The moment CoNZealand announced they were going virtual I went through the ceiling with squee, “I can actually ATTEND!” Because I’d never have been able to go to New Zealand in person; even apart from the travel and accommodation cost, I don’t fly, especially not twenty or more hours. I tried to volunteer, too, but in the end they didn’t need the skills I offered and I didn’t have the skills (and resources, like “a stable internet connection”, grr) that they needed. Ah well; gave me more time to try and catch the things I wanted.
I think I love virtual conventions. There were things I missed — I was going to say “running into random people and making new friends” but there was a lot of that after all (hi Judith! hi Aza! hi Nolly! hi Stefan! to name only a few). I missed sitting in a downtime area and having a drink and a chat with people; chatting online with a mug or glass of something beside me is not the same thing. There was far too little downtime anyway because it was actually possible to get to things. No queues! Except the 10 minutes a bunch of us spent in a Zoom waiting room wondering in the text channel if this was a queue or a technical glitch. (The latter. And we did get in eventually.) And switching to New Zealand time on Tuesday/Wednesday and back on Sunday was easier than I’d anticipated, with only a few moments of timezone confusion and very little jetlag either going in or coming out.
Except for the obvious differences it was still much like the two physical Worldcons I’ve been to. Two isn’t much experience but it felt like a real Worldcon to me. The same “we’re all different and everybody is normal” mindset. The same geeky jokes. The same frictions. I won’t talk about the frictions, and especially I won’t talk about the huge Hugo train-wreck, because other people have done that elsewhere much better than I can; DuckDuckGo or else Google is your friend. But many of the right people won Hugos, at least: EIGHT of my first choices (Emergency Skin, Good Omens, Catfishing on Catnet, Jeannette Ng’s speech, LaGuardia, The Book Smugglers, Bogi Takács, and Elise Matthesen) and several of my second choices (This Is How You Lose the Time War for one; perhaps it’s indeed better but I loved The Haunting of Tram Car 015 so much, and I’ve always treated Hugo voting as “I love this!” rather than “this has some absolute intrinsic quality”).
I found a place to hang out. Several places in fact; I think the-hallway was created because I said we needed a hallway, and people promptly started showing off their hall costumes in it, excellent! But the place where I hung out most was the Glasgow fan table, which I only left briefly in self-preservation (of the “sit on my hands” kind) when three men in quick succession showed disappointment at Elise Matthesen’s win. If that hadn’t been such a pleasant hangout I probably wouldn’t have presupported Glasgow. Also, Sara Felix tiara! If I win it I’ll wear it, either in Glasgow or at home and have Spouse take pictures of me to send. I do hope Scotland will be back in the EU one way or another by 2024, but even if it isn’t it’s probably feasible to go.
Things I learned: many of the ins and outs of Discord and Zoom. To filk. Lost most of my camera shyness, too, not only singing but also talking (in kaffeeklatsches). I don’t want to replay panels where I’m visible, though, and I’m glad the kaffeeklatsches and the filking didn’t get recorded.