ICFA 2009, To the Orlando Airport and Flight Back to Kent

This morning, I got an early start and hit the hotel Starbucks for coffee and their yummy banana nut bread.  While I was there, I spoke with Andy Duncan briefly before I returned to my room to pack and head off for the airport.

I had to wrap some of my books in newsprint to keep them safe from bumps and bruises in my carry on duffle bag.  Considering that I didn’t go to the awards dinner, I still made out with a great selection of bought and free books.  I purchased Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan’s So Long Been Dreaming anthology (signed by Hopkinson), New Dimensions 1 edited by Robert Silverberg, New Dimensions 2 edited by Robert Silverberg, and The Best SF Stories from New Worlds 6 edited by Michael Moorcock.  I received for free Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine (September 2007–includes Ted Chiang’s The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate), Brian Aldiss’ New Arrivals, Old Encounters, Suzy McKee Charnas’ Dorothea Dreams, and Philip K. Dick’s Voices From the Street.  I’m glad that ICFA has such a great book room, and I really appreciate the donated books for conference participants.  

While I waited outside for the airport shuttle, I met the SF author Terry Bisson.  We talked about teaching SF for awhile, and then we boarded the shuttle.  After settling in at the back of the bus, James Patrick Kelly joined us for the short jaunt to the airport.

Luckily, I had enough time to browse around the Kennedy Space Center gift shop where I picked up a NASA baseball hat and some t-shirts (I discovered when I got home that their sizes run large, so be warned).  While I was in line, Dewitt ambled in, and we talked awhile about the conference and the impending SFRA conference in June.  He and I both have to get our proposals to Lisa and Doug before the end of the month.  I don’t want to give away his paper idea, but I think it is brilliant for the theme and location of the conference.

I was able to use some miles to upgrade my seat from economy to First Class (making this my second foray into the airline class privileged section of the aircraft).  While sitting there and looking outside from my first row window seat, I jotted down these notes:

I’m sitting in First Class, seat 1F right now, writing my post in my Moleskin reporters pad.  Outside the Boeing 737-800 I see so much activity–the activity at all major airports.  The ground crew members are dutifully slinking along under the concrete magnified heat of the Spring Florida sun.  Even thought I’ve seen the magnificent work of the ground crew on many occasions, it never ceases to awe that they facilitate the safe and efficient travel of multitudes of people crapping to get from here to there.  I am thankful for the care of the airline ground crews as well as the professional and dedicated efforts of pilots, and stewards and stewardesses.  

During our initial climb, it is so quiet except for the constant high pitch drone of the engines behind me.  The jet engines sound like muffled remote controlled nitro-fueled cars.  Actually, it is an enjoyable sound.

I see that there is a nuclear power plant near the airport–that would make for a fun ICFA outing in the future.

During the flight back to Cleveland, I saw four nuclear power plants, the Golden Isles Speedway (a dirt race track between Brunswick and Hortense, Georgia), and a number of other airplanes above, below, and to the side of our path through the sky.  In fact, I probably took as many pictures of the ground from the plane as I took pictures at the conference.  Thankfully there were such clear skies.

Thinking back over the past few days, I can honestly say that I had a good time in Orlando.  Ritch was an excellent roommate, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to catch up with A.P., Gerard, Melissa, and everyone else.  All of the SFRA conference fliers, brochures, and bracelets were eagerly taken away, and all of The Postnational Fantasy CFPs were whisked away.  I am glad that I got to talk to so many folks about The Postnational Fantasy project, and get feedback on the publication process from others.  Of course, there are many things that were left undone, and folks that I would have liked to talk with, but the time compression built into a conference is the joy and bane of academic meetings.

I know this was a rambling post–thanks for bearing with me.  I’m ecstatic to be home with Yufang and Miao Miao.  There have been naps, playing, vegetarian dining, and World of Warcraft in the hours following Yufang picking me up from the airport this afternoon.  Tomorrow it’s back to work, but I’m going to hold on to ICFA’s fantasyland time just a little bit longer.

IAFA or Bust!

My wonderful girlfriend, Yufang, drove me up to the Cleveland Airport so that I could catch a plane headed back down south to IAFA in Orlando, FL. I flew Continental Airlines, and I had a First Class seat. Normally I don’t fly First Class, but I waited too long to purchase my ticket and that’s all that was left for non-stop flights between Cleveland and Orlando. However, the price was more expensive, but the First Class experience (my first) was well worth it! I had a spacious seat, three glasses of red wine, a snack that included more wine, cheese, meat, crackers, and cookies (as opposed to just a packet of mixed nuts), and a fellow non-First Class traveler as my next-seat mate (a produce supply chain manager–not sure about his official job title, but it his work sounds interesting–though I had more questions than I was comfortable asking regarding modern farming and displacement practices).

After arriving at the Orlando Airport Marriott, I ran into Lisa Yaszek and Doug Davis who were on their way out to the pool. Later that night, I talked to two long-time IAFA-goers, Tim and Brian, at the opening reception. Then, I ran into Karen Hellekson and Craig Jacobsen, co-editors of SFRA Review. We all moved outside and had an enjoyable talk out on the dock behind the hotel on a large pond. While enjoying the night breeze, Taryne Jade Taylor joined us. If she’s representative of Florida Atlantic’s MA in English, SF and Fantasy track, then they must have an outstanding program! After the first exodus of bodies, Aidan-Paul Canavan lurked into the darkness under the gazebo. It was great seeing him again (he’s in the PhD program at the University of Liverpool).

What a great arrival to the conference–enjoying time with old friends and new!