourth, if you're in the UK) Merchant Princes novel. It's the first third of a trilogy, by which I mean a Neal Stephenson sized doorstep with two dotted lines down the spine (so that it can be split and sold as three books).

It starts circa 2020, 17 years after the events of "The Trade of Queens" (aka "The Revolution Trade" in the UK). Think today's panopticon surveillance state shenanigans are bad? Imagine how much worse they'd be in President Rumsfeld's post-nuclear post-Clan time line ... and how much worse they'll get once the ~USA runs into another high-tech time line.

(The more NSA/Snowden leaks come out, the more skin-crawlingly apposite this book feels. If the first series started off as lightweight escapism, this one's feeling like a cynical political thriller ...)

3:

But we'll be seeing you at Loncon hopefully!

4:

I will not be at Loncon if I die first, or am hospitalized. Otherwise, that's a fair bet.

I turn 50 about 8 weeks after Loncon. So I am planning to throw a party ...

5:

Extruding fiction! What a wonderful image! You are like a 3D creative printer.

Will the Merchant Princes book have anything about the New Britain timeline, or will it all be ~USA stuff?

6:

There goes my ambition of getting my mint condition Fiend Folio signed by you. ("Stross is important! He invented both the Githyanki AND the Sladi!")

It's not that hot and unpleasant. Texas has had an unusually cool summer this year, with temperatures only popping above 100F (37.8C) for a handful of days in August. On the other hand I'd much rather buy more books from you than to see you drop dead from excessive traveling.

7:

I thought about having a Big 50 birthday party, but in the end I couldn't hoard enough spoons. My fortieth was pretty good, though.

8:

You are not the only one not doing Texas: I was at a housewarming last Saturday, and I'd been hoping that one of the attendees could hand carry my 2015 Site Selection ballot for me (since I'd been suitably remiss not to get around to it earlier).

One person. One person was going, and he wasn't going to get to the venue till late this coming Saturday night, after in-person votes were closed.

We're talking a group of people bedded deep into the British SF Fandom. We're talking a couple of shiny rockets on a shelf in the study. We're talking people who have run Worldcons. We're talking nominees for two different categories in this year's Hugos. Nope.

I think this is going to be very much a Worldcon for the North Americans. Those from there who don't go every time will be going, because they're not going to haul their way out over the Atlantic to here next year. And those over this side are already reserving their energies for LonCon3.

I'm hoping enough have voted for Helsinki, though I suspect a US dominated con crowd will tend to vote to have it back in the US after a year abroad.

9:

Both and more, although what happened to New Britain may surprise you.

10:

with temperatures only popping above 100F (37.8C) for a handful of days in August

Our Charlie starts going soft round the edges at 70F, melting at 80F or so. You telling him that it doesn't too often get another 20F above that is sort of pointless.

Yes, there's a reason he lives in Scotland.

11:

bellinghman @ 8
i> think this is going to be very much a Worldcon for the North Americans
I'm not sure the take will beevn that lage, given where it is, the weather & (some of) the locals.
I just hope none of the foreigners get arrested, or worse, ons paranoid local suspicion that they are "illegals" - or is that Arizona?

12:

It's Arizona, Greg. And the backlash is growing louder -- among the local farmers, whose source of itinerant crop-pickers had just dried up, thanks to the racists.

I will confess to being prejudiced: some parts of the USA scare the crap out of me. Notably Texas and the Bible Belt. Horrifyingly alien and unpleasant cultural values, handguns in every pocket, and a police armed incident response time measured in hours? Oh, and uninhabitable without a car. Will Not Willingly Visit, sorry.

13:

I'd pretty much consider Texas as the western stronghold of the Bible Belt.

I've spent time in Charlotte and Memphis, and I'll not willingly go back. There's something rather unpleasant about a population that considers me part of the enemy (were I to let them be aware) rather than just another stranger to be fleeced.

14:

Just to be perfectly clear:

I have met many Texans who were perfectly splendid people. (And not the clinically insane fanatical whack-jobs the media likes to parade before us.)

Nevertheless I have visited bits of Texas and South Carolina and Kentucky (and even Florida, although I'm not sure it counts) and ... overall, I'd rather visit Iran.

