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November 20, 2006

Phun With Philcon

I'm back from Philcon, and relatively unscathed by the return travel -- unlike the flight in, my trip back was not appreciably delayed by weather and/or airline incompetence and/or mysterious creatures on the wing at 20,000 feet, so that's all to the good. It's nice to be back home, however; four days is enough time away from the family, I think.

I had a pretty good time at Philcon. Organizationally the con had some challenges this year -- there was some confusion regarding a number of program items, mostly relating to when and where they were -- but I thought the quality of the panels that I participated in or attended was pretty high (independent of my own involvement), and I got to see a number of folks who I had hoped to spend a bit of time with. Primary among them was Charlie Stross, who you see above having a rare moment when he was not programmed to the gills with panels or appearances or whatnot, because Charlie was the convention's "Principal Speaker" -- i.e., Guest of Honor. Charlie's always a big ball of fun to hang with, because he's always doing something interesting and is very enthusiastic about telling you about it. We should all be having as much fun. Also, as an aside, it's interesting to be in a community of people whose most celebrated individuals can walk around in a "Spongebob Cthulhupants" T-shirt and no one thinks twice about it.

At this point I'm wary of doing the namedrop thing because I inevitably forget people who I had fun talking to (or remember them but totally space out on their names, which I hate), but some of the folks I hung with include the mentioned-in-a-previous-entry MaryAnn Johansen and Bonnie-Ann Black, the SF Editor Mafia, which includes John Joseph Adams, Doug Cohen and Chris Cevasco, agent Jenny Rappaport and her excellent boyfriend (whose name I'm blanking on at the moment but I think is Chris), Diane Turnshek, David Louis Edelman, Ellen Asher and Andrew Wheeler from SFBC, Nathan Lilly, Ernest Lilley, Bud Sparrowhawk, Neil Clarke and Joshua Palmatier. I saw and/or was on panels with and/or spoke at parties to lots of other obscenely fascinating folks, too, but as I mentioned before, my brain is Swiss cheese at the moment. I would note that the con folks were lovely to me as well, particularly Suzanne Rosin, Hugh Casey and Alex Jay Berman.

One interesting thing about Philcon was that the hotel it was at had a number of other very interesting organizations there over the course of the weekend as well. There was a large contingent of runners there for the Philadelphia Marathon, which was apparently on Sunday, there was a Mayoral fundraiser on Saturday, and there were not one but two major religious gatherings as well, one apparently for black women, and the other for the Knights of Columbus. For the latter of these, I saw a man in a cardinal get-up; it took me just a fraction of a second to remember he wasn't in costume for the con. For the former, the singing and music just about drowned out one of the panels I was on; it was occasionally hard to concentrate on the subject of whether SF has swung to the political right when "Hallalujah!" was being bellowed in gospel tones a couple doors down. But aside from that, all the groups seem to have co-existed peacefully. Truly, a lesson for us all.

Naturally, since I was away from Athena for a couple of days, I had to get her something from the con; I decided on a cute little stuffed bunny, based on the rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I think Athena liked it:

Honestly, my kid's a riot.

In any event, Philcon: Good people and a fun time.

Posted by john at November 20, 2006 09:10 AM

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Jon Hansen | November 20, 2006 09:59 AM

Hee. Has she seen the movie yet?

John Scalzi | November 20, 2006 10:02 AM

Well, you know. She was in it. Yeah, I played it off the camera for her before she went off to school.

Q | November 20, 2006 10:07 AM

I think maybe he meant "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" itself...

Kate Baker | November 20, 2006 10:08 AM

I want one!

"Bring out the Holy Hand Grenade!"

Athena is quite the consummate actress. :)

Steve Buchheit | November 20, 2006 10:10 AM

Ah, kids and vorpal bunnies. So cute together. :)

Glad you had a great time at Philcon. Mr. Stross always looks like he's a hoot to be around.

