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Looking at last month’s update, I see that I announced with great pleasure, "Summer is here!" I think I may have jinxed it, because it's been an unseasonably cool one thus far.
In fact, there was only one weekend in July that offered great beach weather, and as luck would have it, that was the weekend I was at Detcon1 in Detroit. On the plus side, it turned out to be quite an interesting experience. As a long-time Michigander, I'm embarrassed to say I'd never been to downtown Detroit before – and since its decline, one seldom hears good things about the city.
I found a lot to like about it, though. There’s a lot of great architecture, including the spectacular Guardian Building with its ornate Art Deco lobby. We spent a lovely afternoon enjoying street food and live music in a little park in the heart of the city, and another morning exploring the agricultural bounty on display at the Eastern Market, followed by a visit to the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum. People were friendly and outgoing, and took a lot of pride in the city despite its troubles.
That's not to say that the challenges Detroit faces aren't obvious, even in the heavily policed downtown. Gazing at the fountain in the park, I was thinking about how and why humans are so drawn to displays of moving water, and how on a visceral level, it represents not only mastery over an element, but a display of sheer abundance. Water is essential. A fountain says, look, we have so much of it, we can afford to make it dance for our pleasure! On the heels of that thought, we left the park and encountered a demonstration protesting the extensive water shut-offs in the city.
I don't know enough about the details of the situation to have an informed opinion, but it's hard not to think that there's something very wrong with that scenario... especially in a city that sits on one of the world's largest reserves of fresh water.
As for the convention, that too was interesting. It was held in the Renaissance Center, a complex designed by architects who seem to have been unaware that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, resulting in a circular structure filled with masses of empty space periodically intersected by escalators. It was all rather surreal and reminded me of an old SF novel, House of Stairs by William Sleator, that freaked me out when I was a teenager!
Nonethless, I had some good panels, a very nice KaffeeKlatsch with a group of lovely fans, and a fun time at the 1980s dance party at which author John Scalzi proved himself to be an excellent DJ.
Now I’m ready for a staycation! Here’s hoping I get to the beach at least once in the month of August.