Two WorldCon Gripes And A Lotta Love

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 3.618% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

1) So I had a helluva time at WorldCon, hanging out with tons of people I adore and waving at many many more of them as they passed by in the hallways.  My social anxiety was on low flutter, so mostly I just chatted with people and collected the astoundingly good Pokemon-hunting that Kansas City has to offer.
That said….
2)  While I otherwise loved Pat Cadigan as the host, I cringed every time she (or anyone else) mispronounced – or did not know how to pronounce – someone’s name on stage.  As someone with a funny name, I may be hypersensitive to getting names right.  But in many cases, particularly for people who couldn’t make the convention to attend the George RR Martin afterparty, hearing their name spoken on stage may be the high-water mark of the nomination – that final flash of hope before the winner is announced.
Having that moment be a botch is something that shouldn’t happen.
Yet it did.
Multiple times.
I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the Hugos have phonetic pronunciations of the people’s names printed on the readouts – and if they were, I don’t think it should be too much to ask of the hosts to get them to practice it until they’ve gotten it right.  The Hugo ceremony is usually a fairly informal affair, and I get that, but we should afford the nominees the dignity of getting their name spoken correctly in their moment upon a very large stage.
3)  You might think I’d complain about the Dave Truesdale Dumpster Fire Panel.  (Read the link for details, but the short version is that on a very prestigious panel filled with the best fiction editors SF has to offer, a whacky moderator started with a ten-minute rant on how PC sensitivity was destroying the field – and, ten minutes later, not only had he not introduced his fellow panelists, but he had brought out a box of fake pearl necklaces for people to clutch if they needed to.)
I wouldn’t complain.  That panel was a magnificent icebreaker.  200 people were in attendance, and throughout the night I heard at least twenty of them giving their accounts of the horror.  If you didn’t know what to say to someone, utter the mystic words “Hey, what happened with that panel?” and bam!  Conversation a-go-go.
Dave Truesdale wanted to get people talking.  He did!  Admittedly, it was mostly about what an idiot Dave Truesdale was – but we sure talked!
(Disclaimer: I don’t mind Dave Truesdale going off on his particular brand of wrongness.  I myself have started out moderating panels by starting with an unpopular opinion to get discussions flowing.  But I expressed that opinion in under sixty seconds, and I started by introducing my fellow panelists.  There’s a distinct difference between showing up to start a dialogue and showing up to inflict a monologue – and props like that are part of a monologue designed to alienate.)
4)  Let’s be honest: If I ever got an invite to the Hugo Losers’ Party, I’d go.
But I didn’t, and that party kinda felt like The Room Where It Happens.
I get that the Hugo nominees should have an awesome time afterwards, and I support that!  But though I had a great time barconning and SFWA suite-ing it, I kept seeing people checking their texts – someone had snuck into the Losers’ Party!  Someone said that it had been opened to the general public!  No, wait, that wasn’t it.  Did you know who got in as a plus-one with who?  Someone said…
And I kept seeing people low-grade thinking, “Well, how do I get in there?”  Which felt a bit alienating.  And I wanted to see some of the Hugo nominees and winners to congratulate them, and if they did leave the party they were nowhere to be found.
…which could also be this WorldCon’s weird “room party” issue, which mandated that room parties be held at the convention.  I didn’t hit any.  It was a mile away from the bar. So maybe that’s this WorldCon’s con-space, because the weird thing about conventions is how much the structure of the hotel and the convention space affects who you see at that convention.  (If there’s a bar in the middle of the hotel, then everyone washes up there; if not, a convention tends to be fragmented, with eddies of people catching up with each other in various places.  Do enough cons and you wind up critiquing hotels.)
But the last WorldCon I went to, I saw winners swanning around other parties, and I missed that.  And my (potentially erroneous) impression is that the Sad Puppies have had the unfortunate side effect of elevating the Alfies and the post-Hugo party to a much more exclusive event, and I was sad to not be able to congratulate all my friends and the people I admired in person.
Or maybe that’ll be different at the next WorldCon in Helsinki and I’ll see everyone and be proven wrong.  But for me, the awesomeness of any con is that I can be chatting with some random people, and oh, jeez, hello author of this book I loved, nice to meet you.  And anything that potentially waters down that stewpot experience saddens me.
We’ll see what happens at Helsinki.

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