TA Bratcher's Blog

All about the books

My World Con Experience

My introduction into the world of science fiction


For those of you who didn’t know, I have been a science fiction and fantasy fan from a young age.  It all started with one particular book I got at a yard sale for 25 cents.

Now before I give you the title I feel the need to give you a little background on why out of the multiple stacks and boxes filled to the top I picked up this book. The cover didn’t impress me, and I almost placed it back into the stack of books that I cast aside, but I turned it over and read the back. Right then I knew I had to read this book.

Much to my mother’s dismay (she thought I should pick something more age appropriate) and being the stubborn child I was, I stopped looking, paid for my one book, and set off to the car. I wanted nothing more than to start reading.

 Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. I was captivated, trapped in the world this author had created. I finished the book a couple of hours before I had to get up to go to school. The thing is, that book has stuck with me over the years and because of that book, I went out of my way to find anything from that author. For 37 years I have been a fan, thanks to Robert Silverberg.

                                                                            

           

        “To Live Again by Robert Silverberg"

         Published in 1969




                                                        







My World Con Experience


Going to World Con has been a big dream of mine, and up until this point, I have not been able to attend for various reasons. Therefore, when I found out it was being held in Spokane my inner geek goddess did back flips. Over the years, I have attended many Comic Cons and such, but this I have been waiting for a long time and today is the day.

 

Day 1: August 19, 2015

I looked around the room and thought this is such a diverse group of people from the young to the older. Coming from all over the world, to meet, greet, talk, and -  sadly at times - argue. There is one thing we have in common: a love for science fiction and fantasy. We are what some call the misfits, the geeks, the loners, the dreamers, the artists, the bookworms, and the fans. Even though most of us have never met before, each of us has our name etched on a leaf connected to the tree that marks us as a family. We are many, and proud to be part of this family we hold so dear, because here we are welcomed, accepted for who and what we are in this vast, never-ending,  always growing family of science fiction and fantasy.

I picked up my badge and bag of goodies, and then made my way with my friend Sue to the closest coffee stand. (Must have coffee!) We each looked at our programs and talked about key things we each planned to attend. After our little coffee break (the first of many), we walked around the dealers for a bit, where I proceeded to purchase a few small tokens. Then we slowly made our way through the crowd to the opening ceremony.

It was well done, with a quick introduction from Sally Woehrle, a Sasquan chair member. Then came native storyteller Roger Fernandez; he did a fantastic job singing the Changes song and telling the stories of the gossiping clams, the little beaver, and the raven in the bag. Then of course the introduction of the guests of honor:  bard Tom Smith,  author Vonda McIntyre, author David Gerrold, author Leslie Turek, TAFF delegate Nina Horvath, artist Brad Foster, designer of the 2015 Hugo Award Matthew Dockery, and last but certainly not least special guest NASA Astronaut Dr. Kjell Lindgren from space!

  (He has a tribble!)
 
  


After the opening ceremony, I talked to author T. L .Walker. He was a delight to chat with as he gave out free books and other things. I talked to various venders as I gave gladly them my credit card (you can never have too many books, cups, t-shirts, and collectables).  My friend Sue and I met a lovely young woman named Julia who is a super huge Doctor Who fan. Later on, I met and had a great chat with two nice men from Ireland and another lovely woman from Iceland. All three like myself are authors. They were a little surprised about the fact I write contemporary fiction and not science fiction or fantasy, and all three promised not to hold it against me since my knowledge of science fiction passed the test. We exchanged business cards and made plans to meet up the next day. Over all, my first day at the Con was great. I met and talked to some wonderful people, not only from the Spokane area but also from Ireland, Iceland, Germany, England, Texas, California, and New York. For those of you who think all I do is sit at home and just write: see, I can be a social butterfly when I want.

For more information about Sasquan, visit www.sasquan.org

For more information on NASA Astronaut Dr. Kjell Lindgren, visit www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/lindgren-kn.pdf

For more information about Native Storyteller Roger Fernandez, visit 


 
 


                       Day 2: August 20, 2015

Excellent coffee, Sir Pratchett, and Martin

The first place I headed to was my favorite coffee shop - Beautiful Grounds - located in Auntie’s bookstore. Afterwards I went to the Terry Pratchett memorial. I listened to his colleagues talk about him with such respect and admiration, and they each told a funny story about Sir Pratchett. Then they gave the floor over to his fans, who wanted to tell about personal experiences they had. So many people had fond memories that they shared with everyone there, it just goes to show how Sir Pratchett not only touched so many with his books, but his generosity to his fans was immense. He will be dearly missed but never forgotten. (I did not see many dry eyes during the memorial.)

