03 Feb

Travel report: St. Mary’s College and Chattacon!

I did a poor job reminding everyone on the blog and online that I was about to do some public speaking and signing in the Bay Area. Please keep in mind, I’d been dealing with sick kids on vacation, then was sick for a couple weeks, and recovering, then catching up on a month of lost work. Then I hopped on a plane to head West!

Fortunately, thanks to the magic of Seat Guru, I scored awesome seats on the way out:

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I was invited to St. Mary’s College California, at the invitation of professors Dana R. Herrera of the Department of Anthropology and András Margitay-Becht of the Economics Department.

It was weird to walk around campus and see posters up with my own goofy face.

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We had a great turn out for the lecture, and a spirited Q&A session (including a gentleman who asserted that the Caribbean was the most racist place he’d ever visited because everyone there noticed the color of your skin. It was hard to unpack the assertion that seeing skin color is not the same as being racist and talk about colonial attitudes that *do* leave vestiges of power to lighter skin at the same time while also rejecting the assertion that the Caribbean is more or less racist when that’s such a simplistic framing of the question as well, but I tried to push back in the small amount of time I had [the gentleman’s experience was also 30+ years old]. One could do an entire semester on that, really).

I also got to sneak out to the fancy fancy mall near the hotel I was staying at and visit a Tesla dealership for the first time.

Oh yeah. I’d say this would be my next car, but I’d have to sell way more books than I am these days to snag one of these. I did, however, touch it:

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In addition to the big lecture, I chatted with the class on SF and sociology that Dana and András have been teaching, and also chatted about the business of writing at another session. Dana and András were a lot of fun to chat with as well, as they’re both very familiar with all my work.

After that, it was back on a plane for Chattanooga. A year ago I was to be Guest of Honor at Chattacon, but I slipped on ice and hurt myself badly enough to end up unable to travel. The organizers were amazing enough to invite me down again for Chattacon 40, along with many other Guests of Honor.

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The event was held in the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo, an old rail terminal turned into a large hotel complex. About a thousand fans packed into this place and took it over.

I got to chat with Julie Czerneda, Kathleen Ann Goonan and Adam-Troy Castro. I also did a reading very early on morning. Not many people showed up, but that wasn’t a surprise because Chattacon is known for their con suite, which has beer on tap (delivered, I saw, because I got there a day early, by a giant beer truck).

This is the con suite, it used to be an ice rink and is now a place for traveling bands to perform in:

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I was well-treated by Chattacon and enjoyed getting to explore the city a little thanks to Cherie Priest, who took me on a brief tour. Here’s a view of the entire metro area from up on Lookout Mountain:

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While in transit, I revised an entire novella and worked on freelance work, so it was rather a hectic one. I’m a bit zonked, more than I realized, so I’m mostly catching up on paperwork that was waiting for me when I returned home and emails I ignored while bouncing around.