By Chris M. Barkley:
- I have been hearing that these reports are being widely read favorably reviewed. It’s been quite a while since I have tried to write, much less report, on a daily basis. For this, I am quite grateful.
- For those of you wondering, I usually get up before my partner and flatmates to write. I make a scalding cup of tea, fire up the tablet and start pecking away. It’s a little strange for me to have the BBC News playing in the background instead of my usual source, National Public Radio but I have no complaints whatsoever.
- I also try to keep up with my beloved Cincinnati Reds while I’m here. My birthday is on the 25th and all I want is for the team to break even at the .500 mark. Also, Astrides Aquino IS REAL. If you’re a baseball fan, google him. You will be astounded.
- Many people have complained about the lines for events and the size of the convention center. Well, this may not be the Worldcon we want but it is the Worldcon we have. I have it on good authority that these restrictions were imposed by those who run the center, not the Dublin Worldcon Committee. My advice to attendees is to embrace to moment and enjoy the experience of a Worldcon in this marvelous country.
- When I made the decision to do a daily report, I quickly became aware that I could not report on EVERYTHING going on, especially panels. So what I am attempting to do is give you, the reader, an exciting personal overview of what’s happening here and I hope it inspires those of you who haven’t been to a Worldcon the incentive to attend and get active in fandom.
- I am quite certain I am the only one here with a Justice League animated series cap. At least, pretty sure.
- As of this post, Carole’s wallet has not been found. We remain hopeful that it will turn up before the convention ends.
- Please, please, PLEASE, do not send me any saltpeter!!!!! I’m good. OK?
The day began with the Main Session of the Business Meeting. I won’t bore you with the details of everything that was argued over (and if you ARE interested, a video of all of the sessions will be posted on YouTube after the convention).
I do want to report on one exception: one of the items passed on from yesterday was a recommendation from the Hugo Study Committee for a minor change in the Graphic Story category changing the title to Best Graphic Story or Comic, clarifying and expanding for nominators what might be honored in the category.
There were objections from some of the BM members that the change really was superfluous and not needed. As one of the originators of the category, I spoke at the podium to state that speaking for myself, it was always my intention to include “Comics” in the title.
Rene Walling, the 2009 Worldcon Chair was highly involved in the establishment of the category and when there was a fierce debate about what the title should be, offered the current title.
It was ironic that he rose to object to the name change because it did not include manga. Mr. Walling, who was quite involved in the establishment of the category and had persuaded his committee to invoke the Special Award clause in the WSFS Constitution to award a Hugo as a test at the Montreal Worldcon in 2009.
Mr. Walling made a compelling argument (including statistics and chart) to include manga but his proposed amendment was defeated. When asked, Mr. Walling was undeterred and told me that he hoped to re-introduce the measure at the New Zealand Worldcon next year.
Mark Richards sense of the meeting proposal to advise future Hugo Administrators to give translators of a winning work with a Hugo was introduced at the meeting and will be taken up in the Sunday Session, time permitting.
After two and a half hours of making sausage (which is available online on YouTube), the Business Meeting mercifully adjourned. Juli and I were hungry and spotted a very nice Asian fusion place across from the Spenser Hotel called J2. Juli had the chicken stir fry udon and I had the seafood udon soup, with a side of calamari rings.
We were seated across from two writers from America, Troy Carrol Bucher, a retired thirty-year veteran of the US Army and Nick Martell, a young writer from Pennsylvania. Both have new novels coming out this month; Mr. Bucher’s second novel is called Lies of Descent, an epic fantasy novel from DAW Books and Mr. Martell’s debut book is The Kingdom of Liars, is being published by Saga Press. Both men were excited to be in Dublin for the Worldcon and were very engaging lunch companions.
On our way back to the convention center, we stopped at the intersection right before a drawbridge. Waiting to cross on the other side the street was super fan Mike Wilmoth. At this point, I want to point out that the city of Dublin has clearly marked the streets with dire warning to LOOK BOTH WAYS and LOOK TO THE LEFT and RIGHT. These warns are not for the natives but the tourists, many of them Worldcon members who are not natives, so they are not placed in dire straits by the unfamiliar surroundings. Mr. Willmoth bravely glanced in all directions and upon seeing nothing in the immediate vicinity, then boldly strode across the street just before the light turned green for the rest of us.
“Way to go, Mike! That’s confidence, jaywalking in a foreign country! WELL DONE, SIR, BRAVO”, I shouted at him. He accordingly cracked up. I would have high-fived him but the crowd was too big.
My three o’clock panel was not exactly a panel but more of a meetup. The official title was The People of African Descent Meetup. It was moderated by UK based fan Russell A. Smith and the Dr. Wanda Kurtku of the San Francisco Bay Area. I had some difficulty getting to Wicklow Room Five because the crowd minders had declared the corridor leading to the room as filled to capacity. The only way I got through was by frantically waving my Program Participant ribbon.
I neglected to count the number of people there but I would guesstimate that there were at least twenty people of color all gathered together.
Now, I have to admit that I have never been a fan of the concept of “safe spaces” mainly because I’m almost sixty-three years old and toughed it out this far without it and getting quite curmudgeonly lately (but only because I’ve been hanging out with David Gerrold too much, but I digress…)
But now, having experienced a “safe space”, in the company of such fine, eloquent and intelligent people, I finally get it.
