David Louis Edelman David Louis Edelman

Capclave 2006 Wrapup

As many of you know, this is my first go-round on the SF con circuit. So I’m finding it interesting how cons seem to have their own personalities based on some mash-up of the surrounding environment, the personalities of the organizers, and the guest list.

Capclave 2006 FlyerBy this standard, Capclave 2006 might be your kooky uncle who’s continually rushing around in a frenzy of activity. He’s a blast to hang out with, he’s smart as hell, and he can teach you a thing or two about Standing Up to The Man. But when he drops you back home at the end of the day, you can’t help thinking to yourself, “How can anyone live like that?”

It’s now evening on Sunday October 22, Capclave has officially come to a close, and any minute now I expect them to finally lock down a schedule for the weekend. Because there certainly wasn’t a definitive one available on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Events were constantly changing rooms, panels were added and subtracted, new people were appearing left and right, and the hallways were full of quickly taped-up signs of schedule changes. Programming manager Elaine Brennan could be seen rushing to and fro throughout the whole weekend, bravely and nobly jousting against the confusion.

Add to that the fact that the Hilton Silver Spring is not a well designed hotel, to put it charitably. There are two separate banks of elevators that go to different floors. The lobby is minuscule, and the bar is almost impossible to find. The hallways are narrow, the meeting spaces are strangely configured, and when you open some doors they block off the little gold plates with the room names on them. I got the impression from various overheard comments that the hotel kept fucking around with the Capclave people and altering the particulars of their agreement. (The Hilton in ominous, James Earl Jones basso profundo: “Perhaps you think you’re being treated… unfairly?”)

One could easily imagine taking this chaos in stride at a con where everyone was wearing Spock ears or gladiator costumes. But the Capclave programming was fairly high-minded, with panels on The Evolution of Artificial Intelligence, Global Warming, and Sling-Shot Endings in Fiction.

But for me, the programming side of things turned out to be a bit of a wash.

I received my panel assignments via e-mail on Thursday. I wasn’t listed in the program booklet for any of the three panels I’d been assigned to, and one of the panels I was supposed to appear on wasn’t listed in the booklet either. My reading (like everyone’s) was in a small room on the 12th floor that wasn’t listed in the program booklet. I had no idea I was scheduled to do a signing until I happened to wander past a table in the dealer’s room and see my name on it. When I arrived at one of my panels, my co-panelist apparently had no idea I was supposed to be there and had already begun a prepared 40-minute Powerpoint presentation, with handouts. Another of my panels was canceled because the hotel yanked away a block of rooms at the last minute.

Other than that? I had a great time. Programming is nice and all, but really I go to these conventions to shake hands, pass out Infoquake-related freebies, and attend the parties. The Saturday night formal, in particular, was a schmoozefest of the highest order.

So here are some of the people-related highlights of my Capclave experience:

  • Matt Jarpe and I shared a few beers. Matt’s first novel, Radio Freefall, is coming out next summer from Tor, and what I’ve read so far (about a third of the book) is quite unique and engaging. (Full disclosure here: Matt has hired me to design and program the website for the book. More on both soon, hopefully.) Matt’s formidable powers of observation were in full evidence at the formal when he noted that only at a science fiction convention would everyone make a mad rush for the cake table instead of the bar when the doors opened.
  • I had a few nice conversations with Jim Freund, who instantly became my best friend when he started encouraging me to appear on his New York SF radio show Hour of the Wolf, which reaches some 75,000 New Yorkers every weekend. If this does happen, I’ll certainly post the details here.
  • I sat in on a very entertaining reading by Mindy Klasky, whose new novel Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft might be called Bridget Jones’ Diary as told to Aleister Crowley. I thought I was making a big push for Infoquake… but Mindy came prepared with Girl’s Guide books, pencils, postcards, brochures, and a hand-sewn quilt she was giving away on her website. It didn’t hurt that Mindy’s got a very theatric reading style, and the book sounds like a hoot as well.
  • Legendary Tor editor David Hartwell and I chatted about his new The Space Opera Renaissance anthology, Matt Jarpe’s book (which David is editing), and book club editions, among other things.
  • I got to have a brief chat with Michael Swanwick at his autographing session (thanks, Cat Rambo, for providing the excuse for an introduction!). True to his maverick reputation, Mr. Swanwick was sitting Indian style on top of the table the entire time.
  • I spent some quality time gossiping about cons at a greasy Irish pub with the lovely Suzanne Rosin, who’s on the committee for the upcoming PhilCon in November. Suzanne later showcased the upper two-thirds of her breasts in a very tight corset that evening, for which I and every heterosexual male at Capclave thank her heartily.
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) Eastern Regional Director Diane Turnshek and I discussed book promotion, SFWA, the Infoquake Gimmicky Promotional Giveaway, and other sundry things. I also got to spend some time schmoozing with past SFWA president Michael Capobianco, who looked much too serene and distinguished in his tuxedo to be in the same crowd as the rest of us.
  • For the third con in a row, I saw and failed to introduce myself to Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden (whom somebody referred to as “our Scott and Zelda”). One o’ these days.
  • I attended two very engrossing readings by James Morrow and con guest of honor Kim Stanley Robinson. I can’t remember the name of the work in progress Jim Morrow read from, but it seemed to be a very astute social satire involving clones, philosophers, lesbian Marxist revolutionaries, and a replica of the Titanic.
  • My Washington, DC-area contacts in the science fiction field have been woefully lacking, and so I was very glad to meet Thomas Doyle, Bob Angell, and a few various people associated with the Washington Science Fiction Association (WSFA) whose names were quickly metabolized out of my system along with the too-many-Heinekens I drank that night.

And now, alas, con weekend is over, and back to reality for me.

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  1. Sam Lubell on October 24, 2006 at 9:51 pm  Chain link

    I’m glad you had a good time at Capclave and I apologize for the confusion. We were sharing the hotel with the MD football team and, well, they’re able to outmuscle us and the hotel kept changing what rooms we had.

    Anyway, I’m sorry I didn’t know you were doing a signing at Capclave since I actually have a copy of Infoquake that needs to be signed.

    At worldcon on a panel on either new authors or best new novels, your book was highly recommended in strong enough terms that I went out and bought it (see cons do sell books).

    So are you doing a signing at Philcon? I can bring my book.

  2. David Louis Edelman on October 24, 2006 at 11:10 pm  Chain link

    I certainly understand. It did seem like the confusion was mostly from the hotel dicking you guys around. (Maybe time to solicit some competitive bids for next year…?)

    I will indeed be at PhilCon. Don’t have a schedule as of yet, but feel free to grab me at any point and ask me to sign your copy of Infoquake.

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