15:

bellinhman
Yes
Atheists are more dangerous than muslims .....
[ Because they force you to switch your brain to "ON", presumably! ]

16:

Parts of Teas are quite civilized.

Fort Worth, El Paso and Austin are all reliably democratic Congressional districts, because the Republicans have stuffed as many "Democratic" leaning voters as possible in them, part of the Gerrymandering Process.

A regular subject of cocktail speculation in Democratic circles is that Texas will flip (back) to the (Ebil, SOCIALIST) Democrats, er, hopefully, real soon now. One reason the Republicans are dragging their feet on Immigration Reform.

And consider this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/us/bicycling-for-thinner-texans-and-new-businesses.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Eventually the blinders will come off.

Or maybe, being Texans, they will Jump Around screaming how they have seen the light?

And anyone who has the opportunity really should visit the Alamo.

17:

The Alamo? Wasn't that the site of a battle where a bunch of white anglophone pro-slavery settlers rebelled against the lawful government of their republic?

18:

I'd much rather visit the Alamo Drafthouse.
Great place to have a nice dinner and a beer to a good movie:-)

19:

Would this be the Ebil Liberal democrats (one nation torys) or the Ebil Blue Dog ones.

20:

Since you mention Arizona, if you need a minor villain in the American Southwest, you might want to model him on Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Claims he's America's toughest Sheriff -- not because he's done anything brave or difficult, but because he's proud of how he mistreats his prisoners (Amnesty International takes a dimmer view). He has imprisoned journalists who criticize him and launched corruption investigations against judges who rule against him. Bit of a racist too. Code name WARLORD.

21:

I am aware of Arpaio. I consider him to be a perfect model of why elected office and law enforcement don't mix.

22:

and even Florida, although I'm not sure it counts

If you mean Miami/Orlando, then no. The rest of the state (more or less) likes to see itself as The South. I'm originally from Jacksonville, there are reasons I don't voluntarily go back. It's been several years since I have been, and that was only because my father bought the ticket. He used to teach at a school named after Jefferson Davis, president of the CSA.

23:

Florida kind of counts - the Panhandle and northern Florida are part of the Bible Belt, culturally speaking; south of Orlando or so, it's somewhat more sane.

24:

I was going to say Austin in Texas is meant to be okay. It's the home of Steve Jackson Games famous for having the secret service raid them, amongst other things, and winning the court battle too. Only ever been to Tampa, Florida, which is close to Canaveral; the reason I went.

TBH there are parts of Britain that you don't really want to visit because of small minded racists, homophobes and general unpleasant attitudes towards anyone who is not one of the pack.

25:

What? Houston doesn't count?
Then again, my calibration might be off, you see, I moved here from Mississippi.

26:

For certain values of 'somewhat'.

I'm not sure whether to be more boggled that a 100 metre skyscraper funded by religious telethons was started there, or reassured that it's still not finished.

(For those not familiar with the Majesty Building, aka. the I-4 Eyesore, Google™ is your friend.)

27:

Ha! Kind of like my comments about why folks that are ostensibly patriots venerating the Confederate flag, which was raised in treason and rebellion.

Pity I couldn't have tapped that cognitive dissonance for power.

28:

Any state with this for PR has to work hard for 'sane'.

29:

If you really want to understand the US, and this is the sort of book that is actually kind of useful for developing alternate history US's (though it's a bit late for the world building, I suppose), the book American Nations by Colin Woodard cannot be recommended too highly, as it covers the history of the eleven nations that compose the United States.

For those of you wondering, yes, we're not a single nation. We are a single state, in the classical sense of a nation-state. The fact we use the term nation-state is because nation and state have two different political meanings. By that definition, we are a single state composed of about eleven nations.

30:

Of course it's not finished. If they ever finish it, they'll have to stop asking for money to help with the building project. (OK, that sort are never short of other things to insist they need cash for, but a visible project people can think they're contributing towards does seem to encourage larger donations.)

31:

Wow. I hadn't heard of the Majesty Building. I love it when "Christian Charity" goes to such worthwhile projects. It wouldn't be surprised if my paternal grandmother sent money, I used to think of her as a TV Christian. She didn't go to church (that I ever saw, which isn't saying much), but every Sunday morning would tune into Oral Roberts, Jerry Falwell, and such.

