Going to ICFA

Honestly, I’m almost too tired to write. I’m typing in my hotel room in Orlando, Florida. I’m at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. It’s not all that late, for me. But last night I only slept for about three hours, and I traveled for most of the day, and then immediately went into convention mode and started socializing. So really, I should probably just go to sleep.

But I’m going to post a few pictures first.

As I mentioned, I spent most of last night packing and making sure that I had done everything I needed to at home. Here are my suitcase and overnight bag. I know, they’re far too large for a trip like this one, which is only going to last four days. Ordinarily, I would pack a smaller suitcase for a trip like this, but I had to bring ten copies of my short story collection. You can see them, just a bit, in the right side of the suitcase, under whatever it is I have on top of them. In my overnight bag, I brought The Secret History of Fantasy, which I may get to read at some point during the trip. I’ve been stuck halfway through “Mythago Wood,” by Robert Holdstock, for a while now. Yes, I put all sorts of things in clear plastic bags, including my shoes.

In the picture above, the overnight bag is only half full. It has my travel blanket (which I use to keep myself warm on airplanes, and wrap around myself on various occasions when I get chilly), my writing notebook (I don’t go anywhere without one), and the netbook I’m typing on at the moment. Still to come are necessities like a bottle of water and a magazine (bought at the airport), and snacks. You can see the snacks below. In the Orlando airport, I saw a sign: Many bags look alike! Make sure you take your own. I don’t think I’d have problems with that, do you? Mine are pretty distinctive, green with my initials on them. Yes, it’s silly to have your initials on your luggage. Until someone else has the exact same luggage as you do.

Here, I have arrived at the hotel and changed into short sleeves for Orlando. Although of course I brought a sweater for the hotel. One thing you learn after going to conventions for a while is that you will always need a sweater, because the hotel will be cold from air conditioning no matter what the temperature will be like outside. (Actually, I brought three sweaters. Four pairs of jeans, three skirts, four long-sleeved shirts, four short-sleeved shirts, three sweaters. For four days. I always seem to overpack. And one banquet dress, but more on that later.) While taking this picture, I realized how desperately I need a haircut.  See?  It’s almost down to my waist, which means almost unmanageable. (Sorry about the yellow light. Hotels always have terrible lighting.)

When I went down to the lobby, I immediately started seeing people I knew. First, I ran into James Patrick Kelly, John Kessel, and Connie Willis sitting at a table. (I think there were a couple of other people there whose names I don’t remember, so apologies to those folks). Brett Cox came and joined us for a while as well. I had to bring my books to the book room, which I did next, giving them to David Hartwell and Joe Berlant. Then I ran into Veronica Schanoes, Helen Pilinovsky, David Attebery, and Bernie Goodman. We sat and talked for a while. And then Veronica, Helen, and I went out to the area by the pool, which is also by the lake. Here we are with Jay Lake and Mari Ness.

Here is the lake, and Veronica and Helen sitting at the end of the pier. There is a sign that says Fine for feeding alligators: $5000. We discussed the fact that feeding an alligator was likely to be its own punishment, no fine necessary. We saw a number of different birds. It was peaceful and lovely, and the only thing missing was that the poolside bar was closed. What was the hotel thinking?

This is me, by the lake. Not feeding alligators.

Toward the end of the day, I did actually go to a convention event: a panel on the ridiculous in science fiction and fantasy with Andy Duncan, Andrea Hairston, Connie Willis, and Terri Bisson. They are all incredibly smart and funny folks, and Andy had brought a mechanical raccoon that played the harmonica. Which was, well, ridiculous.

I’m afraid that’s all I have for you today. I’m going to sleep. Tomorrow morning I have a reading at 8:30 a.m. with Jim Kelly and Rachel Swirsky, who edited the wonderful People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy, in which she included “The Wings of Meister Wilhelm.” I’m reading part of “Pug,” which comes out in Asimov’s Fantasy Magazine this summer.

Wish you could be there!

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5 Responses to Going to ICFA

  1. Darja MC says:

    Wow, it seems everyone is there this year. Sad to be missing it. Have a lovely time!

  2. Keith Glaeske says:

    I wish I could be there, too! Even if there are no drinks with umbrellas. Say hello to Herbert the Alligator, if you see him. 🙂

  3. If I see any alligators, I will say hello to them, very cautiously. 🙂

    Yes, it’s a great crowd, and a lot of fun. Just wish I weren’t so tired! Well, a nap is in my future . . .

  4. Mike Allen says:

    I kick myself that I missed your portion of the reading. But the discussion was fun at least…

  5. Faye Ringel says:

    Sorry we didn’t cross paths–I knew you were in attendance, but saw you only at a distance once. At the Banquet, they announced that this was the largest ICFA crowd ever. It seemed that way!

    I never did see the alligator.

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