I got up early and had a swim in the hotel pool and a substantial breakfast (the breakfast menu at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown is an exact duplicate of the breakfast menu at the Boston Westin Waterfront hotel, which implies they both buy from the same food-supply company).
Then off to the convention center for my first panel of the day: "Oceans, the Wettest Frontier," moderated by Chris Weuve, with Laurel Ann Hill, Patricia MacEwen, and Alyx Dellamonica as well as myself. We talked about the odd sub-genre of ocean colonization stories from the 1970s, various ecological perils, and the odd way that surface ships (as opposed to submarines) only turn up in postapocalyptic science fiction.
I spent the next hour taking a turn through the vast exhibits hall, where I bought three or four books — including Lewis Pulsipher's book Game Design and a collection of essays on silent films by Kage Baker. I stopped in to see the final half of an utterly fascinating presentation on "The History of the Book."
After which it was time for my Kaffeeklatsch. That's a convention event at which fans can sign up to have a conversation with one of the guests (you have to supply your own coffee). In the past I've spent some Kaffeeklatsch sessions sitting wanly at an empty table, but this time I got to have a wide-ranging chat with SF editor/reviewer Rich Horton.
During a free hour after we were done Klatsching I got lunch at a food truck outside the convention center, sampling some Kansas City style barbecue. I'm still planning to have a go at a sit-down barbecue place, but the chopped brisket sandwich was quite good.
My final event for Friday was a panel on "Appreciating the Pulps," moderated by Mike Shepherd Moscoe and featuring myself, my fellow writer Scott Lynch, and the formidable scholar of pulp magazines Peter Balestrieri. I suspect the panel would have been just as informative if Mr. Balestrieri had been sitting at the front of the room on his own, without the rest of us, but we did our best to amuse.
After that I could relax and enjoy some of the other events going on. I watched five SF/Fantasy heavyweights (actually they're all pretty svelte) discuss "Nifty Narrative Tricks" and then sat in on a panel about "Mining History for the Future."
That brought me to dinnertime so I ventured over to the Power and Light District in search of food. There are some good places to eat there, which compensates for the shocking lack of restaurants around the convention center itself. The main focus appears to be drinking and clubbing, though, so I plan to look elsewhere for dinner on Saturday.
Of course, I can't really point a finger of scorn because after dinner I spent Friday night at two parties myself: the highbrow and civilized Asimov's/Analog party at the Marriott, and the EXTREMELY LOUD Tor Books party atop the Crown Plaza. How loud? There was a thunderstorm raging outside but we couldn't hear the thunder over the din of conversation.
With ringing ears I went to bed.