A few years ago, out of curiousity, I went to a "Night to Honor Israel" event held by the Christians United For Israel, a certain Nutbar's group. It included performers attempting to sing in Hebrew, with their hands waving in the air, the lead singer, holding a microphone, only had one hand free to wave, resembling a particular salute. Then there were the banner bearers parading up the aisles, the banners had symbols of the 12 tribes but you can imagine what that resembled. I attended as part of the local Jewish community invited to be "Honored", I can safely say we were all pretty creeped out by it.

And, of course, it turned out to be a fundraiser. What were they raising money for? A hospital, or some other worthy project. Nope, it was to build a playground in an illegal West Bank settlement. Fantastic.

32:

> Parts of Teas are quite civilized.

Well, kinda. Getting there.

> Fort Worth, El Paso and Austin are all reliably democratic Congressional districts, because the Republicans have stuffed as many "Democratic" leaning voters as possible in them, part of the Gerrymandering Process.

Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and El Paso (but not Ft. Worth) voted for Obama in both 2008 and 2012. As for San Antonio, the demographics (which are reflected in the city government and police department) kind of tone down racial profiling http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Antonio#2010 ; http://www.sanantonio.gov/council .

33:

No. The Texians were not revolting against a republic.

The ruler of Mexico at the time of the Texas Revolution was Antonio López de Santa Anna, one of the earliest Latin American military dictators. Immediately before the Texas Revolution, Santa Anna had reversed the liberal reforms of the existing government, dissolved the Mexican congress, dismissed the Supreme Court of Justice, instituted a constitution centralizing power, and gave himself the authority to appoint governors and legislatures for the states of Mexico.

The good news, is that the Mexico used Santa Anna's defeat and capture by the Texian forces to kick him out of office.

34:

You have my vote for the writing over blogging. Not that I don't love the blogging :) However I just finished listening to The Apocalypse Codex and Loved it :) Was worth any blogging you missed while writing it.

Thank you for attending Swancon this year. I managed to get a pass out from my other half to attend, we have 2 kids under the age of 3. It was a trade off for a solo holiday with her sister to the barrier reef. Her sister has been cancer free for 5 years.

I went to Aussiecon for my 40th. It was also my first con. I hope New Zealand wins the bid for 2020, as it will coincide with my 50th. My partner has NZ as a must visit place on her list, so will be easy to sell.

35:

@ 24
Err ... be very careful with that statement.
I assume you meant places like Moor Park (just NW of London) famous for its golf-club, which tells you all you really don't want to know (in England - golf is different in Scotland)
However, there are other racist, homophobe places ... like a road about 2 miles from here, where women walking past have been told to cover up & people carrying drinks-bottles threatened ... because the local thug-pack have certain religious views.
It doesn't matter where it is, it's unnacceptable, aywhere, aytime, anyplace

36:

The REALLY good news for slaveowners like Sam Houston and co. was the reintroduction of slavery into the territories formerly controlled by Mexico and the real reason they rebelled against Santa Anna (and later, of course against the tyrant Lincoln although it didn't work out quite as well for them that time).

37:

This makes me sad.

Come to SA! I happen to live here and it would be super-convenient.

38:

Multiple Mexican states rebelled against Santa Anna. Texas, along with the Republic of Yucatán, were the only ones to successfully win their independence.

Sam Houston was a slave owner, but he didn't believe that the preservation or expansion of slavery was a just cause for revolution. He opposed Texas secession from the United States before the Civil War, and was ultimately removed from office as Governor of Texas for refusing to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy.

39:

Thought I'd avoid the Texas heat (which I remembered from NASFIC 1985 LoneStarCon 1 in high-tech Austin, on the way back for a wonderful Aussiecon I). So we've had a "once in a century" record humid heatwave in Southern California, expected to be 105 F (40.6 C) in Pasadena this coming week.

First time I told one of my brothers that I extruded fiction, he said: "Is it rude to extrude? Or is it merely crude?"

Hope to see you in London...

40:

For those wondering where the WorldCon after next (i.e. 2015) will be, particularly those hoping it might be in Helsinki, sadly that was not to be.

