This past weekend, I attended Lunacon 50, a science fiction convention held annually in Rye, New York by the New York Science Fiction Society. I wanted to attend “a con” this year and I chose Lunacon because, of the Northeast conventions I could find online, it seemed the most writer-friendly and writer-centric. Appropriately, for the next few days, I’m going to type up my thoughts and impression.
Our story begins with an epic tale of travel and travail.
It wasn’t until March 8th that I decided to attend and booked my ticket, etc. I was reassured by the fact that Rye Town is, more or less, easily accessible via Metro North (a commuter line running out of New York City). This worked well because over the past decade I’ve become adept enough at getting to New York City via a different commuter rail, New Jersey Transit. Through a legacy of corporate decision-making dating back — I kid not you — to the earliest days of railroading, the NJ Transit train uses the old Hudson Tubes of the mighty Pennsylvania Railroad and pulls into Pennsylvania Station, while the Metro North train departs from the home tracks of the Pennsy’s great rival the New York Central, at Grand Central Terminal. The upshot is, despite the logical expectation, one cannot simply transfer from NJ Transit to Metro North.
However, I remain a New Yorker at heart despite being an ex-patriate of many years. I knew I could hop the A train at Penn Station, ride north one stop to Port Authority at 42nd Street, walk the pedestrian tunnel to Times Square, and hop the S (“shuttle”) over to Grand Central. Mildly annoying, well within my capabilities.
When the time came to leave on Friday, a sudden snowstorm had arisen. Really. Everyone thought we were done with winter but apparently it wasn’t done with us. Most of what I’d heard was clear that we should expect snow showers or a quick snowfall. And that story was maintained until about noon on Friday when it suddenly became known to me that we were in for a real winter storm. Of course it started coming down hard just as I called for the cab over to Princeton Junction station. *sigh* It wasn’t so much that snow was falling. I was riding a well-maintained train in relative comfort. It was that the storm has (a) delayed my departure slightly and (b) convinced many many people to call it an early day and head home. All told, it meant I would be traversing Manhattan during the upsurge tide of a Friday rush hour. And it wouldn’t get better on Metro North, either, since many of those commuters would be taking that train.
The thought almost convinced me to bag the whole weekend and just head home. But I’d paid for the hotel anyway and I did want to get away at some point during Spring Break. So I bound up my courage, hefted my bag, and plunged onward.
By the time the train pulled into Tarrytown, New York (the station closest to my hotel), the snow was coming down very hard and had been for some time. At least four inches had fallen since I first disappeared into subterranean Manhattan. Earlier in the day I had made the strategic decision to wear my springtime leather jacket (though with sweater) instead of my Michelin-man winter coat. At the moment I began to regret it. Despite the advertisement of the hotel, there was no shuttle available. I was forced to take a cab … and the cabs were not running with any regularity. Indeed, standing in the thin halo of light under a streetlamp at the edge of the station, I began to worry that cabs weren’t running at all anymore.
Happily for me, one did trundle by. It was a quick ride over to the Westchester Mariott, which unfortunately was not the hotel where the convention was being held… But that’s a story for another day.