I have a lot of random things that I learned. Some of these are serious, and some are humorous -- and some may SEEM humorous, but I'm serious about them.
1. Everyone is taller on the Internet. Not to name names (Scalzi), but some people are MUCH shorter than their Internet personalities might indicate. Some people, on the other hand, are VERY tall. John Scalzi next two Charlie Jane Anders was quite an amusing sight. The top of his head lined up about with her biceps.
2. You can't put a tourniquet on a burst blood vessel in the bowels. (It was quite a panel, you had to be there... Hi, Dawn!)
3. Analog is buying my story! (This is the new "Jerry Pournelle loved my story!" It'll take me a while to stop bursting out with this news at inappropriate moments. I'm still having trouble believing it...)
4. Dantzel has amazing dance talent. I kid you not, I have a new appreciation for interpretive dance. I've seen it done very poorly by local college students (I lost respect for the idea when some fellow students did an interpretive dance as their final for a Cosmology class). I've seen it done much better at the WIotF awards. But I've never seen it done as improv. I would've bet that was impossible; but Dantzel did it so well, I would've sworn it must've been coreographed in advance.
5. Story Musgrave is a Heinlein Hero come to life: farmer, high school drop out, Marine, self-trained pilot, astronaut, space telescope designer, space telescope repair man, psychologist, medical doctor, practicing trauma surgeon, holder of 6 doctoral degrees (REAL doctoral degrees, PLUS 20 honorary degrees), philosopher, poet, and at age 78 the father of a 6 year old daughter!
6. According to Mike Resnick's research, Asimov's buys about 1 story in 4,000 slush submissions from unknown writers. F&SF buys about 1 in 800. Analog was somewhere in between. This research is a little dated -- Kris Rusch was still at F&SF when he compiled it -- but it gives you some idea. I hope this doesn't discourage anyone, but I feel compelled to report the findings honestly. Besides, it MIGHT happen if you try, but it CAN'T happen if you don't. And don't forget... "Never tell me the odds." -- H. Solo, esq.
7. When you go to a con, pack a con bag with food. You never know when you might get 9 straight hours of interesting events and no time to eat. And you DO NOT want to pay hotel snack bar prices if you don't have to! $23 for two protein bars, a small protein shake, and a small orange juice.
8. Alex Kane is a pleasant and considerate roommate, and I'm glad I finally met him.
9. Ditto on meeting Dantzel, Dawn, Dave, Bob, Tom, Annie, Brad, Laurie, Gama, Megan, Stone, and Dr. Phil. And I just know as tired as I am, I'm forgetting someone, so I apologize!
10. The elevators at a con can take a VERY long time as people all try to go up or down at the same time. You might have to let three or four elevators pass by because they arrive at your floor completely full. When in a hurry, plan to use the stairs.
11. 30 flights of stairs is a loooooong way to go at a fast climb, even when you're going down! I couldn't figure out why my thighs were aching. Then I remembered that Sunday I had 10 minutes to get to the "Future of Analog" panel; and, well, see lesson 10.
12. The Chicago Hyatt has a very nice exercise room with some great treadmills. I got 35 minutes of workout in, and I burned 570 calories. It's just too bad that was just before lesson 11. I could've saved myself the workout.
13. 35 minutes on the treadmill + 30 flights of stairs + 10 hours without eating (see lesson 7) is a really dumb idea; but I got to hear Story Musgrave. I got to learn about intra-anal tourniquets (and the impossibility thereof). I got to learn all about the future of Analog. I got introduced to Trevor. I met Robert J. Sawyer. And I got to spend nearly an hour in a kaffeflatsch with Jack McDevitt, who's very much my role model as a writer. So who needs food?
14. The Hugo Awards ceremony is formal (for some definitions of formal).
15. The line for the Hugo Awards ceremony starts at least two hours ahead of time.
16. There is NO cell signal to speak of in the lower levels of the Hyatt Regency, and the WiFi signal is awful. Good luck trying to coordinate with your friends!
17. Stan says that since they opened up for electronic submissions, the number of submissions has gone up nearly ten fold; but the number of purchasable stories hasn't really changed. So they're getting a lot more submissions that just don't work, including a lot more that really don't even fit the genre.
18. Despite lesson 17, Analog REALLY prefers electronic submissions now. They see paper submissions as almost inconvenient.
19. It IS possible to write at WorldCon. I transcribed close to 3,000 words from my phone recorder, and I wrote another 500+ original words.
20. Alex snores. Or maybe that was me.
21. WorldCon is all about the parties. Which is bad for me, because I'm not a natural party person, especially since I was so tired at night. I missed some of the best stuff.
