It's me, Brandon! From a new platform, as promised! Phew! It's been a while, hasn't it?
My brain has been a bit frazzled, what with coming back from a wonderful trip to Chicago, learning that the washing machine at home is making weird noises, and a newfound but overwhelmingly distracting urge to get back to creating things. So I'll be brief:
A Little Thing Happened On The Way To The Hyatt Regency Chicago
Chicon 8 was a trip, y'all.
Among the non-con highlights of being in Chicago include: learning how cumbersome it is to arrive in a town two nights before you check into a hotel and have to take a train you don't know to a strange place (and as a result take your luggage down two flights of stairs to the subway station, learning in the effort that one of your knees has painfully stopped being a knee); discovering that Nando's Extra Hot menu option is, like, neither hot nor extra (although it is still good food); learning a lot of very fascinating things about architecture ("Art that you live in!" as The Librarians' Jacob Stone would say); and having very revealing conversations about the importance of deliberate community political engagement from people with a lot more patience and a deeper well of righteous spite than I can muster.
Hold on--I say that like it's not the con.
All of that is the con, too.
I enjoy Worldcon as a space because, for all of the intensity that can take place there, it is still a community of futurists being earnest about how they view the world. That means part of that earnestness is the act of being in the world. I wanted to get to Chicago before it began, and linger for a bit after it ended, because I wanted to get a chance to enjoy the city without the lens of the con--I have on more than one occasion never left the hotel of previous cons, because all the people I like are inside here eating and chatting and being cool and smart and I don't want to lose the opportunity to snatch a morsel of wisdom falling from their silhouette. But I was lucky enough to know some cool people who live here and be able to tell me what's worth knowing about the city, so I wanted to see and learn those things. What is imagining the future of our world if it is not also loving a place? If it is not also knowing what about it you love deeply, which parts are jagged but still beautiful, which parts are potentially deeply haunted? If it does not include sharing those things across the ocean, sitting at a table over tea and discussing the ways in which our homes hurt us, but we know we cannot be anywhere else for too long?
So learning about the Great Chicago Fire and the curious history of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable and the architectural style of Frank Lloyd Wright and even some of the dirtier things are all part of what whirls within the gears of questioning our space--of loving it, wanting it better, wanting to see where it can go next--and I am glad I got some of that external to the con itself.
And then there is the con itself. Spending time with so many brilliant writers and hearing them speak on what inspires and intrigues and instigates them is always renewing as a creator. It's like a four-day masterclass in a lot of ways, from the barcon to the panels, and it is also the one time many folks get to reconnect with friends and colleagues in the industry all year if not longer. And while I always feel bad about the fact that I can't take in literally all of it, I am always glad for what I did get to enjoy.
One thing I'm really excited about is our outreach for Con or Bust, and the promise of more such outreach to come. I met quite a bit of brilliant creators and fans of colour at the con, and for many of them Chicon 8 was their first con. Many of the conversations that followed were not merely about how to make spaces like these more available for them, but what it even means to do so when often those spaces can be aggressive and hostile, and not offer the same wisdom or opportunities even when it otherwise feels neutral. That's also the kind of work I hope we can talk more about as a community, so I'm pretty glad people dug deeply into that as often as possible. If the con is a part of the world, after all, we have to think about its future as well.
And of course, then there's the people themselves. Reconnecting with friends, talking shop, and even scheming new projects is what being a part of a community is all about, and being disconnected from your peers because of finances, the pandemic, and more has admittedly put a strain on the feeling that I have had a community at all. But being able to bond over a book or a drink or something cool we've seen outside the hotel has been refreshing for that part of me that needed it to get back to work (especially since the aforementioned scheming now means I have new projects to consider!).
The open mic has been especially renewing this year--meeting new people and hearing them read from their work, some of whom have never read that lovely thing aloud, is really deeply heartwarming. Sometimes we get back to the thing that makes this space its sweetest self: one person telling a story with trust and other people listening with faith.
And all of that--the stones of the nearby walls, the warmth of a close meal, the sweetness of a drink from a recently-sounded toast, breaking bread and sharing wisdom and being comrades in the word, seeing the future in every note--is the convention.
I miss it already.
So I didn't learn until the second night of the con, while lying awake late at night in my hotel room, that apparently Everything Everything came out with a new album months ago and I didn't notice?!?!?!?!?!?!?
So I've been soaking in Raw Data Feel for some days now.
I think I really dig how EE writes about how being a human in a world of capitalist modernity manifests itself in such strangely powerful anxieties, such wild vacillations of calm simplicity and intense mania, feeling like you are running out of time and yet like the overwhelming stimulus of life never ends. I already adored the album before this, 2020's RE-ANIMATOR, as I did the one before that, 2015's Get To Heaven, and I am particularly intrigued to get sucked into listening to this on repeat until it becomes part of my marrow like those are, but so far this is one of four of my favourites. Here's another:
I won't say much more. I just love this a lot. Hopefully you find something there, as I do.
So that’s all for today!
Thank you so much for reading and sharing this! A reminder that you can help keep this newsletter and the rest of my work afloat by supporting me on Patreon, buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi or sending a donation via PayPal, or by buying one of my small game projects over on Itch! Especially now, your support would be really helpful toward getting this new newsletter up and running in a more frequent and presentable manner, as I'm still getting used to Ghost--I'm also thinking about giving the newsletter its own domain to use it as a makeshift promo website, which is an expense that is often just out of reach for me as a writer.
But before I go, some questions:
Are you attending any conventions in the near future? (If you're going to this year's World Fantasy Convention in New Orleans, I hope to meet you there!)
And what song paints the clearest picture to you about living in our modern world?
Until next time, I hope you enjoyed the tea!