I had the bright idea that I'd go to WFA this year in San Jose a week ahead, so I could get over the jetlag that had made me progressively more useless and peculiar-looking at the 2008 Calgary con (before shots in an earlier post; I'm hoping nobody ever finds the after shots). And then I got messed up the plan by getting sick in San Francisco.
I stayed for two nights at an apartment hotel just up the steep street from Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. It would have been perfect, except that I arrived at noon after being awake and in airports and cabs and so on for about 36 hours, and checkin wasn't until 4pm. I sat (as suggested) on the beautiful rooftop deck, and listened cheerfully and sleepily to a bunch of nice women chatting about an engagement. I kept dropping off between sentences. Then a loud man and his quiet wife turned up, and he interrogated and harangued them quite pleasantly but VERY LOUDLY for HOURS, with little encouragement. I doubt that anyone there cared very much about the group he runs with. But you'll be pleased to hear that I didn't kill him, however strongly I was tempted. This is the amazing view from the rooftop:
On the Sunday, excellent fellow-judge Ellen Klages took me and my excessive luggage to her place on an even steeper San Francisco Hill, where she settled me in then showed me an actual real dirigible (not just one of those advertising thingies) in the sky. Back in the car, we picked up her delightful friend Madeleine (writer and editor) and Ellen drove us both to Half Moon Bay, where we
Back at Ellen's place, it was sunny enough for us to sit on her back deck and drink white wine and eat cheese. The sun dropped and the wind rose, so we went inside and...played scrabble! Madeleine won the first game, and forced me to fight back to win the second. A certain amount of Jameson's and red wine were consumed (mostly Jameson's by me, because my throat was getting sore), as well as a considerable amount of cheese and chocolate. Somewhere along the way, Ellen was induced to do her nun imitation.
On Monday, Ellen and I had a light lunch with two terribly famous and awfully nice YA fantasy authors (no, I won't boast), but my throat was sorer, and I was feeling fairly useless. A huge steak for dinner at Outback (no, we don't have Outback in Australia - our equivalent is the Lone Star Steakhouse chain) helped a bit, but not enough. After a very quiet morning reading Ellen's great recentish stories (and I particularly liked the evil one in the new Firebirds antho) I took the CalTrain to San Jose, and had a quiet night at the satisfyingly plush Fairmon hotel eating masses of fruit I bought from the Market thingy a couple of blocks away. The throat was worse and worse, and the glands were swollen, and so on, so I put myself on my emergency antibiotics. Sigh.
Russ turned up the next day, which was lovely. We had a good meal (another therapeutically huge steak, with garlic fries), and another quiet night, in the hope of getting me All Better. (Sadly, it didn't work, but I'm sure it helped a lot.) We had a ball, anyway, the next day, once we were registered. We saw millions of lovely people in the bar - in rough chronological order, Chris Roberson, Karen Haber, Terry Bisson, Bob Silverberg, Ellen Datlow, Stan Robinson, then Everyone Else. Much chatter and hilarity. The we saw the lovely Isobelle Carmody, who was at WFA for the first time and wanted to meet everyone (and it was my SECOND time, so I had advantages, even if she's published millions of books). Ellen Datlow took some photos in which it is plain that I'm sick, but Isobelle looks good.
The next few days are a blur of coughing a lot, having Russ sensibly insist that I rest most of the time, and going (briefly) to the bar to socialise, and to some wonderful parties, where I used ineffective sign language because I'd lost my voice. I was quite useless at the Australia Party, which I got to late because of a dinner with Ellen Datlow and friends, and where I couldn't actually speak, only squeak. All I did there, really, was to eat an inordinate number of chips from a bag thoughtfully brought around by the charming Deborah Biancotti, who was being a major support to the party. Cat, Garth, Sean, Justin and many others were of course wonderful. David Hartwell took a couple of photos which I sincerely hope will never see the light of day. On the Friday we fell into the path of the elegant whirlwind Katya Pendill, who whirled us and others around the huge bar, out to the excellent Orbit party, then to dinner, then to the mass signing, introducing people all along the way, and making sure that everyone had a wonderful time.
I haven't seen any of the thousands of photos taken of us-five-judges at the Sunday banquet lunch, but I'm not sure I want to: my ears and nose were totally congested that day, and I felt as if I was underwater, which made the whole experience rather odd. Here's a photo of Russ and me looking blank during the award ceremony (concentrating hard on the results, I expect). Chris Roberson's fabulous wife Allison is in the foreground, as the real subject of the photo.
But - despite yet another pesky North American bacterium - I'm glad I was a judge, and I'm glad I went to WFA in San Jose. I can never be a WFA judge again - it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing - but I've booked for WFA 2010 in Columbus Ohio, and I can't wait.