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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Worldcon Part II

Worldcon stories in no particular order...

Saw most of the events with George R. R. Martin, especially his two readings. He read from two chapters of the upcoming (someday) fourth Song of Ice and Fire Book, A Feast for Wolves, so I've got some tiny idea about what's happening to the characters.

GRRM also had a panel with an old friend of his and fellow writer, Howard Walthrop, about how they corresponded when they were teens and finally meet at a convention where GRRM had to share a hotel room with Howard and a dozen other Texans. They also told a story of how Howard once sold GRRM thru the mail a copy of Brave and the Bold #28, the first Justice League tryout issue, and first appearance of Starro the Conqueror. GRRM paid a quarter for the comic, which cost Howard only a dime, so he though he got a great deal. GRRM still has the issue, and now it's worth $12,000 USD.

Some woman bought an Aibo robot dog, and half the time I went in or out of the convention center there was this crowd on the floor playing with it.

Worldcons put out a newsletter once or twice a day, dealing with program changes, locations of room parties, where the good restaurants are, who won the Masquerade, etc. It's something I'd love to do for Anime North, but you need a large, dedicated staff to pull it off. I had occasion to drop by the newsletter office at one point, and found to me surprise they were photocopying and folding (by hand) the newsletter on site. I would have though they would have sent it out to printers, but they had two copy machines going flat out.

Space historian Hugh Gregory had a couple of great panels on Soviet Mars and Venus landers, and Soviet space disasters, including pictures and footage I've never seen before. His talk on the Chinese program was a bit disappointing, as it was mostly taken up with slides of various Chinese observatories he visited, and only had some serious space stuff at the end. He did have some photos of Chinese Long March rockets on their pads, with this huge mountain looming immediately behind them. The Chinese put their spaceport in a narrow valley so Russian missiles (on ballistic trajectories) couldn't get down into it, hitting the mountain instead.

My friend Jason Taniguchi won an Aurora (Canadian SF award) this year for the one-man SF shows he's done at Ad Astra and a few other places. Well done!

The Environmental Pseudoscience panel was very good. Remember in the 70s people were saying we were heading into an ice-age, and now everyone talks about global warming? Skeptics say this shows environmentalists don't know what they're talking about. According to Jonathan Cowie, a climate scientist on the panel, it works like this. The Earth is currently in an interglacial, a short period of abnormal warmth in an otherwise cold period. There have been several other interglacials in the past several ten thousand years, and only one was as warm as this one. So people were expecting things to slowly start getting colder again. But the question became would the greenhouse effect stop it from getting colder and tip the balance the other way? The answer is increasingly looking to be yes.

Los Angles and Kansas City were both running bids to host the 2006 Worldcon, and both had great room parties. LA had the much more elaborate "Space Cadet" theme going, with space merit badges and "airlocks" to get into the party suite, but Kansas City had the better food. LA ended up winning but only by 70 votes, there was a strong "anywhere but LA" movement going on, as California would then have three Worldcons in only nine years (Anaheim and San Jose).

I'm really rooting for the Nippon in 2007 bid, which gets voted on next year. The Worldcon has never been in Japan, which has a solid SF fandom base, and I'd really like to go there. In there party (which had shrimp chips!) they had Japanese editions of classic SF books, with these wonderful anime-like covers on them.