Anaheim - Saturday, August 31, 1996

Another busy day, I just got in and, as normal, it is about 12:30. Got a lot done and learned a fair amount to boot.

The first thing I attempted to do was get the autograph of an author for Victor however, as I got over to the Dealer's room where the author's were signing, I saw a sign indicated cancellation so instead I proceeded to another interesting discussion on the Death of the Book. The discussion focused on how publishers are publishing only recognized and @ proven authors (as a matter of policy). I found this very disturbing. They discussed the decay in any current, quality, literary output as well as the current inability for technology to, physically replace the book for reading (it is not comfortable or easy to use a computer to read a book). One of the panellists was very dark and basically bemoaned the death of a literate culture.

Next, I gave into temptation and sat in on a preview of the re-release of the Star Wars movies, I had seen most of the new footage they were showing but some of the details given by the speaker who was directly from the film company was quite interesting. I was surprised to bear that George Lucas, who created the original films 19 years ago, felt that there were some elements missing from the movies so decided to add them into it.

I then rapidly purchased a few books to have one of my favourite authors (both reading and in person), Connie Willis. I picked up a couple of books to have her sign them for my mother as she is also a big fan. It was quite interesting talking to her briefly as I did. She published a book a few years ago that now sells for about $500 (good condition, autographed). I asked her about how she felt about that, she indicated that books are to be read not sealed in plastic and placed in a locked cabinet, though she was a bit honoured by it. Whenever I get people's autograph, I always talk to them a little to gain a bit of an insight into them as a person. Authors like Connie are incredibly intelligent and a joy to talk to.

The next talk was a surprise, I missed a lot of the discussion but I did catch the end, that was an interview with one of the grand masters of science fiction, Ray Bradbury. He turned out to be a very interesting person and very friendly, I had him sign an old copy of a book that Victor wanted signed. He was quite surprised to see it.

I found out in this session that there was an author signing in the Dealer's room that was unexpected (Victor wanted his autograph also) so I hurried over after I got Bradbury's autograph and found out that he had finished a half hour before but I did get two books from the publisher at whose booth he was signing, including a signed first edition from a new author I was unfamiliar with.

Nanotechnology was the topic of the following session where the practicality of it was discussed. It was agreed that any useful things to come out of the technology were a ways off but there are advancements being made. I found it fascinating to hear about the possible biomedical uses they have dreamed up for it and the current state of affairs was well beyond my expectation. I attended this panel basically because of my ignorance in the subject and wanting to know more.

After this panel I hurried to another discussion in an attempt to get one of the panellists autographs, again for Victor. I had to wait until the session had actually started before he showed up so I got his autograph and hurried to another session in another building.

You can see that I really got a lot of exercise today (as well as a fair number of autographs).

Next up was “Exploring Space” where the current state of affairs with regards to space exploration were discussed. I found the discussion focused on the major problem of getting to space, cheaply and efficiently. It was agreed that the current political structure of NASA does not lend itself to getting things done quickly or efficiently or cheaply. Jerry Pournelle, one of my favourite authors (I got his autograph yesterday), indicated that 20 years ago he and a few others could get grants and just do it instead of the current state of affairs where studies must be done before any testing or development. It seems that NASA is awash in paperwork. A comment was made that the shuttle is basically used to keep a number of people employed.

Another speaker at the space session was Dr. Forward, I have not mentioned him by name but he has spoken at most of the scientific sessions I have intended including the one earlier today about Nanotechnology, being a self-proclaimed, detractor. This gentleman is very interesting, he is currently working on “space tethers” (as a business venture) which he has a number of uses for, including as a source of electrical power (a metal tether, traveling through the electrical fields of the earth, generates electricity) as well as a method of “slingshoting” payloads from low earth orbit to high earth orbit or even the moon. He has a number of interesting ideas and it was a joy to hear him speak about them.

After this, I whistled over to the Dealer's room (again, I think that made it about 4-5 times today alone) and begged for a copy of the book being signed by the author I missed (they were giving those away too), I was in luck as they had only one copy left. I will attempt to track him down tomorrow to get him to sign it.

The next discussion focused around a specific book written by one of my favourite authors and how it was written. He explained how various people inspired the different aspects of the book and how it was distributed. It was quite interesting and all the more fascinating as all the players in the saga were in the room discussing back and forth about it. He fielded questions also from the audience about the novel and the previous novels (it is a series), specifically about the content and possible future developments. It was interesting to hear that he always completely understands the story before he writes it down. “It is just a matter of determining the words to tell it”. This is much the way I write also, I like to know what the story is before I start typing.

After this, I pretty much had filled up my bag with books (I think I will need a box for them all on the plane) so I dropped them off at the hotel then collapsed briefly before heading over to the ConSuite for a bit of refreshments. I, perhaps, should explain this, last year I did not go to the ConSuite but when the convention was in Winnipeg I did attend. The ConSuite is a courtesy room for the use of members of the convention, with free drinks and things to eat. They had LOTS of this though I started by working on a puzzle with a few other people before really getting started on the pizza, taco chips, M & Ms, party mixes, pop, salad, etc., etc. The ConSuite very quickly lost it's appeal so I went around and visited some of the other groups that were holding parties, most of them are other cities wanting member votes for their city for a particular year of the World Science Fiction Convention, for example, “Boston in 2000” is one of the suites I attended. As you go from group to group, you get stickers to place on your nametag or on ribbons they supply for your use. I ended up going to about 6 or 7 groups, no where near the whole gambit (there are, on any one night, between 15-20 different free parties). The neat thing about the Hilton, where this was held, is that on the 5th floor, where most of the parties were, there are outdoor, “squares” I guess you could call them, located through the patio doors on the suites. The handy thing is that I walked around the square going through the patio doors for each different group. They had an ad-hoc game of “catch” with a 3 foot, heavy, balloon game involving about 20 people going on which was quite funny to watch, especially when the ball got out of their hands and crashed into other people not paying attention or drinking. All in all, it was a fun evening and I am pretty much stuffed with free food (the free fruit cocktail at Boston, including the free chocolate clusters did it for me). Did I mention that I won a draw at the ConSuite (oh, so you know, the “ConSuite” is the name of the current convention hospitality room), I won a Batman and Robin lunch box, the main reason why I didn't want to enter the draw in the first place.

I was going to attend a movie at 10 o'clock, however, I feel that I could watch a movie whenever I want so I did not want to waste my time there, I can see the movie if I want when I get home.

After this, I headed off to the hotel and collapsed in front of this silly machine, I hope to go to bed VERY soon…

⇒ Continue to Anaheim - Sunday, September 1, 1996