My Nebula Awards Weekend

Published on May 8, 2006 by

Each year, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA [The second F is silent and invisible]) gather to present the Nebula Awards, which are kind of like the Oscars of the speculative fiction world.

The 2006 awards ceremony was held in Tempe, Arizona, and since I have a sister who lives in the area and likes me enough to let me stay in her guest room (the Blue Room, which looks just the way President Blue left it), I decided to drive down for Nebula Weekend.

On arriving, I met up with Rick Novy, a fellow Codex author. As we were looking for a place to have lunch, Rick spotted Harlan Ellison, so we walked over to meet him.

For those unfamiliar with Harlan Ellison, I’ll explain that he’s been a famous science fiction author since before I was born. I’ll also explain that he is notorious in the science fiction community for his abrasive personality, and that most people who are actively involved in the SF community have “Harlan stories” about their encounters with him. I didn’t really expect to ever have a Harlan story, because I wasn’t planning on going to a workshop taught by him, and I doubted I would ever come to his attention otherwise.

Shows what I know.

Rick and I walked over to where Harlan was talking with some other people, and just kind of hung around the edge. Harlan noticed us, and said, “I hate lurkers. If you want to meet me, come meet me.” (Note: All the quotes in this blog post are based on my almost certainly inaccurate recollections, and are merely approximations of what was said.)

So we shook his hand. Rick introduced himself and mentioned that they had a mutual friend, David Gerrold.

When I introduced myself as Eric Stone, Harlan said, “That’s a great name.”

Later, in the course of conversation, Harlan called me “Harry.” Something along the following lines ensued:

I said, “My name’s actually Eric.”

“What?”

“My name’s not Harry, it’s Eric.”

“Eric? That’s a terrible name. Hemingway never wrote about an Eric.”

So he continued calling me Harry during the rest of the conversation.

And I was rather pleased to have a Harlan story to tell. It made me feel like a real SF writer.

That evening, I met up with Andrew Tisbert, who was my roommate at Writers of the Future XX, and Daryl Gregory, whom I had met at World Fantasy. We were talking about something or other when someone directed my attention toward Harlan, who was standing behind his autograph table about ten feet away.

Harlan was looking at me and yelling, “Harry! Harry!”

When I looked at him, he said, “What’s the matter? You don’t even answer to your name?”

“Sorry.”

“You weren’t even going to say hello to me?”

So I walked over and shook his hand.

“Harry’s a better name,” he said.

“Maybe I’ll have to make it my pseudonym,” I said.

Then Harlan went off to have dinner.

Thus concludes my Harlan story.

A few other highlights from the Nebula weekend:

  • Meeting Stan Schmidt (editor of Analog) and Sheila Williams (editor of Asimov’s)
  • Getting a bunch of autographs from authors I like, including David Weber, author of my favorite science fiction series, the Honor Harrington series
  • Chatting with Connie Willis about Three Men in a Boat
  • The Analog/Asimov’s breakfast, at which I got to talk with various people
  • Sitting in the hospitality suite listening to David Weber talk about the Clarence Thomas hearings, among other things
  • Talking with David Weddle, a writer for Battlestar Galactica
  • Winning the charity auction for 9 autographed Battlestar Galactica shooting scripts

Filed under: General

6 comments on “My Nebula Awards Weekend”

  1. Scott says:

    Hey, that’s a great story. I guess I’m a lurker, because I first encountered Harlan at the 2004 Nebs, but didn’t get a chance to speak with him. He was funny as heck though, interrupting presenters, etc., He quite literally stole the show.

  2. RoAnn says:

    That is absolutely marvelous. You reacted beautifully, and your retelling of the story is hilarious. If Harlan is still alive when you become famous, perhaps you can turn the tables on him at a SFWA convention in the future. After all, I don’t recall Hemingway writing about a Harlan, either!

  3. Rick Novy says:

    Eric was actually standing behind me. I was waiting for a break in Harlan\’s conversation to avoid interrupting. He looked at my badge and said, \”Richard, don\’t lurk. I hate lurkers.\” (My badge said Richard.) Then Harlan talked with both of us for five or ten minutes.

  4. JKS says:

    LOL, that is a great story, Harry.

  5. JKS says:

    I think it perhaps should have gone like this:
    “There is no Harry. Only me, Eric.”
    “Oh what a shame.”

  6. […] in person at the 2006 Nebula Awards Weekend in Tempe, Arizona. He was personally responsible for my meeting Harlan Ellison and the ensuing “Harlan story.” Rick shares my love of puns, and like me, he’s been published in InterGalactic […]