Jacque Marshall

MileHiCon 31

22-24 October 1999
Sheraton Hotel, Denver CO

I recommend meeting your idols in person, I really do. (At least, if you have good taste in idols like I do.) Going to lunch with them is even better.

Besides visiting with friends, I went to MileHiCon this year with one agenda on my mind: seeing my favorite fiction author, Lois McMaster Bujold. And, if the gods smiled, affixing myself to her coat-tails and following her around for the entire convention, slavishly gazing at her in wide-eyed, fatuous adoration.

The short version:

(Mostly just to make Jeff completely nuts ;-> ): I basically spent the weekend in Bujold's coat pocket.

The long version:

(Say, you know? Maybe my List of People I Want to Have Lunch With isn't such an outrageous ambition after all.)

The gods did smile -- in fact were probably laughing their ethereal little asses off. These two ambitions -- following Bujold and seeing friends -- turned out to be effectively one and the same. Susan and Caro are also devout Bujold fans. All I had to do was follow them around. For once in my life I was part of the right "In" group. And MileHiCon is a small convention so, despite Bujold being Guest of Honor, she did not have a huge mob of loyal fans stampeding around after her. Just a cozy little gaggle of us.

Why Bujold? Well, let's see. She writes fiction that, over the course of the last year or two, has slowly but inexorably wormed its way into the very roots of my brain, to the point where it's nearly impossible for me to even finish anything else, let alone really enjoy it.

For those who haven't read them, I can't recommend Bujold's books highly enough. If you have any taste at all for SF and/or solid, character-driven fiction, run-do-not-walk down to your local bookseller and pick up Cordelia's Honor. For the rest of this report, I'm going to assume basic acquaintance with Bujold's work. I should probably issue a generic spoiler warning, as I will be discussing specific plot points in the books as they came up in conversation.

Oh, and all quotes are from memory, so I apologize in advance for deranging anybody's statements or ideas. And please -- if you were there and you remember something differently than I do, I implore you to let me know so I can correct this report.

Anticipating the con

It always fascinates me how one can develop a powerful relationship with someone, based on nothing more than words on a page. Especially with authors I like, I'm forever trying to peek past the prose and catch a glimpse of the psyche behind it, often with surprising success. Was it Mark Twain who said that one should never meet one's idols? Because the person is always so much less than the work.

I disagree. Maybe I'm just lucky (or have exceptionally good taste -- that's my favorite theory). Of the three or four people on my List that I've actually managed to meet, each one of them has turned out to be very much the fascinating, complicated human being hinted at in the subtexts of their work.

My mental relationship with Bujold is