So, I’m sitting in the airport in Austin, and there’s a live country folk singer about 20 feet from me, and I feel like this is one of the few places in America where this happens all the time. I recall now that there was a live band at a bar just beyond security, and this is a thing in Austin. I’ve spent the last 24 hours in this lovely city, ate fried avocado and Mexican/Hawaiian fusion (I LOVE YOU HULA HUT), explored South Congress, ate a lot of strawberry Blue Bell ice cream, went to the Capitol and the Bullock Museum, and generally suffered through 100+ heat every day since Thursday. I’m from a part of Southern California that’s practically the desert, so it’s not as if I didn’t grow up with the heat. We often hit 110 – 120 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer, but the thick, ever-present humidity is what knocks you flat here. And I’m not even in Houston.
Anyway, I wanted to put up a little post about WorldCon 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. There were a lot of firsts this weekend, and I’ve been introduced and lovingly accepted into this massive, sprawling, and beautiful community over the course of the last five days, and I wanted to talk about it. Being nominated for a Hugo Award in the fan writer category has been an overwhelming experience, but everything I’d gone through before WorldCon kept it as a distant dream. I couldn’t imagine what this would mean to me and to others until I stepped into the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, or the Rivercenter Ballroom for the Hugos, and the sheer enormity of this event finally struck me.
Since Thursday, I have made so many new friends. I finally met Steven Diamond of ElitistBookReviews, who I shared a panel with on the Business Side of Publishing, and who was also nominated for a Hugo. I read terrible fanfiction (including two new pieces that my friend Kelsey gave me. JESUS IN THE HUNGER GAMES OH MY GOD) to a ton of people who had no idea who I was.
Let me touch on that. This was unlike ComicCon, ConNooga, Ascendio, or LeakyCon, where a good portion of the people who show up know who I am or what I do. No, this was an entirely new crowd, one that initially intimidated me because… shit, the WorldCon crowd is full of some of the VERY FIRST PEOPLE IN FANDOM EVER. But that fear I had that I wouldn’t fit in or that no one would show up to any of the panels I was on was destroyed immediately, and that was the most rewarding aspect of this con. The people who attended WorldCon were more mellow than most of the other cons I went to, and that also means they were brilliantly receptive to the various ideas, theories, opinions, and thoughts of the people on the panels they attended. Look, it’s really hard to be in a new place full of strangers just in general, and it consistently impressed me how respectful and engaging the congoers were at WorldCon.
There were a lot of special moments that happened over the past week:
- I was on a panel about corporate personhood with Lois McMaster Bujold. (!!!!! OH MY GOD !!!!! I CAN’T WAIT TO GET TO THE VORKOSIGAN BOOKS) Throughout the whole panel, she would turn to me, tell me the funniest joke/one-liner, and then unceremoniously turn back to face the audience with a smile on her face. she is the best ever.
- I met Genese Davis, and y’all should read The Holder’s Dominion.
- I met John Scalzi again! I will make a post for it once I get it done, but Double Features will begin here on Mark Reads, as they do for Mark Watches, and the first book I’ll be doing is Scalzi’s The Android’s Dream. Upon hearing that I was going to do this book, he greeted me with EXTREMELY EVIL CACKLING. He did not even say hello. Then he wrote the following in my copy of the book:
- Evil. He’s evil.
- I wore a suit for the first time ever! Actually, I’d never even owned a suit until the Hugos. Seriously! I mean, I’ve always been poor, and I never had a reason to own one.
Sunil (spectralbovine) even snapped a photo of my boyfriend and I!
And then we went in the reception prior to the Hugos and it just hit me. Hard. I was standing in a room with Mary Robinette Kowal, with John Scalzi, with George R.R. Martin, with Lois McMaster Bujold, with Seanan McGuire, with Catherynne Valente, with Brandon Sanderson, with Stanley Schmidt, with John Picacio, and THEY WERE ALL IN THE SAME ROOM AS ME AND WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON.
I admit to being terrified. But then I met George R.R. Martin for the first time, who graciously told me that I was now part of something. I would always be a Hugo nominee. Then he promised to give me a Hugo Loser ribbon if I found him later in the unfortunate event of losing. And I really expected to lose, since I was going up against four well-known or veteran sci-fi and fantasy geniuses. However, I also can’t lie. As it got closer and closer to my category, I was petrified. I had an acceptance speech prepared and when you’re in that room, and Seanan McGuire and Catherynne Valente are right next to you, and the enormity of the room and the enormity of the meaning of the award is right in front of you, you freak out. I was a mess as my category came up, and for maybe ten seconds after they named the wonderful Tansy Rayner Roberts (whose work I ADORE), I was heartbroken. But then JOHN SCALZI WAS LIKE 20 FEET FROM ME. George R.R. Martin was in the same room. And I couldn’t be sad. I couldn’t! I couldn’t even be disappointed.
I came from nowhere, y’all. I started Mark Reads as a bet from my editor at Buzznet. I grew up poor, bullied, forgotten, and ignored. I built this community with the help of my moderators, my editors, and the many people who contribute to it every day. I have very little help otherwise, and despite that I’ve been in countless fandoms over the years, I’m still relatively new to all of this. And yet there I was, in that ballroom with so many giants of the genre, and I COULDN’T BE SAD.
I ended up finding George R.R. Martin post-Hugos at the Hugo Losers Party, where I got my Hugo Loser ribbon. And George told me the most brilliant thing: For the rest of my life, I’d always be a Hugo Loser. No one could ever take that away. I would be a Hugo Loser forever. And that’s what I needed to hear. This nomination gave me the opportunity to have one of the best weekends of my life, and I am so grateful to all of the people who nominated me and voted for me.
(If you’re interested in the numbers, you should check out the statistics. Interesting notes: I got 167 votes, which was about 50 more than my nominations. I suspect that my “newness” as a writer is a part of that, which I expected! But it looks like many of you put Tansy as #2, and that helped her win the award! I also didn’t know that I WAS NEARLY NOMINATED IN THE DRAMATIC PRESENTATION: SHORT FORM. 58 of you nominated “Mark Reads ‘The Shadow War of the Night Dragons.'” I LOVE YOU.)
Many thanks to Sunil, Kelsey, Catie, Emily, Judy, Neil, Seanan, Vixy, Amy, Scalzi, and the lovely Jesi Pershing for giving me an unforgettable weekend. I made a lot of friends. It’s the start of something beautiful and new. Thank you forever, and I am eager for the future to come.
Mark (Who Does Stuff)