Conucopia, the 1999 NASFiC

Conucopia, the 1999 NASFIC, was held at the Anaheim Marriott in Anaheim, California, over the weekend of August 26 to 29, 1999. A NASFiC, or North American Science Fiction Convention, is a sort of "substitute Worldcon," held when the Worldcon is held off the North American continent. It is a major gathering with plenty of panels, parties and other activities, but not quite as big or as flashy as an actual Worldcon.

After a lengthy cross-country drive, we arrived the day before the actual opening of the convention in order to set up in the dealers' room. The weather was pretty hot, but fortunately we were able to pull right up to the loading dock and to borrow one of the hotel's large carts, which made the process of unloading all the merchandise somewhat less onerous. We were able to get set up in fairly good time, and then got our personal stuff into our sleeping room. I then started in on finishing a piece of artwork I hadn't gotten done before we left. While I was painting it, a friend of ours arrived whom we hadn't expected to be able to come. The really funny thing was that the night before I had dreamed about him coming.

That evening we all headed out to get supper at a nearby restaurant. Then we checked out whether there might be a few early parties.

Thursday started bright and early for us in the dealers' room. I also got my art set up in the art show, including my newly-finished piece.

That afternoon I went to a panel on collaborating which included Jean Lorrah and Sherwood Smith. When one of the other panelists didn't show, the panelists also pulled Jacqueline Lichtenberg from the crowd to join them. They talked about different ways of collaborating, including collaborations across time between a big-name author and a junior partner. Sherwood spoke rather diminishingly about her own collaborations with Andre Norton and Jacqueline Lichtenberg immediately scolded her not to ever put down her excellent work.

After the panel I got a brief chance to speak with Sherwood, and we tentatively arranged the possibility of us going to dinner with several other friends. Then I hurried back to the dealers' room for more table-sitting.

That evening we did all go out to dinner together and had a great time with lots of cool conversation. Afterward Sherwood and I went up to the SFF-Net suite for a while and talked about writing before it was time to turn in for the night. We did at least get a quick look at the parties.

Friday started even earlier for me, because I was signed up for the 10AM Kaffeeklatch with Gardner Dozois. Therefore I had to hurry into the dealers' room and help get the tables uncovered, then hurry upstairs for the Kaffeeclatch. Gardner talked at length and fairly openly about the uneasy state of the publishing industry, particularly in relation to the upheavals being brought about by the new electronic fiction distribution methods just now coming on line.

After that I hurried back down to the dealers' room to sit table some more, until it was time for the other Kaffeeklatch I'd signed up for, this one with Betsy Mitchell of Warner Aspect Books. She was also quite frank with us about the prospects of beginning writers in the publishing industry, and explained why her publishing house had closed the door to unagented submissions.

After that I headed back down to the dealers' room to sit table until it was time to close. Then it was time to set up for the Sime~Gen party, which we and Don Jaramillo were hosting. Because we'd gotten communicating rooms (adjoining rooms with a door between them), we were able to have the party in both rooms and reduce the crush. Jean Lorrah read her latest Zhag and Tonyo story, "The Story Untold," which shows just how vicious junct Sime society can be. After she was finished, someone asked what was happening in regards to getting the Zhag and Tonyo stories published. Jean told us that she'd already run through all the professional magazine markets, and now it was just a matter of waiting for the right market to open up. Soon after that we wound up the party and turned in for the night.

On Saturday we headed down to the dealers' room and got the table ready for business. Then I headed off to a panel on what editors are looking for. Several of the major editors were at it, and they talked a lot about how unsettled the market is right now. Afterward I was able to speak briefly to Sherwood before heading back into the dealers' room. Later that afternoon, Sherwood brought Dave Trowbridge by our table to say hi. He was just in town for the day so there wasn't much time to visit, but it was still fun to finally meet him after only talking to him online for so many years.

Later that afternoon I went up to Alexandria Digital Literature's tea and chocolate party. I got a chance to talk with a number of other authors who have stories on Alexandria. We talked about the future of fiction on the Web, and all agreed that one of the major problems is going to be filtering. There may be good fiction on the fannish sites, but finding it among all the badly-written stuff is so difficult that it's often not worth the effort.

After the dealers' room closed that evening we headed out with some friends to a Chinese restaurant. This turned out to be a sit-down restaurant rather than a buffet, and to make matters even more interesting, there was a wedding reception going on in another part of the restaurant and the sound spilled over into our area, making conversation rather difficult. But the food was really good, and we did get a little chance to talk about interesting things.

In the evening we made the rounds of the parties again. Then I got one last brief chance to talk to Sherwood before it was time to turn in for the night.

On Sunday it was time to pack up our personal belongings and get them out of the sleeping room. Then we headed down to the dealers' room for our last day, hoping to get a few more sales in before the con was over. Because we had so long to drive back and we wanted to make a fair amount of headway before having to turn in for the night, we started packing and hauling stuff out before the dealers' room was actually closed. When we got everything out, we headed up to the con suite for one last time to say our goodbyes before the long trip back east.

Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated October 21, 2012.