Worldcon, Day One

Our first day in Chicago was pretty low-key. As soon as we arrived at the hotel, UK literary scholars Farah Mendlesohn and Edward James dragged us out to lunch with Liza Groen Trombi of Locus; we enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation about books some of us liked and others didn’t, which is always a good way to get into the convention spirit. Then I interviewed David Long at Bethany House, who had some really interesting things to tell me about Christian speculative fiction. It goes way beyond Left Behind! That material will be going into an article for the upcoming SF/F focus issue.

Mikki Kendall and her husband took us on a walking tour of Chicago’s “scary” South Side (we stopped at a scary organic deli for scary coconut water! brrr!) and a drive through Bronzeville. Mikki’s a historian as well as an author, and she filled us in on the often tragic history of Chicago’s black neighborhoods. It’s one thing to play Sim City and see neighborhoods wither when you cut off their public transit. It’s another to see it in real life.

After we got back to the hotel, I napped for a bit while Josh took another walk, and then we went off to dinner with Charlie Jane Anders of io9. She used to be in medical writing, as did I, and we agreed that we’d love to see more SF where medicine is the science and the focus is something other than life extension. (More medicine in fantasy would be great too, like Daniel José Older’s story about a paramedic who determinedly resuscitates a witch who will come into her full powers when she dies.) After a few minutes of brainstorming we came up with a first contact story where an alien materializes in the middle of a road, is hit by a car, and has the actual first contact experience with the ambulance drivers or ER doctors, and also a story exploring the near future of hospice and palliative care and assisted suicide. Authors, consider this a challenge!

After dinner we hung out with a couple of Readercon volunteers and talked about plans for the coming year’s convention, and then Josh passed out while I got some editing done. It was a very nice start to what looks to be an entertaining and informative weekend.