Jay Lake: Writer

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[awards] Hosting the Hugos

My thoughts are still somewhat muddled by exhaustion, and the process of picking back up my real life, but I wanted to post a bit about my experience of co-hosting the Hugos with the mighty [info]kenscholes.

In a word, it was an awesome experience. Draining, difficult, amusing, wonderful, and many other suitably bipolar adjectives.

We’d been working on the script off and on for well over a month, interrupted by my liver resecting in mid-July. We had read-throughs and rehearsals Thursday and Saturday at Renovation. We had a magnificent tech crew supporting us across the board on site, with able leadership from Sharon Sbarsky and John Maizels. But when it came down to the moment, it was still me and Ken walking out on stage in front of 1,500 2,500 people and a handful of video cameras.

Things went wrong. Somehow we started on page two of the script. No one seemed to notice. Somehow we lost the last four pages of the script mid-show. (This included the entire Best Novel segment.) I scrambled on the dark stage during the clips of Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form to locate the missing pages, which I found in the pile of discarded pages from earlier in the show. Yet it all worked.

I know the scripting was obvious from the audience. I wish we could have done the whole thing more naturally, ad lib — that’s how I do my best work — but there were way too many details and checkpoints and hard cues to leave to a set of bullet points and our wit for two hours. Plus the need to coordinate between the two of us. When I hosted the World Fantasy Awards a few years ago, I worked without a script, but I was hosting solo with a ceremony where I only had to provide the main introduction, not manage the timings between award segements. (It’s a much less technical show than the Hugos.)

A real treat for me was that much of my family came to see the show, including my dad and (step)mom, my sister and her boyfriend, [info]the_child and her mother. Most of them had never been to a convention before, so they experienced Worldcon Saturday, then the Hugos. And dressed for the occasion, too. It’s the first time in my life I can recall seeing my dad in an aloha shirt, while my sister and [info]the_child were all steampunked out. Everyone looked very elegant, and it meant a lot to me that they were there.

I’ve also learned that while I’m emotionally bulletproof about bad reviews of my fiction, I’m only mildly bullet-resistant about bad reviews of my live performance. It’s an interesting distinction, doubly so because live performance is such a relatively small part of what I do.

This was so much fun. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Plus if I’m ever invited to host the Nebula awards, I’ll have made a trifecta of hosting the major awards in our field.

I want to thank Renovation, and especially Patty Wells and Sharon Sbarsky, for inviting Ken and I to do this. I want to thank John Maizels and the tech crew for making the show possible and making us look good. I want to thank [info]kenscholes for doing this with me. And most of all I want to thank everyone who attended, or watched remotely, for being part of the event.

It was a blast.

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