Orycon 1998

Note -- As usual, keep in mind that this fanzine was created for my apa, SFPA, and contains possibly boring personal details

I rode in style to Orycon: Reno Air miraculously sent mass-mail free first class upgrades about a week after I'd bought my ticket. Ah, those warm facial towels :-> The hotel shuttle ride was livened up by the presence of Allen Baum and Donya White, and Mary Kay Kare: all of us from the Bay Area but arriving on different flights from different airlines!

Friday, November 13

I hastily checked in and then went off to the Green Room to prepare for my 11 a.m. panel, "Turkey Readings: It Came From the Slush Pile." I'd written the committee in advance to make sure that just because my bio said I was an editor they didn't think I was the kind of editor who might actually read slush as part of my job responsibilities, and thus be able to supply slush of my own for the panel. While I had gotten a response back from the committee, it had been neither enlightening nor comforting, it said "Don't worry, we have room"?

Turned out that infamous slush writer Lionel Fanthorpe had been scheduled to attend and we were originally going to take turns reading his deathless prose. However, as it happened, his television show was scheduled to shoot in, believe it or not, Turkey! Luckily, Patty Wells rescued us by bringing slush from home: the DSC favorite Galaxy 666, Bugs (by a Fanthorpe pseudonym), and the infamous apa classic Eye of Argon, which I got assigned, being a Bay Area native.

After the panel, I hung out in the Green Room and had a late lunch with con chair John Lorentz, his wife Ruth Sachter, and President of the local SF club Page Fuller. We had a cheery but inept waitress, which meant we had a little more time to talk than we had expected, a good thing because a bunch of people had business to discuss with the high-powered folks at the table. Then it was off to the Fan Lounge, where I finally found returning GoH Dave Langford, the famous British Holder of More Hugos Than Anyone Else in The World. He told me he now regretted having already turned in his vote for me for DUFF without waiting to see what bribe I might be willing to give him! We then proceeded to his 5 p.m. panel on Fanzines of the 70s, conveniently scheduled in the adjoining room to the Fan Lounge. It was largely taken from an article he'd done for Geri Sullivan's fanzine Idea, which I had read, but it was much more amusing hearing him deliver it in person.

The rehearsal for Opening Ceremonies was a little more chaotic than usual, but they were confident of the excellent ad-lib skills of Portland fan David Levine and he came through. This year's theme was an incompetent magician and a magic box that kept disgorging guests of honor. Following was a joint birthday party in the Fan Lounge following for Amy Thomson and husband Edd Vick. Amy pointed out that the previous year at Westercon had been an 80th birthday party for Art Widner, this year both she and her husband were turning 40, so next year the Spokane Westercon would have to find four 20-year-olds who were celebrating birthdays.

Saturday, November 14

I had thought breakfast would consist of a leftover delicious cookie from the Doubletree Hotel's civilized policy of handing warm chocolate chip nut cookies at check-in. However, it was supplemented by an early morning raid on the Fan Lounge, which was featuring bagels, cream cheese and nova smoked salmon.

This also meant I didn't have to go very far for my 11 a.m. panel on apas, scheduled for the Fan Lounge. As expected, it didn't draw very well: only two other people (Bruce Pelz and Janie Lamb) besides the three of us on the panel (David Bratman and Elinor Busby). However, we had a pleasant conversation that was gradually joined by others from the Fan Lounge, as it was hard to tell the difference between a discussion on apas and the other general discussions regularly happening in there.

Local fan Sam Butler had volunteered to cover me for lunch so we grabbed a quick bite in the hotel coffee shop and I got to hear about his genealogical research, which was really interesting. Then it was off to my 1 p.m. panel on Electronic Fanac. I've done this panel a couple of times before and this one I'm afraid mostly went in the direction of an audience mostly already knowledgeable on the subject trading arcane tips on reporting spammers and debating which was worse: the AOL invasion of Usenet or the annual college fall influx. We did manage to give out a few tips but that unfortunately wasn't the main thrust of the conversation.

