All right, all right, it’s not Pittsburra, but rather Pittsburgh, but the last five letters are the same as in Edinburgh…
Anyway, long ago I could have become an active member of “SIF-wuh.” (Speaking of pronunciation, that’s how they say SFWA, which stands for Science Fiction Writers of America.) But I just joined. This past weekend I went to their yearly Nebula Awards Conference for the first time, which was held in Pittsburra.
Considering that their Nebula Award is the most prestigious award for this genre, the Nobel Prize in Literature for those of us who write speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy), the first thing that struck me was the open friendliness extended to me as a newcomer. The president of the organization was kind enough to meet with me one-on-one, an honor I wasn’t expecting, and even bought one of my books from the bookstore. A writer reputed to make six figures a year as an indie author was so intent on offering me marketing advise that he spent twice as long with me as he’d agreed to. It didn’t take me long to realize, from everyone I came in contact with, that what I had joined was a family.
And then there was the banquet, during which the Nebula Awards were announced and given out to the winners for work published in the previous year. Floral arrangements in the center of the tables? No…and here I’ll start dropping names…a unique found-object robot sculpture on each table, compliments of Don L. Jones. Dull, small talk among the strangers I was seated with? No, I had two animated authors on one side and, on the other, Jim Fiscus who won a well-deserved special award and delighted me as we debated the merits of various Japanese film directors. Toastmaster? A real, live astronaut, Dr. Kjell Lindgren, who delighted us with his personal pictures and stories from four months of weightlessness with killer views. This special guest, having watched our planet for so long from afar, stole our hearts when he expressed how he couldn’t understand why anyone fortunate to live on such a beautiful planet could do anything nasty to the rest of us living here. Charlie Jane Anders stole our hearts when, having just won a Nebula for her novel All the Birds in the Sky, she said…in the small voice of someone who feels very deeply what they say…that everyone should have a voice.
In short, this writer had a truly wonderful time in…oh, all right…Pittsburgh.