This is not an act of self segregation, as I had originally thought and feared since I had first heard of the concept, but one of representations, mutual acknowledgement and empowerment.
Mr. Smith pointed out an obvious example of how people of color acknowledge each other in public, by eye contact, a knowing smile and a nod of the head in passing. Not only has this happened to me on many occasions in the United States throughout my life, but many times here during my stay in Ireland.
We arranged our chairs into a circle, introduced ourselves and gave a capsule history of the way we fell in love with fantasy and sf or how we found our way into fandom and conventions.
My friend Maria from Baltimore and I were two of the oldest fans in the room, she went to her first convention in 1974 and I in the summer of 1976. I casually dropped that the Dublin Worldcon was my 29th, a factoid that drew a few gasps in the crowd.
We had people representing Europe, Africa, the US and the Caribbean island nations. Also among us was one of the 2019 Hugo nominated editors of FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction (whose name I unfortunately forgot to record). Several people chimed in that they’d given his magazine their first place votes in the Best Semiprozine category which made him extremely happy (and nervous, because he might be called upon to make a speech Sunday evening).
When the group was asked how can we better support each other, I spoke up and said please read this column on File 770.com and PLEASE feel free to comment. I jokingly refer to myself as the Senior Black Correspondent at File 770 and I was not quite sure that I was the only black writer. My good friend Pablo Manuel Miguel Alberto Vazquez chimed in and said, “Yeah Chris, you’re pretty much it.”
The hour we had together ended far too soon as far as we were all concerned. We all signed a notebook with our email addresses for future reference.
After standing in two queues and collecting two lanyards for the Masquerade, Juli and I retreated to the apartment so I could finish writing up Day Two’s events. At around 4:30 p.m., I suddenly felt very, very tired. So I laid down for a quick nap, waking up around sixty minutes later feeling a bit better, if not totally refreshed.
While Juli was taking some time to read, I left the apartment and took a short walk to the East Restaurant attached to the Spenser Hotel to find the File 770 meetup. I did this for two reasons; a) to prove to the readers of this column that I was capable of FINDING a Filer meetup and b) getting in my Fitbit steps.
The dinner meetup was in full swing when I got there and I was meeting many of them in the flesh for the first time. Hampus Eckerman introduced himself and told me that Juli and I had gone to the right place but the Filers were tossed off of the third floor by the queue minders at around 6:30 and had moved to the Martin Hoare Memorial bar one floor down. Oh well.
Since I was trying to meet a self-imposed deadline for filing Day Two, I bid them farewell after fifteen minutes but not before I took pictures of the two tables, because, you know, pictures or it didn’t happen.
Juli had dinner waiting for me upon my return. As I wrote and edited, she informed me that Memphis (Tennessee, not Egypt) had announced a bid for the 2023 bid, headed up by Kate Secor and Cliff Dunn. She then read a transcription of some of the Q & A from the Fannish Inquisition, which were quite interesting and worth your while to look up.
Best of Luck kids; like all Worldcon bids, you’re going to need it.
On our way to the Masquerade we made the acquaintance of Stephan Herman of British Columbia, a professional comedian who is moonlighting as a joke writer for Dublin. Resplendent in a zoot suit jacket, he regaled us with his various observations of the convention as we rode the tram.
I have posted pictures from the Masquerade on my Facebook page for your viewing pleasure. (www.facebook.com/chris.barkley). Usually, I have eschewed going to this particular item BUT since I am covering the main events of this Worldcon, I felt obligated to go. And I was so glad I did.
Juli did not have a full pass for seating in the Press Area so I went down to the on the main floor on my own which she was seated elsewhere.
Worldcon 76 Chair Kevin Roche was the Masquerade director and ablly hosted by Ric Bretschneider.
I am not a noted critic of costumes per say, but I can tell you that if there is a video of the show available, you should go out of your way to see it. In particular, I want to draw your attention to the very final entry of the evening, an awesome, show stopping display of technical skill, bravado design and magnificently breathtaking execution. When it finished, there was NO DOUBT in anyone’s mind which entry was the overall best in show.
No, I will not describe it. Look at the pictures on my Facebook wall or google it. You won’t be sorry.
Although I did not stay for the entire “halftime show”, I was incredibly entertained by Mr. Bretschneider’s ingenious game show, PowerPoint Karaoke.
Each victim, er, ah, contestant, is placed on stage facing the audience and viewing a screen displaying images, which are also projected for the audience as well. The object of the contest is to make a cohesive narrative from the random pictures which would be switched at any point of Mr. Bretschneider’s choosing.
The first victim, Hugo nominee Mary Robinette Kowal, made a brilliant historical parody of the US Space program and never flinched at any of the ridiculous images thrown at her. She received a resounding cheer as she finished.
What Chris Garcia lacked in coherency, he made up in shouting and goofy noises much to the delight of the crowd. The aforementioned Mr. Herman also delivered a show stopping performance, combining comic timing and an outrageous impersonation of a late night QVC television huckster selling lifestyle enhancement products.
After all that, it was downhill all the way. I was fast asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow…
Correction: The author misspelled the name of Milk Willmoth’s name as Mike Willmont. We honestly can’t regret it because it’s funny as hell. Just Sayin’…
(Note to Mike, leave the name “Milk” in there, let’s see if he notices…?)