The three days of this year’s Orycon in Portland went by astonishingly fast. This was my fourth time at this particular sci-fi/fantasy conference, and my first year as a panelist. I was assigned to an apparently ambitious number of events—eleven panels, plus a twelfth I was invited to join—and by some miracle I made it to every single one of them, and to the launch party for UNDERGROUND, the 2014 NIWA anthology which I edited.
After the “Hacking Biology” panel discussion on Friday night, one young man really made my day when he came up to offer me a hug. I’d been on the panel because of my own history (and knowledge) of living with chronic illness, and that embrace was his way of contributing to my well-being. When I spotted him the next day to thank him again for his kindness, he gave me another big hug. It was awesome.
The “Sherlock vs. Elementary throw-down” panel kicked ass, to no one’s surprise. My fellow panelists Dale Ivan Smith and Wendy Wagner and our moderator Brian Hunt were all in fine form for that very lively discussion/debate, and it was definitely a highlight of the con for me.
The NIWA party, as always, was a huge success, and it was great to see so many of the anthology authors in attendance and signing autographs. I was only slightly unnerved when one of next year’s programming organizers pulled me aside to ask how my panels were going and to let me know that I was being observed over the course of the weekend to gauge my performance. Apparently, I passed.
There were some marvelous readings to attend, and many more which I missed due to my own panel commitments. Wendy Wagner and Brian Hunt were stand-outs. My own reading on Sunday afternoon attracted a decent attendance and went fairly well, even though my flash cards weren’t entirely cooperative. I think I may have been the only reader employing visual aids, but that’s what happens when one of your characters speaks only through punctuation.
I was startled and a bit shaken up when a yellow jacket was discovered hitchhiking on my shoulder, as a recent sting sent me to bed (and nearly to the hospital) for two weeks. (I still need to blog about that. It was a pretty crazy experience and also frightening.) My heartfelt thanks to the young woman who was running The Guiding Tree booth in the dealer’s room for spotting the insect, and for possibly saving my life.
One of the members manning the NIWA booth, however, told me that a Klingon (in full costume) bought all three volumes currently available in the Valhalla series. I don’t know who that was, but if you’re reading this, I heartily thank you and encourage you to get in touch!
Sunday night was a challenge. I made it over to the huge sci-fi/fantasy book signing at Powells—what I always think of as the “Orycon after-party”—for some last conversations with many of the folks I’d seen at the conference. But overnight, I had some rather extreme GI distress. I’d worried at first that I’d picked up a stomach flu or was suffering from food poisoning. Whatever it was, while unpleasant, it was at least short-lived.
It’s nearly mid-day on Monday now. I’m pretty well exhausted and mind-fogged, but not as much as I’d anticipated—which is a huge boon when you consider how bad things can get with dysautonomia when there’s any kind of stress on the system. I chalk this up to the fact that I’ve been hiking several miles every morning, enforcing a strict schedule of rest and hydration, and getting better about saying “No” even when I feel pulled to say “Yes.”
That’s the short report from me. How was your weekend?