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Third day at Worldcon

Started: 2017-09-01 22:06:19

Submitted: 2017-09-02 12:00:25

Visibility: World-readable

12th August 2017: In which the intrepid narrator spends a third day at Worldcon 75 and finally figures out a working schedule for the con

On our third day at Worldcon, I negotiated with Kiesa to give me a couple of panels I wanted to attend in the afternoon, in exchange for a couple of panels she wanted to attend in the morning. She left early enough to attend "Bad Romance" at 10:00 and "Gender and realistic history" at 11:00. I stayed at the Airbnb with the boys and eventually took them into the con in time for Calvin to join the Kids' Comics Workshop at 12:00.

Calvin and Julian on the couch in Finnish Airbnb
Calvin and Julian on the couch in Finnish Airbnb

I met Kiesa at Calvin's workshop, and we left Calvin there while we grabbed a light lunch at the local cafe (featuring a fascinating local pastry, a raised sweet bread with cardamom as its major flavor). I headed off to my 13:00 panel, "Colonialism and the Space Opera", including panelist Aliette de Bodard, whose sci-fi and fantasy work I've enjoyed, who also has Thoughts on whether the tropes of space opera depend on a romanticized view of colonialism -- young people (mostly, but not exclusively, men) finding adventure and social success in the colonial frontiers, at the expense of the people already living there. (Someone else live-tweeted the panel, providing a better summary than I could.)

I picked up Calvin after his comics workshop (in which he drew things and seemed to enjoy himself -- which reminded me that we ought to find a good way to encourage this particular interest of his) and took him to another two-hour workshop, this one in the room designated for kids' programming (conveniently next door to the room designated for teen programming), featuring the construction and launch of water rockets (based mostly on two-liter soda bottles).

I headed to the panel "Future Shock, and do you suffer from it?" at 15:00, with panelist Charles Stross, as well as others. This was one of the panels that was moved into a larger space, but the queue for the panel doubled back on itself in a somewhat confusing fashion. Once the line finally wound its way into the room there was plenty of space, and I even managed to get a seat fairly close to the front. The panel itself was interesting, discussing diverging views of the future, whether it's ok to be upset that we don't have flying cars and jet-packs, the major technological changes that no one saw coming and their second-order effects, and also the idea of future shock as resistance to a changing world, especially when the world seems to be changing faster. I couldn't help but wonder if conservatives in general suffer from a sort of future shock, unwilling to accept a changing reality and clinging to their old beliefs. (This is not a problem exclusive to conservatives -- almost everyone has trouble accepting new ideas when it would force them to believe they're wrong -- but as a group the Republican party in general seems set on the idea that the old ways were better and they don't need any new-fangled science to tell them they're wrong.)

After the panel I picked Calvin and Julian up from the water rocket launch (which was at least mildly amusing: filled with compressed air from a bike pump, the bottles would tumble into the air and crash back down to the ground) while Kiesa went to her next panel, "Fairy tale retellings".

I took Calvin and Julian back to the exhibit hall, where Calvin spent some time studying the Lego models, including one of the Dublin Convention Centre which was displayed on behalf of the 2019 Worldcon bid in Dublin. They were the only bid for the 2019 con, and did in fact win the 77th con in two years. (Next year's con is in San Jose -- the one an hour from my house in California -- so I think we'll be able to make an appearance there as well.) I was also amused to see early pre-bid appearances from various cities and countries -- I remember seeing New Zealand (I think for 2020) and Washington, DC in some future year. The bids appeared to be deliberately choosing different years as if to spread out themselves to avoid potential conflicts.

Lego model of the Dublin Convention Centre
Lego model of the Dublin Convention Centre

I was also bemused that Calvin identified the Daleks on the side of the convention centre (you can see them on the left of the photo above) as "British robots", which is the way they were identified in The Lego Batman Movie, rather than by name as Daleks. (We have not attempted to expose Calvin to Doctor Who; at the moment our classic sci-fi indoctrination takes the place of watching the better episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (as identified by tor.com's TNG rewatch) in lieu of a bedtime story.)

2017 Hugo Award
2017 Hugo Award

I also took the opportunity to look at this year's Hugo Award -- after the previous night's awards ceremony it had been added to the display of historic Hugo Awards. The rocket ship is the same every year, but each con creates its own base including some local character.

I went to my last panel of the day at 17:00, a talk by Jeff Vandermere about his book Annihilation and the process (from his perspective) of turning it into a movie, including some publicity shots from the movie and things he saw on the set (and from wandering around the Internet at large, some of it was rather wrong).

I met Kiesa outside the kids' programming room and we considered our options for supper. We took the tram to the neighborhood of Kinapori. Despite having low platforms, the tram itself was quite low to the ground, providing an almost-level entrance for Julian in the stroller. We ate at Soi Soi, a vegetarian restaurant on a side street that seemed quiet but packed with restaurants. Most of the menu was single-plate meals composed of some veg protein on a plate surrounded with French fries, something resembling a salad, and some grains I couldn't recognize.

Veg meal at Soi Soi
Veg meal at Soi Soi

To get back to our Airbnb we took another new-to-us transport mode: the Helsinki Metro, which currently has one bifurcated line that didn't really go anywhere that was useful for us except from Kinapori to the main train station. As we walked to the metro stop I could see ominous storm clouds portending thunderstorms in the east. The metro had a lengthy diagonal elevator following the same alignment as the escalators with large windows showing the way up and down, and the machinery under the escalators.

When we got to the main train station we had some trouble finding our step-free way out of the metro station (we had Julian in the stroller, which was generally easier than trying to get him to walk in the right direction at a reasonable pace), and when we found ourselves at ground level it was pouring rain -- and we were fifty meters from the nearest entrance to the train station. We dashed through the rain and found our suburban train at a corner of the station. The rain began to subside as we waited for our train. The first train that showed up was canceled, and the second train was delayed as it headed north to our station. Announcements in Finnish, Swedish, and usually English told us that the trains were delayed due to trees falling on the line. We got off one station before our regular station and walked a bit further to our Airbnb because we just wanted to get off the train, and didn't entirely trust that the train would get us all the way to our regular station.

If they want reality, they should stick cameras to our heads as we wander
aimlessly around town.
- Bitscape, 29 July 2001