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What a weekend.

As I mentioned before, this was the first convention I've attended as a visiting professional, and had I known the quality of the other panelists I'd be sitting with, my nerves would have been much more of a factor. As it was, ignorance certainly turned to bliss as by the time I found out who was sitting beside me, it was too late to get nervous.

I was lucky enough to have to great friends show up at the convention and provide moral support. Samantha Henderson--a fabulous writer whose work can be found at Strange Horizons and other locations all over the web--came up from California for the convention until late Saturday evening and provided much needed moral support. Thank you, Sam. Not only was it great to meet you but you turned the experience into a joy.

I did a couple of critique sessions early on Saturday for the convention writer's workshop, then had most of the afternoon to relax and take in the sights. NORWESCON really does push the edge of something for everyone. There were many great panels for writers and fan of literature, but there were many tracks of programming for artists and costumers and gamers as well. Half the fun of the con is waiting to see what outrageous costume would pass you by in the hallway next.

My first panel was on Saturday evening. Cynicism vs. Futurism in SF, subtitled "When did the future get so far away?" Luckily, I did my research prior to showing up, as the other panelists were Terry Burlison, who worked with NASA's Mission Control Center as a Flight Dynamics Officer during the first space shuttle missions and a writer of science-fiction in his own right, and Jerry Oltion, a hard science-fiction writer and winner of the Nebula Award. It was a little intimidating doing my introduction to the panel after those two finished, but because I'd done my research I managed to contibute to the discussion. I will say this, it was a long hour waiting for Terry Burlison, who was moderating the panel, to throw out a question for which I wasn't prepared. Thankfully it didn't happen.

The convention has a long-standing tradition of horror readings at midnight throughout the convention, and I participated on Friday evening along with Jay Lake, Ray Vukcevich, Yoon Ha Lee and Leon J. West. Great stuff, that. The tradition is to read whatever you want that will scare the audience, but most of the panelists read their own work. I read my personal favorite little shock tale, "Pin," by Robert McCammon. It had the desired effect on the audience. :-)

By this time I was completely exhausted and in spite of all the parties raging at one in the morning, I hit the sack. Saturday was going to be a killer.

My wonderful wife showed up on Saturday morning, adding to the moral support I was going to need to get throught the day. After a quick breakfast, I ran off and did another critique session for the workshop, followed immediately by my first public reading. I really didn't expect anyone to show up, but a few people did beyond Samantha and Catherine, which caught me off guard. I was stupid and didn't time the length of my story before--I only had a thirty minute slot--but the story took exactly twenty-seven minutes to read. One of the audience members asked me again where the story was going to be published when I was finished, so I'd say the reading went well. For those of you wondering, the story was "Copper Angels," and it will be coming out in Aeon Magazine in issue #4.

Then the real fear set in.

My next panel was a two hour interview with Tom Doherty, the Publisher Guest-of-Honor. Moderating the panel was Hugo and Nebula award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer. The other three panelists were Gordon Van Gelder, editor and publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Ted Peterson, lead programmer for the computer game "Daggerfall," and author of over a hundred and fifty television scripts, and of course, me. Heh-heh.

Thankfully Sam had warned me that they'd be taping the interview--one of many instances where her sharp eyes saved me from completely fumbling the ball--so I had prepared myself for that. What I hadn't prepared myself for was Robert Sawyer sending me the first question of the interview.

I'll give more details on the content later, after the effects of being on stage with two of the most powerful men in science fiction actually wears off a bit. But I will say this, Tom Doherty is a true gentleman and a warehouse of publishing information. He lets his people do their jobs and doesn't get in the way. When I asked him about his website's recent call out for Chick-Lit, and how the call out mentions that their definition is different than most publishers, he responded that their definition is whatever his daughter--who's editing the line--wants it to be.

It was also the first time I'd met Gordon Van Gelder, and I was thrilled that he actually recognized my name from the manuscripts I'd sent him in the past, despite the fact that he hadn't bought any of them.

And, that's enough for now. I'll write more with the details of the interview later.

Joseph Haines, signing off from The Edge of The Abyss.

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