It’s a bit weird these days for Dara and me to show up at a convention that we’re not actually working–or which I wind up missing because I need to blow the whole con actually writing because I suck at deadlines. *^_^*;; Medical shenanigans have also kept us from going to cons we’ve wanted to go to for a few years running.
Like, for example, Orycon! We missed the last couple ones due to those medical shenanigans, but this year, we finally made it down. This was the first Orycon we’ve been to in some time, so it was pretty much like going to the con for the first time all over again.
Dara has a con report up over here. To her overall commentary I will add that the hotel was pretty good, though it was a change of pace for us to be in a hotel with a tower-style structure rather than a more spread-out one like the Doubletree has for Norwescon. So there was a lot of Elevator Con going on, since there were things on the two lower-than-lobby levels, as well as on the 2nd, 3rd, and 16th floors.
And I did like the funky shape of our room. We were at the very end of a hallway, so rather than just being a square room or a rectangular one, ours was more triangular. Which was kind of cool. And we were up on the fifth floor, and on the correct side of the building to have at least a bit of a view out our tiny window.
Friday, when we came down for the con, we listened to more Big Finish on the way (Fourth Doctor adventures, the third season of those, with Leela as the Companion). And we wound up hitting a big chunk of traffic in Portland, which delayed our arrival somewhat. We wound up showing up right around dinner time. Once we got settled in (car turned over to valet parking, checked in, stuff dropped off in room, badges picked up from registration, books dropped off at NIWA table in the dealers’ room, dinner eaten, milk fetched from nearby 7-11 for important tea-making purposes), the rest of the night was pretty relaxed and groovy.
First things first though: at registration, I discovered that HOLY CRAP TANYA HUFF WAS AT THIS CONVENTION. Because see, I’d had no idea whatsoever that she was going to be the author GoH at this con until we showed up!
The reason why this is important: I consider Huff, along with Esther Friesner, two of the top formative influences on my own writing, at least in the SF/F genre. (The other being Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters, who was not an SF/F novelist, but who is definitely an influence on me nonetheless.) In Huff’s case in particular, it’s because she was my first exposure to queer-friendly fantasy that was also presenting queer characters without drama about them being queer. Don’t get me wrong–I was right there with all the rest of the queer readers slurping up Mercedes Lackey’s Vanyel trilogy too, because yeah, the Vanyel trilogy was pivotal. But it also came packed to the brim with drama surrounding Vanyel being gay. Huff’s writing, when I found it, showed me that it was not only okay to have queer characters in your story, it was also okay to not have their queerness be a cause of strife and drama, particularly strife and drama that would get them persecuted or killed. Or cause them to lose their love interests.
So yeah, Huff’s early books mean a lot to me and they’re why I’ve continued to happily read her releases ever since. And yes, you can trace some of the feel of the Warder books right back to her Summon the Keeper stories. Including how she and I, to date, are the only SF/F authors I’m aware of with Newfoundlander male leads. 😉
Then, I happened to cross paths with her in the elevator as I was heading up to the 5th floor, coming back from getting that necessary milk! I had just enough time to say hi, introduce myself as Anna the Piper, and to tell her I’d be coming to her reading before I had to get off on the 5th floor.
After all of that, Dara and I went to the NIWA Meet & Greet, which was nice; it was good to see a bunch of faces to associate with the names I’ve been seeing on the Facebook group. Most of the people who showed up were already NIWA people, though one or two were interested in learning more about the organization, so that was cool. And we went to Frank Hayes’ concert. Frank’s generally always delightful, and I must always give the man props–he may often forget his own lyrics, but he’s always so entertaining about it. He remains one of my favorite filkers to this day, and is responsible for a couple of my very favorite filksongs. <3
Saturday, while we were wandering around investigating what was where, Dara and I came in on a gathering in the fan lounge of the PDX Whovians group. They’re a Portland-based Doctor Who fanclub, and it was fun to hang out and chat about the Doctor with them.