In the audience was a friend from my synagogue was attending his first non-comics con, so we went off to the dealers room and art show. The former was small but featured a goodly number of book dealers. (It wasn't until Sunday when I was about to leave that someone mentioned that she always tries to buy her books in Portland because they have no sales tax, an angle I hadn't thought of. *sigh*) The Wrigley-Cross book booth had some droolable selections for the Susan Petrey auction later that day, which unfortunately I couldn't attend due to back-to-back panels. The art show was very nice for a con of this size and had some interesting bronze pieces but some of the art was ridiculously overpriced.

I then left Harold to go to the GoH interview of Dave Langford by Geri Sullivan, a Minneapolis fan tastefully attired in a T-shirt saying "Our governor can beat up your governor--The State of Minnesota." Geri managed to elicit some amusing anecdotes out of Dave, and alluded to some negative quotes from a fanzine relating to Dave's Hugo-winning zine Ansible that had my jaw dropping so hard that Geri noticed my reaction from the dais!

I went straight from there to my 4 p.m. panel. The minute I'd seen the topic I'd wondered how in the world we'd manage to talk for 50 minutes on the subject of "How to Steal Tech Support from Your Friends." Sure enough, after some feeble jokes from the panel and the audience, the verdict came down to "flattery or bribery" and on my suggestion we adjourned after 30 minutes. This gave me a break that enabled me to check the football scores on the television in the bar (as expected, Florida had beaten Vanderbilt) before heading off to my next panel.

This 5 p.m. panel was called "Microsoft Conspiracy Theories: What Bill Gates is Really Up To." Those of you who actually read through my con reports may recall that I did a similar panel at Westercon just a few months ago. The panels had some similarities in that they were both wall-to-wall people (literally) and that even though I wasn't supposed to be the moderator I ended up moderating anyway. (And got some compliments on it this time, which was flattering.) The Westercon session had mainly ended up talking about ethics; this one focused more on antitrust issues and the quality of Microsoft software.

After the panel I hurried up to my room to change before heading off to dinner in the rain with Ben, Geri, and Seattle fanzine fans Suzle Tompkins and Jerry Kaufman. (The latter joked that he hoped he wouldn't get into trouble with Lise Eisenberg, as they were a set of her nominators and she was attending the convention from New York.) Dinner at a local seafood restaurant was very pleasant, both the company and the food.

Back at the hotel, we went back to the Fan Lounge to hang out for the evening. We were treated to a demo of the innards of the Fan Island Elder MOO by one of its creators, Lucy Huntzinger, and I showed off my baby computer to Alan Rosenthal, who'd asked for a demo. Unfortunately, dinner had its revenge and I had to stop partygoing earlier than usual.

Sunday, November 15

The next morning, after packing and checking out, I helped "liberate" some promised cream cheese from the hospitality suite to the Fan Lounge for the morning nova-and-bagel treat. Dave was scheduled for an 11 a.m. panel called "Fantasy Encyclopedia Quiz" but no one, including him, had any idea what the quiz was supposed to be about, so it turned into an enjoyable discussion about the trials and tribulations of helping to put the award-winning Fantasy Encyclopedia together, including gaffes found too late to be fixed and temperamental contributors. There were a number of missing entries and necessary corrections so they actually have a web site where these can be found. They also got the institutional seal of approval: Harlan Ellison threatened to sue them over his entry!

LA fans Ulrika and Hal O'Brien, NY fan Vicki Rosenzweig (another Lise supporter who made a joke about being seen with me) and a fan whose badge only showed a badge name so I never learned his real name, zipped off to a quick brunch at Denny's before scurrying back for Dave's presentation of Thog's Masterclass: Live! Thog's Masterclass is a feature of Ansible in which Thog, an alter ego, collects howlers from books, which he divided for the purposes of this talk into scientifically inaccurate, romance classics, anatomical oddities, and so on. (Dave says there may be a Thog book coming out and one of the proposed chapters is "The Purple Prose of Cairo.") He originally used to find the samples himself but now he says he just sits back and other people send them to him. Busting a gut laughing was a great way to exit the convention, which I had to do to catch the shuttle to the airport.

As usual, I had a great time at Orycon: somehow they manage, despite being the size of many regionals, to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere at which everyone feels like they're enjoying a group convention experience. This year also featured an exceptionally hospitable Fan Lounge. I'm only sorry I forgot about "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?" until it was too late!

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