(1) Monday morning programming at Worldcons is great. It’s worth waking up to attend. I did, for a change, attending back-to-back presentations about orbiting space telescopes, fascinating lectures and visuals, especially from the less-publicized ones that detect energy (microwave, infrared) or the signatures of elements (carbon monoxide), helping to discover more about the formation and structure of the universe.
(2) Next time I organize a con program I want to tap into children’s programming for some of thir cool ideas. James Bacon worked with ChiKidz and when I went there to find him for coffee, I arrived at the same time as members of the NIU quidditch team who came to set up a demo for the kids. Plenty of fans would like to see that. It was likely the most exciting thing happening at that hour.
(3) Chicon had a good idea, posting printouts of the Hugo voting stats just outside the ballroom. A lot of people looked them over. Sure the info is online by then but how many are aware of that or equipped to access it?
(4) Speaking of Hugo stats, there were a lot of wire-to-wire winners who led every round. Even in the dramatic categories — there was no doubt which Doctor Who episode was getting the Hugo despite the multiplicity of choices. Best Fan Artist supplied the only come-from-behind victory, Maurine Starkey picking up critical support in the last round of the runoff.
(5) Jim C. Hines ran away and hid in the Best Fan Writer category while the new Best Fancast Hugo went to a crew of five, most of them significant pro writers. Len Bailes’ quote “Prodom is the new fandom” becomes ever more true.
(6) John Scalzi launched the Hugo Ceremony with an incisive bit of comedy, analyzing how the psychological experience of being a nominee parallels the well-known five stages of dying. Very true.
All of his material was good, no duds at all. His early pacing was right on target and I would have liked for him to stay with it. I felt like there was less and less of his presence as the evening wore on and at several points he joked about getting us away to the parties or off to drinking as if he felt pressed for time.
It is a kind of Chicago Worldcon tradition to make the trains run on time — twice here TM Marta Randall turned in hundred-minute ceremonies. But Scalzi hasn’t been around long enough to have witnessed that, so unless someone layed that charge on him it must reflect his sense of the way things ought to run. Now as a member of the audience sitting through categories with five winners giving acceptance speeches, and others where people caught up in the emotion of the moment thank their entire geneologies, I need the toastmaster to buy me a little breathing space before tackling the next dramatic peak. Generally, Scalzi proved to be in his own way the heir to Silverberg, Resnick, Shaw and Willis. I hope future committees bring him back as TM.