I had the honor of being the Guest of Honor at the science fiction convention Capricon in Chicago just a little over a week ago. TLDR; it was extremely well run, everyone was very nice to me, and I got to take the train to Chicago and back.
A week and a half ago I drove up to Ann Arbor and took the Wolverine train on Amtrak to Chicago. It’s a four hour train ride, and is unique on Amtrak outside of the North East Corridor of DC to Boston in that the Wolverine gets up over 100mph. To those of you outside the US, this isn’t that impressive. But hitting 110 mph is a unique experience inside the continental US.
Ostensibly I’m a four hour ride away from Chicago, so driving an hour and a half to Ann Arbor to go into Chicago doesn’t add up. But I have yet to get to Chicago in four hours as GPS driving claims I can. I get most of the way to Chicago, then end up in traffic and show up tired. I almost always budget five and a half hours into Chicago. So, this was the same time and I got to sit on the train and work on my laptop instead of fighting traffic.
It’s so much more civilized.
From Ann Arbor to Kalamazoo the train clips along at up to 80mph, but once past Kalamazoo, it kicks into high gear and opens up to 110mph, taking you all the way to Porter, Indiana (somewhere east of Chicago, and near Gary) in no time flat.
The convention was held in Wheeling, so a driver picked me up and delivered me to the hotel. The Guest of Honor liason Marinda Darnell took me around the event space to orient me and made sure I had everything I needed, including gifting me a bag full of Emergen-C, hand sanitizer, Ibuprofin.
I did my first panels the next day, starting out with a Guest of Honor chat with Artist Guest of Honor Trung Le Nguyen and fan Guest of Honor Lil Sams. I told stories about hurricanes and immigrating to the US.
At my next panel, a history of space-access related items in the Caribbean, I got a Guest of Honor gift of an amazing bottle of Scotch.
I’m rather fond of Balvenie and was quite surprised!
After attending the opening ceremonies I went to the cocktail party hosted by Tammy Coxen, who was the first convention programmer to ever invite me to be a panelist when she emailed me about attending Confusion in 2001. Tammy’s been putting me on panels for almost 20 years now. Convention Chair Aimee Dundon and Tammy came up with great panel ideas about the tropics, this year’s theme for the con, and over the next few days I spent a lot of time with other great panelists giving out as many book titles the audience should try reading that featured authors from the Caribbean, tropical Africa, South East Asia, the Pacific, and more. And every day since the con, I’ve had more names and books I’ve enjoyed that I forgot to recommend.
Getting to know the other two Guests of Honor was a highlight of the convention, and through Trung I also got to meet author Jordan Shively. As Patreon creators, I came away with some thoughts about how look at my own Patreon for the next year.
I wrapped the convention up with an interview of me that Shaun Duke hosted, a Kaffeeklatsch, and met a book club that had read my novel The Trove. By the convention’s end I felt quite welcomed, impressed with the size of the dealer room with all of its many curiosities for sale (including books! Something not always the case), and having had a great time with many more people than the ones mentioned in summary here.
Monday morning a week ago I was up early to catch the train home to Ann Arbor, where I then drove to Chicago to pick up my sister who’d flown in for a week long visit.
Thank you Capricon for a smooth, well organized, welcoming, and interesting convention. It was honor to be your Author guest for 2020.
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