Sir Terry Pratchett was a Patron of Alzheimer’s Research. Visit the website for more information and details on how you can help support the research.  www.alzheimersresearchuk.org

 

After pulling myself together I bee-lined it to David Gerrold’s interview (another writer whose work I adore). Now I have been a fan of Mr. Gerrold’s for many moons. To be honest, I didn’t know he wrote The Trouble with Tribbles until my late teens. However, I had read quite a bit of his short fiction and later on most of his series. His interview was fascinating and informative; unlike some people, I do not feel the need to know everything in a celebrity’s private life. I follow their careers, but the private aspect of someone’s life I just do not see the need to have such information unless they willingly share it with the public. Mr. Gerrold shared a lot of information about himself that I am sure most people already knew, none of which I found surprising or disappointing. The one thing that stood out to me above everything else was how he talked about the adoption of his son. That touched me profoundly. I believe that not only is his son lucky to have such a father, but Mr. Gerrold is one lucky man to have such a son. I have an overwhelming amount of respect for this man. (Today so far has been an overload of emotion).

For more information about David Gerrold, visit www.gerrold.com

 

 


Next the George R. R. Martin reading (this entire day was over and beyond GREAT!)

I arrived early enough to get a front row seat to hear Mr. Martin read a chapter from his newest book. (Sorry people, it’s not available yet.) For those of you who only watch the series, you are missing so much.

While sitting there I had a discussion with a man about the Red Wedding. Needless to say we did not see eye-to-eye. He seemed to be bent out of shape about Mr. Martin killing off fan favorites; I on the other hand think it was brilliant. As hard as this man tried to convince me it was bad judgement to kill of so many of the fans’ favorite characters, I did not sway from what I thought. He decided to get up and move to another seat.

Shortly after that, Mr. Martin walked on stage. After a quick introduction on what he planned to read, he began reading. This is where I let my mind imagine the characters as he read. We listened to Mr. Martin read about a character that is not in the TV show.  It was a pleasant experience to meet Mr. Martin; one I will never forget. I do hope in the years to come I have the opportunity to meet him again.

For more information about George R. R. Martin, visit www.georgerrmartin.com

 

Lunch time and another coffee break, then it was off to vote for the host city for the 2017 World Con. After that, I listened to various authors, including Vonda McIntyre, talk about co-op publishing. This was an interesting topic to say the least, and something I plan to do research on in the very near future. In between meeting more people and saying hello to the ones I met the day before, and at times wandering around the different venders (again), I met a funny little man from California. We talked about different science fiction shows that have been on television over the years, naming our favorite episodes, and at one point not agreeing on what show was the best overall. By this time, it was time to call it a night. I met some wonderful people from areas around Washington, Oregon, Vermont, California, Montana, and Virginia, along with meeting up with my new friends from Ireland and Iceland. 

For more information about Vonda McIntyre, visit www.vondanmcintyre.com

For more information about the “75th” World Con 2017, Visit www.worldcon.fi

 


 

                                   Day 3: August 21, 2015

Gerrold, Silverberg, Martin, and a Masquerade

Coffee is the only thing on my mind. Getting home the night before I figured, okay, I couldn’t go the rest of the week without doing any writing. (I will sleep plenty when I am dead). Well, let’s just say 4:00 am came upon me too fast. I finally went to bed, only to wake up a couple of hours later. I was one tired and not so happy person. Nevertheless, I was on a mission. I had picked many things to attend that day.  Not thinking that I would be making several back and forth trips, I planned to attend the masquerade as well, so it was going to be a long day and night.

My day changed pretty darn fast from grumpy to an ‘oh shit’ moment, and then to happy. As I was walking from my car to the convention center, I tripped and almost kissed the sidewalk with my face. Thanks to a special author who caught me: you saved me from a possible bad case of road rash. As I gathered myself up I happened to walk by David Gerrold (Insert happy moment for my inner geek goddess). I didn’t really want to bother him too much, so I said a quick hello, mentioned that I enjoyed his interview, and told him I hoped he would have a wonderful day.