And since Saturday was going to be the time Tanya Huff would be signing autographs, I made a point of swinging through the dealers’ room so I could go get a couple of her books. I snapped up paperback copies of both The Future Falls and The Silvered (not realizing at the time that I’d actually already bought that, DOH, but I didn’t find that out till I got home on Sunday). Problem was, I promptly managed to tear the back cover of The Future Falls trying to figure out how to get it into my already overstuffed backpack.
And I hate damaging my books. Dara, while I was busy going AUGH, wisely suggested that I just buy a second copy, and get that one signed, and she could work on repairing the cover of the damaged one and we could donate it to the Little Library in Lake Forest Park. Since we owe the Little Library a book anyway.
So I did that thing. Huff and I have been following one another on Twitter for a while, ever since I volunteered her a bit of data about bouzoukis for research purposes. This was the first time I’d met her face to face, though! And I told her to her face that I’d been telling people a lot that “if you like Tanya Huff’s books, you’ll probably like mine”. Which made her smile, and made her sign one of the books I gave her like this!
When I posted this photo to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, my friend Geri lamented that if she’d known Tanya Huff was going to be at this con, she’d have totally Paypal’d me money to get books to sign on her behalf. I told her Huff was having a reading the next day and her books were on sale in the dealers’ room. I got Geri to tell me which books to get, and went back and acquired another copy of The Future Falls, as well as the hardback of An Ancient Peace.
Later that afternoon Dara got in on the Jam in the Key of C. I did not participate in this, because I hadn’t elected to bring an instrument with strings–all I had with me were flutes and the good whistle, none of which were actually in C. However, it turned out that the title of this jam in the program book was misleading, because they totally did other keys. But they still didn’t play anything I felt comfortable trying to jump in on, so.
Early Saturday evening went to the Masquerade, which was rather more laid back than the one we’re used to at Norwescon, and closer to VCON’s Masquerade in how it was done. Participants had a bit of Q&A with the judges when they came out, and there was less emphasis on skits to present to show yourself in character. As always, Torrey Stenmark’s costuming was excellent and it was great to see her in full genderswapped Captain America regalia, and it was delightful to learn that she calls that version of the character “Stephanie Ginger Rogers”. ;D
I think my favorite unfamiliar costume, though, was the kid who was wearing a full-body costume for Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon.
Later Saturday evening went to wandering around and checking out room parties. Stopping at the release party for the NIWA anthology (more on this in an upcoming post!) was obligatory. But we also stopped at the party for the next Westercon, at which I was amused by the girl who was handing out the drinks. At one point she made us all bright blue shots and called them audience participation shots. She yelled “WARP CORE BREACH!” and we all had to yell “EJECT” in response and chug the shots. This was particularly amusing given the guy on hand who was wearing a Romulan uniform.
Sunday started off nice and strong with a couple of concerts! Dara and I came in on the tail end of the set by Going Viral. When we came in they were singing a song about “Girl Dressed as Slave Leia”, which I was prepared to make faces about. But then they did an awesome song that they called a “Choose Your Own Rockventure”, including getting a volunteer from the audience to come up and play the part of the admiral of a starship, while the audience had to yell out their choices for what he should do after every verse. That was clever and cool.
Their closer was also hysterical, along the theme of nerddom getting overhyped about movies that aren’t even out yet, and people being convinced that they will absolutely hate these movies. They got us all singing along with that, and we laughed because it’s so VERY VERY TRUE.
After them came the headlining concert: the PDX Broadsides, who are awesome and highly giggle-worthy. I knew most of the songs they performed, but they also had a couple of new ones. Of those, the best was hands down the one about the Nopetopus. Particular props for rhyming “shown us” and “Patronus” in the chorus. <3
I was delighted to hear that they’ve released a new album, too, Aim to Misbehave. As you might guess with a title like that, why yes, there are Browncoat-themed songs on this album. Two of them, in fact, including the crowd-pleasing “Nathan Fillion, Please Take Off Your Pants”. Those of you who are Browncoats will know instantly what episode of Firefly this song is about. Go! Go buy their album! And tell them I sent you!
