Arisia 2013

Arisia 2013

Our stalwart audience. The Puffin is named Edgar, apparently. "A very good listener," says his buddy, Justine Graykin.
Our stalwart audience. The Puffin is named Edgar, apparently. “A very good listener,” says his buddy, Justine Graykin.


This morning in the Green Room, as I nibbled at my pastry or bagel or whatever, mourning my lack of PG Tips with the bleary lamentations of a woman who has experienced the Awfulness of Dawn to commute in for an 8:30 AM panel about Discworld, I overheard one fellow say to another over the cream cheese, “In my world, I run the Federation.”


I must be at a Science Fiction convention.

This is my first Arisia, though Shira Lipkin’s been telling me about it for years. It’s a convention for fans, by fans, and fully arrayed in the panoply of fandom. For instance, last night, (Friday, right?) I was sitting in the lobby, drinking hot chocolate, with my pals Julia Rios (an editor at Strange Horizons) and Erik Amundsen (Black Gate blogger and writer), and also an astrophysicist named Nick, when what should come thundering down the escalator, but a bunch of young warriors with swords? Yup. With SWORDS, I tell you. Followed shortly thereafter by three Disney princesses. This morning, I saw a nurse. A sort of Goth nurse, maybe, if nurses were also ninjas. Nurse-like anyway.

What they're feeding panelists in the Green Room. I kid you not.
What they’re feeding panelists in the Green Room. I kid you not.

A common greeting here is, “Nice Cos-play!” The woman sitting next to me right now has a green face. I saw Death last night, dancing in a drum circle. She wore a white hoop-skirt and a white wig.

There are tracks here for Cos-play, sword-play, gaming, film, comics, kink, and literature. There is a place where you can build your own siege engine.

So far, I’ve had one reading and one panel. The reading was last night. Justine Graykin and I shared a slot. She read from her novel, Archimedes Nesselrode, and I read (are you surprised?) the first section of “Godmother Lizard.”

Oh, Bartleby! Oh, my vanity. Sigh.

The audience consisted of Erik (Julia had a panel opposite my reading, so she couldn’t make it) and a ginormous stuffed puffin named Edgar. As Justine said later, “We had VAST HORDES OF PEOPLE… who just didn’t make it.”

About halfway through Justine’s reading, a friend of hers did wander in. And halfway through mine, a gentleman found his way to the back row. This was… um. A very different experience from the crowded-chaos-with-cookies extravaganza that was our Crinoline Banjo Apocalypse Troubadours reading at World Fantasy. Doubtless it’s good for me.

The Discworld panel, minus Sarah Smith, who must've scooted in later.
The Discworld panel, minus Sarah Smith, who must’ve scooted in later.

This morning, at 8:30 (did I mention I was on a panel at EIGHT-FRIKKIN-THIRTY in the A.M., smalls?), was the aforementioned “Discworld at 30” panel, which actually went quite well, and was far better attended than I’d anticipated. We all just basically geeked out for an hour and a quarter, taking time apart from flailing all over our favorite bits (Death, Sam Vimes, Granny Weatherwax) to blast Rincewind, wince at early Magrat, discuss the problems inherent in substituting species for race when satirizing racism, touch on classism, and dwell on retrophrenology. That was cool. My fellow panelists were Adam Lipkin (moderator, and a dang good one), Kate Nepveu, Christopher K. Davis, and Sarah Smith.

Later today, I have a slot for autographing. I don’t know why I have one, really. It’s alongside Cecilia Tan, though, who’s the writer and editor who founded Circlet Press, so that should be interesting anyway! For now, I will put the blog away and look at the pretty people wearing gears and top hats and corsets.


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John ONeill

All of my best reading experiences at conventions have been with tiny audiences.

Perhaps the best was a small, intimate group of six fans at Archon 22, in 1998. The reader was some guy named George R.R. Martin, and he was reading from his new novel A GAME OF THRONES. Absolutely riveting reading… not that 99% of the folks at the con ever knew it. The crowd was so small George had time to autograph books and chat with us (he signed the advance proof of the book I had), until the next reader showed up to kick us out.

It’s not the size of the audience. It’s how much you wowed ’em. And I know you did that in spades.

Sarah Avery

My favorite story of a small-audience reading:

GRRM’s editor told me the tale of the reading he gave that had an attendance of -3. How do you get attendance in negative numbers, you might ask? He was to read in the cafe at a Barnes & Noble. When he arrived, there were three people hanging out at the cafe tables. The manager announced Martin’s reading and started doing the usual author bio intro thing. Those three people skedaddled, leaving nobody to hear Martin read. I wish I’d thought to ask which book he was promoting at the time.

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