 I arrived at the first engagement I planned to attend that day. I was fortunate enough to get a front row seat to see George R. R. Martin and the man responsible for my introduction to science fiction, the one, and only Robert Silverberg (my inner geek goddess just fainted).  Now Mr. Martin was running a few minutes late, so Mr. Silverberg decided he would be both himself and George. Who knew that Mr. Silverberg was such a comedian? After Mr. Martin showed up, the back and the forth banter began. You could tell that both were having as great a time as the audience. Unfortunately, I did not get to meet Mr. Silverberg personally, but sitting there listening to him and Mr. Martin was better than I could have imagined. I was a little sad to see it end, but with all good things, they must end at some point.

For more information about Robert Silverberg, visit www.robert-silverberg.com

 

Meet and greet with Face Off contestant and winner of season two, Rayce Bird:

Being a fan of the T.V. Show Face Off, I was thrilled to meet Rayce Bird, his lovely wife and kids. In addition, of course, I had to get an awesome T-shirt. Mr. Bird talked about his experience on the show and about doing other conventions; he answered question and joked around. He is a humble young man who was more than willing to take a selfie with me that I instantly posted on Twitter, before I had to leave and get to the author signing area. (By the way, he is one of the most down-to-earth and talented celebrities I have had the pleasure of meeting. I am looking forward to seeing more of his work).

For more information about Rayce Bird, visit www.raycebird.com

For more information about Face Off, visit www.syfy.com/faceoff

 

I got to David Gerrold’s autograph table; he is everything this fan could have hoped for: unpretentious and accommodating to his fans. He signed my T-shirt and took a picture with me along with cracking a small joke. I will admit I had more than a few questions I wanted to ask, but I didn’t want to take more time than what was needed to get an autograph and picture, plus there were more people behind me waiting their turn.  (Another respectable man I had the pleasure of meeting again). After the author signing I decided to drop a few of the things I planned on attending. I had a drink with my friend Sue and we decided to take a breather at her house before getting ready for the Masquerade. I met some more wonderful people from Utah, Ohio, Maine, and Japan. I also ran into my friends from Ireland and Iceland.

 

The Masquerade:

If you have never attended a masquerade, I suggest you go to one the first chance you get.

My friends have spoken of Kevin Roche many times; his name comes up often when I talk to my friends who are heavy into costuming. To most of them, he is the god of costuming. To see the man they worship was a real treat.  Kevin Roche was the Master of Ceremonies for the Sasquan Masquerade. Not many can pull off a mohawk and still look fabulous. Mr. Roche can rock a mohawk like no other. He truly made the night with his humor and overall personality.  Now I understand why some of my friends worship and love this man.

Now for the costumes: I was blown away from the novices to the masters. One young woman knitted her whole Klingon costume, another made hers of nothing but leather, then there was the Justice League Victorian style, and the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who. All were well done and some were playful, like the rainbow octopus and the balloon people (apologies: I cannot for the life of me remember what they called themselves). All the contestants did what I want to call the runway walk, with a splash of theatrics. After the showing of costumes, we moved on to the intermission part of the masquerade.

 We were in for a real treat. The music guest of honor was none other than Tom Smith; he entertained us with his style of folk rock and comedy known in the inner circles as 'filk.'  He even wrote a special song for Spokane called Smoke-Cane, making light of the smoke we were all enduring so far, without taking away the seriousness of the situation caused by the fires that are ravaging our beautiful state.

We sang along to some of his songs, and laughed at his stories and jokes. Then many of us got a little teary-eyed as Tom performed The Rainbow Connection in the voice of Kermit the frog, a tribute to Muppet creator Jim Henson. Tom cheered us back up with more silly songs before Mr. Roche returned to announce the winners of the masquerade.  Over all everyone showed real talent, making it one memorable and fun-filled night. Afterwards I was able to have a conversation with a few of the contestants and took some pictures.

 Congratulations to everyone who entered. Even if you didn’t win a ribbon, you put on a spectacular show of your creative talent, which is in itself a wonderful thing to have accomplished. Keep up the good work.

For more information about Kevin Roche, Visit http://www.kproche.livejournal.com

For more information about Tom Smith, visit www.filkertom.com

(Congratulations to Julia and her friend who won an award for their Weeping Angels costumes. Keep going after your dream!)

