At Potlatch

This past weekend, I spent a lot of time at Potlatch 19. It’s a literary convention for readers and writers of speculative fiction and it focuses on communications.

No costumes. No gaming or art shows. No film rooms. Just a bunch of folks with a passion for SF and an interest in discussing the genre with other devotees. Intimate is a word you hear a lot at Potlatch and it is that.

There are some group events — a couple of scheduled panels, an organizational meeting or two and a Sunday brunch — but what you see most (and get drawn into) are small clusters of people everywhere, involved in animated conversations.

It was enormous fun.

Jude-Marie Green, fellow writer and associate editor of Abyss & Apex, the quarterly on-line SF magazine, flew up from Los Angeles. She stayed with Rachael and me, came bearing gifts from LaLa Land, and was kind enough to hang out with me at the convention.

She and I breakfasted with Kij Johnson Saturday and Rachael met us Sunday afternoon for a swell poke around at Pike Place Market. We were sorry to see her leave Monday afternoon.

The event was held at the Deca Hotel, in the heart of the University District, and it was a good choice. The attention we received from the hotel staff was first-rate — friendly, competent and ever-helpful — and all the nooks and crannies of the facility were perfect for small gatherings.

I had a chance to chat with some of my favorite published SF writers — Kij Johnson, Vonda McIntire, Ellen Klages and David D. Levine, to name just a few — and had an animated conversation about fanzines, SF movies, silent-film comedians and the logistics of conventions with Potlatch committee member Jerry Kaufman over Sunday brunch.

The best part of the whole thing is that proceeds — from the Potlatch auction, tee-shirt sales and the like — go to support the Clarion West Workshop, the six-week workshop, held here in Seattle, for writers preparing for professional careers in science fiction and fantasy.

Talk about win-win situations. I’m already looking forward to Potlatch 20, next year in San Francisco.

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