The 73rd World SF Convention will be in Spokane, Washington State, USA. Upside - it should be cooler than San Antonia. Downside, well, I shall be polite and just bite my tongue.

In other news, a bid to hold one in Dublin in 2019 was revealed. Yes, Irish fandom is getting ambitions.

A few years ago, this would have been unthinkable - Irish SF fandom was near to moribund. The 2007 Octocon (the Irish national SF convention) was pathetic, only a few dozen people attending[1]. Happily, there seems to have been some new blood who saw the way the UK Eastercon woke back up, and realised it was time for a rethink. This bid looks to be getting good support from the British side too, and I suspect that it'll be a suitable substitute for those wanting another English or Scottish Worldcon after LonCon3. (So what about a Welsh one?)

[1] I think there were 64 members of that Octocon. 8 of us happened to collide in a square on Miyajima, an island off the coast of Hiroshima, some while after and a few hundred miles from the Yokohama Worldcon. So that 64 contained a high proportion of people who'll go a long way for a convention and don't mind merely crossing the British Isles or Europe as a whole.

41:

It's quite fitting that the attendance of Octocon be a multiple of eight.

42:

The 73rd World SF Convention will be in Spokane, Washington State, USA. Upside - it should be cooler than San Antonia. Downside, well, I shall be polite and just bite my tongue.

Downside for me is that, from where I live, Spokane is roughly equidistant with, and harder to get to than, Hiroshima. (Minimum of three flights, over 20 hours door-to-door, for a not terribly exciting city[*].)


[*] Hiroshima is famous for one reason, a reason its older inhabitants would probably rather it wasn't famous for. Spokane doesn't even have that excuse for visiting.

43:

If you do visit Hiroshima, then I'd recommend taking the ferry across to Miyajima for the day. It's stunning, from the great Torii in the sea to the 'floating shrine'. And the view from the peak of Mount Misen is quite sensational.

(The walk back down to sea level from there is rather fine, but nearly killed us. 535 vertical metres takes quite a while.)

44:

Problem with Miyajima is it's full of bloody tourists of the foreign (long-nosed round-eyed) variety. The Torii Gate isn't so spectacular when it's surrounded by sunburned Swedes in shorts and flip-flops posing for pictures with their friends. Same with Kyoto, of course. The only place I've seen more westerners in Japan is in Yokosuka which has a giant US Naval base attached to it.

A must-see in Hiroshima is the Atom Bomb memorial marker locating the hypocenter, the point directly under the explosion of Little Boy. You can't miss it, it's not far from the Peace Park in a sidestreet right next to a parking garage, only 200 yen for 30 minutes.

If you're in the Hiroshima area you should visit Kure just down the coast and go see the 1:10th scale model of the battleship Yamato in the Yamato museum next to the railway station. You can buy model kits of the Enola Gay there too.

45:

Helsinki was ahead on the first ballot, and was only edged out by 30 votes after the Orlando second preferences were added in.

Spokane looks kinda interesting (it was my second choice, never exercised), but does seem to be a can't get there quickly from anywhere special. The trick is probably to fly to Seattle and stop over, with a separate return flight (saving 300 bucks) from Seattle to Spokane. Or, in the spirit of adventure, take the Empire Builder express from Chicago, travelling for days across the prairie and the majestic mountains etc etc, arriving at midnight. We'll see.

San Antonio was much as I remembered from LoneStar2. Hot on the outside and bloody cold on the inside. This time I knew to bring a sweater.

46:

Downside for me is that, from where I live, Spokane is roughly equidistant with, and harder to get to than, Hiroshima. (Minimum of three flights, over 20 hours door-to-door, for a not terribly exciting city[*].)

I may never have mentioned this before, but I lived near Spokane for several years, in the equally boring city of Yakima. There will be one really nice convention going on. Other than that? There's no reason to go to Spokane. To illustrate, the two cities are 202 miles (325km) apart - but Yakima and Spokane are considered 'close.' This should illustrate how much empty nothingness is in the neighborhood.

47:

This has been announced in a number of places, but for those who may not have heard the sad news: the co-chair of the winning bid has died. I would expect this to cause a certain amount of disorganisation at the very moment that the con committee needs to be getting that new website in place and so on, so anyone who's wondering what's going on, that's the reason.

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