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The Rotundo World Tour


ConStellation 9
Lincoln, NE
April 20-22

WorldCon 76
San Jose, CA
August 16-20

Watch this space for updates!

WorldCon Report, Day 1: Bienvenue a Montreal, Corn Boy

Getting to Montreal proved easier than I thought it would be. Even changing planes at O’Hare was a snap; my connecting flight departed from the gate right next to my flight from Omaha.

I’ve traveled internationally before, but the last time had been pre-9/11, and that was on a cruise–an entirely different animal. So this time around, I was treated to the whole shmear–passports, currency exchange, long lines at customs. I stumbled and stuttered a bit when the customs agent asked me the nature of my business in Canada before finally saying, "I’m a writer." A duh moment, to be sure. Out of my element? Oh, just a tad.

Speaking of which–I of course knew that Montreal is all about that French-talk, but I learned that it’s one thing to know it, and quite another to experience it. So there I am in the customs line, and everyone around me is conversing in a foreign tongue, and I had a moment of panic, suddenly afraid that I would never be able to get into Canada without causing an international incident.

I’m from Nebraska, you know?  We don’t do French there. Hell, we barely have indoor plumbing.

They let me in, anyway.

The great thing about WorldCons for me these days is that I can hardly swing a stick without hitting someone I know. (What a change from the first WorldCon I attended, back in 1997, where I knew no one and felt like a complete outsider.) I started spotting friends and colleagues as soon as I got to the Delta. First among them were T.L. Morganfield, Aliette de Bodard, and Aliette’s husband Matthieu. After dropping my bags in my room, I headed back to the lobby in hopes of finding registration and a meal, not necessarily in that order. Registration was closed by that point, but I did run into Paolo Bacigalupi, who asked if I was hungry. In fact, I was ravenous, so off we went.

Paolo had a hankering for pho, Vietnamese noodle soup. Now . . . did I mention I’m from Nebraska? I’m pretty much a steak and potatoes guy, and had certainly never done Vietnamese. But I was too hungry to argue. Off we went to Chinatown, a few blocks from the Palais des congress. We found a pho place, and with Paolo’s able assistance, I ordered a spicy, meat-heavy variation that I gobbled down with abandon. We had a great conversation, and left there stuffed to the gills.

Upon returning to the hotel, we ran into Jetse deVries, Jim Minz, and a group of other guys who were going on a pub crawl. Paolo and I were both pretty wiped out, but he somehow found the gumption to go with them. I begged off, knowing that this would be my best shot at a good night’s sleep. I felt I needed to pace myself. From a physical stamina standpoint, it was undoubtedly the right decision. From a networking/career advancement standpoint . . . I dunno. Might have been a mistake.

Nebraska. What can I tell ya?

Anyway, I went upstairs, called my wife from the hotel phone–an expensive proposition, but the only choice I had, given that my cheap cell phone was useless in Canada–and then went to sleep.

In our next exciting installment:  The Very Cool Thing, and a brush with greatness.  Stay tuned . . .

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