Jon Hansen | November 20, 2006 10:23 AM

Q is quite correct: I was wondering if she's seen Holy Grail. Can't you read my mind?

John Scalzi | November 20, 2006 10:33 AM

Jon Hansen:

"Q is quite correct: I was wondering if she's seen Holy Grail. Can't you read my mind?"

I can, you filthy, filthy man.

She hasn't seen it yet, no. Maybe I'll show it to her today.

Jon Hansen | November 20, 2006 10:39 AM

Hey! I shower every morning, I'll have you know! With soap and everything!

Dean | November 20, 2006 10:43 AM

Must. Assault. Interweebs.

Must. Find. Rabbit.

Paul | November 20, 2006 10:49 AM

Hi, John! We spoke briefly at the con, and I attended the panel on websites for writers, which I found very interesting in that there was some clashing between opinions/generations. Anyways, nice meeting you.

WizarDru | November 20, 2006 10:50 AM

"Organizationally the con had some challenges this year..."

Unless things changed from when I stopped regularly attending, they faced those kind of challenges every year. :-)

Dave | November 20, 2006 11:19 AM

Supposedly there exist bunny slippers available with teeth like that, which should make everyone's Christmas gift-giving just that much easier.

Jess | November 20, 2006 11:20 AM

Athena's death scene was hilarious. Not sure how the person filming it managed to not laugh.

Chang who is inkredduloose! | November 20, 2006 11:57 AM


I think my daughter would use it to further attack me, though.

You know, despite looking alot like you, the kid is cute. Is her humor more yours or Krissy's?

Charlie Stross looks like he'd be a good person to hang with. One day maybe...

Todd Dashoff | November 20, 2006 11:59 AM

And the concom thank you for your efforts as well, especially personally for signing my ARC of The Android's Dream when you stopped in the office, since I never got out of there umtil 2 AM each night. Sorry you couldn't hang around for the committee dinner with Charles Stross at Maggiano's Sunday night; I think you would have liked it.

The con challenges were a little more interesting than usual, as this was our first year in a new hotel (well, it's an old hotel, too- remind me to tell you the headstone engraver story next time we run into each other...)

Therese Norén | November 20, 2006 12:10 PM

Glad to see you back safely!

I finally got my hands on TAD, and am smack in the middle of the fart joke.

Jenny Rae Rappaport | November 20, 2006 12:32 PM

Athena is a riot. =)

And yes, my boyfriend's name is Chris.

Hugh Casey | November 20, 2006 12:38 PM

It was a real thrill to meet you, John. I'm glad you enjoyed yourself. I hope this means that we can invite you back next year! *grin*

MikeB | November 20, 2006 12:49 PM

Mr Stross is definitely "the man" - I downloaded the free copy of Accelerando and was impressed enough to go out and buy the book. No diminuation of your good self intended there, I did the same with Agent to the Stars. I hope I can get out of the wilds of northern Canada and get to a con to meet both of you one day.

handdrummer | November 20, 2006 12:49 PM

w00t! I finally make it into a Whatever post. Well, the top of my head does. I sitting on the left in the background of the Stross photo. That little patch of grey under the stairs.

You give good panel. Enjoyed you on the right/left political panel.

Steve Buchheit | November 20, 2006 01:06 PM

Hey John, congrats on the SF Chronicle choosing TGB as one of their best books for SF&F. Props out to Locus Online for the link, BTW.

Heather | November 20, 2006 01:51 PM

What a riot!!!!! She reminds me of you.

Bruce | November 20, 2006 02:22 PM

I just finished Android's Dream. Quite entertaining. Reminded me a bit of Alan Dean Foster.

Chang, who loves his J-Bass! | November 20, 2006 02:55 PM

Hey MikeB?!

Where do I get a free copoy of Accelerando?

John Scalzi | November 20, 2006 03:08 PM

Chang, go to accelerando.org.

