Thursday, August 27, 2015

Worldcon 2015, Part II—John Hemry, Kendare Blake, Female Vulcan

As I said in my last post, Today I get to the fun stuff at Worldcon. But first, a couple of weird things.

In the hotel I stayed at, look at what the French call body wash. I get that things get lost in translation, but didn’t any of the English-speaking staff notice?

Is this a joke?

And then there was the one-armed chromium torture device. It dispersed water anywhere from cold to lukewarm.

And it was hard to wash off the gel douche
with lukewarm water

But the convention had numerous workshops, readings by authors, and autograph sessions. In one of the latter I spoke to my favorite author, John Hemry, who sometimes goes by the pen name Jack Campbell.

I had a question about the character of Morgan in his Lost Stars series. She’s the sort of person who can do anything and assassinate anyone. I asked, “Is she based on any one person?” He said with a chuckle, “Not anyone I know.”

A rising star in the fantasy field is Kendare Blake. After she read from one of her stories, I asked for a photo.

She’s known for her Goddess War series. What I like about what I’ve read so far is that she understands how goddesses like Athena were portrayed in Greek mythology, then expands on them from there. Other writers stick in names of characters from mythology into their stories without much of a feel for what the old stories were like.

The Hugo Awards were disappointing. A number of people voted for “no award” in categories like Best Short Story. I don’t know why I would go to the Hugos again.

I didn’t have time to take many costume photos. But here’s one of a female Vulcan.

So that was it. Only one day at Worldcon. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Worldcon 2015, Part I—Smoke, River, Worlds Fair

Worldcon, the largest science fiction/fantasy convention that emphasizes writing, was held in Spokane this year while the wildfires of eastern Washington were mostly out of control. The moment I stepped out of the shuttle to the hotel on Friday night, I smelled smoke. Earlier in the day, people had seen the smoke in the air and gagged on it, using breather masks and handkerchiefs to cover their mouths.

The next day, the convention center had these taped on the insides of the doors.

Things weren’t so bad on Saturday, but I detected a taint of smoke while I did the Riverwalk along the Spokane River. Other than that, it was peaceful and beautiful.

Wooden bridges led to a park on a peninsula in the middle of river.

This was the site of the 1974 World’s Fair. Here’s the skeleton that’s left of the pavilion (it was originally covered with temporary white vinyl).

Of course, I had to find a more unusual angle.

This is a little too peaceful, so my next post will be on the convention itself. 

[Permission granted to use any photo on this post, so long as it is labeled “Photo by Mark Murata”]

Monday, August 3, 2015

Microsoft Fail

When Microsoft launched their new Windows 10 with a lot of hoopla in area stores, I decided to go to the one in Bellevue Square (Bellevue is a city right next to Redmond, the headquarters of Microsoft.) Why? Because Megan Rapinoe, one of the stars of the American women’s soccer team that won the world championship a few weeks ago would be there. A couple people at work were astonished. I said in a knowing way, “They’re Microsoft. They can get people like that.”

I wondered if I should take something for her to autograph, but reproved myself, since at such events they usually had materials ready. I hoped to get a picture with her, and obviously some employee would be more than willing to hold the camera. I had been to similar events before, and I knew what I was doing.

When I got to the mall, they had kiosks set up to introduce people to Windows 10.

Very impressive. They would snag people walking by and walk them through it. Since I had no intention of loading the new system for the next couple months (to let Microsoft get feedback from millions of customers and make some tweaks) I had no need to go up to them myself. I could afford to observe from a distance.

Since I had arrived at the mall early, I walked by the Apple store.

It’s large, open-air style. With their muted colors, they have achieved a slacker kind of coolness.

In contrast is the Microsoft store.

Same style design, but with their bright colors they have achieved a work hard, play hard kind of feel.

As the time rolled around, I walked up to the line they had set up to meet Megan Rapinoe. An employee who was in charge asked me if I had a Meet and Greet card. Surprised, I said no. Another employee went off to see if there were some left they had reserved for executives. I was quite astonished. They had been advertising this event for several days with a large picture of Rapinoe, and there was some unstated process for getting in?

File photo by Jacqueline Cassell

Their poster advertised the date of her appearance,
but no instructions

While I was waiting, the employee in charge gave strict instructions to several security personnel: No one was to get in line without a card. No one was to loiter around the line area. They were to take all possessions away from people allowed in, since Megan Rapinoe does not do autographs, and they didn’t want people bringing out things for her to autograph.

So I guessed my camera would not be allowed.

The other employee returned, saying they were out of Meet and Greet cards. But she was nice enough to give me a free T-shirt.

So that was my failed evening at Microsoft. I didn’t bother to tell the people at work the next day that I didn’t get to meet her. 


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