Everybody is emphasizing the “Chicon 7” name rather than saying “WorldCon Whatever.” In fact as you can see I have forgotten the WorldCon number. Did you know the first Chicon was in . . . wait for it . . . 1940? And that one of the guys who organized that first Chicon is actually here as a guest of honor? (Sorry, but I don’t remember his name and he doesn’t appear to be listed as a guest of honor in the program, though he was certainly treated as a guest of honor at the opening ceremonies). I started counting decades and gave up in disbelief. He looks very spry for a guy who has to be in his nineties. I told my brother I would say I hope to look that good at ninety, only this is an SF convention and actually I hope to look roughly like I just turned thirty when I’m ninety. Where’s that anti-aging medical miracle? Hello? I’m waiting . . .
Okay! The only panel I went to on Thursday was on researching and writing Alternate History and I went to it because a) It’s moderately interesting to me, b) it’s definitely interesting to my brother, Craig, c) my brother’s friend Ken Hite was on the panel. Craig and Ken and Mike Schiffer wrote a couple of alternate history gaming supplements, which are well worth reading just for the sidebars about the alternate histories, even though I have never been into gaming. Funniest comment: Ken said, “When you ask yourself, How would this be different if this guy was a vampire? And then you start researching what would have happened . . . halfway through you’re suddenly like, “My God, this guy WAS a vampire!” : ) Can’t you just see that happening?
Mary Robinette Kowal was also on that panel. She wrote SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY, which I’ve sort of meant to look up for a long time. She said she had been reading epic fantasy, and then she was re-reading PERSUASION, and she thought: Is it possible to write an intimate family drama that is also fantasy? She said she hopes she isn’t giving away too many spoilers if she says that at the end of the book, PEOPLE GET MARRIED. She was a great panelist, so I went ahead and dropped that one on my wish list so I won’t forget about it. I mean, I love Jane Austin. It’s just tough for someone to write in-the-style-of because being compared to Jane Austin? Tough row to hoe. You know what else Kowal wrote? THIS, whichis hilarious. Also, just a reminder in case that name sorta-kinda rings a bell: She wrote “Kiss Me Twice”, one of the very good novellas that made that category such a challenge to vote for for the Hugo.
Also! Just mentioning: of course I’m sure a lot of us are foodies by inclination, but not by opportunity or budget. I mean, there aren’t any foodie restaurants within eighty miles of my house, and if there were, I couldn’t afford to eat at them very darn often. But of course Chicago is quite a foodie town and it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss, so Craig and I and Mike and his wife Linda all went out to this place called Vermilion? Which advertises itself as “Indian-Latin fusion”? (Just try to imagine that, right?) We all ordered one or another of the tasting menus. Mine included:
Blue Corn Crusted Scallop with Calabasa Goat Cheese Puree
Kerala Shrimp Patty with (a VERY sharp) Cucumber
Duck Vindaloo on Arapa with Pomegranate Molassas
Mysore Lamb Chop with Minty Red Onions
Street Bombay Chaat with Mint Cilantro Water
Lobster Portuguese (this turned out to be in a very nice coconut-milk sauce) with Coconut Rice
Kadai Sweet Potatoes (with fenugreek and other spices)
Chimichurri New Your Strip Steak
A pudding-cake type of thing with pistachios
A death-by-chocolate type of thing with strawberries
It was amazing and very Indian with a little Portuguese and stuff. The waiters were wonderful and explained every dish with great enthusiasm and whisked the dishes away and brought clean silver in a surprisingly unnoticable way. It was quite spicy, but not TOO spicy. The flavor combinations were so complex! Araene from THE FLOATING ISLANDS would have loved it even more than I did. But it would definitely not be for, say, my mother, who would have needed way milder flavors.
So, my first panel’s not till ten thirty this morning (Friday), but we’re going to try to get back to the convention hotel by nine. Stuff to do, places to go, huge huge huge dealer’s room to explore . . .