G. Jules | November 20, 2006 03:10 PM

Dave: Not only do the bunny slippers exist, I have actually given them to someone as a gift.

I don't have the foggiest idea of where one would find a pair, however. I bought mine at Pandemonium and I don't think they carry them anymore.

(Unless Amazon carries them. Hang on. They do!)

Shawn Struck | November 20, 2006 03:39 PM

Glad Philcon was such a blast.

However, I do have to ask: the beard and 'stache were fake. Right? Right?

And Athena vs. Killer Bunny Rabit" Hillaridorable.

Tom Nixon | November 20, 2006 03:43 PM

You know, John, if you had one of those tip jars, I would toss in a dollar or two on a regular basis. Interestingly, those tosses would correspond with Athena's appearances here.

Payment for future therapy and all that.


MikeB | November 20, 2006 05:03 PM

Last I heard, Mr Stross's beard and 'stache were very, very real...

Chang - John's given you the link - what can I say? Enjoy!!

Chang, who loves his J-Bass! | November 20, 2006 05:06 PM

John and MikeB: Thanks!

You know, it's so damn hard. I come to this site and so many awesome names get thrown around with such gusto as writers I simply musst check out. But then I'm in the midst of my writing and don't want to risk my writing with other peoples stuff. But I got that new Cherie Priest and we'll see how I do with that.

I seem to have alot in common with Stross. Same first name, write science fiction, and we're bearded. However he's published, far more intelligent and with a better taste in clothes.

Karl Cook | November 21, 2006 01:57 AM

Well John- glad you're back home safe and sound and the family has new playthings *and* furniture. I have to admit that I got my copy of TAD about 10 days ago, read it thru at a relaxed pace having several laugh-out-loud moments, especially '(he) didn't believe in karma, but he did believe in its idiot cousin...' and the plucky heroine's response to 'You're your own nation.' (I still chuckle at thinking of those.) Once finished, I thought so highly of it that I turned right back around and read it all over again, finding it even more satisfying at the conclusion. I've never done THAT before. So thanks for the great read and keep 'em coming, please!

BTW- Athena's little performance was also a nice LOL moment.
thx again!

Nathan E. Lilly | November 21, 2006 10:01 AM

Hi John,

That's a good photo of Stross, may I have permission to post it to the Philcon website (properly credited, of course)?

Jennie | November 21, 2006 11:27 AM

So, does anyone know where to find the "Spongebob Cthulhupants" t-shirt? (Already tried Amazon...)

Steve Buchheit | November 21, 2006 01:14 PM

Jennie, I've only seen them at cons. There's a bunch, iCthuPod, Kids for Cthulhu (KFC), Collect Call of Cthulhu, etc. I've never seen them in a catalog, even an offline paper catalog. Hopefully someone else knows where to get them.

John Scalzi | November 21, 2006 01:18 PM

I suspect you won't find them online because I doubt Viacom would give permission for such a shirt.

Steve Buchheit | November 21, 2006 01:41 PM

Okay, I gotta know, how did Viacom get the licensing to a product that was a shared universe at its creation (and I thouhgt was now in the public domain)? And even more important, as a writer, do I have to go hat in hand to Viacom to write a Cthulhu story?

Steve Buchheit | November 21, 2006 01:44 PM

Sorry, Homer Simpson moment. Viacom, Nickelodeon, SpongeBob. D'oh! (smack to forehead).

John Scalzi | November 21, 2006 01:44 PM

Viacom doesnn't have any rights to Cthulhu as far as I know. It does have the rights to Spongebob.

Luke | November 21, 2006 05:05 PM

Bah, the beast of Llyn-Barfog is naught compared to Bun-bun.

Todd | November 22, 2006 10:35 AM

mmm... Yuengling beer.

Michael Walsh | November 22, 2006 11:39 AM

Great meeting you!

Thanks for signing all those copies of Old Man's War.

Hope you can make it to Capclave next year.

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