 
 


                                    Day 4: August 22, 2015

All about the Hugo Awards

Hugo emcees David Gerrold and Tananarive Due, along with guest announcers Nina Horvath and Dalek Rainier, did an outstanding job. I am sure many attending were sitting anxiously wondering if they won, or if maybe the person they voted for won. I was one small person in this crowd sitting on the edge of my seat (mentally). I sat next to Russell, a man I had met earlier in the day while we waited to get our tickets. We talked again while waiting for the awards to begin, and time seemed to pass by pretty quickly. The next thing I knew the lights started to turn down, and what do we see? “The Grim Reaper.” This sight brought on the laughs; I’m sure all of you know why. Next out was David Gerrold and Tananarive Due, and the fun-filled banter began. They kept pretty much in tempo, making the most obvious mistakes and putting the room at ease. The guest announcer Nina Horvath is an absolute doll, and the banter between her and David Gerrold was priceless. In addition, you could not help but laugh at the skit between David Gerrold and the Dalek. Once again, everyone put in a lot of hard work that paid off. It was a wonderful night with great company. After the ceremony, I looked around again, watching everyone laughing, giving hugs, shaking hands, and taking pictures. As I walked past people, I overheard some talking about what after party they would be attending. When I walked out the door I bumped into Vonda McIntire and we had a pleasant little chat. I then slowly walked to my car, calling it a night and the last day I would be attending the conference. On my drive home, I pondered my experience at World Con. I have never had a week quite like this one and I am sure I never will again. I am pleased that things went the way they did; I hope that everyone who attended had an extraordinary time and took with them some great memories.

For more information about the Hugo Awards, visit www.thehugoawards.org

For more information on The World Science Fiction Convention, visit www.worldcon.org

 

 

 

 

THANK YOU

 

Thank you to everyone who voted to have World Con here in Spokane. It took well over twenty years, but it was worth the wait.

Thank you Sasquan, and everyone who worked behind the scenes. All your hard work and dedication helped to make this a once in a lifetime experience for so many. You did Spokane proud.

To all the authors: without you, there would be no science fiction family. It was an honor meeting so many of you.

To this vast family: we are many, we are strong, we will overcome anything or anyone who tries to cast a deep shadow over the world of science fiction and fantasy. We are the keepers of the stories told. Stay strong, stay true, and keep this family for our future members.

 

Until next time…

 “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”
Picture of author

About T.A. Bratcher

T.A. Bratcher is the author of The Road Chosen with a few other books in the works. Learn more about her here and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Comments (8) -

  • Laurie Mann

    9/7/2015 9:22:14 AM | Reply

    Thanks for your review of Sasquan - I'm very happy you had a good time.

    " Mr. Martin was running a few minutes late, so Mr. Silverberg decided he would be both himself and George. Who knew that Mr. Silverberg was such a comedian? "   --  and that's one of the great things about getting to Worldcons - we KNOW Robert is quite amusing!

    • T.A. Bratcher

      9/7/2015 1:57:36 PM | Reply

      Thank you Laurie
      I did have the most delightful time.

  • Randy

    9/7/2015 1:10:55 PM | Reply

    I loved your review!

    I'm also particularly glad that you mentiined and enjoyed meeting Rayce Bird, part of the SpoCon Presents track of Programming at Sasquan.  I enjoyed working with Rayce to bring him out, and we hope to be working with him again, in the futue, for SpoCon.
    And, if you enjoyed you experience with Sasquan, please keep an eye on www.spocon.org for more Spokane sci-fi/fantasy goodness!  Our next local event will be A Weekend with Vic Mignogna... actor, director, musician and one of the most recognized anime voice actors in the US (and he plays Captain James T Kirk, on the Star Trek Continues web series).  This will take place Oct. 3-4 at Spokane Community College.  Again, you can find all the details on www.spocon.org.

    • T.A. Bratcher

      9/7/2015 1:51:37 PM | Reply

      Thank you Randy!
      Thanks for the information I will definitely be there.

  • Adrienne Foster

    9/7/2015 1:52:37 PM | Reply

    I so glad you enjoyed yourself at Sasquan. As part of its staff, that's the main thing we strive for when we work on these conventions.

    FWIW, T.A., you might appreciate that Kevin Roche also designed, constructed and performed in the Grim Reeper costume himself. It was his Sekrit Projekt for this Worldcon.

    • T.A. Bratcher

      9/7/2015 1:55:00 PM | Reply

      Thank you Adrienne
      Oh I didn't know that! Thanks ;)

  • David Gerrold

    9/7/2015 6:01:09 PM | Reply

    What a nice con report. So many people worked so hard to make Sasquan a success that it's gratifying to hear people reporting they had so much fun. You certainly brought the right attitude to the convention. I hope to see you again at future cons.

    Thanks for all the kind words. Always appreciated.

    David

  • T.A. Bratcher

    9/7/2015 6:08:10 PM | Reply

    Thank you!
    I also hope to also see you at future cons. Smile

    Take Care

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