Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way
This morning I left Reno and flew to San Diego, where I’m
WorldCon was … pretty amazing. I sometimes get alienated and loner-y at conventions, and wind up cowering in my hotel room, but this particular WorldCon sort of wouldn’t let me. Too many nice and interesting things kept happening. You’d go to a perfectly ordinary cocktail party and suddenly it’s why hello, Kim Stanley Robinson, wow, I am shaking your hand. And yes, I am very pleased to meet you, Robert Silverberg.
I watched George R.R. Martin and Parris McBride get married. I had dinner (separately) with Cory Doctorow and Bill Willingham and other genius-level humans. I did an extended Jeremy Paxman impression as the host of Magical University Challenge. (The Brakebills team was bounced in the first round. But they did, later, rush the stage and beat up Harry Potter, so … redemption?)
We threw not one but two highly canonical Magicians-themed parties, complete with drinks from the books. It has been pointed out to me that maybe I should have more delicious drinks in future books, and yes, fair point. But those parties were damn canonical.
I have to add that the parties happened partly because of the generosity of my publisher, Viking, who funded them, but mostly because of the energy and general kick-assery of Leigh Ann Hildenbrand, who is an extraordinary person and a force of nature. If she had been running the Roman empire we would be wearing a great many more togas nowadays. If you were there, you know what she and España Sheriff (and probably many others who deserve to be thanked) accomplished. For those who weren’t, I have no doubt pictures will emerge.
Leigh Ann’s hard work and support are not unrelated to what happened on Saturday night, which is that I won the John W. Campbell award for best new writer at the Hugos.
I am not generally an award-winning kind of guy. This isn’t me being modest. I get plenty of stuff done, in a slow and steady can i order zithromax online way, but I am just not one of nature’s show ponies. Hearing my name called on Saturday night was like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. It was as if a freezing shower had quietly, unbeknownst to me, been lowered from the rafters over my head and, at that moment, switched on. Breathing became suddenly, wonderfully hard.
I got up and walked to the stage. I had thought I would be terrified, but because of the way the lighting works, from the stage the entire audience is invisible. I expected a sea of staring eyes, but it was just a pleasantly velvety inky-black void. Also, and this is God’s own truth, at that moment you’re just so happy you physically cannot be scared. I bent the knee to Seanan McGuire (last year’s winner) and received the tiara. Then I said my bit to the void and wandered offstage in a daze.
The award does not make you delusional: I do not believe that I am actually the best new writer. I’m definitely not a better writer than the other nominees; I’m not saying I’m worse either, but it could have gone any one of the five ways and made perfect sense. As it was the voting was pretty damn close. The people who administer the Hugos are seriously into informational transparency, and at the after-party they paper the walls with really granular statistical breakdowns of how the voting went. So it is a fact that in the nominating stage of the selection process, Saladin Ahmed got way more nominations than I did. And in the voting round I came damn close to being pipped at the post by Lauren Beukes. Really close. And you don’t need a spreadsheet to figure out that Lauren would have looked way better than me in the tiara.
But in spite of all those things, I’ve decided that it’s OK to be happy about the Campbell award. And I am. Really happy. San Diegans and other citizens of the Mysterious Galaxy, I will see you shortly.