Smoke and mirrors at Sasquan

So, that happened.


I’m home from Sasquan, where genre fans converged to celebrate things they loved, where raging forest fires sent the populace scrambling for face masks, where Hugo voters sent the various puppy factions scurrying home with their tails between their legs. As you may have gathered, it was anything but dull. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, hanging out with Taos Toolbox pals and their friends, and even scored more agent interest in my latest novel. I may or may not have dyed my hair blue-green– temporary dye, the kind that leaves big blue handprints on hotel towels. (Sorry, Davenport) We may or may not have tried vaping– no nicotine or more nefarious substances involved– and carried flasks into the Hugo award ceremony, Such rebels! I’ve lost count, but that was at least my fifth or sixth childhood.

And to think I considered not going. My fear that the Puppy Slate brouhaha would cast a pall over the proceedings turned out to be ill-founded. Of all the reasons I’m glad I went ahead and pulled the trigger, the biggest is witnessing firsthand how little impact that online shitstorm had on fandom at large. Panels and parties continued as planned, friends met up and discussed their favorite new reads. The attempted Puppy hijacking came up quite infrequently, with a shrug or eyeroll and a transition to more interesting topics. It just wasn’t all that relevant– or perhaps we had already discussed it to death. Like so many online squabbles, it seemed so insignificant away from the glare of the screen.

Then came the awards ceremony itself. Five No Awards handed out, doubling the total throughout Hugo history. Not only were the puppies denied any rockets, they were outvoted by downright massive margins (as revealed in the Hugo Stastistics data.) In the Novella category, No Award received almost seven times the amount of votes as the second place finisher. That’s what you call an unqualified blowout. Oh, and the winners included a novel translated from Chinese, a Dutch novelette, a comic book about a Pakistani-American girl, and a writer who helped expose the cowardice of an online hatemonger. And then George R. R. Martin showed the meaning of class by awarding losers his own Alfie Awards at a party that was all anyone would talk about the next day.

So, yeah. Nothing ambiguous about this outcome. It was a thing to see, and I’m glad I was there in person.


But speaking of casting a pall… holy shit, that smoke! The burning acres surrounding “Smokane” provided us with weird, greenscreen-like skies and blood-red suns. By Friday the air hazard infiltrated the Convention Center itself, when an unfortunate shift in the wind carried smoke and ash right to us. Regardless, it’s a beautiful town and I hope they get those fires under control. Though I am glad to be home and breathing salt air again.

Thanks, Sasquan. It was one for the record books.