22. WorldCon is all about business. Fans have their place there, no doubt, but it's writers and artists and editors gathering in one place that makes WorldCon important for those in the business. If you ARE in the business or you intend to be, treat it as a business event. You can have fun, but make sure you make contacts and discuss projects as well.
23. Bring business cards. Pass them out when you're following lesson 22.
24. Ask your accountant if WorldCon expenses may be tax deductible. I have been advised that mine probably are, especially given my lunch with Stan.
25. Keep your receipts, just in case lesson 24 applies.
26. Avoid the dealers' room! It's a trap! My total: two Buck Godot graphic novels signed by Phil Foglio; a Girl Genius collection for my niece, signed by Kaja and Phil AND with a hand-drawn sketch by Phil; an old Arthur C. Clarke Mars collection that will NEVER make it to Kindle, I'm sure; two old movies that might be good space stories (the dealer couldn't say for sure, but I took a chance); a signed copy of Jerry Pournelle's A Spaceship for the King (which I knew as King David's Spaceship); and three old Planet of the Apes magazine that have within a story which has haunted my memories for nearly 40 years. No, I won't add up what I spent! You can't make me!
27. And no, dealers' room purchases are NOT tax deductible (unless in special cases -- ask your accountant).
28. Mike Resnick is a fencer! Resnick, Bova, Shoemaker... Coincidence?
29. Plan your panels in advance. Have a backup plan. Then be ready to throw it all out the window when you have a chance to spend time with someone you don't want to miss.
30. Geez-o-peet, people, turn off your freakin' cell phones! I understand ringing phones in a normal crowd, but we're SF fans! We're supposed to be the smart people! TURN OFF YOUR FREAKIN' CELL PHONES, AND FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE DON'T *A*N*S*W*E*R* THEM!!!!!
31. John Scalzi improvises almost as well as Dantzel. Some of those jokes couldn't have been scripted.
32. Show up early. Learn how to find stuff.
33. Stay late. The end of the con was pretty moving.
34. "Your main character MUST change." -- Brad R. Torgersen
35. The short story is the ideal length for science fiction.
36. The novelette is the ideal length for science fiction.
37. The novel is the ideal length for science fiction.
38. Every author has a different idea of what constitutes the ideal length for science fiction.
39. Connie Willis makes a good case that the novelette is the ideal length for mysteries. Any shorter, and the clues are kinda standing around naked; but with novelette length, you can dress them up in misleading costumes.
40. And speaking of costumes... Wow, some of those people have talent!
41. Trevor Quachri learned his craft from Stan, so expect a good deal of continuity at Analog.
42. Stan and Trevor really wish people would let go of some myths about Analog, particularly: that they don't accept stories from female writers (excuse me? Patty, Nancy, Marianne just to name three off the top of my head); and that they only accept the sort of nuts-n-bolts story that I love (really, they accept a lot more than that -- the only key is that the science be ESSENTIAL TO THE STORY, not that it be detailed).
43. Penny Press (owners of Analog, Asimov's, Hitchcock, and Ellery Queen) doesn't really understand the fiction side of their business at all, so they mostly let their editors run the show. And the editors like it that way!
44. Except for budgets. Lesson 43 does not apply to budgets. If readership drops, Penny Press starts pinching pennies.
45. Readership has dropped. A lot. Down to maybe 15-30K for each of the magazines. But that's PAPER. Electronic readership is growing fast, and is already keeping the magazines in the black. Penny Press is pleasantly pleased.
46. Sy Liebergott is inspiring, another of my heroes. But my word... He puts the geek in geek! He can spend 20 minutes on one screen shot of numbers from his Apollo 13 console! Even my eyes were glazing over at the end!
47. But Sy also was full of absolutely wonderful Apollo era knowledge and anecdotes.
48. The Apollo 13 explosion as explained by Sy was almost exactly as explained by Murray and Bly Cox in their book. Their account differs in many ways from Jim Lovell's book and Andrew Chaikin's book, and I always thought their research was definitive. Sy seemed to confirm that.
49. Mike Resnick is a gentleman and a scholar in a very real sense, no kidding here; and in particular, he believes in paying it forward by helping promising young writers get publication credits. Brad is only one example. Keep an eye out for the Stellar Guild series, in which an established pro teams with a new author, each telling one novella in a common universe. Brad (curse his fortune!) is sharing a volume with Larry Freakin' Niven!
50. WorldCon 2013 is in San Antonio! Who else is going?
Martin L. Shoemaker
WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!
SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT!
REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT!
Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience.