A Worldcon to Win
This novel, written in 1989 and 1990, has an overworked theme, a murder committed at a science fiction convention. For that reason alone, it would be unpublishable, even if I were as clever, and wrote as well, as Dorothy Sayers or Agatha Christie or Sarah Caudwell. Its only potential merit is that it portrays fandom and the inner workings of cons more accurately than do such works as Sharyn McCrumb's Bimbos of the Death Sun.
The picture of fandom in general and Worldcon bidders in particular is, I hasten to point out, melodramatized for effect. I've never met a real Lars Gleason or Genie Galen or Deno Stavrakis, and, except for a couple of superficial touches, their characters do not represent real fans, living or dead. A handful of minor figures are nearer to portraits from life, but I'm confident that there is nothing libelous about them.
A detail here or there has been updated. Of greatest significance, the year of the contested Worldcon has been advanced from the original 1996 to 2005. On the other hand, I haven't made any changes to take into account the abolition of the zone rotation system. One may think of the story as taking place in an alternate universe where the Aussiecon business meeting had the good sense to listen to my sage counsel. The alternate history setting is also a good excuse for any others oddities or ananchronisms.
Chapter 1, in which a part-time science fiction writer has his first, reluctant encounter with conventions and fans.
Chapter 2, in which our neophyte gets his first glimpse of bid parties.
Chapter 3, another bid party, with sinister undertones.
Chapter 4, featuring disk repair and a Guest of Honor interview.
Chapter 5, in which a secretary seems excessively peripatetic and a panel is interrupted.
Chapter 6, recounting a tense tête-à-tête and a palace coup.
Chapter 7: an unsatisfactory dinner, a practical joke, an unsatisfactory interrogation, a lovers' quarrel.
Chapter 8, in which we meet a girl friend who does not want to be suspicious and see wheels turning within wheels.
Chapter 9, in which a plea for help goes unanswered and both a criminal suspect and an act of violence appear, though not in conjunction.
Chapter 10, where the violent incident is explained in two different ways and incites ire between the leaders of a Worldcon bid.
Chapter 11, in which a blackmail attempt is repulsed and a woman scorned seeks an alternative to murder.
Chapter 12, where a short burst of euphoria is brought to a sudden end.
Chapter 13, in which a murder is made known and idle hands fall into mischief.
Chapter 14, where a policeman reviews suspects and follows a lucky clue, while the mystery is solved behind his back.
Chapter 15, in which the mystery becomes unsolved and stubborn siblings disagree.
Chapter 16, of memories fortunately lost and conveniently found.
Chapter 17: a serpentine plot, an arrest and the beginnings of two dubious romances.
Chapter 19, in which a bad person does a good deed.
Chapter 20, in which the good deed's consequences are undone and we learn surprising facts about the murder victim.
Chapter 21, which involves a call for help and a serious misunderstanding.
Chapter 22, where a villain and an overconfident theorist each suffer a comeuppance.
Chapter 23: a young fool in love and a young lawyer in disguise.
Chapter 24, in which the State's Attorney's office is satisfied, but others are not.
Chapter 25: explanations, justifications and a glimpse of the end.