July 8th, 2013


Best Westercon Evar?

Headline figures from Westercon 66, as announced by co-chairman Kevin Roche at Closing Ceremonies: 767 warm bodies (badges picked up) and 883 total members.

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This really must be one of the best Westercons I've ever attended. Not the largest by any means, but in terms of how much I enjoyed myself, and how much I think most of the attendees enjoyed themselves, it was fantastic. And that's particularly important inasmuch as Westercon has been in something of a decline for more than a decade, with many of the conventions feeling flat and full of people waiting for the event to die. A big part of making this Westercon better was finding a facility that was the right size for the convention, rather than something better suited for the 2000-member Westercons of the late 1980s/early 1990s. The Sacramento Hilton was the last home of Sacramento's Eclecticon (about 500 members, last held 1991), and was good for this event. There wasn't really enough function space to do what everyone wanted and it's not a perfect building, but it did lead to an increased sense of energy and community.

Kevin & Andy were able to put together a team of people who attracted a happier, generally more energetic crowd and showed that there still is a place for Westercon in Western North American SF fandom. I hope the next two Westercons in Salt Lake City and San Diego can build on that vibe and improve upon it.


We got away from Sacramento almost an hour later than I'd hoped to do, but managed to get my chore in Yuba City done and over to visit with my mother and sister for around an hour before we had to get moving again. We went east on CA-20 and saw smoke in the foothills. As we approached Smartsville, we found the highway closed due to a brush fire. I swung off onto Old Smartsville Road, and we pulled over to look at the fire fighting going on. A helicopter was dropping retardant. The smoke started to get heavier. We moved along, and at one point Lisa spotted flames only about 500 meters or so away across a draw. We took photos and video, but I'm too tired to post it.

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We decided that hanging around longer was a Bad Idea and hot-footed it (ahem) out of the area.

In Grass Valley, we stopped and had lunch at Cousin Jack Pasties, where I've wanted to try their Cornish pasties ever since I first noticed they were there during a previous overnight stay in Grass Valley. We each had a nice beef pasty and a bowl of seafood chowder that hit the spot. Lisa said there was too much pepper in the patsty to suit her, but I liked mine.

Because we got to bed after 2 AM last night and therefore were running on very little sleep, the rest of the drive home was a real challenge. Lisa spelled me from Truckee to Verdi when I reached a point where I couldn't keep my eyes open, and then I drove the rest of the way home. We'll leave the unpacking of the gear until tomorrow. Once the trailer has cooled down (that being the only place there is air conditioning), we're likely to turn in early.