We’re not in Kansas anymore.

I am back in Seattle, parked in front of a fan and enjoying the balmy 65 degree weather. It’s a beautiful change in pace from Kansas, where they had a heat index of 110 on some of my final days there. It was just muggy and awful. I’m glad we’d gotten milder weather for most of the early part of my stay. I’d never even heard of a heat index prior to this. Seattle is a civilized place that has no such things.

Friday and Saturday I attended Campbell Conference events. Friday night was the awards banquet where Paolo Bacigalupi and James Morrow accepted their awards. Bacigalupi won the Campbell Award for best novel of the year for The Windup Girl. Morrow won the Sturgeon award for best short fiction of the year for his novella Shambling Towards Hiroshima. I’ve been pecking through The Windup Girl. The dinner seemed like it was catered by the KU food services and tasted much like high end cafeteria food. This is not to say it was bad. But compared to all the awesome places we ate while I was there…?

After dinner we had a reception back in the dorms we were staying in. It gave us a chance to mingle with the conference attendees and the award winners. I had several chances to ask questions of Paolo, and really appreciated him taking the time to answer them for me. He (as well as the workshop instructors) were wonderful sources of information about the harder issues that writers face. Paolo, especially, was a wonderful person. He was charming, thoughtful and self-effacing. He had no reason to answer questions from the mob of aspiring writers he was forced to live with for four days, but he was very giving of his time. Just a real prince of a guy. So, Paolo, if this happens to come up on your Google Alerts: Thank you so much for being so generous.

James Morrow was similarly sharing, but I didn’t get the full brunt of his wisdom. I admit, I focused more on the pierced guy who was close to my own age.

Saturday was the first day of the proper conference. There were two things going on at about the same time. In one location there was a round table discussion on Theodore Sturgeon and short stories. In another location, most of the guest authors did a reading of Theodore Sturgeon’s works. As a continuing theme, I didn’t really know who Sturgeon was before this. But I’d been touched by his work in the past. He’s responsible for Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of everything is crud. He also penned several Star Trek episodes, of which two were actually made: Shore Leave and Amok Time. The latter is the one that introduced pon farr and some other Vulcan ideas.

I spent part of the morning at the round table discussion, but didn’t enjoy it. Other people did, so I may be in the minority regarding that. When the readings started, I ducked off to the book store for that. All of the stories were excellent, and I felt inspired to pick up a collection. During the lunch break, there were signings by the guest authors. I picked up a bunch of books in Lawrence, most of them in order to have them signed by the authors. I’ll provide links for the haul if you are looking for good books at the end of this post. After I bought the biggest wave of books, I felt obliged to text my girlfriend to say, “I’m going to apologize now.” And I sent a picture of the bag of books I’d just bought. She was very understanding of my addiction.

Lunch was had at Jimmy Johns. After the last of the readings my girlfriend showed up, marking the first time I had seen her in two weeks! She joined us for dinner at Ingredients and the reception that night back at the dorm.

At o-dark-thirty this morning we got up and caught the flight back to Seattle. It was a largely uneventful flight.

So, the haul:

And those were just things bought in order to have authors sign. I also picked up Selected Stories by Theodore Sturgeon, Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor, Boneshaker by Cherie Priest and The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (specifically the one that has the purple and green printing to distinguish which world the action is taking place in).

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