SFWA Authors and Editors Reception
by Steven Sawicki

It was November 19, 2001 at the NewYorker Hotel in New York,  Manhattan I believe

I've been going to the Writers and Editors Soiree for the past four years. I started going as soon as I learned they'd let me in. I actually had to call someone to ask and, after checking, they called back and, somewhat reluctantly, said yes. 

Since learning that security on the door is so light (one guy who works for the hotel asks to see your room key and if you tell him you're there for the party he just smiles and says "upstairs.") I've been going every since. Getting there is half the fun and in past years has included driving to New Jersey from Connecticut to drive back to New York (and then doing the reverse later), missing trains, and missing stations while on the train. This year I vowed to rectify mistakes of the past and do it right. Besides, rumors were afoot that the President would be there. 

So, accompanied by author Barbara Chepaitis, a normally sane and intelligent woman who, during a moment of weakness or peyote influenced unreason, agreed to be my fiancée, I set off for the soiree. (continued...

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l) Leigh Grossman, Gardner Dozois and Kathryn Cramer ply the bartender for info about the President  m) Rajnar Vajra & Shane Tourtellotte, famed Analog authors supplicate themselves to Barbara Chepaitis, thinking she has info on the President. r) Paul Levinson, ex President, cheerfully refuses to cooperate
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l) Linda & Allen Steele & Terry Bisson talk about recent President Sightings  m) John Klima proudly shows off his new baby, Electric Velocipede, which, by the way, contains work by Sawicki and not the President r) Scott Edelman, who writes about the President, refused to identify him.
Persistence Pays off. President Spinrad glowers at our intrepid reporter as his cover is blown. Good thing Steve had his SFWA spotting cards, as the new president was working the crowd incognito. 

(Continued from above...) We reached the train station with minutes to spare only to learn that somehow, Metro North had decided to reverse convention and have the West bound trains use the center track rather than the northern track. They had never done this before. Someone must have heard we were leaving early. So, up the 6,000 stairs and over the bridge and about halfway down the 5,800 stairs the train arrives. Luckily they have to use these unwieldy and spindly ramps to get from the platform to the center track and people, not being cattle, went slowly. We got on. Minutes later (about 78 of them) we were in Grand Central Station.

Grand Central is a big place and, while I'm sure it happens to the people who live there all the time, it's really weird to hear your name being called across the sea of moving people. When I finally located the source of the sound I found Shane Tourtellotte who was waiting for some people to come up from the underbelly of the south and have dinner. And speaking of dinner, we left Shane and headed to ours.

We had reservations. And not just anywhere but at the Mesa Grill.

Arriving at the Grand Central Taxi stand we found ourselves in luck. There was no one in front of us. A moment later we realized this was because they had closed access to the area as a potential security threat. So, back inside we go, down the stairs and across the labyrinth to the other side which was actually closer to where we wanted to be. We had a mind to walk. We asked a cop where 15th street was and he told us three blocks. Not bad. We could walk three blocks. Then I had the thought to ask about cross streets. Oh yeah, sixteen blocks added onto the three. We looked for a cab. We got behind about fifteen people waiting at the taxi stand and waited for a couple of minutes. Not a cab stopped. On our side of the street that is. Barbara made mention that there was no one waiting on the other side and that cabs seemed to be going in that direction pretty frequently. Scoffing at the line standers we crossed the street and moments later were on our way. After trying a number of different languages on the cab driver we resorted to speaking loudly and using gestures.

Eventually we got there, albeit on the wrong side of the street but there nonetheless. We were early and had to wait in the bar. Not a huge problem, unless you order the cactus margarita which is actually made with juice from the cactus pear. I had a bud.

Mesa Grill is Bobby Flay's place, or one of them, and he was there that night, an unusual occurrence according to our waiter. Something to do with a Bravo documentary that was being done. I think Bravo owns the food channel. And speaking of food it was excellent. We had squid and cow and duck and rabbit and a great desert. Then it was off to the New Yorker hotel and the reception.

We signed in and I immediately began my search for the president. He wasn't in the line for the drinks although I heard it was favorite of his. I would have to remember to check this out a number of times over the course of the evening. He wasn't upstairs on the balcony and, as far as I could tell, he wasn't in the coat room.

I started asking people. No one from Tor would say anything. The previous president would talk about anything but. Agents remained closed mouthed. If they knew they weren't telling. And yet just on the edge of conversation you'd hear references to him. He was here, he was there he was never in the same place as me. Hours passed and while luminaries from the SF and fantasy field (and a few horror writers who evidently used the same technique to get in that I did) milled about and made conversation and tried to one-up each other on recent sales.

The attached pics don't do justice to the event but they prove I was there. Actually, since I'm not in any of them, they probably don't prove that. But I was there, and so was the president. Just because there aren't pictures of either of us doesn't mean we don't exist. I mean there aren't really any good pictures of big foot or UFO's either.

There, I've made my point.

Eventually we got tired of looking and had to leave. We had cabs and trains to catch and then a ride home after that. An enjoyable evening even if the president managed to elude us. Perhaps he'd had advice from the previous presidents. That's okay because I've got an entire year to get ready for the next one.


© 2001 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu