I made it to the Nebulas! I have never been to a “Nebula Weekend” before. For a long time I thought you had to be in SFWA to go (you don't, except for the SFWA business meeting itself). And then the event was usually somewhere like New York where I would have to travel and (in the case of NYC) stay in a very expensive hotel. This year, however, the Nebulas were at the DC Hilton, which while not actually in my backyard, is definitively in commuting distance.
Of course, they were also the weekend after my daughter's graduation and our return from Arizona, which is why I am sitting at home blogging and not attending the last couple of panel sessions. I had to go back to work and play catch-up on all my projects so a frantic full-Nebula weekend so soon after vacation was too much.
I did make it to the Friday night reception, which was really nice; they had a cash bar and some yummy appetizers, and there were lots of folks milling around, chatting. Also, when I registered, they gave me a tote back full of books! I hadn't expected that, and it was a nice surprise. It did illustrate how much harder it is to commute to an event like this, though. I couldn't run up to my room and drop off the heavy bag o' books because my room was 15 miles (or more precisely, a 2-mile drive, a 30-minute subway ride, and a 6-block walk) away.
Saturday I came back to attend a workshop on improving your website, which was informative and useful but it ran longer than I had expected. I had planned to go home and change for the banquet, but instead I just sat on the Hilton's' lovely terrace for the rest of the afternoon, and read N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which seemed appropriate, as it was nominated for a Neb. Here's the view from the terrace (a particularly welcome feature because the inside of the hotel was freezing): Sorry the pic is so dark, but I only had my phone to take pictures, and the battery was going so I couldn't afford to re-shoot.
The highlight of the weekend, of course, is the Saturday night banquet and the Nebula Award ceremony. That was fun! It was a lot like the World Fantasy Convention banquet except that there attendees were assigned to specific tables, rather like a wedding. Also, there were some really nice evening gowns and even a few tuxes. Mary Robinette Kowal wore her lovely regency dress and carried a fan! I felt a tad under-dressed but I wasn't the only one, so it was okay.
Fortunately, my fried Scott (scottedelman
) happened to be at my table, and being Scott, it turned out he knew four of the other seven folk. It was pretty cozy. We had four writers, a publisher, an editor (Scott counts twice since he does both), and a couple of fans. It was a friendly group. We chatted a lot about the fact that Nebs had been scheduled on "Rapture night."
There were some nice speeches, particularly by Michael Dirda, who was awarded an honorary membership in SFWA, and by John Scalzi, who was so dressed up and formal looking I hardly recognized him.
The awards went off well except the envelopes seemed to be really hard for all the presenters to open. There were a lot of awards, but for me, the highlight of the evening was watching Connie Willis accept the Best Novel Neb. She started her speech by saying how glad she was the world had not ended at 6:00 pm.
But the best part is, next year the Nebulas will again be in the DC area, at a hotel in the Crystal City part of Arlington, VA. Since I work in Crystal City, commuting to that event will be much easier! And maybe by then I will be in SFWA?