Saturday, June 14, 2014

Campbell Conference

The novel workshop wrapped up Friday morning with a "what do I do next?" discussion. In the afternoon, the Campbell Conference began.

I'm accustomed to SF conventions, but this is an academic gathering sponsored by the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas. It's quite awesome that a university has a center for studying science fiction, and has for decades, which is thanks to James Gunn.

The conference is intimate, a few dozen people as opposed to a convention that can draw hundreds or thousands. (I bet the Denver Comic Con this weekend is in the tens of thousands.) Everyone here is thoughtful and intelligent, and invested in the field of science fiction.

Last night was the banquet and awards ceremony for the Sturgeon and Campbell awards. This morning, most of the novel workshoppers and our fearless leader Kij Johnson went to a coffee shop in downtown called Aimee's that, if I lived here in Lawrence, would become my place to get a cup of coffee and write. Here's a detail shot from the coffee counter. I love the stuffed animal and the Doctor Who mug:

After breakfast, we went to the KU Union for the conference's morning session, "science fiction in the real world." We had an interesting and insightful discussion. I took lots of notes. I also took a panoramic photo of the room before we started. Soon enough, every one of these chairs was filled.

Next was a quick lunch, and then a book signing in the KU bookstore. I sat with Bryan Thomas Schmidt, author and editor of several anthologies, including Raygun Chronicles. Fellow Raygun contributor (and all around great writer) Robin Wayne Bailey was also there. We signed quite a few books. Several of my fellow novel workshoppers bought Raygun. They are very sweet people.

I'm now taking an afternoon break. Tonight, more activity.

Tomorrow, I'll be packing up, saying my goodbyes and hitting the road for home. It has been an amazing two weeks. I can't say yet whether the experience will be life-changing, but it certainly feels like it could be. I've made some good friends, and over the coming months, I will take everything I've learned to write my first novel.

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