NASFIC day 2

When I booked this hotel for NASFIC, I chose it based on the simplest of decision criteria: it was the only hotel left in Collinsville. I did see the note on the con’s website that it was a half-mile away and that “you probably don’t want to walk,” but I expected to ignore that advice. We like to walk, and I didn’t think that the heat and humidity would be sufficient to discourage us.

Then we got here, and I discovered that the advice was well-founded. There are no sidewalks on this side of the highway; there is evidence that people have walked enough to trample down the grass at the side of the road, but it sure doesn’t seem like a good idea. So we’ve been driving.

And that has discouraged us from making too many trips between hotel and con — and so we’re not at the party tonight (Kansas City in 2009); we got back from dinner too soon to go directly to the party, and once we were back at the hotel, inertia took over. Tomorrow, we’ll try harder. I think.

Today’s programming was pretty good; we hit a second panel on alternate histories, a panel on language and SF (sadly, the word “grok” was misspelled in the title!), a panel on humor in SF, a panel on Firefly, and a panel on upcoming probably bad movies; Diane and Jeff went to one on aliens in popular culture while I attended a panel on future gadgets. The con is getting its money’s worth from the panelists — we keep seeing the same people on multiple panels. And I do wish they’d been able to arrange for amplification — we’ve taken to sitting in the front row to have the best chance of hearing the panel.

I also made a few trips to the huckster room; it hasn’t been as much of a danger to my wallet as I’d hoped, and so I’ve also been going online and buying books from Amazon (these have, of course, been books mentioned during the panels. I’d rather buy from a dealer here if I can, but if I can’t….). There was even one story mentioned during the “gadget” panel which sounded vaguely familiar — the panelist knew the title (“Tools of the Trade”) and gave a plot summary (starship has engine problems; lands on a world which is pre-hyperdrive; the captain has to push them through several generations of development to fix the engine, because he has to get them to the point that they can make the tools to make the tools to make the tools to fix the engine). It took me nearly ten minutes of hunting to track that one down (it would have been a lot easier with a full-sized keyboard and display than it was on the iPhone), but thanks to the Contento Index, I found the story: it’s by Raymond F. Jones, writing as Joe Williams, published in the November, 1950 issue of Astounding and reprinted in “Space, Space, Space”, which I’m pretty sure I read as a kid. And, to my surprise, the San Jose Library has a copy (actually, it’s in the San Jose State Library collection), and I should have it in my hands early next week. I would have had the copy reserved before the panel was over if I’d had my library card with me, but it was back in the hotel room, and so I had to wait. Life is tough sometimes.

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