My Renovation experience began in earnest when I stepped off the plane Thursday evening to meet Amanda, a person whom I had only known for about a month through an online RPG. We didn’t even play with each other; it was through a conversation with someone else entirely that we discovered we were both going to WorldCon, and we figured well, why not? It’s this kind of random friendship-from-thin-air that I feel really makes a con. To put it another way, a convention is anywhere between three hundred and thirty thousand friends you never knew you had.
The first order of business was to hit the hotel – not the Peppermill or Atlantis, mind you, but the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Reno Airport. I’m a graduate student, there’s simply no way I could have afforded the other two, much as I desperately wanted to stay in the Atlantis! The Hawthorn Suites was cheap though, and breakfast was included, so I can’t complain. Amanda was staying in the hotel right next door, so she helped me drop my stuff off, check in, and get situated. Then it was off to the Peppermill first for some gaming!
Our journey was perilous indeed, as it involved crossing – gasp – a casino floor. It’s been years since I was last in Nevada, and I’d almost forgotten how labyrinthine casinos can be. The Peppermill was especially bad: my friend Kevin described it as “a Gibsonian nightmare,” a not inaccurate descriptor considering all the damned blinking lights. It took us a while to get through, but eventually we figured out where the gaming rooms were.
They were surprisingly empty, but I put it down to this first not being a gaming con and second to the parties all being in the Atlantis (and alcohol is a great motivator.) I briefly looked in on the tail end of the Dresden Files LARP, just finishing that very hour. I was quite sad my flight hadn’t got in earlier, as the rules looked interesting. All was not lost, however, as Amanda and I soon found ourselves a game of pick-up DnD Encounters. It took four editions, but I finally had my first taste of edition-hate – Encounters really doesn’t deliver the experience I’m looking for. Don’t get me wrong, I had fun, but everything felt a little too board-gamey for my tastes. Great as a pickup game, but not DnD. While there, I was also entertained by stories from the Dresden Files LARPers, and from meeting a new friend, Robert, who I kept running into throughout the con.
After that, I suggested we go pick up my roommate for the con, Kevin. Kevin was over at the launch party for The Magician King, and it’s at this point that things begin to get a little fuzzy for me, as there was an awful lot of free alcohol. I do recall speaking to a kilted gentleman who had provided the beer, which was excellent. This would become a theme – basically, Lev’s parties were where the good beer was. While in the midst of a conversation, someone popped in from across the hall to shout “THEY HAVE A JACCUZI FULL OF BEER AT THE TOR PARTY!!!”
Enticed by this image, I was compelled to cross the hall in search of more beer. The beer in question was far less fine than the stuff at the Magician King party, but more abundant, and it was getting to the point that I was having difficulty telling the difference.
At some point, I ended up telling a story about my time in Japan, which segued into a talk about my project. Apparently, talking about fan history draws old fen like flies to honey, and I was soon surrounded, sharing (drunkenly and incoherently) my drive for the project, my nervousness that I would not be able to finish it (apparently even delicious beer can’t shake my anxiety!) and what research I’d done so far. One gentleman saw fit to inform me of the locations of several excellent fanzine collections, including the one at UC Riverside. He gave me his email address, and it was a solid three days before I realized that the man in question had been David Hartwell! This encounter set the tone for the rest of Worldcon – I made so many contacts and encountered so many big name fans and authors that my head is still spinning.
At this point, I suggested going back to the hotel. I think Kevin likely wanted to stay a bit longer, but Amanda was tired and I was jetlagged, so we headed on back. Kevin and I managed to keep each other up with good conversation until four in the morning. I’m fairly certain I finally fell asleep in the middle of a thought, my body vetoing my mind’s desire to keep talking.
NEXT UP: FRIDAY