The "three-hour tour" last night turned out to be divine. I've done the river/lake cruise in Chicago before, on my first trip, but that was in daylight. This was after dark, and it was gorgeous seeing the city that way (with themes from science fiction movies playing on the sound system). Plus there was wine, food and good company. I did have the initial moment of social awkwardness when I didn't really recognize anyone in the dim light, and the people I did recognize didn't seem to recognize me. I had my hair up because I had a feeling wind would be an issue on the boat, and I've found that people who've met me once when I had my hair down don't recognize me when they see me again with my hair up, probably because my hair is the thing people notice, and then they don't recognize me when I'm no longer "the one with all the masses of ringlets." Like, I think it was driving Robert J. Sawyer crazy all night. He kept giving me funny "I know her from somewhere" looks.
So, as I was standing there feeling awkward, a man who'd also been standing around awkwardly came over to me and commented on how hard it was to recognize people in that light, then stuck out his hand and said, "I'm Alan Foster." I introduced myself and mentioned that we'd met before, and then he remembered who I was. So, not only did Alan Dean Foster get me into science fiction when I was a kid, but he rescued me from a massive wallflower attack because soon other people joined our cluster, and then the clusters broke off, and I made a new friend or two. I ended up spending a lot of the evening with Nancy Fulda, who has a short story nominated for the Hugo (it was about a dancer, so there was a bond) and with Connie Willis's husband. Then Connie joined us, and soon we had George R.R. Martin in our group, and it turns out that I wasn't the only one thinking Gilligan's Island about this event. We started figuring out who was whom. George was the Skipper because he had the hat, and Connie's husband was the Professor because he is one, and George said Connie was Mrs. Powell and I was Mary Ann. And then we got started talking about conspiracies because George thought it was fishy that the Professor could make a radio out of coconuts, but he couldn't fix the boat. I said he had a reason he wanted to stay on that island, so we were brainstorming reasons. It was also fishy that some of the passengers had brought multiple changes of clothing and lots of supplies for a three-hour sightseeing tour, so they must have known in advance that something would happen.
So, yes, I got into a conversation with George R.R. Martin, and what do I talk about? Gilligan's Island conspiracy theories. Welcome to my life. I don't plan this sort of thing. It just seems to happen. I'm also a little nervous that he saw me as Mary Ann, even though I was about as Gingered-up as I can get, because bad things seem to happen to "Mary Ann" type people in his books.
It was funny when the crew of the boat realized who was on board and they all then wanted their pictures taken with him. I didn't take any pictures because it was dark and the boat was moving, and I wasn't really in the mood for playing fangirl and getting my picture taken with the famous authors. I was having silly conversations with them instead.
I had my reading this morning, and there were actually people there! In fact, that may have been the biggest crowd I've had so far at a reading. My voice is fading, but I made it through that. Now I have two panels today, then a dinner and then a party, so it's a busy day. I'm taking some time to relax before I head into the really crazy time.