FogCon: Day 1
Location: San Francisco, CA
Date: March 11-13
As some of you might be aware, the illustrious and renowned Ann and Jeff VanderMeer were invited to be the guests at an event known, most mysteriously, as FogCon. To be sure, at first glance, we were not sure if this was a weather event, a swindle or a trap for Jeff’s terrible floating bear companion, Mord.
A bit of research from the parties involved ascertained that no danger was to be found in the invitation itself. Indeed, we decided to send a bevy of Jeff’s beloved Monstrous Creatures along with him! Not only were collectors howling for the release of these mythical beasts, but Jennifer Barnes, Overlord of Raw Dog Screaming Press, needed a vacation!
Of course, when one sends a herd of the wild and wooly, a wrangler is needed, so I was booked on a covert flight to the fog-bound coastal city. I was instructed to lie low in the wilds of Northern California for a few days to make sure I hadn’t been followed, and to foil any GPS trackers* attached.
Certain that I wasn’t being followed **, I stormed the city early Friday morning to meet up with the VanderMeers, Bay-Area friends and my long-suffering fellow editor, Erika Holt.
The weekend promised to be a whirlwind. The theme was ‘The City in SF’. Due to a mix-up of names and resumes, I was asked to be on a panel about segregation in SFNal cities, with the illustrious experts Mary Ann Mohanraj, Eric Fischer and Marie Brennan. Due to long experience in dissembling and a top-level degree in BS, I managed not to sound too incompetent! Much fun was had at the expense of Morgan Dempsey, our Token Pole***.
Whisked away by said Token Pole and Token POC Emily Jiang, we whisked off to scout out the local coffeeshop where Jeff and Ann were scheduled to share their secrets about maintaining a top-level booklife, an event that demanded the utmost security and secrecy.
Unfortunately, Morgan was suffering from a deathly vapor in the lungs, a disease which can be multiplied in deadly fashion on the hills of San Francisco. Clinging to her bottle of what appeared to be radioactive dragon pee, she soldiered bravely to Contraband Coffee.
The site was perfect, manned by The Disenfranchised Hipster of Tea, a noble position if ever there was one. Bearded, scruffy, and dressed in plaid, he was as shining an example of his species if ever there was one. When we asked–in code–about the plans for the next day, he denied all knowledge of any events to come. Even under Tea Timer Torture, he maintained his silence, whispering some gibberish about ‘the method is key! Chai must be made by the method! Everyone screws it up!”* ***
By this point, Emily and I had costumed up while Morgan collected a fourth member for our brave party–the talented singer Monica Toth–and we whisked off to karaoke, followed by Emily’s reading, where she bribed us with cookies!
After that, our Urban Survival and Cocktail Expert Andy Romine–recently minted as one of Ellen Datlow’s ‘Best Horror of the Year, Honorable Mention’ authors–led us to the Sasquatch Lodge. A goodly collection of the Bay Area’s finest***** gathered in the shadow of the looming monster****** to catch up.
We shall leave those dark hours unremarked upon, mostly because I have pictures to chortle over when life becomes too bleak.
*Seriously, if anyone invents a signal that can escape El Dorado county’s canyons, they will be hailed as the innovator of the year. Cell phones go dead about 5 minutes off of the freeway.
**These Creatures are very rare, and many hunters have sought their hides for years, according to local lore.
***Er, Pole as in Polish. I’m already in enough trouble…
* *** At our latest communication, it is uncertain if he was brainwashed prior to our visit, or had just watched too much Dune.
***** Cliff Winnig, Shannon Page, Andy Romine, Erika Holt, Justin Whitney, Monica Toth, Rachel Silber, Emily Jiang.
*****Sasquatch is actually a lovely pub with a faux-backwoods décor, stuffed racoons and excellent bartenders. The drinks-including Toasted Marshmallow and Thin Mint-are excellent, but totally overshadowed by the official drink: Whiskey, ginger ale and bitters.