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Hugo Awards

Started: 2017-08-27 15:29:31

Submitted: 2017-08-27 18:37:24

Visibility: World-readable

11 August 2017: In which the intrepid narrator attends a second day at Worldcon and watches the Hugo Awards in person

For our second day at Worldcon, neither Kiesa nor I had a panel we really wanted to attend when the convention got going at 10:00, so we rolled into the con late, then looked around the dealer room for interesting things to buy. Calvin convinced us to buy a pair of chromed googles with spikes sticking out from them (looking more Mad Max than steampunk), and Kiesa bought a Worldcon t-shirt, mostly because she had misjudged the weather in Helsinki and had not brought enough short-sleeved shirts. (Neither Calvin nor Julian expressed much interest in a Worldcon shirt.)

Directional sign at Worldcon
Directional sign at Worldcon

Worldcon had responded to its success disaster by getting additional space from the venue, moving its largest panels into the new large spaces, then rotating smaller panels into the spaces vacated by the larger panels. As a result it was much easier to get into panels -- including the popular "Building Resistance" panel at 11:00, which included resistance movement scholars like Kameron Hurley and projected lessons from the real world into speculative fiction.

At 12:00 I took Calvin and Julian to a kids' meet-and-greet with American astronaut Kjell Lindgren, who flew on a recent ISS mission. He set up a slide show of pictures of Earth from space, talked about being in space, and answered questions from the kids in the audience. (I was surprised that no one asked about managing human waste in low earth orbit. When Calvin raised his hand I gave it a 50/50 chance that he was going to ask, but he asked something else.) Most of the kids in the audience were Finnish (and some required simultaenous translations from their parents). According to the membership statistics, there were only 19 child memberships from the US (and only 10 kid-in-tow memberships for kids under 6 like Julian). Half of the total child members were from Finland, explaining why they were well represented at the childrens' programming track.

Calvin with astronaut Kjell Lindgren
Calvin with astronaut Kjell Lindgren

I found lunch at the food court and managed to keep Julian from making too much of a mess. I traded the kids with Kiesa after her panels ("Still waiting for my food pills: Science in the kitchen" and "Are boys left behind in YA?") but didn't make it into the panel "Westworld, tourism, and exploitation". I traded back the kids while Kiesa went to the panel "Fantastical travel guide" (in which authors role-played a character from their books in an interview as if the books were places one could visit). Calvin wanted to spend a great deal of time studying the Lego models on display (and talking to their creators), which I was mostly content to let him do.

At 16:00 I joined two more author signing lines for Charles Stross and Kameron Hurley. I've seen Stross twice before on book tour events, and I actually brought a copy of his newest book, The Delirium Brief, because it's next on my list of books to read. He warned that his reading at 17:00 would include spoilers for the book, but I couldn't make the reading because I needed to drop by our Airbnb before returning for the Hugo Awards in the evening. I got Kameron Hurley to sign my autographs page; I do have copies of all of her books but I left them at home because I did not want to take them in my luggage. I wished her luck at the awards that night, where her book The Geek Feminist Revolution was up for best related work. I picked up a badge banner (a tag one could stick to one's con badge for amusement value; some people had dozens of badges) promoting her newest book, the weird space opera The Stars are Legion, as "Lesbians in Space".

This gave me a bad idea for a series of badge banners for next year's Worldcon: parodying the idea that the label "Social Justice Warrior" is somehow pejorative with an entire series of "Social Justice" combat specalists. Not only could one be a Social Justice Warrior, but a Social Justice Paladin, or a Social Justice Space Marine, Social Justice Combat Engineer, Social Justice Wizard, Social Justice Warlock, Social Justice Terminator, Social Justice Pilot ... the possibilities are endless.

We left the con early and headed back to our Airbnb. We stopped for supper at the small pizza restaurant under the ground floor of our train station. They did not have an English menu (it appeared to be bilingual, in Finnish and Sweedish), but the guy behind the counter knew more than enough English to help us order a cheese pizza and an all-veggie pizza. We ordered take-out and I waited for the pizzas while Kiesa took the kids back to the Airbnb, with instructions to leave Calvin at the front door with the key so I could actually get into the flat when I returned, unlike last night. (My phone had reset itself during the day, and my pre-paid SIM wanted a PIN when it restarted. I had neglected to bring the PIN along with me, so I couldn't use the SIM card. This worked ok while I was still at Worldcon using the con's wi-fi, but broke down when I went outside.)

For Kiesa and I to attend the Hugo Awards, I had arranged for a babysitter to watch Calvin and Julian at our Airbnb, through one of the agencies recommended by Worldcon. (The agency apparently expected payment via direct bank transfer, which I didn't think I could do very easily -- at least not without calling Wells Fargo during US business hours, which seemed like more trouble than it was worth; so they agreed to take cash instead.) The babysitter arrived at 18:00, and we dressed up and headed back to the con.

Kiesa on her way to the Hugo Awards
Kiesa on her way to the Hugo Awards

We arrived at the convention center at 18:30 and found a long line running all the way down the main hallway. The con staff compressed the line, encouraging us to stand four abreast in hopes of reducing the total length. The line eventually wrapped back on itself as more people joined.

Queue waiting for the Hugo Awards
Queue waiting for the Hugo Awards

The doors opened sometime after 19:00, and we followed the line into the largest hall at the venue, with stadium seating for several thousand people. We found seats halfway up, roughly in the middle, with a good view of the stage.

Welcome to the Hugo Awards Ceremony
Welcome to the Hugo Awards Ceremony
Kiesa and Jaeger at the Hugo Awards
Kiesa and Jaeger at the Hugo Awards

We didn't have long to wait. The program started with a group of Stormtroopers and Imperial officers escorting the convention's director onto the stage to greet the crowd, then posing for a selfie with him. The toastmistress introduced various people presenting various awards. I had, at various times in the past, watched the live video stream of the awards, but I enjoyed the opportunity to watch the awards in person -- to hear the crowd react to each award's nominees and winner. (I did, however, have only a single-screen experience -- I didn't have my Twitter feed live in front of me to watch the Internet reaction in real time.)

I did not exhaustively read all of the fiction nominees this year -- my reading got stuck half-way through the year when I picked up Hamilton (the biography) and churned slowly through it. I was pleased that the Sad and Rabid Puppies did not get very far in their attempts at derailing the nomination process, and that their nominees did not rank well in the final voting. I was pleased when Arrival won best dramatic presentation (long form).

I was pleased that NK Jemisin won a second Hugo Award in a row for The Obelisk Gate (though slightly disappointed that my prefered candidate, Ninefox Gambit, hadn't won).

After the awards ceremony, we reached the platform just as the train to our station was pulling out. The next train didn't arrive for twenty minutes, so we were a few minutes late returning back to our Airbnb, but our babysitter was happy to stay a few extra minutes after 23:00. Despite the late hour, we studied our programs to prepare for the next day at the con.

Having rejected DOS, we're paranoid about anything that isn't
"user-friendly," that requires some adjustment on our part and a
commitment to meet the technology halfway. It's as if Henry Ford rigged
a bridle and set of leather reins to his Model T instead of a steering
wheel and clutch, and to this day we were still driving our cars the way
a 19th century groomsman would handle a horse and buggy.
- Jonathon Keats, "'You Send Me' by Patricia T. O'Conner & Stewart
Kellerman", Salon.com