Monday, April 28, 2008

A Tale of the Nebula Awards

In which Our Heroine reveals herself to be, yet again, a raging fangirl dork and experiences life at The Cool Table for perhaps the first time ever.

So, I'm back from the Nebula Awards weekend, and I'm both tired and inspired. I'm mostly tired because there seems to be a conspiracy against me ever getting any sleep. I was up very, very late on Saturday night and planned to sleep in Sunday morning before driving home, but they were doing some remodeling work on the hotel, which meant there were people hammering in the room above me starting at eight in the morning. I mentioned that at the desk when I checked out, and they just said it wasn't supposed to start until ten. Then this morning, when I was able to sleep, I got yet another one of those probable telemarketing scam calls, where there's a long pause, a click, and then the sound of a phone ringing on the other end. I don't know what it is, but I'm getting them on a daily basis and it's driving me nuts.

But enough about the no-sleep conspiracy (I plan massive napping this afternoon). The weekend was incredibly cool. There were so many authors there I've read over the years, and it was amazing to not only meet them and interact with them, but also be there as a professional peer. Standing in the middle of the hospitality suite, I felt like I was watching my bookcase pass by. There was Joe Haldeman complimenting my dress, Nancy Kress playing pool, Connie Willis being one of the first people I ran into and greeting me as someone she knew (squeeee!). You get the idea.

For the awards dinner, I was at the Del Rey table. Part of the time, I felt totally awesome for being at the Cool Table, and part of the time I felt like a five-year-old getting to sit at the grown-up table for the first time. I was sitting next to Elizabeth Moon, who is amazing and fascinating, and I think I want to be her when I grow up. Then there was Michael Moorcock, who was being given the Grand Master Award. Directly across from me was Michael Chabon, who's won the Pulitzer Prize, and who won the Nebula that night. And then there was Bruce Sterling. I was initially a little intimidated by being anywhere near Michael Chabon, but he turned out to be very sweet. A lot of authors who are hailed by the more literary set would be insulted if you called their work science fiction, but he seemed to take an impish glee in the idea that the literary world hasn't yet figured out that what he really writes is science fiction, while the SF world totally gets it.

Meanwhile, I spent some time hanging out with YA fantasy authors Sarah Beth Durst, whose Into the Wild I've mentioned (it was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award) and Elizabeth Wein, another Norton finalist with The Lion Hunter, which puts an interesting spin on Arthurian legend by mingling it with African and Middle Eastern cultures. In one of my dork moments, I spent at least an hour talking to her without it clicking in my head to connect her with the book, which I had read. My other dork moment came when I got into a conversation Friday night about the differences between the romance world and the sf/f world and their respective organizations with a man whose name sounded really familiar, but I couldn't place him. Then that night I was reading a book of Neil Gaiman short stories before going to bed, and in the notes explaining the background on each story, he mentioned writing one for his friend, this big, important editor in the field. Yep. That was the guy I'd been talking to.

In general, I came away inspired to want to write better. I want to be able to live up to the legacy of all these people. I also went to my first SFWA business meeting, even though I'm allergic to organizational politics. We'll see if this spurs me to more involvement in the organization.

And now for some photographic proof of what I was up to this weekend (please note when judging relative heights that I was wearing 3 and a half inch heels, so I'm much taller than normal):

"The Curly Mafia" meets up -- Sarah Beth Durst and me.

My dinner partner, Elizabeth Moon

And maybe the award vibes will rub off! Michael Chabon and me:

Oh, and there's something happening tomorrow. :-) Plus, if you're in the Fort Worth area, I'll be at the TCU Barnes & Noble at 6 Tuesday evening, so please drop by and say hi.

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