Nebula Awards 2016

Got back from the Nebula Awards last night. Had a lovely time — quite tired now. Jeremiah Tolbert said he hadn’t seen people so tired after a Nebulas in a long time. I think it may be because the programming was amazing, courtesy of Mary Robinette Kowal. From the user end, it’s the best experience I’ve ever had as a speaker.

Quick summaries of the programming I spoke on/attended:

Thanks to the new mentorship program, I was able to meet several new writers, and try to help them out. Hopefully I did, but even if I didn’t, I’m glad they have access to me as a resource in the future.

At the Ask an Expert village, no one came to my session on short stories (it was announced late, and was scheduled early, so I wasn’t surprised; it was fine). That gave me time to bug the experts who were there. I talked to representatives from indepedent publishing concerns, ACX, and Patreon, all of whom were able to give me great advice and information on how to move forward.

I spoke at three panels. The first one, on the reprint life of short stories, was relatively straight-forward, although Sarah Pinsker had good advice on how to sell foreign reprint rights. Think smart about where to spend your online reprint dollar; you may only get one chance per story. Doubly so if you are a very slow writer as I am.

The second–medicine at the end of the world–traversed many types of disability, from the obvious and severe, to the invisible and insidious. Most, though not all, of us on the panel had invisible disabilities. Someone in the audience pointed out we were all white, which did keep us from poking at some of the more complicated intersections. Something else I found interesting is that several years ago when I was attending a panel on apocalypses, someone said that writers and readers imagine themselves as the survivors. I don’t. My life is, as I said on the panel, a delicate balance of the technology we currently have available. Remove it, and I die. This gives me a slightly different perspective on the question of medicine in a post-apocalyptic scenario than some of the other folks seemed to have.

After that, I spoke on a panel about redefining aliens, moving from alien-as-metaphor-for-race to something that is — hopefully — more nuanced. I recommended a zillion writers, including Gwendolyn Clare, Will MicIntosh, Derek Kunsken… and of course the brilliant Octavia Butler. One of the other panelists pointed to James Tiptree as well. I think my ultiamte conclusion is that while weirder aliens have existed in SF texts a long time, and while alien-as-race still exists, the trend has been positive to favor the former rather than the latter. Also, I was surprised by how many people gasped and seemed shocked that I said the Ferengi were a stand-in for Jews. Do people really not notice that? I hope to put some of my notes from the panel online because it was really interesting.

I attended panels on dramaturgy, acting, and medieval warfare. I’d summarize those, too, but I’m getting to the limit of the time I allotted for this, so I may have to do that another time.

At the mass autographing, I was honored to meet lots of folks. It was very well organized, and it was a delight to sit next to an author I’d never met before. I came away with a copy of his book and hope to read it soon. (I’m still only partway through Jane Eyre at the moment.) I didn’t get any signatures, although in retrospect, I’m a bit sad I didn’t go over to talk to John Hodgeman. Sometimes when the world seems to be crushing, humor like his is the only balm.

The banquet itself was lovely, giving me a chance to catch up with Joe Monti and Ken Liu, as well as meet some folks and hang out with some other friends who I’d had a change to meet with over the cource of the weekend. I usually roam the room saying hi to people, but stayed still this time except for a quick jaunt to say hello to Scalzi.

There were several dazzling fashion displays, including Alyssa Wong’s glittery and spectacular black dress which used netting and negative space to create really interesting (and sparkly) effects. If she had not won the Nebula, I would have to give her one for knocking it out of the park. Tamara (forgive me for not looking up your last name; I am starting to migraine) wore a long silver gown with sparkly laces crossing over the back. Mary Robinette Kowal and Lynne Thomas wore dazzling necklaces — Mary’s in tones of amber, Lynne’s in dazzling cobalt that picked up the highlights of labradorite beads. Nnedi Okorafor slammed best hair, matched by her daughter. C. S. E. Cooney wore a long pink gown with fabric flowers which was delicate and feminine and made my inner rose-lover happy. I am doubtlessly forgetting people, but the point is, gorgeous.

My friend Henry Lien led a dance and singing routine which was odd and interesting and fun. Hodgeman hosted with aplomb and acute funniness.

Also, I spent lots of time with other folks. It was a long but excellent weekend.

And we flew Virgin America instead of United so the travel was even okay!

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