Next: Tanya Huff’s reading, woo! She gave us a choice of the first chapter of the new book, and an unpublished Vicky Nelson story. The room opted for the latter, which pleased me quite a bit–because I’d been unaware that there were in fact additional short stories in the Vicky Nelson universe. (I think at some point I’d known these stories existed–but if I had, I’d forgotten!) So it was a great pleasure to hear about what’s happened to Vicky and Mike since the ending of the series.
It was a very nice little story, and since it isn’t published yet (it’s due to come out in a forthcoming anthology), I very much appreciated the chance to hear it!
After she was done, I came up to ask her if I could trouble her to sign the books for Geri, which she was happy to do. (And a bunch of other folks in the audience wanted her to sign stuff, too!) But what really kicked me over the edge of squee was her asking me to save and sign one of my books for her. “YES MA’AM!” I chirped, and promptly scurried off out of the way to let the rest of the folks have their chance to talk to her.
Met up with Dara and headed down to the dealers’ room, because I’d already sold at least one copy of Faerie Blood off the NIWA table, and I wanted to make sure that if there were any left, Tanya could have one.
As it happened, she caught up with us shortly after we got to the table. So of course I signed Faerie Blood for her, and she turned down any notion of taking it as a gift, because of course writers need to be able to sell their books. And when Dara and I pointed out the soundtrack CD, she also bought a copy of that!
And then, we just wound up standing there chatting for some time, which was delightful. Since Tanya is a fellow musician and a fellow Great Big Sea fan, we had a great deal we could chat about! Dara is prepared to talk instruments at the drop of a hat, while I will happily gab for hours on the topic of Great Big Sea. I wound up promising that I would in fact send Tanya guitar chords to Great Big Sea songs. And I also had to point out that if she liked Faerie Blood and wanted to proceed on to Bone Walker, that book does start out at a Great Big Sea concert.
Fellow NIWA author and table maven Lee French volunteered to take a pic of us! So she and Dara both took pics of Tanya and me, and Lee was quite amused about how she hadn’t ever seen so much squee before. (Lee, I note, has not seen me at Great Big Sea or Le Vent du Nord concerts!) Here are the pics they took! Behold, Internets, the only SF/F authors who have bouzoukis and Newfoundlanders in their stories!
Eventually, after I shut up long enough for another fan to stop and chat with Tanya, and after Dara and I made sure we weren’t keeping Tanya from any other scheduled obligations, we wandered back over to the Book Universe booth so that I could see if they had a copy of the short story collection Blood Bank–with the rest of those Vicky and Mike stories I hadn’t read yet! Book Universe did not disappoint! And Tanya signed the rest of their stock for them, too.
(If you’re counting, Internets, that means I bought six, count ’em, six different Tanya Huff books this past weekend. Four total for me, counting the one I bought twice, and two for Geri! Because her books are awesome.
If on the off chance you have read my stuff and you haven’t read hers–which, I grant, ain’t likely given that she’s a way bigger name than I am–go! Read her, for freg’s sake! She’s got epic fantasy AND urban fantasy AND military sci-fi space opera, so your options for what to read by her are many and varied!
And if you love Tanya’s titles and you missed her at Orycon, she WILL be the Author GoH at Norwescon next year!
But I digress.)
After we finally parted ways in the dealers’ room and I got the rest of the unsold books and the one unsold CD off the NIWA table, Dara went to go retrieve instruments. And I bumped into fellow GBS fangirl Jamie and had a lovely chat with her, too. This was a nice little coda to an overall excellent afternoon, and the last lovely note to a relaxing little convention before we set out for home!
The trip home got us more Doctor Who audio, a decent to-go meal from a burger bar who has really good fries and pretty tasty egg nog milkshakes, and me taking over driving because Dara was sleepy. We made it home safe and quite happy with the weekend as a whole. A+, Orycon, would and probably will attend again!