Saturday morning and afternoon at the Nebulas were mostly spent in programming -- Future of Publishing, Finances For Writers, Social Networking, that sort of thing -- and schmoozing. Best quote of the morning was from Finances For Writers: "The IRS won't let you take off the dress you bought for the Nebulas." (!?!) NASA TV was on the TV in the lobby 24/7 and I commented to someone else in the elevator that many of the things the astronauts get to do, even apart from going to space, are things the rest of us would kill for, such as commuting to their jobs via fighter jet. Another fellow in the elevator, not a SFWA person, commented that the pilot was a friend of his. This guy is the manager of the Solid Rocket Booster program, staying in our hotel for the launch. He'll be going home after the SRBs are fished out of the ocean and sent back for refurbishment. ::gawp::
Saturday evening was the Nebula Awards Banquet, of course. The bad news is that I didn't win a Nebula. The good news is that I didn't lose a Nebula, either, though I think I was may have been nearly as nervous waiting for my speech as I have been as a nominee. I missed the pre-banquet milling and swilling in favor of making sure my audio-video equipment was properly set up, but I was very glad of that trade-off when my speech was the only audio-video presentation of the evening that went off without a serious glitch.
Kate tells me I was a little nervous and stammery at the beginning of the speech but I soon found my footing and delivered the rest of it fast but smooth. (The "fast" part was appreciated by the audience because the ceremony was running way behind schedule and the nominees had already gnawed their fingernails all the way to the collarbone.) I wasn't feeling much of a reaction from the audience as I spoke, but I did get laughs in the right places and after the ceremony the praises were effusive. Connie Willis, Sheila Williams, Patrick Neilsen Hayden, Betsy Wollheim, and many others all went out of their way to say it was the best Nebula keynote they'd seen, using words like "riveting."
(If you haven't yet seen the list of Nebula winners, it's here, and I must say I'm generally quite pleased with the results.)
After the ceremony and photographs we found ourselves out on the deck with most of the winners. So thrilled to see eugie still stunned by her win, after she'd said on the bus to the shuttle launch that she hadn't even prepared a speech. Some wag -- might have been China Miéville -- suggested that all the winners should be required to get Nebula tattoos. "Tramp stamp!" said someone, but I countered that would only be appropriate for an urban fantasy -- as Paolo Bacigalupi had won with a dystopian SF novel it should be on the neck, or perhaps forehead. This led to the idea of Nebula brands, where the winners would be branded immediately upon receipt of the award. ("And the Nebula goes to..." ::rotates brand in brazier of hot coals::) It would certainly make losing the award a lot more palatable.
I didn't sleep well at all; maybe I was still wired from the banquet. I really do enjoy public speaking, and in fact I have already delivered variants of this same speech before packed houses at Ignite Portland, Potlatch, and Google so I should have been confident, but I think this was the toughest audience of all. Not to mention I was wearing my tux, which always induces nervousness. I think it's soaked up pheremones from all the other nerve-wracking events I've worn it to, including my wedding, Writers of the Future, three Hugo ceremonies, and the Nebulas. Maybe I'll get a nap on the flight from Houston to Albuquerque.
Sunday morning I gave a brief Q&A about my trip to Mars, because there wasn't time for questions during the banquet. Only a few people showed up, but it was also streamed to the Internet and there were some good questions. Then we raced to the airport, where I discovered the addition of the Nebula freebies bag had pushed my checked luggage over the weight limit. Fortunately the removal of a large handful of books brought it down far enough to pass, and there was just barely room for them in my carry-on. Good thing I didn't win a Nebula -- those suckers are heavy!